Posts Tagged ‘Senator Joe McCarthy’

Chris Matthews and Chris Wallace earn Reinhold Niebuhr award for eviscerating Senate candidates of their own persuasion

October 18, 2010

Chris Matthews and Chris Wallace each earned a (mythical) Reinhold Niebuhr award* for bringing good temper and integrity into the political fight. The highest level of political ethics is to call out members of one’s own party, or people whose politics you’re in general sympathy with. We expect to see MSNBC commentators like Matthews ripping Republicans, just as we expect to see Fox News commentators like Wallace ripping Dems. Ho hum, no surprise there, and no contribution to the integrity of the political fight.

But when California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina came on Fox News Sunday Wallace grilled her about her plan to close California’s huge budget gap, finally exposing her as an empty suit. And when Kentucky Democratic Senate Candidate Jack Conway came on Chris Matthews’ Hardball show, Matthews grilled him about his campaign ad questioning his opponent’s Christianity, exposing Conway’s ad as baseless and scurrilous.

Our civic society is being ripped by the bitter antagonism between left and right, the worst since the bad old days of Senator Joe McCarthy, red hunts, and leftish defenses of Soviet spies. It’s made worse by the ease of getting all one’s news from a kind of “Daily Me,” an assortment of media that reflect only one’s own bias. Fox News Sunday and MSNBC’s Hardball took a step away from the cartoonish view of them as mouthpieces for liberalism and conservatism. The two Chris’s interviews are in the highest traditions of Niebuhr’s goal of a healthy society.

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*Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote, ‘The temper of and integrity with which the political fight is waged is more important for the health of our society than the outcome of any issue or campaign.”

 

The mosque, the imam, 9/11, and six degrees of separation

July 22, 2010

I feel for Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who has devoted his life to building bridges between Islam and the West, and is now leading the effort to build a mosque in New York 2-1/2 blocks from Ground Zero. When I was nine years old I learned to defend myself against bullies who beat me up because I had killed Christ. I didn’t know what the accusation meant, but I knew I was being picked on because I was Jewish, and I’d better learn to fight off these guys.

Most of the opposition to the mosque is because Imam Rauf killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. Or if he didn’t personally do it, his people (“they”) did it. Just as everybody is connected within six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon, all Muslims are connected within six degrees to some terrorist. Or to someone who gave money to a charity that gave money to terrorists. Or who has a cousin who once said that Hamas had a point.

In the 1950s Senator Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee tarred innocents with guilt by association. Today’s haters don’t even need association to make their accusations, they just need something within six degrees of separation.

Thursday’s New York Times has a good analysis by Robert Wright of the accusations against Imam Rauf, (more…)


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