Maddening Double Standard
have a character problem: an insistence on objectivity, truth
and moral consistency. The problem is that when facing an
enemy that respects no trait other than winning, it puts all
those who exhibit these character traits at a distinct disadvantage.
For years now right-wing pundits have lied with absolute impunity,
yet whenever someone dares to call them on their bullshit,
there is no shortage of those on the left who jump at the
chance to point out the left's far milder offenses. (See Mr.
column at Slate).
Liberals continue to hamstring themselves by insisting that
every person who might fall under the liberal label be completely
blotless before anyone can comment on this administration's
continuous efforts to mislead and distort. Yet no such demands
are made on the right by either affiliation. When Gore was
getting skewered for his non-lies about the Internet and Love
Story, can anyone name a columnist from, say, The Wall
Street Journal who pointed out that Bush might have indulged
in a fib or two about limiting CO2, his drunk driving arrest
or cocaine use?
Of course not. Because unlike the left, the right does not
expect their talking heads to tell-it-as-they-see-it. They
want them to tell-what-pushes-the-agenda. When the left insists
their ranks be without sin before they cast stones, the right
seeks out only blind, manipulatable anger. As left-leaning
readers turn to columnists who are level-headed and objective,
those on the right donít care what their talking heads say,
so long as they draw blood. The right's unscrupulous methods
of slandering their enemies is without question. What is more
boggling is how the victims of these attacks are so content
to not only sit mumly by but silence those who would dare
stand up to the juggernaut.
After years of Clinton-hating, we have David Brooks over
at The New York Times who complains that long overdue
books like Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell
Them demonstrate Democrats have started a "new"
chapter of American politics where attacks on Presidents have
become personal. Brooks' memory does not appear to extend
to a certain previous President who suffered eight years of
such "impersonal" charges as rape, murder, homosexuality
and drug dealing.
Nor do books by Coulter, O'Reilly and Hannity appear to warrant
any mention. When the air was filled with the right-wing's
invective, we stood silently by and shrugged our shoulders
as if to say, What can you do? They're Republicans. We expect
more from our side. Such noble sentiments was supposed to
help us sleep nights as the right-wing's less scrupulous tactics
eventually granted them control of all three branches of government.
Have you been sleeping soundly lately?
This misguided pursuit of equality has instead created a
vast inequality where conservatives are the only ones allowed
not only to falsely malign, but even criticize. How else do
you explain the fact that after years of Clinton investigations,
the Democrats are accused of overzealousness for asking for
a single special prosecutor in the Wilson affair?
What else would allow the Republicans to get away with continuing
to call Clinton's Presidency illegitimate because he won by
a plurality of the vote? Meanwhile we are accused of being
unable to "get over" how this President came to
office Ė despite the fact that we put partisanship aside and
supported him through 9/11 and Afghanistan, and a good many
of us even went so far as to write him a blank check on Iraq,
despite having serious questions about his motives.
As thanks, we were greeted with accusations of treason and
got Bush's brand of crony capitalism shoved down our throats.
Yet when someone like Franken dares to utter a peep of dissent,
the left is the first to call for calm as the right continues
to do everything within their power to rile up their footsoldiers.
It's time to end the double standard. For far too long our
civility has been used against us. It's time we wake up and
realize objectivity doesn't mean insisting everybody's the
same. It means we ought to demand the truth. When those who
do get shot down as those who lie go unchallenged, we ought
to be pissed off. That may not come as naturally to those
of us who refuse to walk lock-step with the Republican line,
which is to our credit, but by golly, we've earned it.
Memekiller is a former "Night & Day" editor
of the Houston Press and award-winning journalist who has
published in numerous newspapers and magazines.