The story of my day on September 11, 2001, is one that I've told over and over as a way of explaining my continued optimism about humankind. I felt that the horror of the day was alleviated by my direct experience showing that intelligent thoughtful people overcame their differences.
Now here we are on September 11, 2009 and the US is starting to look more and more like the Middle East. The national evening news sounds less like Walter Cronkite and more like Al Jazeera, our own Jihadists rave about birth certificates, death panels, socialism, fascism, and all the other buzzwords of fear.
Intelligent conservatives are drowned out and tainted by association with the neocons who themselves have been too easily seduced by the insanity fringe whose core beliefs are that diversity of opinion is wrong, that government should be a theocracy but only if it is their church in charge.
What has it come to when we hear people proclaiming publicly that letting the president address schoolchildren about the importance of education is just like Lim Il Jung's control of North Korean education, when we hear (as I did a few days ago) people talking openly whether it would be better to impeach the president or just assassinate him.
I'm a great believer in free speech, but I must admit that I am taken aback by the bile, the lies, the disinformation, the viciousness, and ... frankly the traitorous language that seems to be so pervasive. I am repulsed by the smearing of lipstick on the theocratics of Rushdoony and Chaitkin (whose only perceptible positive trait is that he dislikes ex-President Bush just as much as he dislikes everybody else) in an attempt to pass their prejudices as rational approach to governance of a diverse country.
It saddens me that we seem to have fallen so far, that instead of seeing Al Qaeda as the enemy we have taken them as a model.
The good thing, though, is that this is not (despite what the neocons try to say) a "grassroots" movement. It is a well-orchestrated and vicious attack by a few nuts and the sheep that follow them.
Most of us citizens voted for one of two candidates, neither of whom had outrageous ideas or megalomanic tendencies. Far from it! The two presidential candidates in the last election agreed more than disagreed. They were both intelligent thoughtful men, and either would have been acceptable to a majority of us.
I cannot help but think that the vituperative attitude of these conservative spokespeople is a result of embarrassment at the failure of eight years of control resulting in the current mess that our country finds itself in, coupled with jealousy over the loss of power. The tools they use are language loaded with kneejerk terms that their audience knows to fear but cannot define, a delivery that asserts the absolute undeniable correctness of a single viewpoint, and (I'm sorry to say) a kind of racism disguised as political thought.
The problem, is that crazy people are far more interesting than reasonable people. A quiet intelligent discussion is always trumped by someone being hit by a chair. William F. Buckley has been replaced with the political equivalent of professional wrestling. When I (rarely) watch some of these shows on Fox News I can't help but think that the participants should be wearing tights and screaming about their upcoming cage match. In my bleaker moments I sometimes imagine that substituting "Rowdy" Roddy Piper for Bill O'Reilly and Jesse "The Body" Ventura for Sean Hannity would result in a more intelligent, reasonable and entertaining discussion.
Maybe what we need are some spokespeople for the rest of us who aren't loonies but still have a killer instinct ... but I guess it's hard to find rabid attack dogs that will protect the middle of the road.