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April 12, 2008

Comments

So it goes. (Good ol’ Kurt.)

You seem to have a pretty confined view of possibility. IMHO. %!

I, for one, enjoy reading some of the right-wingers' stuff, mixing the place up & stuff. It reminds me ... I don't know ... don't want the place to become a c!rcle jerk.

They make my blood boil, sometimes forcing me to think and other times forcing me to accept there are SO MANY FREAKIN' FASCIST IN THE DAMN NATION!!! :(

Is anyone else going to point out to DaveC that manipulating tax codes, zoning laws, etc to "make things attractive to job providers" is actually the opposite of a free market? No? Ok, then.

Is anyone else going to point out to DaveC that manipulating tax codes...

May I?

DaveC, your beloved GOP operates on the principle that if you want something and you have the money to pay for it then, by gravy, you can have it. That means that the GOP listens to and caters to the people with the resources to hire high-priced lawyers and lobbyists to represent their interests, which they do very effectively. That means that companies like Walmart, with GOP help, are not just in the retail business, they're also in the subsidy business. The subsidy business is very profitable and it involves taking your local taxes and placing them directly in Walmart's bank account, giving you nothing in return and simultaneously destroying the 'free market' by driving out smaller, legitimate tax-paying competition.

But my hunch is this is something you'd prefer not to know.

As opposed to outlandish, but apparently socially acceptable, expressions of pure unadulterated hate and actual physical violence inflicted on "outsiders" so common to rural areas, right?

This is EXACTLY the kind of cartoonish stereotyping I'm talking about. I don't know what you mean by "expressions of pure unadulterated hate", but guess what - physical violence inflicted on "outsiders" is MUCH more common in the cities than in rural areas.

I've lived in liberal areas and conservative ones, and there's plenty of condescension and misunderstanding going both ways, and if you don't think there's bigotry in conservative circles you're wrong.

Oh, I agree 100%. Believe me, I'm well acquainted with the conservative stripe of bigotry as well. Two things, though - 1.)we're not talking about conservatives here, we're talking about liberals, 2.)conservatives don't, as a rule, compound the sin of prejudice with an added dose of hypocrisy, the way some of the more self-satisfied liberals do.

I think we'd be a lot better off if people on both sides of the divide actually got out and got to know some of their fellow Americans as something other than stereotypes. In my own experience, living abroad has really led me to rethink a lot of my own prejudices (which, when I was growing up, mirrored the ones I'm denouncing here).

So IMO it's time to give the 'real American' thing a rest.

Absolutely. As if there ever was such a thing...

Clever enough as far as it goes, but I can produce in about 15 seconds hundreds of counterexamples in both directions (smart people with Southern accents, dumb people without them), so ultimately pointless.

Did I mention it was STEPHEN COLBERT, as in icon of latte liberal culture Stephen Colbert, who made this observation? Since he's a southerner as well as a liberal, well, if he picks up on a pronounced strain of anti-rural/southern/redstate/whatever bias in American culture, I'm inclined to believe him.

Oh, this is just pernicious nonsense and a lot of mind-reading to boot. For every example you think you can name, I can again come up with hundreds of counterexamples.

I'm a lifelong yankee and a dyed-in-the-wool social liberal. And even I often pick up on the disdain when somebody like Keith Olbermann or Sean Penn talks about middle America. They're not running for office and shouldn't be taken as representative of the views of their party, you say? Well, neither are Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh.

1) A lot of evangelicals deserve contempt. Their theology is, to put it mildly, reactionary and their stances are chosen accordingly. And I say this with a number of close evangelical friends, not that that mitigates the sting I'm sure.

I don't agree with basically any tenets of evangelical theology (I'm sort of a quasi-Buddhist deist religiously) but I'd say that 1.)I don't think these people are as numerous as you suggest - the John Hagees and Pat Robertsons tend to be the loudest, but the vast majority of evangelicals I've encountered are more Rick Warren types, and 2.)"a lot" gets turned into "most" or "the average" or even "all" far too often in this formulation.

