Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Religion and Politics: Brainwashing in Action

The blog Beyond Teshuva is a group blog comprised of people who are becoming or have become Orthodox Jews. I find it fascinating not just because it's a mirror-image of those of us who go the other direction, but because of how it provides an unusually clear window into the brains of people making that transition.

In today's post I'm Having Trouble Shedding My Democratic Values, a guest contributor finds him/herself troubled:
Like many Baalei Teshuva I was raised in a community that was mostly Democrat and now find myself in a mostly Republican voting Orthodox community. Although I have voted Republican in some previous Presidential elections, I still believe in many of the values and ideas that the Democrats represent.

If Orthodox Jews support McCain and he supports Obama, he assumes the problem is with him. "I'm having trouble shedding my Democratic values," he says. Not, "Why do so many Orthodox Jews support McCain when it seems to me that they should go for Obama?"

There's a part of him that rebels against the conformity: "I’m not sure why I have to be apologetic because I am considering voting Democrat and find that some of their policies resonate with me." But still he says he's "having trouble shedding [his] Democratic values."

He's not primarily interested in finding the truth. He wants to be convinced either that his new community is right about voting Republican or that the community is not as Republican as it seems.

Previously on Beyond BT: What am I Allowed to Believe?


Lawyer-Wearing-Yarmulka said...

Maybe's he's just trying to fit in? Who knows?

G said...

Yeah, I saw that too.


Kylopod said...

This kind of attitude bugs me to no end. It isn't limited to politics: I've heard people say things like that they're troubled by slavery but think it's just their Western mindset creeping in.

But it's really become worse this year. Back in 2000, when Lieberman ran for vp, there was always the occasional hysteric who'd rant about how Lieberman couldn't be "truly" frum if he supported abortion, gays, and so on. When all was said and done, however, about 60% of Orthodox Jews voted for Gore (according to a survey). By 2004, however, only 26% of frummies supported the Democratic ticket.

I suspect the numbers for Obama will be even lower. The level of Obama hate among Orthodox Jews is striking (but not surprising, given the amount of racism in the community, and the filtering of news through alarmist right-wing sources). The minority who support Obama are likely to be viewed by their coreligionists as not just misguided, but dangerous.