A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Oh, Really.

There is a new book out on the conservative side of the political spectrum with a title that is the best bit of evidence I can adduce about the absolutely despicable attitudes and reprehensible behavior of so many of the conservative opinion: 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America.

You can read the list here.

I support liberal public policy, in case you hadn't guessed. The title of this book presents the content not as a refutation of my views nor as the presentation of views which the author argues are better than mine. It is essentially a personal attack on the integrity, the motives, and the ethics of anyone who holds such liberal views, and this is the case even if someone like myself is not of sufficient public prominence to make the top one hundred.

The list, after all, can be extended indefinitely to 10%, 30%, or even 50% of the country, since 50% at least tried to screw up America by voting for a Democratic presidential candidate. Sooner or later I would find my place on this expanded list, too, as sure as water seeks its own level.

The list is not about people who are wrong about public policy, or even wrong about private conduct. It is about people who are destroying the country they live in because they hold certain opinions. In other words, it is about calling people criminals and traitors for what they believe. Now the only sensible things to do to criminals and traitors is to either incarcerate them or execute them, so the ultimate point of such rhetoric is plainly to advocate this.

Such are clearly the implications of the title.

I haven't read the book, you point out? Frankly, I don't give a damn what is in the book. The brutally and deliberately insulting title would put the book beyond the realm of reasonable public discourse even if it contained the secret to eternal youth, endless wealth, and perfect happiness.

Why such behavior is reprehensible is that it is a personal attitude toward political adversaries that is essentially Fascist: agree with me or you are a criminal and a traitor.

What is despicable about so many of the conservative shade of opinion is that they refuse to repudiate such an attitude, and such personal vilification, toward the people who hold other views. Moreover, they have indulged in such Fascist rhetoric for my entire lifetime. One of the most popular conservative political books of my childhood was entitled None Dare Call It Treason. And, these days, a great many of my conservative fellow citizens actively encourage or participate in a constant barrage of ad hominum personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

Now on this blog I have not hesitated to call public liars by name, if I have evidence that they have lied. And I have done so to some of the most august in the land. I have also not hesitated to call fools by name if I think that either their beliefs or their actions are folly. I don't intend to stop doing so. I have, finally, not hesitated to suggest that certain specific named individuals are ethically and criminally corrupt if the evidence on the public record clearly implies this. I don't intend to stop doing this, either.

One thing I will not start doing, however, is attacking the integrity, the ethics, or the motives of anyone who merely holds an opinion that I don't agree with. The people who disagree with me are merely wrong. Sometimes the reasons they give for their opinions are either willfully obtuse to evidence or blatantly erroneous in reasoning. Sometimes the opinions are based on faulty premises, even when reasoned well and supported by evidence. Hence the people who hold them are in error.

But they are not criminals and they are not traitors. They are not destroying America by having opinions or exercising their right to participate in our politics. They are merely in error. Nothing more. And they deserve every right that I have to believe as they choose and participate as fully in our political process as the law allows, whatever their opinions, even if they are wrong opinions.

If you happen to read this, I suggest that you go read as many of the blogs of people who strongly disagree with my opinions as you can. Having done this, ask yourself which of them would ever write the two paragraphs immediately above if the occasion warranted it.

I, at least, would measure the worth of what they have to say by the answer to that question.

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