This is the fifth and last in a series of five articles by Stella Morabito this week on the way that political correctness is bullying conservative women into silence and how they can reclaim their rights to free expression.
Leslie Loftis’s article in The Federalist Eight Rules for Right Wing Rebels is a great compendium of pointers about how to go about engaging others, how to develop social trust, and how to speak up, among other things. I also offered an article in The Federalist that is related, entitled “Ten Key Ways to Break the Mass Delusion Machine.” I’ve linked to them both for a more comprehensive “to do” list for conservatives who are trying to find their way out of the trap of self-censorship that political correctness has built.
It’s all about taking baby steps to create a ripple effect of openness in conversations. And building relationships.
So, at the top of any list should be this general tip: be kind to people. Warmth goes a long way in defusing situations even if someone doesn’t like what you might have to say. But conservative women generally don’t have a problem with this. In fact, we tend to be nice to a fault. We self-censor, right? And why? In order not to offend, of course! So at root conservative women are gentle souls who are loath to open any perceived wounds. But if we are also to be kind to our children and the world they will inherit, we have to disrupt the spiral of silence that is creating wounds in an increasingly lonely world. The medicine, of course, is engagement.
Second, when you “out” yourself as conservative, remember that winning the argument is not the goal here at all. Just forget about talking points and debate. The goal in today’s climate is simply to put a human face on what you believe or who you are. We need to first smash the caricatures and stereotypes in order to open the lines of communication.
Third, there are many different ways of self-identifying, depending on your circumstances. The important thing is just to put your toe in the water if you’re not used to engaging yet. Do not express an opinion that would get you fired from your job.
But you needn’t express an explicit opinion at all. For example, you might slowly shake your head at a tabloid headline with a compassionate tone of “Oh, how sad,” or whatever you’re feeling. Or you might see a photo of a happy family and exclaim how beautiful it is to see a happy family, how perhaps there is a lot of self-sacrifice behind that picture of love.
Or if the occasion presents itself and someone expresses their opposing opinion – maybe just on a TV show you both hear -- you might simply say “Hmm, I’m afraid I’m on the other side of the fence on that issue.” Even if they ask for an explanation, we know that doesn’t really matter at this point. You’ve done the deed with respect for dignity of the others. There are millions of ways to express these things. Exploring them is probably worthy of brainstorming sessions or role-playing workshops.
The three scenarios
If you “come out” as conservative or with a non-PC opinion to someone who likes you and trusts you, or identifies with you, rejection is only one of three possibilities. It’s probably not even the most likely scenario.
Here are the basic three possibilities I’ve experienced when I’ve just come out to a neighbour or someone in a friendly and chatty situation in which I let slip “Well, I’m what you’d call a conservative . . . “ or in which I’ve gently and matter-of-factly expressed a non-PC view.
Scenario one: Your acquaintance is effusive. She says: “Really?? Wow, I thought I was the only one around here!” After that period of heart-to-heart catharsis that follows, you will realize the impact of what you did there. You emboldened a like-minded thinker. You’ve broken her isolation. You’ve begun the ripple effect that dictators so loathe. This has happened to me many times. It’s definitely worth the risk.
Scenario two: Your associate is non-committal. “Oh, really? Hmmm, well I don’t know . . . ” You might explain further and the response is a “Yeah, hmmm, well maybe.” In this case you have possibly influenced a fence sitter. Even in the remote case that this person is a liberal not wanting to offend, you’ve planted a seed of doubt just by putting a human face on your ideas. Truth is contagious and you’ve given a dose of it.
Scenario three: She or he is shocked or disagreeable: “I do not agree with you at all. . . . Social justice . . . blah, blah, blah. . . . “ It’s counter-intuitive, but this is where you may have the greatest impact of all. Because you have watered down the stereotype. You have blasted the caricature. You continue to be gentle and nice to this person while talking. Again, you’ve done the deed, and you needn’t resort to talking points unless you sense it would be helpful. Even if that person rejects you for it, the main thing is that they know you have no intention of assaulting their human dignity, even if they try to assault yours. Even if they say you can’t be friends anymore. In these one-on-one situations though, especially if a bond of trust is there to begin with, that’s not likely.
In the end, it is the ripple effect of zillions of human interactions that tyrants are really hoping to suppress by using PC as a weapon of mass destruction. So let’s never underestimate the power of the ripple effect of our words and actions upon others. Whether we can see it or not, they actually move in trajectories across both time and space. The PC Goliath is ultimately no match for armies of cheerful Davids. Enlist today!