I am not now, nor have I ever been, a quick-change artist
A certain issue has come up several times in the comments section, so I thought now would be a good time for me to try to set it straight. It has been raised mainly by some resident quasi-trolls, and I've addressed it before, but only in the comments section, so perhaps most people didn't see it. I'm spotlighting the answer here so that there will be no misunderstanding--although, somehow, my guess is that those who want to misunderstand will still feel quite free to do so.
In my "about me" section, I wrote the following fairly glib and surface explanation of my history:
I'm a woman in my fifties, lifelong Democrat mugged by reality on 9/11. Born in New York, living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon. My friends and family are becoming sick of what they see as my inexplicable conversion..."
So, we have our theme: lifelong Democrat mugged by reality on 9/11 converts to neoconism and alienates others.
Then, up under the blog title, I used the phrase, "things changed after 9/11." A similar thought.
A little personal history is in order here. When I first started my blog it was a very private thing, read by about two people, and one of them was me. I didn't know what would happen over time in terms of readership. I knew the following, however: I wanted to write a lengthy and leisurely explanation and exploration of my political journey. It would start at the beginning and continue up through 9/11 and all the way to the present. It would be, perhaps not my "letter to the world that never wrote to me," but my "letter to the friends and relatives who would not listen to me."
I didn't think they'd ever really read it--and, in fact, almost to a person, they haven't, at least so far. That may not change. But I wanted to write it anyway. And so, from the start, with the name of my blog and my description of myself, I focused on the "change" aspect of my story without giving any details of it for quite a while. It took some time before I was ready to tackle it, and part of that process was coming to terms with trying to get a wider readership and getting disciplined about writing here more often than just a few times each month.
So I did all those things, and so far I've been extremely gratified and amazed by the readership I've gotten. Another early plan I had was to attract other "changers," so that the comments section would evolve into a forum for them to exchange ideas and experiences, sort of like a support group (it's the therapist in me :-)). And I've been pleased to see some version of that happening, too.
But those early flip pronouncements of mine about my change, using catchwords like "mugged by reality on 9/11," simplified the story to the point where it can be easily caricatured by some such as a recent commenter who wrote, as part of a lengthy rant, "9/11 'high-jacked' [neo-neocon] to the twisted world of American conservatism, where a hit against us changed the way she thought..."
Well, I don't believe I ever used the word "high-jacked" (or even "hijacked"); I said "mugged," which connotes something different. First and foremost, it's a reference to the famous definition of a neocon offered by one of the originals, Irving Kristol. Secondly, it denotes a sudden act of violence to which one must react in some way, not an actual taking away of a person as in a kidnapping or hijacking. So let me clarify: 9/11 did not actually change my point of view, not at all. It merely acted as a strong and sudden catalyst, the starting point for what turned into a fairly lengthy process encompassing several years of incremental change.
In fact, as I think some of my most recent "change" posts have indicated, there were glimmerings of the change to come even way back in earlier decades, before 9/11. And of course I've not yet written of 9/11 and its aftermath, except very briefly. So if I've led anyone to think the change was sudden, let me make it crystal clear (Kristol clear? Sorry, can't resist!) that it was not. Although I see 9/11 as the catalyst, the entire process was slow to develop, and took about two and a half years to reach the point where I could really accept what had happened--that I had actually crossed that gaping crevasse discussed in this post.
A great deal of my change had to do with my slow re-evaluation of the veracity and agenda of the media in regard to the events of the years following 9/11, and also a re-examination of the Vietnam War and the role the media played in the course of events there, and how the two tie together. But, as I said before, that's a story that I will tell in subsequent "change" pieces--and, believe me, it's not a short one!
Many, if not most, of those who think I underwent some magical "aha!" moment in which 9/11 happened, and presto! I changed, would no doubt prefer to trivialize the thought process I underwent. To debunk it makes it seem less threatening. But I also realize that I may have had a role in their misconception--the way I phrased things may have actually been misleading and led to the misunderstanding, so I wanted to do my part to correct that.