Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ronald Reagan, Conservatives, and Willing Innocence

There's a whole discussion that Matt Yglesias sparked and Conor Friedersdorf got going about today's conservatives and Goldwater worship, but I'm going to skip to what what Ta-Nehisi Coates said, because it's Just That Good:
Goldwater's sin was naivety...In that sense, Goldwater is the more appropriate hero for today's generation of blissfully ignorant ("How did that 'White slavery' sign get there?") non-racist Republican. It's not so much that they hate you, it's they are shocked--shocked--to discover that some of their fellow travelers hate you. When discussing them, all bloggers are required to begin their missives by quickly dispensing with  with the "Are they racist?" strawman. Answering in the affirmative has been outlawed in polite company, where there are no actual racists. And so we are left, as I've said, with imbecility as an explanation, and a much more troubling query--"Are they stupid?"  ("Are you so stupid that you would allow racist newsletters to be published in your name?" "Are you so stupid that you would have a campaign manager with "Happy Nigger day" on his Myspace page?")
TNC is brilliant as usual.  Even better, all of this gives me an excuse, actually a pretty good excuse, to go through at least some of the bits of my very favorite classroom lecture that I give, since it's very much to the point here. Plus it can count as a Monday Movies Post, sort of.

Here's the thing: Ronald Reagan's great gift, as Garry Wills told it, was exactly that naivete.   I've posted before Lou Cannon's story about Reagan's ability to continue touting Hollywood morality and how it led to great marriages even in the weeks after his own divorce.  That's just the beginnings of it.  Wills talks at length about Reagan's ability to believe what he wanted to believe, to believe things that fit the story he wanted to be living.  The best illustration of this, to me, was that Reagan even managed to ignore the obvious subtexts of Production Code era movies.  This brings us to Reagan's favorite movie role, the one that made him a star: Drake McHugh in King's Row.  For Reagan, King's Row -- a gothic story about the evils lurking below the surface of a seemingly idyllic American town  -- was mostly a story about overcoming adversity in an idyllic American town.  Moreover, part of the strength of the American gothic genre...think, for example, David Lynch's Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, or Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"...is that it undermines one's ability to retain an idyllic image of American small-town life.  See also the political theorist John Seery's wonderful analysis of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" (alas, I can't find an ungated version of the paper, but he discusses it briefly here).

As Wills describes it in his Reagan book, Code-era audiences learned to understand the ever-expanding symbolism that Hollywood deployed to evade the censors (think of how in Top Secret! the camera cuts from Val Kilmer and Lucy Gutteridge embracing while parachuting to safety...to a fireplace, parachuting right along side them).  Here's Wills:
Once it was realized that movies were sending messages over and around the Code, a kind of snide knowingness was required in the intelligent viewer.  The question became not is this storm really the Code's code for intercourse, but can there be any storm in the movies that is not a sexual spasm?...There was a perpetual oscillation, a forever wavering balance, between the naive and the knowing, between sappy innocence and winking lubriciousness.  One falsehood fed the other.  As Ben Hecht wrote: "The have learned how to hint at fornication in a hundred masterful ways and so much that I, for one, watching a movie, am ready to believe that all its males and females fall to futtering one another as soon as the scene dissolves."
Mind if I go off on a bit more of a tangent?  If the Production Code protects us from King's Row, from American gothic themes of incest, sadism, and other depravity lurking below the surface of small-town America, then when the Code goes away, the movies in that genre get awfully hard to watch.  After all, even David Lynch needs a stylized opening to his own imaginings of depravity (granted, Lynch is no slouch at imagining depravity).  Much easier to take are two Reagan-era films.  Back to the Future is an inverted comic American gothic.  In it, the perverted, corrupt city is on the surface, while the pure idyllic American small town is, perversely, lurking underneath.  The film retains the themes of incest (Marty and his mom) and sadism (the town bully), but they're now comic, not depraved.  Even more oddly inverted, albeit far more obscure, is The Experts, from one of John Travolta's career lulls.  Like Back to the Future, this one also features an idyllic American 1950s small town.  However, the rot underneath this one is quite literally Communism; the small town is actually a KGB version of an American small town in which agents live out their lives in order to raise "real" Americans who can grow up to be the perfect agents.  Insidious -- but it's the 1980s, and in order to bring the town up to date, the KGB tricks Travolta and Arye Gross to move there to bring them 1980s hair or something like that.  Not only are Travolta and Gross too foolish to figure out that they're not in Nebraska, but as two city-dwelling, club-hopping, losers, they don't have the true American values that the KGB...wait for it...finds to its horror that they've inadvertently bred into their faux "Americans,"  who naturally have to teach Travolta the true meaning of America.  (Arye Gross is a sidekick; sidekicks don't have to learn things).  It's not quite as clean an inverted American gothic as is Back to the Future, but I do love the way that it subverts American gothic themes by replacing personal and societal corruption with communism.

