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The Closed Mind (aka the Republican Mind)

Anna Quindlen has a terrific column in Newsweek this week entitled "Life of the Closed Mind." Either this column has flown under Conservative's radar, or I've missed the outrage at this piece. When I first read it and came to the passage below, I said to myself, "Quindlen just told the truth, and she will be racked over the coals for it." Here is the quote.

"Four years have passed, and it occurs to me, surveying the Columbia undergraduates, their blue gowns mimicking the blue sky, that the terrorists did win. Since September 11 we've become more like them. The essence of the way zealots think about the world is polar: good and evil, holy and profane, them and us."

This is, of course, true. Just witness the abuse heaped on the seven GOP senators who signed the Judicial Filibuster agreement earlier this week (THIS is amazing, really a must read). The outrage from the socially conservative base has been amazing. Either you are with them or your against them (seems like King George said those exact words right after 9/11.)

In the column Quindlen quotes Columbia University President Lee Bollinger regarding academic freedom and classroom discourse,

"To learn to ask: 'Is that true? Maybe there's something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That's interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind'."

Quindlen continues by asking a very good question,

"When is the last time you can honestly remember a public dialogue, or even a private conversation, that followed that useful course?"

This speaks to something that came up often in the campaign last year. Republican candidates, especially Bush, spent alot of time talking about their convictions. About how they know what they believe in and they will stand up for it. About how we where "staying the course in Iraq." It seems to be very important to Conservatives to pick a road and stay on that road, no matter the peril that crosses your path. Better to stay the course and drive over a cliff than to see the flaws in the current road and pick a better road that takes you around the cliff.

This is, I guess the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. As Democrats we may be perfectly happy with the road we are on, but we don't presume our route to be the only road to happiness and we leave open the possibility that someone else may take a different road, and that's OK. Republicans on the other hand, are also perfectly happy with the road they are on, but that isn't enough for them. They are convinced that their road is the only road and that anyone who would choose a different road is headed for doom and must reform their ways, even if they are perfectly happy where they are. They feel it is their duty to tell everyone how great their road is and belittle those who choose a different road. They will call those on adjacent roads un-American, Godless, obstructionist and those are the nice names.

I know the Sean Hannity's of the world view the left's acceptance of alternate roads to happiness as moral relativism. I see their "my way or the highway" view of the world in the same way Quindlen does, as arrogant closed mindedness.


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