The Politics of Hate|
a recent summer evening, with the scent of lavender in the air from a
nearby neighbor’s farm, a dinner party was held at a West Linn country
home for the wife of the Vice President of the United States. Oregon was
at its summer-weather best, and the evening should have epitomized Western
hospitality and political and intellectual enthusiasm.
neighbors across the long driveway held their own dinner party, if that’s
the appropriate term. Which is questionable, because the sole reason for
that get-together was to irritate and offend the wife of the Vice President
of the United States, and the other neighbors who came to meet her.
posted along the driveway ranted anti-Bush slogans, including comments
that Bush’s family values were not their family values.
by the ugly behavior, neighbors on all sides were caught in the middle
of a nasty neighborhood fight. Feelings were hurt and permanent damage
done to once-cordial neighborhood relations. Oh, and later there was also
a smaller sign posted under the nasty banner along the driveway. It commented
on the “values” of people who purposely attack their neighbors
and disrespect the wife of our nation’s vice president.
politics, particularly negative politics, have reached a crescendo this
year with the Democrats’ anti-Bush rantings. What can only be described
as hatred of the president is epidemic—so much so that party strategists
have begun urgent inside efforts to tone down the ugly tone of party faithful.
It’s working only moderately at the national level, and not well
at all here in Oregon, where the irrational politics of hatred have whipped
the left into a frenzy.
difficult to drive down Northwest streets without facing the butt-end
of a left-leaning automobile with an unpleasant hate-Bush slogan. The
drivers of the cars, who no doubt fancy themselves to be enlightened,
caring, tolerant liberals, nonetheless find obvious delight in spreading
messages of hate, disrespect and intolerance of their neighbors on the road.
left’s political tactics in this election have turned personal,
taking on a quasi-religious fanaticism in tone. And as the tone becomes
more personal, politics invades our personal spaces.
who once entertained us in hushed theaters now harangue us with their
personal political opinions whenever they get a microphone. Who can relax
and enjoy a movie when Alec Baldwin’s sneering face on the screen
calls up reminders of his offensive rants? TV stars we used to laugh with
in the privacy of our living rooms
now spout scripts with bitter partisan dialogue and left-wing policy speeches.
Now come reports of golfers with political stickers affixed to their golf
bags. Is nothing sacred? Or there’s the case of the bicycle group
with dueling stickers on their fenders, turning a recreational outing
into a personal political battle. Car bumpers, once reserved for positive
campaign stickers, now routinely display vulgar, negative political messages.
And this season brought the mother of all negative political ads, Michael
Moore’s anti-Bush propaganda film. The media, usually hypercritical
of negative attacks, gave a pass to this one. After criticizing Bush for
using 9/11 images in a positive ad, the media was silent about Moore’s
use of 9/11 images and titles in his feature film-length negative ad.
Here in Oregon the mean-spirited, petty personal jabs take many forms.
Cong. Greg Walden recalls when the City of Portland (Mayor Vera Katz)
tried to bill him for having the Speaker of the U.S. House here for an
event. “It really sends an interesting message about the welcome
mat … you think there is a trap door under it. This was just over
“Those things are the cheap shot political jabs that get a days
worth of press and rile up the base but really make it difficult to get
meaningful work done.”
In the ’60s and ’70s public dissent was conducted in the same
way the nation saw itself, through large gestures: huge protests against
the Vietnam War or segregation were dramatic demonstrations, not petty
personal invective. Though vehement, even violent, protests aimed outward
at government, and were usually carried out in public squares or government
buildings. Our presidents during that turbulent time, Kennedy, Johnson,
Nixon, Ford, Carter, may not have been great leaders, but the nation itself
was “big” in spirit. Neighbor to neighbor, tolerance and civility
to the flower children of the ’60s? That same generation is nearly
unrecognizable in today’s adults. Whatever happened to peace, love
it best serves their own campaign, we can all hope that Democrats’
recent pleas to their constituents to tone down the hate speech are heeded.
For everyone’s sake, liberals need to chill out.