I agree, but do such signs make for good neighbors?

Here’s an interesting twist on the whole business of posting political signs, a practice that you know I have embraced since 2018.

I hope the Post doesn’t mind my using the image above — after all, I’m using it to encourage people to go read the whole story, which is headlined, “Battling yard signs on a quiet corner in Alexandria.”

Anyway, obviously, I agree with the sign on the right. As you know, if I’m about anything, it’s about expressing oneself at op-ed or greater length, not via bumper stickers. And the collection of blunt, emotion-invoking blurbs in the sign on the left is definitely in bumper-sticker mode.

But it’s still not enough to make sure viewers understand what the homeowner is saying, is it?

Hence this passage from the story:

They started to wonder what that second sign, available on Etsy for $31.95, was supposed to say. Was it a direct rebuke of the idea that all were welcome in their community? Was it an attack on the messaging of the Democratic Party, which often uses such phrases as rallying cries? Or was it just trying to be funny?

Either way, many neighbors said, the dueling yard signs made public a sort of tension that is rarely articulated in an area proud of its understated brand of liberalism….

Speaking of that bit about “liberalism”… The contrast between the sign on the left and the one on the right helps illustrate a point I frequently make in passing on the blog, and which is frequently misunderstood. The sign on the left illustrates a “woke” approach — a “ones and zeroes” way of looking at the world, making emotional arguments that set up a dynamic in which one can conveniently condemn anyone who fails to agree 100 percent. The other is more of a “liberal” approach, inviting a dialogue that could, if one is optimistic (and liberalism is optimistic), lead to people on opposite sides of an issue understanding each other and maybe even finding some things to agree upon.

Unfortunately, in this case, there was no such dialogue:

The 33-year-old man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his privacy, said he moved into his townhouse on Oronoco Street in January and noticed the “Black Lives Matter” sign in an adjacent front yard. He worried it spoke for his property, too, and wanted to separate himself from the words that he felt oversimplified issues that should be discussed with nuance.

So naturally, he googled “political yard signs” and looked for a placard for his side of the yard. He found one on Etsy that perfectly expressed his beliefs, soon placing the “Simplistic Platitudes” poster on his side of the grass. He said he tried to position it as far away from his neighbor’s as possible — out of respect.

A few weeks later, the third sign appeared countering his reply, and the man realized his sign might have bothered his neighbor. But he said they never talked about it, nor did he ever try to engage them on the cultural issues he thought were better addressed in person.

“We didn’t talk a whole lot before the signs,” he said. “But I admit, I don’t think the signs were a positive step there.”…

Yeah, probably not. That’s too bad. Fortunately, the neighbor says, “we are on pleasant terms with our neighbors.”

So maybe there’s still time for talking to each other…

58 thoughts on “I agree, but do such signs make for good neighbors?

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    And as much as I agree with that second sign, I may agree even more with the third one mentioned in the story, which apparently went up in response to the second:

    “In this house we believe that using snark and sarcasm and pedantic, overly complex language to respond to others’ somewhat meaningless virtue-signaling is just divisive and trollish behavior, but hey, signs are fun.”

    I think all of these people need to sit down and talk. It might lead in a more constructive direction….

    Reply
  2. bud

    What you are saying is that policy decisions are complicated and we should listen to arguments from all sides. Take into account all evidence and nuance. Perhaps instead of a one or a zero an issue may be a 0.63. I couldn’t agree more. The world is colored in grey. Few issues are simple. I would suggest liberals in general would agree with that assessment. But then you completely, utterly lose the argument by singling out liberals as this monolithic “woke” movement that is rigid in it’s ideology. To single out liberals in that regard is in itself practicing this one’s and zeros approach you so decry. Are you suggesting conservatives are more open to listening to other points of view than liberals? That the world of conservatism is a bastion of nuance and tolerance? And yes that is EXACTLY what you are inferring. So don’t come back with some denial. It’s crystal clear that’s the implication. Otherwise why single out a yard side that features liberal slogans and not one that has conservative ones. And believe me there are hundreds of conservative slogans that would align with this one’s and zeros thinking you condemn so stridently. I would go so far as to say YOU are engaging in one’s and zeros thinking by doing so. I find unbalanced posts like this counterproductive.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud, I don’t think you read what I wrote.