By the way, the KGB agent who lures Travolta and Gross to the USSR is Toad, from American Graffiti (a movie irrelevant to this, despite its small-town setting, but one I like to mention since I love it).  Toad...er, Charles Martin Smith, also directed the first half of the pilot of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, which certainly is relevant.  In American gothic, things lurk underneath...in American gothic monster-style, things really do lurk underneath, and they're trying to get out and kill you, and in fact they take half the high school kids in town hostage by the end of the second half of the pilot.  After Buffy stops them (uh, spoiler -- the world doesn't actually end in the pilot), her new friend Xander says that nothing will ever be the same again/quick cut to the next day, at school, where everything is the same after all, and Giles has to explain to Willow and Xander that people are capable of blocking out all sorts of horrible things that they don't want to know.

Which leads us back to Ronald Reagan, and his great gift of naivete.  I'll quote Wills again:
Each performer had to strike her or her private bargain with make-believe.  It is clear, from early on, what Reagan's device would be: he pretended there was no pretense.  When he had to, he could will his own innocence.
Reagan, as it were, is the people of Sunnydale.  He's able to believe that idyllic American small towns are nothing but idyllic American small towns even after watching the vamps kill his friends.  Reagan famously said that "I am eternally optimistic, and I happen to believe that we've made great progress from the days when I was young and when this country didn't even know it had a racial problem." One can read all sorts of terrible motives into that, but I think it's better to see it as of a piece with the Reagan who never was divorced, the Reagan who makes himself believe that a fireplace is just a fireplace.  The Reagan who just couldn't force himself to believe that he had traded arms for hostages, because it didn't fit with the rest of the story he thought he was in.

Sometimes, with Reagan, the belief in the pretense got him into trouble.  Sometimes, as in his recovery from divorce, as Wills writes, it was a source of great strength (and of course he had other strengths, too -- Reagan was a very successful pol for plenty of reasons).  I think it was this quality of Reagan's, however, and not his Hollywood background that fooled liberals into thinking that he was "just" an actor and over his head in national politics.  But at the same time, Reagan's ability to believe things that weren't so was no help to him in the White House, and in my view it seriously endangered the nation more than once, most precariously at Reykjavik (although see this argument that Reagan's belief in pretense was in some ways essential to the demise of communism).

That's the basic story I feel confident in telling about Reagan.  Now, if I wanted to stretch, I would launch into a discussion of how Ronald Reagan taught conservatives to believe that the things they want to believe are true.  Perhaps that's true, but it's pretty squishy stuff.  I guess what I'd say is that Reagan's belief-in-pretense solved solved for himself at least one difficult problem in post-civil rights America, and it's not unreasonable to speculate that those who have sought to emulate him have learned what he taught.  And here I would return to TNC and the willed naivite among some of today's conservatives.

The problem for conservatives in post-civil rights America -- at least for well-intentioned conservatives -- is the one that Rand Paul ran into last week, or the one that Trent Lott ran into a few years ago.  Like or it not, the problem goes (and this is what Matt Yglesias was talking about), the contemporary conservative movement was very much born in opposition to the civil rights movement.  That's a whopping big original sin.  Conservatives have dealt with this in any number of ways...pretending that MLK's basic message was opposition to affirmative action, or Michael Steele's favorite, pretending that the Republicans who fought the Civil War and supported civil rights are the same people as today's conservatives.  Reagan's is one of the best: simply pretending that it never happened, that there was a time when no one knew about the bigotry...and then things got better.  Of course, the past and race isn't just a problem for conservatives; it's a problem for Democrats, for liberals, and for the nation as a whole.  But liberals can look back with justifiable pride of at least some of their actions at one critical point, and that perhaps makes it easier to deal with the truth of other times when they showed less courage.  Democrats can look back with pride (perhaps less justifiable, but at least plausible) at the record of their party in risking electoral loss over historic legislation, and that perhaps makes it easier to deal with the truth of the party's long and disgraceful record up until that point.  It's not surprising, then, that believing the pretense that there never were any racists is appealing to some conservatives, even if it means pretending that there are not now, and never have been, any conservative interest in winning the Jimmy Rebel vote.

