Hard to imagine an ad much worse than the one Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate is running against Republican Rand Paul (below). Paul’s response ad (still looking for it online) didn’t beat it but gave it a run for it’s money. Eww, just ewwww.
On this fifteenth anniversary of the tragedy in Oklahoma City, as we are forced to consider what is worst in us, I am sure we can summon what is best.
But first we’ll have to meet the worst with eyes wide open.
There is every indication that the same anti-government fury that fueled Timothy McVeigh is on the rise. This time, though, it’s a reflection of shifts in the wider society we find ourselves in, where the extreme voices are leading the discussion and internet and TV fan little grass fires that are popping up. If there is another Oklahoma City, our national leaders, the media and maybe even you and I bear some of the responsibility.
Former President Clinton spoke about this last week, stressing that the words we use matter: “There is a vast echo chamber and [the words we’ve chosen to use] go across space and they fall on the serious and delirious alike.”
The delirious, you know the ones who would repeat Oklahoma City.
And on our part: The little cheats we make daily – the times when we go with the easy way, pile onto the anger and hate with a little guilty pleasure – stoke the partisan fury. Our private television habits speak loudly and publicly that we’re not so interested in hearing the other side, as CNN can attest to if they can attest to anything as their ratings circle the drain. We are fueling television networks and publications that strike matches amid all the tinder.
Yet it is ultimately only the average citizen who can work to dry up the market for fury. But we’re too busy having it our way to notice our power and our responsibility. We’ve become a nation taking the easy way when there is only one way out and it’s the hard way.
We have so much influence with people on our side of the aisle if we can fix our loyalty to the highest calling. They will hear us. We even have influence with people on our side of the street. And if we venture out to cross the street, everyone can be on our side of it. We can inspire if we step forward to live up the who we say we are and who we want to be.
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Kathleen Parker writes about how we can walk this back in the Washington Post:
The only palatable answer is what conservatives say they love best: self-control and personal responsibility. When someone spews obscenities, shout them down. When politicians and pundits use inflammatory language, condemn them.
When you choose to remain silent, consider yourself complicit in whatever transpires.
Ultimately when will each make private decisions about where we chose to sit. Where are you?
Part 2 in this Friday’s Purple Post: Why factual accuracy in the media isn’t a small thing, it’s everything.
I’m watching Countdown, Lawrence O’Donnell subbing for Olbermann, and I’ve decided I’m giving two Village Square raps on the knuckles:
Rap #1. Rudy Guilianni who managed to utterly defy – uh – reality in suggesting that no terrorist attacks akin to the underwear bomber and Ft. Hood occurred on American soil during the Bush administration (they did). It would be an entirely different thing if Rudy argued the differences in philosophy, but it is hoohah that we can draw wide conclusions on success of policy based on comparing incidences of terrorism in each administration at this juncture (especially if we can’t actually count).
Rap #2. Host Lawrence O’Donnell, in covering this story, for saying that Guilianni “now makes a living on the blood of 9/11 victims by pretending to be an expert.” These are escalating words that, once out of the ole mouth, can’t be undone. Shame on you.
Get ready for the other shoe. Sure as night follows day, it will drop. That’s how it goes with children on the playground. And then another shoe (and so on).
A Black Friday tragedy that should have each and every one of us thinking really hard about ourselves.
The throng of Wal-Mart shoppers had been building all night, filling sidewalks and stretching across a vast parking lot…
Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him… Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later…
â€œWhen they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, â€˜Iâ€™ve been on line since yesterday morning,â€™ â€ Ms. Cribbs told The Associated Press. â€œThey kept shopping.â€
*RATED R FOR NON-VILLAGE-SQUARE-ISH LANGUAGE*
Suggesting that our civic discussion has turned incivil is a vast understatement. Alas, even here where we are all about civility. Take this comment I received on this post referring – I assume – to Kathleen Hall Jamieson (who was on Bill Moyers yesterday):
You made a total asshole of yourself tonight on Bill Moyers. I used to have the utmost respect for you. You above all people were a true speaker of truth.
Not any more. *** Barack should have paid for Mcasshole to have his own half hour on TV … I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but Bush, MCcain and their ilk hate America and its citizens and your infanantile musings will do nothing other than speed up the attempt to destroy this country.
HOW COULD YOU END UP TO BE SUCH AN IGNORANT CUNT?
This example, left-leaning hatred. But any discussion of hatred has to cite right-wing talk radio and its endless hours of shoveling fury.
JEFFREY FELDMAN quoted on Bill Moyers Journal: “Our system is a deliberative democracy. And that deliberative democracy depends on a certain kind of talk, a certain conversation in order to function well. What right-wing rhetoric does, when it reaches that violent pitch, is it undermines that particular conversation, such that the focus of political debate, becomes increasingly hamstrung by fear, and the ability of citizens to engage in the basic act of civics becomes gummed up. That conversation breaks down.”
These examples are given:
MICHAEL SAVAGE:”Liberalism is, in essence, the HIV virus, and it weakens the defense cells of a nation. What are the defense cells of a nation? Well, the church. They’ve attacked particularly the Catholic Church for 30 straight years. The police, attacked for the last 50 straight years by the ACLU viruses. And the military, attacked for the last 50 years by the Barbara Boxer viruses on our planet.”
MICHAEL SAVAGE: “Oh, you’re one of the sodomites. You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How’s that? Why don’t you see if you can sue me, you pig. You got nothing better than to put me down, you piece of garbage. You have got nothing to do today, go eat a sausage and choke on it. Get trichinosis.”
MICHAEL SAVAGE: “I’ll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s a brat who hasn’t been told to cut the act out. That’s what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they’re silent? They don’t have a father around to tell them, ‘Don’t act like a moron. You’ll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don’t sit there crying and screaming, idiot.'”
MICHAEL SAVAGE: “America is being overrun by an invasion force from Mexico that’ll soon take over the country[…]you psychotic liberals don’t even know you’re digging your own grave and throwing lime in there. All that’s missing is the worm from the tequila bottle to go with it.”
MICHAEL REAGAN: “Take them out and shoot them. They are traitors to this country, and shoot them. But anybody who would do that doesn’t deserve to live. You shoot them. You call them traitors, that’s what they are, and you shoot them dead. I’ll pay for the bullet.”
NEAL BOORTZ:”That wasn’t the cries of the downtrodden. That’s the cries of the useless, the worthless. New Orleans was a welfare city, a city of parasites, a city of people who could not, and had no desire to fend for themselves. You have a hurricane descending on them and they sit on their fat asses and wait for somebody else to come rescue them.”
NEAL BOORTZ:”It’s Ramadan and Muslims in your workplace might be offended if they see you eating at your desk. Why? I guess it’s because Muslims don’t eat during the day during Ramadan. They fast during the day and eat at night. Sorta like cockroaches.”
NEAL BOORTZ: “I already have received at least one brilliant email today about the immigration problem […]this person sent me an email, said when we defeat this illegal alien amnesty bill and when we yank out the welcome mat and they all start going back to Mexico, as a going-away gift let’s all give them a box of nuclear waste[…]tell ‘em it can, it’ll heat tortillas.”
These people aren’t helpful to conservatives, just as my poster isn’t helpful to liberals.
Hateful polemics serve their argument, their cause, and our country, poorly.