(This is going to go a little long, and I apologize for that, but I have to get this off my chest.)
When I was a kid in elementary school in north Texas in the mid-to-late 1970's, a pretty good insult to hurl at the kids on the school yard was to call another kid (we in my little town were all white) a "Nigger Lover." Now, my parents were educated. Both had degrees. Dad was a DA investigator and Mom was a writer for a big paper. Both were SouthWesterners, and had never been infected with racism, and thus had never infected me with it. I don’t believe that I ever used the insult. But I’ll admit that I didn't want to be called the name. Names hurt, no matter what they are.
Back then, I might have said something that one of the more bigoted of my redneck peers would infer as being sympathetic to (i.e., not condemning of) black folk. “You some kind of nigger lover,” would be the immediate challenge. Now, I went to day care in “town” during the summer break with some black kids, and counted one or two among my friends. I knew the truth: race does not make a person better or worse. But mark me for a coward. Being a kid faced with what felt like an immediate challenge to my integrity, I immediately denied it. I’m not much of a Bible scholar, but that story of Peter denying Jesus has a certain ring of truth in it for me. The first thing I did, when accusing eyes demanded that I take come along with the crowd was to snort and say, “No!”
Now I’ve got a daughter of that same age. She goes to school with every race under the sun, and gets along famously with kids based on their personalities rather than their race or ethnicity. I don’t know that she even gets such challenges in the school yard by the thought-bullies. She probably does, but I don’t know what they consist of.
But I’m still subject to the same kind of challenge, and I still find myself denying what may well be a stance that is close to my nature, because of a dirty word. I cringe from the word. I avoid being labeled with it at almost any cost. The dirty word is “LIBERAL.”Well at least I’m a “Conservative.”
-I’m fiercely pro for Second Amendment.
-I’m for the use of the death penalty.
-I believe that we should support our industries to the extent that we MUST maintain a healthy free market.
-I believe in peace through superior firepower, and believe that we must maintain a powerful military.
-I am against affirmative action.
-I believe that we should have mandatory sterilization imposed upon any woman who gives birth to a baby while on abused drugs.
-I believe that we should strengthen our borders, and cannot comprehend how such a policy could be seen as racist or xenophobic.
-I believe that we need to reduce the benefits given out by the Nanny Government.
-I believe that we should establish the national language as English (the language that all of our nation’s most significant documents are written in), and cannot see how this would infringe upon any person’s rights.
-I hunt, and fight for hunters’ rights.
-I think that, if you feel like you’re in a marginalized segment of society, the last thing that you should be doing is to create bigger barriers to insulate yourself from our society. Try to assimilate just a tad, okay?
-I believe that, while it’s possible to rear children without the use of corporal punishment, parents should have the right to spank (or pinch) their children. I find that it is extremely effective, direct, and morally acceptable.
-I don’t have any problem with the use of genetically modified crops, and find it insane that U.S.-supplied relief food supplies containing GM crops are being discarded as unacceptable to give to starving peoples.
-I believe that we need to do something about the spiraling costs of healthcare.
-I believe that when you put a person in prison for “Life,” we should MEAN it.But then again…
-I believe in equal rights for everybody. Women. Minorities. Gay folk. Everybody. Give ‘em all the same rights that I start off with as a white guy, if they’re not committing crimes and are paying their own way. Marry how and who you want. I don’t give a flip.
-I believe strongly in the First Amendment. That’s possibly the biggest one. Free Speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. The right of peaceable assembly. The right to petition for redress of grievances against the government. These are huge
rights. I find that many who are against “liberals” are often so based on these very issues. Yeah, those crazy radicals, reinventing the system with their bizarre new ideas.
-I believe that we ought to play by the rules. The Constitution guarantees us rights to counsel and a speedy trial and to freedom from cruel or unusual punishment, and I believe that we ought to follow through on that guarantee. We have Equal Protection and Due Process promised in that document, too. Them’s the rules. So let’s follow them.
-I believe that our current national, state, and local drug policies are completely out of touch with reality. Over half of our prison population (the largest ever) is incarcerated for drug offenses. We are not by any stretch of the imagination winning the “War On Drugs.” We are making mere possession of any usable amount of many drugs a felony, and are putting away people who are addicts without even treating their problem. This is costing you and me a pretty penny, and just guarantees that the guy incarcerated is going to have new problems upon exiting the system. (He’s 70% of the time going to return to that same system within 3 years.) Enforce strong laws about making drugs available to children. Enforce the extent laws regarding public intoxication, DWI, burglary, etc. Let the druggies have their drugs.