 (I don't, by the way, mean just white liberals and white Democrats -- I mean liberals-as-liberals, regardless of ethnicity).

If I really wanted to dive into speculation, I could talk about what Jonathan Chait recently referred to as "magical thinking" among conservatives, generally, and think about the connection between that sort of thinking and Reagan's ability to believe the pretense.  I think that's probably a step too far for me, and I'll leave it to others to think about.

Which leaves me just with one important paragraph of caveats.  I am certainly not saying that conservative thought is somehow illegitimate or tainted because of its history, any more than America itself is somehow illegitimate because of its history.  What I am saying is that one does have to deal with these things in some way, and the Reagan method involved simply not believing things that didn't fit what he wanted to believe, true or not.  And, again, I'm not saying that this means that Reagan was a moron or anything like that, or that this particular trait of Reagan's delegitimatizes conservative ideas.  That's not the point.  The idea here is to understand how he went about his life in order to see his strengths and weaknesses, not to assess conservative thought based on how one conservative pol lived his life.

And, endnotes...here's Adam Serwer and David Weigel, and here's Conor Friedersdorf's follow-up.

I mentioned a lot of movies and TV shows above.  I give my highest recommendations to Top Secret! (much funnier than Airplane!); to Buffy (stick with it, the first season is inconsistent, but it's worth it); and to American Graffiti.  I'm not sure what kind of recommendation to give The Boondocks.  It's wildly inconsistent; at its best, one of the most terrific shows I've ever seen, but I'm not sure that it's really worth sticking with it past season one, although there are still funny bits that pop up when you least expect it.  I have some thoughts about Huey in the current season, but this is long enough already.  If you haven't seen Back to the Future for some reason I suppose I can solidly recommend that, as well.  And, of course, I continue to highly recommend Garry Wills, Reagan's America: Innocents at Home.


  1. Jon, I have to disagree strongly with you on this post.

    Airplane is better than Top Secret, though its a difference of degree and not kind.

  2. I really have no desire to register with the Washington Post, so I'm posting this here. At least when it comes to Texas, election of judges has been driven by two trends (at least in my opinion). The first is the post-reconstruction move in southern states to ensure that state officials are on as tight a leash, and kept as inactive, as possible which is also why the legislative process in Texas is as hackneyed as it is generally. The second is that, up until ~ the 1950's, county judges and their courts were, in many places in Texas, effectively the only government Texans had. Town and village governments weren't really that influential, and structurally most county government was done through the county court anyway. I can't imagine that many county judges basically being the "mayors" of their counties had nothing to do with the election of judges being maintained in Texas as long as it has.

  3. As to the above post, it sounds pretty spot on to me. The only caveat I would add is that, regardless of what they might say in front of television or in polite company, many white political conservatives continue to harbor extremely racist views. Being made aware of that fact, face to face, by folks who draw lazy conclusions about one's political sympathies is one of the many dubious benefits of being anglo, male, and southern.

  4. @Julian

    I am interested to understand why the substance of the argument is never addressed, and statements like - "regardless of what they might say in front of television or in polite company, many white political conservatives continue to harbor extremely racist views" are taken at face value as fact, without any proof.

    Why is it OK, for example, for a Jewish family to discriminate against neo-nazis when inviting guests for a dinner party, but not OK for that same Jewish family who owns a store down the block to ask a swastika-clad neo-nazi heckler to promptly vacate the shop?

    The basic argument is that individual people are free to discriminate (and we all do so, regularly). The civil rights act essentially forces individuals (in this case, private business owners) to be 'fair', even if it is scandalous. The Jewish store owner in my example has to serve an openly inflammatory neo-nazi customer in the name of abstract, politically correct, 'fairness'. And, the civil rights act, if enforced to the words, supports this very coercion.

    I would love to hear a rational response to this argument, rather than an ad hominem attack or strawman 'racism' argument. It appears based on the recent articles/blogs about this subject that many people could not, if pressed, even correctly define the word 'racism'.

  5. @The Bridge:
    You raise two distinct points, but I'll try to relate them.

