Monday, December 08, 2008
Name calling in America, especially in the political arena, has reached epidemic proportions. Discussion, debate and differences aired in a reasonable tone today are as rare as the spotted owl. If anyone espouses a view that others disagree with, name calling is often the immediate response by the person holding the opposing view. While our political leaders should be setting an example of civil discourse, they seem to be among the first to sink to schoolyard tactics, avoiding any possibility of compromise, and reducing themselves to name calling bullies.
No matter what side you might take on any issue, there is no shortage of people who will immediately label you with a demeaning moniker, meant to identify you as some type of fanatic whose views should be discounted out of hand. This knee jerk reaction to any statement made with which you may disagree has reduced many of our fellow Americans to be identified as either “US” or “THEM’.
I certainly have views on many subjects, some of which may be viewed by many as controversial. Fine, I can accept that many people of principal will disagree with my positions. But while I am always willing to listen to opposing views, I rarely hear any rational arguments refuting my positions. Rather, I am inundated with a variety of invectives; defaming my intelligence, sources, upbringing, heredity, ethics or humanity.
I thought I would take a more proactive stance in this matter, and just admit to being a bigot, at least by the standards ascribed by a number of people and organizations. In fact, I believe I qualify as more than just a plain old run of the mill bigot, since I hold politically incorrect views on a wide variety of issues. So that there is no doubt, I have decided to list some of these views, and ascribe the appropriate label. However, I will not use obscenity, sexual proclivities, bathroom functions or other descriptive phrases that should not be used in front of my wife or children.
Like Dr. King, I believe people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. It is this belief that causes me to take the position that affirmative action was indeed appropriate at one time, to allow minorities time to catch up in those areas where equal opportunity did not exist. However, institutional racism has been legally exorcised from America, and even individual racism has been reduced to the level of social unacceptability. I believe affirmative action, practiced as raced based hiring and promotion, and educational preference based on race are neither needed nor fair. In many circles, this opinion qualifies me as racist.
I firmly believe that the Jewish people deserve a homeland, in the historic land in which they first became a nation. As such, they deserve the support of all fair minded people. That they have achieved this, and created the only fully functional democracy in that part of the world, should foster admiration and respect by all. This particular belief will cause me to be considered a Zionist (which the United Nations defines as racism), racist Nazi, genocide enabler and a host less dignified or printable descriptions.
I agree with the statement by a prominent Muslim scholar that while most Muslims are not terrorists, most terrorists are Muslim. While the majority of Muslims do not participate in acts of terror, nor engage in hostile actions against others, it is also indisputable that 15 of the major 18 areas of conflict in the world involve Muslims, primarily engaged in actions against non-Muslims. For this opinion, I am labeled an Islamophobe, a racist and a hate monger.
I believe that the United States is the noblest nation on earth. We are by far the most generous, easily outdistancing every other nation in personal per capita donations to charity and relief efforts, while also supporting our government in sending aid to those in need in amounts far exceeding any other nation. We are the only nation to have fought two wars to end slavery. (Those of you who are bereft of any knowledge of history will have to figure that one out on your own.) We have historically been generous to those we have defeated in war, and steadfast in our efforts to aid allies in need, both with our blood and treasure. We are one of only a handful of nations that understands the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are personal freedoms granted by God to all mankind, and that governments are instituted for the express purpose of allowing these rights to flourish. For this opinion, I am labeled a nationalist, xenophobe, and some names that cannot be repeated.
I believe that I am an American. I have a heritage that goes back to Ireland and Germany, but I am neither an Irish-American nor a German-American, as I was born in the United States, to parents who were citizens. I was raised and remain a Catholic, but am not a Catholic-American. If you were born a German citizen, and later became a United States citizen, then you can refer to yourself as a German-American if you choose. But if you are a native born citizen, you are an unhyphenated American. Frankly, I find the use of hyphens to determine your status to be divisive, and contrary to an American culture that seeks to create a homogenous population with a shared history and common societal ethics. For this view, I have been called a bigot, racist, anti-diversity, and culturally deficient.
I could go on, but I think these five points will illustrate my basic core values. As an American, I have the right to hold these views freely, and express them in any manner I choose, so long as I don’t interfere with the rights of others to express their views. Those with other views can certainly dispute and debate these issues with me, and I gladly do so. However, when a conversation devolves into name calling, my participation in the debate ends. Frankly, those who resort to labeling and name calling bore me, as the use of invectives is generally a response used when a rational counterpoint does not exist.
I would have mentioned my positions on gun ownership, same sex marriage, abortion, illegal immigration and a host of other issues, but the response would simply be more of the same, with little or no imagination used to refute my positions. I do find myself slightly bemused by the inability of those with opposing opinions to offer intelligent responses, but I guess my father was even more perceptive than I thought, when he told me “Those who use obscenities and name calling do so because they lack the intelligence to express themselves in any other manner.”