Friday, March 26, 2010

Second Thoughts

I've never found a way to go back and do anything over.  What's done is done.  But I wish I hadn't allowed my bad mood last night to make me sign that Facebook petition.  This is the one that says:

SIGN THE PETITION ON FACEBOOK: Tell the Republican Party to STOP Inciting Tea Party Racism!

Doing this has gotten me into several uncomfortable conversations, and I'd like to clarify my stance.  Also, I started getting fan posts from the group that originated it, and I find I don't agree with them on a lot of points; I'm no longer a "fan."

I don't actually claim that the Right, as a group, is "racist." I do claim, I think justly, that certain people who publicly identify themselves as "the Right" have acted in a way that most people would consider racist. I consider shouting "n*gger" at a black Congressman, and "f*ggot" at Congressman Barney Frank, outside the halls of Congress, to be racist and bigoted (and incredibly discourteous) acts, and I'm appalled by it. 

And I haven't even gotten to the bricks thrown through various Congressmen's windows, for the crime of passing a health insurance reform bill; or the propane gas line someone cut, at the address published as belonging to another Congressman.  The address and the propane line turned out to belong to the Congressman's brother, who has 4 kids under the age of 8; it could have killed them all.

What really appalls me is the fact that nobody in the Republican Party hierarchy - and for that matter, nobody in whatever hierarchy the Tea Party has - has stood up and said publicly, this is not the behavior by which we want to be identified. Not even (unless I missed it overnight) Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, who, dammit, IS black! I have to assume this IS the behavior by which they are, at least, willing to be identified.

I'm incredibly sick of both sides screaming invective at each other instead of talking. Give me some of those old time politicians, like Tip O'Neill and Lyndon Johnson (not to mention California's immortal Jesse Unruh), none of whom ever screamed invective at anybody.

And while I'm on the subject, I know whom I blame for the total decay of civility in politics over the last 10 years or so.  You may not recognize the name; he stays much in the background.  But I blame Rupert Murdoch.  Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News.  Fox News commentators Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck - and now Sarah Palin - make a lot of money for Mr. Murdoch by encouraging their listeners to think in violent, apocalyptic, one-sided terms.   Check out Sarah Palin's chart of Democratic seats she wants to "knock over", marked on a map with - gun sights.  These Fox News commentators are rabble rousers; and boy, have they successfully roused them.

1 comment:

  1. Hedera:

    Publicity is like a drug. The more you take it, the more it affects you.

    The media used to have more common sense, and more manners. In our generation--and the two or three which preceded it--they didn't give space and time to rabble rousers, especially nut cases. They recognized what was news, and what wasn't.

    It wasn't news, for instance, that Jack Kennedy was chronically unfaithful to his beautiful, elegant wife. The news corps in Washington all knew about it, but just didn't report it, or "leak it" to anyone. FDR had a girlfriend in the South, and he died while on a visit to her place. But the Press didn't talk about this. Eisenhower cheated. And so on. But something happened in the 1980's. The radical right began to push the "ethics" and "morality" agenda, while the media was becoming progressively scurrilous and invasive.

    People became less interested in issues, and more interested in dirt. I can recall Ken Starr--certainly a blitering idiot if ever there was one--haranguing Congress about Clinton's "affair" with Monica Lewinsky. I was really embarrassed--but not for Clinton. I was embarrassed by my government, and my people, and for my country. Because this had nothing to do with governance.

    The discussion of the health care proposals was completely distracted by threats and false charges and empty claims and unfounded predictions. To this day, few in the body politic have any clear idea of how it will work, or what it can be expected to accomplish, if anything.

    Everything I've heard about the plan makes me cautious, and cynical.

    But the Republicans have demeaned and shamed themselves in this process.

    The so-called "Tea Party" crowds and so forth, have no more legitimacy as a faction representing public opinion or sentiment than the "Swift Boat" group which set out to smear John Kerry.

    The difference is that today, in 2010, the Press gives these people a microphone, and column space. 30 years ago, 50 years ago, they'd have been ignored as the bizarre yokels they certainly are.

    I'm always reminded of an old New Yorker cartoon from the early 1930's, which showed a woman holding up her little daughter to see over a crowd, as she remarks to the woman beside her "it's Delilah's first hanging!" The American South...well, have things really changed much? It's still possible to travel to Washington and spit out "Nigra" at Congresspersons. But is this news? It should only be news to the people who should have been arrested and held in jail for a month. That'd be news to them.