Hiding in plain sight

One of my ongoing themes here is the fact that I keep my conservatism very, very low key.  Most situations in my life don’t involve politics, but when politics come up, I’m quite careful.  I have no wish to be savaged.  Jim Miller, who lives in and writes about an equally liberal environment — the Seattle area — used my attitude as a starting point for asking his readings “Do you ever conceal your political views?”  With more than 100 comments, he got an earful in response, about secret views and public insults.  Most seem to feel that, at least in the workplace, discretion is the better part of valour.
One commenter got angry about this:

Except for Ragnar Danneskjold, who I give credit for at least being thoughtful about the situation, the rest of you sound like cowards.

It is no wonder Republicans lose, they hide from what they think.

At the least you could support those of us who confront Liberals, whether they are Democrats or the leadership of the King County and Washington State Republican Party.

Posted by: Brian Thomas on March 7, 2009 05:28 PM

In a way he’s right.  How can we ever win if we’re ashamed of ourselves?  But it’s easy to feel shame if you feel isolated, or denigrated or disrespected.  That’s why coming together, at conservative gatherings or public tea parties, is such a good idea.  We find our voices by finding each other.

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  • CollegeCon

    Well, being a college student I’m fairly outnumbered on the ideology front, but for the most part people aren’t too obsessed, not the students or the professors. Sure there’s a comment here or there, but I don’t see much point in getting all in a huff. I have a lot of friends who are well aware that I’m conservative, and it doesn’t really bother them. It was funny though when I said something or other during a small conversation in class and the girl I was talking too said something like “I’ve never met one before”, “one” being “a conservative”. I attribute my fortunate experience to going to a small private university instead of some big state college.

  • rockdalian

    I have to admit I am not in a position to be hindered by my politics. I openly advocate a Conservative/Libertarian position in my encounters when the opportunity presents itself.

    I can understand the subtle approach when faced with business opportunities. One must care for family after all.

    I am fortunate that the business owners that employ me, a husband and wife team, are just about as Conservative as I am.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Oh, I don’t know. Many of the American revolutionaries kept their politics secret from the British at the risk of facing the gallows. Resistance fighters aren’t known for getting in the face of their adversaries. Fact is, the people against whom we struggle think nothing of destroying reputations, incomes and lives (look what they did to Sarah Palin’s children, after all). It all comes down to what is most effective. When the time comes to stand up and be counted, this will change. But this is not yet the time.

  • Charles Martel

    Danny, yes and no. Most revolutionaries in 1776 kept their identities secret from the British, but 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence did not.

    In WWII in Poland and Russia, resistance fighters got in the face of their adversaries all the time.

    Your point about the ruthlessness of the left in going after children and the weak is well taken. But none of us here are children or are willing to remain weak for much longer.

    The time to stand up and be counted is closer than we may think. Many people will take heart if folks like us stand up and say, “Enough!” We need to create an intellectual version of a code duello society, where everybody is armed and, therefore, extremely polite. Cross the line, though, with some liberal inanity and you’ll get your ass royally handed to you by a conservative who knows how to reason and think.

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  • kali


    A duelling society requires weapons salles taught by temperamental masters of the art. If there were one within a hundred miles, I would go :)

    I’ve never hid my politics–and in the circles I’ve always moved in, “you can’t be” is the normal reaction to my affiliations, but I’ve never really debated. I just announce it, they look blank, and we move on. But I don’t debate, because I’m lousy at it. Someone refers to “those *tax* protesters” with a sneer, and my tongue turns to knots. I can’t remember a single fact, I can’t get past their seizure of the righteously moral high ground.

    My only hope is that by being contrary to all their preconceived notions of what a conservative is–all the men are Elmer Gantry, all the women are Tammy Faye Bakker–I shift a few mental paradigms.

  • Oldflyer

    I seldom debate because I find that in my advancing years I have trouble controlling my temper. Strange development as I was once known as even-tempered to the point of being phlegmatic.

    My last “debate” was a shouting match last year which occurred on the Main st of our town when three older “liberal” men objected to my “Support President Bush and our Troops” bumper sticker. Someone should have sold tickets.

