Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cross-hairs and the Crazies

In Chinese the word sha in the first tone means kill.  Sha in the third tone means idiot. I’d like to use those words in connection with political rhetoric and the actions of disturbed human beings.

A man who seems as crazy as a loon shot a Congresswoman.  Before this happened Sarah Palin had put crosshairs on the Congresswoman's district in a map.  Sarah Palin uses this phrase “don’t retreat, reload” in her missives to the American people. The tea party members love her rhetoric, but most people don’t classify them as crazy.

We live in a country today in which 24 hour news channels fill all this time with anything they can find.  Fox news is right wing. Keith Olberman screams from the left. We’ve come a long way from Walter Cronkite’s 30 minutes a night.

 More and more on our television we see absurd people are given coverage.  There was  a lot spoken about a pastor who wanted to burn the Koran, even though he had only about 10 members in his congregation. Sarah Palin, like Iago, only communicates through Facebook and Twitter, unless you count her puff reality show where she takes Kate and eight on a disastrous trip through Alaska. Just like Iago, she makes outrageous comments to her followers and doesn’t have news conferences.

If she says something that sounds like sha in the first tone, someone who is sha in the third tone will get ideas.  Since father Coughlin on the radio in the 30s, we haven’t had such a popular figure that dispenses vitriol.  (Okay, Okay, Rush Limbaugh is another) Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “you can’t cry fire in a crowded theater.” In the same way you can’t put crosshairs on a human being and expect there to be no consequences.

Some days America is scary.  For some of my former students just getting from the project to the bus was a rite of passage.  The possession of guns runs rampant in our inner cities.  There are gun nuts everywhere. Even though polls show a majority of the American people want gun control, our legislators are so frightened of being targeted (appropriate word) by the NRA that it will be impossible to ever have gun control legislation.

Knowing that there are a large number of guns out there in America, people who aspire to national leadership need to watch what they say and do. This is not the America I grew up in.  This is a country full of powder kegs waiting to be set off by someone who says the most outrageous things. As a country we are Othello, with Iago in Alaska.

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