15 June 2008

Class dismissed, pt I

OK, I've been pretty idle the past couple of weeks, and it's not been so much of a lack of inspiration, rather that the inspiration seems to be bringing me back to something that's been crawling around in my head for several months but which I can't quite wrap my fingers around. So the following posts may come out in chunks (ew), but I'm going to take a pass at it and see where it goes.

As most people know, the longstanding stereotype about "the left"--whether the Sensible or hippie variety--is that it's not a coherent popular movement but a loose coalition of single-issue interest groups trying to bark loud enough to get the freshest slab of meat tossed to them by the Democratic party. So why can't all progressive people get together and sing campfire songs with each other? And don't say "because then we'd all be socialists," because that's the right answer, and we can't have word getting out. Though it is actually true that we're not all social democrats, and the common notion that we should all get along because we're somehow natural allies is a common source of misunderstanding. But maybe we'll get to that.

Let's see if I can get to an actual point here. You see, liberals are Very, Very Concerned about equality, tolerance, and all that other happy talk, but they're also very, very worried that average folk can't ascend to the same level of enlightenment. Take, for example, this site obviously reassuring us that Barack Obama is not a Muslim, which I've seen touted on several liberal blogs. Why do they care whether the public mistakenly thinks Obama is a Muslim, and would they have the same concern if people thought he were, say, an Episcopalian rather than a member of the UCC? Well, liberals aren't concerned for themselves, of course, but they're worried that the illiterate hoi polloi can't handle too much liberalism at once. So rather than saying "Obama is not a Muslim, as if there were anything wrong with that," they choose to indulge popular Islamophobia.*

(end of chunk #1)