-At least decriminalize pot. I’ve never used the stuff (seriously! Not even once!), but I just don’t see that it’s a major problem. Lord knows the potheads fight a lot less than the drunks.
-I think that it’s okay to criticize our government—even in wartime.
-I think that we should not have a draft—if we can’t drum up enough support for a war, perhaps we shouldn’t have the war in the first place.
-I believe that we should make greater efforts to protect our environment.
-I believe that we should make public transportation more useful and accessible.
-I believe that all roads should be built with a bicycle/walking lane, both to encourage alternative forms of transportation and to get them out of the way of vehicles.
-I believe that we need to disallow the standardized use of antibiotics and/or hormones in the feed of market animals, except on an individual basis when they are found to be sick. I strongly believe that our children or their children are going to have to pay for this activity.
-I believe that we’re making too many things felonies. Claire Wolfe and I are of a mind on this issue.
-I think that pretending that young teens aren’t going to have sex is pretty foolish. If we want to address social problems resulting from this behavior (teen pregnancy, STDs), we’re going to have to admit that it occurs, and act accordingly.
-I believe that the most important way that we can improve our nation’s future is to --across the board-- DOUBLE the salaries of teachers. Make teaching a profession worth striving for. (In my area, that would get starting elementary school teachers up to about $70k/year.) Then, raise the bar for standards. If the teachers can’t make the grade, fire their happy butts, or make ‘em “teachers’ aides.” Let’s see the best and brightest in our society start to teach. In the long run, I believe that we’ll realize significant savings from the increased productivity of our nation.
-I think we worry too much about how other people deal with sex. If they’re not hurting anyone, leave ‘em alone and tend to your own knittin’. If they’re making fools of themselves publicly, it’s best to ignore them, as you would a mentally disabled person raising a minor fuss in a public place.
-I believe that we should teach science in schools—not some pseudo science that is simpatico with somebody’s religion.
-I believe that we need to do something about the spiraling costs of healthcare.
-I don’t think that we should dump our citizens’ rights, just because of this “War On Terrorism.”
-I don’t think that “Nuke ‘em ‘til they glow” is a very effective international policy.
So what the heck? Am I a Liberal? Am I a Conservative?
Why do I have to be polarized? What’s with the label?
As a cop and a pro-gun person, I find myself with the Conservative crowd a lot. I identify with them on so many issues. But as a grad student and a person who thinks that recycling the same thoughts is pointless, I listen to the words of self-described Liberals a fair amount. Here in N. Texas, I find that the Liberals fall primarily into two categories—quiet liberals who recognize that they are pretty much in Enemy Territory, or Flaming Liberals. Everybody hates the flaming liberals.
And here in Conservative Land, all liberals are judged on the basis of the Flaming Liberals. But then, in the liberal-friendly areas, all Conservatives are judged on the popularly-perceived personas surrounding Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, or what is perceived to be George W. Bush. We do like to cubbyhole.
Frankly, I reject both extremes. They both sicken me, to some degree. I’m not a peg—please don’t try to drive me into the strangely shaped hole of your choosing.
So it’s beginning to dawn on me: why am I afraid to be called a “Liberal?” Is it because I, like others, am associating that term with the idiots like Diane Feinstein, George Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Sarah Brady, and Cindy Sheehan? Probably so, just as many Liberals tar all “Conservatives” with the brush of David Duke, Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Strom Thurmond, etc. I’m afraid of being called “liberal” for some of the same immature reasons that I denied being a “nigger lover” as a kid.
-First, it’s technically inaccurate.
-Second, I don’t want to have to explain myself, and have people judge me on the spot.
-Third, I’m a little bit less than courageous. I want my conservative friends. I don’t want them to dismiss me.
And I wonder: how many of you will now dismiss me, because I’m saying this?
Regardless of what radical liberals like Patrick Henry, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, George Washington, Robert Yates, and John Hancock may have been, modern-day strict Constitutionalists seem to have found another amendment to the Bill of Rights: "The right to cast stones at anything and anyone construed to have any liberal tendencies shall not be infringed."
"Nigger Lover? Yeah. Fine. Whatever.
But please, toss in "Redneck Liberal" while you're at it, and I'll feel a bit better.
Labels: Politics, The Fall Of Western Civilization