Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Empowering the Truth Police . . .

Former (and much-missed) WMRA staff member Randy Huwa sent me a link to the admittedly liberal Bill Maher's criticism of the Jon Stewart/Steven Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity.

Mr. Maher begins by saying ... 
If you’re going to have a rally where hundreds of thousands of people show up, you might as well go ahead and make it about something. If you really wanted to come down on the side of the sane and the reasonable, you’d side with the sane and the reasonable. And not pretend that the insanity is equally distributed between both parties. . . .
The Week Magazine, which offers commentary and analysis of the day's breaking news and current events as well as arts, had this to say about Mr. Maher's monologue :
Bill Maher took on Jon Stewart on his HBO show Friday night, attacking him for claiming during his Rally to Restore Sanity that there are extremists on both the Right and the Left. Liberals are not as "violent and cruel" as Right-wingers, Maher said, adding that a "big mistake of modern media" was the idea of "balance for balance's sake." Stewart's parallels between Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck were particularly egregious, said Maher, when "one reports facts, the other one is very close to playing with his poop."
Alex Moore, writing for Death and Taxes Magazine, also had some thoughts about what Mr. Maher had to say ...
...In any dynamic relationship, compromise only works if both parties commit equally to finding common ground. Two sides working together to find middle ground is called a win-win. One side working to compromise while the second unctuously takes advantage of the other’s readiness to compromise is called delusion. It’s a lesson President Obama illustrated handily over the last two years, as every inch of compromise he offered found him yanked yet another foot from his goals.
Maher continued, “Republicans keep staking out a position that is further and further right, and then demand Democrats meet them in the middle, which is now not the middle anymore. That’s the reason health care reform is so watered down; it’s Bob Dole’s old plan from 1994. Same thing with cap-and-trade; it was the first President Bush’s plan to deal with carbon emissions. Now the Republican plan for climate change is to claim it’s a hoax.”
Sometimes to stand on the side of not arguing is simply to have nothing worth arguing for. If progressives had always felt this impulse to equivocate, we may never have had a civil war, but the compromise would have created a deeply compromised society and country. ...Allowing conservatives to characterize Muslims as terrorists just because you don’t want anyone at the debate table to be wrong is to condone bigotry, period...
We have just been through an election which stank of well-funded mendacity. I stood daily on my Elliptical Throne at the gym, marveling at the number of political ads that contained outright lies. Why would anyone listen to this, I asked myself, let alone let it inform one's vote?

And yet, evidently, people did listen and did let these ads inform their votes.

Is Mr. Maher right in asserting that well-informed people, in their struggle to be fair, collude in the marketing of mendacity? For example, he makes the point that he doesn't care what pundits have to say about climate change, he cares about what climate scientists have to say about it; implying that anyone who treats politicians' and pundits' denial of climate change as a legitimate "side" to the argument, is not helping solve the problem.

If our current political system is increasingly fueled by ignorance and fear, how can we effectively insert accurate information and hope into it? How can we empower the Truth Police?

We cannot afford to just throw up our hands with disgust and let loose another blast of snarky comments. Blowing off verbal steam is just a scant step above lying in its uselessness.

1 comment:

  1. Maher is absolutely right here. (And I have not always agreed with him -- and by the way he's not always a liberal.) Jon Stewart himself says he doesn't claim that right and left are mirror images of each other, though. His hourlong interview by Rachel Maddow last week was excellent -- lively, drawing out contrasts in point of view but always thought-provoking and civil. An approach we need more of. -- c.e.