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Cole’s Theory of Relative Relativity

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A burly man dons a soiled vest emblazoned with Confederate flag.  He foists a banner declaring, "God Hates All Fags”.   I am sickened; I am angry, but my

We Ain't No Racists

systolic and diastolic readings remain steady.  I errantly tune to FOX NEWS; the face of Sean Hannity despoils the screen; I grimace; I grab the remote, but I don't suffer an intracranial bleed.

I encounter strangers espousing their support for Romney or Santorum.  I am somewhat astonished that they appear friendly, rational and normal.  I engage them in conversation.  I gently and calmly attempt to nudge them away from the dark side.

Yet, I become apoplectic when a racist remark emerges from the lips of Uncle Bill, Aunt Phyllis, or best friend Bob.  Temporal veins throb and engorge when Cousin Roberta  states our cultural group has been endowed by the lord with unparalleled skill, learning, and righteousness.   Inner rage and anger threaten to erupt when people I love support superstition over science.   Time to take a walk and get some Prozac.

Apparently there is  a correlation between pulse rate and personal closeness.  Thus, I have a devised Cole's Theory of Relativity Concerning Relatives and Friends:  "The greater the connectedness between you and me, the less tolerant I become when you express values that are diametrically opposed to mine."

In the very near future I shall be attending a family reunion.  My wife, who knows my passion for politics, warns me, "You must be respectful; they are family; they are good people." I know they are good people; they are our family.  I get similar warnings when we go out to dinner with friends. My close friends are good people too, or they wouldn't be my friends.

We're All Family

Truth be told, I know I am limited when it comes keeping my cool, and modulating my voice when political and religious debate erupt among people I care about. The simple fact is that I expect people I know and care about to share my most dearly held values.  Sometimes those expectations are not met.  My own dad became a Reagan supporter.  How could MY dad be so dumb?

It takes little effort to remain calm when it comes to non-value issues.   I  don't become crimson when we disagree about sports, or Apple vs. Microsoft.  I am fully capable of speaking softly when disagreeing on some political issue like whether the Supreme Court erred in its Citizens United decision, or should the nation revise its tax code.

This year, if you are a dear family member or friend, and you are a Republican, I think we had better avoid politics.  I know that you and I  have led a life of relative privilege; you are educated;  you are not ignorant, hateful or intolerant.   I fully trust that you believe in that "do unto to others" thing.  I know that greed and avarice are not your motivators.  I cannot fathom your  believing that the mythology of religion trumps good science.  Thus it is terribly frustrating and downright painful  that you could be a supporter of party antithetical to all I believe in. You are my friend; you are family. You have to know better.

It is in-your- face-apparent that the 2012 Republican Party tramples on the  rights of minorities, devalues women, and treats LGBT people as less than equals.  It panders to  bigots, haters, gun-nuts, science deniers and the religious zealots.   It employs miscreants like Rush and Hannity to garner political momentum by spreading hate and falsehood.  It is either a party of greedy puppeteers playing on fear, hate and ignorance, or it is an amalgam of ignorant bigots. Either way, it is a threat to me, our relatives and the ones I love.  It is a threat to all of us.  It deserves my wrath;  it should raise my blood pressure.  The thought of these people leading my country is terrifying.

So to my friends and relatives, please don't expect me to accept any reason for your  support of, or voting  for,  Republicans this year.  Please, for the sake of your relative's and friend's circulatory health, take off the Romney button in my presence, and let's stick to discussing the Cubs or how cute Aunt Myrtle's grandbaby is.

You're Gonna Vote for Who!

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Another good one, Matt. I feel the same way — don’t talk to me about politics I don’t agree with – Republicans.

    • Thanks for reading …. the weird thing is I really have little problem debating with strangers or not close friends, but to have your relatives be part of these rabid haters is like dealing with a turncoat.

  2. We were dismayed to see this blog. It looks more like only one ‘truth’ is allowed, not “democracy in action”. Too many stereotypes…”A burly man…soiled vest Confed. flag…hate fags”. Lots of middle class, clean-cut American families on both sides have great trouble with many of these issues. Your Dad wasn’t dumb; he had an opinion! You have opinions–that doesn’t make you any more right than any one else is! Hate mongering on any side begets nothing but more hate. All Republicans aren’t all the negative things you say–anymore than all Democrats are perfect. Fill in any two sides of any war or argument going on all over the world, and the same holds true.

    We probably agree with all or most of your points of view, but we also believe that there needs to be room to listen to alternative perspectives and see when they might have some validity. The extremism that is taking hold only results in a Congress that is unable to accomplish anything and good Republicans like Olivia Snow leaving public service because there is no longer room for discourse. We don’t want to duplicate that process.

