Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Misdirected Outrage

Bob Herbert of the New York Times made the same points in today’s column as I made in yesterday’s post, though Mr. Herbert was far more eloquent. He also raised an interesting point I wish I had thought of:

It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

For years now we’ve listened to people hurl insults at Muslims in general because of terrorist attacks. The justification has always been that reasonable Muslims don’t speak out enough about the terrorists in their midst, and are therefore somehow culpable themselves.

Same rules apply. If you’re a conservative, Republican, or tea partier of good conscience, where’s your outrage? Where were you when John Lewis was spat upon and called names you’ll swear never pass your lips? Where were you when Barney Frank had to walk the gauntlet over the weekend? Based on conservative Republican principles, silence is approval; if you’re not calling them out, you must agree with them. Instead, Republican “leaders” stand on the Capitol balcony and encourage more of the same, even indulge it themselves on the floor of the House.

The lack of civility in public discourse is breathtaking and alarming, and the bulk of the blame belongs to conservatives and Republicans. It wasn’t Pat Leahy who said, “go fuck yourself” to Dick Cheney; it was Cheney speaking to Leahy. (And don’t even mention what Joe Biden said to Obama yesterday as being in the same league. A personal comment inadvertently caught by an open microphone is nothing like shouting it across the floor of the Senate.) Racial and gay slurs. Spit. Demeaning the sick. Allegedly good Christians calling the president the anti-Christ.

Where’s your sense of outrage, Republicans? Conservatives? If you’re good with this, then keep quiet. Just don’t complain about being tarred with the same brush. Anyone who takes even vicarious pride in these actions has no shame.

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