If you don’t know who you are, all you have to do these days is read the press or listen to the news. I’ve learned that if I believe life begins at conception, than I am an “extremist” whose views represent the “the radical Right.” And if I happen to also believe in capital punishment for murderers, than I’m worse than an “extremist,” I’m an “inconsistent extremist.”
If I question the wisdom of the Iraq War or how it is being prosecuted than I am apparently “unpatriotic.” If I disagree with Jimmy Carter, I am, at least from his point of view, a “fundamentalist” responsible for undermining the separation of church and state. If I believe the best approach to interpreting the law and the Constitution is judicial restraint and I am, therefore, uncomfortable with an activist judiciary, than I am “anti-women.” How did I become anti-women by supporting judicial restraint? Because by definition I am apparently against the “right to privacy” and therefore the now nearly-sacred “woman’s right to choose.”
If I wonder aloud about the rationale or direction of any of President Bush’s decisions, than I am “disloyal.” If I believe the universe was initiated by Intelligent Design and I question the logic of evolutionary theory, than I am a “creationist in sheep’s clothing.” If I support evolution, I’m an “atheist.” If I like faith-based initiatives I am a “religious fanatic.” If I believe women who choose to be full-time homemakers should be respected, than I am at best a “chauvinist” and at worst a “misogynist.” If I believe parents should largely be responsible for their children’s sex education I am a “Puritan.”
If words could kill we’d all be dead—so much for civilization. Loose rhetoric produces more heat than light, is a sign of poor critical thinking, and is an infection to the body politic. Conservative and Liberal, Republican and Democrat, have all been guilty of intellectually vacuous sound-bites. I’m tired of being called names and of calling others names. I yearn for the reasoned discourse of statesmen and stateswomen based upon principle.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2008
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