Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Note from Underground

Not long ago a friend of some years confided to me, for the first time, that his political views are conservative. This was a sign of trust, and also an indication that he had found me out--my views are conservative too. "I don't tell people around here that I'm a conservative," he offered. "I don't want to lose friends. I like people with all kinds of beliefs, but in this town, if you tell someone that you're a conservative, they think you have fangs."

My reaction to my friend's reluctance to reveal his political compass was surprise. Not only is he a friendly and outgoing family man--hardly the kind of person that others might suspect of malevolence--but he also is a person who seems to exude self-confidence.

Nevertheless, there it was: we had this experience in common: no matter how decent we are as people, and despite our efforts to register our individual effects on the world in the positive column (under the heading, "Kind and Helpful"), the very mention of the word conservative in connection with our names is enough to cause many people to drop us from their social circles, often after castigating us for what they believe is our eagerness to have innocent children slaughtered with military weapons. For these people, the word conservative apparently is synonymous with supporter of murder and other crimes, even though my dictionary defines conservative as "holding to traditional attitudes and values."

My friend did not relate to me any of the specific incidents that motivated him to keep his political inclinations private. Our conversation touched only lightly on our similar decisions to choose the company of other people over social isolation. But I know that I have been chastised a number of times because I didn't dance to the popular tune blasting from the passing political bandwagon. Once, when I refused the invitation of members of my exercise group to join them for a bus ride to an anti-Iraq war political rally in Washington, DC, "because," as I weakly explained, "I am a conservative," several members of the group never spoke another word to me, and one asked me openly why I was in favor of killing children. This was not following a political discussion, understand. I had merely identified myself as a conservative.

Times being what they are, I am casting this small loaf upon the waters of the Internet, in the certain knowledge that there are many other conservatives like myself with few kindred spirits at hand with whom to have what Ben Franklin's sister Jenny referred to as "suitable conversation." Perhaps we can recognize each other as friends.


    Glad you decided to stand up. Good to have you with us.
    Reproach of Men

  2. Thank you, Paul! And thanks for your excellent commentary on your Web site. Just now, I am struck by the appropriateness of the words of Isaiah (51:7): "Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings." Yet, there is something in me that also hears the guidance of Matthew (10:16): "Be ye therefore wise as serpents . . . ." I have much to learn.

  3. Welcome to the fray. I am reminded of the chap who said something along the lines of "We must all hang together or we shall surely hang separately."

    It is time, if not past time, for conservatives to hang together.

  4. Welcome! Coming from academia, my fellow conservative-libertarians and I could tell you STORIES. I look forward to reading your new blog!