Facing our own pasts

Cinnamon Stillwell, a brave and vocal neocon in the San Francisco Bay Area, was trading emails with me about coming out as a conservative, not to people we’ve just met, but to those who knew us when. (Cinnamon, incidentally, is not a closet conservative.)  That conversation led to a great blog post Cinnamon did entitled “ Of High School Reunions and Political Persuasion.”  Paraphrasing it doesn’t do it justice, and there is no one paragraph I can quote here without damaging the pleasure you’ll get from reading the whole thing in situ.  All I can do is urge you to go over there and enjoy it, especially if you’re a neocon too.

For me, the part of her post that resonates most strongly is the difference between a blogger’s private and public persona.  I certainly express myself more forcefully in my blog than I do in real life.  In a real life conversation, if any given political issue comes up, I don’t hide my views.  I do, however, approach them carefully in a Socratic manner, trying to get my fellow conversationalists to agree with me on a step by step basis, so that, even if they baulked at the ultimate conclusion, they will have gone so far down the road they can’t look at me like a diseased toad.  I also avoid flip terms such as “multi-culti” or “moonbat.”  I’m tactful about their views, even if I don’t understand or believe in them.  These interactions are polite conversations, not soapbox lectures.

A blog, however, is a soapbox, and it’s my soapbox, so I can be opinionated, sarcastic, silly, loud and whatever else I please.  That’s part of the pleasure, and it certainly makes my writing more interesting than it would be if I tried to transcribe a delicate, tactful, nuanced conversation.

Given these differences, with a soft conversational and a hard blog approach, I would prefer people to meet my new politics through conversation, not through my blog.  I guess that’s one of the reasons I keep my blog identity so secret.  I’m not embarrassed by my political views, in which I strongly believe, but I don’t think that the best way to come out of the closet to those you know is in full drag.*  Better to ease people into the situation.

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*As for the drag reference, here’s Cinnamon writing accurately about the phrase “closet conservative”:  “a term the right has come to borrow, somewhat ironically, from the gay community.”  I’ve always been sympathetic to the decision-making gays and lesbians go through when deciding whether or not to emerge from the closet, and, if they do decide to come out, to the decisions they make about their emergence, so I think the analogy is a good one.

2 Responses

  1. Book… you are already tactful and nuanced given the style of writing you have chosen to use ; )

    Not sarcastic, but witty. Not loud but exhilarating. Funny instead of silly.

    If you can be more delicate, tactful, and nuanced then by all means, surprise me.

    Better to ease people into the situation.

    The people around you must have very delicate egos Book, if they could ever feel threatened by the style you have shown in your blog.

    I could never imagine those with the knowledge of the human condition and military history, not understanding the internal drives of each special individual. It is excusable not to know this from a short conversation, but there is less excuse for not knowing a person’s beliefs from his or her writings. This really isn’t important, though. What is important is that there is a better transference of information when you read a person’s beliefs to when you talk to them. In your case, you sort of have to do the logical thinking for others to help smooth the way. But for those like me that wish to figure things out for myself, reading your posts will provide me the information that I might not have known to ask you for or information that you might not have wanted to repeat out loud. For example, you don’t often call yourself a classical liberal, but to me that is what you are. You don’t need to tell me about this, because I pick it up as I read your manifold views.

    Many people, my source being Neo-Neocon’s blog and previous experiences, often think that if you are a neo-con that you must no longer care about individuals. That your core beliefs have somehow “changed” or become the opposite of what it once was. I see it more as a purification, in which a person gets rid of the dregs and impurities around his soul, to reach within to the very core and bring forth what they have always believed and known to be true, but perhaps were clouded by self-doubts or misinformation.

    I do, however, approach them carefully in a Socratic manner, trying to get my fellow conversationalists to agree with me on a step by step basis, so that, even if they baulked at the ultimate conclusion, they will have gone so far down the road they can’t look at me like a diseased toad.

    I have a similar technique but it is not designed to make them more ameniable to my beliefs. Rather, I ask people questions in order to figure out what they believe. Do they believe in individuals or institutions. Do they care for the plight of those who suffer or do they care more about their own situation. An accurate understanding of others allows for accurate analysis of their behavior. And an accurate analysis helps me avoid being surprised.

    For example, I had a psychology instructor that seemed to be a very good psychotherapist, but who nonetheless worshipped Noam Chomsky (Linguistics prof and Cognitive Psychologist). She kept talking about not judging people, but I figured out that what she really meant was that psychotherapists shouldn’t jump to conclusions. While it was difficult to separate the ideological soup of terms from the real personal beliefs, it was doable. And once done, I found that I respected and liked her, regardless of the fact that she kept talking about “don’t judge criminals” and how Noam Chomsky is a “great man”.

    If people judge you based upon your rhetoric or style of writing rather than your real persona and your real beliefs, then those people will always be surprised one way or another. Surprise will cause shock and discomfort and at times death, because those who are not aware can get ambushed and killed, and it doesn’t matter if they didn’t want to be surprised.

    I do think it is a good idea to tell people something that might surprise them in conversation rather than have them passively reading it. Because you know what happens oftentimes when people read stuff they don’t like. Instead of talking to you about it, they will stay silent and stew, until they blow up in your face over the most inconsequential of things. Having a conversation with people may surprise them, but at least it will prevent them from surprising you by exploding for no apparent reason at all later.

    It’s kind of hard to have a conversation with someone that has read the articles of Cinnamon for example, and has been waiting their entire life to tell her off on this that or the other. Very unpleasant.

    To make things short, Book, you are very gracious and polite on your blog. So I disagree that it is a hard blog approach, even as I recognize the differences between the two formats.

  2. Aw, Y! I’m blushing.

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