A Certain Tone is Appropriate

I got an email from one of my friends on the Religious Right which was, I thought, mean-spirited, making fun of Sen. Kerry’s wife. I responded:

No gloating.

Churchill: In Victory: Magnanimity.

See this post

Let’s move on. This is a magnificent victory. It is a gift from God. Let’s pray that good things for our country and the world blossom forth as a result.

Dear Bush supporters, my friends, do please let us take a certain tone. Let us be civil and charitable. Let us hold ourselves above the snarling and biting and hissing. If a person is defeated, they can learn. If they are defeated and humiliated or degraded, their pride will be involved and learning and reconciliation become impossible. Let us make sure that as many of our erstwhile opponents as possible are free to reconsider the error of their ways without suffering any unnecessary embarrassment for doing so. That way we will secure the full fruits of this victory.

18 thoughts on “A Certain <i>Tone</i> is Appropriate”

  1. Of course you are correct, and quite diplomatically so.

    But were the roles reversed, you can be sure there would be no effort to reconcile differences, patch up wounds, or heal old grudges. No calls for a moderation of leftist tendancies, or an effort to understand the rich diversity of a different culture (that is to say, Red States).

    For some reason unexplained to me, the Left believes it to be in possession of a certain quantity of moral authority that allows for the ends justifying the means, Michael Moore productions, Dan Rather journalism, Noam Chomsky and Paul Krugman pronouncements from the academic perch, and a swim in the sea of postmodern subjectivism where truth is but an option.

    I am from the south, and thus a gentleman, accustomed to the language and manners associated thereof. But I will divert from my chosen path for a moment.

    In response to the relentless hatred and bigotry that characterizes the Left, the endless embracing of outright prevarication, and the smug condescension that is your hallmark, I say that I hope the Left enjoys taking it up the ass with a candle on the end, and if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    There. I said it. CC to Al Franken and Molly Ivins. I should have refrained, but in a moment of weakness, I succumbed to the temptation.

  2. “But were the roles reversed …”

    But they aren’t. More importantly, I don’t take the behavior of the worst of these people as any kind of model for myself.

    And, moreover, there are masses of people who are only lightly indoctrinated by the lefties. Someone like Kos for example can take any fact and make it fit his view that Conservatives are Fascists who are driven by hate and who want to destroy the environment and reintroduce slavery, etc. But. Some people who meet Conservatives who are behaving civilly and rationally will abandon their ideology if it consistently runs into facts that don’t comport with it. This is called reaching into the middle.

    As a Southerner you know that good manners are the lubricant that makes society work. Manners are also a secret weapon when trying to convince someone to listen to you and even, maybe, change his mind.

    I fall below this standard often enough. But it is my standard, and I try to reach it. Not only because it is right, but because it works.

  3. “_But were the roles reversed …”_

    In every company I have worked for, every single one, the sales force and marketers always told me how much the competition lied about its products, paid off purchasing agents, paid off the press and engaged in other industry specific shenanigans that were completely beyond the Pale. Fortunately, I haved never worked for a company nor been associated with a sales force or marketing group that engaged in such practices.

    And as a teen I wondered if God, when He enjoined us to love our neighbors, really meant to include the thugs from the twon down the pike that were our mortal athletic enemies.

    It seems that in ever competitive enterprise, the urge to villify one’s competitor is irresistable. As is the inability to discern motes.

    Your point is well taken. But I’d rather take it tomorrow.

  4. It doesn’t take role reversal. The other side of the cubicle wall today was filled with “How old will he draft them?” and “At least the coasts were sensible. The other parts of the country, they got what they asked for and i hope they like it.” The invective was almost as acid as after the 7th game loss by the Yankees.

    And in that group, one woman was a Bush supporter. She brought in her hat and shirt, won for having registered over 80 new Republicans. And she followed Lex’s advice even when the remarks started going, “I like you personally, but…”

    Matya no baka

  5. Watching Kerry’s concession speech this afternoon, I felt a little twinge of guilt for so enjoying a series of pictures contrasting Bush and Kerry that was circulating around the net. I only saw them yesterday, and a couple featured THK looking pretty spooky.

    She looked kind of dazed and dizzy up on the stage, I thought (and when JK thanked her, the camera showed her sitting down while all around her were standing). I don’t know what any of that means. I just felt sorry for her.

    The concession speech really humanized Kerry for me. I even said aloud, “I bet it isn’t a bad guy, really — just got desperate enough to say anything in the campaign.”

    My wife asked me if I’d be saying that if he’d won. Certainly not, but he didn’t. God is merciful, sparing us both the public catastrophe of a Kerry presidency and the private catastrophe of four years of resentment.

  6. I’m not very charitable. However, irritated by the deference (and reverence) with which Daniel Schorr’s not particularly objective take on this election day was playing out on the radio, I remembered that we weren’t, actually, such a divided country. Few would, I suspect, agree with him even on his side.

    Every once in a while graphs are developed, showing that, in fact, the vast majority of Americans lie in a great middle – not wanting to outlaw abortion but wanting each abortion to be seen as a tragedy and abortion to be much more limited. The same is true of gay marriage. And gun control. And these are just the most controversial topics.

