Ask Amy: I’m a conservative in Berkeley, and people are so rude

DEAR AMY: I am an intellectual conservative,
living in liberal and one-party Berkeley.

Amy Dickinson (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune) 

Time after time at dinner parties (even my own), the guests just
assume that I am a liberal like they are.

When I tell them that I’m fairly conservative, they just
don’t get it. They freely disparage “right-wing hillbillies”
and say that all conservatives are “evil people.”

One time I countered, “Forty percent of the people in this
country are not evil. They are good people. They just have
different values from yours.”

The table became silent, they all glared at me, and the dinner
party was ruined.

What is one to do? Must one just smile faintly and bear it? What
can one say?

Frustrated Republican in Berkeley

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DEAR FRUSTRATED: Whenever I try to tackle a
politics-adjacent question, the reader-responses range the gamut
from people decrying my conservative hot takes, my liberal views,
or my “both-sides-ism.” This tells me that people are avoiding
nuance, context, or subtext.

My take on the phenomenon you describe is that one unexpected
and unfortunate consequence of our president’s personal and
public comportment is that it seems to have inspired a parallel
mindset in the opposition. I do not lay the blame for the
close-minded attitude of many progressives on the current
administration; I simply note the parallels.

Each of us is entirely responsible for our own behavior. But the
stereotyping and overall narrow-minded attitude you describe is
something you might want to gently ask these liberal intellectuals
to reflect upon. Practice a question: “Are you interested in
learning more about how conservatives like me view current events
— and what we are thinking about?”

Yes, it might be easier for you to simply sit through this sort
of group-think, but you should not take the blame for “ruining”
a gathering simply because you have asked people to be open-minded
and rational. Nor do I think that you (or anyone) should feel
forced to stay silent when others are being rude, crude, or

Surely anyone worthy of being called a “liberal” should
defend your right to speak your own mind, and should maintain an
attitude of open-minded curiosity about people who think
differently than they do.

DEAR AMY: I’m a media producer with an
emphasis on video production. I mainly work on documentaries, so I
usually work with people who don’t have on-camera experience.

When I put microphones on people, I try to make small talk about
whatever common subjects I can think of (sports, pets, kids, where
they’re from, etc.). The goal is to loosen them up for when they
have to talk on camera and to alleviate some tension regarding me,
a stranger touching their body and clothes to properly place the
mic and hide the cable. (I do always say, “I’m putting the mic
here, is that OK?”)

Recently I put a mic on a very pregnant woman. I was going to
say, “Congratulations on the pending arrival, I have a daughter
myself and it’s great…”

Instead, I made a comment about the weather because I thought if
I mentioned the pregnancy it would be akin to commenting on her
body and I’m “woke” enough to know that people, especially
women, don’t like that.

Was I correct in not acknowledging the pregnancy, or would using
the pregnancy to relate on a “I’m a parent too” level be
acceptable? Trying to make people comfortable and relaxed is my No.
1 priority.

Too Woke in Chicago?

DEAR TOO WOKE: You understand the important
role you have in helping to calm jittery nerves during what can be
a nerve-wracking process. Your sensitivity is commendable.

No, you should not mention a woman’s pregnancy as you are
helping to affix her mic. The main reason for this is because a
person getting ready to be interviewed on camera should be
concentrating on their own preparation. Pregnancy is a diverting
topic to discuss just before being interviewed.

If a woman makes a reference to her own pregnancy, then yes —
congratulate and briefly share your positive parenting experience
with her, but the time for more leisurely chit chat is after the
interview is wrapped.

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“Just Wondering” was worried about
his girlfriend’s habit
of texting a (male) co-worker after work-hours. I agree with you
that any of us has the right to maintain friendships outside of the
love-relationship, but Wondering’s girlfriend should show him her
texts and reassure him. Secrecy makes all of this worse, maybe for
no reason.

Been There


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You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a
letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also
follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

Source: FS – All – Interesting – Lifestyle
Ask Amy: I’m a conservative in Berkeley, and people are so rude