kitchen table


Talk to me when you’ve been a right-wing political hack
September 5, 2006, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Activism, conservative craziness, Growing Up, politics

One of my favorite writers at livejournal, Laura, has an Open Letter to Bill O’Reilly up at her journal. She takes O’Reilly to task for asking celebrities like George Clooney and the Dixie Chicks detailed, case-specific questions about the war on “Islamic Fascists,” and gives a pretty great history of The Muslim Brotherhood, which O’Reilly mistakenly calls “The Islamic Brotherhood.”

Laura’s post also made me think about an oft-employed tactic mostly older, mostly male relatives have used on me during discussions in which they disagree with my stance. I’ve heard it employed by non-relatives too, across the gender lines. I usually call it the Talk to Me When You’ve Been a Teacher for 35 Years argument since this was the first version I heard as an Opinionated Young Person. The older person, and it really doesn’t matter how much older, dismisses the younger person’s thoughts and ideas with simple, “Yeah, well, talk to me when you [insert specific experience; ranging in detail, depth, and length of time to “complete” said experience] and then we’ll see.” Besides the “Talk to me when you’ve been a teacher for 35 years,” response to a discussion about education reform, I’ve received the “Talk to me after you’ve been in the Korean War,” and “Talk to me when you’ve got a mortgage.” (My friend Stephen, with whom I am applying for a mortgage, and I are secretly excited to be fake-condescending to our friends and respond to anything they say with, “Well, [Friend’s name] talk to me when you’ve got a mortgage.”)

It’s not so much that I think the experiences of teaching for 35 years, or being in a foreign war, or having a mortgage are insignificant. It’s the assumption that there is only one right conclusion derived from such an experience that bothers me, as well as the admittance that then and only then will Older Person consider Younger Person’s ideas. It’s unfortunate because a potentially great teaching-moment is flushed down the toilet.

All that aside, I don’t want to claim that I haven’t dismissed someone’s argument for a perceived lack of experience on their part. But what I always strive to do, and what I think we’d all benefit from, is to see those moments as an opportunity to share an experience. An opportunity to trace the evolution of related beliefs and, quite possibly, earn some respect.

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1 Comment so far
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right on!

Comment by Amy




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