Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson's War

The Decline Of Decency, Character, And Reason In Post-911 America

A recent survey, taken for whatever these polls may be worth, showed that only one-third of Americans believe that our nation faces an imminent attack by terrorists.

Unfortunately, the apparent two-thirds of Americans who think we are safe -- in our homes, on our streets, as that great bastion of democracy and freedom -- are, sadly and dangerously, wrong.

The threat from those who would not only strike fear in our hearts, but rip the very hearts out of all that these United States embodies, is real, is insidious, and is literally at the door.

Even as we blog, extremists, seized with convoluted and myopic views -- world view, national view, local view, you name it --and armed with words of hate, fear, and, yes, even the overthrow of our government, threaten the very fabric of democratic society as we know it.

Proponents of the Big Lie. Obfuscators of the truth. A formerly fringe element, now having co-opted a major political party, no longer simply somewhere "out there," to the right of right, but suddenly, bolstered by the boisterous and belligerent screams of a fourth estate heinously transformed into the fourth Reich, now at the very center of the main stream.

This isn't Al Quaeda or the Taliban, mind you, from whom we'd expect the worst. The hostilities not engineered by some diabolical mad men secreting themselves in a cave in the hills of Afghanistan. No, these weapons of mass deception are the arsenal of more subtle, but no less sinister fear-mongers, those who plot to undermine our democracy from the halls of Congress on Capitol Hill.

Not the lunatic fringe we once scoffed at and poo pooed. Not some lightweight loon from South Carolina or a former governor from Alaska whose epitaph is "I Quit". The Bainers, the Boehners, the McConnells, the Cantors, all joining forces with the Birthers, the Death Panelistas, the "you'll be forced to have an abortion" set, the "illegal immigrants will get health insurance" crowd.

Sure, they're fast to claim -- albeit entirely without basis in fact -- that health care reform will pull the plug on grandma, but for a party itself on life-support, the egregious deviation from the truth, and the reckless yet all-consuming embrace of the lunatic right, imperils more than the future of the GOP.

Mindless, callous, ill-reasoned, and destructive -- to both party and nation -- perilous, even subversive thoughts, echoed through hollow and misspoken words, egged on by the rant of ersatz journalists -- the Becks, the O'Reillys, the Hannitys -- whose mockery of a mantra is "fair and balanced."

Its not the shout out of "you lie," or even the disrespect of the office or the man, that troubles us -- and, by all reason, should worry every American.

No, our democracy thrives, actually, on dissent and debate. Although Joe Wilson's childish taunt -- the verbal equivalent of tossing his shoe at the President -- was misplaced, if not irresponsible, such assaults, and the right of every American to an occasional tantrum, demonstrate the freedom that is the very foundation of our democracy.

What is unacceptable, and worse, an impending imperilment of the very core of America's values, if not democracy as a whole, is the ceding of decency, of character, and of reason itself to the malevolence, deceit, hate-mongering, and, yes, call for revolution against the very government of the United States, that comes not from outside our borders, but, oddly enough, from within.

As we commemorate, with solemnity and reflection, the atrocities of 911, we should not yield to the outrage of those, under color of the right and righteous, whose 912 March on Washington is but an affront to the dignity of every life lost on that fateful day eight years ago.

We are all, as the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, "entitled to our own opinions." We are, however, "not entitled to our own set of facts."

As for decency, character, and reason, well, for the moment, that "kinder, gentler nation" eludes us still.

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