Sunday, January 23, 2011

Obama Slander -- commentary

“Lord who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless … and has no slander on his tongue.” Psalms 15

Though I am no fan of our President’s policies and political thinking, I find myself in need of defending him against the ad hominem attacks he suffers from many pundits. I am a frequent listener of talk radio and on a trip to Arizona over the holidays, I listened to a “host talker” express his hatred of the President and his wife on the basis that they hated America, an often stated sentiment of conservative talk show hosts.

His basis for saying this was Obama’s left wing policies and the various times he has apologized to world leaders over various past actions of our country. He hated Michele on the basis of her comment that the nomination of her husband was the first time she was proud to be an American.

It is a big step with no logical connection between these reasons and saying the President and First Lady hate America. Even as it angered me when the left would launch ad hominem attacks on President Bush, I don’t like it when the right does it to Obama.

Such comments show a lack of any attempt to understand what is behind what is being said, and they tend to shut down discourse. First, let me consider the issues related to the President.

Though I do not agree with his political views and think if he gets his way, it will drastically alter our country in ways I won’t like, his views deserve rational discussion without name calling or without impugning his motives as hatred of America. He obviously doesn’t like things the way they are, but because one wants to change things does not mean that one hates his country. Does it mean I hate my church or my school because I want to enact changes?

I suspect many of us in our college years went through a period of sophomore socialism. Some, like Obama, never out grew it. There is an old saying that this year’s conservative is last year’s liberal who got mugged by reality. Part of that reality involves honest discussion about political thought, not name calling.

As to the apologizing, if the President truly believes our nation wronged others, he has an obligation to apologize if he is an honest man. Mature people can disagree as to whether a particular thing was a wrong committed, but to apologize for the country is not an indication one hates it. As a teacher, when I truly believed I had wronged a student, I found it necessary to apologize and do it publically if I had wronged him publically. I can think of more than one occasion when a mature, honest teacher should have apologized to me and it might have had a positive impact if he had.

As to the First Lady, I believe those who interpret her statement that her husband’s nomination was the first time she was proud to be an American as hatred for the country, have absolutely no empathy for where she comes from.

In understanding this comment, I suggest we change the paradigm. Let’s say that European Christians were first brought to this country as slaves. For a century or more they worked as slaves and were finally given their freedom. However, laws were passed that would keep them oppressed and second class citizens for another century. In time, too much time, the laws which institutionalized their oppression were struck down and they began to experience equality. Finally, one of them rose to the highest position of power in the land, and you are a descendant. You might be inclined to say “for the first time in my life I’m proud to be an American.” Would that imply that until then you had hated the country? The absence of pride is not hate.

I don’t hate America and in fact gave my country 20 years in the armed forces. But, I am not proud of a country where the Supreme Court opened the gates to pornographers because, “we all know it when we see it but we can’t define it,” where they found a constitutional right to privacy where none exists, creating millions of abortions, and a court that can’t distinguish between a prayer at a football game and “the establishment of religion.” If we ever get these issues straightened out, I might again be proud to be an American.

In the meantime, I will live here and work for changes I would like. But, don’t accuse me of hating my country, nor should we level that accusation against our President and First Lady. That would be slander.

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