Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coffee House Distractions: Politics, Education, and Tall Nonfat Lattés

I am sitting in Starbucks (my unofficial office/study) doing research and came across this quote from Howard Gardner that, juxtaposed with Michele Bachmann's interview on Meet The Press this past Sunday (yes, this her second appearance in my blog), distracted me from my work.

Bachmann's 2004 statement that being gay was "part of satan" and her insistence on Meet The Press Sunday that she was not being judgmental seem insincere to me. Can you really say one thing and claim the other? If you are going to stand in judgment then own up to it. Their would at least be integrity in that (albeit misguided).

The need for her to hide behind the nicety of "not being judgmental" suggests that something might be off--either in logic, thought, or in the balance between her beliefs and the public she is speaking to and hoping to represent. Now, am I being judgmental about her lack of integrity? You bet. At least I admit it. 

But are her ideals and beliefs something to worry about? Are they part of a resurgence of oppressive ideals from the 1950s (re-modernism)? Or are they the last loud and proud protests from ideals fading fast from fashion, soon to be stuffed into the moth-ball ridden closet of close-minded concepts like racism and sexism?

Consider Gardner's quote:

Some people will feel threatened (perhaps appropriately so) by exposure to alien lifestyles, and will be tempted to entrench themselves, to reject and dismiss these foreign infectants. But others--particularly the younger, the more courageous, the more adventurous, will enlarge their sense of options. And as knowledge of options (and how to act on them) becomes universal, it should prove more difficult to marginalize large sectors of humanity on the basis of skin color, ethnic membership, gender, or sexual orientation.

Bachmann's ideas appeal to those that feel threatened by things they find "alien" or "foreign." I get that. That she and her supporters would want to "entrench themselves" and openly "reject and dismiss" portions of society are unfortunate but an understandable feature of human nature.

However, while some of us might be aligned with her beliefs and some of us might be aligned with candidates on the opposite end of the spectrum, do any of us really want representatives that so easily draw tight circles around a narrow view of humanity and exclude the vast variety of experiences?

After all, who knows when you might find yourself on the outside of the circle looking in.

Enough of this, I need to get back to my work. But first I have to go "pay rent" for my office space. (translation: buy a coffee...you don't think they are charging that much just for bean water do you?)