Posted originally at TNC‘s place on 4/15/2011, trying to explain why I’m moving on from the site. It’s a weird thing, because in one sense I owe no one an explanation for going silent. Perhaps I wrote it just for me.
I guess I just need to post this & then maybe move on.
I’m not a lefty. I’m not a righty anymore, either. I’m indeterminate and moving.
I found this blog because Google Reader, after seeing what I was subscribing to, suggested it. So I started reading regularly maybe 6-9 months ago. Reading TNC has helped me look at things I never looked at, and reading some of the comments here has made rethink positions I held reflexively.
So that’s good.
And it’s good to read the general chatter of people I respect and admire for their passion, wit, honesty, and commitment to truth.
And when there are posts of the conservatives-are-bastard-spawn-of-the-devil, I generally see it as “It’s not my sandbox,” I ignore those threads. I suspect it’s a lot of blowing off steam; in real life those who post these thoughts would not hesitate to help a conservative cross the street by calling his seeing-eye dog, knowing that dogs cannot distinguish between red and green. (That is humor.)
But I don’t know what the givens are here.
Sometimes it seems to be that conservatives are bastards without exception, and that the world would be better off if they disappeared. I can’t accept that, and while I think I understand why someone might say that, it’s still hard to read some of the more bitter comments and opinions.
Sometimes it’s that the leftist/progressive view is correct without investigation; that questioning a progressive view is of itself the mark of a deranged and immoral mind.
I don’t know how you all get there. I lack the education and experience that might bring me to that position, and while I’m busy trying to read and expand my limited horizon, there doesn’t seem to be a way I can ever live in a world where political opponents are so denigrated. Some conservatives are mean, selfish bitches who don’t humanize those who aren’t exactly like them. I understand that, and admit that there’s some of that in me; I’m taking steps to examine my thinking and behavior, so that’s probably good.
But I just can’t see the people I come from demonized the way they are. They might be fools and ignoramuses and even wrong, but the people I know are mostly mistaken, not evil. I had a very good, long conversation with a friend who had forwarded me an e-mail which explained why Dr. King should not be honored with a national holiday. I took the time to research my feelings and come up with a much longer response explaining from a white man’s position how utterly important this man is in American history and culture, not trying to take on the voice of an African-American as if I understand, but trying to explain along the lines of “this is something that is so hard to see, but it is so damned important. At least you can give them the courtesy of a respect for their opinions and passion if you can’t understand their viewpoint.” I’m not saying I did my part and I should be rewarded for that; I’m saying that my friend was misinformed but of a good heart. I was able to bring up the general human courtesies we pay to people we love and respect, and I think I helped her see how she was letting her political passions contradict what she claimed were her real values of love and honor.
What am I saying? Be nice? No. It’s not my sandbox, for one, and of course everyone should be free to state their opinions, and all that. I’m just saying I can’t handle it any more. That reading the negative stuff just chews my soul.
That should not make one person change his behavior or posting. I hope that’s clear. I just need to find another place, I think, to explore.
Harry Truman famously said “…if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I don’t think he meant that in a bad way, and I don’t think he thought any less of a person who’d realize he was in the wrong place.
So I’m going to take my hat and get out of the kitchen. It has been a wonderful experience, and I’ve discovered some great people here.
And now I will be going to a dinner engagement with my real-life friends who no longer recognize me as belonging to them. So while my name has reflected my intellectual position, you might be interested to know that it is true for my emotional and social positions as well.