Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's a progressive. . . or a liberal. . .or a conservative?

In John McWhorter's op-ed in The New York Times July 21, 2010, about who identifies himself or herself as a "progressive," a "liberal," or a "conservative," and what progressive means, he says

I am often called a “black conservative” because, despite being a pro-choice Obama voter who opposes the war on drugs, I consider racism an inconvenience to be conquered.
I was struck that of the various potential characterizations he might have chosen -- vegetarian, environmentalist, human rights activist, anti-war, pro-education, pro-health, etc. -- he chose abortion, Obama, racism, and opposing the war on drugs.

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1 comment:

Thinking CAP said...

I like John McWhorter. He was on Bill Moyer's Journal a number of times and I even wrote him directly at least once and told him I liked what he said; I can't really say who else of Bill's guests I wrote, although I liked many.

I think part of the reason why many people are not keen on one-word labels is we realize one word can have many different interpretations and nuances to it which we may not agree with.

This is why the prohibitionists try to use words to label us like "legalizer" and "pro-drug." They realize those words can be interpreted to mean "drug pusher" and "druggie." When they do so in a column or a piece where we are not there to rebut, they leave that wrong-nuance in the air.

Akin to what John is saying, I think we need to grab that bull by the horns, not shy away, but use it as the proverbial "teachable moment," where we say, "yes I am for legalization, but it's so we can actually control and regulate those drugs, and take them out of the black market; which is what happened when they were made illegal. Public safety will increase, etc…"

Then those who are like those mentioned in the poll, who were not sure if they were "progressive," have a better sense of what is meant by legalize and regulate.

Me, I still recall standing in the defunct elementary school where I went as a child, and being asked if I wanted to declare myself a Democrat or Republican. That was probably 26-years-ago; I didn't know, so she said she'd put me down as an Independent. And I've remained an Independent to this day. The "downside" is that I am never welcomed with open arms by strangers who think I think totally like them. But the upside is I can usually find something to agree with no matter what circle I am rubbing elbows with. I voted for Obama and wrote more than a few essays about why I didn't want a person who claimed the Iraq war was a task from God in such a high position; and I regarded Bush as a potential disaster long before he was sworn in. But I would vote Republican for Gary Johnson in a heartbeat since he's not one bit afraid to talk about his disgust of the Drug War AND do something about it; in fact I would even knock on doors to promote him if the planet is still in-tact, and I'm still living in the U.S.

I have written about how great English is because we've welcomed in so many other words from other languages; it's made me wonder how accepting other languages have been. Of course it's really the people who allow of disallow words in, but…

I have also written that Drug Warriors have gone out of their way to bastardize words, touched on above, in order to spread terror and confusion. Take the word "narcotic," a depressant, a pain reliever, something that induces drowsiness; however, they've (seemingly successfully) co-opted it to mean ANY kind of drug. As far as I'm concerned this just shows their true character, they are not trying to educate others and teach important distinctions, they are like racists (um like?) that lump tons of things together that should not be lumped together. To them all drugs are "narco" and heroin is the same (or worse) than marijuana. We are trying to undo the confusion they've spread.

And now I'm reminded of a commercial from the 80's; I can't recall what it was for, but I do remember a guy going on and on, "you can call me ___, you can call me ___, you can call me ___, …"