The way I see it

When Sarah Palin spoke of her affinity for the “Joe Six-packs of America,” I envisioned the millions of people who believe that an opinion expressed by besotted barflies has a better chance of validity than one presented in a doctoral thesis. Their premise is that anything beyond rudimentary knowledge overcomplicates decision-making, and that the resultant loss of clarity leads to liberalism. I heard it presented in church from the time I was in diapers. “Better to be poor all you life than go to a secular university, read the godless filth that godless professors call literature, study their godless science and their godless philosophy; and lose your soul.”

Led by conservative talk show hosts, the Joe Six-Packs are on the ascendancy. Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Medved, Lars Larson, and Michael Savage, are well known to me because I used to listen to them for hours each day. I quit because, despite their appeal (commercial talk radio is based on personality; public talk radio on issues) and their entertaining theatrics, there was no attempt at fairness. Their tactic was to trash the enemy, no matter how blatant the illogic or skewed the facts. If you believe your listeners are morons, there’s no need to make sense; and the fact that such talk show hosts are immensely popular implies that their assessment of their audience is largely correct. NPR at least tries to represent all sides, giving them time to answer questions, and prohibiting them from talking over one another.

Yesterday, I heard the leader of the Christian Coalition, and, as with a great many conservatives nowadays, I felt embarrassed for him. If there is any intelligence or integrity on the part of the most vocal segment of the right, I’m unaware of it. They seem to believe that democracy is great as long as they win, but if they don’t win, all bets are off. Then it’s time to “take back America,” and this would appear to leave room for pretty much anything—except working for the common good. Other than hysteria, I don’t know what the right has going for it. Unfortunately, hysteria seems to be serving it well, and that is a hard lesson to swallow.


After I wrote the above, I visited a blog in which the owner was bemoaning the lack of compassion on the part of those who oppose health care reform. One reader wrote that she was among them, whereupon there was unleashed against her the most vituperative torrent of abuse I have ever seen on any blog. Another reader and I spoke against it, thinking that, surely, others would join us. They did not. In fact, they joined in the name-calling, ending any possibility of a rational discussion. Even though the dissenter gave up after being called a parrot and a hate-filled bitch, one reader complimented the forum on its openness to opposing viewpoints—after all, no one had been physically beaten.

Experience has taught me that it is a rare day when either side to a debate has a monopoly on righteousness, yet how much sadder is that lesson when the worse cruelty is inflicted by those who claim to be on the side of compassion? Islam calls itself a religion of peace, yet how many people will be murdered today amid screams of Allahu Akbar? The second tenet of Christianity is to love your neighbor as yourself, yet how many millions of their neighbors have Christians killed, tortured, or ostracized? So would it be, I fear, with “compassionate liberals” if they had the power. The worst atrocities are always inflicted by those who think their side represents everything good and the other side everything evil.

Where my species is concerned; no enlightenment is possible, and no lasting good can ever come. For every gain there is a loss, and we extol the Gandhis and the Kings loudest when they are dead and can no longer threaten our smugness. Our lives are so very, very short that I should think we could do better. Perhaps, we are still too evolutionarily primitive. Perhaps, the truly compassionate are but aberrations. I cannot think it otherwise, and I despair.

33 comments:

rhymeswithplague said...

Except for the "evolutionarily" part, I agree with you, oh, and the part about despairing.

It has always amazed and saddened me that many of those who believe they are bathed in tolerance are themselves so very intolerant of dissenting opinion.

Keep up the good work, Bro. Snowbrush. You done good.

rhymeswithplague said...

I hasten to add that Christ died for all of us, regardless of what some of us may think of others.

Marion said...

I hear you, Snow and I don't know the answer to America's health care mess. I haven't had insurance or any health care to speak of in over two years, so I'm on the side of anyone who can come up with some sort of sensible plan...'sensible' being the key word. And I swear I'm not trying to change the subject, but:

I'm royally PISSED off that Marvel Comics sold out to Disney for 4 billion bucks today. What happened to the concept of a monopoly being against the law. Will Disney, indeed, rule the world as the illustrious columnist and author Carl Hiaasen purports in his enlightening 1998 book, "Team Rodent : How Disney Devours the World"? It just don't seem right. Love & Blessings, dear Snow-man!!!

Snowbrush said...

Rhymes: "Keep up the good work, Bro. Snowbrush. You done good."

Why thank you, Brother Rhymes. I had to laugh at being called Brother, not because I am not honored, but because I grew up in the Church of Christ where everyone--including the preacher--was called Brother Such-and-Such or Sister So-and-So; I have not been referred to with that nomenclature for many a year.

