Here is the email verbatim that my mom sent me this week . . .
If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn`t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn`t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.
A liberal wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.
If a conservative slips and falls in a store, he gets up, laughs and is embarrassed.
If a liberal slips and falls, he grabs his neck, moans like he’s in labor, and then sues.
If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.
If a black man or Hispanic are conservative, they see themselves as independently successful.
Their liberal counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection.
If a conservative is down and out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it’s a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.
If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended.”
When I received this email, I immediately began composing a fiery response, which, to my credit, I deleted and replaced with a simple “Come on, you’re better critical thinkers than that.” I also mentioned that I forwarded it to some of my liberal friends, so we could also have a laugh to make that last item false.
Of course, lots on this list is false, or at least very, very simplified. For example, most of the liberals I know don’t want Fox News to go anywhere, if only because Glenn Beck’s theatrics are better than telenovelas and we love the way The Daily Show exposes Fox’s tricks, like using old crowd footage to make it appear that thousands of people turned out for a healthcare rally and Sarah Palin’s book signings.
Normally, email forwards from my mother don’t hurt my feelings. In fact, usually when I get a forwarded email, I look up whatever the message is on snopes.com and then hit ‘reply all’ with the link. Or I might instead send a simple message like “there is no such thing as Obamacare.” But this particular email, with the message on the top added by my mother: ”This shows the difference in our thinking,” did kind of hurt.
Our relationship has often been difficult. We clashed early and often as I was growing up. We both try to get along, but it seems that we’re never giving the same amount of effort at the same time. I’m a complicated person, as are most people (of all political affiliations, I feel). I am quick to judge and I have more than my fair share of sass, But in my defense, instead of thinking of me as I am (writer, teacher, thinker, compassionate person, occasional philanthropist, a woman in her thirties who’s spent time since the Reagan administration analyzing her positions) my mother sees me, according to this email forward, as these things: whiny, greedy, doctrinaire, litigious, and slimy.
How can she chat with me on the phone, cheerfully tell me she loves me as we hang up, and then send me this email the very next day?
I can only reply to most of these sweeping generalizations with “Well, I only want certain guns, like assault rifles, harder to get” (really, does anyone need a machine gun? really?) or, “I’ve never sued anyone,” and “I can’t speak for all liberals, but I see Afghanistan as much more complicated than either winning at all costs or backing out slowly with our tails between our legs.” However, I admit that there are things on this list that are true for this particular liberal. For example, when I was newly vegetarian I was very obnoxious about it. I never wanted meat to be illegal (veal maybe, but not meat in general) but I did indeed lecture people, I made vats of vegetarian chili to bring to cook-outs hoping to fill people up before the burgers were off the grill. But I’ve always been much more annoying in my anti-smoking crusade, to tell you the truth. After a year or maybe less of a vegetarian lifestyle, I chilled out and pretty much decided that people could eat whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t try to force me to eat to their preferences.
(A sidenote: the people who are rudest to vegetarians are generally the ones who feel guilty about eating meat, often times failed veggies themselves. Or they’re just plain rude. Once, the daughter of a South Dakota rancher found my presence offensive, as if I had spit on her family photos by not eating meat. Another sidenote: my mom used to sneak meat into my food, such as lying to me that the potatoes were not made with chicken broth. She also used to make me go to church when she knew I was an atheist. She couldn’t live and let live, and really, that turns numbers one and two back on her as a conservative, don’t you think?)
Another point that reflects on me is the one about health insurance. I’ll admit it; it’s true. I want a public option so that I don’t have to have a full time job to get health benefits. I was laid off in June and have only been able to work part time. (My parents, btw, are on social security and Medicare. Interesting that people with socialized medicine are against it for the rest of us). I’m worried about losing my COBRA. But this conviction is not just for me: I think everyone should be covered because I don’t think healthcare is a privilege, like a driver’s or a gun license. It’s a right. And interestingly, I’ve noticed that poor people pay taxes. Now really, do you have to be a liberal to prefer seeing your neighbors able to take their kids to the doctor over seeing crooked bankers take home millions in bonuses? Or millions of taxpayer dollars lost on a pallet somewhere in Iraq? Are these just liberal preferences?
I’m struck by the double-standard stereotyping in this list. I mean, usually the Right paints liberals as Hollywood types, snooty academics, or wealthy Eastcoasters, out of touch with reality. But in this list, liberals are poor, whiny takers waiting for handouts. Don’t try to have it both ways, Righties: consistency is step one towards selling people on your point. Color the enemy one way for clarity. And if you’re going to stereotype liberals, it makes more sense to go with the original; it is an established fact that liberalism goes up with one’s level of education.
I’m also struck by some of the assumptions in this list. For example: ”If a conservative is homosexual, he quietly leads his life. If a liberal is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.”
So the assumption is that gay conservatives live under the radar *by choice*. It also suddenly turns demanding respect into a bad thing. I was always taught that the only way to gain respect is to deserve and demand it. This statement also assumes that you have to be liberal to want gay rights. Plus, it also assumes that only gay people fight for gay rights. Not true, as shown by this awesome kid in Arkansas. These are the extreme views that so many members of the GOP are fighting against. Ask Meghan McCain if you have to be gay or liberal to believe in gay rights (which is really just a more specific way of saying “human rights”). Actually, you don’t have to ask her. I’ll show you right here what she said about it in her most recent column, found in its entirety here at The Daily Beast:
The problem I have with my fellow Republicans is why gay marriage is the trump card in any situation. It seems that as long as you are against gay marriage, any scandal in your life can be overlooked or overcome. When you are in favor of it, however—and I have been very vocal about my support—that position defines you.