Insults and innuendoes are counterproductive
Is it not possible for writers on the left to express themselves other than in the language of hate when speaking about Republicans and members of the tea party (sometimes but not always synonymous)? A recent example is syndicated columnist Stanley Crouch’s Jan. 13 column in the Aspen Daily News, in which he refers to “professional right-wing liars like Dick Armey of Freedom Works and the Fox News crew,” accuses Ronald Reagan of duplicity and ends by conflating Fox News with slavery and the deaths of 600,000 Americans in the Civil War, just to cite a few items of note in the article.
Or take one of our locally based columnists, who in the Aspen Daily News in describing a bigot shouting racial slurs after this year’s Fourth of July parade, mused that he didn’t know “if the fellow was a Tea Bagger or a Republican” but probably “not a fellow Democrat,” implying of course that members of the tea party and Republicans are racists.
Or to bring this to the personal, Joe Nocera, a prominent left-wing columnist in The New York Times, recently devoted two columns on the Times op-ed page to my husband, who has done a lot of work on the causes of the financial crisis. To get a flavor of Nocera’s attack, his second column (which was more of the same set out in his first) was headlined “The Big Lie” – referring to my husband’s work – in case his readers didn’t get the point of what Nocera already had written.
Accusations of lies and racism inflame the public discourse and should have no room in political debate. It’s kind of like road rage, when drivers feel empowered to shout epithets at fellow drivers because they don’t know them and because they can say what they want without fear of repercussion. More seriously, it is often a substitute for facts and analysis and drowns out rational discussion among people of good will.
Frieda K. Wallison
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