I have a confession to make. You see, I am a liberal, I am proud to be a liberal, and I never want to be anything else. As I’ve kinda mentioned before, I believe, my dad was a Democrat and his dad was a Democrat and I really don’t know how far that goes back, probably to the time when Democrats were the party for slavery and states’ rights and all that. And not only am I a proud liberal, I am whiter than the whitest sun in the galaxy, which is not too hard I guess since most of them are red or blue or yellow, but you know what I mean. I am white, Irish, British Isles, Norwegian, Hostess, etc, etc, etc. I can’t escape it. But here is my confession – I am proud to be a white man, I am proud to live in a country that follows the Anglo-Saxon traditions of law and freedom. I am not ashamed that I have less than 1% of African and 2% of American Indian blood flowing in my veins. Hell, my name doesn’t even sound Hispanic, and I can’t imagine why I would want it to. And I know that makes my progressive friends mad because they tend to, well, tell me so in no uncertain terms, usually with some pretty irrelevant smears on my character and leavened with totally gratuitous Anglo-Saxon crudities. LOL, I wonder if they see the irony in that?
Yeah, of course when I was a lot younger and hadn’t really thought about what being a liberal was all about, I had this certain yearning to be something else. Like I was sitting around with a few people in college, or was it right after college? – I don’t remember now, I spent so much time at college and then it turned out to be harder than I imagined getting a job with my double major in history and political science – but we were just sitting around, not even high, too much, just talking like we always did about liberal things. And I remember saying to this black woman (well, that’s what we were supposed to call an African-American back then) that I wished I was black. Well she says right back to me you are ****ing nuts nobody is that dumb to want to go through what a black person does every single day, and that floored me because I really thought she liked being black or African-American or whatever and she really didn’t seem to be aware of the tremendous advantages her skin color bestowed on her, I mean it gave her such validity and authenticity! And then she really got warmed up and started screaming at me that I was trying to steal her heritage and who did I think I was and stuff like that, and I remember thinking well if your heritage is such a burden why would you care if I stole it from you? But I may actually have said it out loud, which explains a lot.
You see, what conservatives don’t get is why I would say I wanted to be black, or why a US senator would pretend to be Cherokee. It’s not to gain some sort of political advantage, or to get into good schools, I mean she was a professor at Harvard or Yale or something, what possible advantages could she have piled on to that? And this wanna-be Cherokee thing wasn’t just some typical American we-conquered-you-and-now-we’ll-take-your-names and then pretend to be you. No, its more profound than that and it’s hard for me to really convey this idea, but you see, its because we are all Christian. Oh, I am not religious, I don’t go to a church unless it’s to attend a Bar Mitzvah or some such, but really, where do I think my liberal worldview comes from? The New York Times? LOL.
So one of the central themes of Christianity is how we all get our validity through suffering – I’m not making this up, I studied it in my comparative religions class, it’s a real thing. And when you are white and liberal living in America, you don’t get to suffer. Sure, you can suffer, but you can’t suffer suffer, if you know what I mean. You can get cancer or have your leg crushed in an industrial accident, but that doesn’t mean you really authentically suffer. It has to be, just like for all those early Christians, persecution suffering. Don’t make me quote the chapter and verse, because you know I can’t, but you know I’m right, don’t you? (And BTW, all you real conservatives out there, you’re liberal and Christian, too, whether you know it or not, and you might think about all the cognitive dissonance this sets up in you when you go to a Trump rally.)
But anyway, here I was wanting to really find validity and this black African-American is telling me to get lost, except she wasn’t really that nice about it, and I was left thinking, man I don’t have any identity! I don’t have authenticity, I’m a white straight male with nothing! Wow, you talk about your existential moments, that one just sent me into the worst tailspin. It left me feeling totally hollowed out and pasty. So of course I did what everyone that age does, I took another toke and tried to get the black chick into the sack. (I can’t remember how successful that was, but I kinda think it was pretty futile at that point.)
But when I started thinking really soberly again, it just occurred to me – hey, I’m part Irish and the like, and there’s a chance that my ancestors could have been hill people from the Appalachians, and there is no group in America that is poorer or less educated or more in tune with suffering … well, it was perfect. So I started telling people my grandfather was a moonshiner in West Virginia and how we grew up with stories about how he was persecuted by the fascist govn’t of Amerika and how all they wanted was to live in peace in their ghetto in the mountains and provide happiness and 180 proof peace to all mankind. I mean, I really got excited about all of it, just perfect it was, because no one could look at me and say with any certainty that I made it all up! And for any liberal, that is enough because you don’t doubt anyone else’s narrative because you don’t want them to judge yours (another Christian type thing, look it up). And I told about how when I was little we went to see Grandaddy and he had an outdoor toilet with a pine seat and kept a shotgun next to the door to shoot squirrels for supper (probably not a good touch that, although it did add to the authenticity), and you know what? It just made all my friends laugh – with really ugly looking faces. At me. I tried it on that African-American woman and she sneered how she didn’t doubt it for a minute, cause anyone could see I was a racist yahoo from the sticks. And then they all started making fun of me and calling me hurtful names like “hillbilly” and “splinter butt”, and man I just had to take more than a few tokes to cover the raw wound that opened in my soul.
But like I said, that was when I was young and foolish and I really didn’t understand that pretending to be something you aren’t is just your way of showing the world how tiny and shriveled you are in your own soul (I know, another Christian thing, so sue me). But doesn’t it just make you love this woman who thinks she’s a Cherokee? Isn’t it just fantastic that a US senator, I mean talk about your privileged situation, there’s only a hundred of them in the entire world, that someone in such a position is so honest about sharing the pathetic little lost liberal inside?
It’s so confessional.