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
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
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 )