    We have been ill-served by the media and our politicians, though I suspect the blame lies with us. We buy it, listen to it, vote for it. Besides, controvesy is interesting, feeling self-righteous is pleasant, anger simplifies. But, really, we agree about more than we sometimes pretend.

    I’ve noticed often on this site both Lex and Jonathan ask us to appeal to our better natures. That isn’t because they don’t have opinions but because they have enough faith in their opinions that they can stand up to a civil and reasoned argument. Perhaps we should have such faith.

    (I must admit to the guilty pleasure to both read and write some snarking here and there.)

  7. “Lex and Jonathan …have enough faith in their opinions that they can stand up to a civil and reasoned argument”

    I can be snarky, too.

    But mostly I think we should argue as hard as we can but without rancor. It is a discipline that makes all kinds of things possible, like democracy and academic disagreements and disputes about how to manage a business.

    Call me a crazy, but I believe in the utility and even the morality of engaging with others based on rationality, argument, facts, evidence.

    When I fall below this standard, and I often do, please correct me.

    This I hope is something which is part of the “Chicago” spirit. The University professes to be devoted to the life of the mind”, and to its credit it often is. When I knew it, it practiced a very bare-knuckled form of intellectual argument, with goal being to get to the bottom of things and cut through the crap.

    That approach, which I learned there, tempered with a little humor and charity, is my ideal of discussing important and interesting issues.

  8. Congratulations on the big victory, Lex.

    Fyi, I won’t be reading the blog any longer. I’m afraid I no longer find much value in it. You can always reach me via email.

    Gabba Gabba Hey,


  9. Well, your guy won, congratulations.

    One thing is for sure, though: The FMA and its being striken down by a federal court seems to have motivated the Republican base. So I don’t think that a certain mean-spiritedness by the religiuos right is all that surprising.

  10. Notice how RG assumes that the religious right is mean-spirited for what they believe to be right.

    Can they not oppose gay marriage while being civil? Why should this constitute mean-spiritedness? Like the abortion debate, it assumes that those who disagree with the liberal line must be evil troglodytes.

    This is precisely the problem with liberals. They are often mean-spirited in behavior (aka Moore) while cons are assumed to be mean-spirited just because of their policy preferences, regardless of how civil they are.

    If the Left truly believes this, we shall remain divided and should remain so until all the Michael Moores have been driven to emigrate.

  11. @Ralf:
    First, I must say that jj appears to have a point. Do you say that merely holding a view of sexuality consistent with conservative Christian or Jewish values is per se mean-spirited? Perhaps you aren’t saying this, and we just misunderstand you.

    Second, what do you think of Virginia Postrel’s analysis of the sexuality issue in the election? Bush won 32% of the gay vote in the South. Or this comment on Instapundit:


    I haven’t yet read all of it, but it looks like Andrew Coyne’s analysis of the exit polls also suggests that the picture is more complex. Of course, one could object that the exit pollsters did not exactly cover themselves with glory this time.

  12. Guys,

    I can assure you that Ralf is neither an American-style leftist “liberal” nor mean spirited. I think that you may have read too much into his comment. Perhaps he will clarify.

  13. First, thanks for having an open forum and for appealing to our better natures. My husband and I were thinking that if every conservative made a conversion project of two liberals during the next four years what a difference it would make in 2008. By conversion I mean befriend them, talk to them, convince them, turn them to “right thinking.” Any takers?

  14. jj and Chuck,

    I didn’t mean that people with conservative religious views are mean-spirited. It’s just that a lot of people seemed to have voted Republican (and otherwise wouldn’t have) because they want to see gay marriage banned. While that isn’t mean-spirited per se, it’s fair to say that it was a motivation for at least some.

    And, despite of the links provided by Chuck, some of those ballot initiatives go beyond banning gay marriage

    (Link via Hit & Run)

    PS: Just like the youth vote, the South Park Republicans also seem to faile to show up at the polls

  15. Instapundit has been keeping up a series of links that show “moral values” did not necessarily mean gay bashing, etc. For one thing, few in favor of civil unions aren’t “gay bashers.” (Postrel links to the exit polls (not that they can be taken as, well, gospel).

    This is a convenient way for bigots to categorize those who voted for Bush. Personally, I wish the MSM would get a life. I suspect that Kerry will before they do.

    For some of us, loyalty is a high “moral value”. Certainly, loyalty is in the eye of the beholder (for instance, Kerry might think himself loyal to France who sent us Lafayette and the Statue of Liberty; I, on the other hand, would admire Bush’s loyalty to Ayad Allawi and Howard.) Others might define, judge and weight loyalty differently.

  16. Sorry about sloppiness above; meant those for few for civil unions are gay bashers even if gays might not like their positions. Sorry about the ().

  17. Hm. maybe Ginny. Then again, I didn’t define what “a lot of people” means when I said that “a lot of people seemed to have voted Republican”. A couple of thousand would qualify as “a lot of people” and still be a tiny minority of voters, so that nobody could say that I characterized Bush voters as bigots.

    I effectively rigged the terms of the debate so I can’t possibly lose. Neat, huh? :)

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