When will those who are “liberals” and “progressives” (which includes me) realize that we are just as responsible as “conservatives” for the epidemic of negative and hateful communication inflicting public discourse nowadays?
Conservatives—particularly extreme-side-of-the-party folks like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich— are often criticized by progressive folks for communicating in a hateful way.
I agree any negative or hateful communications by Limbaugh and Gingrich should be open to criticism. But what is more disconcerting to me are those progressives who do not recognize when similarly negative or hateful tones inflict our own demeanor (as they easily and instinctively can) when we encounter people holding beliefs (like extreme-end-political beliefs) with which we disagree.
I should mention that I have my own body of unfortunate literature—dating back to my grade school days—where I have written things that were very negative and disparaging toward others with whom I disagreed. Heck, this post probably goes too far. So I am not putting myself on the high horse here by any means. Rather, I’m asking others to consider joining me on the big bus called work-in-progress.
It is one thing for a progressive to politely—and strongly— dispute an opposing viewpoint or policy, especially if it is important, empirically incorrect, or both. But it is quite another thing to needlessly make the disagreement personal, and question the other person’s motives or character.
And it is another thing still to completely avoid self-reflection on our own communication style, as if the fact that we are right on the merits (we think) provides a ticket to not only describe the merits, but to further elaborate in a righteous, condescending and/or hypocritical tone about why our opponent is deserving of condemnation, name-calling, and in some cases, violence.
Consider these excerpts of progressive authors’ communications, which are all from today’s (6-11-09) Huffington Post, a progressive blog:
(from a blog header by a progressive blog author): Death at the Holocaust Museum and the Degradation of the American Dialogue… There is no Environmental Protection Agency to measure hate pollution in national dialogue, and no mechanism in place to warn us when the poisonous rage spewed into the national consciousness by shock-jocks, poisonous television pundits, megachurch leaders, and oh-so-subtle politicians, has reached dangerously toxic levels. No, there is only the result: widows, orphans, collective grief, and an absolute refusal on the part of our loudest, coarsest voices to take any responsibility for their part in the carnage. Click here to read more….
(blog header by another progressive blog author): The Health Insurance Mafia Deserves a Good Screwing …
(blog header by another progressive blog author): Sexism Against Conservative Women Is Still Sexism
When progressive readers of a hugely-read and influential blog need a reminder that conservative women are just as entitled to human dignities as progressive women, it’s high time for progressives to get off our high horses real fast.
The Huffington Post, to its credit, also has a blog post today by Russell Simmons- which couldn’t be timelier- titled “Cleansing the Hatred From Within.”