      I was contrasting woke people and liberals — two VERY different kinds of people.

      I wasn’t grouping them together and contrasting them with “conservatives.” I don’t see how you would get the idea that I was.

      Do you think the second sign is “conservative?” It isn’t. It’s quite liberal. And that’s the one I prefer, although as I say, I don’t think this was necessarily the right way to engage in dialogue…

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I was reading a column about Elon Musk, and it mentioned this item he had retweeted. It reminded me of this discussion:

        I don’t know that I ever felt so put-upon as this guy, but I know what he means.

        I didn’t really think of myself as necessarily a “liberal” until liberals started getting hit from both ends of the spectrum. Then I started embracing the term. Because once you peel off the wokistas as well as the Trumpistas, you’re left with an important set of values that I am happy to endorse…

        Reply
          1. Barry

            Tesla stock is in a mess (not the only one but they’ve been having problems- major quality issues) and some reports of Elon’s Chinese operations are getting interesting.

            Sounds like he has plenty of problems on his hands without worrying about Twitter.

            Reply
        1. Ken

          The little illustration above may be cute and it may make you feel better (yet again) about where you stand. But it is totally inaccurate, as anybody who actually knows stuff about the American political landscape (like, for ex., AEI’s Norman Ornstein) can attest. The shift of the center of American politics hasn’t been to the left, but to the right as the Rs have skewed ever further in that direction and become ever more unwilling to compromise. The shift on the left has mainly been in reaction to that.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            No, it hasn’t. What has happened on the left and the right — to the extent those are coherent things — has been very different. And while both sides can occasionally claim honestly that they are reacting to something on the “other side,” to say that YOUR preferred side has “mainly” done so in reaction to the abominations of the other.

            Sometimes, of course, both sides have changed in reaction to the SAME things. For instance, both sides have decided to utterly reject the postwar liberalism that I stand here to defend. And both have embraced, from very different perspectives, a very nonliberal view of American life as something we can’t just all come together and share, but which different groups have to fight over in a “zero-sum” battle. As that Atlantic piece I cited the other day observed:

            Liberals in the late 20th century shared a belief that the sociologist Christian Smith called the “liberal progress” narrative, in which America used to be horrifically unjust and repressive, but, thanks to the struggles of activists and heroes, has made (and continues to make) progress toward realizing the noble promise of its founding. This story easily supports liberal patriotism, and it was the animating narrative of Barack Obama’s presidency. It is also the view of the “traditional liberals” in the “Hidden Tribes” study (11 percent of the population), who have strong humanitarian values, are older than average, and are largely the people leading America’s cultural and intellectual institutions.

            But when the newly viralized social-media platforms gave everyone a dart gun, it was younger progressive activists who did the most shooting, and they aimed a disproportionate number of their darts at these older liberal leaders. Confused and fearful, the leaders rarely challenged the activists or their nonliberal narrative in which life at every institution is an eternal battle among identity groups over a zero-sum pie, and the people on top got there by oppressing the people on the bottom. This new narrative is rigidly egalitarian––focused on equality of outcomes, not of rights or opportunities. It is unconcerned with individual rights.

            Also, that cute cartoon is accurate in an important way that I, as a person who “actually knows stuff about the American political landscape” perceive. The guy on the left moved WAY to the left — for instance, embracing socialism openly and defiantly.

            But while there are similarities, something very different happened on the right, something hugely catastrophic. People didn’t so much move further “right” on some easy-to-read line that you can draw. They just went stark, raving mad. Their ability to perceive reality just disintegrated.

            Yeah, I know a lot of people on the left think “conservatives” were always that way, but that’s because of a lack of perception among some on the left. Conservatives were people who perceived reality pretty clearly, and much as liberals did — which is why it used to be possible to accomplish things in Congress. They just drew different conclusions about what they perceived, and wanted to do different things about it.

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              I look forward to reading a coherent response from you addressing the ideas I’ve set out in a civil manner, without all the snarky little comments about how stupid I am, or how stupid someone else is here. You, the stuff like, “The little illustration above may be cute and it may make you feel better.” And “anybody who actually knows stuff about the American political landscape…”

              If it isn’t free of such, I won’t post it. I’ve been kind of olly-olly-in-come-free over the last couple of weeks, but I’ve had enough now. Not because of you alone, or even you mostly. A number of lines have been stepped over by a number of people, and the last couple of days I’ve decided to go back to not allowing it on… here it comes… MY blog…

              Reply
              1. bud

                Well. Brad you may not like it but you really are coming across as a rigid ideologue on this post. Your comment about Biden being the ONLY person … You can delete this but you need to appreciate how you’re coming across.

