Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bursting the Conservative Bubble

A dear friend of mine, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, was on Bill Maher several days ago crushing the conservative, newly libertarian Andrew Breitbart.

Was it a rhetorical and, dare I say, intellectual mismatch? Obviously. And frankly, it amazes me that there are people still surprised by statements about the disparities between low-income, urban schools and well resourced suburban schools, or the realities that school teachers in those environments face, or the idea that there is such a thing as coded racism. But buried within the usual progressive vs. conservative arguments about science, racism, and education was a nugget of observation from Dr. Dyson that I found to be the most subtly profound statement of the entire show:

You live in a bubble…collectively, a right wing worldview that disallows interaction with other people.

There is something frightening and saddening maddening about a political ideology whose modern day practice stands on a foundation of utter rejection of truth and an isolation from not only “the least of these” but from anyone with functioning eyes. It is the denial of the Lower Ninth Ward before Katrina; the denial of police brutality before Rodney King; and while ignorance – the state of not knowing – is in and of itself a shame, the outrage is the denial of Lower Ninth Ward-like poverty after Katrina; the denial of police brutality after Rodney King. It is the denial of America’s glaring inequities and broken structures after generations of examples highlighting these truths that makes modern day conservatism baffling. Breitbart demonstrated (and thus exposed) not only an isolation from people that live the realities of the dark, hypocritical underbelly of the American Dream, but from people that speak of these realities and therefore, from any philosophy or ideology meant to transform them.

A difference in opinion about how to solve problems (big government vs. little government, religion vs. politics, etc.) is not only understandable; it’s a valuable part of what makes multiplicity of thought central and unique to our national conversation. In fact, arguing about how to solve problems inevitably creates the best solutions. But an argument about reality? Using Bill Maher’s definition of science as something unequivocal and indisputable in its existence (“evolution isn’t a belief,” he says. “It’s a process that happens” whether or not we choose to acknowledge it), a discussion of poverty, classism, racism, and any of America’s flawed systems is in essence the science of inequality. It just is. Operating under a logic that denies this currrent and historical science and purports to hold in its party a political philosophy for governing a nation without an understanding of its people is beyond stupid...its dangerous. (for reference see THE LAST EIGHT YEARS)

For progressives, particularly those with a mission of social justice, having to first jump the hurdle of acknowledging the existence of a problem (i.e. racism still exists, black children on average receive an inferior education, education policy is inherently tied to housing policy, etc.) before figuring out how to solve it – makes the road to progress long and hard.

Many thanks to Dr. Dyson and the other sharp needles who take on the added task every day of speaking truth, bursting bubbles and telling it like it t-i-is.

(Relevant reading: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas )


  1. My Dear woman let us not forget that as much as the right can lean a little to far to the right , the left can sometimes do the same ( just a thought ). You can easily compare today’s parties and their squabbling to the Pharisees and Sadducees of biblical times. One having a strict constructionist view of the bible and the other having a loose one. Jesus hated both. Not to be overly spiritual, but that’s just what they remind me of and was the best example for me to say what it is I have to say to you, which is this. YOUR CALLING IS MUCH HIGHER THAN ANY EITHER PARTY. If you already know this consider this motivation, if you don’t, hmmm. Uhhh,---- it would surprise me. Have a great day!!!~ There is nothing quite as extraordinary, as balance.

    Peace and Love mama

  2. By the way your video is no longer in available.

  3. Thanks so much Angel. You're so right. God didn't make me a Democrat or a Republican. He made me human, and that's the calling I choose to walk out every day. The challenge is to find that humanity in a political process, especially a two party system, that tries to force us into boxes. Your reminder is a good one that I so appreciate. (and p.s. you can never be "overly spiritual" for me...)