Shorter Village Voice Blogger: "Shut Up, Liberals!"Andrew W.K., who is apparently some kind of advice columnist for the Village Voice, gets a letter from someone whose father is a right-wing asshole:
I'm writing because I just can't deal with my father anymore. He's a 65-year-old super right-wing conservative who has basically turned into a total asshole intent on ruining our relationship and our planet with his politics. I'm more or less a liberal democrat with very progressive values and I know that people like my dad are going to destroy us all. I don't have any good times with him anymore. All we do is argue. When I try to spend time with him without talking politics or discussing any current events, there's still an underlying tension that makes it really uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love him no matter what, but how do I explain to him that his politics are turning him into a monster, destroying the environment, and pushing away the people who care about him?And the advice he gets is spectacularly useless:
Go back and read the opening sentences of your letter. Read them again. Then read the rest of your letter. Then read it again. Try to find a single instance where you referred to your dad as a human being, a person, or a man. There isn't one. You've reduced your father -- the person who created you -- to a set of beliefs and political views and how it relates to you....That's a radically truncated version--the whole thing goes on for 8 long paragraphs (1,074 words) of similarly insipid blather.
The world isn't being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist -- the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world. The world is being hurt and damaged by one group of people believing they're truly better people than the others who think differently....
When we lump people into groups, quickly label them, and assume we know everything about them and their life based on a perceived world view, how they look, where they come from, etc., we are not behaving as full human beings. When we truly believe that some people are monsters, that they fundamentally are less human than we are, and that they deserve to have less than we do, we ourselves become the monsters....
Have the strength to doubt and question what you believe as easily as you're so quick to doubt his beliefs. Live with a truly open mind -- the kind of open mind that even questions the idea of an open mind. Don't feel the need to always pick a side. And if you do pick a side, pick the side of love. It remains our only real hope for survival and has more power to save us than any other belief we could ever cling to....
Now, in a purely abstract sense, the advice here is largely unobjectionable. Open mind: good. Love: good. (And yes, the letter-writer is prone to overstatement: "destroy us all" is kind of a dumb way to phrase it, for example.)
The problem is, it doesn't apply to practical realities and it doesn't address the letter-writer's problem.
Andrew W.K. is operating on the assumption that the father is calmly and rationally elucidating his policy opinions to his son, and the son's reaction is purely intolerance of those opinions. Does anyone here think that's really the case?
I didn't think so.
What the son is talking about--what has become epidemic in the Fox/Drudge/Breitbart era--is (right-wing) political opinions as acts of aggression. You can't judge a liberal son's "intolerance" for his father's opinion without understanding that the father's opinion (there's really only one) is liberalism must be destroyed. That's the context that flies right over Andrew Fucking W.K.'s pointy little head. So of course he chastises the son for his "intolerance".
How fucking useless is this advice? Useless enough to get approving links from Hot Air and the Daily Caller.
I don't know the answer to the son's problem. I'm not sure how I'll handle it in a few weeks when I go backpacking with my right-wing son. But I sure as hell know that the way to handle it isn't to pretend that the dad doesn't have a problem. As if the dad isn't "pushing away the people who care about him" by aggressively expressing his contempt for everything they believe. This is a pathology, and pretending it doesn't exist is a good way to make sure it's never cured.