“My fellow liberals, I’m tired of you” has been recommended to me as “a good read.” Spoiler alert: I don’t think it’s very good, and I think the recommending party needs to read more.
When confronted with a big wodge of stupidity, I find it helpful to break down the stupid into smaller pieces and work through them one at a time. So here we go!
I’m going to skip the intro, but it’s useful context about the author, who is calling herself a member of the “secular liberal tribe” even though she later reveals that she has found the Christian Right “the right tribe” for her family. It’s a pretty cheap bait and switch, and I’m going to skip right over it to reach the “good” stuff.
“I am tired of their undisguised contempt for tens of millions of Americans.”
Well. I’ve heard a great deal of contempt for liberals from Trump supporters, so I don’t see how that accusation can be leveled at “secular liberals” (but not religious ones?) alone. There’s a lot of research documenting how polarized modern political discourse is compared to past elections in which both sides occupied centrist territory with a few outlying differences, and how much of this has to do with a lack of empathy on both sides of various divisions.
“I am tired of their unexamined snobbery and condescension.”
Those are pretty insufferable traits in anyone. Again, this does not correspond 1:1 with liberal politics.
“I am tired of their name-calling and virtue-signaling as signs of supposedly high intelligence.”
I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about because you’ve left this as vague as possible. What names? What signals? What does any of that have to do with intelligence, and how are we defining “high”? Are we measuring education or the ability to learn? What about emotional intelligence? This sentence is just word salad.
“I am tired of their trendiness, jumping on every left-liberal bandwagon that comes along (transgender activism, anyone?) and then acting like anyone not on board is an idiot/hater.”
That is a loaded sentence. Transgender activism is not a “trend,” nor is it a recent development any more than modern interpretations of gender (as opposed to biological sex) are at all–and WOW, here we have a perfect demonstration of contempt for other human beings. Trans people deserve basic human dignity, and yeah, I’ll go with “hater” for anyone who disagrees with that statement. Fight me.
“I am tired of their shallowness.”
Who defines what is shallow? An emotionally starved person might find great meaning in something that seems commonplace to you.
“It’s hard to have a deep conversation with people who are obsessed with moving their kids’ pawns across the board (grades, sports, college, grad school, career) and, in their spare time, entertaining themselves and taking great vacations.”
Agreed with the kids’ pawns part; disagree about entertainment and travel as inherently shallow. Stories are how we broaden our experience of the world without the expense and labor of travel, and travel itself is… somehow bad?
“I am tired of their acceptance of vulgarity and sarcastic irreverence as the cultural ocean in which their kids swim. I like pop culture as much as the next person, but people who would never raise their kids on junk food seem to think nothing of letting then wallow in cultural junk, exposed to nothing ennobling, aspirational, or even earnest.”
Again, word salad, plus bonus straw man! What’s the junk? What’s ennobling? And who gets to define that for anyone else?
“I am tired of watching them raise clueless kids (see above) who go off to college and within months are convinced they live in a rapey, racist patriarchy…”
We do. Current statistics say that 20-23% of women and 4-6% of men are sexually assaulted in college–and rape is the most underreported crime. America is unquestionably racist and patriarchal. This is not even an opinion open to debate; women and people of color were literally barred from voting, attending college, running for public office, or even holding bank accounts until relatively recent times. Look up when unmarried women were allowed to open bank accounts of their own! THE SIXTIES. For credit cards, 1974 (the Equal Credit Opportunity Act). Hell yes, America was and is a racist patriarchy.
“…’Make America Great Again’” is hate speech…”
It is. It assumes that America has always been great for everyone being addressed. That definitely excludes anyone who is or whose ancestors were enslaved, interred, or disenfranchised. Which is to say, everyone other than rich, white, Protestant men.
“…and Black Lives Matter agitators are their brothers-in-arms against White Privilege.”
“Black Lives Matter agitators” displays a fundamental misunderstanding of Black Lives Matter, which is a loosely connected series of protests IN RESPONSE TO the extrajudicial killing of black people by the police. It is not a movement of “agitators,” nor have its organizers ever suggested taking up arms.
“If my kids are like that at nineteen, I’ll feel I’ve seriously failed them as a parent. Yet the general sentiment seems to be these are good, liberal kids who may have gotten a bit carried away.”
Who are “these”? I suspect you WILL have failed your kids by the time they’re nineteen, unless they learn to read and analyze material outside their mother’s comfort zone.
“I am tired of their lack of interest in any form of serious morality or self-betterment. These are decent, responsible people, many compassionate by temperament. Yet they seem two-dimensional, as if they believe that being a nice, well-socialized person who holds the correct political views is all there is, and there is nothing else to talk about. Isn’t there, though?”
