Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gut feelings

I recently spotted a local celebrity in the flesh, a woman who is a regular on the local fundamentalist religious TV station. She is something else, and her old-school bouffant hairdo is hard to miss. She was getting food and sitting down for a quick afternoon meal with her family.

The overhead music was playing, and I heard Lou Rawls' old 70s hit, "You'll never find another love like mine"... and just as I passed her, as we both gathered our napkins and silverware, I heard her singing along with Lou, "You're gonna miss my lovinnnnnnn"... and I was momentarily startled. She likes old disco, I thought, surprised. Did I think all the fundies were raised in caves or something? They share the same pop-culture as the rest of us, as separatist as they sometimes are.

As I heard the TV-evangelist sing along with Lou, I was filled with a sudden, unaccountable affection, possibly because I had previously only heard her sing bad gospel songs.

I also realized that being a professional fundie was her job, and it is possible she gets as tired of her job as the rest of us get tired of ours.

I turned and smiled at her, as she was singing the old Lou Rawls song, and she smiled warmly back at me. It was a nice moment.


My second recent realization is one that I need to chew on awhile... but I will share it with all of you nonetheless. You can help me nail it down, so to speak. To wit:

I live in a very conservative area, and as someone with radical politics and personal style, this means I have to possess a pretty strong personality to go against the grain of the majority.

If someone lives in a very liberal area, and has very conservative politics and personal style, they will also have to possess a strong personality to go against the grain of the majority.

My realization: I may be temperamentally more similar to the minority-conservative-in-liberal-area, than I am similar to the liberals around them. In a majority-liberal area, people can easily take liberalism for granted and don't often get very spirited about it. Thus, the liberals may be lukewarm liberals that in a conservative locale, would be lukewarm conservatives.

When conservatives emigrate to the upstate (and yes, they do, as if there weren't enough of them here already), they are excitable and revved up, like new converts. You can spot them. They take nothing for granted. They have arrived at Ground Zero of Tea Party Central--the Promised Land--and they are raring to go.

They remind me of myself, back in the day, when I got to Berserkley and thought I knew everything.

It's an unnerving realization that I first got whacked with upon reading Eric Hoffer's brilliant book, The True Believer (that all fanatics and extremists are more alike than different). But I never made the connection about geography before, and the concurrent personality types.

In a place where 'everyone' is liberal (Seattle, San Francisco), then an individual's liberalism will mean something very different that it does in a place like upstate South Carolina, where they will try to run you over for having pro-Obama/vegetarian bumper stickers on your car. Thus, the individual's response to political challenges will be very different. There is no need to be defensive when you are in the majority. It is interesting (and telling) to note how this political defensiveness is exhibited. What happens in one place, as standard and typical, would never happen in the other.

Example: During a recent group-conversation, I used the word "evolved." (Correctly, as in, "We evolved to crave fat and carbs"--this may have been, in fact, my exact phrase.) I used the word in a dietary context a number of times, and in each instance, two people in the room corrected my word choice, "created." We were not evolved to crave fat and carbs, we were created that way, by God Almighty. (Well, if we were indeed CREATED that way, why bother to fight it?)

I did not want to start a fight over Darwin at that particular juncture and in that social setting, so I allowed them to correct me, but kept right on using the word, too. And I realized, that kind of shit annoys me, and it's the type of thing that people living in liberal areas don't realize we have to put up with. And the conservatives don't realize it either. (I always wondered what William F Buckley thought of the dopey-fundie brand of right-winger, which he surely knew existed? Or did he believe all conservatives were yacht-club members in good standing?) In the same social situation, would the radical atheist from San Francisco just drop everything and jump in whole hog, and start preaching the Darwin gospel? I only know a couple of radical atheists here in the upstate, and neither behave in this fashion; I think the new arrivals might let a few things slide, the way the rest of us have learned to do.

And how does this influence us and our approach to what we do? Our politics? Our writing? The way we frame the issues?

Can you tell when a blog is written in a conservative or liberal area? How can you tell?

