On Tolerance

Cathy Seipp has a new column up at National Review Online about Dan Rather, the cultural divide, and her personal experiences in bridging it.

It’s hard to remember now how lily white great stretches of southern California used to be, but they really were in those days, and by white I mean really white. My dark-eyed, brunette mother often said she felt surrounded by the Burghers of Munich. Visitors would occasionally feel free to look at her and inquire: “So are you Spanish or Portuguese or what?”

Not that I was exactly a Tragic Mulatto, but we never quite fit in. We were liberal, upper-middle-class (in attitude, not income) Jews, from Canada, surrounded by people descended from Okies from Muskogee. My mother volunteered for the George McGovern campaign in 1972 and I helped stuff envelopes.

What I only realized after I grew up and moved away was how decent and tolerant these boring, suburban neighbors were. They were certainly puzzled by our family’s exotic ways; my divorced mother ran her own business out of the house, and installed three phone lines in each room, including each bathroom, by herself.

They were also occasionally shocked by notions like Jesus speaking a foreign language, and now and then there were attempts by concerned classmates to save me from an unpleasant future in hell. One evening, a movie about the Rapture was shown at the local (public) high-school as community entertainment. Still, I never heard that distinct gasp of disbelief and hostile, shocked amazement that I often hear now, when people discover that, yep, I’m voting for Bush.

Go read the whole thing, and then I’ll echo her comment and amplify it.

About fifteen years ago, I moved from Venice Beach to Torrance – politically, from deep-Blue to bright Red – and believed that I’d moved from the progressive, tolerant center of the world to a place where I was sure to be a neighborhood outcast for my liberal ways.

And, surprisingly, I wasn’t. Many of my neighbors disagreed with me, and we had some interesting debates at the PTA, but on a basic level I was more than tolerated, I was accepted.

Which is more than I often am at dinners in Brentwood or the Pacific Palisades when I explain that I supported the war in Iraq, or that I shoot for sport.

My real epiphany on the subject took place about four years ago, at a December dinner in Arizona with a group with whom I’d just finished a shooting class. This is a group that is – on average – politically so far to the right that they can barely tolerate the un-Christian, statist ways of the GOP. As we’ve emailed about the election, they point out that GW Bush is a bit of a wimp, but they’ll probably vote for him anyway.

This was during the Supreme Court debates over the 2000 elections, and the television before dinner was on the news, as a heated discussion on the election took place. As may be obvious, I was the only defender of Al Gore and the Democratic efforts to win the vote in Florida in a room full of armed men (handguns are never an inappropriate fashion statement in this group).

As we sat down to dinner, the host asked each of us to say a few words of Grace. Most were religious in nature, and then they finally came to me, and I said “Please God, let me survive this meal and get home safely. The property is so large and my unmarked grave would be so small…

People spilled their drinks laughing, and we went right back into the argument.

And I realized, amazingly, that these men and women – who disagree with almost everything I believe about government and politics – respected my right to take a stand and my opinions far more than people who agreed with me on the issues. They were in fact more tolerant of diversity than my Venice Beach neighbors.

I’m still digesting that.

36 thoughts on “On Tolerance”

  1. AL, I’ve had much the same experience between urban dinner parties and the turkey woods, although I’ll admit I’m a lot less liberal than you, which doubtless affects my perceptions. There are nutjobs on both sides, but nutjobbery has often struck me as distressingly more common among the “tolerant” left than the right.

    Interestingly, my best story is from Germany, where my wife and I attended a university for a year and joined a 350-year-old gun club. My wife is the daughter of Korean immigrants, and Asian people are a bit of a novelty to Germans. Random people would ask “Do you speak Chinese?” or “Where are you from?” “I’m from the US.” “No, I mean, where are you really from?” These were urban college kids, for heaven’s sake! And they thought Americans were ill-informed about the world, and told us so to our faces.

    But nobody ever asked that sort of stupid question at a gun clup populated with some old soldiers from the Wehrmacht, some middle-aged guys, and a few teenagers. They LOVED us, and we returned the favor: my car is the only one in the US that has a sticker in the rear window from them.

    When I tell this story to Americans, a lot of them say “That sort of tolerace isn’t what you’d expect from an American gun club, is it?” Well, it’s what we get at American gun clubs, so yeah, you could say I expect it.

  2. From a few anectodal personal experiences springs a philosophy applicable to all.

    Like all such viewponts, it is largely useless except perhaps as a means of easing the need to consider each case on its own merits.

