Conservative political and social commentary
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First they came for the communists,
but I was not a communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the socialists
and the trade unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they
came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they
came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
– Pastor Martin Niemoeller.
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|Really Vicious Politics - Monday, November 06, 2006
Really Vicious Politics
Assassination as Entertainment?
I saw something depressing in the paper. No, it wasn’t news of the latest drive-by shooting. It was an ad for a film titled, "Death of a President." The title is a misnomer. It should be, "Death of the President." In the film, an actor portraying President Bush is shot. But Bush’s head is superimposed on the actor, making it appear that Bush himself is shot. (Wishful thinking, perhaps?)
The film was released just in time for the election. Reviews call it "amazing, eerie, tense and immediate," as well as "electrifying, seamless and intelligent." The ad shows a photo of people rushing to the aid of the dying president. The only equivocal note is a description of the film as "controversial."
Have we sunk so low that assassinating the president is merely controversial? How about sinful, criminal, hateful and anti-democratic? Or are those words too "judgmental"? Is it possible that murder no longer disturbs us, but being "judgmental" offends our delicate sensibilities?
At what point does entertainment become advocacy? At what point does literary license become incitement to commit murder? Have we passed that point? If so, did we even notice?
Before the 2004 election, the sidewalk in front of my post office was blocked by people handing out anti-administration pamphlets. When I approached, a man asked, "Would you like to send Cheney back to hell?"
Later I saw a poster showing the head of President Bush, with a hand pulling it up by the hair, and a bloody, ragged neck. The text read, "Mission accomplished." It was at an intersection – hundreds must have seen it. It was still there two days later, so I blacked it out with a marker pen.
Now we have that well-known joker, Sen. John Kerry, who appeared on the Bill Maher show. When Maher asked him about killing two birds with one stone, Kerry replied, "I could have gone to 1600 Pennsylvania [the White House] and killed the real bird with one stone." When the losing presidential candidate jokes about killing the winner, do you think we may have gone a bit too far?
A man I know says he will "throw a party" if Bush is assassinated. Is advocating murder now an acceptable part of politics? Have we sunk to the level of our enemies? Or have we sunk even lower? At least they murder their enemies, not their own leaders. But some Democrats see Republicans as enemies rather than as political opponents.
The former chair of the California Democratic Party wrote a book titled, "Bush Must Go" and an article titled, "Are Cheney’s Days Numbered?" These titles are ambiguous – a sinister meaning is unprovable. But why is politics sounding less like Ben Franklin, and more like Bin Laden?
Despite the dislike of Clinton, there was no film showing him being shot. There were no books titled, "Clinton Must Go" or articles titled, "Are Gore’s Days Numbered?" Why? Where is the Republican Michael Moore? Where are Republican film and music stars who spew out obscenities at Democrats?
Somehow it became "liberal" to hate Republicans, but we must "understand" terrorists and other violent criminals. Really?
Many conservatives feel liberals are mistaken, ill informed and naive. But many liberals feel conservatives are heartless, racist and evil. There are exceptions, but this generalization is regrettably accurate.
Republicans accuse Democrats of not understanding the terrorist threat, of focusing on second-hand smoke instead of homeland defense, and of being well intentioned but impractical.
But Democrats accuse Republicans of throwing old folks out on the street, taking lunches away from school kids, hating minorities and women, destroying national parks, setting up a dictatorship, and waging a bloody war that’s "all about oil."
If it were "all about oil," we would imitate the French. We would pursue an anti-Israel policy and crawl on our knees to the oil cartel. Instead, for strategic and religious reasons, we stand by Israel, which has no oil. No, it’s not "all about oil." It’s about principle – something many Europeans, and their American imitators, forgot long ago.
Republicans are accused of wanting to destroy our freedom, enslave our people, pollute the earth and plunge the world into war. That’s not criticism – that’s hate. And the hate comes from the party of "tolerance and inclusion."
Democrats drive around with bumper stickers claiming "Bush knew" about 9/11. They blame "neocons" for pushing us into war. Nazi websites also claim "Bush knew," and blame "Jewish neocons" for pushing us into war. Democrats accuse Republicans of being Nazis, but some Democrats actually talk like Nazis.
Liberals ridicule conservative judges who can’t find abortion in the Constitution, though it mentions no such thing. But they praise liberal judges who can’t find capital punishment, which is mentioned four times. Anyone who believes the Constitution means what it says is a "reactionary" who wants to "turn back the clock" – and must not be allowed to become a judge.
Conservatives aren’t free of hate. Some criticism of Bill Clinton’s lying under oath crossed the line into hatred. Today, the only issue where Republicans may express hatred is abortion. But conservatives, including religious ones, want to convince their opponents that abortion is wrong.
In contrast, many Democrats don’t talk about convincing Republicans of anything. They talk about defeating Republicans. Their rhetoric is not that of politics, but of war.
Democrats want to "fight" for abortion rights, "defeat" tax cuts, "beat back" proposals for school choice, "battle" for health care, "combat" proposals for homeland security, and "attack" our policy on Iraq. They see Republicans, not terrorists, as their enemies.
People may exaggerate to make a point. Hateful rhetoric may not be sincere in the mind of the speaker, but it can evoke real hate in the mind of the listener. How many potential Lee Harvey Oswalds may be in the audience when "Death of a President" is shown?
Unlike older nations, America is not held together by racial or ethnic ties, but by shared ideals. Liberals are doing their best to undermine the Judeo-Christian basis of our moral code. They removed mention of God from public life, and banned the Ten Commandments from public schools. They teach students that our nation is anti-environment, racist, sexist, genocidal and militaristic.
But without racial or ethnic ties, and with our Judeo-Christian tradition weakened and our national pride undermined, what remains to hold us together? If we replace political debate with hate speech, our nation may come apart at the seams. Hateful rhetoric, vicious name-calling and rabid partisanship threaten our survival as a free nation.
We have two choices. We can restore our Judeo-Christian tradition and again teach Americanism in schools. Then we may be strong enough to survive hateful rhetoric. Regrettably, this is unlikely to happen. Or we can moderate our rhetoric:
Save the hate for genocidal tyrants and bloodthirsty terrorists. Save the hate for those who cut the heads off people who disagree with them.
Don’t misdirect the hate onto fellow Americans with honest political differences. Don’t tolerate people who fob off assassination as entertainment. Only the beheaders find murder entertaining.
Dr. Stolinsky writes on political and social issues. He may be contacted at email@example.com.