I've come to the firm conclusion that there's no place in this world for my politics. I am not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican either. I like to say that Sergeant Pepper and I are a party unto ourselves. But that's a lonely place to be.
Sarge and I attended an ultra-liberal liberal arts college. I mean, this place is liberal. It's so liberal that many liberals would find it too liberal. That's one of the things it's famous for. I fell in love with it because it had a gorgeous campus and a wonderful Greek and Latin program. And it was very small. But politically, it was all wrong. The student body there has a habit of political correctness, en masse, to a fault. Plus, and more egregious, very little collective sense of humor. It's strangely and paradoxically not a tolerant group of people, and it wasn't when I was there either.
I've never towed a party line, not when I came of age and awareness politically, and not now. When I met Sarge on campus and got to know him, I was blown away by his unapologetic iconoclasm. I'm going to pause to give a definition for iconoclasm, because although we might have an idea of what it means it's good to review. An iconoclast is someone who destroys icons: one who attacks or "assertively rejects cherished beliefs and institutions or established values and practices." That was Sarge when I met him, and he's still fervently so. In a milieu (our college) where nearly everyone thought and spoke in unison about socio-political topics, and any dissent was (ironically) set upon with witch-hunt enthusiasm, Sarge spoke his own mind. And like so many I went to college with, he was absolutely brilliant, but unlike the rest of the crowd, he was a true free-thinker. I was one too, but sheepishly so. It became quickly apparent to me that Sergeant Pepper was my soul-mate romantically, but also intellectually and politically.
But it's been hard over the years. I find my neighborhood now to be similar in its politically one-sided vehemence to our college. Me, I'm a mix, incredibly liberal on certain topics near to my heart, but I'm quite conservative on others. I won't do the run-down topic by topic, because no one cares about that but me. But I've found myself again and again sitting in conversation and feeling quite alienated by the assumption that I lean a certain way politically. It's something about my appearance, or the fact that I am quite a tolerant person by and large. But let me say from experience that liberalism does not, in this age, always equal tolerance, and conservatism does not make you automatically judgmental. So, often unbeknownst to those around me, I don't always lean a particular way. And when I do speak up, if my opinion is out of step, I have to explain myself, and that makes me uncomfortable. Lively political debate is one thing; what passes for it is quite another.
You know, it's interesting, but I've found that, similarly, it's unfashionable in certain circles to believe in God, or to practice your religion. Now, please let me say, I have no problem with agnosticism nor even with atheism. I'm no proselytizer (well, Jews don't really proselytize anyway, except to each other), and every person has a right to their own private spiritual journey. I really firmly believe that. But sometimes I find people are quite surprised to learn that I practice my religion, and even more surprised to find that I believe in God (a topic that does come up in casual conversation from time to time!). The fact that I'm Jewish seems to make my religiousity it a little more acceptable in liberal circles than if I were Christian. I think the relative oddity of Judaism, the fact that it is out of the mainstream and its proponents are and have always been outsiders, makes it more palatable somehow. And since I'm Reform, not Orthodox, there's no question of my being overly doctrinaire. Still, I think it sometimes makes people uncomfortable. But I would never make anyone defend their religious beliefs; I shouldn't have to defend mine.
Well, some may believe I'm a mass of contradictions, but I'm just questioning, always questioning (hey, now that's a really Jewish value). But it boils down to one very important thing. A. and I want to be tolerant and free-thinking, and we want to raise E. to be tolerant and free-thinking, in the very deepest sense of these attributes. It is really that simple in the end.
WARNING, some bitter vitriole is coming up. Please skip it if you want to like me:
Now just to end on a negative note, and round out my political broadsheet, I must air my opinion on the latest sickening display of hypocrisy: Eliot Spitzer. Ech. That's my opinion. And let me say, I'm not one bit surprised; I never am. Why are people continually surprised by these things? And that Mrs. Spitzer standing next to him like the Quintessence of Wifehood, please, for the love of all that is holy, give me a break. What ever happened to a woman's right to dignity?
And here's another opinion while I'm at it: David Paterson, the Lieutenant Governor who's now going to be Governor. He's the one who kept trying to get that legislation passed, you know, he recommended that if cops neeeded to fire their weapons at a suspect, they should shoot them "in the arm or leg" just to disable them. (Okay, the legislation was more complex than that, but that's the crux of it) WHAT?! How exactly is this achieved? He obviously has no idea how police interactions, especially dangerous scenarios, play themselves out on a minute to minute basis. Nor of the impossibility in most cases of hitting an arm or a leg "just enough" to wound but not severely...oy. How freaking dangerous that legislation would have been--to police and to civilians. I know all the police groups said it before, but I'm just reminding myself of why I dislike Paterson so much. That legislation was just too asinine to bear--and he supported it year after year, just to make a statement!
Phew, I'm done for now. Wow, this was super fun. I really said some things I believe. I don't do that too often. If you made it this far, thanks for reading.