I try to take folks at their word and do sincerely believe that the inability to talk across lines of partisanship and party--and a profound lack of empathy and sympathy for those with whom we disagree--is driving much of the political rancor of the moment. Now, this does not mean that all points of view ought to be elevated to the level of a considerate opinion or that half-cooked beliefs should be treated with the respect reserved for well-trodden and researched fact.
Simply put, my "Sarah Palin head full of stupid rule" will always apply: let's call a spade a spade, because then we can move forward from a shared understanding of the facts at hand.
In keeping with my prime directive of letting folks find voice, I thought it useful to repost the following entry from the Letters section of The New York Times Magazine. Last week they published a very flattering and none too rigorous piece on Glenn Beck, resident brigand pied piper of the willfully ignorant and delusional Right-wing in America. I often wonder who buys into his charade. After reading this letter, I have a better sense of who they are.
Question: should we pity this woman? Or should we (in the spirit of Noam Chomsky's suggestion) try to understand what is driving the adulation by the foot soldiers of the Right for figures such as Beck, Savage, Limbaugh, Palin, Angle, O'Donnell and other such false populists? Stated differently, is "their" pain "our" pain?
I do so badly want to pathologize the supporters of this new/old conservative populism and 21st century Know-nothing John Bircherism. But I can't bring myself to do it, for I do not know if folks such as Helga Olsson are to be pitied or feared.
Leibovich’s snide reporting of Beck as a human being, much less the country’s favorite television sage, is true New York Times muckraking, solid antitruth rhetoric par excellence. It made me sick to read such belligerence. But then Leibovich shows his own colors, seeming to relish his repetitive observations of the many times Beck has cried on TV or said something provocatively unfavorable to left-wingers. The constant smear of this kind of verbiage did not work on those of us who admire him and are everyday listeners. I am grateful for Beck’s teachings, which are also borne out by the truth of his scholarship, as well as his fears, that under the current administration we are entering a politically bankrupt “transformative” period in our country, identical to what I and other former East Germans experienced when Communism reared its ugly head there. Some of us overcame many odds to escape to America and are incensed that now we are about to taste that ugly kind of brainwashing, big government, lies and misrepresentations once again, here on our new home soil. Those of us who know the truth can identify with Beck’s teachings. We are going down the blind path to the loss of our individual freedoms, forced to hand over our hard-earned savings to make others richer, seeing corruption on the largest scale we can imagine, all under the name of “redistribution of wealth.” Nowhere in the world has this awful method ever worked. Nowhere. And you make fun of the message-bearer?