Sunday, November 07, 2004

"There's only two kinds of people I hate--the prejuidiced, and the Dutch." --Nigel Powers

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where George W. Bush's re-election has prompted many people to speculate about the intelligence and character of the so-called "red staters" that supported him. "Stupid," "ignorant," and "inbred" are some of the kinder words I've heard.

Now I won't discuss the strengths or failings of the Bush administration here--there's nothing I could say that would sway anyone's opinion, and, as Michael Jordan remarked when asked to endorse a Democratic candidate, "Republicans buy shoes too."

What I will say is that I'm dismayed by the fact that the educated, open-minded people around me seem just as prejudiced the people they revile. Tolerance has to work both ways. If you support school prayer, you should support gay marriage, and vice versa.

Furthermore, many people I've spoken to have been aghast that many working-class people voted for Bush because the considered values more important than the war in Iraq, or that some consider faith more important than reason. Again, I'm not going to pass judgment. I'm not particularly religious, though I did take my daughter to be baptized this morning. However, I can see just as much justification for using faith as a decision criteria as for reason.

Reason and science aren't infallible, while faith plays a critical role in helping make sense of the world. One of the pastor's at today's baptism is the chaplain at the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. She's often called upon to perform emergency baptisms on dying children; when confronted with such tragedy, reason fails and we are left with faith as the only option.

While we may disagree with their choice of president, if we "blue-staters" don't extend our tolerance to include "red-staters," we are are being just as hypocritical and prejudiced as those we oppose.