Sunday, September 14, 2008

keep thinking

Do I exacerbate the problem, when I post about the cultural war, the flyover/coastal battle? I think I do, unfortunately. It's easy to fall into the trap of at once saying "it's wrong to pick sides" and then turn around and say "your side does this", and of course, that's what I'm criticizing in conservatives. I still broadly agree with my own point, haha. But there are some nuances that need to be added, obviously.

It's as stupid to say "liberals don't do this negative thing" as it is to say "liberals all do this negative thing". So I shouldn't say liberals/urbanites/elites/cosmos don't mock conservatives/red-staters/rurals(?)/flyover-ers, because that's the kind of generalization that I think is stupid. It's a classic all/some problem. What I should say, and be smarter about saying, is "not all liberals etc. mock all conservatives etc.". I should also be much more careful about saying "conservatives do this" or "conservatives do that", when those are precisely the kind of sweeping statements I am telling others to avoid.

Of course, broadly speaking, this doesn't solve the problem, because both sides continue to argue about the number of people on the other side who deride them and the frequency with which thy do so. So Megan thinks liberals mostly sneer at rubes, and I mostly think conservatives snarl at snobs, and sadly, we'll both cherry-pick our evidence to support our side. It's the kind of question that can't be answered impartially, I suspect. Not that I don't think that I'm right, but that my standard for evaluating the question is necessarily contingent.

(See, liberal guilt has its uses.)

Here's one way to know a thinker you respect: when you think about them reading what you've written, you want to both think and write better. So when James comments on this blog, and that's how I immediately feel-- I think it's to his credit.

Update: As is usual, I forgot the most important point: that, of course, the nation isn't divided between culture A and culture B, and that those divisions are amorphous and vague, and ultimately unhelpful. When I put conservative bloggers or pundits into the cosmopolitan or cultural elite camp, the point isn't to say that they are really on our team; the point is to say that most of us have aspects that would seem to put us in both camps. And it does bother me when people who have many of the outward characteristics of own stereotype use those stereotypes against their political opponents.

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