Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Name-calling is the name of the game"

Another nice column from Michael O'Neal in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News. His take on Moscow's name-calling liberals is just as applicable to Pullman's ones:
I have to confess to a bad case of Ed Iverson envy. Iverson, don’t you know, is a Daily News columnist who’s been known to express views that are, shall we say, a wee skosh to the right of center. He could take a stand on which “Gilligan’s Island” babe is hotter, Ginger or Mary Ann (not that he ever would, being religious and all, and probably a Republican to boot), and the community’s usual bilious suspects would dash to their keyboards to churn out letters to the editor, like cuttlefish squirting ink, telling him why he’s a scoundrel. And that’s what I envy, the spirited responses to his columns. But then, I’m not affiliated with Christ Church or New St. Andrews — or Naylor Farms or Wal-Mart for that matter — so nobody pays attention to anything I write.


Prompting these reflections is a recent letter to the editor (“Columnist spreads prejudice,” Sept. 14) that was particularly disturbing. A Moscow physician, taking issue with an Iverson column, compared Christ Church and its affiliates to a “cancer” that has to be cut away from the “breast” of Moscow.

Oops, wait, sorry, my notes got mixed up. That’s what the little Austrian corporal-cum-chancellor said about Jews in the 1930s—that they were a cancer that had to be cut away from the breast of Mother Germany. Here, I found it. The Moscow letter writer offered this prescription for the local body politic: “Maybe if we all boycott the businesses downtown that support Christ Church we can help. Sometimes if you deny a cancer it’s [sic] blood supply, it goes away.” Did I mention that the guy is a doctor?

In other words, it’s not enough to question and debate, to challenge assumptions and offer opposing viewpoints. A better alternative is to drive off those who think differently by denying them a living in the community — the same line of thinking that led to Kristallnacht in 1938.

Perhaps the boycott would be easier if the city required these suspect businesses to identify themselves. That way, the righteous could bristle by on their way to BookPeople and the Co-op, or to virtuously fill their hempen bags with organics at the Farmers Market.

But this is the world we live in, where crazy is the price of the ride. It’s a world in which a television studio audience applauds when college dropout Rosie O’Donnell — I don’t know about you, but I always turn to Rosie when I’m feeling the need for in-depth social and political analysis — proclaims that Christians are a greater threat to peace than Islamic fundamentalists — though last I checked, Christians aren’t strapping explosives to their chests and indiscriminately killing others. It’s a world where radical Islam can call for the destruction of anyone whose views don’t comport with their own, but when the pope quotes a 14th-century emperor’s observations about Islam’s affection for the sword, his remarks are met with “outrage” and “fury” from the Islamic world, calls for his death, and demands for an apology. (I don’t know whether to laugh or cry every time Islam gets itself “outraged” — no news there — and I’m still waiting for an apology for 9/11.) Or when a rodeo-drunk Mel Gibson spouts nonsense, he’s rightly vilified nine ways from Sunday, but when sober civil-rights icon Andrew Young makes bigoted remarks about Jews, Koreans, and Arabs, he merits a Washington Post article (Aug. 27) entitled “In Defense of Andrew Young.” It’s a world, we’re told, where “lies, deception, immorality, corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses” (Political Affairs, May 10, 2006) are perpetrated not by some despotic third-world regime but by the Coca-Cola Company. Golly, who knew?

My spousal life-companion tells me that Iverson gets all the attention because my columns are so persuasive, so solidly constructed on a foundation of reason, that they represent the last word on any subject I tackle. She believes this, bless her heart, only because she’s positively besotted with me (as I am with her), but I know better.

Vitriolic name-calling is the name of the game. So here goes: Ed Iverson, you’re a hornswoggling scallywag, a flannel-mouthed gospel shark, a four-flushing muleskinner, a shave-tailed reprobate, and a fistulous-withered varmint. And a coot.

Worse, you’d probably pick Mary Ann.

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