Sunday, September 30, 2007

On the Popularity of Polemic, my Own Propensity for it

Please note: the following (strikingly banal) realization will not stop me from engaging in my now only occassional rant-o-the-week, my own outlet for polemic:

Most of the time I try to be nuanced in my thinking and in my writing. Every once in awhile, though, I read something or hear something that makes me lose all interest in nuance -- I react so strongly to what is so clearly a strong reaction as it is that I have a hard time being fair. Add to that that I don't really want anyone to hate me, whatever I say about not caring what other people think . . .

This happened last week, so I just didn't say anything. But then I feel like I've let other people down. Instead, I wrote my polemic to the View (below).

I realized that nuance comes from a privileged position -- in a position of relative power, there is little cost to me to concede a point, to be empathetic (except the heartbreak that comes along with it), to say "yes, I see." Polemic seems necessary for the systematically disempowered, even if it makes its auditors balk. It's why there are pros and antis, and people who appear pro and anti when they aren't, when we all really know it isn't that simple.

But what if we suddenly, simultaneously, universally agreed that being nuanced wasn't waffling, afterall? That it is an extraordinarily empowering thing to be? Imagine the conversations we'd have.

No comments: