The Cute Conservative is Moving On

When I started this blog is 2010, I wanted a place where I could write about politics without making the readers of my other blog upset. I guess I’d bought the cultural norm that politics and religion and culture should only be safely discussed with people who want to talk about it, and I tried to honor that by coming over here to “politics-only” safe zone, where I could tilt at windmills to my heart’s content, without offending anyone.

Of course, that didn’t work for long. Before I’d written a dozen posts I had a little band of malcontents who seemed to follow my blog just for the fun of arguing with me. But if you know me, you know that I don’t mind a lusty argument, so it was all in good fun. It was still politics-only, and only the politically-minded came around for these discussions.

In the last six years, though, I’ve realized a couple of things: one, I very much dislike preaching to the choir. It’s boring and pedantic. We get so used to speaking only to people who think just like us that our reasoning gets sloppy, our references become self-aware nods rather than thoughtful pillars of argument, and our manners are more than a little neglected. Two, I am passionate about two things: culture and conversion. I am fascinated by culture, by the winning and losing of arguments in a public sphere, and I simply cannot influence culture if I am already written off as a conservative who’s not worth listening to. I also love conversion – I love agreeing with unlikely people about unlikely things, surprising people with goodwill and disarming them with an unwillingness to spout off talking points or lazy party lines. I’m much more passionate about convincing the checker at Whole Foods to support family-owned farms in the water wars than I am about denouncing Hillary to fellow Hillary denouncers. One moves the needle and creates positive culture while the other sucks imagination, humanity, heart and common ground out of the discussion like a parasite.

So, I’ve decided that the Cute Conservative’s course has run. I’ve learned a lot in the last six years – I’ve learned how to argue well, how to lose with grace, how to walk into the fire and not be burned. I’ve learned that some battles are worth losing and others are not. I’ve learned how to use humor and grace to disarm, how to agree with someone who might be miles away, how it feels to be disdained and how to never, ever treat a human being with an ideological difference as any less than a First-Amendment-wielding worthy opponent who deserves my thoughtful retorts, not my sneering condescension.

I’ve learned all of this while not necessarily doing it well, I might add. Much of this I learned after I’d been a priggish brat who thought I knew better, and some of it I learned after being smacked around a bit – maybe I deserved it.

Either way, this blog has been a fun diversion and my own small corner of the marketplace of ideas, where I have honed my worldview, learned my craft and hopefully made a few friends. In a new way, I will continue to write my observations of culture on my other site, Wrangler Dani, and I hope you’ll join me. After all, even as I tried to shield my apolitical friends from the ugliness of politics, it has come a-knocking on our doors anyway, hasn’t it? Culture, politics, worldview, religion and freedom – these are all the big ideas that make life interesting, and I’ll never stop caring about them – I’ll just care more about the big questions than who won New Hampshire. After all, that matters much more in the end, doesn’t it?

2016, Culture with a side of Pop

Target Bathrooms, Angry Christians and Boycotts

After I wrote my last post, I started thinking more about the question of “what next?” After all, once the delicious intoxication of outrage has passed, we must actually decide where to buy our toilet paper and toothpaste with a side of cute candle. I have mixed feelings about boycotts. I remember the old days when Christian homeschoolers boycotted everything from Disney cartoons to Christmas trees, and to be honest, it never seemed to me to do much of anything for anybody. I’m more of a “celebrate the good” person than a “hate the bad” one, especially when it comes to culture. For all of the supposedly nefarious sexual undertones or subliminal messages in Disney movies, there are plenty of very overt messages of chivalry, kindness and courage, which I think might be a titch more important. (Before you tar and feather me, there is such a thing as appropriateness. Just because I, as a grown-up gal, can find redemptive themes in Game of Thrones doesn’t mean that my baby needs to watch it, and Disney movies are not blameless nor babysitters.)

