More on "A Recent Unpleasantness"
John Amos wrote today of “a recent unpleasantness.” He described an interaction he had with a group of self-identified Democrats. He was struck by how close-minded they were, especially since they were particularly derisive of that characteristic when it was evident in conservatives.
I agree with him for the most part. A lot of liberal people can be condescending. There is a tendency for left-of-center folks to think that those who disagree with them are not wrong but rather that they’re stupid. To be fair I think that’s more a bias of affluence and of isolation – right wing media, for example, loves to go to poor neighborhoods in cities and ask people on the street obscure (and usually poorly worded) policy questions to see if they get the answers right. What they have in common is not that they are liberal (obviously), but that they are affluent, white, urban, privileged, and isolated from those they mock. They get to small-town Iowa about as frequently as they get to Bedford-Stuyvesant (that is to say – never). It becomes more and more of a problem among Democrats as more wealthy and well-educated white people gravitate toward the party and bring their self-righteousness with them. I get that.
But I hope that people don’t draw the wrong conclusion.
I wrote some weeks ago about how much hate being tagged an “elitist.” I actually wrote that as a (ridiculously passive-aggressive) response to hearing John called an elitist. I asked that people come to their conversations in good faith and with the assumption of good faith and sincerity in their counterpart. I have been called an elitist more times than I care to count, but I actually want to listen. I relish actual arguments and think opposing viewpoints are fascinating. I can be a little – how should I put this – enthusiastic. But I want to talk.
So again – I hope that people don’t draw the wrong conclusion.
If I were to guess – and I hope my guess is an educated one, he’s my father – I would wager that John wouldn’t tell people to avoid talking to liberals. He would probably say that you should go into a conversation assuming that the person opposite you is not a pompous ass. As he so eloquently described – it’s quite possible that you will be disappointed. But you may also find yourself in a conversation with someone who is interested in your perspective.
The problem is that you deserve the same consideration and I know you won’t always get it. But know that your counterparts don’t often either. Part of the reason that I assume the good faith of people who talk to me about politics is because I spent the last nine years of my life arguing about politics with John. There are more people like him out there. It’s worth sorting through the jackasses and the hypocrites and the bigots and the close-minded and the “elitists” to find one or two of them.
Not that you have much reason to, I guess, but I hope you trust me on that.
And now I will stop calling my dad “John.” That felt weird.