    We do agree that if listening to perspectives that you disagree with are bad for your health, by all means stay out of the discussion. We are disappointed in this blog. It is more a bog. (swamp)
    Bev and Myron

  3. I think this is a perfect example of democracy in action…. You and I get to say what we believe in without being jailed.

    We invite people to respond, and we publish all those responses.

    Some points:

    If you have watched tea party rallies and soldiers’ funerals, there are characters present exactly as I described. I use them as an example of the worst of the worst. I expect little from these clowns so they don’t upset me.

    I NEVER said friends and family members who are Republicans are terrible people. As a matter of fact I say they are ethical, bright people so their support of the present day Republican Party is totally unfathomable to me.

    Today, Mitt Romney (HE COULD BE PRESIDENT) spoke at Liberty University, a school that bars gay teachers and students, and its founder blamed the horror of 911 on gays and the ACLU. It is personally inconceivable that a friend or relative of mine could vote for this pandering clod.

    One votes Republican or Democratic. (Yes, there are minor parties but they have little potential effect this year). I believe in my heart of hearts if one votes Republican this election cycle, one votes to support hate and bigotry.

    Olivia Snow dropped out not because the Dems were unaccepting of her beliefs, but her own party was… she had to leave.

    There are NO acceptable rationales for unequal treatment of gays, disenfranchisement of people of color, denying evolution, support of personhood at conception, voter disenfranchisement, signing Norquist’s pledge, calls for limiting contraception, and banning legal abortion. These are not my irrational fears they are openly the Republican agenda and platform.

    I specifically say that non-value issues may be worthy of debate. But the social values supported by this Republican Party are reprehensible. You don’t get to pick and choose in the voting booth. When one votes Republican, one votes the entire Republican agenda and thus votes against my, and I imagine, your most closely held values. And they vote against the rights and safety of my children, grandchildren and my dearest friends.

    Sometimes there are not two sides of a story. Holocaust deniers don’t deserve debate; they don’t have a position worthy of defense. The only people who I might have some empathy for voting Republican this year are the ultra religious, and personally I don’t want delusional people calling the shots when it comes to nuclear weapons.

    Of course, one can find agreement with some items a Republican supports. Mussolini made the trains run on time; most Italians in the late 30’s liked that. And some issues, as I say, are debatable and not emotional. As for my hating, I do hate to think of a future world based on Republican values.

    I am unbending and unwavering in my support for equality and science, and try to battle bigotry every time I see it. If one doesn’t see bigotry in the Republican platform, then one chooses to overlook it or is pretty damn unaware.

    I simply stated that it would be better to avoid my discussing with relatives and friends their choice to be Republican because that choice is totally UNACCEPTABLE to me, and it especially hurts because this is coming from people I respect. What I did not say, is that if I did get into a discussion the risk of that respect evaporating is real.

    By the way, I loved my pop, I knew him a hell of a lot better than you. His decision to become a Reagan supporter was dumb and was way out of character for him… we all feel that he was probably is the early stages of dementia.

    PS. I don’t think I said anything that you didn’t probably know already, I think that your concern for emotional disagreement in the family overrides your objectifying of 2012 Republicans. I rewrote this article probably 20 times spent many hours in an effort to not insult our family, and yet be true to myself. If it was a “bog”, it was a well thought out bog, a bog that over 20 people have indicated their approval and appreciation for.

  4. Some of my relatives (Russian and American) are voting Republican because they think Republicans are better for Israel. One of my close friend would vote for Newt just because of what he said about the Palestinians. I think that what makes America stronger is good for Israel. In my opinion Bush was disastrous for Israel. And I agree with Matt on many points.

  5. I am going to change the names, and send this out to my family like I was the one who wrote it. Thank you Matt.

  6. Dear Matt,
    You wrote a great article, and it is wonderful to see responses.
    I totally agree with you that it is very disappointing to see educated, well-respected people, especially if they are our friends and family members, to support Republican Party. Not because it is another party, but because what it stands for today – full of bigotry, racism, anti-science, anti-progress, absolutely reactionary party.
    Since we are in a free society, the Republican Party and their supporters (thanks God), can say what they want and what they think, and they can ware their buttons and their slogans in front of you, me and others. Please do not deny their rights to do the same at the Family Reunion. I always enjoyed a good political fight at the reunions.
    Dear Myron, please do not bash the whole blog just because you disagree with one article. By criticizing Matt for generalization, you cannot turn around and allow yourself do the same to this blog.

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