Thursday, July 30, 2009

Redwaterlilly, Mike Protack, and the Ganges River...

... all revolve around a particular issue in my somewhat fevered mind.

I have a colleague who has done considerable world traveling. He is a teacher, who considers himself a naturalist (in the Darwinian sense) and an anthropologist, and who fervently believes that religious and ethnic strife will destoy the human race.

About a decade back he spent six weeks in India. He happened one day to come upon a 90+ year old Hindu "holy man" who begins each day by wading naked into the Ganges River and swimming and drinking without worrying about the feces and other detritus floating along on the current.

My friend passionately explained germ theory and all the health hazards to the mystic who had been performing this ritual for the past seven decades. He expalined that continuous exposure to pathogens and microbes and parasites would inevitably lead to disease, infection, and death.

My friend was genuinely unable to figure out why the Indian holy man did not immediately change his ways and stop bathing daily in the Ganges River, now that modern scientific truth had been explained to him.

I bet you all know somebody like my friend.

Redwaterlilly recently posted about the Delawareliberal post on Republican/conservative bloggers visiting an avowedly liberal/progressive website; in her posts she specifically mentions perennial GOP candidate Mike Protack:

One of my favorite reads, Delaware Liberal, is receiving a large amount of comments from right wingers and Republicans. At times those commenter’s have the audacity to complain about the liberal view of the authors — well, it’s Delaware LIBERAL after all, isn’t it? Those idiots, like Mike Protack, really are annoying. Do they think that their replies on liberal blogs will change anybody from being a liberal to becoming conservative? Since Protack’s posts are mostly just full of talking points or incoherent, I don’t think he will succeed in it. It’s sort of like having straight people coming to my blog and trying to convince me to become straight — not going to happen — ever.

Even if you happen to be a conservative or a Republican, you have to admit that few if any of Mike Protack's posts at DL could ever be characterized as an attempt to engage. Mostly they are lectures, one-hit expositions on the failure of liberal thought that appear to be lifted direct from one of his websites [can't say that for certain because I have moral scruples that prevent me from clicking through to find out]. By contrast, regular conservative commenters at DL (RWR. Anoni, Mike W., etc.) at least attempt to take part in the dialogue.

But I guess I have to wonder why.

I see the same thing here, and I suspect most every political blogger does. After all, whether you are Delawaredem or David Anderson or Hube, you would not be blogging at all if you did not possess strong political convictions. Yet people persistently pop into a liberal, or a conservative, or a libertarian blog and drop a one-liner that they are just as convinced as my friend wading hip-deep in Ganges sewage will immediately change my whole perspective on life and politics, bringing me to my knees in a blinding epiphany.

As Redwaterlilly says--for me, for David Anderson, for Delawaredem, for Dana Garrett: not going to happen.

This is not so say that real, even harsh disagreement is not legitimate and fun and an inherent part of the spectacle of blogging. When folks like Dana, Hube, DD, David Anderson or others take the time to excoriate one of my positions in the comments, or to fire back from their own blogs, that's the great fun. When regular critics/commenters like A1 or tom (from entirely different perspectives) castigate me for a weaker than usual argument, it is mutually enjoyable intellectual fencing.

What's a great strength of the Delaware blogosphere (as opposed to the South Carolina blogopshere where my friend Waldo writes) is that we all do engage each other directly rather than talk completely past each other. As such, I think I read a great deal more detailed progressive arguments than the average libertarian, and my progressive/liberal friends spend more time grappling with [or at least ridiculing] libertarian ideas that most liberals would ever contemplate.

But the one-line commenters who think they are all going to change some of us are like my friends in the Ganges River: blissfully unaware that piously quoting their own orthodoxy while standing hip-deep in water turned brown from the turds floating in it is not going to change anybody's mind.


Mark H said...

"there are many jobs that can be done more efficiently & effectively by using Delaware-based private businesses competing by a sealed-bid process"

I think I'm hearing the word privatization in this string of thoughts. I'm not aware of many success stories with that concept in government.

Steve Newton said...

Mark, I think you inadvertently attached this comment to the wrong thread. Aren't you talking about the Wendy Jones piece?

Mark H said...

looks that's what I did :)