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September 12, 2006

the other side

Yesterday, I was interviewed (briefly) on an Oklahoma radio station about youth voting. While I waited for the interview to begin, I listened to Rush Limbaugh--not my usual entertainment. Limbaugh facetiously argued that we should "celebrate" 9/11 the same way we recognize other national holidays, with fire sales, days at the beach, and shopping trips. It was actually kind of funny as a satire of materialism. Limbaugh ended by saying (in a rough paraphrase): If you don't like that idea, you should be even more angry that the left in this country always forgets about 9/11, except for once a year.

I could respond that I am on the political left and I am still grieving for my fellow human beings who were murdered on that day. Two cities that I love still bear its scars. Or I could note that I ride the Washington Metro for 90 minutes a day and fear being blown to bits by terrorists, a fate that is a lot less likely in red states.

But there's no point in responding. I mention Limbaugh's remarks only as a reminder to myself, as a proponent of deliberation, dialogue, cooperation, bipartisanship, etc. There is a conversation going on that's divisive to the point of abusive. It feels like an attack--not on my opinions--but on my fundamental identity as an American.

I generally don't like to focus on Limbaugh and his ilk, because there's a very worthwhile conversation to be had with America's many principled conservatives. Highlighting people like Limbaugh makes it easier to ignore the responsible right. Besides, there are leftists with minds as crabbed and closed as Limbaugh's. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to ignore him, because we might fool ourselves into thinking that everyone (despite their differences in values and perspectives) wants to coooperate, deliberate, and address common problems. In fact, some people--including some who have big audiences--just want to slash and burn.

September 12, 2006 9:20 PM | category: none


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