So I am unconvinced about the power of boycotts. That said, I am a very vocal customer. I am the girl who sends lattes back, asks about menu ingredients and complains to management about bad customer service. This has almost never been a bad thing. Usually, the store or restaurant makes it right, the server gets a healthy tip or the establishment gets a loyal customer out of the deal. I much prefer speaking my mind and letting the entity in question respond, rather than engaging in passive-aggressive gossip about the lousy service or grunting cashier. If they can’t/won’t/don’t care to make it right, I consider that my cue to pick a new store. If I go back, I have no place complaining, because I know what I’m going to get.

I also think that Christians need to get over believing that we still have a “Christian nation”. I’m sorry, guys, but the party’s over. It’s probably been over longer out here in the West than it has in places like Texas or Iowa, but it’s still over. Our majority culture is no longer based in Judeo-Christian values, and therefore, we will find little solace in that culture, and to expect it will lead to almost endless disappointment and a false sense of entitlement.

Also, just as we staunchly defend Hobby Lobby’s right, as a private company, to not provide Plan B, so Target, as a private company, can make whatever bathroom policy they choose. Because they are irresistibly charming, Hobby Lobby is happily playing praise music and selling “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord” yard signs right here in my little Western quasi-progressive town. If you want to change culture, start your own, better Target and you can do whatever you want with it. Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are great examples of how to influence culture through better products, better ideas and better companies, and Christians should take notice.

I also think that there’s a difference between actively participating in something you disagree with and simply being a bystander to it. For instance, it’s one thing to shop at Target and another to help facilitate a transgender person’s transition. I realize that this is a grey area – after all, the argument is often made that supporting a business which supports things you disagree with is tantamount to supporting the thing itself. That may be, but it seems a rather tough line to walk. After all, Costco, Starbucks, Apple Computer and countless other companies all support things that don’t align with my worldview. It seems to me that the only way to be truly ethical to that standard is to go “off the grid”, raise all of one’s own food, make all of one’s own power, and certainly don’t pay your taxes, since Heaven knows our hard-earned tax money goes to all kinds of unholy things.

This is not to say, however, that you can never make an inconsistent decision, simply because it feels right in your own conscience. Consistency is important but is not the highest good; by contrast, a thoughtful, ethical spiritual and moral compass is rather high on the scale. Also, we make decisions all the time to protect our kids, this seems no different. If it doesn’t feel safe to you to go to Target because your kids might need to use the restroom alone and that is uncomfortable for you, don’t go to Target. Certainly, it’s a valid choice and aren’t we lucky that we have so many other options. It even seems to me that it’s a good idea to tell Target about your decision – who knows, they might install more “family” bathrooms or other options that would make you feel safer.

On the note of boycotts and consistency, of course the argument has come up that Christians should shop at Target to avoid seeming “angry” and further harming the reputation of Christianity in our culture. I think this is only partially valid, and not because of where you choose to buy toothpaste. As I said before, Christians need to give up the entitlement narrative – our culture does not like us, it is not on our team. Period. You cannot be honestly upset when TV shows which tout the joys of multiple sexual partners and a humanistic ideology don’t portray Christians as positive role models. If you want to change culture, start with art. Watch the rare shows (Blue Bloods is a great current example) which do exemplify positive family and faith stories and leave the rest, or recognize that you will have to sort the wheat from the chaff if you’re going to have a broader palate of cultural fare. Recognize that Modern Family may make some good points about the importance of loyalty and trust, but don’t be surprised if they include a joke or two at your expense – this is not our culture and the expectation that it is leads to tunnel vision and a dangerous obsession with legislation.  But – going back to where you buy toothpaste – honestly? It doesn’t matter. This whole thing will blow over and no one is checking your receipts to see how “loving” or “angry” you are with your dollars. What they will notice is how loving or angry you are toward them.

Over the years I’ve worked closely with people who do not agree with me at all, yet somehow we still manage to debate and agree on some things and not others. One particularly lovely woman and I work together right now, and we have vastly different worldviews and lifestyles, which you would probably assume (if you listen to the culture) would make us instant enemies. But we’re actually (gasp) friends! We agree on some things, we disagree on others. We vote differently, we purchase differently, we spend our Sunday mornings differently. I hope that she sees me as a real-life Christian who really cares about her, and maybe, just maybe, that would lead her to defend my worldview (even if she doesn’t agree with it) when she gets into a conversation about the mean Christians who hate transgenders and unwed moms and gay people and Target shoppers.