    “Here’s”:http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0402demstheft02.html one anectodal example to counter yours.

    “Here’s another”:http://abcnews.go.com/wire/Politics/ap20040824_1334.html.

    And “another”:http://www.mlive.com/news/muchronicle/index.ssf?/base/news-3/109413643335820.xml.

    And “another”:http://www.acadiananow.com/news/html/2B5BBF65-30EC-409C-9F0B-1AF1F921B32C.shtml.

    Want “more?”:http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:Mcz4gf23da0J:www.usatoday.com/news/politicselections/nation/president/2004-08-11-political-graffiti_x.htm%3Fcsp%3D36+kerry+ohio+office+vandalized&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

    When this kind of thing happens to the GOP (which it does, but apparently much more rarely), it is classified as a “hateful” “act of terror”:http://bozemandailychronicle.com/articles/2004/09/04/news/02smashed.txt.

    To be honest, I don’t think I can take any more of your kind of “tolerance”.

  3. VT – in light of your comment below, I can’t tell you how amusing your comment here is…

    And we can both mine Google for bad behavior on the part of partisans on either side…I tend to place more emphasis on what I’ve personally experienced.

    So, as Luker suggests, talk about your personal experiences – and do me a favor and let me know how your comment on ‘masters’ ties into it.

    A.L.

  4. VT’s posts all have one flaw: they’re examples from political campaigns.

    VT, have you ever worked on a political campaign? Have you ever worked on a primary or similar kind of U.S. campaign that takes place within a single party? Because this sort of thing happens regularly between Democrats, and between Republicans. Yes, it’s wrong. No, there’s no larger message. At least, not usually. Someday I’ll post about the 1950 “Red Pepper” primary, which was between Florida Democrats BTW and is both sobering and hilarious to politicos of all stripes.

    This, by the way, is why I didn’t run the recent item that showed a Kerry supporter taking a sign from a 3-year old and destroying it as she cried. Yeah, it’s a bad thing. But it’s just campaign b.s. (unless the campaign is advocating or supporting it, of course, and Kerry’s is not).

    What A.L. is talking about is different. He’s talking about civil society outside of political campaigns, a territory that exists even if you don’t seem to visit it much.

  5. Two things.

    One, AL, there are a LOT of other factors that could be influencing the experience of accepting/non-accepting than liberal/conservative.

    Two, Joe, I think the distinction you draw for VT is facile, in regard to real effects.
    As someone coming from the great state of Texas, but ending up dividing his time between Fresno and San Francisco in California, I can speak with some authority of different cultures.

    First off, gun people are ALWAYS more unfailingly polite. It comes with the territory, in my experience! (At least from my teenage gun days. The gun club was always a more polite and accepting place, than high school was…)

    There’s something about knowing that someone is carrying, that – has an effect, would you say – on the level of civility. Basically there’s more at risk if you act like a jerk!

    Also, my own experience again, less congested areas, slower areas, people are in the main simply nicer and more tolerant – no matter the ideological flavor. I’ve found this to be true of Los Angeles/Nevada City, CA, Houston/Katy, TX, Berlin/outskirts of Bavaria, Rome/small villages in Italian alps.

    Third, people when I”m at a dinner, or drinking with buddies/acquaintances, whether this is in Katy, Texas or San Francisco, CA – at least for me, there simply is a level of acceptance – I’ve “broken bread” with these people, I’m laughing with them, I’m going to “tolerate” them no matter their political orientation. And vice-versa.

    Joe, what people do “anonymously” is actually as important, I would think. In Houston, I worked at the Houston Country Club. (One of the reasons I like the first President Bush, actually, is how unfailingly polite and good he was to everyone there – the few times he would show up)

    There was always a lot of “political” acceptance – but get some of those good old boys out of earshot of the non-white help, and boy, those mouths could sure get going. The “tolerance” in this case, was skin specific.

  6. if you want to know where liberals are coming from on this issue, you should probably read David Neiwirt’s “The political and the personal”. I don’t agree with everything in his post, but I unfortunately agree with quite a lot of it.

    I’v had someone tell me threateningly “I’ve got a gun” in response to the provocation of my cutting through his concrete path and driveway. I’m perfectly willing to believe he represents a small minority of gun owners and property-rights fanatics, but I’m not sure about that, and such people do exist.

