Me No Read Book. Me Conservative.
(The following was originally submitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a letter to the editor but since it now appears to have about as much chance of seeing the light of day there as Howard Dean quoting Friedrich Hayeck in a stump speech I figured I'd post it here)
Sunday's Star Tribune letters to the editor included the seemingly obligatory derisive swipe at Republicans, this one a "joke" about Republicans not patronizing bookstores.
I was really amused by the June 12 letter about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's new book. A Republican in a bookstore? Good one!
Get it? Hardly a day goes by where I don't read something about how Republicans or conservatives are uneducated, unread, selfish, racist, sexist, greedy, and fanatic Neanderthals ready to trash the Constitution, throw the poor and elderly out on the streets, and oppress women and minorities. The attacks are often directed against President Bush and his administration (in particular John Ashcroft) but also occur at the local level.
An editorial last week labeled us as "mean party boys" :
Because it feels as if the Mean Party Boys from high school suddenly took over the state.
If you survived adolescence, you may remember this type. These are the guys with lots of hair, good teeth and a creepy sort of mean streak. MPBs are rarely the best or the brightest. But in the weird, twisted culture of high school (or politics), they can zoom to the top and seize social control.
Then and now, many people wonder, how did these guys suddenly become so popular? What's it based on? Because they're not particularly nice and they don't really care about anyone but their own little clique and concerns. In high school, these concerns included about being Mr. Football, driving nice cars, throwing huge keggers and mocking all the uncool people while owning the school hallways.
In the state version, it's about being Mr. Talk-Radio and/or governor; driving Hummers because who cares about mileage when they look so cool!; throwing fiscal versions of a kegger by creating huge bonding debts instead of the old-tax-and-pay-as-you-go plan; and mocking all the uncool liberals while passing the Conceal and Carry bill. (Which proved without a shadow of a doubt who really owned the capital hallways.)
Clearly this woman has never attended a Republican Party function here in Minnesota.
But apparently she didn't go far enough for one letter writer who preferred the term "mean bully boys".
Lynnell Mickelsen's June 10 Commentary comparing Republican legislators to the "Mean Party Boys" of her high school days was a great read, but it credits the Republicans with too much maturity.
With their attacks on the poor and disabled, the Republicans acted more like middle-school bullies stealing lunch money from a crippled classmate, confident that their rich parents would get them out of trouble.
Tell me again where the hate and stereotypes are coming from?
I don't hate liberals or believe they are stupid or have evil designs. I believe that most of them genuinely want to make the world a better place but that they are misguided and in some cases naive.
But I do scoff at the notion that liberals are better read and educated than conservatives. While liberals might have read plenty of Chomsky or Sontag and know all about the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel which blames the CIA for everything wrong in the Third World, I have come across very few with a solid understanding of history (particularly the foundations of Western Civilization) , political philosophy, and economics.
As conservatives we have no choice but to be better read than liberals. To be a liberal you must feel. To be a conservative you must think.