2) A lot of Republicans deserve contempt, nowadays at least, for continuing to support the Bush Administration. Same disclaimer as above.

Depends on their reasons for supporting it, I'd say.

3) Name me one instance -- one -- wherein a major Democratic politician publicly slammed, on a national stage, the South as being "un-American" or something equivalent.

Democrats don't slander Republicans that way, since that's not the going stereotype, and that prejudice doesn't appeal to the moral vanity of Democratic voters. Rather, Republicans are slandered as knuckle-dragging antirational yahoos, "American Taliban" etc. Both are wildly and offensively exaggerated caricatures IMO.

3') Why do you say "liberal enclaves" like they're an aberrant species in the midst of Real America? I'm guessing it was just a figure of speech here, and fair enough, but it's anything but from the majority of the (vocal) right.

Woah, in no way did I intend it that way. For the record, I was born and raised in one of those liberal enclaves (Philadelphia), and went to college in another (Ithaca, NY), and lived only four and a half years of my life as an adult in a conservative part of the U.S. (New Hampshire). You're correct that some on the right use it that way, But I'd rejoin that I've heard people on the left use the exact same expression with an equally grating connotation of "bastions of enlightenment amid a sea of unenlightened cretinism".

I dunno, liberals, gays, atheists and godless heathen sodomites (as we're typically called). In fact, name me one part of the liberal movement that is as persistently hateful towards your list as the evangelical megachurches -- or the vast majority of ordinary evangelical churches, come to that -- are towards mine.

Crikey, care to throw a bit more invective in there? How many ordinary evangelical churches have you been to? I haven't been to many, but the few I have gone to as guests of evangelical friends were a lot more about Jesus and joy and love and whatnot than about bashing gays and atheists. Just my experience, but in that experience evangelicals are a lot more nuanced and complex in their social and political views than what you say suggests.

Whaaaaa??? The GOP has treated them with contempt for decades and they bend over and say "More, please!" And the admiration for Commander Codpiece (talk about jumped-up photo ops) didn't come from the "liberal enclaves". The fact that these states are still "red" bespeaks a certain amount of political naivety, if not outright stupidity.

Can you please tell me how it's possible for a red-stater to read a paragraph like this and NOT think liberals are only capable of looking at them with a.)contempt, or b.)condescension? You're also falling prey to the Thomas Frank assumption, that culture issues are just a sideshow that Republicans use to distract people in the heartland from the issues that really matter, i.e. economics. It's quite possible to be less-than-sanguine about GOP economic policies but feel you have to vote for the Republican because he's the only one who'll stick up for your belief that unborn fetuses are human lives, or defend hunting as a traditional part of your way of life. In fact, most of the social conservatives I know make exactly those sorts of conflicted choices. I know a lot of liberals are economic determinists, but they ought to consider the possibility that not everybody thinks that way - if someone really cares about abortion or guns or whatever, it's not an irrelevant wedge issue to them. The notion that red staters are too unsophisticated to realize that Republican economic policies often aren't in their interests but can be easily bamboozled with culture war rabblerousing, or that they're not capable of judging pros and cons and making voting decisions on the basis of which issues are most important to them, is UNBELIEVABLY condescending.

The only thing wrong with what Obama said is that "bitter" isn't the right word.

One of the few comments that actually analyzes the comment (thatleftturninabq also and Xeynon as well)

I just wonder how we can have a conversation about what Obama said without it devolving into: a) Conservatives say worse things; b)my relatives in the sticks despise big city liberals as much as . . . etc. etc.

Why can't we talk about what was really said? And why is it so hard for so many to admit that it was a really dumb comment?

As I see it:

Problem with the comment is that it singles out two core conservative issues and attaches "cling" to them. "Cling" when it comes to a belief denotes holding a belief to the point of irrationality. In the face of humongous evidence to the contrary, etc.

He attaches "cling" to other issues as well (and thereby links God and guns to xenophobia, homophobia or liberalphoba or whatever he meant by the "others not like them").

