Required Listening: Us & Them

Can we talk across the culture-war divide?  That’s the question journalist Trey Kay is asking in his new podcast series, Us & Them.  Is it worth talking to someone with whom we have fundamental disagreements?

In his first episode, Trey Kay describes his culture-war-defying friendship with conservative activist Alice Moore.  Kay first got to know Alice Moore when he was working on an earlier documentary about the 1974-75 textbook controversy in Kanawha County, West Virginia.

As the sophisticated and good-looking regular readers of I Love You but You’re Going to Hell (SAGLRROILYBYGTH) are well aware, this Kanawha County story also plays a prominent role in my recent book about educational conservatism.  Alice Moore played a leading role as a conservative leader in that tumultuous school boycott.

Ms. Moore makes her case in a crowded 1974 school-board hearing...

Ms. Moore makes her case in a crowded 1974 school-board hearing…

In his first podcast, Kay describes his continuing friendship with her.  The two of them inhabit different culture-war realms; Kay is a self-identified “blue-state liberal,” while Moore is a “red-state conservative.”  More than that, Ms. Moore believes in a conservative evangelical Protestantism that liberals often find intellectually outrageous.

Can the two of them be friends?

At the very least, it would take careful diplomacy on both sides. As Kay asked himself, “I have core beliefs.  What if I truly felt that they were under attack?”

Check out the whole episode when you’ve got a few spare minutes.  Kay and Moore manage to do the things friends do: Get a meal together, talk about politics and religion.  Yet neither of them budges an inch on his or her core beliefs.

Are such conversations worth having?  As Kay includes in this episode, his editor wasn’t sure.  She told Kay, “I don’t know how you can stand to have this conversation.”  It seemed to Kay’s editor that he was listening to Moore, but Moore wasn’t listening back.

Frenemies?

Frenemies?

Yet Kay remained convinced there was some value to such outreach programs.  He asked historian Jonathan Zimmerman’s opinion.  Zimmerman insisted that Americans need to speak with each other; we need a common language to discuss “American problems . . . shared by all of us.”  The most dangerous culture-war idea going around, Zimmerman said, is that those who disagree with us are either morally warped or ignorant.

Trey Kay hopes his new series will help figure out “what might happen if we take the time to listen to each other.”  Can it work?

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23 Comments

  1. M

     /  May 5, 2015

    I enjoyed the podcast. “Can it work?” If people are intentional about listening, trying to understand, and being respectful, then yes.

    Reply
  2. Unless one or the other is thought to be amenable to conversion and/or the individuals still believe that the conflict between Americans and Liberals can be solved by words I see no point in such conversations.

    Why would I wasted my time and energy on conversing with the enemy?

    Reply
    • Jonolan, is that how you see the division: “Americans and Liberals”? I’d love to know more about how you define who is an American and who is a liberal. Aren’t there liberal Americans and wouldn’t you agree that the number of of those, who identify as such, would make up a significant number of Americans? Do you consider your fellow Americans to be enemies? Do you believe that our nation will only find solutions to our shared challenges after one side has been defeated? Do you really think that liberalism or conservatism is something that can be defeated or vanquished?

      Reply
      • Yes, that is how I see the division and no, I don’t believe that any of the modern iteration of Liberals are Americans in any way other than under current law. Hence, I do not find my fellow Americans to be enemies but do understand that Americans face domestic enemies known as Liberals.

        I also realize that our nation will only find solutions to our challenges after Liberalism is defeated. Alternatively, the Liberals and the nation they want to replace America with only find solutions to their challenges after Americans have been defeated.

  3. How do you see this conflict being ultimately resolved, jonolan? Do you think this will have a political solution, or do you feel it will be military? And do you think it is possible to have some liberal views (for example, believing in gay rights) while also having what you might call American views (for example, believing in gun rights)

    Reply
    • Here’s another question for all of us to consider: Is Jonolan’s position ultimately different from that of Trey’s editor? Both of them articulated an idea that conversations with our antagonists are fruitless. For those of us who consider ourselves “liberal” or “progressive,” was it easier to hear Trey’s editor’s remarks than it was to read Jonolan’s? And, if so, what does that tell us about our culture-war preconceptions?

      Reply
      • Yes Adam, “it’s easier” to hear Trey’s editor’s remarks once jonolan has articulated his belief in the use and inevitability of violence.

    • Edward,

      I’d love to say that the conflict will be resolved politically. I, however, believe that violence – not necessarily military – will be required or perceived to be required as both Muslims and Blacks have proven that violence and the threat thereof enacts favorable political change.

      As for people having have some liberal views and some American views – that’s a false argument – sort of – or one that places effects in front of motives. Example: I’m in favor of many of what are called “gay rights” but from the standpoint of the government having no valid place in making the distinction, not from believing that the queers or their supporters are right, mentally healthy, or in way deserving of any special considerations for their behavior choices. In other words, to me the why is more important than the what.

