The Bubble People

In a piece seriously and not ironically titled "How Should Conservatives Deal with the Left's Disrespect and Lack of Empathy?" the always-amusing Dr. Helen—who is totally "not saying here that liberals are psychopaths, for this would be incorrect for the most part"—suggests that one reason liberals are such assholes is because of our insularity:
The second possibility is that liberals do have the capacity to empathize with conservatives, but they do not have to do so because of the liberal bubble they mostly live in. Schools, the media, and many of the cities they live in lean left. This means that there is no incentive to understand other ideas and there are no consequences for showing disgust and ugly feelings towards conservatives.
Leaving aside the idea that "most" liberals live in beautiful blue enclaves of progressiveness (I've this week alone spoken to five different friends or acquaintances who are struggling at their jobs in conservative states because of a work culture that creates a hostile environment for them), and the myth that a "left-leaning" city creates a protective bliss for every liberal (ask any feminist, any person of color, any member of the LGBTQI community, any liberal person with a disability who lives in a left-leaning city if they're cloistered in contented inclusion), I'd like to address the quite genuinely hilarious contention that any liberal in America has found a place of residence hermetically sealed from conservative ideology.

This tiresome accusation of leftist insularity is really reflective of a fundamental denial about our national discourse, which is absurdly lopsided in favor of rightwing narratives and ideas—social, political, financial, theological—and yet consistently misrepresented as balanced between two equal sets of extremists. It's the old "Both Sides Are Just as Bad" canard, which is treated as self-evident by all the Very Serious People of the Beltway, and all the so-called moderates across this country who think Bill O'Reilly's a decent and reasonable guy, and all the rightwing extremists who have a vested interest in perpetuating the myth of parity, and most of the rest of the country, right up to the president himself, who never misses an opportunity to pretend there are two equal and competing forces in this country, despite the fact that there are fundamental differences and, no, both sides are not just as bad.

Rightwing ideology is so ubiquitous in America that it is not even possible for a progressive to access the news in an impenetrable bubble. Despite attempts to frame MSNBC as wildly lefty, there is no equivalent to Fox News on the American airwaves, with the possible exception of _Current, which is comparable only in content but hardly in scope.

I couldn't avoid rightwing opinions even if i wanted to. The idea that I could is laughable.

As laughable, quite frankly, as the idea that any left-leaning city is devoid of conservatives and conservative ideology. New York's got a Republican mayor. California's run by a Republican governor. Chicago is surrounded by some of the reddest bits of the country, whence sprung Henry Hyde and Dennis Hastert. I'm frankly not sure in which of America's blue cities, exactly, Dr. Helen imagines a progressive lives completely removed from and utterly untouched by conservative thought.

On the other hand, I have known many people from many small, conservative towns across this great country in which words like "feminism" or "same-sex marriage" or "universal healthcare" are never spoken, even in the year 2010. Except, perhaps, as dirty words.

That's not even intended as an indictment of such places; it's merely a factual observation that there exist throughout America a vast number of extremely conservative communities which are insular by design (and a smaller number of similarly insular progressive communities), which explicitly reject the multiculturalism of big American cities, which are diverse in both people and ideas. Calling city-dwellers the Bubblings gets it precisely backwards.

Dr. Helen, it seems, ought to stop fretting about liberals' "disrespect and lack of empathy" and tend to her own raging case of projection.

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