The Corner

Town and Country (or Suburb)

Some conservative bloggers point out that not a few conservatives are ticked off by Derb’s “metropolitan conservatism” piece. One even says he’s going to cancel his NRODT subscription over it (I believe he was offended that NRO isn’t a hot bed of belief in a literal seven-day Biblical creation, but I may be wrong.) I think this draconian demand for ideological purity underscores Derb’s point about metropolitan conservatism as a conservative sensibility that’s more capable of dealing with social and ideological diversity.

Last weekend, I was at a social gathering in a Dallas suburb at which there were a number of Evangelicals, and I was really put off by one woman (NOT typical of the others) who talked about her aggressive efforts to evangelize a Muslim stranger she encountered at the driver’s license bureau. What that woman did to the Muslim was bullying and arrogant. I ended up feeling sorry for the poor Muslim woman, who was just minding her own business. Then the Evangelical woman, upon finding out that I’m a Catholic, started lecturing me on what the Catechism teaches. I told her calmly that she was wrong, that in fact it teaches something else, but she refused to budge from her cartoonish, hostile version of my faith. We’ve been warned by other Catholics here to get used to this kind of thing in Dallas. Though we were among conservative Christians (i.e., people who share most of our values), you generally don’t see that kind of condescension and smug self-righteousness among big-city conservatives, i.e., metro-cons. I think the metro-con sense of tolerance, and ease in moving among people of different faiths and political viewpoints, comes from being a minority. I’ve found the same sort of overbearing arrogance as I did in that conversation at the Dallas suburban party when I’ve been among New York liberals who look down their nose at people who differ from them. There’s a huge difference between disagreeing with someone’s ideas and disapproving of their behavior on the one hand, and scorning them, treating them like idiots, on the other.

Some of the nicest and most reasonable folks you’ll ever meet are rural or small-town liberals. I think they get that way for the same reason urban conservatives get that way: the minority experience. You can’t thrive surrounded by people who strongly disagree with you without developing a

sense of shared humanity, and tolerance.

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