Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Huh! A year? Really?

Yup, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my blog. I started the blog because I realized that I was abusing certain friendships by inundating my friends' email with news articles that interested me. It simply made more sense to find a forum where I could publicize and comment upon the news without being a pest. I swiftly discovered that I loved the ability to take all the things that interest me and put them in one place -- the books, the politics, the non-PC thoughts that bubble in my brain. Many of these things would mark me as a pariah in my community; others (such as the periodic book reviews) would simply bore even those near and dear to me. I decided I was born to blog. Blogging has also been fun because of all the wonderful blog friends I've made in a year. It's quite amazing the sense of community I've developed with people I've never met face to face, and whom I probably never will meet. The meeting of minds is such a powerful force. Needless to say, thanks to each and every one of you who has joined with me in these wonderful cyberspace discussions (you know who you are). Looking back on this year has also made me aware of how powerful my conservatism has become. I was about to write "newfound" conservatism, but stopped myself. It has occurred to me over the past year that 9/11 was probably the final step in a long journey towards conservatism, rather than a pivotal moment when I turned my back on a lifetime of beliefs. In fact, what I did on that day was turn my back on a lifetime of self misidentification. In no particular order, I can see in my mind vignettes stretching over years when I espoused conservative beliefs but nevertheless called myself a democrat:

  • Back in about 1974, I remember vividly an argument I had with my father, who'd been raised as a Communist in post-WWI Germany, but who had become quite a good Democrat by then. I insisted that Communism had to fail because it tried to turn people into what they weren't, while Capitalism was bound to be successful, because it harnessed what people really are. I was 13 at the time.
  • I used to give money to NOW, believe it or not. I stopped about a decade ago, when I saw a news report about the fact that New Jersey was trying to limit the number of illegitimate children either by decreasing benefits if a teenager had more than one child or by increasing benefits for not having another child (I don't remember which). NOW objected, and I went ballistic.
  • PC bothered me from the git-go. In many ways, I saw PC as a pathetic response to a simple failure in manners, which was one of the little niceities of life that got jettisoned in the 1960s. In the old days, you didn't need PC rules about sexual comments in the workplace, because it was considered ill-bred to make such comments. Ladies and gentlemen didn't do that.
  • Diversity is another thing that's always irked me. I've always described myself as a class-ist, not a racist. I don't care what color you, as long as you share my value system, which is intensely middle class, in an old-fashioned way. When I read Bill Whittle's long pink and grey post it was like having someone make amusing, coherent and intelligent my own long-standing belief system.
  • I've always been hostile to the Left's encroachment on education. Every few years, I'd read, and become angry about, an article about the retreat from the traditional body of knowledge used in the West, with touchy-feely, I hate America multiculturalism put in its place. I especially hated the War on American history. The Pilgrims were no longer people escaping from brutal religious oppression, they were "people looking for a better life" who just coincidentally happened to brutalize the Indians. Everything was bleached of content, and simply placed in an "America, the oppressor" mode. There are things Americans have done that are nothing to be proud of, but there are things Americans have done that are unique, wonderful extraordinary -- that should be celebrated -- and that are leeched out of our education system in an Orwellian effort to erase the past.
  • The Left, aside from bastardizing knowledge, has also destroyed teaching techniques. I remember back in the 1980s, long before I even imagined having children, declaiming from the rooftops about the insanity that was the "whole word" approach to teaching children to read. The theory then was that it was just too much to expect children to master phonics and that children should just be allowed to muddle through to some sort of "repeat exposure" understanding of words. The geniuses who came up with this idea pointed to the fact that Chinese children essentially learn a whole language system, because they don't have a phonic alphabet -- and look how well they do. These same geniuses ignored the fact that, to offset the absence of a phonic based alphabet, the Chinese students spend many more hours each week memorizing their pictograms. It was ludicrous to take our phonics-based alphabet, jettison a phonics approach, and have those poor little guinea pig students spend a few hours a week trying to memorize what various words look like.
I could go on and on, but I won't (showing that I have some compassion in my conservatism). Clearly, by the time the Twin Towers fell, my belief system was strongly aligned with conservative values. I just needed an external event and a manifest enemy to enable me to make the leap to what I once would have characterized as the "Dark Side." Anyway, thanks for joining me during this wonderful blog year, and especially thanks to all of you who helped make it such a wonderful year.