In the wake of political conventions and the continued kerfuffle on Facebook or the freeway (yup, I have a Mitt Romney sticker and I get the finger frequently, it’s charming) I’ve been thinking about the statements we make about ourselves, hoping to give weight to our political opinion. You know what I’m talking about: the anecdotes about our “gay friends” or “Catholic background” or “unemployed mom” or “(fill in a non-white ethnicity here) friend”. Now, the truth is, unless we live in a carefully scripted prime time comedy, we probably don’t have all that diverse of relationships, because we all tend to spend time with people who are like us – we like to DO things together, that’s how relationships are made. I love flea markets, mimosas at breakfast, ocean kayaking and eating outdoors, so most of my friends do too.
But we don’t talk about those nuances when we’re racing in to meet someone of a divergent political belief head-on. Oh no, with those folks we insist that our lives are straight out of a Bud Light commercial, in which no two people look or sound anything alike and yet everyone is magically partying in harmony. (That circumstance has actually happened to me on occasion, but more often in a religious setting then anywhere else, which just proves my uncool status in these debates).
But that’s where the crux of my discomfort lies. I don’t know why it’s so damn uncool to be honest. Everyone is running around insisting that they’re not racists or bigots or homophobes or jealous or mean or insecure or out-of-touch, and yet WE ALL ARE. I am not going to pound the pulpit like these convention speakers and pretend that I’m God Incarnate and have never thought a mean thought about someone who doesn’t look like me or think like me. I totally have, it’s embarrassing and petty, sure, but I bet you have, too. So has every other person who’s spending many hours trying to convince us of their squeaky-clean status.
This week, a fellow-BlogHer member wrote a piece about how she won’t let her kids watch Bill Nye the Science Guy because he was condescending about creationism in a recent interview. Of the 70 comments on the post, less than five were supportive of her parenting choice, and most were not disputing the issue at hand (creation vs. evolution and how we teach our kids) and instead sank to immediate name-calling and cruelty, making fun of this blogger for her beliefs and trying to humiliate anyone dared to speak up for her. These “open-minded” feminists were cruel beyond measure to someone who doesn’t think like them – a tiny, much-maligned minority of belief. I don’t know anything about this woman, but I do know that she wrote a piece about traditional conservative Christianity and was widely mocked for it.
I’ve heard a lot about being silenced and mocked lately, but it wasn’t from traditional conservative Christians. Where was it, again? Oh, right….
Sandra Fluke said at the Democratic National Convention that “many women are shut out and silenced”.
Kerry Washington said, also at the DNC, that: “Today there are people trying take away rights that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers fought for: our right to vote, our right to choose, affordable quality education, equal pay, access to health care. We the people can’t let that happen… The other side wants to take away our voice and render us invisible.”
At the DNC, Joe Biden said, “[The Democratic Party sees] a future where women once again control their own choices, their destiny, and their own health care. Ladies and gentlemen, Barack and I see a future, it’s in our DNA, where no one is forced to live in the shadows of intolerance.”
Boy, that alternate reality sounds downright terrible, doesn’t it? I spared you the pain of Fluke’s full commentary, but you can read the whole speech here. If her view of an America in which women are enslaved, mistreated, shut up and sidelined doesn’t shiver your timbers, I don’t know what will. (By the way, there is a place like that, and it’s not Alabama, it’s our good buddies in Libya and Iran.)
Something tells me that if the aforementioned blogger had written a piece about how she won’t allow her kids to attend a faith-based function or watch Fox News, there would have been applauding from the mountaintops. There would have comments galore about how every mom has the right to choose what’s best for her kids and how it’s our job to support her. If she had insisted that her children learn about cross-dressing or attend a same-sex wedding, we would all shrug and say, “Sure, go for it!” But somehow, because she’s standing up for a more traditional, less sexy view, it’s OK to trash her.
Is this the tolerance we’ve fought so long for? Is this women’s suffrage? Somehow we are sold this tripe about how all women need to band together in order to overcome a male-led world and earn equal pay, rights and voice, and yet we tear each other up over something as silly as a children’s television program. Women are not all alike just because we’re in possession of our very own vajayjay. Obviously, we all have more than enough vitriol inside us to make the world a very scary place to live – indeed, just look at what happens when people allow hate to rule their lives.
I’m not going to assert that the anti-Bill Nye blogger I mentioned earlier is a Republican, because I have no idea what she believes (before you get your panties in a wad, I’m also not holding her up as a symbol of blog-perfection, I’m simply making a point). I’m also not pretending to know how her commenters will vote. However, I think it’s fascinating that the feminists, the “we are not invisible” folks, the ones who pound the pulpit about rights and compassion – only give those rights and compassion to people who look, sound and believe exactly like they do. Believe in Creation? You fool. Want to homeschool? Idiot. Vote Republican? Bigot. Pro-life? HOW ARE YOU ANTI-WOMEN, YOU CRUEL PERSON.
So let’s be honest. Let’s stop pretending that one political party has the corner on compassion. Let’s stop flinging around these foolish anecdotes about our super-multicultural lifestyle and how uber-tolerant we all are. Just read the comment section of any highly-trafficked blog-post – every last one of us has the capacity for deep ugliness, and screaming about equality, civil rights and tolerance does not make that go away.
The next person who tells me my political or religious beliefs make me a homophobe/racist/generic intolerant insult is going to get a big surprise. Rather than trotting out my civil accomplishments or defending my non-hater status, I’m going to just nod. “Yup,” I’ll say, “fortunately for me, my faith saves by grace and I have another shot today to live up to it.”
Conservatism and traditional Christianity may not whine about racism and equality, but it doesn’t lie about it either.
Jeremiah 17:9 – “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?”