Sunday, January 09, 2011

Extreme Speech

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting piece today entitled “On Extreme Right and Left” where he seems to compare the hate filled rhetoric that was thrown at President Bush vs. that that has been thrown at President Obama. He makes a very good argument that while the things that those on the Left said about Bush were pretty horrible, they weren’t near as bad as the things that those on the right are saying about Obama. It seems to me that the rhetoric overall has gotten way out of hand but it has been building up over time. Things weren’t always rosy prior to the Bush years (the things said about Clinton were pretty bad). I’d argue that today’s bubbling cauldron of poop stew that is civil discourse in this country is something that has been simmering for decades and has now reaching the point of boiling over.

Sullivan ends his piece with the following plea –
What we need now is a presidential speech that can affirm the positive aspects of robust debate while drawing a line under the nihilist elements of personal and ideological hatred. But it is clear to me at least that if American politics is to regain its composure, the forces of Palin and what she represents must be defeated. Not appeased or excused for, but defeated in the derelict public square of what's left of our common discourse.
I would love to see the President make a rousing and inspiring speech that harkens back to his speech at the ’04 Democratic Convention but I’m afraid that the temptation to slide in little snide remarks would be too much and thus the entire purpose of the speech would be lost. Even sadder though, is the fact that if the President did deliver the type of speech that is needed, those on the right would still rip it to shreds and nit pick each and every word to find some hidden socialist message.

The real problem is that extremism, vile, and vitriol sells. How else can the success of these polemics be explained? The fact is that part of our population wants this hatred. They want this division. They get off on it and in turn there are those who profit from it. That is our real problem. Maybe it would do us all some good to look to the teachings of the Dalai Lama to embrace the ideas responsibility, compassion, and the complete abandonment the idea of victimhood. We must see each other as human beings, not liberals or conservatives, not white or black, not Christian or Muslim, not young or old, but as individual human beings who all live, breathe, bleed, and die. We must find the compassion to recognize that we are all part of this world and that while our differences are real they must not divide us with such totality that we can no longer see the humanity in each other. Once we reach that point, then speech like this and senseless acts of violence like yesterday will be a thing of the past.

1 comment:

Man of the West said...

Hmmm. Last I heard, Mr. Sullivan was so balanced and fair that he was out there touting theories about how Trig Palin wasn't really Sarah's baby.

Such a man is calling for balance in political discourse? Would he recognize it?