On rare occasions, I will put up a post that touches on politics – sometimes, directly regarding political issues; other times, what political situations can teach us about something even broader.
This post is one of the latter.
I saw on the Facebook wall of one of my friends (yes, I consider him a friend, though we are polar opposites in political leanings!) this statement, cheered on by various comments from others: Didn’t we already learn the Texas Republican Governor lesson? (referring to the imminent entry of Gov. Rick Perry into the presidential race).
I called him out by adding a comment (maybe with a bit of edge to it, I’ll admit!):
I was excoriated by someone else in the thread in the following fashion:
I thought the reply was pretty funny, actually, but it really missed the point I was trying to make – which is that generalizing is bigotry, and it doesn’t simply happen in one direction (and, by the way, I was not maintaining that “the left does all the demonizing” – it’s just that I think liberal acts of demonization are somehow viewed as acceptable among many media and political elitists. How else can we explain the NY Times getting away with repeatedly categorizing tea party folks as terrorists?)
Anyway, let’s use a little basic logic on the original Facebook post, and see where it takes us.
Assumption/opinion – Republican George W Bush, former TX governor and U.S. President, was a colossal disaster.
Fact – Rick Perry is a Republican, a TX governor, and now is running for U.S. President.
Implied conclusion – Perry as President must therefore be another disaster.
Now, many would take issue with the assumption/opinion, but even if one agrees with it – what right does anyone have to generalize that Rick Perry, who is a different individual, should therefore be dismissed out of hand and assumed to be a bad choice? Is it OK to demonize conservatives from middle America – especially Texas (or heaven forbid, Alaska!)?
Note that nothing is stated about Rick Perry’s qualifications, principles, stances, character, or track record, no logical rebuttal is made. He’s just another Republican Texas Governor. Guilt by association.
That’s what I consider a cheap shot. But there are principles much larger at stake, and let’s expand the discussion beyond what this particular person may or may not feel. Everything below is meant to ask questions, broadly, to any who would identify themselves as political “progressives.”
Now, why do I think it’s hypocrisy? Here’s why: what if the original poster had, instead, put this in his Facebook status: Didn’t we already learn the black Democratic Illinois politician lesson? Now what would be the reaction? Think about it. What does your gut tell you?
In a bigoted fashion, that would be dismissing someone via guilt by association. Just throw the race card in there and what happens? Now the knives come out about generalizing!
As for me, I’d vote for an African-American, or Indian, or Hispanic, or half-Chinese, or 3/4 Filipino, or Caucasian woman for president in a heartbeat, no matter what state they came from – as long as I agreed with their principles, witnessed their proven character, and saw a track record of competence that led me to believe they could govern successfully at that level. I would be an ardent Obama supporter if I believed all of that was in place (I never did believe it was).
So, let’s talk about character. Let’s talk about track record. Let’s talk about principles. But to casually flip off people via guilt-by-association cheap shots, or because of what part of the country they’re from? To oppose individuals because of, perhaps, a lingering case of Bush Derangement Syndrome? To regularly call mainstream, productive, patriotic Americans extreme? How is that commendable?
What’s next – demonizing experienced leaders because they’re attractive women, or religious, or from a blue-collar background? Why, that could construed as misogyny. And xenophobia. And bigotry…such behavior would certainly be more regressive than “progressive,” don’t you think?
It’s a free country. Believe what you want, say what you want. But if you think you’re justified calling huge swaths of American citizens bigots, nutcases, racists, and terrorists, because they differ politically from you – take a look in the mirror and see if you like what’s staring back.
Because ultimately, this is not at all about one person’s feelings toward or convictions about Rick Perry or George Bush. It’s about a toxic atmosphere of disrespect. And it doesn’t go in just one direction.
btw – I’m not from Texas or Alaska. I don’t know who I’m going to vote for in the upcoming election – but it will be based on the three main qualifiers mentioned. Any attempt to generalize me into a certain sub-group and thereby make numerous gratuitous assumptions will likely fail to be accurate. And if you choose to respond – reason, logic, and principle are appreciated. Stupid and abusive sound bytes are not.
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