                Reply
              2. Dan

                Well said Brad. Your sandbox, therefore your rules. One may disagree, but as a minimum we at least should always be civil, and represent being ‘Southern Gentlemen’.

                Reply
            2. Ken

              I did not say you were stupid. I said you were poorly informed and tend to absorb reporting in a selective way that affirms what you want to believe.

              But as someone once said, while you may be entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts. And the facts are simply not on your side.

              The American political landscape is defined, where the rubber hits the road, not by some vague sense of “left” or “right” but by our political parties. And it is undeniable that the Republican Party has shifted much farther to the right than the Democratic Party has shifted to the left. So while the graph above may make a nice cartoon, it does not represent the actual state-of-affairs.

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Except it does. As an expression of what it intends to say, it works. It tries to explain the experience of a longtime liberal who has seen people on his “own side” move away from him, and become alienated.

                And it does that. If you wanted it to do something else, you might be disappointed…

                Reply
              2. Doug Ross

                “Undeniable” — as is that was a factual statement. Democratic Party of the past ten years is unrecognizable compared to the Clinton era. Fragmented, focused on blame for every perceived injustice, zero interest in compromise (as are Republicans — but Joe Biden ran on the phony claim of being someone who could unite the parties… he’s done just as much Republican bashing as any Democrat)

                Reply
  3. Barry

    Have no issue with them.

    I prefer to know where my neighbors stand.

    Their property- their signs- no issue as long as it’s not so close to the street to block sight lines for someone driving their car (like pulling out at a stop sign).

    Talking really doesn’t accomplish anything in such situations.

    Reply
    1. Bart

      Oh! My! The sun will set in the East and rise in the West. The North and South Poles will flip, and the equator will become a ski resort belt. Trump will become the model of propriety, modest conduct, and no more “mean tweets”. Biden will be given a brain by the Wizard of Oz. Why all of this?

      I agree with what Barry posted. Especially the one comment about blocking sight lines when pulling out into traffic, a particular issue with me and the near accidents because of blocked sight lines.

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Um, Bart: Biden has a brain. He has a very good one, and he uses it well. That’s why he’s the only politician at that level — a level where you can get elected president — who makes any sense. He’s been alone in that category for several years now…

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          I haven’t seen Biden speak without the use of a teleprompter in months… he may have been intelligent years ago but like most 80 year olds, his better days are behind him. Can you point to any recent interview or non-teleprompted speech he has done that demonstrates his intelligence?

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I can’t, nor can I offer examples of the opposite, because I seldom watch television and listen to the radio less than I used to. But in any case, I don’t think I look for the same things you do. Even when I do see or hear such things, whether the person is using a teleprompter doesn’t mean that much to me…

            Reply
            1. Doug Ross

              Interesting what gets deleted to cover up for Joe Biden’s decline. Was the link to the news report on the Saudi TV skit about Joe too much?

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                I think the main criterion I’m using today for not confirming comments is boredom. If I keep hearing the same nonsense from people — the same drip, drip, drip — I’m not hitting “approve.”

                Anyway, I found myself thinking along those lines repeatedly today.

                But mostly, I just find myself wondering why I bother with the blog at all. Too often, it’s the same people telling me why everything I say shows that I’m an idiot, and giving the same reasons, over and over.

                Not exactly the kind of constructive give and take I’ve been looking for for 17 years now.

                But some days are better. Today has just been monotonous.

