Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Converting Across the Aisle

One of my favorite thinkers of our day is Christopher Hitchens.  Most of the time, he's very well-reasoned in his arguments and, even when he's off the mark, he's tight, biting and smarter than a god-damn whip.

Recently, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and has slowed his output as of late.  I usually watch him for his religious debates (brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!) and for his commentary on politics foreign and domestic.  I don't always agree with him, but I respect the hell out of him.

I always forget he reviews books and, this past weekend, reviewed the book from playwright/author David Mamet.  "The Secret Knowledge" is a book that discusses Mamet's "conversion" from liberal to conservative... 

And Hitchens drops an elbow from the sky! And Mamet is down...

I highly recommend the article because it shows how adroit Hitchens is with the written word and that it's not necessarily a problem of what the argument is but it is a problem as to how a problem is presented.  And the argument present within the book is clunky and full of errors.

In the effort of full disclosure, there may have a been a mix up regarding conservative thinkers: American Thinker: Mixing up Hitchens, Mamet and Hayek?

In response to that article, I have to admit that for all the points that Hitchens makes, this is merely an oversight for the overall argument.  I agree that sources need to be cited properly, but really?  You're point is that it wasn't Fredrich Hayek, it was Thomas Sowell?  What about, oh, I don't know, everything else that was mentioned?

I used to think of myself as conservative, especially when I first got into politics.  I think my change to liberalism began in relation to three events, all of which occurred in or around 2006:

1- Hurricane Katrina.  Whether the government should have been responsible is something else entirely.  However, since there was supposed to be a response and it was slow, it seemed like the answer wasn't to limit government but to try and make it better in its current manifestation.

2- The Iraq War.  I supported the invasion and subsequent "occupation" (there's really not another word for it) and for three years, I defended it and argued for it.  Then, the death toll reached 2,000 American soldiers.  And I thought to myself "That's it.  That's the number".  In Blowin' In The Wind, Bob Dylan asks "And how many deaths will it take 'till he knows that too many people have died?"  And it haunts me, still to this day that I have a number.  2,000.  Not 1,999 or one, but 2,000.

3-  (Not so proud of this one) I started dating a staunch liberal... hey, liberal or conservative, we all want to get laid.

Now, these events happened slowly, over the course of a few years.  When I got to "the other side", I looked back on the company that I kept and the thoughts I had and the views that I espoused, and I thought to myself about how ardent I was in believing these things.

But, I thought to myself, I didn't think of myself as wrong, any more than I consider myself to be wrong now.  At this point, I fully comprehended what it was to have a point of view and the difference between the subjective and the objective.  One can have an opinion and I can have an opinion, but we should all share facts.  I'm 26 years old.  I've realized this.

Mamet hasn't.  And that's the problem with conversions in general, be it political or religious.  The new and faithful are more adamant about the belief than those raised in the proposition.  (Don't believe me?  Ask Cat Stevens)  And if you think that Mamet has got it together, thats fine... but he admires Sarah Palin for being "a Worker".

What work has she done?  I can only really venture to say that she's an excellent self-promoter, but as a mother?  Failed.  As a politician?  Failed.  As a leader?  I don't think that she's even begun to learn how to do that.

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