People complain that our leaders in Washington can’t seem to get along well enough to get much done, but the real problem is what their rhetoric does to the rest of us.
At a recent school meeting, one teacher was put on the spot and accused of promoting a liberal agenda during a discussion of whether the school should aid in deporting children who had been brought into the country illegally. In the contentious atmosphere, the teacher shot back that the local tea party leader was a NAZI.
Rather than discuss and debate the merits of deporting illegal immigrants, which is an issue with legitimate concerns on all sides, a label was thrown out that the teacher was being “liberal.” If it wasn’t for those in Washington and on television constantly framing one side of the debate as the “liberal” one, the teacher could only have been accused of being “wrong.” In fact, I still don't truly know what this teacher's concerns were. His position may not be that different from that of Rick Perry or Mike Huckabee, both of which have expressed concern for punishing the children of illegals for the crimes of their parents. Chances are, the teacher didn’t view his beliefs as either conservative or liberal, but merely “right.” That the left is often engaged in propaganda didn’t help the teacher’s case any, making the others in the room quick to believe the worst and imply that this is what the teacher was doing.
Firing back, the teacher equated his opposition as NAZIs, something ridiculously untrue, but still repeated so often that many have come to believe it. This is what rhetoric does: it gives us biases and cheap labels so we are quick to assume the worst of our opponents instead of giving them time to better explain their true leanings. This distracts us from the pressing issues at hand.
Now, the story of this incident is out and people are already taking sides. Some notes left to this link illustrate what I mean:
“I am sorry but Nazi and Fascist are the terms that were used to Describe the politics of the extreme right, Nazi was used rather than Fascist in Germany because they were the Nationalist Party ie Nazi and Mussolini's part was purely a Fascist party. Enough of the history lesson. Let's face the way that the TEA PARTY has described themselves. 1. They are Far Right wing politicians 2. They describe themselves as Nationalists. Now do you read the similarities??? So yes that teacher would have been perfectly correct in calling the Tea Party member a NAZI! I would have describe the tea party member as a treasonous fascist because of their actions are tantamount to treason. Their statements alone have been treasonous. They have put their own agenda before the good of the United States of America and they show pure fascist tendencies!”
“Typical Liberal Nazì: Liberals tell us what kind of light bulbs to buy, what kinds of cars to drive, they want to ban private schools, ban gun ownwership, tell us what kind of food to eat, they use crony capitalism, they want to dictate our health care, dictate our business, they want to even control the internet. Let me say it nice and slow: LIBERALS ARE NAZìS”
Instead of seeing this as a local dispute between just a few people that most of us have never met, people with an axe to grind take this as yet one more example of the ongoing dispute between the national (or even global) forces of liberalism and conservatism. This type of mindset needlessly divides us when we see our neighbors as smaller parts of a greater evil, rather than as individuals that just happen to be wrong about one issue. Would Morgan Freeman have said this if he hadn’t heard it first from others that the Tea Parties were racist? Somehow I don’t think it would have occurred to him. If you must listen to the rhetoric of politicians, take it with a grain of salt (and a lot of critical thinking).
Watch the unedited version of the video here.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.