      Reply
  4. Richard Rothrock

     /  May 5, 2015

    Not sure it contributes to the conversation but the man in the glasses sitting behind Ms. Moore in the picture above is my father (who passed away in December). He was Associate Superintendent of Finance for Kanawha County Schools 1974-1979. The textbook controversy was my family’s introduction to Charleston WV. I have never seen this photo before so thank you!

    Reply
  5. I have met many liberals and can attest that there are very few liberals like Kay and Laats. After trying to converse with liberals I determined that

    1. The main enemy of America is liberalism. See http://www.insectman.us/misc/liberalism-is-evil.htm

    2. The battle front is for the hearts and minds of our children. See http://www.insectman.us/exodus-mandate-wv/index.htm

    3. Republicans are not the answer. See http://www.insectman.us/articles/karls/political-bugs.htm

    4. No matter how many political battles conservatives win it will be useless without being saved. See http://www.insectman.us/getsaved.htm

    Conservatives must learn from the folks that fired the first shot in the Culture War. See http://www.insectman.us/testimony/text-book-war.htm

    Reply
  6. Adam, I admit that I may be too close to my editor Catherine to objectively address your question, but I don’t think that she and Jonolan are coming from a similar place. I think she is asking me: Why does a respectful conversation between right and left matter? I think she’s asking this for journalistic purposes. She’s doing what good editors do by constantly asking again and again: Why does the story matter? I don’t know how much it comes through in the piece, but Catherine is interested in Alice and wants to understand her perspective. She has sincere respect for a view that is different to hers. Based on what I’ve read of Jonolan’s views, he seems to have his mind made up about liberals and doesn’t seem to need to know much more. He has stated clearly that there are “Americans and liberals” not liberals and conservatives or Democrats and Republicans. I hear in his comments that those who identify as liberal are warped in some way or diseased. I think that Jonolan represents the perspective that Jonathan Zimmerman describes as the “most poisonous on the land” because from what I can tell he believes that liberals are morally warped or ignorant. And like Zimmerman, I am interested to know more about Jonolan. Why does he feel this way? How did he come to his core beliefs? He seems to have a very clear measure for how an American is defined. I’d like to know more of how he’s come to that way of thinking. Is that a system that he has adopted or has he developed it on his own? I’d also like to hear him identify of examples in history when liberalism has been defeated. What was that defeat like? How did it come about? How long did it last? I’d also like to know how he classifies initiatives like the civil rights movement. Was that liberal or American? Was the American revolution a liberal or conservative act?

    Reply
    • Trey, Fair enough. But maybe there are better examples of times when we liberals tend to use language that rules conservatives out of decent society. To my mind, the best example is the use of the word “bigot” to describe anyone who opposes same-sex marriage. This is a tough one for me, because I’m an ardent supporter of marriage equality. But there are ways to disagree with someone without calling them a “bigot.” These days, calling someone a “bigot” rules that person out of civil society. Just as when Ms. Moore compared President Obama to Hitler (and she did!), and when Jonolan counterposed “Americans” and “Liberals,” framing the same-sex marriage debate as one between “supporters” and “bigots” delegitimizes conservative opposition.

      Reply
      • Mrs. Moore did NOT compare bo to Hitler!
        If you are for “marriage equaity” how about polygamy, incestous, and animal-human?

      • But Karl, don’t you see? This kind of point-scoring is just what makes conversations between different sides so difficult. I don’t agree with your point here, and in fact I consider comparing gay marriage to bestiality egregiously insulting. However, in my earlier comment I was actually defending the legitimacy of opposition to same-sex marriage. Yet all you’re doing here, instead of building on that concession, is attacking. Not only does this kind of attack ruin any chance of conversation, but it actually proves the argument of people who oppose you; it proves that (some) conservatives aren’t able to do anything but attack; it proves Trey’s editor right when she wondered if Alice Moore was actually listening.

      • Your reply proves proves my point exactly. All liberals do is attac k. A RARE few do it politely.

        It is so noce of you to grant permission for me to oppose homosexual perversion.

        How dare you condemn someone who loves and wants to have sex with his dog!

        As liberals attack America and Christianity I will fight back.

    • I will say that both Trey’s and Adam’s comments / replies above point out one of the fundamental cultural differences between Americans and Liberals – how we hear things.

      Trey hears that those who identify as liberal are warped, diseased, and ignorant in my statement and Adam hears that I’m ruling Liberals out of decent society and delegitimizing them, whereas I cannot hear that in the words I used.

      I do, in fact, find Liberals to be morally warped, but only from the standpoint of the long-standing culture of America and the mores of that culture. There are plenty of other places, e.g., most of Europe, where they’d be normative. However, neither diseased nor ignorant apply because the Liberals aren’t suffering from either an illness or a lack of knowledge; they just have an different cultural identity and loyalty, one that is antithetical to American culture and society.

      Simply put, Americans love America whereas Liberals want to change it into something else that is as unrecognizable to what it is and was as they can manage.

