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Against the Tiders



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Today in Impromptus, I conclude a series called “Against the Tide.” It deals with our culture, and its effect on our politics. (Can the two be separated, really, politics and culture?) Thanks to all readers who have written in. Their letters, relating their manifold experiences, would make an interesting book, I have to say.

Let me excerpt just a few letters. The first is from a mother in Washington, D.C.:

You touched a nerve in me when you wrote, “Most people go with the flow. It has probably always been this way, in every time and place. It’s unnatural to come out from the world and be separate. People like to think of themselves as rebels, with or without a cause — but very few are.”

On November 6, my second-grader came home from her tony school and told me that she’d voted for Obama in her class’s mock election because she didn’t want to be the only one to vote for Romney. . . . My sweet child was so full of remorse that there was nothing I could say, except to ask her how she might handle things differently the next time (and there will be a next time).

If they can get to my beautiful, strong, opinionated, intelligent, and articulate daughter, a child born to be a happy warrior (or at least a very successful white-collar defense attorney), then what of the kid who isn’t being raised in a home where conservative values are actively promoted both through lively and frequent discussion and by concrete example?

It reminds me of the time in the early ’80s when my little sister, about the same age my daughter is now, came home from our Jesuit grammar school and asked my father what a Sandinista was, and why the U.S. was being mean to them. I believe the principal got an earful the next day . . .

Another reader writes,

Several years ago, I was in my first year of law school, sitting through my constitutional-law class. . . . That day we were beginning our discussion of abortion — Roe, Casey, etc. — and our professor said, “I probably shouldn’t do this, but I’d like to ask for a show of hands. How many in the room are pro-life?” With some trepidation, I raised my hand. I looked around the room and was very uncomfortable when I realized that there was only one other hand up in a class of about 50.

The professor was clearly disappointed. Scanning the room, he noted that as a sheer matter of statistics it was highly unlikely that there were only two pro-life students . . .

Look, I’m amazed that our reader and the other person raised their hands. Gutty, gutty.

Another reader writes,

I have a friend who always introduces me by saying, “This is Roger, he’s a Republican,” or something like that. Recently, his girlfriend asked me if it bothered me, because she was concerned that the other friends to whom I was being introduced were judging me solely on my political beliefs. In her mind, it was almost as if I were being introduced as Roger the Nazi.

Oh, yes. This happens to me regularly. People have to explain that you’re a Republican, immediately — setting you apart, marking you as not quite right. It’s as though they were saying, “He has a disease, you know. Be careful.” They can’t just let you be a fellow human being. Strange, that. I’ve noticed this for years. Do Republicans do it too, to their left-wing friends? Probably so, but I don’t see it, much.

A few weeks ago, a music critic of my acquaintance introduced me to a friend of his. My guy said, “This is Jay Nordlinger, an excellent music critic, but his politics are off.” The other man looked at me quizzically, maybe with a little fear, not knowing what to think. I could only smile at him, shrug, and say, “No one’s perfect.”

Finally, a reader sends me a long letter, ending with, “It’s too bad when the only decent father and husband on TV is a cartoon character (Hank Hill).”

Well, hurray for Hank, regardless!



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