    But Kali, any time you need a line of argument just fall back on this: “I support the provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the philosophy embodied in the Declaration of Independence. How do you find those statements of political philosophy objectionable?” I am sure your opponent would counter with a description of how we allegedly fall short; but you can simply point out that, though imperfect, Conservatives do strive toward the ideal rather than turning their backs.


    I am wondering if there is a regional difference when/if the subject of politics does come up in conversation. I live in the Philadelphia area, about 20 miles from the Liberty Bell.
    Generally, I save my breath and strength for the day to day, but have found that most people can rationally discuss a subject EXCEPT for one friend, who lives in S.F. Any disagreement with her becomes a verbal tirade directed at me and not at the finer points of how we perceive events. I’d fully expect to be sent to a leper colony, if she had her way with me and any conservative.

    I can understand, Kali’s response, it is like being sucker punched, you never see it coming. Difficult to respond while one is icing a split lip.

    CollegeCon: “I’ve never met one before”
    Haven’t heard that comment since 1963 when a co-worker realized I was Jewish.

  • kali

    I think one of the problems is that while the surface conversation may be political, the subtext is cultural. To acknowledge *any* conservative thought as having validity–a requirement for debate–is to deny your own superiority as a wise, tolerant, rational, sexy human being. It’s an attack on the self, and that’s what triggers the most violent reactions.

    A good example of this is Jane Haddam, a mystery writer, who holds solidly conservative views, but who will never vote Republican because of the “God Thing,” the “Money Thing”, and the “Stupid Thing” :

    I’m sure she meant her essays to be studies in rationalism, but to me, they just scream “I can’t be Republican–I’m *better* than them.”

    All that said, I’m glad I live in the Midwest–the progressives here don’t seem to harangue that much.

  • sarah

    It’s regional. My husband lost a lot of friends when he became very public about his views. We live in San Francisco and I want to have friends, so I stay quiet. I don’t mind arguing in Utah, my birthplace, with liberals. They are accustom to conservatives and tend not to be Fundamental Lefties (people who religiously believe their politics in the face of evidence that proves otherwise). San Francisco appears to only be populated by FLs…except for the few that that my husband has weeded out. You can’t argue with FLs and if you make yourself known, vulnerable, they might use force even though they profess peace and non-violence. I don’t know if this is true, but their heroes are Mao, Che, Marx…very violent people, so I’d rather not push them too far.

  • epaminondas

    We are in eastern maine
    I am jewish and active in a reform synagogue of excellent people. I consider myself to be a classic liberal…HHH, HST, FDR. This puts me not to far from how Barry Goldwater is looked at today by the modern democratic party.

    Given that in our community, which went 80% Obama, altho our tiny town went marginally for McCain, I have let out my proclivities somewhat carefully and we have found ourselves tolerated as some kind of oddity.

    When Obama got ahead in the spring last year and I started inveighing quite heavily about his appts to his staff (excepting finally Dennis Ross) being frankly, functionally anti semitic no one would discuss the facts.

    HAMAS was thought to be a group which would confirm to normals after suffering a bit.

    To our friends, massive cuts in defense were needed. Many of the folks who work in social services said they were sick of hearing that jobs which generated corporate profit were needed and that their jobs (paid for by taxes) were just as important.

    Finally I let my blog do the talking.

    Very recently in a discussion over health care when I mentioned that McCain wanted to allow anyone in any state to take competitive advantage by getting access to plans in ALL other states, there was shock and surprise around the table…I mean THAT was a good idea.

    In short the emotional ties of the progressive left make it impossible for factual differences in discussion to occur in anything but a tense environment since if the facts are not with what is perceived to be social justice, the dialectic is violated, and an impossible situation has just occurred.

  • gpc31

    All is not lost. There are even a few closet conservatives at Harvard. One undergrad, Alexandra Petri, wrote a funny and gently barbed little satire called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”:

    The other day, a friend of mine made a heartfelt confession. I’d known it was coming, and I was prepared to offer support. I swaddled her shoulders in a rainbow blanket, played Elton John softly in the background, and reassured her that no matter what, she would always be the same person. This was only one small facet of her personality, and it wouldn’t change the way we thought about her. If anything, we would love her more for her honesty.

