Sunday, September 04, 2011


While I haven't been following it too closely there seems to be an interesting series going on how disagreements over policy issues can end relationships, or even prevent them form forming at all (

In this particular segment a woman reported that while she was attracted to a man named Jack, she could not continue when she learned that he was a pro-lifer, opposed to abortion rights. We all like to believe that we are willing to tolerate a variety of opinions, given the inevitable subjectivity of most of them. It may be though that the abortion issue ("reproductive rights" if you prefer) is, exceptionally, too intimately connected with our core identity to fit this model, but I fear that it is more generally applicable.

Here is an example from my own experience. About a year ago I made contact with a man who had been a close friend a quarter of a century ago, though over the years we had drifted away from each other. B. and I spent the day together, discussing various issues. Then, unfortunately, the topic of the state of Israel came up. B. is not Jewish (though he has a Jewish partner), but he is a fervent Zionist. Even though I am just as critical of the Palestinians as I am of the Israelis, B. could not tolerate my questioning the policies of the Jewish state. This difference proved to be a deal-breaker and he ceased all further contact. I would not have done so over this issue.

Now here is an opposite example. M., a friend until recently, turned out to have a number of far-left opinions. M. is Cuban but, unlike many exiles, is a supporter of the Castro regime. We are both gay, and I brought up the issue of the UMAP camps for the compulsory "reeducation" of homosexuals. M. claimed that these horrendous establishments had only been in existence for two years. I am not sure that this time frame is correct, but assuming that it is, the assertion is no excuse. After all, the Third Reich lasted "only" twelve years. Suppose that it had only lasted two years; that would be bad enough.

Then my Cuban friend launched into singing the praises of Joseph Stalin. He thought that the Gulag was unimportant, and defended the Soviet policy of vandalizing and destroying Russia's heritage of religious art. (This even though M. is studying Spanish colonial art, mainly religious, in Mexico.)

After the occasion (it was a dinner party three years ago) I concluded that the concatenation of absurdities was just too much for me to continue. I have not seen M. since.



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