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Our Political Discourse is Plagued with Unfair Attacks

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On my own website -- in a piece entitled "Reverend Hagee and the Theodicy Issue: Do People Like Hagge Get Unfairly Condemned for Their Theological Beliefs, I argued that there is something unfair and unreasonable in the manner in which Hagee has been condemned for his remarks on how Hitler might have played a role in God's plan for the Jews, to get them to establish the state of Israel.

Among the responses from my readers there has been a suggestion that there are better uses for my time.

 I'll not bother to repeat here the particulars of my argument about Hagee and those who have condemned him (as a way, for the most part, I expect, of getting at John McCain).  People can go to that other posting if they're interested in seeing what I have to say about that.

Here, I wish to share my response to that criticism that defending Hagee is not worth the time and effort-- for it makes a larger and more general point.


I don't like it that so much of our political discourse deals in fuzzy thinking and outright distortion.

In this case, the distortion is that Hagee's remarks are taken as being anti-Semitic, or as justifying what Hitler did.  There are plenty of things to object to in Hagee, but it doesn't help our discourse --our being able to think together about the real issues involved in choosing our collective destiny-- to distort what he was saying and the deeper reasons why he was saying it.

But there are so many other cases, not involving Hagee but involving what seems to me the same combination of muddle-headedness and irresponsible willingness to use any distortion or lie so long as it hurts one's adversaries and helps one's own side.

Another current illustration of this, which I could have tackled here but did not, is the present GOP effort --spearheaded by President W himself, in a speech to the Israeli Knesset-- to equate Obama's willingness to talk to enemies with "appeasement."  As others have pointed out, appeasement involves giving something to the adversary;  negotiation only involves interacting with them, and gives away nothing.  It's possible that the accusers here can't think straight, more likely that they're only trying to exploit the inability of a large segment of the electorate to think straight.

(It's the same sort of thing that I tackled many months ago in my critique of the transparently ridiculous Bushite claim, regarding the war in Iraq, that "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here."  See

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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