Curious Regional Accent

Which regional accent is it when a person says “Mon-dee” and “Tues-dee” for days of week?

I’m talking about a native speaker of English. An ultra-educated person.

How I Changed My Mind about Conservatism, Part II

I knew my side had problems. The dogmatism, the self-righteousness, the condescension. But the truth was on our side and we weren’t driven by blind, bigoted hate.

And then the Kavanaugh hearings happened. I cannot overstate how big that was for me. I had been an unpopular kid at school, and to me an ululating, smug crowd hounding a person is disgusting by default. I also had to wonder if such egregious, ridiculous, obvious lies are manufactured and spread so easily, is there other stuff I had been lied to about?

After the hearings, it only got worse. There was a Kavanaugh a month, then a week, then every other day. People – often very sincerely leftist – hounded and destroyed, with incredible viciousness, by what I still considered my side. I have no idea how to describe what happened to Joseph Massey or Sarah Braasch or so many other people if not as hateful bigotry.

In a somewhat pathetic attempt to persuade myself that the other side was still worse, I did the unthinkable and turned on Fox News. I settled down comfortably and awaited a huge dose of reassuring bigotry. It never came but I didn’t give up. I started reading every author and following every online personality my side held to be an exemplar of bigotry. All I wanted was to be reassured that things were worse among my side’s political opponents.

While I was scouring these books and articles in search of bigotry, I couldn’t avoid discovering that “the other side” actually had a coherent, logical and intelligent narrative of history, politics, current events. Before, I was certain that all “they” had was “boo, let’s form a mob and go beat up some marginalized people!” And now I discovered that not only did they have an explanation for their views but that their explanation actually made more sense than ours. It was more nuanced and had fewer holes that needed to be tapped by “if this story doesn’t make sense it’s because the other guys are hateful bigots and nothing they do makes sense.”

Do you know, for instance, the conservative explanation of why leftism (liberalism, whatever) exists? It isn’t based on ad hominem attacks at all. Leftists in this narrative aren’t uniquely evil, bigoted, of hateful. They have a different understanding of the relationship between human nature and human collectivity. Different as in mistaken, not as in “they deny the humanity of everybody else.”

Actually, this thing about erasing people or denying their humanity or words being equivalent to physical violence isn’t part of conservative thinking at all. You hear a lot of, “look at the dumb stuff these leftists say, they are so stupid” but never “look at the dumb stuff they say, it’s just like murder.”

Overall, the interest in analogies (God, how I detest analogies) is much weaker among conservatives. The death metaphors, while not completely absent, are not nearly as central as they are to the Left. If a conservative starts on with “you just want to murder…” you know that what’s coming is “babies” and they are talking about abortion. (And it’s a dumb argument that will never win until it’s proponents figure that out). But with leftists, “you just want to murder” invariably means “you departed from some minor point of orthodoxy in some utterly trivial way.”

The love of hyperbole overall is much stronger on the Left. The apocalyptic thinking, the negativity, the sky-high anxiety. When was anything ever good? When was anything a positive moment? A victory? In 1968? And the guilt! To be a good leftist you constantly have to feel guilt and perform rites of abject self-flagellation. If you are male, you have to post or pretend not to mind articles and discussions about how men suck. If you are white, you learn or pretend not to mind when “white” is used as a stand-in for “bad.” If you are healthy, educated, not on anti-psychotics, not hideous, not starving, and not hating your body, you have to feel constantly, suffocatingly apologetic.

So in the end, I had to go with the movement that is more intellectually solid and goes less against my sense of self and psychological makeup.

P.S. As I write this, I got an email from my union informing me that it will try to force the administration to fire a worker who had a workplace spat with another worker who is black. And, of course, we have to assume that he’s racist because there’s no other reason coworkers can be upset with each other. I could have spared myself the trouble of writing these gigantic posts and simply posted this. I don’t know how anybody can justify being on the side of… this. And I’m ashamed I ever was.

How I Changed My Mind about Conservatism, Part I

As we wait for the results of the poll, I want to honor a friend’s request and share this story. This was a gigantic deal to me and I don’t think I even talked about it in detail with anybody yet.

I’m an immigrant, which means I came to this continent as a blank slate in political terms. Where I’m from things are completely different and terminology has another meaning. As an immigrant you receive the message that everybody around you is transmitting and you accept it because you don’t have the background to question it. Like when you move to a new town and everybody you meet says, “whatever you do, don’t go to Mikey’s Pizza. I got food poisoning there, and the place is a total dump.” If absolutely everybody who’s local says Mikey’s Pizza stinks, you accept it and feel grateful for the pointer.

So it is with an immigrant, especially a young one who goes to college. The only message you ever hear is that everybody who is not on the Left is a terrible bigot who hates you, hates black people, hates women, hates gays. Obviously, you don’t want to be around bigots who hate everybody in sight.

I went to college in Canada and the US, I went to conferences, I watched TV and read the press, and the only explanation I ever heard of why anybody would be a conservative is that they had to be filled with bigoted hate. We all interiorize the messages that people around us unanimously agree on. How do you know that a table is a wooden thing on four legs and not a species of bird? Because everybody says so! It was the same thing for me. I thought, you know, this isn’t the USSR. If this thing had anything to it but a desire to murder black people, I’d hear about it.

But then…

[To be continued…]

Political Zoom

Another thing I want to mention is that it’s perfectly okay for a faculty member to force us to stare at a BLM background on her zoom for hours but imagine somebody turning on a MAGA background. We’d never hear the end of the outraged squealing.

And that’s in spite of the fact that MAGA supporters aren’t torching buildings, looting stores, beating up passersby, and stabbing or shooting black people who don’t live up to their high standards. This is all being done strictly by the BLM crowd.

Zoom It Away

One hugely positive aspect of the COVID panic is that Zoom has a Mute button. I’m getting some serious reading and writing done while people jabber on in useless meetings.

The only problem is that I get very emotionally involved in my reading, and I’m afraid my rapidly changing facial expressions might confuse other Zoomers.