Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Nigger Lover."



(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 (in my little village we were all white) a "Nigger Lover." My parents were educated. Both had degrees. Dad was a an investigator and Mom was a writer for a big paper. Neither had been infected with racism. Thus, my parents' child, I was not reared a racist. I don’t believe that I've 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. No matter how old you get to be.

Back then, when I 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, the immediate challenge would be issued: “You some kind of nigger lover?!?” Now, I went to daycare in “town” during the summer break with some black kids, and counted one or two of them among my friends. I knew the truth: race does not make a person better or worse than another. But still, you can mark me for a coward. Being a kid faced with what felt like an immediate challenge to my integrity and worth, I immediately denied it ("it" being that I did not routinely condemn black folk simply for their status of being black). I’m not much of a Bible scholar, but that story about Peter denying Jesus has a certain ring of truth in it for me; the first thing I did, when confronted with the demand of whether I was a "nigger lover" was to align myself with the crowd, snort and say, “No!” Not one of those. No, sir.

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 actually pretty close to my nature, because the identity holds a dirty word. I cringe from the word, just like a lot of y'all cringed at the title of this blog (sorry!). I avoid being labeled with it at almost any cost. The dirty word is “LIBERAL."



Well at least I’m a “Conservative.”

-I’m a fierce supportor of the 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 straight 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 extant 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, and what is perceived to be George W. Bush. People 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.

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22 Comments:

At Wednesday, January 10, 2007 5:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahhh-- but there's the rub. For your "liberal" or "conservative" friends to dismiss your "common sense" diatribe here-- they would have to admit that they were in fact firmly allied with either side. I'm with you and have been for a while-- labeling yourself or others is a wrong first step and just re-inforces bad stereotypes that seem to be lingering WAY too long in social, economic, and political circles.

So I say ditto to MOST of the comments here in your diatribe.

Where I differ is just a matter of semantics based on the idea that I consider "secular humanism" just as dangerous a religion as any other when it comes to its abuse.

Docs, Scientists, and others who TRULY believe that our current science and knowledge is resolute and unchanging need to re-examine their beliefs just as some of those "Right-Wing Christians" (another label used WAY too often) need to as well. Any "scientist" who does not understand that proof is relative and that faith exists in science by definition is IMHO confused.

Just another way of saying that us humans get WAY to big for our britches sometimes... ;)

With a Big "Peace-Out" from a somewhat liberal conservative (I'll leave you to figure THAT branding out...):

--Scott Minke

 
At Wednesday, January 10, 2007 5:51:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Ladies and Gentlemen-- my best friend has just weighed in.

His validation means a lot to me, as he's considered a pretty conservative (and bright. Mighty, mighty bright) guy.

I've only known him for... let's see... 24 years.

Thanks for the input, Scott!

 
At Wednesday, January 10, 2007 8:11:00 PM, Blogger Mr. Fixit said...

Ah yes, I agree with you. But why label yourself? And, why worry what others lable you as? Your friends accept you as you are. That's what friends do.
We can only be what we are. Our friends will accept us no matter what we are.

My father was a principal. All the older kids had known him, and judged me by him. I found out early that I couldn't make everyone happy. I found the only thing to do was to be me, and not worry about what others thought. Those that would only see me through him were not worth worrying about.

Labels only limit.

 
At Wednesday, January 10, 2007 10:31:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

"Your REAL friends will love you for yourself, no matter what..."

Mama?

 
At Thursday, January 11, 2007 11:27:00 AM, Blogger Crusader said...

HEAR HEAR! As I was reading your post, I found myself agreeing readily with most of it. I too live in a staunchly conservative state, (Ohio), and yet, I am not a conservative. Nor am I a Liberal. I agree and disagree equally with both sides regarding various issues. Why should that be a bad thing? Someone once told me that it is "straddling the fence, afraid to make a committment". Bull! I have very strong opinions about many issues, and if people don't like the fact that I have both Liberal AND Conservative leanings, they can pretty much take a flying leap. Keep the faith man. If people feel such a need to label you, let them, just don't bother to give a darn.

 
At Thursday, January 11, 2007 3:57:00 PM, Blogger HollyB said...

Well, SNSS, I ain't yo Mama, never claimed to be, never tried to be, but I STILL love ya'.
As to the positions you express in this blog...gotta say, "I'm right there with you." I too, believe in, and cherish our Constitution and the first 10 Amendments thereto.
Sometimes I think I'm a little more 'liberal' in some ways than you and sometimes I think I'm a little more 'conservative'. It doesn't really matter, though. What matters is that we give each other the room to BE whatever we will BE. I don't try to pigeonhole you because you don't try to do that to me. And that is a mark of respect.
ESM.

 
At Thursday, January 11, 2007 6:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do any of us need to be labeled?

 
At Friday, January 12, 2007 7:31:00 AM, Anonymous Papa said...

Without regard to labels, not only your friends, but your family will love you for yourself, Mateo. Your father is very proud of you. " . . . My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Da'

 
At Friday, January 12, 2007 7:10:00 PM, Blogger Assrot said...