"Bitter" provides the motivation, as if those "clinging" to religion do so as a vent for their bitterness.

You get the idea. It's not just one word. I think this is patently obvious to everyone here but we're not talking that much about what he said.


The problem is that the main determiner of how rural Pennsylvanians think about this is how the media tell them they should think about it.

Hmmm. You may be in fact correct from a pollster point of view. But if I were from rural Pennsylvania, I might take issue with that.

Is the main determiner here what the media has told us what to think? Why are we different?

BTW, I'm from very rural California of all places. I wonder if I feel bitter enough to go to the shooting range this coming weekend after church? :)

The notion that red staters are too unsophisticated to realize that Republican economic policies often aren't in their interests but can be easily bamboozled with culture war rabblerousing, or that they're not capable of judging pros and cons and making voting decisions on the basis of which issues are most important to them, is UNBELIEVABLY condescending.

Why can't we talk about what was really said? And why is it so hard for so many to admit that it was a really dumb comment?

It's not that hard for me to read Obama's words and see how someone might be offended.

On the other hand, Obama's a guy who graduated with an Ivy degree at the age of 24 and promptly spent the next couple of years doing community organizing for very short money.

Then he received a law degree with honors from Harvard, was president of the Harvard Law Review, and then went back to Chicago to to voter registration work.

Language is important, and nobody wants to be looked down on. All good.

But you can either pick apart the language someone uses to talk about issues in order to find something to take offense at, or you can look at the broader context in which somebody's comments are made.

That context might include, oh, I don't know, maybe everything they'd done over the course of their life.

There are lots of coastal liberals who look down on folks who aren't like them, and there are lots of folks living out in Altoona who think folks from New York are jerks. Actually, folks who live almost anywhere but NY think folks from NY are jerks. They may even have a point.

But I really don't think Obama is one of those people. Just saying. I could be wrong, I don't know the guy, but I really just don't get that vibe off of him. Not because of the language he uses, or the suits he wears, but because of what he does.

Everyone really, really needs to grow a thicker skin. Seriously.

Thanks -

But I really don't think Obama is one of those people. Just saying. I could be wrong, I don't know the guy, but I really just don't get that vibe off of him. Not because of the language he uses, or the suits he wears, but because of what he does.

I agree, for what it's worth. I'm hoping he'll be able to extract his foot from his mouth on this one, because from his track record, I don't get the sense that he's an elitist - he just came off as one here, which is unfortunate.

You may be in fact correct from a pollster point of view. But if I were from rural Pennsylvania, I might take issue with that.

Maybe so, but are we now supposed to make sure all our blog comments are phrased acceptably for a political ad, or are we actually going to have a conversation about the way the world is?

I should have said they'd get some of their information from Clinton campaign ads as well as the media, but where else is it you think they're getting their information about the event? What percentage of the voters do you think are following the details as much as the average blog commenter, much less the bloggers here? Is it an unforgivable insult to suggest that that percentage is very low?

Damn, I hate the captcha here. Can't they at least make it part of the comment form, rather than waiting to do it on the next page after an annoying delay that's already caused me to switch to another tab so that I forget about it until some time later when I notice it's still there waiting for me (but long expired)?

But I really don't think Obama is one of those people. Just saying. I could be wrong, I don't know the guy, but I really just don't get that vibe off of him. Not because of the language he uses, or the suits he wears, but because of what he does.

I agree as well. I'm not arguing this actually makes him an "elitist liberal snob" or some such. I get more genuineness from him than that. And I would never judge someone from one stupid comment.

Nor do I excuse stupid comments on the right unless someone is drawing way too much of a conclusion from the comment. In other words, just because I think Obama made a really stupid comment doesn't make me leap to the conclusion I specifically reject above.

or are we actually going to have a conversation about the way the world is?

Yes. My point is that I don't think most rural folk (me included) need any help deciphering this comment. Perhaps something like the Obama/Clinton NAFTA fight would cause most to turn to talking points/analysis from talk radio/MSM/etc. But here you have a comment (admittedly taken out of the broader context of the rest of his speech) that most can read or listen to for themselves.

