Yesterday was huge, but...

We can't forget that the country is still filled with people for whom the picture below is legitimate argument.

I found this on Facebook--a former student of mine had it as his profile picture. I could have simply unfriended him, and I was tempted to do just that, but instead I called him out about it on his wall, pointed out just how offensive it was. I did it that way because this kid--and he's no older than 21, so I feel I can call him that--this kid, while conservative (Huckabee supporter in the primaries), wasn't this quality of asshole in reality. He just hadn't thought the implications of this through.

I know--I was giving him a huge benefit of the doubt. After all, who doesn't understand that a Hitler comparison is beyond the pale. I mean, Moveon still gets tagged unfairly with the claim that they compared Bush to Hitler because some over-zealous morons with no sense of propriety made an ad that said that and Moveon's people missed it in the screening process. It's important to note that the ad was doing badly in the contest because people like me were voting it down, so it never would have made the finals anyway.

But something I've discovered about teenagers, since I teach them every semester, is that most of them lack both a knowledge of history and a sense of scale, and so they make really stupid decisions like making the picture above their profile photo on Facebook. I could have just unfriended him and he never would have known--when you cut people loose, Facebook doesn't notify them--but instead I took a chance and took a stand, and he responded almost immediately. I don't think I changed his mind for the long term, though he may be savable with some work, and if he hadn't responded, I'd have cut him loose without a second thought.

The thing is, we're not going to change minds overnight. The Republicans and the McCain campaign have spent the last 6 months or more casting aspersions about Barack Obama's character, questioning his patriotism and even his legal right to hold the office he won last night. We still have a significant number of people who believe Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks--it's going to take more than a few hours to convince these people that President-elect Obama isn't an IslamofascisthomocommunoliberalredistributoKenyathiesAntichrist. And some will never be convinced. But we have to try, even when it's difficult. That's part of perfecting our union.

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