Marion: "I haven't had insurance or any health care to speak of in over two years"

Oh, that scares me. I often think about what a bad shape I would be in if not for Peggy's insurance. I've no doubt but what my care has cost over $30,000 this year and more than that last year.

Marion: "I'm royally PISSED off that Marvel Comics sold out to Disney"

Me too, and I also wondered if any anti-trust laws had been broken. Apparently not.

Putz said...

this comment is to rhymes with bob {first two comments} i get embarassed by what i write....my wife gets embarassed by what i write...i shouldn't be opening my big mouth and the very last blog[LEFT ON THE TOP OF MY BLOG] i am embarassed by and if it weren't for loren christie i would have deleted it long ago and i do feel sorry they[MY DELETED BLOGS] ARE ALL GONE].the reason snowbird that you should let my comment through is because i feel those conservatives also feel sorry for what they wrote...over time it all smells like garbage, mine did {comments blogs and posts}i just have to quit opening my mouth

Red said...

Jeeze, lighten up there friend. You're being mighty hard on yourself--and our sorry species. Everyone knows 'those other guys' are always wrong, and preacher says we're going to hell in a hand basket. So, Amen and ain't it a shame. Whatever...

Do you play cards? Ever try solitaire without a full deck. Now, that can be really frustrating. There are a lot of cousins out there playing without a 'full deck' and that is really confusing. Agitating. Downright dangerous.

Why don't you just ease up there a bit and try another deck. One with a Wild Card.

It's a downright aberration. You never know when it's gonna' pop up and change the game... Cheer up there. Shuffle again; the game's far from over...

nollyposh said...

"i pray and do meditation. But not religion. That's close to organized crime" -Robin Williams
... i tend to agree X;-)

Rikkij said...

Snowbrush- I agree with much you say and understand what you mean to convey. the problem is, by even doing a post like this, one becomes the very thing you're railing against, just from a different view. It is putting forth what can only be an agenda for wayward sheep to hopefully fall in to. We all have a leaning and can't help but want others to at least validate it with a nod.
I am in no way knocking your piece or taking issue with it. Just seeing that anything beyond quiet living must be done from a podium no matter how we disguise it with disclaimers. Curious. A real catch-22. ~rick

C Woods said...

If everyone would just concede that NO ONE is in possession of the whole truth, all the answers, or the exact right answer, that no one is 100% right, that we all have something to learn from each other, that it is sometimes better to be happy than right, to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, to imagine why someone disagrees with us, if we all agreed to disagree without being disagreeable, we might just learn to get along and even get something done.

The Blog Fodder said...

Very well written. I agree totally and when the Joe SixPacks "take back America" anyone with an education, anyone who can think (or as Pol Pot did, even anyone with glasses) will be sent to the newest version of Bergen-Belsen. We are dangerous because we are not easily led and we do not easily swallow the party line.

Your last paragraph is a tough one. Maybe you are right. I hope not.

Ananji said...

Hi Snow,

You know, a couple of weeks ago I almost posted a diatribe about health care reform on my blog, but I decided to wait until after my personal crisis is resolved. (My son--the kidney transplant recipient--lost his health insurance a couple of months ago because he turned 19. His immuno-suppressant and other pharmaceuticals exceed $3,000/month. We're in a jam here, and there's nothing we can do about it but wait.)

Anyway, it IS disheartening (and tragic) that the American media seems to feed off of division--whether this issue is health care or wars abroad. I often consider the way the issues are presented to the public these days and wonder who or what entity is responsible for degrading the "news" to the point it is now... two sides on opposite channels (or publications) instead of unbiased reporting on all.

My pessimistic view is that North America is filled with gluttons who crave shallow dog fights over civilized discussion. My optimististic view is that when we self-destruct from the addiction to controversy, we'll come out on the side of logic and start anew.

If my southern Baptist uncle where here, he'd now refer us to the Book of Revelations...

But I'd just say, let's read of little of Plato and see what he has to say about society's waxing and waning intellect.

Let's hope that for all the ways in which society has devolved, there are a few hopeful signs that individuals are growing and finding their voices. Maybe that's why blogs were invented, who knows.

ananji

Gaston Studio said...

Like you, I listen to NPR, when I can receive it without huge amounts of static, that is.

Too bad that blog you mentioned had someone speaking so vehemently about a health care reform. I know we need one, but I'm still fence sitting about exactly what we need... but then, no one has asked for my vote on the subject.

