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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

August, 2005

 

Politically Correct In West Marin

I have been writing in the Coastal Post now for several years, and one thing has stood out more than any other-that people only hear what they want to hear and will dismiss anything else as heresy. And then demonize the messenger. It is almost unheard of to assume someone with differing opinions is acting in good faith. That goes for the entire diversity of the political spectrum here and abroad. Left and Right are guilty of this sin, as have I been. It is the unique person who does not already have a "point of view" and dismiss other "points of view." It is amazing how few questions are asked about fundamental issues from all perspectives, even right here in West Marin.
The easiest example, of course, is the Israeli/Palestinian question. Emotions are high and personal definitions are involved. For example, when is a suicide bomber an 1) evildoer, with no rationale or 2) a freedom fighter taken to the brink, with no other weapons? One's answer will depend on which preconceived beliefs hold sway in one's mind already. Few Americans understand there is an occupation underway and that settlements create suicide bombers. Demonizing others is the order of the day, from all sides.
As to the stem cell question... should we or shouldn't we use them... it is interesting that the majority of those non-scientists who support use of stem cells to save lives and cure disease seem to have family members or friends in dire need of such help. Opinions overcome political directives when one's love for someone demands that one see the reality of a subject, not just the impersonal, political sound bite.
Closer to home, I have noticed that the "loud voices," espousing a certain point of view on any issue, are not often countered by those in West Marin with other opinions. Is this cowardice or a logical reaction in view of past histories of demonization? The current issue concerning the use of some pesticides to combat mosquitoes in West Marin (due to the fear of West Nile Fever), has horrified a number of West Marin activists and some are threatening civil disobedience if the new Mosquito District continues to insist on using all the tools in its "toolbox."
Others see the coming Tomales Bay "wetlands" and its mosquitoes with fear, and want that "toolbox," if needed. But one does not hear a public peep from them. I make no judgments, just ask why there is such a one-sided activism, when many others obviously have opinions that are different.
The same holds true for the issue of installing a new receptor for cell phones and/or wireless transmissions. A hue and cry has gone out against such a thing, but I personally know of several quite technology-sophisticated people who have other opinions, but don't want to get involved in the question because they think they will be demonized and assaulted by the "loud voices" here.
One could go on and on with examples. Why is there no realistic/respectful discussion going on about the effects of illegal immigration here or the "two communities" that now exist around Tomales Bay? Probably for the same reason that voices are not publicly raised to object to the final results at the EAH project. Prices are high for rentals and most long-time locals are being left out. Gosh, who wants to have to put themselves "out there" to take the barbs, insults and annoyance of being falsely called "racist" or "anti" affordable housing by a few loud voices? Even I have to admit that it doesn't seem really worth it. "Loud voices" mostly win. Duh.
So what else? West Marin sees itself as activist and environmentalist, consistent with a liberal and/or progressive view, often to the far left. I myself have always defined myself as of "the left," progressive on most things. But these days, I have to admit that I have become disenchanted with one-idea rule. It breeds contempt for others and a certain unreality. Just like those on the ultra Right. Right or left doesn't matter, the rule holds.
West Marin needs a mix of opinions, openly and respectfully debated. But West Marin is composed of small towns, with small town mentalities, even so close to San Francisco. Loud voices rule. And those voices are mostly of the Far Left. My own people... but they are not doing themselves any favor by holding the stage alone in West Marin. It is an illusion. Not reality.
I know a lot of people in West Marin. Around Tomales Bay, Bolinas, Stinson, Marshall and Tomales, not to mention the San Geronimo Valley. And I have found that there is really quite a wide range of unexpressed opinions. The majority. Remember the Silent Majority of the 1980s? Well, they seem to live in West Marin. I have no idea really of their exact political ideas. I just know they are silent and let the few "loud voices" rule by default.
I believe in participatory democracy. And I see the country I love negating what I believe in and moving toward a more corporate/oligarchical fascism. And using war as the means to frighten the masses into going along with them and giving up their Constitutional Rights. Which means that we who care need to be able to reach out, respect and understand that fear that now reigns. And lo and behold, that fear even exists right here in West Marin. Perhaps we can practice caring about our fellow citizens who might have different opinions, right here, before we try to impose our beliefs elsewhere. At least it's worth a try.
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