    I took it personally when some conservatives said during the 2000 campaign, smugly and gleefully, like a proud papa: “I can’t tell you how many officers have told me they’re going to resign if Gore wins the election”. I took it personally when people said things like “Thank God George Bush is our President” in the 9/11 aftermath (and not Al Gore), or imply that we took miltary action and deposed the Taliban *because George Bush became President*, and not because of 9/11. And I take it personally when liberal soldiers are being drummed out of the military for their beliefs. Such sentiments seem to me to be the height of bad faith and incivility.

    It’s the old story of Solomon. Being split into two is exceedingly unpleasant, and if at all possible, it would be great to be united. I much prefer civility, courtesy, and kindness to the reverse. At least I like to think I do. But the only way that is going to happen is if liberals completely collapse and capitulate, as happened for some time after 9/11, with polite Democrats acqiescing and meekly accepting without fightback the successful effort by conservatives to portray 9/11 as the inevitable fruits of Clinton/Gore weakness, fecklessness and appeasement. Because, in my opinion, the conservatives are never going to concede an inch, in any way whatsoever, in the interests of civility and toleration. If liberals are going to have even partial success in any of their disputes with conservatives, they are going to have to accept a harsh, shrill, uncivil atmosphere. The alternative is to give up and let the conservatives excercise complete and unfettered power.

  7. roublen –

    There is absolutely a right-wing in this country that is powerful, self-interested, and wrong in the directions it suggests (see my post on ‘”The Fantasy Ideology of the GOP”:http://windsofchange.net/archives/003454.php‘).

    I don;t think that the left as it exists today a) can beat them; and b) would do a much better job if it did. I’m trying really hard – by criticizing and trying to suggest new paths for the left – to build a left that a) can win; and b) would accomplish something if it did.

    A.L.

  8. As y’all know, I’m more or less on a self-imposed blogging hiatus until after the election, but I want to comment on two points here.

    First, the story of the Marine to which roublen links is incomplete, as published. If in fact that Marine was in the job he says he was in, it probably was a security breach to say so publicly and to give his name. I’d lay odds THAT is what got him called up in front of his commander, and all the results that followed. Not his political viewpoints, but the fact that he a) chose to publicize them over his own name and b) did so while broadcasting his work in intelligence analysis.

    Second, as as a follow-on to this first point, there is a wider diversity of political, religious and social beliefs among the US military than most people outside the military community realize. You don’t hear much about this because military are ordered not to engage in partisan activity while serving. Note my wording: partisan activity. Not from having beliefs or expressing them in a personal setting — and certainly not from voting in whatever way one chooses — but from public actions on behalf of a specific political party, candidate or position.

    I’m not in uniform, but I work for a major Army institution, the US Military Academy (West Point). The cadets I teach, whom I’m in a position possibly to influence, haven’t got a clue what my political beliefs might be — and that is how it ought to be. My employment is why, despite living within an hour of NYC, I did not seek accreditation as a blogger at the Republican convention. In fact, I did not even attend (although I could have, as an observer — but not as a delgate). It would have either been impossible for me to refrain from commenting on the content of the speeches … or, anything I did post would have been boring as sin. So I didn’t go, much as I would have liked to.

    I’m afraid roublen is way off-base with his assertion that liberal soldiers are being drummed out of service. What the Marine in question did was to defy two important rules that are central to his role in uniform: he broke security rules and he engaged in overtly partisan discourse.

    The US military prides itself on a long and important tradition that the services are apolitical and are under civilian direction. That is a deeply central principle in the American form of government and it is enforced firmly. All of us who live under that government have good reason to celebrate that fact.

  9. A.”L.”

    Gee, I really feel stupid. Here I am thinking you have simply crossed over to the dark side, but instead you are really just trying to help us here on the Left with all of your criticisms of Kerry including repetition of unsubstantiated and corrosive Right wing “hearesay”:http://windsofchange.net/archives/005525.php#more.

    Hey, maybe you think it is better for the Left to lose another presidential election, so a new idealogy can rise Phoenix-like from the ashes led by self-proclaimed “centrists” who dislike the Left as much as the Right does.

    To me, the far greater threat to Democracy in our country is not the disorganization of the Left but the unity of the Right.

