The Tolerance of Liberals

When you tell someone that you don’t respect their choices, they tend to react with anger.  That’s what happened last week, when I made a very public acknowledgement of my sorrow at the re-election of Barack Obama.  The emails were numerous, many caustic, some unprintable in a family newspaper, and a few threatening. One fellow called me a “dirty cu*t,” another questioned my sanity and a third tried to use his law degree to shame me into silence.  Note to the middle-aged male attorneys out there:  save your arrogance for the pretty little things on bar stools who are more susceptible to your checkbook-er-charms.
Given the fact that I’m a conservative in a very liberal town, one in which there were precincts that registered zero votes for Mitt Romney (voter fraud? What voter fraud?) the hostility of my readers doesn’t surprise. What does, however, is the level of vitriol that spews from mouths and fingers when you say something that annoys.
I spent a good part of Thursday ‘unfriending’ people from Facebook, and not only the crass-and-crowing liberals.  Some of the comments lobbed by suicidal conservatives made me realize that even among my fellow travelers there are extremes which should be avoided at all costs.  Of course, the balance is always tipped in favor of liberals when it comes to offensive behavior; remember the nice things allegedly mature women said about Sarah Palin?  Remember how they accused her of not being the mother of her Downs Syndrome child, the one a few shameless souls thought she should abort?  And remember the deafening silence of the Democrats or, more specifically, female Democrats?  The hatred was palpable.
I’m nowhere as important or ubiquitous as the comely and savvy governor, so my critics are both less vocal and less newsworthy. Still, it was with profound sadness that I read the emails in response to my piece last week, because they represented a hollowing-out of the human soul, a degradation of the spirit that separates sentient beings from damp clods of earth.  I have learned that when someone is unable to defend his position, he resorts to ad hominem attacks with tangential topics.  For example, there was the fellow who assured me I was racist because I refused to use the term “President Obama” in my column, even though I’d referred to him as “president.”  There was the woman who said that she was a Catholic who believed in abortion, and don’t dare tell me that she wasn’t in good standing with the church (okay, I won’t. I’ll leave that to the Bishops.)
There was the gay man from San Francisco who, even though I hadn’t said anything about same-sex marriage in the piece, felt it necessary to tell me that his ‘husband’ was a much better “American” than I was because his “people” came over on the Mayflower.  There was the black woman who said that Barack Obama was so much better than those mediocre white men who had been keeping her people down all these years. To her, I was moved to mention that mediocre white men had freed the slaves, passed the Civil Rights Act, ended segregation, and risked death at KKK road blocks like my father.  I also reminded her that this president had come from the womb of a mediocre white woman
I could tell the comment was not appreciated by the response, which included several words not even Andrew Dice Clay could pronounce.
Some people actually tried to engage in civil discourse, but they were about as common as a bar of soap at an Occupy rally. Others mocked my sadness, going so far as to say that I should just jump in front of a Regional Rail car and be done with it. Given the problems SEPTA has in running its trains on time, this is probably not the most effective way to do myself in if I were so inclined.
And then there were those who were convinced that I hated Barack Obama, even though I said I didn’t.  Apparently, when a white person doesn’t vote for the “First Black President” and then brazenly admits it in print, she must be hiding some crisp percale sheets in her linen closet.  These were the most depressing emails, the ones that saw racism in the shadows and refused to believe that anyone could actually embrace a conservative without ulterior, sinister motives.
Every four years, there are winners and losers.  But there is a bitter edge to it this time, a sense that we’ve been ripped along jagged lines that draw blood.
I’m not done fighting for my beliefs, not by a long shot.  But I do seek an armistice of sorts.  Not yielding, not compromising.
Just finding that place where, as Yeats wrote, “peace comes dropping slow.”