I like to listen to conservative talk radio because it gets my blood boiling.
There"s nothing funnier to me than to listen to a millionaire talk show host like Rush Limbaugh complain about the "liberal media" while his one-sided show gets broadcast on hundreds of stations. It"s also funny to hear talk show hosts talk about "showing respect for the president" when for eight years they called William Jefferson Clinton a murderer.
But our own low-rent Limbaugh, WIBC"s Greg Garrison, set a record for chutzpah last Friday when he said anti-war activists "hate America" and what it stands for. Given that Garrison"s show is as fair and balanced as Al-Jazeera (or its American counterpart, Fox News), it"s not too surprising he"d slander millions of Americans with no rebuttal allowed.
You see, the conservative idea of free press is a landscape where only their voices are heard. Even if Rush were the only broadcaster on radio, he"d still bitch about the liberal media.
The "liberal media" to these guys are what lesbians and midgets are to Howard Stern: their shtick. They really can"t mean it, because they"re actually intelligent people.
Garrison is not an evil man, by any means. He has legitimate credentials as an attorney and writer and stepped in to prosecute the Mike Tyson rape case when nobody else wanted the job. And in fine American tradition, he used the notoriety from that case as a stepping-stone to smalltime celebrityhood.
As Gulf War II enters its third week, something dangerous is entering the national debate. It"s the tendency by the right-wing media to scapegoat loyal Americans whose only crime is to disagree with Limbaugh"s views.
So Sen. Tom Daschle has replaced Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy as the latest Evil Liberal of choice. Locally, it"s Congresswoman Julia Carson who is seen as Satan incarnate, because she spoke her conscience about the war.
But the last I heard, neither Daschle nor Carson had launched Scud missiles at American troops. Hillary isn"t building a dirty bomb in her basement, and the only mixing of chemicals at Ted"s house involves gin and vermouth.
As much as I may disagree with some conservatives, I certainly don"t see them as the enemy in the same way they see us as infidels. I"d hope that if it came down to a firefight on Meridian Street, conservatives would kill Al Qaeda agents before liberals.
Most Americans, Democrat and Republican, honor our troops because they are engaged in fighting for us. They are good men and women who volunteered to place themselves in danger in order to uphold the noble ideas on which this nation was founded.
They obey orders whether they come from Democratic presidents or Republicans. In that sense, the military is non-political. Civilians control our troops, which makes us different than many countries.
Would the conservative talk show hosts support the troops as much as they do if President Al Gore was giving the orders? Would the liberals support it more?
I wish there were a way to bridge the gap between conservatives and liberals. And to that end, I"ve taken the liberty of annotating the conservative anthem "God Bless the USA," by Lee Greenwood. It was the favorite song of Presidents Reagan and Bush Sr., and Bush Jr. loves it as well. You can hear it on Garrison"s and Rush"s shows frequently.
Its lyrics may seem trite to some, but they actually resonate with truth, from the very first syllable.
If tomorrow all the things were gone I"d worked for all my life
And I had to start again with just my children and my wife
Indeed, the U.S. Department of Labor reports this is not an unusual situation. More than 148,000 people lost their jobs in February 2003 and nearly 9 million people nationwide are currently unemployed. After falling throughout the 1990s, the poverty rate has increased each of the past three years. The Economic Policy Institute reports, "Nearly one quarter of all workers - more than 28 million in all - earn less than $8.78 an hour, the amount needed to lift a family of four above the poverty line with full-time work (about $18,200 a year)."
I"d thank my lucky stars to be living here today
"Cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can"t take that away.
Efforts to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance have been unsuccessful. While Congress has passed laws banning flag-burning, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case United States v. Eichman upheld the right of protesters to deface the flag in the name of free speech.
Ironically, those who wear flag bandannas are violating the American Legion"s Code of Flag Etiquette, which specifically bans such use.
And I"m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I"m free
The First Amendment of the Constitution that allows freedom of speech to Limbaugh, Garrison et. al. also gives opponents of governmental policies the same protection.
And I won"t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me
In addition to the millions who died in uniform during wartime (more than 500,000 in World War I and II), any list of martyrs for American freedom must include Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy, each of whom was murdered on American soil while trying to improve the nation. In addition, hundreds gave their lives in the 1950s and 1960s in pursuit of civil rights. The names of 40 such martyrs are engraved on the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala.
And I"ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
"Cause there ain"t no doubt, I love this land
God bless the USA.
Those who support the war, and who protest it, are indeed defending the tradition of American freedom. This hate-mongering from both the right and left do injustice to the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for our freedoms.
We need reconciliation. And soon.