Because, at the end of the day, it’s much easier to hate the idea of people, isn’t it? The vitriolic outcriers against those “fundamentalists” boycotting Target have never actually met the sweet mom from Dallas who’s just trying to live out her conscience and protect her kids, and the conservatives who let a pushy agenda-driven minority overshadow everyday people also need a reality check.

Christians, this isn’t our culture. Like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby, we can start making culture of our own, but don’t insist that a culture that neither knows us nor loves us will behave respectfully toward us. That’s our job.

Christianity, Culture with a side of Pop

Transgender Bathrooms and Blaming the Victim

Ah, friends, I come to you again on this beautiful spring morning, when a soft breeze is whispering through the pines, the birds are singing, and the outrage is blowing like a tropical hurricane.

It seems that Target, she of the beautiful yet affordable purses and mom-date fame, has decided to make transgender bathrooms a thing. It seems odd that a store mostly frequented by moms and kids for toothpaste, Easter candy and cute candles should choose this as their issue du jour, but so the cultural march has gone. I’ve seen all the outrage from every corner of opinion, from those who scream for the tarring and feathering of anyone who doesn’t celebrate this progression, to those writing righteously indignant treatises to Target Corporate in protest.

I just have a question: why, Target and its supporters, are you blaming the victim?

After all, we’ve heard endless treatises on how women are victimized and held hostage by the anger/chauvinism/privilege of men. Sexual predators are decried and made much of from every corner. On the left, we had the ardent co-ed carrying a mattress around campus in protest, and on the right, we have survivors of sexual assault speaking out about gun rights. ( You may decide for yourself which approach is more effective.)

We have databases of sexual deviants, we teach our kids about stranger danger, we make much ado about the deadly nature of being a minority (woman, gay) when dangerous straight white guys are about, looking for sexual prey.

So then why would we assume that allowing men into a women’s restroom is capacious and generous, and not dangerous and frightening? Do you really intend to look in the eye of a rape victim and tell her to stop being such a bigot already? You may not care about a midwestern homeschooling mom and her passel of privileged lily-white offspring, but what about the multiracial family in southcentral LA who need to use the Target facilities, only to find a man casually washing his hands at the ladies sink, while the six-year-old forgets to lock her stall door or needs help buckling her overalls?

“Stop typing you horrible bigot!” The internet screams at me, “Transgender people aren’t predators!”

OK. While it’s completely illogical to assume that no one in a specific group can be evil or good (see my earlier tongue-in-cheek references to race and class deference), let’s assume the internet is right. No transgender person is a predator or ever will be one, they just want to use the restroom in peace and love and harmony with all life.

You’re still blaming the victim. Because you’re assuming that if a young girl gets accosted in the Target bathroom by a man who’s taking advantage of this new policy for devious ends, or if she’s scared to go into the bathroom because a man is in there, it’s her fault. Sorry, girls, you’ve been booted off the protected class island by a new, sexier victim, and you no longer get privacy or special treatment.

When the flood of outrage focuses its furor on a new protected class, the formerly protected classes of days of yore are left pillaged on the shoreline, gasping for breath and looking about in shock at their quaint beach town, which is now a pile of rubble and a bruised pineapple floating in a dirty puddle. Rather than building homes on stilts, knowing that no matter how the wind blows, our girls, women and kids deserve our protection, we’ve decided that new protected classes are all that matters, and yesterday’s victims are today’s mockery. I feel bad for the moms who will nervously usher their kids into a no-longer-safe restroom, but I also feel bad for the transgender community, who thinks that a restroom and a changed gender means equality.

It doesn’t – it just means there’s a new victim in town, and you’re blaming her.