  10. VT –

    I’m not unhappy that the left is disorganized, I’m unhappy that it’s been captured by a bunch of Skybox Liberals who – alongside their GOP counterparts – loot the treasury for their corporate masters. I’m unhappy that it mistakes welfare designed to make sure people could eat with welfare designed to make sure middle-class city workers have jobs. I’m unhappy that it looks away from schools that destroy the lives of poor young people so it can curry political contributions from the teacher’s unions. I’m bitterly unhappy that it overlooks hospitals that routinely kill black patients through incompetent care to make sure that local power-brokers and poverty pimps are kept sated with patronage jobs.

    You want me to believe that Kerry will make an ounce of difference in this? Tell me another one…or haven’t your ‘masters’ handed out that message yet?

    A.L.

  11. A.L.

    I think your channeling Ralph Nader…

    One thing you may not divine from all my posts is that I too am dissillusioned with both political parties, Dems and Repubs.

    And I can see that to some extent, making the case for defeating Bush, saying things like it’s the “most important election of our time”, etc. can be viewed as simply a political calculus by the Dems. That this is probable even is not really a question in my mind.

    There are cynics on both sides.

    But sides there are, about two by most calculations. And I think we will be stuck in this model for some time.

    And as for the rhetoric of the Left against Bush, it is true that some, much, of it is just that.

    But many of us who were not strongly allied to the Dems before hand, or perhaps any party, have become united behind the common belief that defeat of Bush is an imperative for many reasons, not just Iraq, but the extreme extent to which he has taken the politics of fear and disinformation.

    Even “scientists”:http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/page.cfm?pageID=1449 have raised concerns about this administration.

    So you see, while Kerry is by no means perfect, and will no doubt allow many of the problems that currently face all of us to fester, he will be a vast improvement in many others that I believe are important, and I have no doubt whatsoever he will succeed in keeping us at worst as safe as Bush will (who I think has made us much less safe, BTW).

    If you’re waiting around for a Left wing savior, you will have a long wait. For those of us who are more pragmatically minded, we are willing to ally ourselves with others who also want to defeat Bush, regardless of their motivation. That’s just the way it works, isn’t it? The Right has its skeletons, and so does the left. Pick your poison.

    ABB.

  12. “For those of us who are more pragmatically minded, we are willing to ally ourselves with others who also want to defeat Bush, regardless of their motivation.”

    So Pat Buchanan and the mullahs are your new friends now, eh? You can keep them.

    I have to agree that it would help the Democrats immensely to get absolutely trounced in the election. Maybe this way they would get their shit together and become serious.

  13. I’m still wrestling with this one (ABB). On one hand, Supreme Court Justices. On the other, Kerry’s moronic and offensive speech today about Allawi.

    I’m less and less convinced of my theory that events would keep Kerry from doing anything truly stupid internationally.

    Time to blog about it and work it out…

    A.L.

  14. Armed Liberal:

    “I’m less and less convinced of my theory that events would keep Kerry from doing anything truly stupid internationally.”

    That reminds me of the rationale offered by the New Republic years ago when they endorsed Michael Dukakis – a man who they admitted had “the foreign policy of Eleanor Roosevelt”.

    When they finally screwed up their courage and endorsed him – about one week before the election – they theorized that Republicans in Congress would never let Dukakis get away with anything that was too crazy.

    Fortunately, we never had to test that theory …

  15. On the question of tolerance, a bit of my own personal experience –

    When I was in school I had a number of leftist friends, including a professor who was a notorious leftist. A man I still admire, who taught me a lot.

    I never had to explain or justify this friendship to my non-leftist friends, even those who were Republicans or strong conservatives. Nobody ever asked me how I could like someone who was a Marxist.

    Among his friends, though – mostly a lot of leftist grad students – it was different. There was an unspoken understanding that when those people were around, we didn’t know each other. They just wouldn’t understand.

  16. There’s no big lession to be drawn from this. I think most people in this country are pretty tolerant, but the number is diminishing in the current polarization.

    I agree with David Neiwert on how it is happening, but I’ll let him make that argument.

    The converse of AL’s story is true for me: I was a military veteran, drilling reservist and Cold Warrior among a bunch of lefty (ACLU and National Lawyers Guild) lawyers, social workers, teachers and professors. My first legal job was given to me by a professor with whom I had arguments about the invasion of Grenada and Panama. When I went to Iraq, my lefty friends were supportive of me as they doubted my sanity.
    When I got back, we had civilized discussions.

