Monday, November 7, 2011

But you seem so normal.

Comrade C and his family came to London. As per my usual, I took them to tea at the place with the nude in mosaic. The girls are in high school. They are Christian and conservative and sadly accustomed to the "but you seem so smart/normal/nice/well informed" remarks.
Such comments are common conversation topics when conservatives get together. I told them about the recent, "I can't believe my best friend is a Republican." article in Salon. Read the whole thing, but this bit caught my attention:
When I moved to Los Angeles, the 2004 election had just finished ravaging the neighborhood. Friendships had ended over differences of opinions, a few marriages had learned what they were made of when one couldn't abide what hadn't been that big of a deal before 9/11. And so when I met Janet, she was on the defensive. That first dinner at her house, someone brought up her Republicanism. I looked down into my soup, sure this was something we shouldn't talk about. I don't remember the comment, or Janet's reply, but I remember my husband asking why she'd be friends with all these liberals -- and yes, it was only liberals at the table -- if she felt so strongly. Throwing her hands up, she said, "I guess I lack the courage of my convictions."
But it's not that. I don't speak for Janet, but I think there's something deeper at play. Janet's willingness to associate with so many liberal friends -- though I know she seeks refuge in chat rooms and magazines that share her beliefs -- makes her a better and more interesting person. She has her beliefs challenged constantly. She is more well-read and educated in her politics than most of the liberals I know. Too many liberals I know are lazy, they have a belief system that consists of making fun of Glenn Beck and watching "The Daily Show." Shouldn't their beliefs be challenged, too?
I won't quibble with Taffy's conclusion about liberals needing to be challenged, but she is wrong about the reason for her friend's comment.  She missed, or avoided, that her friend's comment about courage of her convictions was ironic. Her friend doesn't lack the courage of her convictions. In a moment of frustration, she was accusing liberals of lacking the courage of theirs.*  

Liberals tell us that they are the most open and tolerant, yet it is the liberal Janet who can't look her friend in the eye and missed the subtle jibe that refusing to socialize with the Other is hardly courageous.  It is the friend who is willing to sit amongst the Other, willing to have her beliefs challenged, willing to calmly explain and defend her beliefs to someone who sometimes won't even look her in the face. It is the friend who will have to endure the common smear that conservatives are so intolerant that we must find it difficult to associate with people with whom we disagree--while we sit amongst those with whom we disagree.

We conservatives know of liberal contempt. Liberals should not imagine that they hide it well. When the friend seeks refuge in chat rooms and magazines, I assure you that the topic of the left's impressive irony resistance capabilities comes up from time to time. Sometimes we get weary.  But we pick up and carry on. After all, we aren't going to win any hearts or minds by crying on a pillow or preaching to the choir.

In related links, Another heartless conservative (last item)
If you want intolerance, move to California.  (h/t Instapundit)

*Note, we conservatives do respect the courage that people like Taffy have. We know how our liberal friends have to defend themselves and, perhaps, to keep us separate from their other friends. Some are braver than others, of course, but we know they come under fire for associating with us. The effort does not go unnoticed.


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Iota said...

Interesting. I used to get the "but you seem so normal" response (said, or unsaid but readable on the person's face) in the UK a lot. I blogged about it here (sorry, I know that is very bad blogging etiquette, linking to your own blog in a comment, but I couldn't resist - I used exactly that same phrase!)

There's a good discussion going on here too

I hadn't thought of it, but I really agree with you that Liberals are so often not sure what they believe. "Liberal" seems a label for being a generally nice person who is tolerant of other people, but who wouldn't sign up to that?

AHLondon said...

It is bad blogging etiquette to link to own blog in comments? Interesting, because that is not the case in other realms of the blogsphere. It is bad etiquette to spam link, but I gather it is more rude to take over a comment thread, especially on tangental issues. Though it could just be me. I've never figured out the rules in the expat and mommy blogsphere, returning links and blog rolling. Regardless, all links welcome here, especially on religion. I've got multiple links to your religion post in a few drafts that I will eventually polish off. (I'm waiting to go back to my bible study here to see if some of my hypos work.) I'll be at sheep to alligators this afternoon. Thanks.
"I hadn't thought of it, but I really agree with you that Liberals are so often not sure what they believe. "Liberal" seems a label for being a generally nice person who is tolerant of other people, but who wouldn't sign up to that?" There is actually a lot of discussion on this topic in the right blogsphere. The coalescing idea is that conservatives have principles while liberals have goals. Sure, conservatives can fall short of principles but it is relatively easy for a conservative to see a new policy and test it against some principles of limited government, personal sovereignty, federalism, etc. Liberals with their goals are susceptible to an ends/means analysis. This results in two major observable trends: wide swings in what is acceptable and unacceptable and people who need to check with the liberal establishment on what to believe at the moment. The most dramatic recent example is Libya.
How's that for cheek? Linking to yourself in your own comment, though to be fair the bulk of that post is VDH. This one is more mine: