LONG BEACH (coup2k.com) May 28, 2001 - Is there something to be gained by engaging conservatives in substantive discussion? Should we try?
FROM THE FILM, Defending Your LifeBETH ANSWERS E-MAIL FROM RIGHTWINGNUT
Bob Diamond: For example, I use forty-eight percent of my brain.
Do you know how much you use?
Daniel Miller: Forty... seven?
Bob Diamond: [laughs] Three.
NUTJOB: you're right, i dont care, he [Langston Hughes] obviously is a communist, and you're a communist sympathizer.
BETH TO RESISTANCE FIGHTERS: I have a question. What world (or decade) are they living in? Communist? Communist sympathizer? Next he'll be complaining about those darn beat poets and hippies, and heading down to his corner drugstore for a malted.
NUTJOB: i am and will always be your intellectual superior, obviously you lack a proper education and you're a product of poor parenting.
BETH TO RESISTANCE FIGHTERS: I think a proper education would likely involve both a mention of Langston Hughes and basic lessons in capitalization... not to mention basic lessons in logic. "She's quoting a guy I've never heard of -- and that guy's got hopes for America! COMMUNISTS! COMMUNISTS!"
Where the "poor parenting" thing comes from, I have no idea.
Conservatism: paranoia good, logic bad.BETH ON ENGAGING RIGHTWINGNUTS
I think sarcasm is one of my defense mechanisms against [rightwing] irrationality. I mean, after a certain point, you can't even engage someone in conversation, because their mental framework has such serious flaws. I mean, where do you start? Langston Hughes was not a communist? Langston Hughes was commenting on the flaws America has in exploiting blacks and Native Americans and women and the poor, that doesn't mean he's even remotely interested in promoting an alternate economic system? I'm not a communist? We like to be called progressives, thank you? Communism is a red herring? I wouldn't even know where to begin arguing with a guy like that. It's why I'm not really good at engaging the other side. I become flabbergasted at the stupidity, so that I can only gibber angrily... It's like the girl in my dorm who calmly and confidently said, "No they don't," when I mentioned that the Republican Party has a weak record on civil rights. If I'd been coherent after being cold-cocked with that Bat of Ignorance, I would have said, "of course they do!"
Even W. admitted it!
"...before we get to the future, we must acknowledge our past. In the darkest days of the Civil War, President Lincoln pleaded to our divided nation to remember that "We cannot escape history...[that] we will be remembered in spite of ourselves." One hundred and forty years later, that is still true. For our nation, there is no denying the truth that slavery is a blight on our history. And that racism, despite all our progress, still exists. For my party, there's no escaping the reality that the Party of Lincoln has not always carried the mantle of Lincoln. Recognizing and confronting our history is important. Transcending our history is essential."-W. At The NAACP Annual Convention Baltimore, MD 7/10/2000
Instead I just gaped.
I swear, sometimes I think conservatives take a look at reality, decide it doesn't meet their needs, and head in the other direction without looking back. Don't get me wrong, fantasy is great, but it's not a sound basis for public policy.
It's true, what I've read, that mockery can work as well or better than refutation when dealing with the terminally ridiculous.
I recently told my brother that if I were somehow a multi-millionaire, what I'd do is start (or heavily promote and build up) a liberal press. He asked me if I wouldn't rather have something that was truly balanced, so that it had more credibility. I said, "no." I had no interest in that. I pointed out that most media outlets claim to be balanced, but aren't, and are pulled right because they're afraid of being pegged as left. But on a deeper level, I think we're just right. As Bartcop noted, "it's like our logic is superior or something."
I wouldn't mind having various viewpoints, but I would have no interest in giving space to conservatives -- because most of the time, they're just wrong. They kill programs that do demonstrable good, they promote bills that do demonstrable harm, they prey on liberals' propensity for self-questioning by launching hypocritical attacks. They want religion in our lives and the government in our bedrooms, but don't think the government should act stop pollution or discrimination or price gouging because that would be interfering. Conservative policies have effects that are racist, sexist, classist, and anti-gay.
A couple months ago, Sander Hicks, the founder of Soft Skull Press (which published Fortunate Son), came to talk at my dorm. One of the things he said was that we progressives need to get over our poststructuralist, relativist attitudes. For too long we've let conservatives claim the moral high ground, be the moral authority, because we don't like fighting
on moral grounds. But if we won't fight on those grounds, then we let the right hold them. He told us, it's time the left was willing to say that certain things are wrong. It's time we said that a regressive tax structure, a tax cut for the rich, are not just bad finance, but morally wrong.
I think we've begun to reach that point now. I have.