  17. V.T. wrote: Even scientists have raised concerns about this administration

    This is a surprise? The Union of Concerned Scientists has been pushing a mostly liberal agenda for decades now — I remember when it was formed. They have, among other things, deliberately exagerated environmental claims on the grounds that it’s for a good cause. The resulting backlash, when the distortions were finally uncovered, muddied the policy waters greatly and undermined public support for some of the policies they had pushed. It’s not unreasonable to say that those distortions of research have made it much harder to for us to make good decisions about e.g. global warming and energy sources.

    The Bush Administration, for their part, are now pushing a different agenda , in many cases to roll back what the UCS has advocated. They have multiple objectives, ranging from economics and social theories of their own to (it would appear) a desire to support businesses (in some business sectors.

    My own judgement is that both sides have some things right and many things wrong.

    FWIW, one of the best professors I ever studied under was a Marxist historian of religion who specialized in the early period of Israel and the middle east. His political beliefs informed his approach to the study of the period insofar as he looked at the material basis of shifts in group social structures … but he had the courtesy and good sense to leave it at that and let his (well admired) scholarship stand on its own.

    The same can be said for several scholars who today would probably be called neo-conservatives: people like Jacob Klein and Simon Kaplan, of whom I’ve written here at Winds of Change. What I admired about all of them was their commitment to truth and their areas of scholarship first, and to their own opinions second or third ….

  18. Here’s a “cartoon”:http://www.workingforchange.com/comic.cfm?itemid=17313 for you, A.L., that is somewhat relevant to parts of this discussion.

    “I’m less and less convinced of my theory that events would keep Kerry from doing anything truly stupid internationally.”

    You can hold all the theories you want, but don’t ignore the increasingly solid evidence that events (9/11) have not kept Bush from doing something truly stupid internationally (Iraq, of course).

    The choice comes down to two men, one of which has demonstrated a real talent for screwing things up as President, and another whose performance as president can only be predicted.

    I’ll be voting on the evidence before me to be sure.

  19. Armed Liberal,

    There’s another thing about your framing here, which bugs me – you use what is clearly a pejorative term – “Limousine Liberals” to describe the current liberal – um I guess “people in power” on the left.

    But again, having seen the current “people in power” on the right – what would be the right framing? Has anyone seen “Dallas”?

    These guys are J.R. Ewing. We have J.R. Ewing and cronies running the country.

    I know these people from serving them drinks – albeit 20 years ago now, and as a part-time job in high school/beginning of college. While the analogy isn’t exact (Back then, it seems like every 2nd member in the Houston Country Club was a lawyer for a big Houston Law Firm – I guess networking is key…) having been on hand for umpteen weddings of 500-1500 people, running food for the “coming out” parties for new ladies into Houston society, served more drinks than I can count, it was easy to see how the crowd I worked for operated.

    These are their people. Rove, Cheney, Delay, Bush, Ken Lay, this is their crowd. And “J.R. Ewing and his cronies” is a particularly apt description.

    Not that these people weren’t nice, or charming, or involved in the community/good Christians. But is was always very clear that the main belief is what is good for them (i.e. what is good for the oil industries and associated businesses), is what is good for the country. (This isn’t being sarcastic, from what I can recall, they truly believe this – can’t get out of the narrow mindset.)

    These are the assumptions the current Republican leadership is coming from.

  20. And you know all this because you waited tables and served drinks 20 years ago? And of course your perceptions as an adolescent and very young adult were not only accurate but also deep …

    That seems like pretty thin evidence to me.

    I’m not defending Bush et al, but you are reporting emotive memories, not convincing analysis.

  21. Also, Robin, I’m a bit disappointed. Your response comes off as condescending and elitist.

    Sure, I was young – but I was bright, and I could see. And sure, I was serving drinks and waiting tables – so my impressions can’t be worth much, can they? Even though this whole thread is about impressions, yes? Take my young impressions with a grain of salt, but your flippant dismissal, is all too reminscent of OTHER casual Neocon dismissals. Say, Wolowitz’s of Shinseki, to take an example…

    One of the things that Joe does here, is his first debating tack is to have some respect for the commentor, recognizing what has some validity in a person’s post (if any) – and then going after what he disagrees with. This tends to build consensus and community – unless of course, you DO think that I’m just so far out of left field, that it isn’t worth your time to have a decent conversation – if that’s true – c’est la vie!

  22. Hmm. JC, up here we call them “Silver Spoon Socialists” – “Trust Fund Trotskyites” having fallen into disuse shortly after that fad peaked in the 60s. But then, “liberal” means something different up here than it does in America.

