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    You couldn’t step outside the boho dance now / Even if good fortune allowed

    Mrs. du Toit has a post that recommends against pointing out that you don’t fit the stereotype of a Bush voter in a fashion that sounds like, “I’m not like those rubes!”

    I see where she’s coming from, and I agree that it’s wrong. But there’s a flipside to what she’s talking about that’s also worth noting. (I don’t think what she wrote is flawed because she didn’t note it; it just wasn’t the point she was making.)

    I frequently find myself defending suburban living, SUV driving, smoking, hunting, and church-going by emphasizing that I don’t do any of them myself. It’s not because I’m frantically trying to avoid association with church-goers (or smokers, who may actually be even more reviled in the more sanctimonious liberal circles these days).

    It’s because I really, genuinely think it’s great that we all get to make our choices, and I believe there should be room for those I wouldn’t make for myself. One of the things I most despise the left for is the way it’s turned diversity into a codeword for “full range of races, sexual orientations, and gender identifications + unanimity of ideology.” Now those of us who really do like individuality of spirit in others have to avoid a perfectly useful word like the plague, lest our listeners assume we like “diversity” the way Lani Guinier does.

    So when standing up for the suburbs, I generally point out that I myself walk or use public transportation to get almost everywhere and live in an energy-efficient apartment (translation: it actually has insulation, which is not something to bank on in Tokyo) in a neighborhood with nearly the population density of Manhattan. My hope is that the message that it’s possible to see value in other ways of living than your own will get through.

    In an election or more general political debate, there’s a further point to be made: when assessing people’s beliefs, you have to listen to what they say, not just play actuary and assume you have them figured out. I’m a registered Democrat who lives abroad. I grew up in a county that went for Kerry (Lehigh) in a state that went for Kerry (Pennsylvania). From there I majored in comparative literature at an East Coast private college, moved to New York (briefly) for graduate school, and now work in educational publishing. Unless I missed someone, literally all of my dozen or so close friends from since college voted for Kerry. All this is before we even get to the gay thing.

    Based on my statistics, I should have been huddled in the corner weeping and tearing my hair out when Kerry conceded to Bush the other day, not having a victory bath. True, I’ve always been libertarian/republican in my beliefs and largely registered Democrat because of Pennsylvania primaries. But the fact that the DNC is not reaching me at all is something that you would think might start giving someone somewhere pause. Perhaps “Not everyone who voted for Bush is a social conservative” is not the most generous-minded way of putting it, but the Democrats can’t just shunt responsibility for the drubbing they took off on people they weren’t interested in courting anyway. That message matters.

    Added at 2:50: All right, CNN just did a feature on how distraught New Yorkers are over the election, and something I’ve heard a bunch of times over the last few days surfaced in the on-the-street interviews. So before I turn in for the night, I would like to add just one thing here: You people who are talking about wanting to move to another country because Bush was reelected? Understandably, a lot of others are going to recommend that you go ahead and leave if you don’t like it. But as a proud American living abroad, I hope you stay away. There are quite enough spoiled, whiny, high-handed expats making loud and implausible declarations of solidarity with the world’s oppressed and fouling our international reputation with their behavior. You’re the last thing we need.

    6 Responses to “You couldn’t step outside the boho dance now / Even if good fortune allowed”

    1. Mrs. du Toit says:

      You’re right. It wasn’t the subject of my post, but a very interesting branch.
      It is the tolerant intolerant that drive me to absolute distraction. It’s that “it makes no sense” thing that makes me keep reading their shite.
      For example, in the glitterari world it is terrific to be gay, bi, or transgendered (and Heaven forbid you have a party without having at least a few [tokens] included), either in a committed or open relationship, but if a straight person is in a committed relationship “they are stifling their sexuality.”
      Choice is choice. You either support people’s choices or you do not. If someone CHOOSES to live life with one partner (regardless of the gender of the partner), why is it only OK and cool with the “in crowd” if the partner is of the same sex?
      It’s so hypocritical.
      Some folks like city living (like me). Others prefer suburban (where I actually reside). There are also folks who love country living (scares the bejeesus out of me) and cannot understand how I like the city. But in all those discussions, it never comes up that there is something wrong with me for preferring cities to corn fields. It truly is a different strokes issue.
      I find that the LEAST tolerant are folks who believe they are MOST tolerant, for they are intolerant on matters that truly have no impact on anyone but the individual who has made the choice.
      Women choose a traditional, stay at home style life, and the In Crowd goes off on her, coming up with all the possible psychological and social flaws that would HAVE to be there for a woman to make that choice.
      And that’s the point: These people are not tolerant of all choice. They have a very limited menu. You have a choice, but only from a selection of 3 items. That’s NOT choice.
      I’ve been stuck in the rut of the Golden Rule lately and am convinced it is the breaking of that rule that is what is wrong with the world today.
      The TRULY tolerant, people like yourself, are comfortable with other people having a full menu of choices. You might have issues with some of their choices (not make the same ones yourself), but your issues with the options don’t translate in attempting to deny someone else the option. That’s the true test of tolerance.
      Ramble, ramble. Sorry.

    2. Nathan says:

      What gay thing?

    3. Sean Kinsell says:

      Mrs. du Toit:
      I actually hesitated to post this, because it occurred to me that I was just falling into the trap of waving around how tolerant I am, but in the opposite direction of the people I was criticizing. The point occasionally needs to be made, though. And as you say, the ones who devise elaborate psychological explanations for why someone would drive an Explorer are the worst.
      Oh, don’t you worry your pretty little head about that, buddy. Maybe your wife can explain it to you when you’re older.

    4. John says:

      “There are quite enough spoiled, whiny, high-handed expats making loud and implausible declarations of solidarity with the world’s oppressed and fouling our international reputation with their behavior.”
      You just ain’t wistlin’ Dixie, brother. Got cornered in Hiroshima by an ex-pat and a Japanese wanting me to sign a petition to get the US to repudiate nuclear testing. This was right after the Indians blew up their test nuke to piss off the Pakistanis a few years back. So I wanted to know: was this petition condemning all testing, or just the US? You know the answer. This ex-pat was all over the US collective guilt (would have made a better case in Nagasaki, I think, but I still ain’t buying it). Ex-pats with the “why Japan?” refrain are even worse than Japanese with the same song and dance.
      It all gets a little old to the Chinese and other SE Asians who actually suffered from Japan’s depredations. My father-in-law killed a lot of Japanese soldiers for the GMD in northern China, and he seems to think that Chiang and the Nationalists would have held on if it were not for the intervention of Japan. (Oddly enough, the Taiwanese side of my wife’s family lost an uncle serving in the Imperial Army. They didn’t get his back pay and bonus for over 60 years). I’m not so sure that the Communists would not have won in the end, but Japan has a lot to answer for on that score, nonetheless. Ex-pats should keep their uneducated noses out of where they don’t belong.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Well, I’d prefer to see them educate themselves about things they want to form opinions on, but I assume that’s how you meant it, anyway. :)
      It’s probably worth noting here that most people who live abroad are normal; I mention the ones who stick in the memory, and, unfortunately, jerks stick in the memory.

    6. John says:

      I’d love to see them educating themselves too. Common sense will rise again in the “educated” classes, but as they say where I’m from: so will Jesus, but I ain’t waiting up nights.