Though I try to give a wide berth to topics that have been run into the ground, I’ve read some interesting reactions to the recent hubbub about “tone” and “civility” and came across one I wanted to share. Victor Davis Hanson made a good point in a National Review Online article last week:
The hate-filled rhetoric […] was cruel, lunatic, and illogical — and helped demonize President Bush as some sort of monster rather than the center-right moderate who had pressed for No Child Left Behind and the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, called for religious tolerance, warned against anti-Muslim violence after 9/11, won two bipartisan congressional authorizations for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and implemented the largest medical-relief plan for Africa in U.S. history.
The history of American politics is chock-full of incivility, and Dubya is a prime example of the double standard at play. Obviously leftists get a pass on President Bush, because Progressivism is the vibrant, passionate antithesis to all the terrible things George W. Bush represents. Never mind that he represented those things because of the left’s unwavering belief in its own rhetoric. Today’s pleas for civility are an effort to silence opposition, plain and simple.
VDH’s mention of Bush and the leftist bile he endured reminded me of the only time I sent a letter to the school paper while I was at Miami. It was a couple weeks before the 2004 election, President Bush’s daughters had just visited campus for a campaign event, and the College Republicans were bringing Ann Coulter to Oxford.
|Witty Op-Ed||Mean Conservative Response|
The Miami Student, 10-22-2004, page 13
The Miami Student, 10-26-2004, page 10
Who’s more “civil” – the hatemonger conservative, or the hipster journalism minor? A trivial example, sure. But even though Miami is a relatively conservative campus, The Miami Student‘s editors saw fit to print a sex fantasy attacking a conservative pundit and, for good measure, objectifying the president’s daughters. Imagine if we pulled a few autumn 2004 editorials from the student papers at Berkeley, Columbia, or NYU!
This is one of the great things about freedom of speech. Give a complete jackass ten minutes or a slot on the Opinion page, and he’ll say something closely resembling, “I am a complete jackass.”