Michael McGrorty had a recent "Unfortunate Event" with David Handler at CLA:
Mr. Handler observed the usual conventions and added a contemporary twist. During his speech he mentioned more than once his dismay over the victory of the Republican party in the presidential elections, and managed to compare the current reign of President Bush to that of former two-term President Ronald Reagan. His reference was anything but complimentary; it was in fact an expression of distaste, even loathing. For the record, these remarks received a thin smattering of applause from the assembly.... I neither welcomed nor appreciated Mr. Handlers political asides in sum or in detail.I find it refreshing that a self-confessed liberal questions the appropriateness of Mr. Handler's comments.
To begin with, Mr. Handler has misjudged his audience. He was speaking not to a group of individuals who may believe as he does but to a convention of librarians whose role and duty is to preserve the right to freedom of expression and to information without the stain of partisanship, whatever their own views....
For another thing, the assumption of a uniform dislike of the Bush administration is simply a mistake and presumes that librarians would submit to the muzzling of their more conservative peers...
Finally, it must be said that we do not appreciate the presumption that we possess any uniform set of beliefs, even and perhaps especially those which appear to be in the majority among our population. The assumption takes too much for granted, denies us our individuality and the right to change our minds, to make different decisions based on our own evaluation of facts and circumstances. It assumes we cant think for ourselves, a bad guess to make about a group of folks who spend their lives in rooms filled with computers and books.... For myself, I add this note: The next time you want to agree with me, Mr. Handler, dont do it in front of a crowd of librarians.
I've "met" the author at another conference and he was very funny and charming. Would I find him to be so if he'd made political comments? I think not. But this isn't the worst of it: even friends make these assumptions and then refuse to back off.
At the conference I recently attended, several people were still visibly upset about the election results. One friend mentioned that she'd never met a conservative or a Republican that she liked; when I responded that I was fairly conservative and my friends/family are Republicans it was amazing how quickly her smile faded and she left. Only one person understood what I was saying and decried the divisions in this country.
On a similar note, I've dropped an on-line group I hung out with for years because of the intolerance of the "other" point of view. Calling people that voted for Bush "dumb" and people that are religious "dumb" (or "dumber than most") is just not helpful, people! Trying to understand why these divisions exist and how to bridge that gap is what's needed, not refusing to accept that a large number of people don't agree with the so-called Liberal Elite and are rebelling against their ideas.
Sadly, I only see another four years of this nonsense.