Roger L. Simon

Naming names (yourself)

Neo-neocon has written again (and eloquently, as usual) of her favorite topic, political change – who makes it, why and what happens. This time (in response to an essay by “Bookworm“) she is dealing with the unease many feel (especially blue staters) about coming out to their friends about their political views:

The second reason I tell friends [about my change] is actually more important, because it’s not about me. It’s this: if I don’t speak up, and if people like me (and Bookworm, and her other crypto-con friends) don’t speak up and “out” ourselves, then it simply perpetuates the myths of those who consider The Other Side to be monstrous.

Yes, some will consider you an awful person if you tell the truth about your current beliefs. But your speaking up may make others wonder about their preconceptions. If Republicans and neocons and even liberal hawks are considered the absolute Other, they can continue to be demonized and typecast. If it’s you, on the other hand, who’s the neocon–and not some stranger–you, that nice mother down the street who bakes the brownies; you, the one with the jokes and the helping hand; you, who’s always been so smart and so kind–then how can all of Bush’s supporters be cruel and stupid?

It’s easy to move through life in a liberal bubble if everyone around who disagrees is silent and invisible. The only way to change that is to challenge it by standing up, speaking out, and bursting the bubble. It’s very difficult; but you may find, as I did, that most of your worthwhile relationships survive the blow, although many are never quite the same again.

Indeed!

And neo-neocon does not even blog under her real name. As one who does, I can tell her that the level of “sticker shock” is of a yet higher level (she probably knows that – hence the nom de blog). To be honest, however, when I started blogging almost three years ago now, I had little thought, despite whatever notoriety I had as a novelist and screenwriter, that anyone was paying any real attention. In fact, I started blogging just to promote a book and did not give whatever political change I was undergoing that much attention. I mean who could care, right?

Wrong.

A surprising number of people I knew were paying a great deal of attention. Hardly anyone I talked to in Hollywood did not know “something had happened to Roger Simon, the man who created Moses Wine.” Let’s leave aside for the moment my contention that they had changed but I hadn’t. I was disturbed. No one likes to be a pariah, but there I was. To many of my friends I was a threatening figure, although they didn’t want to admit it, so chalked my current views up to my neuroses or whatever. You’d have to ask them. Once, when blogging at the Republican convention, I ran into an old left/liberal friend covering the same event for the usual suspects. He laughed at my presence and said “You’ll be back some day,” meaning those views were a temporary aberration. (There were other far more insulting moments that I will go into at another time.) I winced and wondered.

Now, I don’t. The truth, as I gradually learned, is there is no “back” to go back to, even if I so desired. The left n’existe pas. It’s over. There’s no there there, as Gertrude famously said – only a boring and aging social club trying to preserve their perks. It won’t work. Neo-neocon doesn’t have to worry as much as she thinks she does, nor does the yet more apprehensive, though immensely sympathetic, “Bookworm” she quotes. Although I still think “sisterhood is powerful” and all that, this is not about men and women (as Bookworm supposes). It’s about common sense. Pardon my bluntness, but screw on some cojones. If you lose friends who are so pathetically stupid (and mired in projection) to think world affairs revolve around the putative lack of intelligence of George Bush (who did better at Yale than John Kerry anyway, as the New York Times, of all places, informed us), those friends probably are not nearly as bright as you thought they were – certainly nowhere near as emotionally or morally sophisticated. Also, they have a stong streak of cowardice. As neo-neocon knows well and has written extensively, these people are far less willing to examine their assumptions than the Bookworms of the world for fear of their own personality disintegrations. And maybe, if truth be told, they do have something to be afraid of in that regard. That, far more than ostracism, is the tragic dilemma which we must all confront on a daily basis.