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…]

3 thoughts on “How I Changed My Mind about Conservatism, Part I”

  1. “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.”

    In my student years, it was relatively rare for any professor to express personal views in the classroom that could be interpreted as partisan. Professionalism in both teaching and publications demanded a somewhat neutral voice if one wanted to be seen as a serious academic. I can’t explain why things changed so drastically, so quickly, except that ‘progressive’ faculty started to hire their own exclusively. When a critical mass was hired, students became deer in the headlights.

    Like

    1. If at least it were expressed as a personal view. But no. It’s expressed as the obvious truth that doesn’t need to be discussed because anybody who isn’t a total lunatic agrees. It’s like saying that today is Friday. It’s not an opinion and it’s not partisan. It’s simply a fact.

      Like

      1. “It’s not an opinion and it’s not partisan. It’s simply a fact.”

        Journalism went the same way. With both academe and the media – the public “intelligentsia” – in the same woke tank, it’s hard not to be alarmed.

        If I lived in the US, I’d be neither a “liberal” nor a “conservative” as I’m by nature politically moderate and definitely not a partisan joiner. Politics in Canada has become just as woke but I’d like to think not as intense – the stakes seem much lower here somehow if only because we’re not a superpower. And, not being a republic, more of a politically decentralized federation, with a long history of meaningful political accommodation of minorities that goes back to the Quebec Act of 1774 – all this helps too I think.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.