                Oh, and by the way, to remind everyone: It’s not that I’m “deleting” things. It’s that I’m not approving them. It’s not that I need a reason to disallow the comment. I need a reason to ALLOW it…

                You see, the standard is that I need to look at a comment and think “this adds something to the blog.” If it’s just people bloviating in the usual tiresome way, I’m less and less likely to hit “approve”…

                Reply
        2. bud

          Brad I know you fashion yourself as a deep thinker who decry one’s and zeros analysis. But this statement is about as pure an example of ones and zeros as you’ll ever find. Joe Biden is the ONLY politician with a brain that makes any sense??? Really? That’s the very definition of an ideologue.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            No, bud. It’s my embrace of one guy who is not one of the “my way or the highway” ideologues. And if you look around (possibly even in a mirror sometimes, based on some things you’ve said), you’ll see that a lot of Democrats despise him for it…

            Reply
        3. Bart

          Brad,

          I know you are a big fan and supporter of Biden and I respect your opinion. Therefore, I won’t get into any discussion about his cognitive ability or his past history of lying about so many things. You have your opinion, I have mine.

          Reply
          1. bud

            I’m not a huge fan of Biden but this whole cognitive ability crap about Biden is pure bunk. He’s fine. Not a great president by any stretch but his brain is fine.

            Reply
            1. Bart

              I will respectfully disagree with you on his cognitive ability, his brain is not fine by any means. FWIW, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone because I know what is like to watch a loved one, my wife, slowly decline into a shell of who she once was, and Biden is demonstrating the exact same symptoms. His may be developing it slower, but it is there and if you want to deny it, that is your prerogative.

              My experience was not restricted to visiting a relative or friend with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, I lived with it for four years, day in and day out and watched how it destroyed one of the most intelligent individuals I have ever known. In order to cope with the progressive nature of the disease, I studied everything I could on the disease, watched experts explaining the various behaviors, etc. Some can function at a higher level for an extended period of time after diagnosis, but eventually, it will claim its victim.

              Reply
      2. Barry

        and large shrubbery planted to block sight lines

        and political campaign signs from all sides posted in intersections that block views for people pulling into the road, etc.. – should be illegal to post any sign at intersections.

        Reply
  4. Mark Stewart

    There is nothing debatable in the first sign except the last line. That seems gratuitous.

    And, yeah, the neighbor made himself out to be a lout and a troll.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      No human is illegal but an immigrant who enters illegally is an illegal immigrant. I think that was the pithy way the sign was trying to call for open borders.

      Reply
  5. Bill

    Well the eggs chase the bacon
    Round the fryin’ pan
    And the whinin’ dog pidgeons
    By the steeple bell rope
    And the dogs tipped the garbage pails
    Over last night
    And there’s always construction work
    Bothering you
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    Friday’s a funeral
    And Saturday’s a bride
    Seth’s got a pistol on the register side
    And the goddamn delivery trucks
    They make too much noise
    And we don’t get our butter
    Delivered no more
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    Well Big Mambo’s kicking
    His old grey hound
    And the kids can’t get ice cream
    ‘Cause the market burned down
    And the newspaper sleeping bags
    Blow down the lane
    And that goddamn flatbed’s
    Got me pinned in again
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    There’s a couple Filipino girls
    Gigglin’ by the church
    And the window is busted
    And the landlord ain’t home
    And Butch joined the army
    Yea that’s where he’s been
    And the jackhammer’s digging
    Up the sidewalks again
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood
    In the neighborhood

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      Tom waits is a mush mouthed singer who attracts a following of people who think it’s cool to be odd.

      Reply
      1. Bill

        No one is more respected among fellow songwriters,except maybe,Dylan.
        A master of metaphor and absolute genius.Buy a vowel.

        Reply
  6. bud

    I’ve been thinking about this whole WOKE accusation thing. I don’t really think it’s a big insult. The original intent was to use the term to identify people who pursued an activist approach to social justice. The right hijacked the term (along with the Gadsden flag) and twisted it into something derogatory. But it really isn’t. It’s certainly far, far less derogatory than calling someone a neocon.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      A woke person is someone who expresses outrage on behalf of groups they don’t belong to. It includes self hating white people and those who invent new words to define already established terms.

      Anyone who uses the term “cis,” or “non binary” has been indoctrinated into the woke delusion.

      Reply
  7. Doug Ross

    NBC news poll released today.. Biden is a lame duck already.

    “President Joe Biden’s job rating falling below 40 percent and a whopping 75 percent of Americans saying the country is headed in the wrong direction.
    It’s the fourth straight NBC News poll with the wrong-track number higher than 70 percent, and the fifth time in the poll’s 34-year history when the wrong-track number hit 75 percent or higher.
    The other times were in 2008 (during the Great Recession) and 2013 (during a government shutdown). “

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, it’s true. There’s a great deal of stupidity in the country. We’ve been struggling with that problem for years now, and we continue to see it manifested in polls…

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, and while the loudest, most obvious (to a lot of my friends here) stupidity is among the people who never planned to give Joe any kind of a chance — people who are so out of it that they would actually, honestly vote for Donald Trump again if given the opportunity — the problem is spread quite generously across the political spectrum.