Culture with a side of Pop, Social justice, Women: we're more than our ladyparts

Eternal Vigilance and the Presidential Primary

At the top of this little blog, I have a quote. It’s served as part tagline, part call-to-action for my musings here: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” ~Thomas Jefferson

I like it because it reminds me that there is no such thing as party line – not really. There’s only freedom or tyranny, good ideas or bad, health and wholeness or corruption and decay. This is how I can staunchly defend Sarah Palin for years and yet disavow her when she crosses the line and starts drinking her own Kool-Aid, how I can be an enthusiastic Republican voter and still find places of agreement with my non-conservative friends.

So, let’s talk Trump. Donald Trump as Republican front-runner is the opposite of eternal vigilance. He is the culmination of years of confusion, the ugly desperation of people who want to win at any cost and a gross lack of insight, plus the mind-boggling overture of belligerence that accompanies unchecked selfishness.

Of course, Trump isn’t the only disgrace. Hillary Clinton gets off light in this year of horrors because Donald Trump is a terrible candidate and in the habit of shooting his mouth off to depressingly loud cheers. But remember that Hillary Clinton is probably about to be indicted for serious misconduct around National Security issues. This is no small thing. Hillary, despite waving her va-jay-jay (haven’t said that in a while, you missed it, didn’t you?) around like a victor’s trophy, has a long history of silencing and shaming female rape victims, treating women in the way of her power with contempt and standing by while immoral regimes across the world stone women to death for light trespasses, all while shrieking about “equal rights” in our own borders. Even her supporters admit that Hillary is far from principled; she’s a calloused opportunist who contorts herself into whatever shape the electorate of the moment wants: one minute she’s quoting 1 Corinthians 13 and the next championing the slaughter of unborn children. She unabashedly changes her accent at a whim and has a record of lying to the press and the families of fallen service members, with a straight face.

So then, what do we do? This is a wasteland, in which the unbecoming and incoherent screeches of unConstitutional and immoral candidates are dominating the airwaves. Donald Trump is a Mafioso, with an atrocious, disgraceful and tyrannical ideaology that should have everyone nervous about not only his beliefs but the rabid fandom he is acquiring. Hillary Clinton is a better politician, but she is not far behind, with her long history of back-door tactics, bullying and lying to get her way and seize power.

We must have eternal vigilance. Do not be taken in, my friends. Do not be so desperate to win that you lose your country, and more importantly, your soul. Because ideals should matter. Character should matter. I know you want to win, but for what? Why does winning matter if your champion can’t be trusted?

In “Hamilton”, Alexander Hamilton endorses Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr for president in 1800, because, as he says: “I have never agreed with Jefferson once/We have fought on like seventy-five diff’rent fronts/But when all is said and all is done/Jefferson has beliefs. Burr has none.”

Stand by your beliefs. It matters. I will have vigilance, and if that means my party loses the election, so be it. Compromise is one thing; utter lack of principle is another. There are still primaries to be had, so let’s keep our vigilance and show the con man the door, eh?

2016, Our fearless leader, Partisanship - Can't we all just get along?

Insults vs. Art

Has anyone else noticed the heat of political rhetoric lately? Even people who would normally be a similar party persuasion are taking shots at each other, and forget trying to talk to someone on the other side of the aisle. These days, when a great man like Justice Antonin Scalia dies, half the country uses his death to make fun of his beliefs or call anyone who agreed or disagreed with his opinions some variation of the always-clever “libtard”.

We’ve picked our team and then we know where to place empathy or care, don’t we? Because we only have so much empathy, so who wants to use that precious reserve on Scalia when he was a bigot, and played for the other team? So we insulate ourselves from seeing people as people, and instead we see them as groups – liberal, socialist, Trumpsters, establishment, bigots, victims, the list goes on. With our endless “isms” we blame and categorize and remove everyone from our experience except those we agree with, so that our rhetoric can steam to an even higher degree of insanity, with no one pushing back with an alternate point of view. After all, who cares if you call conservatives “bigots” – you don’t know any conservatives, they aren’t offended. Or call Democrats “libtards” and your fellow Republicans will chuckle – you don’t know any Democrats so who’s hurt? It’s just your opinion, you say.

We’ve all seen this. Facebook is awash with the incoherent screaming of people who neither want discussion nor care about human dignity. So, what’s the solution?

