Sunday, June 7, 2009

Extremists Make Your Side Look Bad

I have a confession to make. I am one of two or three liberals in my family. I am the daughter of a dyed-in-the-wool, proud to claim it, far right wing, fundamentalist who thinks George W. Bush was one of our greatest presidents. She's been depressed ever since Sept. 2008, when it started looking pretty clear that Barak Obama was going to win the presidency. Sometimes she scares me, and sometimes she makes me want to pull my hair out. Her only news source is Fox, and she would rather die than believe that Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly would ever lie. Sometimes she can take a joke about it, and sometimes she can't.

This week we went to her house for dinner, and it was one of those times when she couldn't. She and my dad had changed their cable company, and they were having some trouble with some of the channels. I teased her that it was the company that was the problem, it was a sign that she should stop watching Fox. Her face turned red, and she started carrying on about how none of the other channels talked about the murder of an army recruiter in Arkansas by a Muslim extremist. I thought to say, though I didn't because at 52, I'm still scared of my mother, "How do you know they didn't, you only watch Fox?" But I went home and looked into it, and of course, she was not correct. Not only that, but Rachel Maddow, on MSNBC did a long story about it that night.

So the next day we spoke on the phone and I mentioned this, and she suggested it was only because Bill O'Reilly was on their case that MSNBC mentioned it.

Now, many years ago, and both due to the health of the mother, there were some abortions in our family. She supported them. But now she says that even though murder is always wrong, Dr. Tiller should have been charged with murder for all the babies he's killed. I had to suck hard to get a breath, and remind her that what he did was legal.

Later this week came the story of the Utah man "on a mission to kill the president." And Newt Gingrich claiming we are "surrounded by pagans." Then he and Huckaby bleating loudly about gay rights and abortion. I feel like a tiny snow ball rolling down a high, snow covered mountain, growing bigger and going faster and faster and faster.

I have never seen the like of insanity going on in this country as I have since President Obama was elected. I remember getting to a point where I couldn't stand to see George W.'s face on TV, and many people I know felt the same way. But we never threatened to kill him, or made encouraging noises about anyone who said they wanted to. So this is all bizarre to me. First, I've never seen such sore losers. I mean, really! But all this hatred and venom is just weird to an extreme that I can't figure out.

But more than anything, it is not based on anything that can be explained to me. I've even asked one conservative who said she is sick of seeing Obama on TV to tell me specifically what he has done wrong, and she just couldn't tell me anything concrete. Nor can anyone who calls him a communist, or a terrorist. They have nothing but fear and smear to use, and they didn't even give him a chance to mess up yet. I've asked some to explain what he has done that is socialist, they mention the banks, though that started under Bush. I ask if they've ever heard him mention Marx as a favorite author, or has he said that he believes socialism has worked well in any society he's observed, they can't.

The truth is, they've got nothing. NOTHING.

I remember when a certain super-liberal website opened up and seemed to compare the Bush administration to Nazis. I thought then, even though I agreed with many of their positions, that such rhetoric would only serve to make the left look too negatively extremist. And I now say the same thing to the far right. Disagree with the president, it's ok. Dislike him if you wish, that's ok too. But stop the crazy talk. It makes you look bad, and him look even better. If you can't think of anything rational to say, don't say anything. If you can't support an argument with anything but fear and smear words, wait until you can make a real case. When you say crazy things, it often makes the other side look more rational and then you lose.