Who Will Stand Up for the Old White Man
Sure, most of us vote "wrong," but when and how did peace-loving, law-abiding, elderly, white, conservative, heterosexual males become politically disreputable? And why do many on the American left resent our constitutionally-protected speech?
NOW and Planned Parenthood both claim to speak for all women. CAIR professes to represent all American Muslims. Among other organizations, the NAACP defends blacks’ interests. LGBT communities have many public advocates. Some jurisdictions have hired or face demands for Wiccan and atheist "chaplains."
Despite CAIR’s cultural misogyny, Planned Parenthood’s abortion agenda and the oxymoronic weirdness of atheist chaplains, American liberals treat all of these groups and their wackiest components respectfully. To do otherwise would violate the progressive orthodoxies of cultural validation and "inclusiveness."
But older conservative men are disregarded – until we speak.
Progressives imagine themselves to be objective, diverse and benevolent, but they are the worst offenders of their own axioms when perceiving the (harrumph!) "hatefulness" of those who dispute liberal interpretations of facts, policy or morality. The open antipathy many liberals exhibit toward those with whom they merely disagree can be stunning.
Some of my e-mails provide excellent examples. As an older writer of pallor, I express conventional conservative viewpoints familiar to most people, including many who disagree with me. I’m happy to hear from civil critics, but wonder why some inexplicably angry liberal e-mailers substitute volumes of unrelated, irrelevant material for the short translation: "I don’t like what you wrote." Conversely, Anglo-Saxon expletives, contempt, personal (including age-related) insults, "SHUT UP!" — and less pleasant variations — are just lazy, crude ways of saying, "I don’t like what you wrote."
Condescension and sanctimony are common, but neither works sans relevant, logical arguments. Sorry, changing the subject isn’t relevant or logical. And, please, don’t passive-aggressively explain that your lousy behavior is my fault. News flash: The definition of "open-minded" is not "agrees with liberals." Indeed, what’s more close-minded and less inclusive than willfully ignoring other viewpoints while vilifying, scolding and/or bullying those who hold them?
Irate, occasionally vulgar e-mailers clearly don’t understand the uselessness of electronic tantrums. Most often, it’s better to ignore an article or, after grasping its content, to overlook it while demonstrating the same standards of civility critics would impose on others.
Don’t misunderstand, feedback’s great – you know you’re over the target when you’re taking fire – but, unless it’s motivated by intellectual insecurity — fear that they’re wrong — progressives’ angry negativity is baffling — for two reasons: First, they won. They’re in charge – or say they are. Second, aging, white, straight conservatives aren’t anarchists. We acknowledge government’s place in our lives. We prefer driving on well-constructed, properly-maintained government roads and drinking clean water.
But, we older conservatives view the national government’s most important role as the protector of our guaranteed rights and freedoms, rights which have been undermined by too many inappropriate government intrusions. We’d restrict the federal government’s jurisdiction to matters specifically enumerated in the US Constitution (an enduring document written by older white men), and limit government’s impact on the economy. We think that significant numbers of federally-imposed policies should be left to the states — or alone.
We have little problem with manageable debt that doesn’t plunder the wealth, welfare and security of current and future generations or jeopardize America’s place in the world. Conservative seniors don’t want career, self-styled "elites" in charge of public policy. Informed by age and experience rather than emotion, we believe our values to be sensible and defensible.
Asian-style elder reverence isn’t expected – and we’ll leave designating "victims" to others — but, if they want older, white, conservative men to take them seriously, progressives must learn to pay attention and treat us with the same respect they demand. Liberals must objectively confront and responsibly deal with the realities of culture and governance, and understand that approaching disagreements from positions of reflexive antipathy destroys discussion, hardens opposition and drives away converts.
Offenders will not consider, much less accept, that their shabby treatment of older, conservative males is…well…offensive. Though some are frequently both, progressives do not see themselves as hypocrites or bigots.
The offenders are too busy muttering liberal platitudes and insisting that the people they demonize pick up the tab for their liberal "generosity."
Jerry Shenk is a PennLive/Patriot-News community columnist. His work appears monthly.