This sounds stupid and crazy, but I think the solution is the Grammys. More specifically, I think the solution is art.

Last night, we watched the Grammys because I love the musical “Hamilton” and wanted to see the live performance of its opening number. It was incredible, like I knew it would be. We watched it twice and I have already seen it again online. Lin-Manuel Miranda and company won a Grammy for it and his acceptance speech was equal parts astounding and sweet.

But do you know what was even more remarkable? At the Grammys – a night known for wild costumes and leaning-toward-pornographic choreography and inconsistent political rants – a musical about the Founding Fathers was breathlessly introduced, loudly applauded and WON A GRAMMY. This is a show about capitalism, about making one’s way in the world, about beliefs and patriotism and faith and family and freedom. Hamilton is unabashedly patriotic, and reminds us that in New York you can be a new man – that America is indeed the land of opportunity, then and now. Alexander Hamilton wrote his way out of poverty, scandal and oblivion, and the tellers of his story – from Ron Chernow to Lin-Manuel Miranda to the incredible actors on Broadway – are also writing their way out. They are creating art that reminds us who we are, that history has its eyes on us, and that our lives matter, that the stands we take and the friends we make matter too.

So friends, make art. Say things that matter, not stupid low-blows and incoherent rambles. Let’s not jump at the easy, snarky jokes that our friends who think like us will chuckle at – let’s say something so thoughtful or insightful that it could unite rather than divide.

Elizabeth Gilbert says that art matters because it doesn’t matter. It’s a good point – art is not food, shelter, water or sex – and we are uniquely created by God to create. So don’t waste that creative genius on name-calling and pontificating to the choir. Let’s make something beautiful, true and real, and, like Hamilton, we might just win a few more friends and fans by being too good to ignore.

2016, Culture with a side of Pop

The Danger of Using Jesus

I have a confession to make: I like using Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the most powerful and recognizable religious figure of all time. I personally believe he is God made flesh, Messiah to the Jews and savior to the Gentiles, who died for our sins and rose again – but whether or not that is your conviction, you still know who he is – and his words and opinions still hold sway in our world, whether you like it or not.

So using Jesus, this mysterious and culture-defining individual who shaped our very calendar – is quite fun. It feels nice to hitch my wagon to his when convenient, insisting that my pet projects are actually his, and that he sees the world just how I do, instead of the other way around.

The trouble is, this Jesus is not so easily contained.

He confounds our reasoning – a quick reading of the Gospels shows us his knack for this. He was silent before Pontius Pilate when our political consultants would insist that he not waste a platform and an audience. He healed rich and poor alike, he told stories, he only taught for three years out of 33.

But I’m seeing him bandied about as though he was Mr Rogers: easily understood and quickly encapsulated. He’s just a nice man who wants you happy and feeling good about yourself and your opinions. This Jesus believes in gun control if you do, or gun ownership if you do. He scolds conservatives for being stingy and liberals for being controlling. He is used by Stephen Colbert to insist that we should be “doing more” as a nation for the poor (I can only assume that this means Jesus was a big fan of compulsory high taxes and bureaucracy) and he is used by HuffPo writers to assert moral high ground on any number of leftist causes – from gun control to Black Lives Matter to free college to abortion rights – as though he is just a popular puppet we can bend to our liking.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.40.57 AMConservatives aren’t off the hook, either, as banners are flying insisting that Trump/Cruz/Carson/pick your poison is Jesus’ pick for President, or that we know exactly what he would say about immigration or terrorism.

“Jesus, you sit here and we’ll tell everybody what you think, OK? Can I get you anything? Sir, don’t get up, you just relax. Here’s a bit of parchment to color on, while we figure out the Big Complicated Political Things you can’t possibly understand because you were born in Ancient Times, when governments didn’t overtax anyone and bureaucracy wasn’t a thing and no one ever protected themselves and we didn’t question the value of life.”

Oh, but you say, I have read the Bible and I know that Jesus is on my side, here.

I understand. But dare I suggest that we should try to be on Jesus’ side?