    Terms like “limousine liberal” or “skybox liberalism” (a better term, will never catch on because it lacks the alliteration) DO express a useful concept, however. A.L. has written beforen about the shifting composition of the Democratic foundation, away from the middle class and toward a mix of wealthier Americans and government dependents. The term encapsulated the phenomenon much sooner than the data did, and is especially useful in an age of onanistic radical chic.

    Hopefully, it will also serve as useful ammo in an internal effort to make “sewer socialism” a renewed focus instead.

    If you want an equivalent on the other side of the American aisle, might I suggest “Country Club Republicans”? It does hit a certain community in that party, and extends the idea beyond Houston. Some on the Right may see it as a slur, but I don’t see it that way. Indeed, if you want to grasp why the party has not made significant strides in the black community and hasn’t done as much as it should have with its natural Asian advantage, the term “Country Club Republicans” is not a bad place to start your analysis.

    In both cases, of course, the terms are not meant to be all-encompassing. We have NASCAR Republicans, Neocons (the original and successful challengers to the Country Club Republicans), Bush Democrats, Theocons, South Park Republicans, and more. Personally I’m really hoping to see more “Bernie Mac Republicans” one day, but that ain’t happenin soon.

    Hope this helps some. Time to put up the Saturday posts and get ready for Yom Kippur…

  23. JC, I’ve worked my way through all 3 of my degrees so far and am working my way through my current doctoral studies as well. 35+ years ago I waited tables, worked in crowded, ill-lit sewing factories and cleaned houses in order to go to college. My father was a blue collar worker. If I exhibit “elitism” (and I don’t think I do) it certainly doesn’t come from a life of privilege or of initiation into power circles at country club soirees.

    I’m sorry if my comments suggested to you that I was dismissing your evaluation because you were serving rather than drinking and eating at those Texas country clubs. That wasn’t the point I intended to make. Instead, I intended two points, related to one another:

    First, that as a high school and early college aged student, your perspective on the world 20 years ago was most likely limited by the circumstances of your life up to that point. It is characteristic of adolescents just turning into young adults that they often draw firm conclusions from a fairly limited perspective. As someone who teaches undergrads, and who has raised a daughter who is now in her late 20s, that is a dynamic I’m familiar with, and it’s one that I recognize when I look back at myself at that age too.

    Second, it does seem to me to be rather a stretch to claim

    I know these people from serving them drinks – albeit 20 years ago now, and as a part-time job in high school/beginning of college. … it was easy to see how the crowd I worked for operated.

    I’m sure you saw repeated behaviors and heard comments that left an impression on you. I’m less sure that from that impression you gleaned a sufficiently accurate picture of “how they operated” that it describes the entire Republican party leadership today.

    It’s inevitable we will react to our impressions … I have my own impressions from living in several parts of the country, including being an outsider (Yankee, woman) doing business in the South. Boy, do I have stories from THAT time! And boy, do those stories reinforce some stereotypes. As did my stint working directly for a CEO who lived in Beverley Hills ….

    I’d be foolish to draw overly-broad conclusions about every southern business, banking and venture capital leader today from that one set of experiences back then. And despite my familiarity with several Beverley Hill-ites of the time, I try not to draw overly broad conclusions about southern Californian liberals who sport deep tans, gold chains, expensive sports cars and young trophy wive, and who pay $25,000+ initiation fees to join tennis clubs.

    That’s the point I meant to make … not that your perceptions as a high school and early college student were worthless, but rather that you were highly unlikely to see anything like the whole story about “how they operate” solely from the vantage point of serving drinks at social events.

  24. I have to agree that it would help the Democrats immensely to get absolutely trounced in the election. Maybe this way they would get their shit together and become serious.

    I’ve had that thought myself, but consider: the Democratic Party was at least somewhat trounced two years ago at midterm, and it doesn’t seem to have set the party leadership back on its heels one bit. In fact, if I can judge by the rhetoric, it seems to have made matters worse, with a number of people expressing the conviction that the defeats indicated they had not been obstructive enough toward the administration, along with some “we wuz robbed” sentiment.

    Would a trouncing during this election bring about a reevaluation among the party leadership? Or would it just cause more denial?

  25. As short as life is I have always been surrounded by diverse cultures and views. Growing up as an Army brat I spent the majority of my youth in a military culture. The schools were integrated to a point that I suspect is an incomprehensible achievement by main stream USA standards let alone law enforcement.

