News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Progressive cause not served by Olbermann, Moore and Rivera

When Bill O'Reilly screams at a guest to shut up it warms the hearts of his fellow travelers. But to independent thinkers, bullying a guest on your own show is morally repugnant -- and the sign of a pathetically weak argument. After Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut for daring to disagree with him on health care reform, most rational people saw it as an irrational act. Not surprisingly, most who support Limbaugh's ideology rushed to his defense. But the bottom line is this: O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and other far-right media personalities are revered by those who agree with them. But their shrill, heavy-handed tactics fail to persuade many in the center.

Enter Keith Olbermann, Michael Moore and Geraldo Rivera. These meida figures, while popular with liberals, fail to sway many in the center for the same reasons. Moreover, their biased approach to political discourse contradicts the very core of progressive thought.

Being inclusive and fair is one of the core principles of progressives -- something which reactionaries often mock and exploit. But the strength of progressive thought has been proven countless times in the course of U.S. history. The end of slavery, the right of women to vote, child labor laws, social security, and civil rights laws are all progressive movements almost universally revered today. These accomplishments epitomize the still unmet ideals of this nation. Yet they were vehemently opposed at the time -- just as most progressive causes are opposed today.

The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. were inspirational; he did not mock those who disagreed with him. Abraham Lincoln went to war to preserve the nation but never belittled his enemies and was conciliatory in victory. Legendary TV journalist Edward R. Murrow ended Senator Joe McCarthy's witch hunt by letting McCarthy's own words condemn him, not by rhetorical bluster.

So let the voices of repression rant. Trying to shout them down is simply playing their game.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez


MarkP said...

Well said, as usual, Raul. I completely agree. This is why I have found Cornel West to be such an inspiration. He and Tavis Smiley are on a national crusade to force this country to pay attention to needs of our poor, and West is particularly gifted at standing on principle with love. Even as he has been arrested at Occupy rallies. As West has said, "We don't hate plutocrats. We hate plutocracy."

Guys like Olberman have forgotten our roots in the values and tactics of Gandhi and MLK. Common folks can't win against the rich and ruthless by force. On the other hand, the rich and ruthless can't defeat us so long as we live by the principles of non-violent resistance.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mark. I've been bashed from the left for criticizing Olbermann and his ilk before. But preaching to the choir is great for ratings but poor at being persuasive. I think Steven Colbert and John Stewart's use of humor is much more effective than vitriol.

Brock said...

“The world of the Left is a dead world—a world of dead matter and lifeless abstractions. It is an anti-human, anti-natural, anti-aristocratic, anti-freedom, anti-beauty, anti-metaphysical, anti-truth, anti-life, reductionist, immoral, hateful, genocidal, necrophiliac, mendacious, predatory ideology that has sown death everywhere it’s gone.” — Alex Kutargic

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

I'm sure your comments are quite lucid on your planet, Brock.

Brock said...

“My principles are only those that, before the French Revolution, every well-born person considered sane and normal.” ― Julius Evola

Elliot Kennel said...

It seems to me that the far right has succeeded in creating the false impression that they speak for the core values of Republicans, and for that reason they are left unable to represent very many people. They are not growing and taking over the country as people seem to think. Rather they are in danger of becoming irrelevant unless they can in some way reach out to the political center.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez said...

Elliot, today's media is so fragmented and partisan it's easy for any group to overestimate its influence when all they choose to hear is the voices of their fellow zealots in the echo chamber. This effect applies on both the left and right.