Long ago, before Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and other such buffoons, I used to think I was somewhat conservative. I know I'm not a "liberal" as I think I understand that term, but I confess to being confused about what it means to be either liberal or conservative and the several shades of gray and other colors in the spectrum.
I realize that in some things I am more liberal than conservative and in some things I'm more conservative than liberal. I also know I change my mind about my positions on things as I learn more. And as I get older, I hope I get a little wiser about some things.
The latest incident to cause me such reflection is a brouhaha over Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. I used the book as a text in a college, and in relatively conservative Christian college at that. I did warn students of some of the graphics, but I also explained why we were reading and discussing it.
Would I teach it in 11th grade? I don't know. It depends on my students. There's a woman who Oregon who claims to be the voice of the conservative woman. She's helped me come to the conclusion that I'm not that narrow-minded nor, I hope, that insufferable. She went on and on and on and on about this book, and included some selective texts from The Bluest Eye to prove (!!!!) what a terrible book it is. She did her homework, I grant her that; she talked to a pediatrician and she did some research on Toni Morrison. She presented "research" and I'd want to check out the veracity of the presented research to determine how objectively she presented her findings or how balanced her reporting. She also quoted the American Academic of Pediatrics, though selectively. You can find the entirety of the AAP media report here. She raises some interesting points, but her tone she suggests that one dare not dissent with her position. And that saddens me because I think it might be interesting to have a conversation with her, but I doubt conversation is really possible; I fear it would become a lecture or a diatribe and intimate something unpleasant about my person or my thinking because I fail to agree with her.
I suppose what really wearies me is the insistence that lines be drawn, that there is no room for dissent nor, apparently, for objective and reasonable discussion regardless of one's position along the political spectrum. And there is no room for being more conservative on one thing and perhaps more liberal on another. No open-mindedness permitted. No tolerance for different perspectives.Minds solidly closed.
I know there are things about which I am more personally emphatic than others and positions for which I'm less likely to entertain differing points of view. But if my mind is always closed and my position always firmly staked on what I know at the moment, I don't think I would or could continue to grow or learn or develop as a humane and responsible member of the society in which I live and work.