    But when she blurted out, “Alex, I think I’m conservative,” I realized that I had been deluding her with false hopes. I couldn’t bear to look at her. Clearly, this girl I had always thought of as an intelligent, rational being was secretly a sub-literate moron. All those times we‘d innocently joked about Bristol and Levi, she’d been harboring perverted desires to do things like watch FOX News and vote for McCain. “At least tell me you still think Sarah Palin is Satan,” I pleaded. She shook her head and muttered something about the liberal media distorting things, but I couldn‘t quite make it out over the sound of our friendship crashing to an end.

    Yet, for the sake of old times, I decided to try walking a mile in her shoes. The results were sobering. If you enjoy being yelled at, try sitting down next to a stranger in the dining hall and telling him you’re thinking of voting for McCain. Whenever I attempted this experiment, I was excoriated, stared at incredulously, or even slapped in the face. One time a group of people got together and tried to perform an exorcism on me.

    Harvard prides itself on its diversity—economic, racial, social, geographical—but it remains intellectually segregated…. It’s simply that the tacit assumption, in the classroom as well as outside it, is that everyone is liberal.
    This “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy ultimately benefits no one, liberal or conservative. By isolating ourselves from those with whose opinions we disagree, we lose the ability to defend our beliefs. For me, as for most of my Harvard compatriots, the long, probing, in-depth discussions I’d heard were one of the best parts of college have been limited to topics like Youtube and the weather. When it comes to politics, every discussion is just a group of people agreeing with each other….
    And because of this, we have no idea how to respond when people disagree with us. This explains all the exorcisms and flame wars. The assumption that to be intelligent is to be left of center implies that anyone who disagrees is either confused or has recently experienced some sort of intellectually damaging event, like walking into a post. When someone bashfully admits to wanting smaller government or thinking that privatizing social security might not be such a bad idea, instead of trying to discuss, we rush them to UHS for a battery of tests and sprinkle them with secular water.

    And that’s what makes things worse for people like my friend. Life is hard in the closet. It’s dark, and there are never enough hangers. But Harvard’s current culture of implied assent means she will never get to discuss her opinions with anyone. She will never be able to introduce her candidate to her friends. She can wear McCain gear to class, but she will have to pretend it’s ironic. And when she manages to come out, no one will hug her and whisper over the Elton John music, “It’s okay…I’m a moderate.”



    That young lady is going places. (Yikes — did I really just say “young lady” — and mean it? Despite my inner certitude that I’m really an ageless early thirty-something, the decades are accumulating like soft snow and I find myself brushing creeping old-fogeyisms off my pantsleg — kind of a reverse Chris Matthews phenomenon.)

    Conservatism is the new gay — who woulda thunk it? Can you imagine the conservative equivalent of the Bay to Breakers?

  • gpc31

    More from the amusing Ms. Petri and fellow conservatives at Harvard:

    “Classics Concentrators Espouse Outlandish Ideas
    Published On 12/8/2008 3:03:01 AM

    Asked to describe himself in three words, the classics concentrator-cum-Undergraduate Council presidential candidate takes a few moments of reflection and replies, “A human being.” Roger G. Waite ’10-’11 offered only a few words more, “To the best of my knowledge, I am a human being.” Then, he leaned back in his chair, silent.

    A stereotypical UC presidential candidate he is not, Waite insists. Dressed in an argyle sweater and tie and sporting a full beard that he described as unkempt, Waite is intent on differentiating himself from the system that he and his running mate Alexandra A. Petri ’10 hope to overthrow.

    Waite arrived at the famously dubbed “Kremlin on the Charles” as a conservative from Chicago, Ill. He is heavily involved with the campus organization Harvard Right to Life, and the conservative publication The Harvard Salient.


    The Waite-Petri campaign is adopting an age-old tradition of using their platform to advocate for the abolition of the Council. There is one caveat, however. “We’re going to invite a member of the House of Hapsburg to rule the student body indefinitely instead,” Waite says.

    “I think that a member of the Royal Family would be in a much stronger position to negotiate with the administration and faculty,” he explains. “It’s much easier for Harvard to blow off a group of self-important undergrads than it is the House of Hapsburg.”

    While one part of the Waite-Petri platform is devoted to the destruction of the UC, the other part contains expansive plans for crop cultivation.

    They propose to use student activity fees to buy and cultivate arable land to produce foodstuffs—the proceeds of which would go toward funding student activities.

