In the last several years I’ve watched myself change from an outspoken moderately liberal activist to a moderately conservative thinker. It all began in 2010 when I began to notice that the president I voted for then wasn’t doing much about the war. It’s easy to forget we’re at war of course. We don’t hear bombs going off near our homes or have to deal with rations, but America is still at war and when I voted in 2008, I voted for a person and political party that I thought was against war.
My understanding then was that regardless of who is in office, we hold them accountable for war crimes and other atrocities. Obama ramped up our nation’s war machine as our liberals fell silent on the matter. The people of Portland, OR (where I live) and other cities that actively protested against the war during the Bush years seemed to be comfortably doing their art, making DIY craft beer, and in general not noticing we were killing kids, brown kids especially, in many countries. The anti-war left was silent and disappeared almost entirely.
When I began to ask hardcore Democrat friends why they weren’t upset about the added drone strikes happening to innocents in other countries I was told not to worry, that Obama was the man we hoped for and that he would end the war. When I asked my friends why we were deporting more illegal immigrants than the past presidents combined, no one had an answer. When I questioned his Nobel peace prize in light of his record of killing, I was called a “right wing nut” in spite of having voted mostly Democrat a couple years prior. It was then I figured out my long beloved Left was uninterested in saving lives, maximizing the potential of those who long to live in this country, or anything else related to human rights. Instead Obama’s election into office was a contest and since their side won, they no longer cared about the safety of innocents abroad or the integrity of our leaders at home.
Recently I was talking to a longtime friend and staunch liberal who believes that when it comes to the Red state folks vs. the Blue state folks, Blue state folks are more morally conscientious. Because I’m shy about discussing politics with any liberal these days (we’ve lost some friends since the 2016 election because we don’t hate Trump-even though we didn’t even vote for him) I didn’t tell her that I find Blues as hypocritical as any Red. I didn’t tell her that I couldn’t stand for the smug and often prejudiced ideology I listened to from liberal after liberal who either willfully or ignorantly didn’t hold Obama accountable.
About six years ago I started reading the news from places other than MSN, NPR, and “progressive” blogs. Issues of foreign policy, local corruption (Portland City Hall that means you!), and even agriculture became areas of study. I read books detailing arguments on both sides of an issue such as abortion or assisted suicide. I stopped thinking along party lines and started exploring expertise as presented by multiple sources. Suddenly even gay rights, which as a same-sex married person was a very personal issue, I viewed in a new light.
In the past I thought I knew how terrible conservatives were. They hated women, gays, blacks, poor people, and so on. In the world of partisanship I swallowed the icy Kool-Aid of lies fed to me by friends, family, school, and media. Unthinking I believed the hype and regurgitated such fiction amongst peers. My arrogance was hypocritical of course, but that didn’t matter because I was with the good guys. Revenge, anger, and victimization was my swan song and I sang until the music stopped.
The following aptly describes how I ended up where I did:
All of the above would subvert anybody’s ability to think clearly. It leaves children unmoored from reality and in a constant state of anxiety about being socially rejected by peers or teachers for thinking thoughts deemed wrong. Their personal relationships are dictated and controlled according to their adherence to the party line of the radical ed reformers. Who wouldn’t be in a state of confusion after churning his way for 13 years through such a system of merciless indoctrination?
Without a grasp of history, students end up with a gaping memory hole, left adrift whenever trying to fill in the blank, trying to understand cause-and-effect of human events not as they actually happened, but according to the politicized scripts they’ve been assigned to memorize. So instead of really learning the context of what happened during the American Civil War—for example, a full account of history’s chain of events and the interactions of the real human figures—they are primarily fed a political gruel that triggers in them hyper-emotional reflexes to words like “confederate flag” or “Jefferson Davis Highway.”
The ability to think clearly and independently relies entirely on a foundation of context and a shared reality with others, as well as an openness to free inquiry. All are now sadly lacking.
In school I had to know about Rosa Parks but I didn’t learn that blacks and Jews fought in the Confederacy. My teachers told me to volunteer for the Peace Corps but never said anything about the good missionaries do. McCarthy was a villain but I never knew he might have had some good reason to be concerned about Communism in the first place. In the 7th grade I watched in drama class the film Harold and Maude, which depicts attempted suicide and suicide. Perhaps the education I received was a bit skewed to the left.
Add into the Bill Ayer’s school ideology my own minority statuses and viola, you have a useful idiot. Black people are supposed to be Democrats. So are same sex attracted folks and women and immigrants and whoever else has been adopted by the left. Somehow I got the message that because of my skin color, etc. I was supposed to be a liberal and tell anyone who was not one that they are totalitarian fascists and they are KILLING ME by merely having a differing opinion. Sounds real tolerant, safe, and sane right?
Somehow a display like the one above is supposed to be assuring to someone like me. I’m a woman of color or #WOC so seeing a 3D poster of president Trump dragging or choking lady liberty, with his mouth looking like a sphincter, is supposed to do what exactly? Make me think he’s bad and as long as I stick with corrupt unions, hypocritical hyperbolic lobbies, and modern day eugenicists, that I won’t be broken? Been there & done that and all I got was called a wing nut and a headache from not thinking for myself. Worse, I didn’t speak up more about the drone strikes. I held a rally five years ago regarding the drones and about 15 people showed up. My guess is now suddenly liberals will discover we’re still at war, blame Trump, and lots of rage-fueled dissidents will show up to protests again.
On Valentine’s Day my heart is most grateful for the ability to think for myself and not listen to the propaganda and brainwashing of the left or the right, the Red or the Blue, the so-called right or the so-called wrong. Research has taken the place of blind allegiance and I often reserve the right to not know how I feel or what I think about an issue until I’ve looked at multiple aspects from people I do and don’t agree with. I’m not saying I am never wrong or a hypocrite and I’m definitely not saying conservatives are any better than anyone else with a bad case of schadenfreude. My point is that comedian Chris Rock nailed it in 2004 when he discussed the gang mentality of liberals and conservatives who mindlessly harangue us with their unexplored opinions.
“Anyone that makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a f**king fool ok. Everybody is so busy wanting to be down with a gang…I’m a conservative…I’m a liberal…it’s bulls**t. Be a person. Listen. Let it swirl around in your head, then form your opinion. No normal decent person is one thing. I’ve got some s**t I’m conservative about and I got s**t I’m liberal about.” https://youtu.be/UhjfxZHOT_o?t=2m39s
Thinking, researching, deciding, and reevaluating that decision based on new information is the hallmark of someone who strives to be more than a useful idiot. Now that is a gift of love we all can celebrate!