Monday, 17 August 2009

I disagree with you, you Nazi.

“God” speed to m’colleague who has traversed the oceans to prepare his next message to you fine people. He is in the Land of the Free in order to carefully prepare his second, much-anticipated musing on the nature of moral relativism. As well he might, because something is afoot over there. Yes, thanks to the inauguration of a (relatively) liberal Democrat president, it’s crazy right-wing morning again in America.

I refer mainly to the current desire on the part of some in the media to liken Mr Obama and his healthcare policies to that of the vilest dictator who ever lived. Classy.

Civility in political discourse makes me happy. I like it when people disagree, but are pleasant, engaging, friendly and informative while doing so. God knows, m’colleague and I don’t agree on everything (the things I could tell you about his voting record) and yet by our arguing, debating and discussing I know I am far better informed, and far more sure of my own arguments than I would otherwise be.

It is perfectly proper, and indeed comforting, that the right wing, including the Republican Party, opposes what President Obama is trying to achieve with his healthcare reform. It is expected also that the GOPs allies in the media including Fox News and Rush Limbaugh should support them and oppose Obama. It is not expected, or acceptable, for them to liken the President’s desire to stop millions of Americans being uninsured as fascist or Nazi-like.

Do I really need to point out that German Nazis murdered 3 million people in extermination camps and that Mr Obama is seeking to save people’s lives? Do I really?

By virtue of the name-calling and virtual hair-pulling it seems to me that the Right have certainly conceded the high ground and the argument too. Godwin’s Law is not always applicable (sometimes a Nazi analogy is apt) but it is in this case. If you invoke Hitler, you better have a bloody good reason.

All of this characteristic blather is to say that we should be nice to each other in our political discourse. It is likely that no political discussion in the US will be as important or fundamental over the next four years as this, and it is the duty of those with a mouthpiece to enlighten, to educate and to inform.

Civility, in other words, is almost a duty of the media.

It is time to name names. Joe Scarborough is an MSNBC morning anchor and a conservative opposed to the President’s agenda. His discussions, though, are lively, interesting and useful to the American public. He brings people in who agree with him and who disagree and he has spoken out (on Twitter in particular) again these vicious attacks, while pointing out the substantive reasons for his opposition. I bet my TV buddy, Tucker Carlson, would do the same if he were still anchoring. And the wonderful liberal Rachael Maddow uses her platform to bring to light the President’s aims and to broadly support them, while pointing out the deficiencies in the Right’s position. (Caveat: Maddow is utterly and completely wrong on Afghanistan -- a subject for another time)

Sometimes, anger and hatred can be entertaining, and occasionally useful for example the Galloway vs Hitchens debate on Iraq. But more often than not it creates more heat than light and is actually off-putting for those of us with a desire to learn, debate and discuss. Let’s have more of that please, folks.

By the way, we are not opposed to a bit of blog-based hatred, so if you want to shout abuse at us in the comments (I’m looking at you, “Dave Fishwick”) please feel free!


Sadie Smith said...

Who's Dave Fishwick?

Anonymous said...

God Save Barney Frank


mr fishwick said...

No complaints from me on this one old boy, I heartily agree!