Dialogues with ultraconservatives

I'm not opposed to engaging people with opposing viewpoints. Quite the contrary – I think it's important to one's intellectual growth. But in order to have a meaningful discussion, both parties have to approach the conversation with a mindset of free and open inquiry – that is, a willingness to subject their ideas to critical scrutiny. Incredulity has no place in any such conversation.

I'm a pretty liberal guy, which one would rightly expect being that I'm an atheist (the two are strongly correlated). I spent this afternoon attempting to engage some ultraconservatives in a discussion on Facebook. Lesson learned. I won't bore with details, but here are some snippets:

Conservative: Hey there Mike, one more thing buddy, where would you like for me to ship the candy that your Muslim Boss is selling so that it does not melt? what will it take you for you blind brainwashed people to see what the hell is going on here, this is no longer about a party, but it is about you DAM freedom, wake up your in ASTUPID NIGHT MARE.

Me: I could point out that the government controls only 0.21% of business and corporate assets. Or that the largest expansions of the federal government and the largest increases in the national debt occurred during the Reagan and Bush administrations. That Bush is the one who passed TARP. That Clinton was the only president in my 30-year lifetime to reduce the national debt. That the health care bill will reduce costs and expand coverage to over 30 million people through federal subsidies and the establishment of an exchange program, and expand patients' rights by preventing health insurance companies by denying care through rescission and pre-existing conditions. But your incredulity is impervious to those facts.

Conservative: Mike, you did not answer my question, where the hell do i send you the candy bag, Clinton was a great president, he gave china intercontinental missile capabilities, do i need to continue proving how ignorant you are? or was Monica also one your girls.

Other conservative: 1st off It took Bush 8X to spend what Osama-Obama spent in his first year putting us in more danger wasting our money on mickey mouse crap. The only reason the debt was reduced Under slick Willy was cause the congress was Republican! The Health care Bill will reduce costs ONLY because It will put the rest of the country out of business.

Me:  If the only reason debt was reduced under Clinton was because of the Republican congress, then why did the debt skyrocket for the first six years of the Bush administration under which there was both a Republican congress AND a Republican president? Why did we go from a record surplus to a record deficit in the first year of Bush's presidency?

Other conservative: Key point is: Socialism fails, u CANT POINT ANY WHERE IN WORLD IT HAS SUCEEDED! Russia/ China/ Venezuela LOL!
There is no REAL debate about any of this, Good night!

Glen Beck and Sarah Palin were in Tulsa this weekend as part of their "Take Our Country Back" tour. Take it back to where, the Stone Age? How do we battle this kind of incredulity and ignorance? I want to have a dialogue with people. I want the debate about everything ranging from theology and the place of religion to health care and economics to be a free, open and critical exchange of ideas. But with this kind of incredulity so pervasive, I really don't know where to begin.


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