    “Eventually, we can abolish the student activities fee entirely and rely entirely on the goodness of the land,” Waite says.

    Potential locations for the campaign’s proposed land acquisition include both Canada and Allston.

    In fact, Waite suggests that Allston residents may be more open to the less intrusive development project.

    The platform includes contingencies for environmentalists as well, according to Waite.

    “To improve sustainability, we will use technologies that have a lower carbon footprint, like oxen.”


    Petri, a decidedly more put-together classics and English concentrator-turned-UC Vice-Presidential candidate, describes her goals differently than the top of the ticket.

    “I believe in replacing the UC with a better joke—get it?”

    Petri is an energetic and outgoing foil to the soft-spoken Waite, but he says that they were drawn together by their shared characteristics. “We’re both classic concentrators, and she’s much more female,” Waite says, adding, “Well, we are both very eccentric but eccentric in complementary ways.”

    To that end, her primary goal as vice president is to establish a mandatory, annual “I Love The Thirties” dance in every House.

    “There’ll be a dust bowl, kind of like a punch bowl, but more depressing. It’ll be great,” she said, laughing over the chatter in the Greenhouse Café.



    I loved the bit about abolishing the student government and replacing it with a Hapsburg prince — now that’s conservative. And going green with oxen? A brilliant sop to the conservationists.

    A better joke, indeed…

    Seriously, I think that we conservatives ought to keep on using every kind of humor to make our points: from irony to satire and everything in between. Sunny-side up, like the gentle put-downs delivered by Ronald Reagan. Raillery ala PJ O’Rourke.

    We have more talent in this arena and we’re not disfigured by the spittle-flecked hate exhibited by the BDS left. The liberal scolds, green chicken littles, and grim pc police are such easy targets. Who knew that subversion could be so much fun?

  • Charles Martel

    Despite my inner certitude that I’m really an ageless early thirty-something, the decades are accumulating like soft snow and I find myself brushing creeping old-fogeyisms off my pantsleg — kind of a reverse Chris Matthews phenomenon.)”

    Dang, gpc31, that is one sweet bit of writing.

  • gpc31

    The other advantage to humor is that sometimes it’s ambiguous, not argumentative. People are less apt to get so defensive about politics if they’re laughing first, and there’s no shortage of absurdity in politics.

    It’s great to see SNL go after Geithner. It’s important to get people laughing at the One, even though the comics are soooo reluctant to do so.

  • gpc31

    Charles, thank you sincerely (and a compliment from you is high praise indeed) but please don’t endourage my prolixity!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    I’m in Georgia. We don’t have the kind of radical parasites along the coast and in the elite universities.

    I’m sure some are stealthed around, but they know not to come too far out.

    Depending on one’s society and cultural standards, people’s behaviors will be necessarily modified. These are just some general guidelines and trends.

    1. If a society is more than 10% armed, meaning every one in ten people have a gun or melee tool, then that society is generally much more polite than a totally disarmed society. This only applies to Western societies, however, notably Anglic ones like Australia, Britain, America, Canada. When you don’t have to worry about the consequences of offending people, then you have no need to restrain yourself. In secret police societies where the thought police go around telling people what is or is not offensive, and putting them on trial for such offenses to the public body, what gets produced is not politeness but dread, fear, and a motivation to manipulate the Thought Police if not become the Politically Correct Corps.

    2. Self-reliance. The more self reliant a society is, the better mentally, spiritually, and emotionally balanced will be the members of that society. This is just plain common sense. People who are needy and who can’t provide for themselves suffer from shame, guilt, or any number of psychologically destabilizing conditions. These conditions motivate the behavior of that person to be anti-social, insecure, and replete with various psychological defensive mechanisms like projection and displacement.

    3. Recognition of consequences in real life. For those that feel they will suffer no ill effects from their behavior, they will keep doing that behavior. For those of us who realize how thin the veneer of civilization truly is, we understand fully well the consequences of behaving as the Left behaves. The Left doesn’t care, even if they did comprehend it. They don’t care because they believe it will always be some other poor fauks, like the Vietnamese or Iraqis, who will do the dying and suffering. They have no need to worry about such matters safe in the US.


    I had no idea what a loaded question I posed earlier in this thread.

    Ever so grateful for the all the excellent reads.