The Anchoress hits the nail on the head this afternoon, as only she can:
The increased Balkanization of our society — with everyone hanging out in echo chambers peopled primarily by those who agree with everyone else — is settling us into ghetto mentalities. I once had a Catholic Mom express concern to me that her kids admired a flamboyantly “g-a-y” singer, and she didn’t know what to think about that, or what to tell them, since “we don’t know any people like that.”
And in the ghetto next door, of course, there are gays who have nothing good to say about “Christian conservatives” because they don’t actually know any people like that. A family member once brought a gay friend to an Eagle Scout ceremony. He’d prepared to walk into a lion’s den of growling, spitting haters, and instead found himself told to get comfortable by a bunch of firefighters doing ceremonials and middle-aged moms fighting over the coffee urn, none of whom cared about his eyeliner.
It’s easy to simmer in the ghetto, easy to get comfortable with assumptions, stereotypes, paranoias and fears, because there is nothing to challenge them. Actually meeting the people we think we know all about (gay people; “illegal” immigrants who have been here for twenty years, the progressive blogger everyone told you was a meanie, but is just worried; the conservative who seems so terse but is just shy) getting to know them, working with them, agreeing on some things, disagreeing on others — when you do that, suddenly the “other” is a person struggling along, just like you, being battered in some ways, soaring in others. That’s when caricatures crumble.
And others, of course, culled from the same groups, are just miserable bastards you can’t do much about but kiss ‘em up to God, and move on.
To find out what sparked this insight, read the rest.