Sunday, September 04, 2005

Those people

While ignoring Rehnquist's death last night, I came across another piece of writing on the closing of the conservative heart. It's a great companion piece to the "selfish conservative" manifesto below. Kingubu's thesis about the GOP pandering to our worst natures rings true, but it doesn't cover everyone. We all know people - friends, loved ones, family members - whom we can see firsthand to be good, caring, thoughtful... and yet there they are voting for Bush and listening to Rush. And thinking like this:

People who didn't leave New Orleans "were asking for it" (what, like rape victims?). People taking survival essentials are lumped together with looters. Real people have the foresight and resources to escape; anyone who doesn't is a lazy fool. There are the worthy and the saved, and then there are "those people."

The author has an epiphany:

The common denominator here is that some Americans become lesser human beings, making it okay for some conservatives not to be compassionate at this time of terrible need.

And that's how, he says,

[T]his trend gets to conservatives who are good people, too, because the basic tenets - plan, work hard, provide for your family - are so in tune with the Protestant work ethic. Those who believe in these things, or at least have their trappings, have full personhood. Those who don't, don't. They're "those people." Political identification gets bound up with ideas of personhood, even though a Republican's personal beliefs may be at odds with the policies that Republicans pursue. The conservative movement acts like a club that grants personhood. . . .

It's not just about race. It's not just about class. It's about how conservative thinking is undermining the great American sentiment that all men are created equal.

Believe it or not, I know it's not my place to judge who is a good person and who isn't. We're all trying, we're all failing, in our own ways. Every now and then, I can even squeeze out a tiny drop of compassion for W. (NOT RIGHT NOW, HOWEVER!) So I'll just say this about our conservative friends: I think they're making a giant omission.

By failing to see The Other in the same category as themselves - that is, as people worthy of understanding and empathy, as people they might be called on to forgive, as people they might learn from - they're closing their hearts and minds to most of the human race.

God have mercy on us all.

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