All I can say is "amen" to this post. My thoughts exactly.

 
At Saturday, January 13, 2007 1:25:00 PM, Blogger Ambulance Driver said...

Hear hear, Matt. If I had to describe my personal philosophy, there is no label to fit it exactly.

"Fiscally conservative, socially liberal, non-denominational but God-fearing, gun-toting, walk softly but carry a big stick, let gays marry if they want to, pro stem-cell research, pro-death penalty but in favor of legalizing some drugs, backwards-assed redneck environmentalist who would rather eat bunnies than hug them" is a good start.

 
At Saturday, January 13, 2007 3:27:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Wow. I'm surprised at how many folk are sympathetic to my position, here. I've gotten a fair bit of email from some friends and family, too, on the subject.

For what it's worth, it bothers me not one bit if your opinions on politics differ from mine. I'm just annoyed by being dismissed as "an Alpha" or as "another Omega." There's a whole world in between.

But people seem to need the conflict, or the groups to belittle and dismiss. Huevón thinking.

"what makes a person so poisonous righteous
that they think less of anyone who just disagrees
she's just a pacifist
he's just a patriot
if i said you were crazy, would you have to fight me?
fighters for liberty
fighters for power
fighters for longer turns in the shower
and history seems to agree that I would fight you for me
"
-Moxy Fruvous - Bargainville -- "The Gulf War Song"

 
At Saturday, January 13, 2007 6:10:00 PM, Blogger GUYK said...

Join the growing crowd of us neo-libertarians..I have been called a godless commie because I believe that freedom of religion implies freedom from religion and I have no use for the religious right wing. But I also donate to fight the ACLU so the left wing has it figured that I am part of the far right. I am neither..I am a liberal in the classical sense..as defined in the dictionary. I am a die hard capitalist who figures that it would be a much better world if everyone did their level best to take care of themselves and theirs and just left everyone else alone..most people have a tough enough time minding their own business let alone minding that of someone else..

And I do thank you for the link

 
At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 4:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neo-Libertarian sounds about right for me too.

 
At Saturday, January 20, 2007 6:34:00 PM, Blogger Larry said...

That would make you an independent American.

 
At Saturday, March 10, 2007 11:40:00 AM, Blogger jrshirley said...

Wow...great post. Labels do tend to be rather limiting.

I happen to agree with most of your stances, actually, but it's discouraging to me when friends that I usually think pretty highly of (they ARE friends, after all), forward some damn email to me that seems to indicate that all good people *obviously* believe in God and are straight.

To my mind, about the only thing good people have to share is a belief in individual responsibility.

Labels? Hell. Screw the labels. I am for freedom.

 
At Sunday, March 18, 2007 2:30:00 AM, Blogger Byron said...

Rational anarchist here. Defined as 'I don't need a government to tell me what to do but recognize the fact that many, if not most, pathological individuals in any given society do need a government to tell them what to do.'

We get along pretty well, Matt. We can drink alcohol, talk politics and religion for nights on end-while armed-and no one got shot. Hell, didn't even have a fat lip in the crew.

Take care, man.

 
At Tuesday, September 18, 2007 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Matt G said...

I just got that, Byron.

 
At Wednesday, November 28, 2007 1:15:00 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

I know it's a long past post, but I still wanted to chime in since I've been enjoying catching up on your archives.

The objections I have about the whole Liberal/Conservative thing is the implication that if you identify most with one side, you agree with ALL the attributed opinions. It bothers me that people place more importance upon being part of a group involved in a rivalry than on the various issues they're catching under the umbrella.

Stay safe.

 
At Friday, June 06, 2008 5:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a conservative and proud to be one. I believe in civil rights, but I believe you have to work to maintain your place in a free society. I have nothing against anyone who works for a living and is a productive part of our society. On the other hand I believe anyone who is a burden to society has no place here. If they want big brother to take care of all their needs they need to move to a communist country instead of trying to turn this into one. I have friends of many nationalities and I respect them all, but that does not mean I want them to be part of my family. I believe the Bible says to stay within your own tribe and that is good enough for me. I know that sounds racist but there are alot of whites I would not want in my family also.

 
At Saturday, March 03, 2012 10:05:00 PM, Blogger Suz said...

BRAVO!!!!!

 
At Sunday, March 04, 2012 9:43:00 PM, Blogger Brerarnold said...

I run into this all the time, Matt. Thing is, I like to think. With data and stuff.

Most people use ideology as their default mode, and run all their perceptions and ideas through that filter first. They come out with some funny looking opinions, but since it fits their ideology, they don't know how weird it is. Not talking about conservatives or liberals here. This is regardless of political flavor.

Ideology is the death of ideas. I oughta copyright that phrase.

As to labels, I go with humor. I call myself a Goldwater anarchist and a Free - market Marxist. No one ever gets the humor, though. Oh well. Let 'em drink Drano if they can't take a joke.

 
At Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're just a nigger lover

 

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