Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hopelessly Devoted to...

The Bush Administration "believes" that Iran will have nuclear weapons in the next decade. Some Americans (some New Orleanians included) "believe" that hurricane Katrina was a punishment sent by God. I was supposed to "believe" that there was a reason girls couldn't serve at the altar and "believe" that whoever decided what was a mortal versus a venal sin knew what he was doing. I was supposed to "believe" all kinds of things about girls and black people and lesbians and poor people and welfare and the benevolence and righteousness of capitalism. "Belief" has been a problem for me since childhood. I am a pragmatist and a rationalist (most of the time, I hope) and cannot and will not ever be comfortable saying I am a believer in x despite all empirical evidence. I cannot "believe" in angels anymore than I can "believe" in Santa Claus or that Iraq was a danger to the world and the US in particular or that Iran is now attempting to go nuclear so it can take over the world. Just as I cannot believe that the University comes before me and any or all other humans and human concerns, that x sorority, group, neighborhood, religion, country, political leaning, philosophy, art style or list of books read has the moral edge over anyone or -thing else without support. There are differences, there are morals, there are groups, all real, but blind belief is not something I can do. I cannot agree with something because it falls under the same rubric as some other principles I agree with (today).


There are bloggers I want to like--really, really want to--but I find them somewhat hysterical in their word choice and thinking--quick to demonize, quick to say if it walks like a duck (even if it lacks feathers or, under further consideration, walks more like a water buffalo) it must be the Demon Duck from the Muck of Hell, quick to slide into the kinds of fallacies and sloppy thinking I try to guide my students way from--red herrings, non sequiturs, straw (wo)men, hasty generalizations, stereotyping (especially in the guise of freedom, equality, civil rights, women's rights, sexual liberation, etc.), false analogies, false dilemmas and, the favorite of the blogosphere, the slippery slope. Point A too often leads to Point F without any stops in between.

And to give examples would hurt those I do and/or want to respect, who are doing the right thing, fighting the good fight and I do not mean to poke or shout, I just...can't stop being a damn English teacher.

But I am not devoted even to that.


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