BC, if all they're hearing is a sentence or two taken out of context, then the people doing the editing, and the people following the soundbite with their sage analysis, are having a huge effect on what the response is. Most people aren't reading or listening for themselves, at least in any meaningful way, because they're not hearing the speeches or full statements, or even substantial portions of them -- they're hearing the most inflammatory and easily distorted bits that turn up on the news or in ads.

Xeynon, thanks for the reply. I know this is getting long, but...

1.)I don't think these people are as numerous as you suggest - the John Hagees and Pat Robertsons tend to be the loudest, but the vast majority of evangelicals I've encountered are more Rick Warren types, and 2.)"a lot" gets turned into "most" or "the average" or even "all" far too often in this formulation.

You're certainly correct about the latter, but on the former? I dunno. The problem is that that's sort of the "but he's nice to his mother!" defense. Yes, most of the evangelicals I know personally are nice people all around, but that's self-selection: I try not to hang around with people I don't like. If, to pull a bunch of stereotypes out of a hat, someone reads Left Behind *ahem* religiously, if they attend a church which preaches that the End Times are at hand, that those who have not been washed in the blood of the lamb -- by which they mean "have pressed the Magic Jesus Button" -- are to burn in the fires of hell for all eternity (and what a pity that is!), that Christians are persecuted in this country, etc... then yes, even if they're nice to their mothers, IMO they deserve contempt.

Now I'm not saying that the number of people who fit all those stereotypes is all that great. I am saying, however, that I have some familiarity with people who fit many of those stereotypes -- one was a roommate of a Jewish friend in college which, let me tell you, was an interesting dynamic -- there seem to be a fair number of them, and I stand by what I said.

[I should add that my grandmother was an evangelical missionary who didn't meet these stereotypes, so it's not like I'm unfamiliar with the alternatives.]

Depends on their reasons for supporting it, I'd say.

Piggy-backing off Fred Clark's post cited by Jes above, no, not really. Supporting the Bush Administration at this point means supporting torture. It means supporting the overturning of the Constitution, and supporting flagrant cronyism and incompetence. These aren't abstract (or even debatable) insults; they are real, tangible, and explicitly confessed by the Administration. I can't think of any mitigating reason to support the Administration, though I guess I'll concede the putative existence of one.

Democrats don't slander Republicans that way, since that's not the going stereotype, and that prejudice doesn't appeal to the moral vanity of Democratic voters. Rather, Republicans are slandered as knuckle-dragging antirational yahoos, "American Taliban" etc. Both are wildly and offensively exaggerated caricatures IMO.

You missed the point. Democratic voters, sure, but that's not what I said. Let me repeat:

Name me one instance -- one -- wherein a major Democratic politician publicly slammed, on a national stage, the South as being "un-American" or something equivalent.

Feel free to substitute "American Taliban", or whichever stereotype Democrat voters fling about, but the point remains: Bush's 2004 stump speech explicitly denigrated California and Massachussetts. [IIRC, he didn't even bother restricting it to the liberals in those states.] I can't think of a single Democratic politician on the national stage who would even think about doing the same thing to, say, Alabama or Kansas.

And it goes further than that. Look at the Senate, say: Dick Durbin got publicly flagellated for what should have been a fairly non-controversial remark and walked it back in, what, three days; compare that to what, e.g., Tom Coburn has said about, well, everyone, without any apparent regret.

[And don't even get me started on the phenomenon of slandering veterans if they fail to toe the jingoistic line...]

But I'd rejoin that I've heard people on the left use the exact same expression with an equally grating connotation of "bastions of enlightenment amid a sea of unenlightened cretinism".

Fair cop.

Crikey, care to throw a bit more invective in there?

Huh? I was mirroring your list of epithets.

How many ordinary evangelical churches have you been to?