    Spending most of my youth being shuttled around the world and the USA living in military housing on Army posts and attending military sponsored schools (grade schools and junior high) served as the back drop for my formative years.

    Living in everything from military apartments, two story condominium type buildings (row houses we called them then) to separate family housing units was the norm. The tenants were black, white, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Philippine, Irish, German, Polish, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Mormon etc. all thrown into a military thriving community without regard to ethnic background or personal convictions. The post chapel provided services for all religious beliefs, the post exchange and commissary provided the same amenities to everyone and the post recreational facilities serviced all. Not a single person was denied anything the post had to offer and yet we all knew what the community had to offer *was not an entitlement*.

    As a Mexican American I fit right in I received no more than our family could provide on it‘s own merits. Why is this important you might ask? As children are want to do at times they can be spiteful and hateful. When I was teased and called a Mexican I hated it but more importantly the community wouldn’t tolerate such behavior. Swift punishment followed by swift apologies by families regardless of culture were the order of the day for such behavior. Feuds caused by hate filled beliefs and convictions were not tolerated. During block picnics we all sat at the same picnic tables and shared the same food. If others from blocks down the street showed up they were invited to sit and enjoy, never were they asked or told to leave.

    When I was eight my mother took my sisters, my brother, and me to a Cinco DeMayo fiesta. When we got home I said mom there was nothing but Mexicans there. She replied well yes that is your heritage. I promptly replied that was not my heritage and pronounced I was not a Mexican after all my father was Anglo (mom was Mexican not me!). In a child’s eyes the gathering of Mexicans meant Johnny, Mary, Paul, Steve, Greg, Jim, Gloria, Louis, Frank, and Gina weren’t invited. These were my friends regardless of politics and if they couldn’t be there I didn’t want to be there either.

    My immediate family and relatives now live in San Antonio Texas. Out of all my experiences and travels is it any wonder that I chose to settle in one of the most diverse areas of the US. I live in a community in Northern Virginia in the Washington Metropolitan area. I still have issues when people ask me where are you from? Born in Ft Polk La,, raised across the globe my first inclination is to say I’m native American. As for my political beliefs they are meant to serve all not a select few. We all have differences but there is no room for hate and spiteful actions to further any political agenda.

  26. Tolerance…hmm. We will join forces with anyone that hates bush to defeat him? Our only real political agenda is hate? I have no doubt that the middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate, and my kids will not be better off than I was. Can anyone question that the burden is on the few? There are not just two choices, and Nader is not an option I would choose. Call my vote a waste, but it means alot to me.

  27. Voices, so many never heard, I must ponder before I speak out, hopefully not to be breached, or misunderstood. My view is tainted by reality, by what I witness, by what I love and live. I could never rule this great universe, for there is no faction so powerful to allow that. Checks and balances, what Franklin called our worst that we could agree on, humans, americans. Twain compells me to think, proactively, to use my senses, to live for our future. I subscribe to reason, to what makes sense, what used to be called “common knowledge”. I try very hard to understand why criminal minds exist, but they do. No matter how much I hide, the mind is able to find my weakness, and exploit it for his own gain. NOTE: english allows all unknowns to be masculine. pc perhaps.

  28. Armed Liberal,

    You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m laughing. I’ve had friends who were gay beat the shit out of places like your talking about for being, well, gay. Luckily I’ve always looked to mean to be picked on. There are plenty of jackasses everywhere.

  29. >>The choice comes down to two men, one of which has demonstrated a real talent for screwing things up as President, and another whose performance as president can only be predicted.

    >>I’ll be voting on the evidence before me to be sure.

    H. L. Mencken:

    Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.

  30. Gary

    bq. _”You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m laughing. I’ve had friends who were gay beat the shit out of places like your talking about for being, well, gay.”_

    I’ll admit instances such as these do happen. I’d even step out on the limb and say everyone acknowledges that this is not far fetched.

    Here’s my problem with it. For every instance where this type of *CRIME* occurs there is no corresponding evidence to suggest that this is the norm and that the populace at large is not tolerant of others. We don’t have the statistics of all the gays in gun clubs or any clubs for that matter who suffer no ill will what so ever by the membership at large.

    Hate crimes are a fact of life and all the laws written or yet to be written to eliminate them will have absolutely no effect. Mindsets will not change simply because the law says so. IMO that is what this whole issue of tolerance is about.

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