Class Warfare Poses the Real Threat to Civil Discourse
To agree and not agree. That is the issue before us today, with the subject being Pilot Editor Steve Bouser’s Wednesday column, “Shoptalk: Scary Words From a Reader.”
In it, Mr. Bouser laments that some of our parents apparently haven’t taught us how to be civil in discourse, and it has gotten to the point where some Pilot readers are unwilling to see their letters in print for fear of unidentified retaliation by other readers.
When Mr. Bouser wished to print a certain reader’s letter, he was emailed this response: “Please do not publish my letter. I ask this out of deference to my wife, who finds the political environment very upsetting and threatening. In recent weeks, I have received two harsh messages that very much upset her, and she worries about a physical backlash.”
If true, this part of the column is where we all can agree. Threats of violence against others’ opinions is wrong. It is the rest of the column, an implication that Republicans (let’s add conservatives) are responsible for these threats, that is problematic.
Our threatened reader, in an email to Mr. Bouser, says about another reader’s published letter in The Pilot, “Where do these people get their information and ideas? I am reminded of an op-ed piece in The New York Times by Thomas Friedman, who wrote, ‘I think America’s broad center understands very clearly that the country is in trouble and the Republican Party has gone nuts.’”
If anyone thinks Friedman is part of “America’s broad center,” then Rush Limbaugh must be a centrist too. Not credible. And if Republicans are so nuts, then you have to ask why current polling data, which includes centrist opinion, has the two GOP front-runners either tied or beating Obama in 2012.
No, here we go again. Like the days closely following the Arizona shooting, when the cause was blamed on Republicans’ angry warfare-type political rhetoric, the left now has Republicans responsible for increasing threats of violence toward progressive liberals.
I’ve been a follower of The Pilot’s website and contributing commenter to the point that my wife has threatened me with divorce. And I can say with confidence that the level of rudeness, even threatening rudeness, is a well-traveled two-way street. Should anyone care to check the veracity of this, they need only surf through The Pilot’s archived website discussions, paying special attention to our liberal Democrats’ abuse of the tea party.
For conservatives’ part in this distasteful dialogue, many are angry right now. There’s no doubt about that. President Obama, after three years of ineffectual and huge government, has essentially left America in financial ruins.
He promised the moon in Keynesian stimulus spending and has nothing to show for it but a lackluster economy, high unemployment, and a ludicrous health care monstrosity hanging over our heads that the Congressional Budget Office has said will cost us another $2 trillion.
But when conservatives protest, or voice disagreement with Obama and the progressive left, they are called racists, Nazis, haters, wingnuts, gun-toting Christian radicals, right-wing fanatics, tea-baggers, fringe conspiracy theorists, closed-minded. What exactly does the left expect would result from this type of taunting rhetoric?
Here’s the really scary part, though. This unfortunate situation is going to get worse before it gets better. The Obama administration, closely allied and supportive of the OWS movement, is playing a very dangerous game of class warfare.
You cannot redefine a nation of people in a country like ours, where freedom means the opportunity through hard work to achieve unlimited wealth, into something where that wealth is now seen as oppressive and unfair to those, who for whatever reason, don’t become wealthy.
History is clear about this. When segments of free and capitalist societies ally with the state to identify the successful as “bad,” and the not successful as “good,” and the property of the successful must then be confiscated, either by punitive taxation or the state assuming corporate control, and that wealth is then redistributed to the unsuccessful, there is going to be trouble.
In the volatile political environment this scene sets, civil discourse is going to become elusive. From all sides, we hope that cooler heads prevail.
Geoff Cutler is owner of Cutler Tree LLC in Southern Pines and is a regular contributor to The Pilot and PineStraw magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.
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