Saturday, April 24, 2010

Might Makes Right

Living in a mostly rural area, we frequently see (and sometimes hear) nature at work, as larger and stronger wildlife (eagles, hawks, coyotes) prey on the smaller and weaker. Thank God that civilization has enabled us to substitute the force of ideas for the force of, well, force.

Or has it?

The New York Times recently ran a piece ("Jon Stewart's Punching Bag, Fox News") describing how the Daily Show is fact checking Fox News and calling them out for hypocrisy, inciting violence, and other offenses. The Times piece was a cautious treatment of the subject, recognizing that Fox doesn't always get its facts straight but not acknowledging the deliberate distortion, misrepresentation, and manipulation of their audience that characterize their programming.

This brought to mind the hand-wringing that went on after Scott Brown won the Senate seat in Massachusetts that had been held by Teddy Kennedy. Drama aside, the general conclusion was that the Democrats were toast because they no longer had a filibuster-proof majority - they had been reduced to merely holding the White House and large majorities in both houses of Congress. Hence, they would be completely ineffective going forward.

The consternation (or glee, depending on which side you're on) was due to a simultaneous high degree of faith in the solidity of Republicans and their willingness to do whatever they had to to advance their agenda (or at least hold back the Democrats) and a complete lack of faith in the Democrats' ability to stand up to the Republicans. Apparently, 41 well organized Republicans outnumber 59 poorly organized Democrats.

Or is it really their relative levels of organization that matters?

Back to the Times article. I wondered why the Times wouldn't go the extra step of pointing out how emphatically correct Jon Stewart is in his criticisms of Fox News. I wondered why congressional Democrats are accurately perceived as being so cautious. And why the Obama administration has been equally cautious in reversing Bush administration policies, abolishing Don't Ask Don't Tell, and aggressively pursuing a progressive agenda.

I suspect that I know the answer. Republicans have guns.

Seriously, when did a liberal every blow up a Federal building? When did a liberal kill a doctor out of a sense of moral and religious self-righteousness? When Bush was in office and trying to take the county back to the Dark Ages, did liberals go off into the woods, form militias, and threaten armed rebellion? Did liberals ever tell a Republican president that he was lying during a State of the Union address? Have liberals ever showed up to rallies for a Republican president carrying guns? And have liberals ever incited violence against elected officials for passing legislation they disagreed with?

People often call Democrats "pussies" for not standing up to Republican bullies. I'd prefer to characterize them as civilized. While liberals try to advance their causes within the frameworks of law, Republicans are resorting to force and the threat of it. And in inciting this behavior, Fox News is the chief obstacle to civilized, law-abiding debate in this country. In this sense, they violate everything that America supposedly stands for.

So why is it that a Comedy Central comedian hosting a fake news show is the only public figure in the country to take them on?