Thursday, August 11, 2005

Liberal Upbringing

My mother probably regrets my liberal upbringing now. She, more then Dad, is responsible for my views on life, the universe and everything. She taught me how to think, how to question, and how to care--the three traits which led me to the simple conclusion that liberals are on the whole right and conservatives are on the whole wrong. Of course she herself came from a very conservative upbringing, and later returned to conservativism after being born again. But when I was young she was a pseudo hippie (she bathed too often to be a real hippie), hung with real hippies, and worked for something called "The Aquarian Effort." We joined the Unitarian church. We went to Sweets Mill nudist colony. We followed a band called The Greater Carmichael traveling Street Band. Briefly she followed the teachings of someone called Bubbah Free John (it was really my dad who sent me to group therapy and taught me about T.A.) Thanks to her and my older cousins, with whom she closely identified, I was raised on a steady diet of Frank Zappa, Country Joe MacDonald, and The Beatles. I found that the hippies were much more fun then the squares, much smarter then the squares, much more open minded then the squares, much nicer then the squares, and made much more sense. (The only people less fun then the squares were those committed lefty free-speech radicals. They were *so* serious!). When my dad re-married it was into the family of a noted sixties acid guru, a collection of real intellectual liberals, all with good educations and strng liberal viewpoints. I fit right in, and my liberal views expanded; and while I do not agree with the left on everything (guns for instance, certain interpretations of the commerce clause), I am a progressive on what I consider to be the big issues. In other words, I had a liberal California upbringing.

I have not, to my knowledge, killed any persons or bombed any buildings or committed any other terrorist or treasonous act.

I bring this up because according to many people in the conservative media that is exactly what I should be doing. Take Sean Hannity's reaction to John Walker Lindh. Hannity made a big deal of the fact that Lindh was raised in "liberal" Marin County, that he was named for John Lennon, that he had had a liberal upbringing (not unlike my own), and he blamed Lindh's liberal upbringing for his becoming a Taliban soldier (who, as far as we know, never actually killed anybody). To Hannity, it was liberalism that was to blame for Lindh's treason. Hannity makes no inquiry, as far as I know, into the upbringing of conservative terrorists Eric Rudolph or timothy McVeigh. I wonder why.

I checked it out. McVeigh had a rather typical upbringing for someone born in a poor rural community in the 1960s. His parents divorced in 1978 (about the same time mine did). He came from a conservative, predominantly Christian town in upstate New York. He did poorly in school. He was never particularly religious. Rudolph came from a more conservative background. He was homeschooled by his mother. He was raised as a Christian. His family was deeply conservative. Though it is known that he smoked pot (for which he was kicked out of the army), he was a conservative from birth.

Does that mean Rudolph's conservative Christian home-school upbringing led to his becoming a terrorist? I hope not, since my conservative Mormon sister homeschools my nieces and nephew. Does it mean that children of divorced parents are likely to become terrorists? Well, we'd practically be a nation of terrorists then, wouldn't we? Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

It's all bullshit. At least on the level Hannity works on it is. A good Freudian psychologist might argue, with some validity, that the divorce led to feelings of Alienation in Tim McVeigh that he eventually expressed through violent means (after all, the Freudians had a field day with Hitler). They might argue that Rudolph's attacks on abortion clinics and gays was a way to please his mother. But there is a long way from point a to point b in either case. That could be all bullshit too, but at least it is accadmically sound.

Hannity, he's just a dick: a guy who waves flags and points fingers to make a political point that has no connection with reality. There are lots of reasons why people become traitors or murderers. In the case of all three of these terrorists (or terrorist supporter in Lindh's case), they came to their actions through deeply held political beliefs, beliefs that were linked for two of them to their religious beliefs. Does this mean that politics and religion make people killers?

Well, every war in history has been based on one of three things: politics, religion or money. Think on that for a moment.

All of this is just to demonstrate how conservative talking heads like Hannity speak in half truths and invective to make the case for their own politics, while ignoring logic and truth in the process. Truth and logic have no real place on Fox anyway.


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