The Allergic Pagan

Some time ago, I heard a story on NPR’s “This American Life”, about a guy who lost a friend when the friend found out that he had voted for Obama. The friend had called him a “socialist”. Of course, he didn’t think of himself as a socialist, but was left feeling that he had been called a dirty name, without really knowing why it was dirty. This got me thinking about how the terms we use to define others are different from the terms that others use to define themselves. When conservatives call liberals “socialists” and liberals call conservatives “ideologues”, neither side really knows what the other one is talking about, but both sides are left feeling vaguely insulted.

The reason why neither side understands the other is because each side is using a different dichotomy to distinguish “self” from “other”. For the conservative, the dichotomy may be something like…

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