Yikes, Politics!

Ian Mast (imast@SUN.CIS.SMU.EDU)
Wed, 23 Nov 1994 13:52:05 -0600

I find discussions of political thought rather entertaining. It seems
that as one moves away from the center of the spectrum, individuals become
more and more RIGHT and their detractors become more and more WRONG.

I was attracted to Anthropology because I believe a healthy dose of
relativism could bridge many ideological gaps. At any rate, I find the
present situation a bit ironic.

I would first like to state that I am against Proposition 187, (but not
necessarily because of the race issue that is seemingly involved.)
Mostly, I am against it because of the toll it will take on the lives of
those who will continue to live in fear. It seems to me that if our goal
is to limit the influence of illegal aliens we would do something
productive about controlling their entrance to the country. However, many
stand to lose much financially if the flow of illegal immigrant labor was

I would like to make a comment about the way in which we as anthros look
at problems. I have talked with many that believe they have attained some
sort of enlightenment and that it is there duty to enlighten others. Wow,
is it just me or does that sound really dangerous.

I grew up in a home where Christian fundamentalism was the norm. I can
remember many times at home and in conservative church circles hearing
about the great ills within society. In their minds, the world was in a
degenerative state, and Liberals were helping to promote that
degeneration. It was their duty to promote their ideals in order that
truth would prevail. On a political note, I can remember my father
talking about how America was going to hell in a handbasket because of the

Yeowch. I thought that I could use Anthro as a tool to escape from this
sort of world view. Hmm.

After recent elections I can recall a relatively liberal friend of mine
mentioning that the country was in danger of destruction because of the
recent Republican coup. (Some coup, they do not have a true 2/3 majority.)
Also, Aaron Fox recently made a post to this list which reveals the common
thread that runs through extremist political discussions.

"Scientists work for the largest sense of the community and for
their colleagues and for the ideals of reason, justice and truth."

We all think we've got the answer. Crazy how all of our truths (little t)
seem to have different forms. I figure science is a tool. I hesitate when I hear the T-word. It
makes me nervous cuz there are s many people so adamant about so many
different forms of the T-word.

I'm not arguing that conservatives or liberals are right or wrong. I'm
arguing for a perspective which incorporates enough relativity that
we do not feel threatened by others. While people may be able to
exert negative influences with their views, in one way or another the
world still turns. Radical liberal or Right wing conservative, we
always seem to gravitate back towards the center. I think that
recent elections would support the idea that at present there is no clear
Republican or Democratic mandate. Newt Gingrich as speaker is scary but
hardly the end of the world.

As a multicultural nation, how is it that a whole portion of our
population can be evil and wrong. If we are to label them this way, we
should not be surprised when conservatives fail to listen to us when we
argue for more inclusive measures.

Enlightenment is not the process of realizing we are right. It is the
process of learning to appreciate those who we think are wrong.

I figure that at some point we ought to start trying to communicate and
synthesize. However, I'm not holding my breath.