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Being Nice Doesn’t Mean You Get a Free Pass

August 6, 2009

Please check out Julia M. Obrien’s review of Kevin Roose’s The Unlikely Disciple, which is a new memoir from a guy who spent a semester doing some amateur anthropological research at Liberty University. Here’s my favorite part:

Seeing the good in everyone is fine, but Roose doesn’t seem to know how to reconcile his ability to see the good in people with his own convictions. His hallmates wouldn’t just disapprove of his [lesbian] aunts; they would work tireless to deny them marriage rights. At the end of the day, with whom will Roose stand?  It took me a long time to understand that people I respect can do inappropriate, even horrible things. Roose doesn’t seem quite there yet. I agree that we shouldn’t write off any human being, but I do believe that behaviors and attitudes can’t be overlooked just because we like the people expressing them. Sympathy for a person doesn’t require full acceptance of any behavior he or she exhibits. If Roose doesn’t support homophobia, why should he overlook the homophobia of his friends?

We should be relentless in the battle against hegemonic ideology; we shouldn’t give up just because we discover that some of the people who hold the dominant ideology are nice people.

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