        If we didn’t have so much foolishness on the left, then Joe would have very solid support throughout the Democratic Party, and polls wouldn’t look like this…

        Reply
        1. Doug Ross

          I wouldn’t vote for Biden or Trump in 2024 (just as I didn’t in 2020) because both of them are bad for the country in different ways. Trump is a buffoon and Biden is a pure politician who is declining mentally on a daily basis. One is a born liar and the other was made into one through his years in office.

          We need youth, energy, independent thought. Not Ron DeSantis. Not Kamala Harris (thankfully she has been exposed for the useless fraud voters saw during her failed attempt at the Presidency.

          Reply
        2. bud

          Explain what you mean by “foolishness on the left”? We liberals feel no special obligation to walk in lock step with everything Biden does. To bow down at his feet as though he is some sort of god. There is legitimate frustration that the country is not going in the right direction. How exactly is that foolishness? Foolishness is blindly following someone without question. This is apparently the arrogant admonition you’re proclaiming here. Follow Biden without question or you’re foolish.

          Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Perhaps this will be clearer to you: Unite to the point that there are enough of you to keep Trump from returning.

            Those people are united in their madness. Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democrats are bonking each other on the head like the Three Stooges…

            Reply
            1. bud

              If you feel that way then take down your repulsive Republican yard sign. That is the behavior that keeps Trump viable. You have never been more wrong analyzing an issue. Except perhaps for the 1992 restructuring fiasco.

              Reply
      2. Doug Ross

        Yeah, it’s the poll that are the problem. Everything is going super great. On the right track and with a full head of steam with Joe at the helm.

        Reply
        1. Bart

          A full head of steam off the cliff into a pending recession, shortages, supply chain issues still unsolved, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, returned dependence on foreign oil, and a host of other issues.

          I am paying over double for a tank of gas. My grocery bill has increased by at least 25% and I have cut back on what I buy and do not eat the way I did pre-Biden. Even then, my food bill was based on the basics with a luxury item like a rib-eye steak on occasion.

          When I am at the supermarket, the carts are not as full as they were pre-Biden, and the brand name items are not selling as well as they did before. Walmart has more customers now since the prices are a little lower than the other supermarkets. Lidl and Aldi both announced drastic increased in prices, up to 50% on many items and around 30% – 40% on most other items in their stores.

          Don’t try to tell me things are great and going in the right direction under Biden because they are not.

          I still remember Obama’s purported comment about Biden. “Obama on Biden in 2020” ‘Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to ‘mess’ (won’t use the exact word here) things up’. He has lived up to Obama’s description extremely well.

          Reply
  8. bud

    Here’s a list of issues where Democrats have remained largely consistent over the last half century. In a few cases the party has even moved to the right:
    Immigration
    Tax policy
    Military spending (one of the right movers)
    Environment
    Social safety net
    Marijuana legalization
    Trade
    Foreign policy
    Church and state
    Race relations
    Police reform
    Guns
    Abortion
    Infrastructure
    Separation of church and state

    There are a few where the Dems have moved to the left. LGBQT stuff in particular. But so has the country. On the other hand, the GOP has moved to the right, sometimes extremely so on many things. In particular Republicans have moved in an extreme direction regarding voting issues.

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, Bud, you run into trouble on the first item, immigration.

      Not that people on the left used to be right on immigration and now they’re wrong. In fact, if anything, it’s more the other way.

      But it’s certainly different. And I think the result is a reaction thing.

      Used to be, folks on the left of center griped and moaned a good bit about not having sufficiently secure borders.

      But then — over the last 20 years — Republicans sort of lost their minds on the issue. And people on the left reacted against that, going in the opposite direction. Which in my book is a good thing, which shows how complicated the world is — that sometimes reflexive ones-and-zeroes thinking actually pushes people in a better direction. Just not usually.

      Anyway, you might want to read this 2017 piece from The Atlantic on the subject…

      Reply

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