Friday, July 08, 2005

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.

8 Comments:

At 1:33 PM, July 08, 2005, Anonymous meander said...

I often take a few moments after reading your blog entry and do a little self reflection that might tie into your topic. I have a mixed political voting history that actually amuses me as I look back on it. I had such silly, shallow reasons for picking the candidate I eventually voted for. A perfect example is that I voted for Clinton in '92 because I was angry ay Bush Sr. for choosing Clarence Thomas as his Supreme Court nominee. I totally bought into the MSM slam on the man and thought his selection represented craven politics on Bush's part. I had no appreciation for the importance of a choice with a conservative foundation and what impact the Court decisions have on the essence of our country. So, Clinton got my vote and I knew my husband and I had cancelled each other out.Sometime before 1996, the Weekly Standard started making an appearance in our home and after reading it for a while, it was like, "Oh, my God, I guess I'm a conservative" because the logic and clarity of thought presented in the articles just electrified my mind. Of course, I was super ticked off at the GOP for giving me Dole to vote for but I knew I couldn't vote for Clinton again. I must say, the Weekly Standard was fun reading during Clinton's second term...the covers alone were worth the price of the subscription. Anyway, I'm pretty sure the existence of blogs and other sources of news besides the conventional MSM would have helped give me more meaningful reasons and better information in deciding how to cast my vote. Your political journey and your wonderfully personal yet erudite writing style in describing it is one of the highlights of my blog reading time. As always, thank you.

 
At 6:23 PM, July 08, 2005, Blogger Pastorius said...

Just a few days ago, I left a comment on your blog wherein I said that 9/11 had changed me, almost instantaneously. I think there is a way in which that is very accurate to say. Here's what I mean:

On 9/11, my European relatives called to "make sure that we were all ok, and to express condolences." After that was out of the way, they proceeded to tell me that America had got what it had coming.

For many years previous to that I felt that I was in agreement with my Euro relatives. I used to laugh right along with them at the Bushchimp jokes, and the redneck/Biblebelt jokes, etc. In short, I agreed with them that there was a lot about America which was silly and embarrassing.

It is one thing to laugh at America's shortcomings and it is another thing entirely to think that America deserves to have a terrorist organization attempt to bring us to our knees.

On 9/11, I sat down and really listened for the first time to my immigrant wife who had told me many times before, "If America were not here, people in my country would have no hope."

I thought about how the people in Al Qaeda want America to go away. I thought about all the rallies I have seen over the years where radicalized Muslims would gather en masse and chant "Death to America." And, I thought about how my Euro relatives seemed to condone this behavior.

I realized that if these people had their way, we would be gone.

It wasn't until April of 2002, when the Intifada really kicked in, that I realized that I could no longer call myself a Democrat, but when I look back it was 9/11 that changed me.

In the months after 9/11 I listened as friend after friend continued to condemn Bush, call him Hitler, and say that we were "out to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan."

I realized that if these friends had their way America would disappear.

Let me be clear, when I say that I do not mean that if they could put their finger on the nuclear button we would be dead. I mean that they are so full of a sick self-loathing that, if they were running things, they would hand over the keys to America, and our freedoms, to almost any Islamist organization that asked.

When forced to confront the reality of my friends and relatives suicidal mindsets, and the reality that America could disappear if not defended, I realized that I love America.

At this point I am willing to say I even love that which I used to find embarrassing, because I now realize that, because of our freedom, we must learn to take the good with the bad. When a people is free they are free to produce both high works of art, and kitsch, they are free to construct or destruct. That's the way it is. And I would have it no other way. Because I love freedom.

Pastorius

 
At 8:31 PM, July 08, 2005, Blogger Huan said...

911 was a catalyst, not a mugging. a mugging implies a single event without antecedents.
Merriam-Webster
Main Entry: cat·a·lyst
Pronunciation: 'ka-t&l-&st
Function: noun
1 : a substance (as an enzyme) that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a usually faster rate or under different conditions (as at a lower temperature) than otherwise possible
2 : an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

Your transformation would have occurred anyway.

 
At 1:26 AM, July 09, 2005, Blogger Robohobo53 said...

Hopefully Bill Whittle from ejectejecteject.com, Steven Den Beste from the USS Clueless (denbeste.nu) and Robert Spencer of jihadwatch.org helped you along your journey.

They certainly helped me make the same leaps. The Liberal Left is morally bankrupt and in danger of losing all relevancy.

The Hobo

 
At 1:56 AM, July 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favorite Churchillian quotes, was something Winston repeatedly said to people who accused him of "changing his mind." And, he replied: "I'd rather be right than consistent." CAROL HERMAN

 
At 9:17 AM, July 09, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grreat quote, someone should forward it to Scalia...

 
At 10:48 AM, July 09, 2005, Blogger camojack said...

Someone once said "words matter". As in one's choices thereof. IMO, yours are good ones. However, there will always be those "running dog lackeys of the status quo" looking to deconstruct those things they find threatening...keep up the excellent work, neo.

 
At 3:01 PM, July 11, 2005, Blogger knoxgirl said...

Pastorius:

"It is one thing to laugh at America's shortcomings and it is another thing entirely to think that America deserves to have a terrorist organization attempt to bring us to our knees."

You're so right... and I too have encountered many liberals who either cannot make that distinction or refuse to.

"because of our freedom, we must learn to take the good with the bad"

beauty!

 

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