Saturday, November 06, 2004


Hiding Truth from Oneself

I read the following statement from an article from the Buffalo News, and it struck me as a great example of how some talk is designed to keep a person indoctrinated.

But social conservatism is another thing entirely, a mutant strain unhindered by critical thought.

This statement tells us an awful lot about the speaker.

1) He is an elitest.

In other words, he believes, or has been trained to speak out that people who don't agree with his viewpoint are mental, social or educational inferiors.

There are a few things wrong with this assumption. As a former Instructor of English, I would mark it as a sweeping generalization. It condemns everybody in an large group as being one thing or another. This is the moral equivalent of saying, "All Indians are drunkards." It is no more true, and shows a large amount of prejudice on the part of the speaker.

2) He considers social conservativism to be a "mutant strain." Actually, any one who studies the history of the world will find out quickly that social conservativism is probably the human norm. The majority of the people in any area tend to cling to the norms of their group, moving forward on an idea as a whole, slowly, in part because human experience has shown that jumping on the new and innovative often disrupt the fabric of society, and a lot of the time the innovation doesn't really work. Just look at the history of most utopian movements. The Pol Pot regime is a great example of what can happen at the extreme.

3) By calling conservatives "mutants," he is practicing the old tried and true technique of demonizing one's enemy. If he makes the enemy seem less than human, it becomes easier and more comfortable to hate them hurt them or manipulate them. The world is full of this attitude, usually bolstered with folkloric stories like the stories in medieval Europe about Jews poisoning the wells, or the stories about witches eating babies.

But the most dangerous problem with demonization is that it allows you to not know who you are in disagreement with. It masks the people who you need to deal with. Many people who have parroted the Democratic rhetoric seem to think that we are about ready to junk the constitution, declare a theocracy, and eat babies for lunch.

Look around you - do you see secret police beginning to lock people into concentration camps? Hardly.

Bush is not Hitler. Bush is a kind man who tries to do the right thing by the set of values he has, just like most of us do. But if all you repeat to yourself that he is a virus, a chimp, Hitler, a demon, how are you going to be able to judge what is happening?

Critical thought is why many of us have become social conservatives. For me it was deep studying history, and seeing what really worked in societies and what didn't. It was based on much reading of serious works, studying the effects of people like Locke and Bentham, Mills, Burke, Marx and earlier writers as well.

What is it that counts? For many of us it is right living in a way that supports family, community, and the ability for the majority of people to lead a decent life. Many of us "Values Voters" see that as being pro-American, pro-Business, and tolerant of the religious as well as the secular.

Think about it. Look and see. What are you reacting to? Is it a monster of your own creation? Or have you used your own critical thinking skills to look above the "monster" of the political hype and made a clear analysis of it?

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