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  1. I think that — especially with the divisiveness being fomented — it is easy for some of us on the ‘progressive’ side of the aisle to say that those of us on the ‘conservative’ side of the aisle are hateful, bigoted, short-sighted, etc. etc. etc.

    Those on the religious right (who are honest about their beliefs, and there are some who are mere opportunists) see things like abortion and marriage equality as evils, as markers of a decline of civilization and faith, as our country turning its back on God. On the one hand, I look at that reasoning and shake my head… but on the other hand, I shouldn’t so casually dismiss their beliefs. I think they’re wrong and I’ve not seen anything to convince me otherwise and I firmly believe history and humanity is on my side… but it isn’t a matter of them being stupid or evil or ignorant. (Calling someone ‘ignorant’ is a good way to end the argument right there.) This is their beliefs, and they will hold on to those beliefs, and the more they feel those beliefs are under attack the more they will hold on to them.

    I don’t know if there’s any way for ideologies like these to compromise or even coexist. I’m disinclined to compromise on things like pro-choice and marriage equality, just as I’m sure they’re disinclined to compromise on anti-abortion and heteronormative marriage. (And as an ally it’s not for me to compromise on either issue on behalf of the people they directly affect anyway.) It’s not enough for them to be able to accept that they don’t have to get an abortion if they don’t want one, or that their church doesn’t have to have homosexual marriage if they don’t want it. These are seen as signs of degeneracy and the collapse of moral civilization and they’ll fight it tooth and nail. (Just as I like to think that we on the progressive side of things would fight tooth and nail against, for example, the use of the setting of The Handmaid’s Tale as a handbook for society.) The mere existence of abortion or homosexual marriage is a blight; it doesn’t matter if they choose not to, it’s there, out in the world, and they MUST FIGHT IT.

    How do you compromise with an ideology that you see as fundamentally wrong? Can there even be compromise?

  2. Hmm. I think the issue, at least in the minds of the conservatives that we’re talking about, is that they believe they are losing something — something they consider precious. I don’t quite know how to quantify it, but I think it has to do with feeling they live in a country in which they are the norm, and therefore rightfully in power — socially, sexually, nationally, racially, and religiously (and that last one is an important one we often forget).

    I honestly don’t know how to find a peaceful resolution to this while our media and corporate interests are so invested in creating and fomenting such a divisive and binary social environment. Now that I think about it, I suppose this issue is at least partially behind the impetus for my current dissertation plans, in that I believe we’re desperately in need of a different form of social organization.

  3. Re: what Laura Ingram said

    I’ve found it fascinating to watch: This is indeed the line that has been delivered over the past few months. I’ve even heard the term ‘heterophobic’ being used. It would be hilarious, if this weren’t a bunch of reactionaries who seem to be putting on a persecution complex (they’re not really loosing anything at all) and are starting to seem like they’re wanting to actively hurt homosexuals (more) and marriage equality allies. They are on the attack. Witness their reaction to the anti-bullying “Day of Scilence”: the “Day of Dialogue” which was basically telling all good Christian boys and girls to tell their gay and gay-allies friends that gay people are going to hell and are sub-human. Look at that preacher who wanted gays and lesbians to be put in concentration camps and was defended by his congregation and tacitly approved of by the Southern Baptist Convention.

    This mindset actually does see ‘1 man, 1 woman, x kids’ (the kids are important) as ‘traditional marriage.’ The Bible says so, therefore it’s true. These are people for whom what they ahve been told is in the Bible is absolutely, inutterably, true, and the Word of God and not to be messed with. They ignore the inconsistences, the alternate interpretations, the ambiguities.

    Scofield did Christianity a grave disservice when he made his fundamentalist ‘study Bible.’

  4. Thank you for the clarification on Hartmann’s hypothesis; clearly I misunderstood it. I wonder, if it were “broadened” to include all ideological differences, if it would still have some validity — or would that also require broadening the definition of “violence” to include, say, harsh language? :)

    I ask this because I was fascinated to hear Laura Ingram (I think?), a talk show host on the radio in the Texas hill country here, say that believing in traditional marriage got you labeled as a hater now, and that was no way to have a conversation. Completely aside from my curiosity as to how she defined “traditional” marriage (1 husband, 1 wife, multiple courtesans or mistresses? 1 husband, multiple wives, &/or their handmaids? Something else entirely? There aren’t a lot more truly “traditional” versions, after all)… I couldn’t help but wonder if that was really how she saw the “liberal agenda.” Did she not realize we don’t *care* how she marries — we just want to have everyone be able to partner the way they wish to? Or was this just another form of ideological violence? For that matter, what ideological violence have we done to her perceived view of this argument?

    Then again, this area really makes my eyebrows go up, especially when I hear an ad where the lawyer explains how to act when pulled over for a probable DWI, and urging folks to put his number on their cell, so he’s available when — not if! — that happens. ;)

  5. Actually, Thom Hartmann’s thesis is that ideological violence is going to be present in some sense or another. It’s not the people versus the system — it’s two or more ideologies facing off against one another. There will be conflict between the two, but unless there are ways to release that conflict in small-scale ways, the pressures between the ideologies will grow and grow — especially when they are being egged on and framed as an irreconcilable conflict by a complicit media — until they burst into large-scale violence. What is inevitable is not the violence; that’s a symptom. What is inevitable is the pressures and frictions between the ideologies involved.

    As I said, thought, I’m not entirely certain I buy his thesis, for many of the reasons you note. It requires all parties to be complicit and to want some sort of violent reckoning to take place, and I don’t believe that there are enough people on either side of the progressive-conservative divide who want such violence to bring it about on a large scale.

    Now, this being said, I do think that at some point there will be some sort of reckoning between the ‘elites’ and the ‘people.’ I use those terms reservedly; the definitions are fluid and I’m not entirely happy with the at-face definitions of those terms. However, it is worth noting that one of the impetuses for a universal workers’ insurance program established by Bismarck was to convince workers that they didn’t need to join the Communist Party, nor to try to subvert the Empire to bring about a Communist state. It was a self-defense mechanism that Bismarck convinced the Prussian government to enact.

    The thing is, with Occupy and other movements, people *are* starting to feel that the ‘ruling elite’ class is not listening to them. For the financial shenanigans that wrecked the economy, nobody has gone to jail or been prosecuted, and the institutions which got us into this situation are still, for the most part, operating. Even outside Occupy, people are speaking out, but they aren’t being heard — or they don’t feel they’re being heard — or answered except with scorn. We’ll see what happens in the months running up to the election.

    There is more I’d like to say about ‘touch deprivation’ but that can wait for another time.

    I remember we made a straight run through Texas, through Amarillo, on my way to Carson from NYC. (We went south to about Georgia before starting west.) A lot of those days passed in a blur for me, but part of that was the mix of emotions from the move. There really is some magnificent terrain through there, though.

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