| As a rule, I don’t wander into the world of political commentary unless I am forced to do so. There are many other writers and news analysts who have chosen that beat. My overarching goal is to bring a smile to your face or to discover something that will bring a new perspective to an old subject….or to just plain entertain you.
However, my back is to the wall. Gone are the double entendres; the funny lines; the references to times of joy in our lives. This time I am serious…dead serious.
Once upon a time we celebrated our differences without being mean. We learned from our diversity without being prejudiced. We used the media as a means of sharing information without using it as a sneak attack venue. We ran for public office as a way to serve the people rather than to destroy our opponents. We viewed our political system as an organized format to include differing philosophies and to do so in good faith…. not to tear down any belief that ran contrary to our own.
What happened? The continuing rant about the location of a cultural center in New York City is not the cause. Virtually every religious group in our country has some type of “cultural center” for sports, studying, performing, bowling. I think even the Southern Baptists have bowling alleys and the like! But this Muslim cultural center in New York City is merely a symptom of the cause of this ugly moment in our history. Why are we doing unto others the very unspeakable things that we would not want done unto ourselves?
Freedom of religion? That seems pretty straightforward. Freedom of speech? A fundamental right. And all the other freedoms we take so much for granted? Do they apply to only one group and not to all?
I understand the use of “terrorist” and the threat to security as defined by our leaders. I understand that “freedom of speech” thing but NOT when it is loosely applied to lies, half-truths, innuendos or twisted rhetoric. But this is not anything new. It seems we blew the lid off our adherence to our country’s stated goals when there was a confluence of events: the shock of 9/11; the realization that such an attack could take place within our boundaries; and our unrelenting insistence on placing blame on anyone who seemed a likely suspect regardless of fact.
These statements merely imply that our pattern became to blame the likely suspects immediately regardless of facts. And if the facts were not strong enough, make them up. This does not apply to those situations where the facts were clear and the truth was strong enough.
Now that we get our news from so many sources all day every day without let-up, it is possible for a story to take flight in one country or on one coast and within minutes it becomes “Breaking News” on every conceivable news outlet. With that speed, there clearly is not time for every fact to be checked, verified and checked again–especially if your outlet wants to be first to break that “Breaking News.”
The issue of “Mosque-gate” in New York City is a prime example of how gossip and fear-mongering can become an absolute wildfire with as many tentacles as an octopus. All that was necessary was to put “9/11,” “mosque,” “Ground Zero,” and “Muslim” in the same sentence and Willie Horton came marching home. Like yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater, it should be against the law to knowingly ignite such a flammable issue as the location of a cultural center near such a sensitive piece of New York City real estate.
It is very difficult to know what is the truth in this situation. I can handle the truth–even though Jack Nicholson (“A Few Good Men”) may not think so. It is even difficult to identify all the issues involved. However, those who want to use it as a cause celebre, are not worried about the facts. Let’s just sprinkle those incendiary words in close proximity to one another and we are off and running with yet another distraction and perpetuation of hate-mongering.
Since the facts are difficult to ferret out among all the red herrings, I am searching for a Voice of Reason. I am looking for someone who can be trusted to tell me the truth. I am looking for someone who can show me the various pros and cons of the situation based on fact and not on firebrand politics. In fact, I am not looking for a politician. I am looking for a Statesman. Is there one left? Is there one Voice of Reason who would dare lead us out of this morass? Is there one who would dare NOT use the situation for continuing to try to fool most of the people most of the time for his own benefit?
This approach to fear-mongering is seemingly based on the Karl Rove school of
” gotcha” politics. Or at least on his curriculum of “make it up gotcha” politics. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and others have learned their lessons well in this genre. Let’s stir up the populous. “The sky is falling!”
Where is that statesman? Walter Cronkite, the most trusted man in media is gone. He led us through the blackest days of the Kennedy assassination. Ronald Reagan? His “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall” speech might be applied. Could Tom Hanks handle the job? He has distinguished himself with his appreciation of the Greatest Generation. I could believe him. What about Regis? He is our trusted friend who comes into our homes every morning to chat about what is happening in our lives. What about Oprah? She could buy and sell most of those howling politicians. Heck, she could buy and sell those media outlets that are so intent on spreading disinformation. Remember when she took the lying writer to task on national television? I could believe her.
But what keeps coming back to me are the words from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address in 1933 in which he really hit the nail on the head. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” And right now there is plenty of fear to go around. Fear of those who don’t look like us…who don’t dress like us…who don’t worship as we do…who don’t talk like us…yet they choose to become citizens: “Give me your tired, your poor.”
I am searching for a Statesman, a Voice of Reason. That Statesman, those Voices of Reason must be ourselves.
Phone 940.495.2190 or 214.502.7801
P. O. Box 747
Electra, TX 76360