Marching to a Different Drummer
In the column she relates an experience that happened to her in the seventh grade. He classmates were enthusiastically discussing the film "Titanic." Abrahamian says that she disliked the movie but bit her tongue: she didn't want to be ostracized. Specifically, she was afraid that she would have to eat her lunch alone. Sure enough, one girl voiced her opinion that Leonardo di Caprio was ugly. Gossip condemned her as a lesbian.
When I was in high school we read the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, advocating forthrightness and individuality. If I am not mistaken, it was Emerson who coined the expression "marching to a different drummer." And so I sought to march according to that rhythm. In addition, my ingrained tendency to contentiousness was reinforced by my parents' adhesion to a far-left political sect. While I came to reject their views, I learned early one to be distrustful of conventional political analyses, even when supported by a seeming consensus.
Moreover, my growing awareness of my "deviate" sexual orientation caused me to be skeptical of experts in this field--and by extension all experts. Thinking for oneself should mean just that.
Abrahamian reminds her readers that America has always hosted a very different tradition from the Emersonian one. She aptly quotes an 1835 observation by Alexis de Toqueville: "As long as the majority is undecided, discussion is carried on; but as soon as its decision is irrevocably pronounced, a submissive silence is observed, and the friends as well as the opponents of the measure unite in assenting to its propriety."
Having recently revisited Iran, Abrahamian is apprehensive--in my view rightly so--about the growing consensus that "something must be done" about this ostensible rogue state.
For my part, after more than a half century of sometimes rough-and-tumble adult life, I would say the following. Don't always believe what you read, in this case Emerson. People do not admire dissidents. As Abrahamian found in the seventh grade this stance means that you lunch alone.