An Open-Minded 'Bagger?

The other day, I invited someone to be friends on Facebook--we have a huge number of mutual friends, so it seemed the thing to do. I got back this message:

You ask me to friend you but you list yourself as "Very Liberal." No way dude. You are brainwashed to say and think wrong things. When you become an independent thinker, try me again.

I wrote back, asking if he knew what the words he was using meant... a little snarky, I admit.  Then I looked at his page.  A lawyer.  "As a lawyer, you should know better than to jump to conclusions," I wrote again--but a little more nicely, and did it before he responded.

He sent me a nice note, after that, saying he had had a little too much wine before writing all that "nonsense."  He said he found most liberals mean spirited "like Keith Olbermann."  He wrote:

I am conservative - an unapologetic freedom lover who wants government out of our lives because after 27 years employed in government, I see the waste, lazy employees, and stupid policies ruining our lives.

I couldn't resist responding:

I do not see conservatives as "freedom lovers." In fact, I see them as trying to limit the freedoms of all but those who agree with them. I see conservatives as the mean-spirited ones, as people who cannot see beyond their narrow vision of life, who imagine only those who agree with them as "independent thinkers"--when, in fact, it is just the opposite. I see today's conservatives as people who, after having taken advantage of government for, say, 27 years, now want those advantages denied to others.

It was with more than a little surprise that I got his next missive, for it was polite, even friendly.  He wrote:

I am open to all points of view, and do not have a "narrow vision of life."

Knowing how he felt about Olbermann, I couldn't resist poking him a little about the righties like Glenn Beck.  I just had a feeling that he was in their corner.  He responded:

I simply don't agree with you - Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity, as well as O'Reilly, give opinions.... As for Olberman, I don't like the way he looks and holds himself than even what he says. He's a nerdy wise guy, and I hate that kind of person.

I shot back:

KO is generally on the money, whether one likes him or not. Limbaugh and the Foxites spew trash and propaganda, disguising it as opinion. KO, at least, is always up front, admitting that what he gives is opinion--his. You may hate KO, but that does not make him wrong... I can show plenty of cases where B,L,H and O'R have actually been wrong. Just look at Beck's promotion of that Wallbuilders.com guy: even Beck knows that's all nonsense, yet he uses it anyway. KO believes in what he says. Your guys? Not so much.
Which, of course, did not make him happy:
I agree with NOTHING you say. If you like Olber asshole, we can never ever be friends. Sorry. Go away. Have a nice like.
Why do I share this?  Well, I think it is helping me come to an understanding of the 'baggers.  They really do see themselves as the open ones, the giving ones, the compassionate ones.  We who are their enemies have made our own beds, and should lie in them.  They were the ones who worked for government so long, never cheating, always doing their jobs... it was the others doing wrong.  And, now that they've given their all, they deserve the benefits they've accrued. 
 
Their anger with us stems from their belief that they really have tried hard, and that all they get for it (from us, at least) is mockery.
 
And that's true.  And that's also why they cling to someone like Christine O'Donnell, who gets nothing but mockery.  If we laugh at her even more than we laugh at them, why, she must be even worthier than they are.
 
Thing is, I still don't know how to deal with these people without ending up laughing at them... even though I am beginning to think that may be a dangerous response.
 
Any suggestions?
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We were friends from junior/high school and that may actually be what presents the difference in our exchanges. In fact, I'm sure of it because however opposite our views may be, now, our friendship was real before our politics ever had enough basis from which to generate heated emotion.

Some folks, here, may recall my now-and-then refrain, "I used to be moderate!" which refers to a time before what has become my ongoing education in for-REAL politics began.  I used to WANT to try to reach across the divide and exchange ideas with 'all parties' as I used to think about  the lines that separated groups of people.

It was after 9/11 and on the way from the transformation of the messaging about 'war on terror' to IraqScam and the controlled morph of bin Laden into Hussein (and hence, on the way to the second Bush-Cheney theft), that I found a transformation taking place among my online correspondents. 

To the person, among a group of 30 or 40 voices who frequented the same online forum I did, the line between the roughly half who claimed themselves conservative versus liberal, could be drawn by which of those would lie to me, or not.  The folks who hang around here know that I am a researcher and perhaps it was this experience that pushed me into what I've done in recent years, but I repeatedly found that when I fact-checked the arguments of  conservatives, they'd inevitably quickly break down in lies.

After the last straw, I spent a few months simply enjoying the exercise of verbally whacking the idiots forum and then moved on.  It's been several years since I've even entertained the idea of trying something other than verbal bazooka exercises, though I'm quite out of that practice.

So it's been a refreshing exercise, as I told him recently, to strike up the dialogue with my old friend who's a conservative Christian. I appreciated just how much he was doing to restore the long-dead and decayed belief I once held, that not all conservatives are insincere liars, only out to repeat Fox talking point memo-bullets.

That's the only recent practice Aaron, so it may do you no good given that our current dialogue had an original foundation that was laid decades ago, in a substrate that found politics irrelevant at the time.

I'll be interested in further reports, however, since 'I used to be moderate.'

