Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – September 2, 2010

September has commenced and with it autumn beckons even as we brace ourselves during the midst of yet another hurricane season. The doors of schools are opening all over the country but none of us should take a moment’s pause from learning every day:

Sticks and Stones

I must confess that I do not make a habit of watching the Fox News Channel. Its motto is “Fair and Balanced” but all I ever encounter is vitriol being spewed at anything that does not mollify the right wing of the right wing, fairly balanced between diatribes and shrieks of rancor. But it is important to understand the full range of positions in this country and to learn what millions upon millions of Americans rely upon for their “news” and their points of view.

So I watched the Fox News summary of President Obama’s speech to the nation on the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. For the life of me I cannot tell you the details of the criticism leveled at President Obama because it was drowned out by cacophonous insult after insult. The level of critique was eerily reminiscent of a sixth grade schoolyard, one commentator saying “…..Obama looked like one of those nerds with a propeller beanie….” Another pseudo-pundit made fun of the way that President Obama folded his hands on the desk in the Oval Office.

I was struck by the fact that no one on Fox News referred to him as “President” Obama, he was either “Obama” or “Barack Hussein Obama”, but never “President” Obama. The reality of President Obama in the White House will be denied in some circles until time is no more.
And I was also very, very concerned that millions upon millions of Americans get their “news” and points of view from this source of artificial news.

And I think that the “change” that many of us sought in supporting Barack Obama may be very different than what we wanted. We may have expected a more open, caring and humane society. The “change” that we are getting is that adherents of the right wing of the right wing feel emboldened to show their true faces and the speak with their true voices.

The Koch brothers (the right wing of the right wing owners of Koch Industries who have been billion dollar bankrollers of the most insidious and odious attacks on democracy as we know it) can continue to hide behind their billion dollar curtains and drapes. There are more than enough emboldened zealots prepared to hold forth with their vision of America, a vision that does not include openness, caring or humanness. It is a very sad vision. It is a very dangerous vision.

Give Peace a Chance

This past week, Ms. Julie Menin, the chairperson of Community Board 1 in lower Manhattan wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Daily News. For those of you who have been in a cave for the past two month, Community Board 1 in lower Manhattan is the local organization that gave community approval for the construction of an Islamic cultural center that has a perceived proximity to the site of the World Trade Center.

This perceived proximity has, of course, been the source of tremendous controversy along with the revelation of a deep and pernicious vein of Islamophobia in the strata of political discourse in this country. And while the controversy continues to swirl, Ms. Menin has a very useful “compromise”.

She proposed that the cultural center be built as planned and at the chosen location. She also proposes that in addition to a mosque within the facility that there would also be a floor dedicated to an inter-faith, non-denominational space. The center would celebrate all faiths and inter-faith understanding.

Ms. Menin’s proposal is beautiful in its simplicity and in its appeal to be reason. We should watch the response to this beautiful simplicity and reasonable appeal.

Have a great weekend!


4 thoughts on “Weekend Edition – September 2, 2010

  1. Hi Wallace,

    A few years ago, my husband and I realized that those same
    pundits called Senator Clinton “Hillary” all the time.

    But I find some of the people on MSNBC just as vitriolic. I wish they could just take the high road and raise the level of conversation.

    Have a good weekend.

  2. Tara says:

    Thanks for continuing to speak through the prism of reality…local residents approve of this Center… this thriving community houses academic institutions; courts of law and of course City Hall, which is on the same street. Such an institution will continue to create an environment that promotes peace, progress and invite us all to be worthy citizens of this blessed nation. Lastly, the site is not within the immediate precinct of the buildings that fell and the place where so many suffered painful deaths…we need appropriate signs of the Phoenix in our midst…

  3. Victoria says:

    Indeed Fox News coverage of President Obama is shameful but what is more bothering is the fealty with which a Fox’s audience remains glued to the magic box, absorbed in every sordid word spewed from it by Fox’s acid tongued commentators. The only viable solution to their rancid demagoguery is to prove them wrong, flawed in their analysis of America and what Americans will tolerate. Democrats and Independent voters must go to the polls in droves on November 2nd — if they don’t, they will only have themselves to blame for what surely lies ahead with a Republican majority in Congress: complete disaster.

  4. This a fabulous post and may be one to be followed up to see how things go

    A pal e-mailed this link the other day and I am desperately anticipating your next blog post. Carry on on the tremendous work.

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