      Reply
  7. Otis Jah

     /  May 6, 2015

    I don’t get how “Americans” and “Liberals” are opposed. The word “liberal” comes from the Latin word for freedom. My ancestors came to this country because it was more liberal than where they came from. They had the freedom to live without persecution here, and the freedom to speak up when they saw persecution in this country. They made good lives for themselves, working for equality and justice, and were always thankful for a country in which they could live freely.

    I may not agree with you, but that hardly makes you my enemy.

    Reply
  8. I’m curious what my friend Karl Priest is hoping to achieve with his reply above. I’ve Read Adam Laats comments several times and can’t really see how what he said is an attack. Perhaps Jonolan is correct when he points out that one of the fundamental cultural differences between “Americans and Liberals” is how we hear things. (Although, I want to be clear, I reject Jonolan’s characterization of “Americans and Liberals” and would like to remind him that the record is clear that our republic was founded by and has been maintained by both liberals and conservatives.) I’m not seeing a progression, which squares with my sense of logic, that leads from Adam’s comment to Karl’s reaction. Can someone help me understand how Christianity or America was attacked in this thread? I am trying to understand why Karl feels attacked and has reacted defensively.

    And in this forum, which I assume is read by many people who align with a liberal perspective, I wonder what Karl hopes to achieve by articulating his objections as he does. I hear comments comparing homosexuals to someone who “wants to have sex with his dog” as incendiary. Is Karl (a man who I know to want to engage in reasonable debate to resolve conflicts) hoping to persuade liberals or moderates with his provocative comments or does he just want to get in some jabs at some liberals? If jabs are the goal, mission accomplished. If persuasion is the aim, I simply don’t find his approach effective.

    I do support marriage equality, but am interested to hear and think that society should hear arguments from people who warn us of the dangers of this social change. I don’t agree with Dennis Prager’s view on same sex marriage, but believe his argument against homosexuals marrying gives me more to ponder than someone presenting me with a facile equivalent of homosexual practices to bestiality or pedophilia. http://www.dennisprager.com/same-sex-marriage-and-the-insignificance-of-men-and-women/

    I’d say to my friend Karl that his comments and logic might be effective in his echo chamber, but they don’t resonate with my reality. My gay and lesbian friends are not depraved individuals helpless over a “if it feels good, do it” sex compulsion. I admit that there might be some depraved and perverted homosexuals, but they are the exception and not the rule. Just like depraved and perverted heterosexuals are the exception.

    In the end, I am glad that Karl and Jonolan are willing to engage in this forum. I am glad that we are talking because like it or not we’re in this together. And despite what Jonolan says, I don’t think liberalism or conservatism is going to be defeated. We need to figure out how to work with those from all parts of the ideological spectrum.

    Reply
    • Of course Trey does not see Adam’s attack because he and Adam are philosophical clones. Here you go Trey: Adam accused me of “point scoring.” All I did was point out that he does not really (and neither do you) support “marriage equality.” I wasn’t playing to the crowd.

      Yes, America has always had liberals (a minority), but until the 1960s they were true liberals and merely an amusing nuisance. Now, people guided by Satan (whether you want to admit it or not) have co-opted the title “liberal” and have become a dogmatic fanatical force that is destroying America. Just look at California, Detroit, and the “public” schools for the results of liberal “leadership”.

      I have no goals of “achievement” other than to hit you both full frontal with the wrongness of your worldview. Those reading may see the light as did David Horowitz or they may continue to be willingly blind until God gives them over to a reprobate mind. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (Romans 1:28 I advise you read the entire chapter using God’s Word—the King James Bible).

      Why does human-animal sex bother you? Say why. Say why you object to a man marrying his dog. Quit acting all insulted by claiming I insult homosexuals. My point is that all of the “marriages” I listed are perversions. Of course, there are nice people who do perverted things. “Niceness” is not the subject we are discussing.

      Liberals live in an “echo chamber”. It is conservatives (especially born-again Christians) that live in a world that is based upon an objective standard—Judeo-Christian values, particularly the Bible.

      So, Trey and Adam, you are good men, but good men are not good enough in God’s eyes. You need to get saved. Here is how: http://www.insectman.us/getsaved.htm Even if you leave loony liberalism—it is, eternally speaking, for naught.

      Should you decide to continue to proudly wave your liberal flag—I will resist because, as my article says (http://www.insectman.us/misc/liberalism-is-evil.htm), liberalism is evil. Especially, I will not allow your side to freely ruin children any longer.

      I am finished with this discussion. Here are two, not spiritual things, that show the truth about your thinking and liberalism.

      “The Red Balloon” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2Flgdwlqz0)

      “Inside Every Liberal Is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out” (http://www.frontpagemag.com/2013/frontpagemag-com/inside-every-liberal-is-a-totalitarian-screaming-to-get-out-2/)

      Reply
    • I don’t normally link to my own blog when commenting but this post I made ’13 – Greasing The Slope – sums my answer as to why many Americans “compare” queer marriage with bestiality and other “perversions.”

      Reply
      • Jonolan, a week or so ago, I wrote to you on your blog. Did you receive my message? I’d like to get in touch with you.

        Trey Kay

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