Mittens Romney. Barrack Hussein Obama. What do these very politically charged “nicknames” have in common? They are the constant recipients of personal attacks of every kind. Nothing seems to be off-limits these days for any political candidates, as Sarah Palin’s family found out the hard way. The question that we must ask ourselves is, “Why do engage in these nasty portrayals of people’s character?”
Strong disagreements will always occur, but what matters about political positions are the ideas behind them, not specifically the people advocating them. In today’s culture it seems we are dedicated to winning any debate, regardless of the casualties left behind. You may be able to “win” the argument on a forum, in a conversation, ect, but the person you debated may be even more firmly entrenched in what they thought because of the conduct of the conversation. Ideas have consequences, but the ways in which those ideas are endorsed, proposed, and manifested have consequences as well.
I personally tire of hearing rather personally charged attacks on Romney and Obama. If you disagree with them and those supporters behind them, which I do as well, discuss the reasons for your disagreement. Insults like Liberal Whackjob, Bible Thumping Fundementalist, Liberal Nutjob, Ignorant Bigots, ect do nothing to make one’s argument and his or ideas more valid, rather they simply make the issues more polarizing to discuss then before. This is why it so hard to talk about controversial issues and ideas in today’s culture because everyone is afraid they will be branded and their reputations ruined. Calling someone a racist or an ignorant bigot today has rather disturbing consequences concerning how someone may be treated by society.
I reject the notion that people are ignorant. Instead I propose that people have reasons for how they think. Don’t bother with name calling, personal attacks, ect; get to their base presuppositions. Racists are racists because of their core ideas, the experiences that they have had, and the condition of their hearts. (And who knows how many additional factors…) Legislation can never change that. What can change that is the communities and families around them and conversing with those around them who have very different worldviews.
We need to get opposing worldviews and ideas into the open, not relegate them to the shadows. Someone may be afraid to discuss their thoughts and ideas openly, but this simply ensures that they will continue to retain those said thoughts and ideas. State what you believe and discuss your ideas with others who challenge them, regardless of whatever those ideas are and how politically incorrect, offensive, and shocking they may be. In otherwords, show some real tolerance.