By Jay Hansen
(Originally posted August 7th, 2011)
A real liberal is hard to come by in the middle of Oklahoma, the conservative capital of the nation. Those that dare to call themselves one in these days, though, do so proudly and strongly, with a fierce dedication to their ideology. Let’s take a moment to examine some simple definitions that may help highlight what I’d like to say here.
All definitions are directly from www.dictionary.com
- Favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs
- Favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.
- Favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression: a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers.
- Of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies.
- Free from prejudice or bigotry; tolerant: a liberal attitude toward foreigners.
- Open-minded or tolerant, especially free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas, values, etc.
- Characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts: a liberal donor.
- A person of liberal principles or views, especially in politics or religion (see above list of adjective uses).
- Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
- Cautiously moderate or purposefully low: a conservative estimate.
- Traditional in style or manner; avoiding novelty or showiness: conservative suit.
- Having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.
- A person who supports conservative political policies and/or is conservative in principles, actions, habits, etc. (see above list of adjective uses).
- Any process of formation or growth; development.
- A product of such development; something evolved.
- Biology. Change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.
- The process by which forms of life having traits that better enable them to adapt to specific environmental pressures, [such] as predators, changes in climate, or competition for food or mates, will tend to survive and reproduce in greater numbers than others of their kind, thus ensuring the perpetuation of those favorable traits in succeeding generations.
Whether you believe in the much grander Theory of Evolution or not, basic “evolution,” by way of natural selection inarguably happened, is happening, and will happen so long as life exists. This is especially true on the microscopic level, as we’ve seen viruses and bacteria mutate and evolve into much more harmful forms over the past few decades. Not that long ago, the swine flu mutated in such a way that it finally became transmittable to humans, creating a mild pandemic across the world (comparatively to others). Just a small number of viruses reproduced and created offspring that could afflict humans, allowing them to spread much more efficiently and quickly to infect more people, and create more genetically superior, human-infectious viruses. Similarly, we now see forms of bacteria thought derelicts of ages past such as tuberculosis that have survived our medical warfare by means of a genetic mutation that makes them immune to most treatments and preventative measures. We’ve defeated all the weaker forms of the bacteria, so now all we have left are the stronger ones. This is the essence of natural selection.
Call me silly, but this is how I think of liberals here in Oklahoma. The media here is extremely bias, with nearly all of our major publications owned by NewsCorp, the infamous corporation responsible for FOX News. The culture here is extremely conservative and tragically ignorant far too often. To say the very least, the people of Oklahoma are extremely gullible when it comes to political propaganda, especially when appealing to or affirming their most instinctual emotions such as anger and fear. These two emotions fuel a great deal of far-right wing ideology, such as Islamaphobia, angst against immigrants, generalized xenophobia, unwillingness to share, closed-mindedness to social change, and discrimination of <insert social group here> (right now in history it’s the LGBT community). Those liberals that somehow survive the right-wing onslaught from the media and conservative bastion that is our culture, and don’t either flip political sides or just choose not to participate in politics, are extremely “ideologically hearty.” We know our political opinions well, and more importantly, can defend them in a debate. We’re firm in our ideology and will proudly say we’re liberals, no matter how much the media may throw mud on the word.
Narcissistic? Maybe. Self-important? A little. Still, it’s how I regard those people who are both liberal in Oklahoma and willing to stand up and fight for their beliefs, like me, even if only in a way as small as writing online. Lord knows my efforts online will have a bigger effect for advancing liberal principles than anything a majority of Democrats in office right now ever will, especially President Obama, which is rather sad.
But, that’s all the more reason to fight the good fight every day, as hard as I can.