Just some ideas. Discuss amongst yourselves!


And of course you know I have been earwormed with the damn thing ever since, right?

You'll never find another love like mine - Lou Rawls


I heard the first two minutes of this old Devo song on the Weather Channel (!) of all places, played over and over during the weekend whilst announcing rain, and now I am earwormed to death with this, too.

And so, it magically becomes our blog post title for today.

Gut Feeling - Devo


Blue Heron said...

Ms. Duck, er Deadhead,

I think that you are correct regarding the provincial connotations of the liberal, conservative tags. In my little conservative town, I am the resident left wing trotskyite, stick me on University and Shattuck up Berkeley way or in certain areas of the blogosphere and I merely another reactionary neocon pig, certainly a candidate for the reeducation camps come the revolution.

I feel about equally oppressed in both camps, and hereby request a new planet or paradigm.

I also find it interesting that people bag on the south for its racial relations but have personally found much more actual communication and comity between blacks and whites in the rural south than in the north or the suburbs.

Having said all that, living in S.C. as you do, and thinking as you do, you qualify for sainthood.

Rootietoot said...

A very interesting premise, and I agree with you.
About "evolve"-I used that word to describe the developement of language (language evolves over time, compare 16th century English with modern, and you'd have a hard time understanding each other) and was argued with. Apparently "evolve" and "evolution" are nasty words around here, and I should have chosen a better, less profane word.

bryce said...

u saw ole beehive hair sing lou rawls? too bad no youtube lol


D. said...

I begin to believe I have been extraordinarily blessed in never having (consciously) lived in a conservative area (the Army bases don't count, and would probably surprise people in any case, because I was too young).

Conservatives tend to avoid me anyway. It must be my face. ;-)

But that is going to mean that people don't really have as much choice about their political leanings as they think.

I'm expecting a revival of the Flat Earth Society among tea partiers any minute now.

southcarolinaboy said...

"Thus, the liberals may be lukewarm liberals that in a conservative locale, would be lukewarm conservatives."

Yes, and I think this is involved heavily with how oppression/discrimination works. Like, the lukewarm liberals could generally behave/believe the same when it comes to how they treat marginalized people as the lukewarm conservatives, but because they are liberal, they see themselves as so much more progressive, so much more accepting, than those backward conservatives. Of course this means a lot of denying on the part of lukewarm conservatives...racism (in the US), to a white lukewarm liberal in a liberal area, is something that happens in the conservative South still, but not in [non-Southern US location] where they are from/live, and they themselves, certainly, could not be guilty.

southcarolinaboy said...

"Of course this means a lot of denying on the part of lukewarm conservatives"

Shoulda been "liberals" not "conservatives", my bad........

John Powers said...

It's funny how things overlap and diverge. As a radical you might have more in common with your neighbors than with upper class liberals.

Here's quote from a piece about Wisconson AFL CIO rally with Planned Parenthood:

"The labor movement, at its core, is about class struggle - the working class overcoming the power of the owning class in order to take control over their own lives. For women, class struggle historically has centered on overcoming the oppression of men who want to have control over their lives."

A big divergence seems about a religious perspective which is widespread in the USA and elsewhere. The idea of a personal savior gets connected with a libertarian focus on the individual such that collective or emergent causes are thought impossible. Everything happens either because God commands or as a result of individual failings.

I find that the harder gap to bridge than liberal/conservative.

nettiemac said...

AH! Good ol' Hoffer -- I took a course in Extremist Politics in college, and let me tell you, one of the best classes I ever took. The little girl from Peabrain County (your westerly neighbor) wrote her paper on the Religious Right. I believe, I go to church weekly (although to some of my neighbors I'm a heathen... Catho, you know), and I am NO fan at all of the religious right. I totally get your views on the Upstate, and being born & raised here doesn't amount to a hill of beans when you buck the status quo .... that GOP really means God's Own Party. That women have brains and some of us actually (gasp) use them....

Thanks for the breath of fresh air!