March 28, 2009

Cold Saturday

I had another weird Facebook moment this week. FB has a bit of a blogger feel--the interaction and comments, but the world-colliding part makes for very weird political connections. Here at the blog, everyone knows I am a liberal (except that troll who accused me of being some kind of Republican apologist), but on Facebook (even though my profile lists me as liberal) not everyone seems to get it. The other day, I received an invite to a group to oppose stem cell research, and to organize letter writing to pressure Obama to move away from a pro-choice stance.

Yeah. Like I said, all of you here know that while I may not be a big fan of abortion, I am essentially pro-choice, and I thought Bush's ban on federal stem-cell research was pure politics, and very little science. Like I said, my profile says that I am proudly liberal, so I was a bit surprised to get this invite from this old high school (and church) friend.

But no big deal. I declined the invite and then sent him a short (and nice) note telling him that I certainly didn't mind the invitation, but I was no longer a conservative, and had in fact supported Obama during the campaign. Trust me. I was nice.

And the response? Nothing.

While being spammed with right wing stuff didn't bother me, the lack of polite response bothered me a lot. Frankly, it pissed me off. I have been very close to firing off another email and not being as nice this time. Talking through it with SOF, however, I realized that she was probably right (duh) that this guy was not the real target of my ire. I have had this happen before, however, and the wounds are rather deep. Friends from the past, and even some of my relatives (more distant) have reconnected with me in the last 15 years, but when they discovered that I was *gasp* a "liberal" they just stopped talking to me. One sent me an email riling up support for the beleaguered Boy Scouts in their battle with the gays. I wrote back and said, "you do remember that I am your liberal relative, right?" His response? "I didn't think you were that liberal." And that was the end of that email exchange. Not sure I have heard from him since.

I don't mind people disagreeing with me, but I do sorely object to being treated as some kind of pariah or defect. Those wounds are still a little painful, and have not helped my view of conservative Christianity. I am grateful for those family (my parents and nieces and nephews, in particular) who have kept in relationship with me despite political and theological differences, and I have a few friends (really just one) from the old days who have done so as well. But those who have dropped me really have some answering to do about their faith and how their faith asks them to treat others.

Anyway. Long story, but one I needed to get out. I have not responded to this latest one, but am still considering a less angry and more inquisitive version of the "take off" email I initially drafted in my head. (Actually, it wasn't "take" in my head!) He certainly doesn't need to to pay for those old debts, and perhaps no one can.


One more item, not necessarily related, but I saw this from George Packer at the New Yorker that reiterates what I have been arguing about radicals on the right v. radicals on the left.
Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck have far more power in the Republican Party (it sometimes seems to include veto power) than Klein, Lee, and Moore have in the Democratic Party. The views of right-wing commentators in the grip of the paranoid style (Obama is a stealth radical, the Democrats are imposing socialism) are much closer to mainstream conservative and Republican belief than the views of their counterparts on the left (the levees in New Orleans were blown up by the government, the White House had something to do with 9/11) are to mainstream liberal and Democratic belief. The reasons are complex, but I would list these: the evangelical and occasionally messianic fervor that animates a part of the Republican base; the atmosphere of siege and the self-identification of conservatives as insurgents even when they monopolized political power; the influence of ideology over movement conservatives, and their deep hostility to compromise; the fact that modern conservatism has been a movement, which modern liberalism has not.

This is not to say that the more destructive forms of populism and outright paranoia can’t appear on the left. They have, they do, and they will, especially in times of extreme distress like these. It’s only to say that the infection has been more organic to the modern right.
Perhaps I have run headlong into that "deep hostility to compromise" in my own life too much. :)


Anyway. It is a little (emphasize little) snowy here in Norman, and a perfect day for my latest experiment in sourdough bread. Hope you are all well.


leighton said...

The "deep hostility to compromise" is a problem at the legislative level, sure. But it seems like what is getting us into more trouble on a social basis is some people's deep hostility to coexistence. I get along fine with passionate Republicans with legal and law enforcement backgrounds who actually have to interact with a wide variety of people to do their jobs. (When you deal with assassins and gunrunners, voting Democratic is pretty innocuous by comparison, even for devout social conservatives.) But I have the most trouble with people (especially family members) who don't know anyone very well outside their church groups. I'm not sure whether it's a boundary issue, or what the deal is, but somehow my believing what I believe makes it an agonizing challenge for them to believe what they believe.

I've lost nearly all my friends over the years too. I look at it as a good thing overall. If they don't want to talk to me, we're both better off apart.

steves said...

I come from a very small family, so the problems you describe are thankfully unknown to me. My father only has one sister and my mother was an only child. I have one sister, who is mostly apolotical, as is my mother. My father, who can be just as stubborn and ornery as myself, is politically pretty moderate. For most of his life, he was a moderate Republican (much like former Michigan Gov. Bill Milliken). He became irritated by, what he saw, the Republican party moving more to the Right and now mostly votes Democrat.

My wife's family is much larger, but they don't discuss politics all that much and seem mostly ok with my political beliefs.

I can understand your anger. Obviously, it is possible to have a reasonable discussion with someone who disagrees politically, though I think that it is easier in person. My guess is that the relative anonymity of the internet/blogospere/social networking sites allows people to be more bold and, in many cases, obnoxious towards others.

While being spammed with right wing stuff didn't bother me

It would bother me. Occasionally, I get, what I would consider, offensive spam and this is from people that should know I would be offended. Most of the invites I have gotten on Facebook have been about causes that I support or that people could reasonably guess I would support. Sending something that you know another person wouldn't dislike seems kind of mean, IMO.

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck have far more power in the Republican Party (it sometimes seems to include veto power) than Klein, Lee, and Moore have in the Democratic Party.

I would agree with this, and see it as a mostly negative thing, though I don't see Hannity or Beck on the same level as Rush, but that is just my opinion. I also don't think it is fair to make a comparison between "socialist Obama" and "9/11 was caused by the US". The mainstream liberals some strange, IMO, beliefs, such as that Bush somehow 'stole' the presidency back in 2000 and lacked the same level of legitimacy as prior presidents.

Anyway, I do agree with author in that some conservatives are being paranoid. It is one thing to be cautious and skeptical (I sure am), but save the ire for when something actually happens.

Liz said...

For what it's worth, I've been through the same kind of experience with people I knew. I did my senior years in a very closed community Christian school and within a couple of years of graduating I ended up becoming an atheist. Many of my school friends don't speak to me now. The hardest was when a person I was quite close to didn't even acknowledge I message I sent her congratulating her on her marriage to another of our highschool friends. I agree with Leighton that overall it's a good thing, but it's still a tender spot. I'm not a bad person.

Monk-in-Training said...

I find that some of my conservative friends view me as 'contamination', some how I will make them less pure.

It is very unfortunate.