My faith in Jesus informs my view of the world. I think God is saddened and angered by the  selfish child sacrifice we engage in and call “choice”.

But I say this with fear and trembling – because this God I am invoking is not a puppet to be used for click-bait or comment-thread fights. He is not just a name to use to get a vote or change a mind – this is the Almighty God of the universe we’re talking about, here, and he is not to be trifled with.

Does Jesus inform my political views? Absolutely.

Should he inform yours? Only if you believe what he said. If you believe that he is God Incarnate, the savior of the world, then yes. If you don’t believe that, though, then why should you care what he thinks about feeding the poor or immigration or taxes or abortion? After all, his insistence that he is the Truth and the Life seems to be the cornerstone of his teaching, so if we leave that out we might as well leave him out of the conversation altogether.

Ah, and there’s the rub. Because we don’t really care what matters to Jesus. We care about what matters to us – Jesus is simply a convenient name to use as an endorsement for our view. We figure it doesn’t much matter, anyway, because Jesus can’t speak up for himself and tell us we’re wrong… right?

This post inspired by the above meme from Colbert and this thoughtful article in Guns Magazine.

2016, Christianity, Culture with a side of Pop

How I Learned to Dream: Why I Support the Hammond Ranch

I learned how to dream from the back of horse, where anything felt possible.

I learned how to drive in a foot of snow. I think I was 14, on my family’s ranch, feeding cows in our old Toyota pick-up.

I learned how to shoot around the same age, walking out to the hill behind our house and shooting at tin cans with my dad.

I know how to use a horse to work cows, use a lariat (although I do not claim to be a roper, that is for people more skilled than myself) and fix a fence. In college I spent more of my summers on a horse than on my feet. I’ve watched sunrises and sunsets from the beds of pick-ups and the top rails of pole fences. I’ve ridden horses who scared me, done things I didn’t think I was strong enough to do, watched in awe as calves were born. The land is part of what it means to be a country girl – without these broad plains of sagebrush and grassland, without miles of dirt roads, without the deep dark of night and the bright blink of stars away from city lights, none of this is possible.

I say all of this because I think too many of my friends are completely removed from what a ranching life looks like, and they think that their mockery of country people is harmless, that these bumpkins are too stupid to understand their highly clever hashtags and memes.

I’m here to tell you that there’s at least one cowgirl over here who’s heartbroken by the current situation at the Hammond Ranch. Not only is it a crying shame that a family has been bullied and victimized by a bloated bureaucracy, but it’s simply horrible to see how many are cheering for the bureaucrats and jeering the individuals fighting for the right to private property. Has culture fallen so far that we cheer for the suits instead of the cowboy? Will next year’s movie be all about how the Empire is doing the right thing by taking over the galaxy, instead of the desperate freedom fight of the Rebel Alliance?

To be clear, I think showing up armed and dangerous to stake out in a lonely range office was a terrible idea. It doesn’t play well from a PR perspective and it’s an untenable situation. But I have known enough of these kinds of men to know why they did it. They did it because these are men who can fix anything themselves, who have never called 911 or a plumber in their lives. These are men who’ve lived most of their lives in the wild ranges of the West, where the open carry of firearms is common and the freedom to live as one chooses is still possible. They did this because they think they can fix it with their hands, like they fix everything else. They think that this is a battle that can be fought on the plains of Eastern Oregon, not realizing that it should be fought in classrooms, on Twitter and in politics instead.

But, despite the unwise choice of an armed stand-off by some supporters (which, by the way, the Hammonds do not condone) the Hammond family should have our support. Because honestly, if we don’t side with the Rebels, we’re siding with the Empire – an Empire, which, in this case, is taking private property and bullying individuals using loopholes in an old law.

The derision the Hammonds are receiving in pop culture makes me especially glum because there’s nothing sadder than people who cheer their own bondage, or who mock another person’s struggle. You may not know what a frosty early spring morning feels like in an open pasture, or how good grassfed beef from your own land tastes. You may not own a gun, or have ever felt the warm wet tongue of a newborn calf on your hand. You may not know how to stretch a barbed-wire fence or jump your horse over a creek. But if this trend continues, no one will know any of these things. All we’ll have is stories of the good old days, when ranching families raised meat for their communities and little girls got to dream big dreams from the back of a horse.