I read somewhere recently that "democracy only works with another democracy" and immediately thought of the countries we (the USA) are trying to turn into democracies; makes me think our government should consider this.

I think I need more coffee this a.m.! Bit of rambling there.

CreekHiker said...

Funny but I seem to remember plenty of people calling for the taking back of America when Republicans were in power.

I don't give a shit who is in charge but I do wish we could elect someone capable of watching the purse strings!

Snowbrush said...

Putz: "i get embarassed by what i write..."

Some say that I SHOULD be embarrassed by what I write, but I find that I, at least, can live with it if I don't publish it for a few days after I write it. That gives me time to be sure I mean it.

Red: "Cheer up there. Shuffle again; the game's far from over..."

Red, I enjoyed your delightful analogy. Despite what I just wrote to Putz, my writing doesn't necessarily reflect what I feel ALL the time. I have days when I even come fearfully close to taking a positive view.

Nollyposh: "i pray and do meditation. But not religion. That's close to organized crime" -Robin Williams

I once thought that, the more heads, the clearer the thinking, and this can be true, but it can also happen that a lot of people working together can come up with an extraordinary degree of craziness simply because they reinforce one another in believing they're making sense. When you expand this possibility to include a whole religion (or a whole society), the outcome can be tragic.

Rikkij: "by even doing a post like this, one becomes the very thing you're railing against,"

I gave this a lot of thought before I posted the entry. IS there any difference in me generalizing about an entire radio audience versus the readers of the bog I referred to calling someone names? I decided that there is. I consider the latter an attack ad hominem in that it completely ignored the woman's arguments. By pointing out that the illogic of certain emotionally charged radio programs would primarily win approval among people whose opinions are, with regrettable frequency, arrived at on the basis of emotion rather than logic, I was, I believe, taking a defensible--and even a necessary--position. I might have used a word other than "morons," of course because that word implied that they were incapable of doing better, and I don't actually know if that is the case. I will give this some more thought. Thank you.

Snowbrush said...

C Woods: "If everyone would just concede that NO ONE is in possession of the whole truth...we might just learn to get along and even get something done."

What a radical notion! You'd better watch you back if you go around talking like that very much.

The Blog Fodder: "...even anyone with glasses...will be sent to the newest version of Bergen-Belsen.

I don't know enough history to know how often it is true that revolutionaries perceive intellectuals to be their greatest threat, but it certainly would appear to be the case much of the time. Yet, revolutions are often started by intellectuals who are sympathy with the lower classes

Ananji: "Anyway, it IS disheartening (and tragic) that the American media seems to feed off of division"

Well, there is PBS and NPR. I'm open to criticism of the job they do, yet I believe they make a sincere effort to rise above prurient human interest reporting and into the realm of what's really important. Even so, most issues are so complex and multi-faceted that a good bit more research is needed to really be informed, and I don't consider myself to be informed enough to talk intelligently about most issues.

Gaston Studio: "I listen to NPR, when I can receive it without huge amounts of static"

I'm sorry to hear this, Jane. I'm lucky enough to get three NPR stations.

CreekHIker: "I seem to remember plenty of people calling for the taking back of America when Republicans were in power."

I'm sure the sentiment was there, but what's scary for me now is the effort to make dialogue impossible whether through interrupting town hall meetings or deliberately spreading misinformation. My inbox sees a steady stream of the most bizarre lies that are being forwarded around by conservatives, and I am unaware of their liberal equivalent. Here is my favorite fact checker site: http://www.truthorfiction.com/

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I am a Christian person who is vastly ashamed of the so-called "Christian right". It has been said before, but I can only agree that the "Christian Right" is neither.

Snowbrush said...

Pamela Terry and Edward: "I am a Christian person who is vastly ashamed of the so-called "Christian right".

Christians are all over the board about politics. The church I grew up in--the Church of Christ--taught that politics were "of the world," and that Christians should avoid them. I think that most churches probably avoid politics, if only because taking sides would create dissension. The problem with such an approach is that it makes the church seem irrelevant to the real world.

Pat - Arkansas said...

An excellent post, Snowbrush.

I shall leave it at that, as I have been known to get on a pretty tall soap box about several issues, some of which were mentioned in your post and in the comments.

Chrisy said...

You've expressed so eloquently my feelings in this regard Snow. Let's hope that this species is evolutionarily primitive...at least that would give some hope for future generations...but am afraid it will be a loooooonnnng time comin!

gaelikaa said...

