Jonah Goldberg calls it “Conservatives-in-the-Mist” journalism, those pieces in which an intrepid mainstream media member does a sort of anthropological study of those odd conservative beasts, and often discover (to their shock, and presumably that of their audience) that those conservatives listen to music, read books, and could even be mistaken for real people.
I get caught by some of this stuff from time to time as well, seeing as I’m in a profession that isn’t noted for a rightward tilt. If I had a nickel for each time people ask me how I can vote Republican and like metal/punk/Zappa/etc., I’d have a whole lot of nickels. My daughter is having to deal with some of this as well. She has inherited a lot of my libertarian ideas, including skepticism of Big Plans — she said this evening that “Every utopia is just a well hidden dystopia.” At the same time, she is obsessed with comic books, science fiction, and loud, fast music, and she’s frustrated by the fact that much of geek culture assumes a default position on the Left, and conversely assumes that to be conservative is to be a knuckle-dragging Puritan. I’ve reminded her of Chesterton’s comment that only live things can swim against the current, but I know it’s hard.
What a lot of this means is that conservatives frequently have to distinguish the dancer from the dance, appreciating the art while knowing they probably wouldn’t get along with the artist. But for those folks on the Left, it may be an unfamiliar, even an uncomfortable position.
Which brings us to something I had meant to talk about before, but had neglected until I saw this piece by Moe Lane at RightNetwork. It turns out that Velvet Underground drummer Mo Tucker has taken part in some Tea Party rallies in Georgia, and this has caused considerable panty-bunching among devotees of the alternahipster ethos exemplified by the Velvets.
I think Lane puts it pretty well:
Those who were born conservative may be forgiven at this point for being confused about the idea that one might have trouble with this–there are artists whom you like as artists, while still objecting to their political views. So? After all, cradle conservatives typically have to come to grips with the concept while still in their teens, given the way Hollywood’s corporate mindset defaults to ‘boutique leftist.’ Speaking as somebody who transitioned to conservatism well after adulthood, I can tell you: it’s a bit of a shock to deal with the idea that suddenly you’re one of the them–those whom your favorites like to rail against. Of course, I got over it–that’s what adults do–but it was still something I had to get my head around first. Not that I’m sympathetic to the folks ripped up inside that Moe Tucker isn’t ecstatic at the way that our current ruling party is running/ruining the country. Self-absorption never appealed to me (unless, um, I’m the one engaged in it), and there’s a distinct flavor of rampant narcissism running through the Moe Tucker narrative. “How could she do this?” is the common sentiment . . . with a silent “. . . to ME?” tacked on at the end.
But I like the answer Lane offers even more. Read his piece to find out.