His Exalted Majesty Barack Hussein Obama II, Lord of the Flies, Keeper of the Hoops, and Protector of the Holy Cities of Honolulu and Chicago, is right. It’s time for a new tone. A kinder, gentler tone, just like the one Daddy Bush was talking about right around the time he tried to upend Saddam Hussein back in the day. A tone of sweet reasonableness, of civility in the way we interact with each other, an Athenian level of discourse that would make Pericles proud.The rest of his column is pretty good. Give it a read. Meanwhile, savor the irony of Chris Matthews berating conservatives for an entire segment of his show for their lack of civility then in the next segment slurring tea-partiers with the much-cherished "nazi" insinuation.
If only you bastards would let us do it.
Taking my cue from such exemplars as Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, I’m talking about a whole new way to look at political speech, one that combines First Amendment protections — which of course we could not possibly respect more — with a living-and-breathing constitutional view that above all prizes personal responsibility for public utterances, lest some wingnut loon or right-wing goon be driven into a homicidal fit of rage by Sarah Palin’s recipe for moose stew.
In other words, shut the hell up.
I should point out that there's nothing wrong, at least in my opinion, with calling someone a nazi, or a racist, or a liar provided one offers solid evidence to support the charge. If the allegation is made without giving any explanation as to why the charge is justified then the claim is irresponsible, uncivil, and detestable. If one engages in such behavior while at the same time criticizing others for doing the same thing then that individual is either risibly inconsistent or, if consciously aware of what he or she is doing, shamefully hypocritical.
People like Matthews seem to do this a lot, but I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that I don't think they're aware of it. It's just that they have, or seem to have, a subconscious conviction that the political right is inherently evil and the left is inherently good. Some liberals see everything within this interpretive matrix, and without even thinking about what they're saying they just assume, without the need for evidence even faintly occurring to them, that anyone who is upset with liberal economic and social policies must have evil motives, if not be completely racist or sympathetic to nazi ideology.
Let's not be afraid to call things as they are, but if doing so is unflattering or insulting then we have an obligation to justify the charge. Otherwise it's just childish name-calling.