Most people just wear their religion like an ID card and care little for it's tenets and teaching. Politics is one subject that can elicit the most emotional responses from people. Strangely, religion is another such subject!

Marion said...

Super post! But I feel such sadness at your last sentence..."Perhaps, the truly compassionate are but aberrations. I cannot think it otherwise, and I despair. "

Don't give up. The World IS changing; thinking is becoming broader all over. Not as quickly as I might like, but then I remember how the turtle won the race...

julie mitchell said...

I am compassionate….and would like to believe that I can be in a mob mentality situation and not become part of the mob. But I do understand the anger of pro-medical care for all group. I have family and friends with no healthcare and I wonder how that can be in a nation like ours. I wonder why we have such a poor rating when it comes to infant mortality. I listen to the folks who have insurance rant about the government deciding who gets new parts and who doesn’t….and I’m puzzled because they must know that it is the insurers who decide that now….and that indeed they hire people to find reasons not to provide the very healthcare we think we‘re insured for….
I’ve heard such remarks as, ‘if everyone has healthcare the lines will be too long’ and ‘we don’t have enough doctors to treat everyone’.
That mentality of ‘I have mine’….is distressing….and a feeling the uninsured are somehow less than… This fight for health care has come up several times in America’s history. At one time the drs. were on board and but now it’s a club of 3.…insurance agencies, drs. and the pharmaceuticals. A tough group with loads of money to convince the American people that health care for all is somehow a bad thing.

There was a small group of people gathered yesterday in Fresno to ask Congressmen Costa to take health care reform back to Washington….and there was a bigger group formed of anti-health care reform folks…and the latter group was crazy with anger….literally spitting as they spoke against spending their tax dollars on health care for immigrants, illegals, the young and old. What is always the most interesting to me is so many of those who are protesting the loudest are those who are most at risk of losing coverage…Joe 6 Pack. …but he’s not alone…I have a wealthy relative…she and her husband have the best health care money can provide and she sent me an email stating that she, ‘hopes something happens to President Obama…he’s like Hitler’….I was stunned....she who is a woman of intelligence has been getting all her info from Fox news and Rush Limbaugh.
FYI...Free Speech Radio is great for actually getting to the facts.

Another email that arrived in my box this morning has a link to help explain the real bills being debated http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfmted.
Thanks Snow for opening this topic…
Hope you’re out of pain…

swan said...

Keep writing your truth!

kj said...

i am now two posts behind. poor me: i am laboring through the transition from a lovely sandfilled summer. but snowbrush, i will come, i will read, and i will comment.

emily says it's my fault you haven't visited her. she is close to throwing frozen peas.

xoxo

Snowbrush said...

Pat-Arkansas: "I have been known to get on a pretty tall soap box"

Oh, no, Pat, not you--say it isn't so!

Chrisy: "Let's hope that this species is evolutionarily primitive...at least that would give some hope for future generations..."

I hope you are right, although I must admit that such a thought never occurred to me as I assumed we probably wouldn't HAVE many more generations. The more of us there are and the more technologically advanced we become, the greater our capacity for destruction.

gaelikka: "Politics is one subject that can elicit the most emotional responses... Strangely, religion is another such subject!"

gaelikka, as my mother warned me as a child, polite people avoid talking about (a) religion and (b) politics--or maybe it was (a) politics and (b) religion.

Marion: "The World IS changing; thinking is becoming broader all over."

Oh, my, my, an optimist has snuck into our midst--ha. I hope you are right, Marion.

Julie: "FYI...Free Speech Radio is great for actually getting to the facts."

I had to look this up. Their homepage is at: http://www.fsrn.org/. They're not on here much that I can find, but I will keep looking.

Thanks for the healthcare link too--I will look it up as well. I agree with all your points.

Swan :"Keep writing your truth!"

Thank you, Swan.

KJ: "i will come, i will read, and i will comment... emily is close to throwing frozen peas."

I'll bet you're just saying that so Emily won't hit you with frozen peas. Tell her I miss her, but when a love between a man and a rabbit gets as big as ours, the man sometimes needs a little space.

Nora Johnson said...

Your great post begins with a reference to Sarah Palin & her affinity to the "Joe-Six-Packs of America". Well, if the father of her grandson is to be believed, Sarah Palin isn't just the vice-presidential candidate who lost and the Governor who quit. She's also the parent who doesn’t do parenting — an allegation as political as it’s personal.
According to Levi Johnston, Mrs Palin was the supermom who didn’t cook, the hockey mom who almost never attended her son’s hockey matches and the fearless outdoorswoman who had never touched a fishing rod and didn’t know what sort of gun lay in the box under her bed!
This latest bit of spite (and sour grapes?) - just published in Vanity Fair - into the Palin saga isn’t likely to damage whatever political ambitions she may still harbour but it's the first to deny the existence of those very core personal qualities that so endeared her to much of the Republican base last Fall!

