“Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it.”
—Stephen Colbert, in a commencement speech to Knox College, 2006
regular conservative commenter on this blog, who also writes a lot of “guest columns” for our local paper and used to be one of its paid bloggers, wrote in recently expressing a rather cynical opinion related to a piece I wrote on the restoration of the Duck Dynasty patriarch. You can read his entire comment here, but I will post below my full response. The reason I think it important to do so is because I think this particular conservative expresses a brand of cynicism that a lot of conservatives still cling to these days, even after the radioactive fallout produced by Mitt Romney’s “47-percent” nuclear blast that surely helped doom his low-denominator campaign and continues to contaminate the Republican Party.
Before I get to my response to this local conservative, I want to share with you a headline from a right-wing “news” site, one that claims with a shout that it “is here reporting THE TRUTH”:
That story generated a lot of buzz on the right (among others, Fox’s website picked it up, Bill O’Reilly did a segment on it, Towhhall.com featured it, etc.) because it supported (and still supports) the right-wing’s Romneyesque view of contemporary, Obama-led America. The story is false, of course. A nice summary of why it is false you can find here, but the idea persists that there are too many “takers” among us, and the country will eventually collapse because of them.
With that brief background, here is my response to the local conservative who wrote in:
Just now catching up with the comment section. I saw your post here and, well, I just don’t understand why you continually fail to empathize with others not in your shoes, or who have not walked the paths you have walked. I believe (or at least hope) you are better than this post indicates.
You expressed your concern regarding “what to do about heterosexual ‘slugs’ always asking for more money for other people and not working to earn it themselves.” Then you added:
Top it all off and look at public education, a factory producing more and more people that demand more and more from government and fail to achieve the basic skills needed to produce more and more for themselves.
All that makes homosexuality and even discrimination (white against black or the reverse thereof) pale in significance as matters of real concern in America today!!
First, your ridiculous indictment of public education would require a much longer response than I am prepared to offer at this point. Suffice it to say that to claim public schools are factories that produce an increasing population of moochers is insultingly outrageous.
Second, you and your right-wing friends—most of whom have at some time or another benefited in some way from the help of others—have this strange fixation on the relatively small number of non-working adults who get relatively ungenerous government benefits for a relatively short period of time. I just don’t get what that fixation is all about, especially while the moneyed class is making off with the country’s wealth and trying to use some of it to bend the nation’s political will to theirs.
Third, because of your strange obsession with the poor “slugs” who get government help, you then fail to imagine just what it would be like to be discriminated against as a homosexual or an African-American. I would bet that if you had ever suffered from institutional and structural discrimination, such as getting fired from your job for being gay (or for merely being perceived as a gay person), you would feel differently. I would also bet that if you were ever told you couldn’t piss in a white toilet because the law suggested you were some kind of inferior being, you would most definitely not say that such things would “pale in significance” to “Democrat over spending.”
Alas, though, you have enjoyed, as a white man in a white-dominated culture most of your life, the relative privileges of that position, and you now fail, as that same white man, to understand or appreciate what every person who has ever suffered from law-blessed discrimination feels in their very bones.
And that is too bad for you personally, even though it is problem you share with many white conservatives these days. And that sad fact, that so many white folks are so cynical about the country we all claim to love, makes it too bad for all of us.