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Tue Dec 20, 2011, 09:02 AM

 

I Have a Pledge to Make. Who Will Join Me? [View all]

If we want to elevate the discourse, some things need to change... from everyone. I'd Like to Give Everyone a Chance to be Clear.

I have been seeing a higher level of dishonesty here than ever before on DU. That includes the '08 primaries. I'm not whining about DU, it's a fine place with plenty of fine people. The thing is that we've crossed a line too many times and that lowers us.

I know that I come down more on one side of this issue than the other. I know that I'm going to be roundly and unreasonably lambasted for speaking my mind... as usual. I accept that as part of discourse, but the level of dishonesty that goes with it is very disheartening and robs me of my faith in what should otherwise be a body of intelligent and thoughtful individuals.

First, I'll address the Obama supporters:

Yes, I'm with you. We will have two viable choices for President and anyone who says otherwise is not living in reality. I've heard that we are 'authoritarian' and in pursuit of censorship. I have not seen direct examples of this, but I'd like to make something perfectly, abundantly, and crystal clear: Telling people that they shall not criticize the President is NEVER appropriate. To quote Roosevelt:

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

Again, I honestly have not seen examples of people telling Obama's critics that they are not allowed to voice their opinions, but that does not mean such examples do not exist. Therefore I will say without reservation that to state anything of the sort is reprehensible. It also plays into the contrived narrative that Obama supporters are 'authoritarian' and 'intolerant'.

To be an Obama supporter means listening to criticism, understanding it, expanding on the context where possible, or admitting to the faults or failures where they have no reasonable explanation.

It is dishonest to deal with criticism otherwise.

But speaking of 'dishonesty'...

This has become something of a problem lately among many that are highly critical of Obama. It has been made very, very clear that taking exception to criticism is intolerable to many who wish to air their outrage over Obama, his administration, and the policies that the two have enacted. This intolerance should have no place in discourse.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: If you choose to be critical of Obama on a Democratic discussion board, expect people to take exception to that criticism. We Get It: You Don't Like Your Criticism of Obama Being Challenged. Now this aversion to criticism of Obama being challenged wouldn't be an issue at all if it weren't for the way it is so often handled:

Dishonestly.

This is very telling. It means that Obama's critics (not all of them, of course, but there are plenty) want to shut down any challenge to their criticism by deliberately mischaracterizing it as 'authoritarian', 'censorship', or otherwise impertinent to the criticism itself. Unless you are actually told that you should shut up, that you have to 'fall in line', that you must vote for Obama, or that you are 'with us or against us', to claim anyone has instructed you so is a LIE.

It's very, very simple: Do NOT substitute your own meanings or the voices in your head for what is actually written in black and white (or whatever color scheme you use) on the screen in front of you.

This is one of the most poisonous practices in discourse these days. It is exactly how Fox 'News' and Rush who-is-not-necessarily-a-sex-tourist Limbaugh program their brainwashed audience. It is uncivil, impolite, and ultimately dishonest to pretend someone has said what they did not. We are all guilty of this at some level, but those of us who are aware of it have the responsibility to keep it in check.

IF you are not certain what someone's intentions are from a given post, then ask them a simple yes/no question such as: "Are you telling me to stop criticizing Obama?"

That way they have an opportunity to clarify their intentions and discussion can continue on without devolving into a kindergarden playground fight.

Too many times people have made such claims about my own posts or those of other DUers without a single shred of evidence. We know why; it is because engaging in earnest on the nitty-gritty of the issues can be work and it's so much easier to end the exchange and walk away feeling righteous by lying about the other poster's intentions.

Let me be perfectly clear, again; To resort to such a tactic is both transparent and childish. I know that many people don't want to hear that and will likely throw a tantrum about it, but I would like to think we're all adults and anyone who reflects on their use of this tactic will eschew it from here on out.

As for the way many see the criticism of Obama here, I have another quote from Roosevelt:

"Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it. The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness. It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger."

Many DUers are currently and actively fighting to wrest the nation out of the hands of corporate avarice and public corruption. The installment of another Republican will set that fight back another decade or more and increase our struggle as a nation. They see abject criticism of Obama as a failure to recognize that although he is not the savior we are all desperate for, he is the best possible option for us at this point in time. They have the attitude that those who refuse to help keep up the fight and keep him in office are only getting in the way and making the fight to restore the US to The People more difficult.

If that is not you, fine. If it is, then please contemplate the above and take seriously those who wish to keep the White House in Democratic hands until the fight is won.

Here is my pledge:

[font color=blue]I am an Obama supporter,

I am aware that he is not perfect, and although I believe he has good reasons for most, if not all, of the policies he enacts, the bills he signs, the people he appoints, and the decisions he makes, I recognize that criticism of those is often valid. It is for this reason that I shall not ever tell any of his critics on DU to 'shut up' or instruct them who they must vote for. I will endeavor to listen to their honest criticism and do the work of discovery to determine the validity of that criticism before dismissing it out of hand. I understand that there will be differences of opinion on whether a criticism is valid and will do my best to recognize the point of impasse. It is at this point I may make such an observation, but I will still maintain the other poster's right to voice their opinion. I will do my best to be polite, but even failing that I will not mischaracterize a critic's position absent of evidence and reasoned facts.
Also: I will save any lectures on the foolishness of not voting for Obama only for those who have explicitly stated that they refuse to vote for him. If I am uncertain of a person's position on this matter, I will simply ask them before making such a judgment.
I make this pledge in the understanding that if we are to effect change in this nation, we must do so with our eyes and minds wide open, and we must do it together.
[/font]

To the best of my knowledge, I have not violated my above pledge. If anyone wishes to accuse me of doing so, then you have my express permission to retrieve any direct quote by me that does so in exchange for an apology. Naturally, I will construe any accusation absent such a quote as a lie.

I believe discourse on DU would be well-served if Obama's critics were to make a pledge recognizing that this is a Democratic site where they can expect reaction to criticism, and not to characterize that critism as 'authoritarian' or 'censorship' where such characterization is not merited. But I won't be the one to write such a pledge.

I'll leave that up to you.

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Reply I Have a Pledge to Make. Who Will Join Me? [View all]
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