Patriotism Has a Funny Look to It

Last week, the Washington Express' front cover was of a Islam extremist in Pakistani at a rally in support of the anti-blasphemy laws. These laws were recently under fire because a Christian woman, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for "allegedly assaulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad." Soon after the rally, a Pakistani governor, who supported overturning the anti-blasphemy laws, Salman Taseer was assassinated by a member of his own security for his "liberal" philosophies. In a sappy, patriotic moment, I BBM'ed a friend and said, "I'm so glad I'm an American... where I can be Christian without worry of a death sentence." 

Less than a week later, (D) Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was shot by Jared Loughner. 

I don't think America's political climate parallels Pakistan.That's melodramatic. However, I do think we can learn a lesson from the mistakes being made in Pakistan and other countries. The loose-lipped political rhetoric from the left and the right is dangerous, and can easily provide fuel for people to justify their fatal actions. We've got Congress members interrupting the President in the chambers, rallies from conservative extremists that get nasty and include racial epithets, Rush Limbaugh saying "I hope our President fails", Bernie Sanders resounding filibuster, and Glenn Beck being... well, Glenn Beck. 

Interestingly enough, on the day that the news broke about Rep. Giffords, I was discussing Glenn Beck's responsibility as a voice that speaks to millions. Beck is not a politician, he's an entertainer, which some people believe gives him the right to say whatever he wants with no regards to the consequences. The person I was discussing Beck with insisted that while he is a "hothead", he's a "true patriot." Allow me to walk you through a few of the patriot's comments:

Progressives are using the same tactic as Hitler did in "rounding up Jews and exterminating them"...Obama is the antiChrist... Maybe it's better that [America] doesn't make it because they (who is they?!?) are building a global cage...Woodrow Wilson and Barack Obama don't share any respect for the Constitution... Obama has a deep seated hatred for white people... The health care bill is the end of America as we know it...Bailing out General Motors is FACISM!... America is destinedto repeat FACISM! Facism is on the rise!The climate change people are pulling a page from Nazis' Hitler youth.

Say what you want Glenn Beck; you still have that freedom. But don't you dare consider yourself a patriot, when you speak of an impending doomsday for our country and use riotous language. 

Whatever happened to supporting discussion and compromise? People consider compromise an ugly word because they construe it as giving in. I wonder if these people ever had to share their toys as a child or traded sandwich triangles. Did you ever say "Have some of my ham and cheese so I can have some of your peanut butter and jelly?" It seems 3rd graders have a better handle on compromise than many of our congress members and adult citizens. 

I'm no Glenn Beck with an apocalyptic prophecy for the end of America and the world as we know it, but I will say this. If we want to move forward as a country... if we want our citizens and congress members to be safe, if we want the U.S. to truly progress (which is not a dirty word), we have to cut the crazy talk, stop being so stubborn, listen, and hold people accountable for virulent commentary under the thin veil of "entertainment" or "patriotism."

Disclaimer: I'm not blaming anyone, aside from the individual who pulled the trigger, for the shooting of Arizona citizens, federal judge, and Congress members. However, I do believe that many (Fox, MSNBC, Huffington Post, ex Alaskan governors, Congressmembers, etc) have helped to foster an ugly, angry climate that causes much more harm than good.

What do you think? Is the present political climate healthy or no? Should we cue EPMD's "You Gots To Chillllll"?

1. (book)Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America
2. (article) Washington Post: Arizona Shooting Suspect
3. (article) Washington Express: Gone Too Far?  
4. (article) Washington Express: Pakistani Extremism
5. (song) EPMD - You Gots To Chill