Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Neocon Cruise

Johann Hari has written up his adventures while participating on a wingnut cruise. These cruises are a popular way for opinion magazines to make some money, and also a way for party faithfuls to get within spitting distance of their political and media idols. Reading the story is sort of fun for a middle-of-the-road goddess such as me, but it should be taken with a biiig pinch of salt before it is used to characterize all conservatives.

The reasons for this are obvious: People who go on these types of cruises are a self-selected lot. They are likely to have more extreme beliefs than your average conservative and they are also likely to have more disposable income and time. So what you have here is a narrow group of the true believers, and Hari discusses their beliefs using the anecdotal method. That is also a little dangerous, because given an hour or two I could probably find someone to spout almost any weird arguments for your entertainment.

Still, what I do find disconcerting about the stories Hari tells is the extent to which the individuals he interviews appear to live with a totally different set of not just values but "facts" about the world. Europe, for instance, has already been lost to the Muslim hordes and so on. This is one of the reasons why reading only sources which agree with our own views is not a good idea, even for those of us who are not wingnuts.