    The "proof" Julian offers is his testimony of his own experiences. The implication of the next sentence after the one you quoted is that Julian is a southern anglo male who has had conservatives seem to presume him to be a fellow conservative and express racist ideas to him. Whether you accept his claim as evidence is up to you, but he did offer it.

    You ask why it is OK for the Civil Rights Act to govern private transactions. The argument I would make is that, since private transactions constitute the vast bulk of the transactions that any person will engage in, if one accepts that discrimination is a bad thing, then it falls directly under the police powers that all governments are presumed to have: the ability to regulate the health, safety and morals of the subjects of that government. Now, your point is why is some regulation OK and other regulation not OK? I would respond that the coercion required to regulate some behaviors is simply more than people would like. Thus, the answer to the question lies in the heart of democracy: majority rule. Greater coercion against discriminatory behavior would require measures that clear majorities would be opposed to, whereas the coercion required to enforce the Civil Rights Act is generally considered acceptable in light of the outcomes and goals of the coercion.

    In a very real sense, what is odious and what is acceptable is decided upon collectively. The term "politically correct" is usually a pejorative one applied to behaviors/opinions the user disagrees with, but recognizes that a majority supports. A decent argument could be had that the correct term would be "socially correct," but that loses the pejorative connotation of "political."

    Racism can either refer to the practice of discrimination against members of other races or to the thought process that justifies such behavior. However, the fact that "racist" is used as an epithet is evidence that the thoughts are considered so odious that being associated with them is just not acceptable in modern society. Thus, I would say that the mob has spoken. The nice thing about social processes is that they could be said to measure both intensity of preferences as well as numbers. In the case of racism now being a bad thing, I can't say I'm opposed. In the case of Justin Bieber being everywhere, I'm strongly against it.

    Now, why is proof less necessary for allegations of racism? I think this is an indication of the huge change in social sentiment. Racism is considered so evil that society seems willing to tolerate type 1 errors (false positives) in order to rid society of the problem. Our justice system, though, is stacked to fight against type 1 errors. It seems to me that society has decided that extremism in opposition to racism is no vice.

    Thus, the notion in Jonathon's point is spot-on: the original sin that the modern conservative movement is born of is considered by modern society to be quite heinous. It behooves modern conservatives to be mindful of this history. The sins of the father are visited upon the son. This might not be "fair." However, humans are always going to judge people by the company they keep. And, quite frankly, racists keep company with conservatives. Conservatives might not like it, but it's pretty much true. Thus, this cross is more for conservatives to bear than liberals. Liberals have their own crosses: communists, movements like AIM and the Black Panthers, and pacifists. To deny such baggage is foolish.

  6. Matt:

    I didn't intend on debate about the topic, but I guess I have a small one with what you've written: you stated that all governments are presumed to have the power to regulate the 'health, safety and morals' of the citizens. This is precisely where my question comes from.

    I don't believe anyone (or any group of individuals), anywhere, has the right to regulate the morals of anyone else. In fact, I would argue that it is impossible to do so. That is, an immoral person will always be immoral, whether that is against a law written on some pieces of paper or not.

    I say that in truly free society, where a store owner who is a racist puts out a sign that clearly states he does not serve Chinese people, individuals would behave appropriately according to their own moral compass.

    That is, people who think the store owner's discrimination against Chinese is not morally acceptable, would not patronize his store. In fact, in a free society, an enterprising person might open up a shop just down the street with a sign that had "All comers, welcome!" written on it. Then, people are free to choose. The shop owner is not forced to serve people he doesn't want to serve (even if his discrimination is abhorrent to some, and his reason for this is based in whatever irrationality or fear or experience he has in his own life). So, I guess I'm presenting an alternative, friendlier choice. More freedom, and allowing a limited government to police true crimes, which have victims, instead of crimes of thought.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. @The Bridge--
    It's interesting that you juxtapose commerical relationships (a store owner who chooses to discriminate) and personal relationships (to whom are you close enough to invite to dinner). These relationships seem to me to be of a different order. Market relationships are generally presumed to be impersonal, while personal relationships are, well, personal.

    Note as well that your parable holds for those characteristics that are (a) observable and (b) more-or-less permanent. Skin color and gender (for example) meet both criteria, and, therefore, it's fairly easy for commercial relations to be conditioned by them. Age, also. Political views are neither always observable nor necessarily permanent, and thus are less likely to serve as bases for discriminatory behavior of the type you seem to be willing to accept. I think that's as issue you should probably adress, if only for yourself.

