I’ve been in a political mood lately, mostly because I’m laid off and get bored with just sending out resumes all day long that I’ve started downloading episodes of Real Time with Bill Maher and The Daily Show and watching online clips from Fox News, Meet the Press, CNN, and blah blah blah.
One interesting thing I heard on last night’s Real Time was a discussion regarding the Rand Paul supporter to stomped on the head of a protester who had just been pushed to the ground. Here’s the video:
Bill Maher said the following: nevermind. I was going to put an exact quote in here but there was too much back and forth between Bill and the guests to really put together a quick quote that summed up his point neatly. Basically Bill had the opinion that violent behavior like that is something that only the Right does and that liberals don’t do it. The two conservative guests adamantly deny this point and say that it happens on both sides, and to their credit are able to give one example of the Democrat congressman… or Senator, I don’t know which, who pushed a college kid when the kid was asking him some questions I think while walking down the street.
At first while watching this discussion I wanted to think that both sides have extremes and that it’s equally bad and blah blah blah. The more I think about it though, the more I start to reject the idea that things are equally bad on both sides. I think the idea that things are equally bad on each side is a better way of thinking than people who just think one side is just plain wrong/bad/evil/etc.., but it’s not very realistic. After all, how often are things every truly equal and opposing at the same time.
Now that I’ve given the subject some thought I’ve come to this conclusion. Yes there are probably people on both sides that are so extreme and so emotionally charged that they give in to violence, but that the messages being delivered by some of the people on the far right are much more inflammatory than those on the far left. If I’m being really honest, I’d have to say that even entities on the right that aren’t considered extreme (like Hanity, O’Reily, Limbaugh) are partially responsible for this atmosphere of fear and anger by using phrases that are made to elicit an emotional response. Saying that one side is taking away your freedom, or subverting the constitution, or destroying america, if literal and true would be rallying cries used during violent revolutions. I don’t think any of those things are literal or true and that most people can understand the hyperbole inherent in comments like those. But, those emotional extremes on both sides are the ones who don’t understand the hyperbolic nature of the statements and take them literally. That is why you see more violence (not that i’m saying there is a lot) on the right because those impressionable few are listening to talking points of a much more angry and sinister nature.
I hate using analogies for complicated issues since they often paint in too broad of strokes and over simplify situations, (I also hate using terms like “Far Right” but I totally did it above) but I think the following might be valid in many ways. The difference between political extremists is similar in nature to the differences between religious extremists, in particular those who say that while there are Muslim extremists there are also Christian extremists, i.e. those who bomb abortion clinics. I, hopefully like most Americans, realize that being a Muslim is in no way shape or form synonymous with being a terrorist, or even supporting terrorist acts, and that the terrorist acts that have been performed by Muslims should not reflect on the religion as a hole. You can also say the same thing for Christians being overwhelmingly non-violent and that the very few instances of violent behavior by Christians should be viewed as misguided and against the religion’s core principles.
Even thought both sides (and yes I think it’s stupid to just break things down into only two sides for everything) have extremists, I don’t think you can logically look at the two extremes and say that they are equal. The Christian extremists target abortion clinics and at their worst seek to kill a few doctors, whereas the Muslim extremists seek to kill much larger numbers of people.
Christ I hate analogies…. actually, is this even an analogy or is it something else like a metaphor, or a simile? Who cares, at least I usually use the word “literally” correctly in most situations.
I wouldn’t pretend to be smart enough to know why one extreme is more violent in this religious comparison, but I think I’ve made a pretty reasonable assumption about the level of violence in the current political climate.
Oh, and speaking of extremes and politics, today was the Rally to Restore Sanity and I thought the comment section on a FoxNews.com article regarding the rally kind of summed up …. umm something… perfectly.
I have no idea if the person who wrote the Obama = Marxist line was just being funny, just being a troll, or was being completely serious, but it still made me laugh.