I've attended services at around five or six, and I mentored a passel of students who were active in the local evangelical community. [I haven't been a regular congregant at any, but then I too am quasi-deist.] I also watched the religious broadcasting networks here in town for a couple of years, though they're more representative of the megachurches than ordinary ones.

Just my experience, but in that experience evangelicals are a lot more nuanced and complex in their social and political views than what you say suggests.

Obviously, there's no single evangelical experience, and I'm sorry if it came across that way. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that evangelical churches are inherently hateful, or that they're uniformly hateful, or anything like that, though upon re-reading I can see where you got that from.

So let me try again: my experience has been that there is a core of hate common to much evangelical theology -- not all, but much -- directed at those groups I mentioned above (and a few others) which persistently, though usually infrequently, expresses itself in its adherents. For the most part, my experience is that it's reflexive, almost subconscious, but it's present in a substantively different way than the reflexive way in which liberals sometimes hold conservatives in contempt. Part of that is the (artificially) Manichean way that evangelical theology regards people: if your only alternatives are "saved for all eternity" and "damned for all eternity", you don't have a whole lot of wriggle room for a lot of nuance.

Now, how closely people actually adhere to the theology of their church is a much, much more complex question and one which I don't really feel qualified to tackle. [See also Jeremiah Wright.] I will say, however, that while an individual's reaction to such a milieu is essentially unpredictable, in the mass -- that is, given a large enough sample size -- this underlying ideological binarism will get played out (possible in small ways) across the board. This is what I'm talking about and, like I said, it's qualitatively different than, say, Ivory Tower disdain for lowlife rubes, or whatever liberal counterpart you'd like to consider. You have to go into some seriously far-left realms -- maybe the Socialists, probably the Communists -- to find the equivalent IME.

Usual disclaimers: this is a generalization of a tendency, not a universal claim; and obviously, YMMV, as may everyone else's.

[As a side note, we could also be talking about differing notions of "evangelical" here, let alone "hate", which could complicate matters still further. It's not like either of these has well-defined boundaries.]

Did I mention it was STEPHEN COLBERT, as in icon of latte liberal culture Stephen Colbert, who made this observation?

Oh, well, if it was STEPHEN COLBERT . . . crap, wait, are you saying this as if the identity of the person who said it has some extra bearing on its truth or importance? Because that isn't actually the way things work.

Since he's a southerner as well as a liberal, well, if he picks up on a pronounced strain of anti-rural/southern/redstate/whatever bias in American culture, I'm inclined to believe him.

So, when gays pick up on the anti-gay strain in popular culture, and when straights pick up on the anti-straight strain, and atheists pick up on the anti-atheist strain, and Christians pick up on the anti-Christian strain, etc., etc., you're inclined to believe all of them, too? My, but you're the credulous sort! Can I interest you in this bridge? You can have it for a song.

I'm a lifelong yankee and a dyed-in-the-wool social liberal. And even I often pick up on the disdain when somebody like Keith Olbermann or Sean Penn talks about middle America. They're not running for office and shouldn't be taken as representative of the views of their party, you say?

Where exactly did I say this? Can you maybe have a conversation with me, and not whatever ghostly voice is whispering in your ear?

Well, neither are Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh.

Someone who feels he has to pre-empt some straw person's point with a tu quoque before anyone has said any of it generally doesn't have much of real import to convey, in my experience.

but guess what - physical violence inflicted on "outsiders" is MUCH more common in the cities than in rural areas.

. . . a claim for which the needed cites are forthcoming, I imagine. I'll wait.

conservatives don't, as a rule, compound the sin of prejudice with an added dose of hypocrisy

:::snort:::

Wait, what?

Do I have to bring up a bunch of stories about anti-gay icons being found trolling in gay bars or being found dead in wetsuits with dildos up their butts? Because I will. I'm crazy that way.

Do I have to bring up a bunch of stories about anti-gay icons being found trolling in gay bars or being found dead in wetsuits with dildos up their butts?

Frankly, we can always use more stories about anti-gay icons being found in wetsuits with dildos up their butts. The "dead" part is optional, though.

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