    Further, you don't address a very real principal-agent problem that may exist in the operation of a retail or service business, or in the hiring process in a large firm. Again, that's a structural issue that needs to be addressed is one is going to advocate for the acceptability of discriminatory actions in commercial relationships.

    Finally, you assume that, in the presence of such discrimination, a non-discriminatory shopkeeper can open a non-discriminatory store down-the-street (or, alternatively, that an African-American, or female, or racist shopkeeper can). This assumes (a) a sufficiently large body of potential shopkeepers who (b) have enough personal wealth or (c) sufficient access to capital markets to do so. What's clear is that these conditions apparently did not hold in large parts of the South. Or in many small towns in any part of the US. Or the local political structure was dominated enough by those who chose to discriminate that "outsiders" were unable to get a foothold (check out the histories of the company mining or textile towns on this point).

    The economic theory of competitive markets can be shown to lead to reasonably efficient outcomes in many circumstances, but one of those circumstances is that the relationship of buyer to seller is mediated only by willingness and ability to buy and by willingness and ability to sell--but that the personal characteristics of buyer and seller are not part of that equation. The world you describe is a world in which, I'm afraid, that the real efficiencies of markets would be even more deeply compromised than they are in the world as it already exists.

  8. Still, no one has addressed the specific argument: How is it 'right' to force for example, a Jewish shopkeeper to serve a blatantly antagonistic heckler, just back from an interview on the news where he was wearing his neo-nazi garb? I'll state that he has even changed clothing to something less offensive, so that his hatred of Jews is only known to the shopkeeper by what he has seen previously of the person?

    The point is, all interactions are human interactions. Labeling them 'private' or 'commercial' is just that. It is labeling. I personally don't believe in forcing people to do things, and think that more freedom for all of us (regardless of skin color, sexual orientation, gender, etc.) would result in a better, more prosperous society.

    Doc, you stated that there was unequal access to capital in the south (I assume you mean the older south, prior to industrial revolution). This is true. But, I would argue that the imbalance came from the marriage of the government and corporations. Laws put in place clearly discriminated against blacks, for example (couldn't own property, couldn't vote, etc). Gun control in America grew out of the desire of white politicians to keep blacks unarmed, for another example.

    We can share many historical anecdotes, but I guess I'm trying to avoid getting bogged down in the weeds of a debate. I put forth a simple scenario to see if someone would address the morality problem posed there. In case the problem isn't clearly stated (I'm typing quickly because it is time for work!) I'll come out and say it clearly: Why is it morally right for government to remove the right of discrimination from the Jewish shop owner I mentioned above, by threat of force?

    So far, no one here has addressed it, but at least we are having a civil dialogue (which is great).

  9. Your focus here is ont he rights of a prospective seller, who should, you state (you don't provide much in the way of rationale for it, by the way; it sits there as an assertion), be able to sell to whomever s/he wishes.

    So in a private property ownership,market-oriented society, what rights adhere to buyers? Does a buyer of a product have a right to buy from whomever s/he wishes--most convenient, cheapest, nice shop window display whatever? If not, does not your allocation of rights to shopkeepers impose real costs on (some) buyers? And why *ought* a shopkeeper have that right?

    We're carefully avoiding employment relationships here, which will pose even greater difficulties for this conversation, I think.

  10. Yes, a buyer can buy from whomever s/he wishes, provided the seller is a willing, voluntary participant in the exchange. Free and voluntary exchange is all I'm talking about here. Coercion, by government writ (in this case, Title II of civil rights act 1964), does not make for free and voluntary exchange.

    Again, why is it morally right for government to remove the right of discrimination from the Jewish shop owner I mentioned above, by threat of force?

  11. So I come into your store, seeking to b uy merchandise that you offer for sale. I demonstrate my willingness to pay. You refuse to serve me. I insist on my right to buy the product. You respond by...what? Calling the police to arrest me for trespassing? Why should the government deny my right to buy the product from you, by threats or/use of force? Whose rights are controlling here--and why?

  12. If you came to my store, and demonstrated a willingness to pay, but I didn't want to take part in the exchange, you have no right to buy. Have you ever heard the saying: "Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose" ?

    Free and voluntary exchange is the key. When one party is not willing (for whatever reason) the exchange is no longer free and voluntary.

