Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 6 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/22/13

American Bile

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     (# of views)   3 comments
Author 47089
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Robert Reich
Become a Fan
  (128 fans)


(Image by Unknown Owner)   Details   DMCA

Not long ago I was walking toward an airport departure gate when a man approached me.

"Are you Robert Reich?" he asked.

"Yes," I said.

"You're a Commie dirtbag." (He actually used a variant of that noun, one that can't be printed here.)

"I'm sorry?" I thought I had misunderstood him.

"You're a Commie dirtbag."

My mind raced through several possibilities. Was I in danger? That seemed doubtful. He was well-dressed and had a briefcase in one hand. He couldn't have gotten through the checkpoint with a knife or gun. Should I just walk away? Probably. But what if he followed me? Regardless, why should I let him get away with insulting me?

I decided to respond, as civilly as I could: "You're wrong. Where did you get your information?"

"Fox News. Bill O'Reilly says you're a Communist."

A year or so ago Bill O'Reilly did say on his Fox News show that I was a Communist. I couldn't imagine what I'd done to provoke his ire except to appear on several TV shows arguing for higher taxes on the wealthy, which hardly qualified me as a Communist. Nor am I exactly a revolutionary. I served in Bill Clinton's cabinet. My first full-time job in Washington was in the Ford administration, working for Robert H. Bork at the Justice Department.

"Don't believe everything you hear on Fox News," I said. The man walked away, still irritated.

It's rare that I'm accosted and insulted by strangers, but I do receive vitriolic e-mails and angry Facebook posts. On the Internet and on TV shows, name-calling substitutes for argument, and ad hominem attack for reason.

Scholars who track these things say the partisan divide is sharper today than it has been in almost a century. The typical Republican agrees with the typical Democrat on almost no major issue. If you haven't noticed, Congress is in complete gridlock.

At the same time, polls show Americans to be more contemptuous and less trusting of major institutions: government, big business, unions, Wall Street, the media.

I'm 67 and have lived through some angry times: Joseph R. McCarthy's witch hunts of the 1950s, the struggle for civil rights and the Vietnam protests in the 1960s, Watergate and its aftermath in the 1970s. But I don't recall the degree of generalized bile that seems to have gripped the nation in recent years.

Next Page  1  |  2

 

Must Read 3   Well Said 3   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Robert Reich Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Trump Cornered

The Republican's Big Lies About Jobs (And Why Obama Must Repudiate Them)

Paul Ryan Still Doesn't Get It

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

What to Do About Disloyal Corporations

The Gas Wars