A Plumbline in the Wind

The world is going to the dogs, but I refuse to learn to bark

A Plumbline in the Wind Near Lauder, Scotland: Sheep on a hillside

The unity election

16 November 2008 · 2 Comments

Here’s a story that demonstrates just how tolerant good liberals are:

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching “inclusion,” and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker: “McCain Girl.”

“I was just really curious how they’d react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters,” Catherine told us. “I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be.”

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain’s name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

“People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn’t be wearing it,” Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

“One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed,” Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren’t the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

“In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain,” Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

“Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said,” Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

“He said, ‘You should be crucifixed.’ It was kind of funny because, I was like, don’t you mean ‘crucified?’ ” Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be “burned with her shirt on” for “being a filthy-rich Republican.”

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn’t want to jeopardize her experiment.

“I couldn’t show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing,” she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, “I really like your shirt.”

That’s when you know America is truly supportive of diversity of opinion, when children must whisper for fear of being ostracized, heckled and crucifixed.

The next day, in part 2 of The Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment, she wore another T-shirt, this one with “Obama Girl” written in blue. And an amazing thing happened.

Catherine wasn’t very stupid anymore. She grew brains.

“People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today,” Catherine said.

Some students accused her of playing both sides.

“A lot of people liked it. But some people told me I was a flip-flopper,” she said. “They said, ‘You can’t make up your mind. You can’t wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.’ “

This is not a scientific survey, but since the election, I’ve talked to at least two friends, both McCain supporters, who say they can’t talk to members of their own families who voted for Mr. Obama. I know I can’t either. Mr. Obama’s supporters can’t stop talking to anyone and everyone. And this is the man who will bring us all together.

Tags: Politics and society · Uncategorized

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia Tryon // 22 Jan 2009 at 11:12 am

    Seemingly, Americans respect every kind of diversity — every kind –, except for diversity of thought. That is bound to happen where the sound bite suppresses discourse and where ecstatic crowd response replaces reason.

    There is a curious zeal on the part of those who made crude jokes and snickered at any mention of what the previous administration did _right_. Their zeal is directed toward making sure that no one behaves toward the new administration as they did toward the old one.

    And, you know, I agree with them to the extent that we are better off without the incivility. But reason is not a crime; it has simply become politically incorrect, which is the new measure of the boundaries of civility.

    But no American politician has ever been granted a permanent honeymoon. Let’s see where we are in 90 or 120 days.

  • 2 Patricia Tryon // 22 Jan 2009 at 11:13 am

    (Yes, the above comment is very late; I meant 90 or 120 days from the inauguration, of course.)

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