    Finally, again, I still ask how it is morally right for government to remove the right of a Jewish shop owner to discriminate against a known Nazi? Or to force a black store owner to serve a racist white? These two scenarios are enforceable under Title II of the Civil Rights Act. My point is that more freedom, not less, is the key.

    Anytime we trust government to perform the rightful duties of individuals in society, we will end up with a very powerful government, and a weak social fabric. If you don't believe me, look what has happened to inner city black families since the passage of this legislation in 1964.

  13. So your right to decide to whom to sell trumps my right to decide from whom to buy. Not my understanding of a rights-based society, but that's OK. Not my understanding of how markets work, but that's also OK. I think you have this wrong and you obviously think I have it wrong. And I think you have a strange view of society. But that's OK, too.

  14. But, I am still curious to hear your answer to... "how it is morally right for government to remove the right of a Jewish shop owner to discriminate against a known Nazi? Or to force a black store owner to serve a racist white? These two scenarios are enforceable under Title II of the Civil Rights Act." Quoting my passage from above.

    My view of the world may be strange to you, but I'm used to that. I've made it a passion and hobby of mine to try always to share ideas of freedom with people who think they are strange ideas. To me, the strange idea, is that in order to try to legislate morality, the government passes a law which forces something morally abhorrent.

    So, my worldview may be strange to you, but it is self-consistent.

    Incidentally, it seems you equate the privilege of being able to shop in a store, with what I call a natural right (each owns his own life, and can dispense with it as he sees fit as long as he abides by the rights of others to their own lives, liberty and property). As a believer in liberty for everyone, I don't make this equation of privilege with a natural right. Instead, the right in my mind is the right for each to dispense with his/her own property as he/she sees fit. I guess this is where we disagree.

    Thanks for keeping the dialogue, I appreciate it.

  15. Great post. Buffy and everything Joss Whedon has done is fantastic.

  16. Bridge: "So, my worldview may be strange to you, but it is self-consistent. "


  17. Jonathan, one thing about Rand's alleged libertarianism. He's violated that several times I'm aware of (Medicaid/-care payments, the torture and murder of whatever foreigners the US government wishes, etc.).

    In general, he's not a libertarian when it comes to things which right-wingers would oppose.

  18. Bridge:

    I submit that I have given you one response. What makes it OK to force this on them is that we as a society have decided that their behavior is unacceptable. We choose to deny people many of their freedoms if they engage in any number of acts we deem unacceptable. Yes, this appeals to the argument that what the majority wants (or the supermajority, in this case) is what is just.

    Any answer you get is bound not to satisfy, for the answers inevitably involve a moral judgment of the relative values of different principles. For myself, I place less value in the ability of a shopkeeper to choose who they sell to than I do in the right of everyone to get served in public facilities.

    You might want to listen to what George Will said on the subject the other day. It doesn't justify the decision on a moral level. But I generally find it impossible to make moral absolutes. I can make statements about what is moral in the context of human society, but I'm not sure what an absolute justification would look like.

  19. Matt:

    I'm not disagreeing that racism is abhorrent, or disagreeable, or strange anti-social behavior.

    My question goes to the fact that by passing this law (Civil Rights Act, Title II), government also forces other actions which are again abhorrent. I've asked about how it is morally right to force a Jewish shop owner to serve a known Nazi, for example. Or, forcing a black shop owner to serve a racist white. These are things that Title II accomplishes, whether it wants to, or not. And I am asking how that is acceptable, somewhat facetiously.

    I am assuming most people think that these are absurdities (maybe I'm wrong, maybe the answer is that in order to preempt some disagreeable acts, you would be willing to live with others which the law protects). Personally, I'd rather have the bigotry out in the open, so I could spend my money in stores where the owners are people I find more agreeable. This would be my non-violent protest to punish the bigots for their anti-social nature and at the same time allow me to keep from improving their lot in life by patronizing their business.

    The argument that what the majority wants is what is just, is one I cannot accept. The majority wanted slavery or to count blacks as only 3/5 of a person at one time in this country. That doesn't mean that slavery or counting blacks as less than full people was morally right. I still think, and I am sure you do, and most others do, that it was and is forever morally abhorrent. Democracy is defined as tyranny of the majority in many circles.

    I'll listen to George Will. Maybe it will provide some other insights - I am striving always to be open-minded and to seek the truth.

    Last, there are answers that would be acceptable. If someone would just come out and say that they want to be able to decide for other people what behaviors are acceptable, that would at least be truthful, albeit tyrannical.

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis


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