This is a bit of a long story, but please bear with me.
I was raised in a liberal home. My father was a socialist, no ifs ands or buts–he believed that free markets were the law of the jungle and that government would could provide for us all if the means of production were nationalized. Mom, for the most part, was a Scoop Jackson democrat, but had no problem with the myths of FDR and government efficacy. Through my school years, until an epiphany in grad school, I was highly socialistic, even borderline commie, through I never fell into the hatred of our own that ran through so many of my leftie friends.
We lived in a small south-western Virginia town–remote, even somewhat backwoods, through not “Coal Miner’s Daughter” country. The school was, to be blunt, not urbane. In this environment, my views were not exactly the norm though, to be fair, I wasn’t mistreated in any way.
In my senior year, I took a government course–something that would have been called “Civics” in other schools. I can still see our teacher–a 30-something, thin, school-teacher looking guy. Unremarkable, even nerdy looking…and a great teacher. Along with teaching us–yes, the man actually taught–how the government worked, he included classes on debating and false arguments. It was during those sessions that I would invariably get into rather heated arguments with some of the students–my liberal views could elicit strong reactions. Throughout this class, I was convinced that our teacher agreed with me, though he never took any side: he simply maintained a proper order between us.
Some years later, when I was in college, I ran into him and we got into a long discussion on politics. Now here’s the point–he was literally a John Bircher. This guy made Ann Coulter look like a New Dealer. And he never let on in class what his views were.
I thought about that some years later when my daughter was having trouble in a class with a highly political teacher. My (now) libertarian politics were causing problems for her because, as any child will do, she would try to take my position on issues–issues than were inappropriate for a 3rd grade class. Since the teacher was very popular with the kids–even my daughter adored him–my child became a pariah. At one point I mentioned to him where I grew up and said, “I never knew how any of my Southern teachers voted. I can tell you how every one of my daughter’s teachers vote Think about that.”
He relented, not because of my arguments, but because of the price she was paying, but the thought still comes to me. Those Southern small-town teachers were more professional than virtually every teacher I met in New England.
Think about that.