In recent weeks, the public discourse in this country has
moved from simple dishonesty to mob rule, exemplified by the threatening and
hysterical frenzy created by the right-wing talk shows. This extremely disturbing development has
been orchestrated by former Congressman and Republican leader Dick Armey and
other politicians who are making millions as hired guns paid to fan the flames
of hatred, bigotry and frustration in both enthusiastic and unsuspecting pawns
in these extremist games.
The fury is stoked and blessed by an ideology that cares
little for the country and seeks to realize the dreams of Rush Limbaugh and his
ilk, i.e., to cause our President to fail.
Most of the anger, however, arises from the failure of uncontrolled
right-wing politics and so-called “free-marketeering” that has put the nation
on the brink, cost so many American jobs and created economic uncertainty.
When discourse moves from lively and colorful discussion to
shouting, threats and violence, those who seek logical and fact-based debate
and respectful dialogue intended to produce constructive and meaningful
solutions are pushed aside as decibels of disruption are raised beyond
control. How can participants in “town
hall” discussions exchange ideas when no one listens because they are too busy
shouting and insulting the speakers.
It is almost impossible to know where all this is
leading. It is important, though, to
acknowledge how the debate has moved away from what is acceptable and what
we’re accustomed to as Americans and into a world ripe with anger, fear
irrationality and violence.
There are parallels to the behavior of Bill O’Reilly
inciting violence against Dr. George Tiller.
Encouraging lunatics to commit acts of violence is itself criminal for
which people like O’Reilly should be held accountable. Without accountability, incitement simply
continues. Our President and other
leaders are hung in effigy, with swastikas smeared on signs bearing their
names, and people tote guns to meetings about health care reform with suggestions
that it is time to purge our country through revolution and blood letting. This is not democracy; this is mob rule, and
it should not be tolerated.
There is a significant distinction between healthy debate
and disruptive dissent. The issues
facing our country are too important and complex to be subjected to the fury
unleashed upon those who do not share the opinions of extremists. Many of those who are angry and frustrated
have been fed a pile of misinformation and outright lies to protect insurance
companies and anti-Obamaites who care little for developing a true and
effective fix for our state and a broken health care system. Their only goal is to inflict mortal injury on government and the Obama
administration. We can’t let that
happen. How we tone down the rhetoric and correct the lies and distortions is
no easy task, but it is one we must pursue.