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