By Brian Dann
I think most people get it. I really do. It comes down to this. Be nice to each other. It’s that simple. We all just need to be nicer to each other. We can disagree. We can be angry. We can be passionate about this issue or that issue. We can be grateful as I am that President Obama is now our President, or we can even be disgusted by the thought for whatever reasons we have, whether it is the fact that he is a democrat and you are a republican, or even if it is because you are a racist and the President is black, but in the process, in our discourse, we can be respectful to each other, but what we can’t do is be so mean spirited that it fuels a culture of hate so venomous that it is both scary and appalling all at the same time. But before I go on, I want to try something. First, clear your head of any thoughts you may be having at this very moment, I’ll wait… Now that you have done that, I want you to think of President Barack Obama, bowling, wearing nothing but his under wear. Take a minute if you need to, to really picture that in your head. Get a really good image of President Obama bowling in his boxers or briefs, whatever you choose. Good, now that you have that mental image floating around in your brain, forget it. Erase it completely from your head. Do not think of President Obama, bowling, in his underwear. You can’t do it, can you? No matter how hard you try you are now imagining President Obama bowling, wearing nothing but his underwear. It’s out there, I said it, and now you can’t forget it. You see, the reason why you can’t get that image out of your head, even though I told you to erase it from your mind, is because, quite simply, words have consequences. This consequence may be very small. I used words and the consequence is an image you can’t get out of your head. But words can also lead to consequences that aren’t small, that are big, very, very big.
Now don’t get me wrong here. I am in no way insinuating that the hateful tone of our discourse or any individual’s rhetoric was in any way shape or form directly responsible for the shooting that happened in Arizona like some have tried to do. In fact I will go so far as to say that I do not believe for a second that Jared Loughner, the gunman who shot Gabrielle Giffords, was influenced by anyone other than his own deranged mental illness, not even Sarah Palin as many have also attempted to link to this. Jared Loughner is a mad man who was determined that day to reek as much death and destruction as he could and only a miracle and maybe stricter gun control laws could have stopped him. But regardless of Jared Loughner’s actions and the tragedy that occurred in Arizona the fact remains that since Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President, the tone of our discourse has been nothing short of appalling, disgraceful, disrespectful, hateful, and at times plain racist. I knew that when Barack Obama became the Democratic Candidate that this would be a major test for our nation. It would be a test to show who we really are as people. It would be a test to find out just how far we have come in this country or how far we have not. It would be a test to show our true colors. I fully expected we would see the ugly head of racism show itself in ways we expected and did not expect. But for some reason I never thought the hateful rhetoric and racism would last for so long and at times be so blatant. For some reason with this President, the critical rhetoric has much more venom, much more of a tone of deny and destroy everything that this President stands for, and do it at any cost.
The truth is, this is not an article I wanted to write because I didn’t want to finger point and say that it is their fault. I’m certain that there is hateful rhetoric coming from both sides, the problem is that I can only find evidence of this rhetoric from one side. Two separate incidences occurred that made ignoring this rhetoric impossible. The first was a statement this past Thursday by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum while being interviewed by the CNS News. While speaking about President Obama’s stance on abortion, Santorum said,” is that human life a person under the constitution?... And Barack Obama says no. Well if that human life is not a person then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say 'now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people.” Just in case you missed it, what exactly does Barack Obama, being a black man, have anything to do with his ability to form a stance on abortion or on any issue for that matter? Exactly what issues is a black man qualified to form an opinion on Mr. Santorum? Oh, I don’t know maybe basketball, or the right water melon to eat, or maybe the best place to learn tap dancing. Rick Santorum may have well said “you people.” This is a clearly racist remark, directed directly at our President, from a former U.S. Senator. And this is exactly the type of hateful rhetoric that we have been hearing from all over this country from both government officials and private citizens alike when speaking about our President. The truth is the dirty little secret about this country, that thousands of people will never admit to, is that thousands did not vote for Barack Obama for no other reason than he is a black man. There are thousands who may have rationalized not voting for President Obama one way or another, and did not want to even admit it to themselves that the bottom line was they did not vote for our President because he is black, but deep down inside at the core of their reasoning, the reason was racism. There is a reason why at tea party rallies, and even at mainstream republican rallies, the participants are always overwhelmingly Caucasian. And it is at these rallies that we see the most hateful signs and t-shirts that I can ever remember at a political function short of a KKK rally. Signs depicting our president as Hitler, or the Joker, signs spewing lies about death panels, or messages that the President hates America, that he wants to turn us into a socialist nation, these are just a sample of what has to stop, if for no other reason than it is just not true, it is lies and it is tearing this country apart. We all need to take a step back. We need our leaders on both sides to send a clear message to their constituents that we need to be truthful about our discourse and respectful to each other. The Republican have the house and they have an opportunity to now set the example, but instead the first thing they do is put thru a piece of legislation called the bill to repeal the “Job-Killing Health Care Law Act”. My god, set the tone from the beginning. This was wrong on at least two levels. First there is no concrete evidence that the Health Care Reform act kills any jobs and to use such language in the name of the bill itself is simply petty and childish. Be respectful and truthful. Call it what it is, a bill to repeal the health care reform act, and nothing more. The second level is that coming from a group that spent the last two years complaining that the Democrats were not doing enough to create jobs and spent too much time reforming health care, why was anytime at all spent on a bill that had no hope of ever being signed into law, to repeal health care? What about jobs? What about getting down to business on something that was not a total waste a time, just to make a point. This wasted time, money and showed a complete lack of respect to the political process.
Now I could go on and on about inappropriate statements from various legislators regarding taking up arms, taking them out, and I could write an entire book on Sarah Palin and her endless string of inappropriate comments, but quite honestly, she is too stupid to know right from wrong so what’s the point. And let me say, that comment directed directly at Sarah Palin is neither hateful, nor inappropriate because it is true and accurate. She had an opportunity to say to the world that even if she did not intend for those “surveyor marks” or “cross hairs” to us simple folk, to come across the way they did, she understands that in retrospect it offended many, may have been inappropriate, and may have sent the wrong message to the country. But instead she presented herself as the victim and blamed the press, and the left. Sure, Sarah Palin and all the others out there who said hateful things are not responsible for the shootings in Arizona, but never the less the negative tone, and the heights that it has reached has done nothing to calm those that need just one spark, one reason to do something crazy. We need to stop the lies about the state of our healthcare system, the lies about Wall Street, and we need to face the realities that maybe there are actually radical changes that need to be made in this country, and that maybe we are not perfect and that while we consider ourselves to be the greatest nation on this earth, maybe we are not as great as we used to be. We are no longer number one in education. We are no longer number one economically. We are no longer number one in manufacturing and for a long time, the only thing that we have been number one in is waging war. In that we are the best, and that is the one thing around the world that we are known for. We need to become the nation we once were, the nation that invented things, that produced things, that truly was the greatest at everything we set our mind to, and until we can stop the climate of hate and division that this country has become accustomed to, we will never be that great superpower ever again. We all want the same thing and the only way to get there is to do one thing, be nice to each other. It’s that simple. Get it?