Thursday, July 28, 2011

When the Mask Slips

From Amanda at Pandagon, a post (I'm using her title) that just begged to be extensively quoted:

One of the markers of conservatism in our modern democracy is a routine willingness to say one thing privately and another publicly.  The reason for this is that our national consensus has turned towards justice, which causes defenders of the old order into a bad situation where they either say what they mean and sound like monsters, or they try to reframe their authoritarian views in liberal terms to confuse the issue.   Historically, this has mostly been a stalling tactic, if in results if not in intention.  Slave owners bought a little more time owning slaves by claiming slavery was good for slaves, because they weren't smart enough for freedom...In the early days of segregation, what was privately expressed as an explicit desire to keep black people as second class citizens was cleaned up and publicly presented as "separate but equal".  When that stopped working, private support for segregation as segregation was cleaned up and presented to the public as "states' rights" or "private property rights".  After desegregation, private anger at black people for demanding equality was cleaned up and presented as "law and order" in public.  You know this history. 

I believe that racism is what developed the strategy, but now it's endemic. Abortion is privately about sluts who can't keep their legs shut, publicly about "life".

Economic policies that that are designed to grow the gap between the haves and have-nots are publicly supported because they supposedly grow the economy and do the opposite. 

Anti-gay bigotry is blatant in private spaces, but about "traditional marriage" in public spaces.

The problem with this strategy is it actually takes a lot of effort to maintain elaborate facades.  And really, only people who are out in public are expected to maintain the facade.  The blatant nastiness is freely expressed in private spaces, which is why, as I've pointed out before, elaborate email chains are one of those things that help create conservative solidarity largely out of the view of liberals.   

Now, most of us do this to one extent or another, but with liberals I rarely hear a direct conflict between their private values and their public ones, but with conservatives, there's often a direct conflict, or at least mismatch, between private values and public ones.

Yet another significant difference between liberals and conservatives.  And one that I would get a lot of head nods about from my liberal cronies, but dismay and denial from my conservative buddies (yes, I have some of those).  Self-awareness seems not to be a strong suit among that crew.


1 comment:

  1. Self-awareness is a trait I generally find lack in anybody whose ideas are challenged.