Wednesday, September 17, 2008

False Premise: I don't like what you like, therefore I have contempt for you.

This seems like a fairly important thing to note as we fight micro and macro level battles in the culture wars:
You've got people who see themselves as part of the 'conservative' tribe (middle-class white people who don't live in Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic or West Coast cities, and didn't attend 'elite' colleges) complaining about contempt directed their way from what they see as the 'liberal' tribe (white urban professionals who do live in those cities and did attend 'elite' colleges). A fair number of the specific references, though, are to the fact that 'coastal'/'liberal' people just lack the cultural markers of 'conservative'/'rural' people - they don't hunt, or watch NASCAR, or whatever - and that the lack of those markers is in itself evidence of the contempt they're complaining of. John Kerry making a tin-eared comment about NASCAR is proof he had contempt for red-staters, because the only two possibilities with regard to NASCAR are being a sincere fan, or feeling contempt for anyone who's interested in it at all.

This makes the claim that 'liberals' generally feel contempt for 'conservatives' absolutely irrefutable. As a member of the identified 'liberal' tribe, I, in fact, don't know jack about NASCAR, have touched a gun once in my life (my father-in-law had a .22 with which a whole bunch of us were trying to shoot an old wasp's nest out of a tree. I missed.), don't go to church other than for weddings and funerals, and don't know much about evangelical Christianity firsthand, and so on. If not 'getting it' with regard to those cultural markers means contempt, I'm guilty. But that's crazy - in the real world, everyone is a member of some cultural group, and has the markers of that group, and doesn't have the markers of groups that they don't belong to. Turning evidence that some person isn't a member of your group into support for a belief that they despise your group leaves you feeling personally aggrieved by everyone who doesn't share your cultural markers, and refusing to trust anyone who isn't just like you.
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