FROM RED TO BLUE
A little over nine years ago, we chose to leave the home we loved in Southern California to settle in an area we found to be even more desirable, Southwest Washington. Specifically, we moved to Vancouver, WA, just across the Columbia River, north of Portland, OR. Our home in SoCal was in Orange County, known politically as Red County. Since Portland is notoriously Blue, one of the biggest adjustments we found ourselves making in moving to this area was due to its very different political environment. An aspect of this that continues to elude my acclimation, however, is the prevailing attitude of intolerance by liberals towards conservatives.
TO BLACK AND BLUE
One of the most blatant examples of this prejudice has been hearing liberals call our selected home, Vancouver, Vantucky. Recently, I’ve also heard the county we live in, Clark County, referred to as Clarkabama. Of course, I have no way of knowing all the intended implications by users of these terms but it seems pretty clear the general aim is to disparage. That sense is reinforced by the fact that these terms are typically used in phrases like “… the morons in Clarkabama.” Some may view this as being amusing or, at least, as being relatively harmless. I don’t. In fact, I see this sort of sophomoric denigration as being quite harmful.
I’m always bewildered that those who consider themselves intellectually and morally superior and oh so tolerant, can’t see or don’t care how personally hurtful these comments can be. Continuing with myself as an example; in addition to the fact that I’m a conservative who chose Clark County’s Vancouver as my home, Kentucky was my Dad’s birthplace and in June, I attended my big Brother’s funeral near his Home in Alabama. So, both Vantucky and Clarkabama are especially offensive terms to me. I wonder how liberals who have chosen to make the Vancouver (a/k/a The Couve)/Portland area their home would appreciate hearing conservatives call it something like Couvom and Gomorrah.
TO WE THE PURPLE?
Although I find this sort of thing to be hurtful personally, you may think I’m just being overly sensitive. You may even think it’s somewhat silly. More important than any personal harm done by these insults, though, is the damage they do through increasing the polarization between Americans holding to conservative values and those espousing liberal views. In an article entitled Rediscovering America’s Strength, published December 10, 2007, I stated “the strength that made America great in the first place (was) the synergy of the best of our differing ideas.” If we hope to recover that strength, not just rediscover it, it will require showing respect to those who hold opposing views and sincerely listening to their ideas, rather than belittling them by using terms like Vantucky and Clarkabama in order to invalidate their position.