One of the characteristics of the emerging postmodern age is that it is an age of communication without community. Marshall McLuhan’s global village is divided and faction-ridden. Over the last 20 years of participating in the internet (with a small i) I have discovered that one comes face to face with US culture in a way that one never did before. Now places like China are rapidly catching up, but in 1991 it was in the US that more people had modems, and connected to bulletin boards, and disseminated their opinions more widely than ever before.
And today I read a couple of blog posts that encapsulated this experience.
Clarissa’s Blog: Being Hated by Conservatives vs Being Hated by Liberals:
There is a difference, though, between getting tons of hits from people who come from liberal sites that post angry rebuttals of my posts and visitors from the conservative blogs that attempt to do the same. Visitors from progressive blogs leave comments, argue, initiate discussions, offer evidence in support of their opinions. I might disagree with them, but I am forced to recognize that their comments are interesting to read. Conservative readers come by, gawp, and, at best, leave a comment of the ‘I-know-this-is-somehow-wrong-but-I-don’t-have-the-brains-to-explain-why’ variety. Their writing is stilted and full of spelling and grammar mistakes. They think that calling one ‘a Jew whore’ and ‘an autie retard’ is a powerful intellectual argument.
I explained before why I find any conservative position to be unsustainable on the level of reason and logic. It is not surprising to me that visitors who come here from conservative websites turn out to be very unintelligent and incapable of maintaining a discussion. They don’t really have opinions, that’s the problem. They have emotional outbursts whose underlying causes they are able neither to identify not to control.
And I have to say I agree. In cyberspace, at least, American “liberals” tend to come across as very illiberal and intolerant. But when you read the arguments of American “conservatives”, it becomes almost understandable.
And then there was this: A Spell for Refreshment of the Spirit: Civility: A Blast from the Past:
Everyone is talking about civility today. I’m not American, so before the tragic shooting recently I hadn’t been closely following the ever-deepening political divide south of the border. However, for a long time I have noticed the same deterioration of civility in our society in general.
The thing that amazes me most about US politics is that there is so little difference between the two main parties, yet the closer they are to each other, the more exaggerated the rhetoric with which their supporters attack each other.
Republican supporters attack Democrat supporters as if they will leave no baby unaborted, yet in 8 years Bush did not stop abortion. Democrat supporters attack Republican supporters as if they were intent on invading every country in the world, yet Obama still hasn’t brought US troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The more closely they resemble each other, the more viciously they attack each other.
Of course the US doesn’t have a monopoly on incivility and motor-mouth politicians. America has its Sarah Palin, and we have our Julius Malema. But America seems to have more, and more vociferous, and more incivil extremists than most other countries, at least on the public internet.
There are some areas in which I would support American “conservative” policies, but would be reluctant to do so, because the American “conservatives” who advocate such policies seem to be such hate-filled people, and to advocate those policies from a position of hatred rather than love.
There are some policies advocated by American “liberals” that I think are misguided, and some that I think are stupid, and some that I think are detestable and evil and decidedly illiberal, but on the whole the people who seem to advocate them seem to have their hearts in the right place, even if their heads seem all screwed up. And that reminds me of what a friend of mine once said:
“It is better to do wrong for the sake of love than to insist on doing right because of my lack of it.”