Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Self-Described Manhattan Conservative vs. the Liberals

It's all Bush's fault--depending on what the definition of the word "it's" is...

Many urban Bush-bashing "sophisticates" like to consider themselves edgy, but is there anything more out there than navigating the ultra-liberal Manhattan enclave wearing a "Palin power" button?

That's what gutsy columnist and FNC talking head Jedediah Bila did during the 2008 presidential campaign, as she recounts in her short book/diary Outnumbered: Chronicles of a Manhattan Conservative. The engaging publication describes her various encounters with tolerant (is there any other kind?) leftists in the city, including in the private school where she used to teach.

Despite a non-adversarial, understated approach, Bila found herself on the outs with friends, colleagues, and students because her sincerely held views--on those occasions when she expressed them--differed from theirs. Politics should be irrelevant to relationships, but then again things have a way of working out, though; these same personal experiences compelled Bila to reinvent herself as a successful political commentator.

Regardless of their distaste for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, fair-minded Obama fans have to admit that his is the thinnest resume of any president or presidential candidate in history. Yet in one anecdote in the book, an Obama supporting-teacher hypocritically blasted Palin, the-then GOP VP candidate, for having "no experience whatsoever." Bila diplomatically avoided getting in the middle of the discussion but thought to herself "I guess that running a business, a city, and a state doesn't count."

Bila also explains how many of those she encountered were fundamentally unable to explain rationally why they voted for Obama beyond superficial sloganeering. Bila notes how one representative Obama-mesmerized friend was unwilling to do any "fact checking" in the run-up to the 2008 election: "She wanted her slogans and media-fed hype kept intact. The truth had little value in that equation."

You don't have to be a self-identified conservative or a registered Republican to identify with the vignettes in the book. Any independent, right-of-center person can probably relate.

Both personally (including with family members) and professionally, we have vivid memories of being surrounded and sometimes ostracized by overbearing, diversity-celebrating liberals who nonetheless have a profound inability to accept alternative views. How would you like negative information inserted into a performance appraisal, for example, by a supervisor who disagreed with your political views? We didn't like it either...

The author addresses this lack of appreciation for individual thought in some quarters:
If you're a true champion of diversity, you'll appreciate that woman or man in the room who doesn't see the world the way you do. Heck, you might even be brave enough to take a step into his or her world, open your eyes and look around. I've done so many times. It has given me a stronger sense of who I am and a stronger commitment to the conservative values I hold dear, but it has also given me an immense respect for the right of people to disagree with me. And a passion to defend their right to do so.
We have discovered that it doesn't take much to unleash the guardians of political correctness in this kind of environment. When the group is bemoaning some perceived outrage perpetrated by the right, all it usually takes is innocuously saying something along the lines of "what's wrong with that?" to cause many of them to become completely unhinged.

Another annoying factor is that once your political beliefs become revealed, some smug, caricature-minded liberals will try to project upon you views that you don't necessarily share. In a passage about attending a New Year's Eve party, Bila addresses this phenomenon:
I was entirely amused by what they thought your standard, pre-packaged conservative should do, wear, and say. It's incredible how a mind prone to collectivism will quickly try to impose that same branding on you.
We have found that in day-to-day life, if you are on the right ideologically, in general you will:
  • tend to avoid talking about politics, unless it is with a trusted confidant
  • never expect anyone to agree with you.
  • do your best to respond--if at all--in a calm, good-natured manner. 
  • after a lifetime of liberal propaganda, be far less accepting of superficial, conventional-wisdom talking points or empty hope-and-change platitudes
Leaving aside family or colleagues who went off the deep end, we also remember being out of the country during the Bush-Gore recount and going to party attended by (apparently) mostly American expatriate liberals. One woman mentioned how Al Gore was the preferred candidate because of his foreign policy experience. We replied casually (in reference to the outgoing president Bill Clinton), "What foreign policy experience did the governor of Arkansas have?" This was met with stunned silence and then a quick change of subject.

As noted above, for liberals experience is only important until it isn't important.

We were recently at a party where some were praising Obama for blocking the Keystone pipeline because going forward with the project would be an environmental catastrophe. We didn't say anything at the time, but given how science has been highly politicized, we're just not accepting these claims on face value, especially when energy independence is a vital national security/economic security issue.

Another amusing anecdote from the book: While visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the author finds herself berated by a woman for having a "drill baby drill" sticker on her notebook. Bila later notices this all-knowing environmentalist littering, spitting out gum on the sidewalk, and smoking a cigarette.

As an aside, Bila spends an unusual amount of time in the short volume describing what she had for lunch or dinner--including "full-on artichoke ecstasy." Could a food obsession also be Bush's fault?

Perhaps she is angling for a gig as a judge on Top Chef as perhaps any versatile knowledge entrepreneur/foodie might do.

Here is the author once again holding her own in hostile territory (MSNBC):

Added: Inspired by the memory of Andrew Breitbart, Spartacus writer/producer Daniel Knauf and hundreds of other commenters have become empowered to speak out against leftist groupthink despite the career consequences.

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