Monday, January 31, 2011
"Partisanship is the new Racism" ??
As quoted in the February 4, 2011 issue of "The Week" Magazine:
"Partisanship is the new racism. We love to criticize it, and we love to claim we've transcended it. We recognize it in our enemies but not in ourselves. When partisanship is seen as a form of social identity -- I'm a Democrat because people like me are Democrats, or I'm a Republican because people like me are Republicans -- we can understand why so many blue-collar Kansans are Republicans and why so many Silicon Valley billionaires are Democrats, even though each group's rational interests might be better served by the other party. Any liberal who supported George W. Bush's adventure in Iraq would have been ostracized by his friends. A conservative who feels Barack Obama is a cool president will be made to feel like a traitor at church."
-- Shankar Vendantam in Slate.com (read the full piece here.)
Two and a half years ago, we moved from a Big Blue City in a Red State, to a Small Red Town in a Blue State. DH and I bizarrely, and without much discussion, agree on nearly everything when it comes to politics. So much so, that we never really ever need to actually talk about it. We just send each other quotes and articles like the above, and nothing needs to be said because we are so much on the same page.
Sometimes I even forget that there really are people out here in Podunkville and elsewhere in the world who have Strong Opinions on Such Matters. And even an unfortunate few who need everyone else to agree with them... or else! I'd really like to think I'm not one of those people. I have friends of all political and apolitical stripes. My mom is a Democrat and my dad is a an ex-GOP-er, now Tea Partier, so I think, in a way, being raised without a single, dominant political viewpoint in my family-of-origin has made me relatively flexible in my political thinking.
I don't think any party has a monopoly on good ideas, and I tend not to be very One True Way about much anything. Except for Etiquette, that is. You wouldn't know it by all of the swearing I do, but I was raised with a few pretty hard-core rules of manners that to this day I find myself really believing in. Hand-written thank-you notes. Respect for elders: It's always Mr. or Ms. So-and-so. Ma'am and Sir. May I, Please, Excuse Me, and Thank you. Generally, it isn't proper to discuss sex, politics, or religion... (unless you have felt someone out thoroughly and know them very well... and/or perhaps live somewhere like DC or work in politics where it is a cultural norm).
One of the reasons I knew I had to leave El Shitty Book Club o' 23 Podunk Princesses was the time when the organizer affectionately quoted one of the other members who was missing that night, as having said about some other woman they knew: "Then M said 'She seems nice, but I'm really afraid she's a Democrat!!'" Everyone laughed. And no one except me even blinked an eye. And I wondered if I would pass this person's simple enough litmus test. I don't fit neatly into any of the usual categories. But then I thought about her overall demonstrated level of comprehension of some of the current political issues today, and realized that there were certain words I probably shouldn't use because she might not fully grasp their meaning, and I thought to myself, eh, fuck it. It isn't my job. I live in a small town now, just stay below the fray. Glad I took my own advice on that one.
Anyway, back to the quote at hand - when I first read it, part of me thought, um, actually isn't Racism still the same old Racism? We're just a lot more coded and careful about expressing it these days, but it's obviously still there. One of the comments to the original article suggested that Vendantam's analogy should have been to bigotry instead of racism, and I tend to agree.