Tuesday, September 06, 2005

First Against the Wall

How does one earn the right to be first against the wall when the revolution comes? Easy: read and travel.

It shocked me to discover that I have acquired a reputation as a "liberal". A fellow engineer even recently referred to me as a "liberal wacko", which is apparently worse. This is in spite of my fiscal conservatism, preference for small government, and relatively hawkish views on foreign policy (though not on wars which do not serve the strategic interest of the US). Yet my childhood friends (most of whom seem to be US Marines), my father and several work colleagues have applied the term "liberal" to me in recent times. Why?

The answer would seem to be that I have travelled enough to form grounded opinions and read enough to understand more about the world than they. When asked, one criticizer complained that I had "left the country" (a reference to my living in Australia for seven years; he was apparently unaware of my three years in Japan with the US Navy.). The same person pointed to my writing that "most" aspects of Islam found distasteful in the West appear to originate in Bedouin culture and not in Sharia (an opinion I'd formed partially after reading the fatwas of Ali Gomaa, currently the Grand Mufti of Egypt). My father complained that I had spent too much time listening to the "liberal agenda" and had picked up some of their ideas, particularly in relation to the war in Iraq. In fact, my objections to the war in Iraq stem simply from the fact that I saw (and see) no strategic interest for the US in pursuing it. Hmmm.

It would seem the only way to be labeled a conservative in the US of 2005 is to agree with everything the president says. That is a dangerous and capricious form of nationalism, which worries me more than even this administration's spendthrift fiscal policies. I know, I know, I'll be first against the wall.

Perhaps Kenneth Quinnell was right when he said, "It is not a coincidence that the two fields most commonly accused of being liberal - journalism and academia - are two fields whose central purpose is the pursuit of truth."

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe I just clicked that spammers link. I feel like such an idiot.

    BTW, don't worry about what people may say. You are more likely to get feedback from someone who disagrees with you than someone who agrees. Anyone who knows you knows that you are not "unpatriotic".