I have a feeling you wanted to say that liberal politics are incompatible with morality, but you weren’t quite ready to go there. Also, anyone who thinks there is nothing worth talking about other than politics is welcome to sit next to me. Insert a quarter, get a discussion! The mechanics of plots in romance novels vs mysteries! The historical inaccuracies of the Outlander books and how the TV series corrected them to some extent! How open source software works! People are capable of holding multiple interests simultaneously. We contain multitudes.
“I am tired of being bored and exasperated by everybody. I feel like I have read this book a thousand times, and there are no surprises in it.”
Okay. I feel I should point out that anhedonia is a symptom of depression (ask me how I know!), but go on.
“Down with Trump!”
He was literally elected because of foreign interference in our election. NOT saying “down with Trump” is either ignorance or treason. Unless you prefer a different phrase, like “Lock him up,” which I admire for its symmetry.
“Trans Lives Matter!”
They do. Also, conflating Black Lives Matter with transgender activism displays contempt for both and does not advance your argument.
“Climate deniers are destroying the planet!”
They are. Well, destroying the entire planet is more difficult than it sounds. Leading us into a new ice age, definitely.
“No cake, we’re gluten-free!”
What does celiac disease have to do with anything else being discussed, except that you think it’s a trend rather than an actual disease whose sufferers do not deserve your contempt? (Besides, flourless chocolate cake is delicious.)
“These are good people in a lot of ways. But there has got to be a better tribe.”
Debatable, but sure, let’s lump a little over half of American voters into a single, unified tribe. (Is it made of straw? I bet it’s made of straw.)
“That leads me to . . . drum roll . . . the Christian Right.”
“It is no small feat, switching tribes. It feels stressful and weird to abandon your tribe for the Detested Other Side.”
Well, if you detest “the other side,” and feel that you’ve abandoned your family by assimilating new experiences, I’m sure it is very stressful. Try not detesting people whose backgrounds differ from yours, and maybe work with the notion that you can love your family without agreeing with their politics or hanging out with their friends.
“Since November 8, my husband and I have been taking the kids to church. (He is politically conservative with a religious bent, so no argument there.)”
No preacher like the newly converted. Gotcha.
“I have come this close to buying a giant poster of the American flag for the living room. I may do it still.”
Was an actual flag too expensive?
“Right now, I am struggling to accept the basic Christian doctrines (virgin birth, resurrection, second coming)…”
Well, I grew up with those concepts, and I have some trouble with them, too.
“…because I feel the Christian tribe may be the right tribe for my family.”
“We just finished watching a BBC miniseries about the birth of Jesus, which was so beautiful and moving compared to secular TV.”
There’s this thing with Charlton Heston that might interest you, although I prefer the animated Prince of Egypt. I’m curious about your basis for comparison. “Secular TV” cuts a pretty broad swath, and elides characters who are religious in shows that are not focused on the practice of religion (or practice in ways you don’t even recognize). But, if you didn’t find anything beautiful or moving about (off the top of my head) Friday Night Lights, Veronica Mars, Doctor Who, or the various Shakespeare and Austen adaptations regularly shown on PBS, I don’t know what to say to you except that your soul is dead and I sincerely hope going to church helps you revive it, or at least develop better discretion in your and your children’s media consumption.
“My nine-year-old really enjoyed it.”
“I want to prepare my kids to live according to some unchanging truth…”
I have some bad news for you about interpretations of the Bible and opinions on its application to modern life.
“…not subject to every passing trend, and this felt like a start. But I worry that an inability to believe in the supernatural aspects of the faith will limit my ability to be a “real” Christian.”
For information on how to be a real Christian, the words of Christ seem to me more reliable than those of his followers, their successors, and his modern representatives. He said to love one another; I believe that includes everyone, including transgender people, black people, atheists, and even right-wing politicians. He said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,” (Matthew 5:16). I do not find that taking away the health care of disabled children and poor women or working to restrict voting rights among people of color and college students qualify as good works.
“And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matthew 5:47)
I am not tired of liberals as a class, although I do find some individuals tiresome indeed. I am tired of people representing themselves as Christians and using their religion as a shield when confronted with their own bigoted or hypocritical behavior. I am tired of the Christian Right conflating Christianity and morality, as if the former automatically confers the latter and the latter cannot exist independently of the former. Most of all, I’m tired of the endless attempts by the right to legislate their own interpretation of Christian values in defiance of logic, science, and the Constitution.