Further research and provocation on this issue:

Shoshone Sisters Also Couldn’t Beat BLM

Five Reasons You Should Side with the Hammonds

Full Story of Militia Takeover

Culture with a side of Pop, Environmentalism, Social justice , , , , ,

An Old Saying for a New Crisis

Is your Facebook feed blowing up with debates about refugees? Whether or not to let them in, combined with photos of scary-looking men and sad-looking kids, depending on which side of the issue you’re on?

This refugee crisis reminds me of an old saying, “a conservative is just a liberal who’s been mugged”.

It makes you smile, doesn’t it? Remember that the old saying and I are speaking generally here, and not for all conservatives, so don’t send me hate mail about your personal complicated views. But in today’s instance, conservatives are generally opposed to letting in Syrian refugees, and not because they’re racist bigot Islamaphobes, despite what your Facebook feed says. They just have a distinctly guarded take on the world. Conservatives are the kinds of people who tell young women to carry handguns for personal protection, who warn against the cavalier accumulation of national debt, who make careful investments and wise choices. This is the very meaning of conservatism – a conservative investment or conservative evening gown is one that is safe, prudent and considerate – it covers up risk and cleavage alike – concerned more with appropriateness than flash.

So, in this refugee crisis, it’s quite expected that conservatives would be nervous. We’ve been mugged, after all, and we’re unlikely to prowl the dark alleys of the world without a piece, and even less likely to invite a potential mugger into our home. However, this does NOT mean three things:

One, it doesn’t mean that conservatives don’t care, or wouldn’t consider letting refugees in if precautions were in place. This is not about bigotry, but about protection and safety. Conservatives see themselves as the sheepdog to protect the sheep, and while they’re happy to accept new sheep, they will be watching closely for wolves in sheep’s clothing. So stop calling cautious people names for being cautious and *gasp* conservative with their welcome.

Two, it doesn’t mean that conservatives are selfish. It’s well-known that conservatives donate much more of their income than liberals do, and are active in charity and humanitarian work. One reason conservatives are nervous about allowing refugees into the country is because of others – we are responsible for the health and safety of each other and it’s our job to protect that. This is actually unselfish, because rather than self-aggrandizing about our selflessness and welcoming embrace of the world, we dare the contempt of our fellow countrymen in order to be protective and wise.

Three, it’s not about the photos you’re sharing or the statuses of celebrities that make you feel mushy inside. There is not a decent person alive who does not feel moved by the photos of desperate children fleeing for their lives. But conservatives have long memories. We see those children and we remember other children fleeing bombs – right here in Boston – children who lost lives and limbs at the hands of political refugees on our own soil. Does this mean every child will become a terrorist? Of course not. Does this mean every child should be turned away and not granted asylum? I don’t believe so. But have patience with conservatives who want to vet these families and think twice before opening our doors too wide. After all, it’s not that we’re cruel or heartless or selfish – we’ve just been mugged before, and we don’t want that for you.

2016, Red and yellow, black and white.., Social justice, World events

In honor of tonight’s debate…


Life Matters

I’m heartbroken today, y’all. I’m sick to my stomach. Here’s why, in bullet-point fashion:

  • I’m seeing tirade after tirade about how “Black Lives Matter” is essential and “White Lives Matter” or “All Lives Matter” is racist. Now, I’m not in the business of calling anyone a racist, because, frankly, I think it’s overplayed, overdone and mean-spirited. Not everyone who has a differing view is a racist, and not every white person needs to be put in his place. Even if you’re a terrible person, unless you say something to my face which is cruel, race-based and demeaning toward another nationality or race, we’ll just call you a jerk and a bozo, not a racist, and say no more about it. Frankly, I have better things to do with my time and energy than run around thinking everyone on Facebook is a member of the KKK.
  • One blogger made the point that we can’t talk about any lives except the lives of black people, because of slavery and Jim Crow. Hear me on this: slavery and dehumanization is despicable in every form, both past and present, and I am not pretending that there’s nothing wrong with present norms. But have we stopped to consider what this obsession with past guilts means for our future? Are there other pieces of history that need to be equally abhorred? Did you know that at the inception of the American colonies, Irish slaves could be bought for 5 shillings, while African slaves required four times as much? Have we considered that African kings conspired with European traders to make money off the flesh of their own people, often selling whole tribes into slavery for their own enrichment? More people than ever in history – of every race, color and creed – are living in slavery today, an estimated 29.8 million. Do those lives matter? Does the long and broad and systemic history of slavery  – from the Vikings to the Mongols to the West Africans to the English – perhaps have more to it than 150 years of African-American slavery? I’m not diminishing that horror, I’m simply asking if perspective – both historical and cultural – is allowed in this debate.
  • One common denominator in the BLM movement is the idea that black people are regularly “gunned down” by white cops. On this point, I admit some reservations – I am uncomfortable with the excessive sentencing and overwhelming police forces that we so often see, and I do think that we need to reexamine justice in our country. That said, there’s more to this story. Larry Elder cites that “…in 2012, according to the CDC, 140 blacks were killed by police. That same year 386 whites were killed by police. Over the 13-year period from 1999 to 2011, the CDC reports that 2,151 whites were killed by cops — and 1,130 blacks were killed by cops.” I don’t trust the government, by and large, and I certainly am not the kind of person who is unmoved by the heart-rending tale of a little boy with a pellet gun being shot by police. But is this really always racially motivated? Can we really assert that Officer Wilson wanted to kill Michael Brown because of his skin color? I doubt it. There’s a larger cultural discussion we can have here, but it doesn’t start by telling anyone who’s not the preferred skin tone to sit down and shut up (unless they say the preferred thing, of course. Then, welcome to the discussion! Anyone else see the irony here?).
  • Also missing from the discussion of Black Lives Matter is the horrible circumstances of both crime and abortion. Sixteen million black babies have been slaughtered by abortionists in the last 40 years, and then undoubtedly chopped up and sold for a profit to line the pockets of Planned Parenthood executives, with no thought given the decimation of entire generations of black children. (Black people make up 13% of the population and 40% of abortions). High unemployment and poor education leads to crime and gang violence in many cities, and the solution to that is not rioting or angsty blog-posts written by white people in safe suburbs who want to feel better about themselves. Only people in those cities, with some business acumen, willpower, ambition and passion for their communities can change these trends. It’s not about black and white, it’s about valuing life, creating opportunities and caring more about the community than you do about yourself. For starters, entrepreneurship and school choice could both go a long way toward solving these social issues, but both of those are actively discouraged by liberals who then assert their love for minorities. Maybe, just maybe, this isn’t about justice for some people?
  • Finally, this whole discussion makes me so sad, because I really am sorry that so many people feel a meme is the only way to be heard; that exclusive rights to aggrieved status will solve something. It’s heartbreaking and I have compassion and a desire to help. It’s also sad because I write this with my black daughter in my lap. I want her to grow up knowing that her life matters – not because she was born black – but because she is a unique and infinitely valuable child of God. We did not adopt her to get some street cred in a society in which skin color and social grievance matter much more than content of character – we adopted her because we loved her the minute we saw her, because we needed her and she needed us. I hope that by the time she’s old enough to understand all of this we have a society which values every life as God does – because we are human beings made in his image, no matter how small or large, beautiful or ugly, light or dark, able or disabled, old or young. We are each valuable, my friends, so don’t tell me that I’m a racist because I’m uncomfortable with the popular mantra of the day. My values actually come from a God who instills in us the belief that Black Lives Matter, Asian Lives Matter, Hispanic Lives Matter, European Lives Matter, American Lives Matter, Unborn Lives Matter. Life matters. You matter. Do not step on someone else’s neck in order to convince us of that – after all, you know how it feels when it’s done to you.


Christianity, Culture with a side of Pop, Red and yellow, black and white.., Social justice