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"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson

I was actually toying the idea of sending the guy a link to this story but decided not to.

We are seeing something most peculiar... to us. Unfortunately, I suspect it is something that has happened many times before. When not somehow nipped off, it has always led to disaster.

It's simply people letting fear of the future get the better of them. They transfer that fear into hope that a certain person or ideology can "return" things to the "way they ought to be." Thing is, that "way" was a myth in the first place, a myth whose possible reality these people bought into, but never really experienced themselves. Now, seeing no possibility of it, they feel loss for something they never really ever had.

But how to deal with them? I'm not sure they are ever going to be open to real discussion.

I am dealing with a similar situation in a Facebook thread with two people I went to High School with.

I haven't responded to them ... was just composing a response when I read your post.

Let me fill in part of the previous posts from each of them ...

Poster A:

Currently, I see a lot of people who hate Palin, think she is stupid, etc. To me, she is the opposite. Nobody becomes Governor of the largest state in America and is chosen to run for the second most powerful office in the world who is stupid. And I can't see anything in Palin that one would hate...one may disagree with her...but hate her???

Anyway, as I said, we all have different realities, concepts, etc. It fascinates me how people come to very different conclusions.

Poster B:

I LOVE Sarah Palin and if she runs, I will vote for her. I'm with you. I think the whole reason she is disliked so much is for one, she is intelligent enough to see right through the liberal crap and tell it just like it is and two, she is beautiful and women are envious and men can't wrap themselves around the idea of a female president. I think if she got to be President, she would rock our world and turn it upside down in a good way. (What would our parents think??) Hah!! She would also make a VERY good Vice President if people would just give her a chance. I think she could just be too honest for the majority, though.

Both of these people (one male and one female) are well educated, and in state university systems, not religious colleges.

I started to compose a reply, but find I don't know what to say to them. We came from the same place, but ended up in very different places.  I am not sure I want to even be friends with people like this.

LDG2010's picture

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but your reaction to your exchange with this person is the same as his reaction to your friend request. Both of you are making generalizations and assumptions about each other based on which political party you belong to. I get that all the time. On my Twitter bio, I call myself a "free-thinking Republican" and consistently when a Liberal disagrees with something I have to say, that's the first thing they insult and pin-point. I've gotten into several discussions with Dems who make all sorts of accusations as to what I stand for without actually asking me. Then when I clarify my positions and back them up with either previous tweets or links to posts on my blog, they apologize and quiet down real quick.

And a few comments on some of the general points in your entry:

I do not see conservatives as "freedom lovers." In fact, I see them as trying to limit the freedoms of all but those who agree with them.

I think it's pretty obvious that if Conservatives agree with each other, they're not trying to take freedoms away from each other. However, considering that many Conservatives today are in favor of less government intrusion, how are they trying to deny freedoms to people?

Knowing how he felt about Olbermann, I couldn't resist poking him a little about the righties like Glenn Beck. I just had a feeling that he was in their corner.

So this person begins to carry on a polite conversation with you, which seems like what you wanted in the first place, and you feel the need to push his buttons because of his views? That's intolerance, plain and simple.

KO believes in what he says. Your guys? Not so much.

Your logic is just as flawed as that of your Conservative "friend". Just because Keith Olbermann believes what he says, doesn't make it right. I could tell you unicorns fart rainbows and have a belief that it's true, but that doesn't make it right, not even in the slightest bit. And yes, Olbermann HAS been wrong on several ocassions. He's had to issue on-air apologies for misquoting Rupert Murdoch, for insulting Melanie Lawson after cracking a joke about her when she has MS, for insinuating that Hillary Clinton should be beaten to the point where she's unable to walk...should I go on? I don't watch Olbermann anymore because I think he's a piss-poor excuse for a human being. However, I enjoy watching Rachel Maddow even if I don't always agree with her views.

Well, I think it is helping me come to an understanding of the 'baggers.

Referring to Tea Party supporters or Conservatives in general as "'baggers" is insulting and you're not going to get a respectful, polite response from ANYONE if you use that term toward them. Just a little tip for next time.

Their anger with us stems from their belief that they really have tried hard, and that all they get for it (from us, at least) is mockery.

And that's true.

I can't speak for all people on the Right, but as for me, my anger with Lefties stems from their ideals and past encounters with people of their ilk. So yes, the mockery comes into play and by posting an entry like this one, you're perpetuating the cycle. Congratulations! Admitting the mistake is the first step to fixing the problem.

Thing is, I still don't know how to deal with these people without ending up laughing at them... even though I am beginning to think that may be a dangerous response.

If you expect to be treated respectfully by people, try being respectful to them. Your response to polite conversation certainly isn't an example of that. The man you were exchanging messages with snapped, apologized, and moved on though you CLEARLY didn't. In short, grow up.
As far as your assumption that laughing at someone with Conservative views might be "a dangerous response", that's almost as bad as Obama discussing his "typical white" grandmother's response to black people. Just more intolerance and prejudice. Try setting that aside and look at someone as a person and not a political party.

Sorry for the long-winded response, but I'd love to discuss this issue further if you're up for it. Feel free to contact me.