Exhausted, or bored, by her gubernatorial duties, Mrs Palin would return home most days by 5pm to take long baths and watch home improvement shows on TV, Mr Johnston claims!

Wonder what the J-S-Packs of America will make of it all?!

And, oh yes, don't get me started on health care reform!

Lola:)

JOE TODD said...

As usual Snow a great post. I used to listen/watch to above mentioned people but no longer do. As far as I am concerned health care in America is a mess. The entire insurance industry is supported by the health care industry and that in my opinion is why health care is so expensive. Three words in my opinion define "insurance" Deny,Delay and Defend. Religion no comment Spirituality yes. If you would like to read a few left leaning articles check out "The Rag Blog" http://theragblog.blogspot.com/ At this point in my life I really don't care to much about right left or sideways. After all 2012 is almost here and some say that will be the end of the world.

julie mitchell said...

Hi Snow..
I just can't help myself...if someone shows the least bit of interest in alternative news sources I have to help them find it...
I listen to www.KPFA.org ..only a few times a week though, otherwise it is all too overwhelming. It takes a bit of listening to if your used to the brief sound bites on commercial tv and radio...they delve. Especially interesting right now is their coverage of what is going on in Honduras
I think all of the programing I listen to can be heard online and Democracy Now can also be found on tv ....no gorgeous anchor people here.
http://www.democracynow.org/
http://radiotime.com/program/p_51769/Guns_and_Butter.aspx
http://www.kpfa.org/behindthenews
http://www.kpfa.org/counterspin
http://www.kpfa.org/againstthegrain

I'll totally understand if you want to check some of these out before posting them to your blog...or maybe not post them at all...
happy day to you...julie

Renee said...

Soulbrush this is an outstanding post.

Thank you.

Love Renee xoxo

Just_because_today said...

I could go on an another debate here but you have said it all and I can only add that I agree with you.

I still hope though that one day...maybe one day...

Rob-bear said...

Lots to think about, Snow.

I remember a bumper sticker I saw years ago: "The Moral Majority is Neither." (That's how long ago!) I've never understood American "Christianity." Seems something like quasi-fascism with a veneer of quasi-Christian doctrine.

I don't have any idea how you're going to solve your health care dilemma. In Canada, we have done a couple of things.

1. Included everyone. That's basic economics -- spreads the risk across the widest possible base. When everyone pays (in some form -- through taxes up here), the cost per person is averaged out over the widest base, keeping individual costs down. I pay taxes up here, but my total tax bill is less than what many Americans are paying for their private health care. I kind you not.

Of course, that brings up the Christian notion of caring for others. The thing I've noticed about the opponents of public health are is their utter selfishness -- pure and simple.

2. Let government do it. We've repeatedly had studies done up here that show government-organized care is less expensive to administer and keeps money in the system. Think of how much money is taken away from patient care in the U.S. by corporate profits, huge CEO salaries, and incessant lobbying/buying of politicians. You'll get the idea.

Snowbrush said...

Nora Johnson: "Your great post begins with a reference to Sarah Palin..."

Nora, I think Sarah Palin might be jockeying for a nomination for president. I sincerely hope she succeeds. It would be like shooting ducks in a barrel to beat her.

Joe Todd: "2012 is almost here and some say that will be the end of the world."

Well, THAT would certainly eliminate a lot of problems huh, Joe?

Julie Mitchell: "if someone shows the least bit of interest in alternative news sources I have to help them find it..."

Julie, thank you so much for the additional links.

Rob-bear: "I''ve never understood American "Christianity." Seems something like quasi-fascism..."

Rob-bear, thank you for the information about Canadian health care.

You over generalize, my friend, about American Christianity due, perhaps, to the fact that it is the fascist variety that gets so much of the attention...well, that and the Catholics and their pedophilia scandals, and the Episcopalians (Anglicans all) and their never-ending controversies over gay priests, gay weddings, prayer book revisions, and so forth.

Rob-bear said...

Except that I don't think it's American Christianity which tends to be fascist. If you ever wonder how Hitler came to power, take a careful look at what's happening to health care reform in the U.S. -- particularly the reaction to the government's plans.