How Nasty Is Enough?
01/05/2010 - 13:40
Jonathan Mark
Friday, October 17th, 2008   The other day a sign was taped to a front door in Riverdale: “No talking politics inside.” Inside was a Sholom Zachor for a new baby boy, dozens of friends were expected, and the family couldn’t trust their guests, a cross-section of Orthodox Riverdale, to be civil.   Why should they trust their guests, when it is a sign of sophistication to be as nasty as possible about Republicans?   Yes, we know what some folks scream out at McCain-Palin rallies, but those folks aren’t us. We’re Democrats. We’re of sound mind. We fire people because of ‘hate speech.’ We’re tolerant. We studied at finer universities than Palin’s University of Idaho. Did I mention we’re tolerant? Does tolerance mean being respectful or does  tolerance mean being mean, spitting out rage and condescension?   Just as we’re a lesser country when even The New Yorker uses the F-word and the S-word, aren’t we exhibiting signs that we are less sophisticated and intellectual than we fancy ourselves when we can’t analyze a failed presidency without calling the president a “moron,” as Paul Begala did on CNN?   Can’t Sarah Palin’s weaknesses be discussed without “hatred,” without calling her “evil” and “vicious,” as so many have — particularly women?   The New York Sun reported (Sept. 19) this reaction to Palin on a New York-based Web site for women, Jezebel.com: “What I feel for her privately could be described as violent, nay, murderous, rage,” an associate editor at Jezebel, Jessica Grose, wrote just after the Republican convention “When Palin spoke on Wednesday night, my head almost exploded from the incandescent anger boiling in my skull.”   Murderous? Boiling skulls?   Ms. Grose was not alone, noted the Sun. “More than 700 comments poured in, many from women who said they were experiencing a visceral hostility to Mrs. Palin that they were struggling to explain.’When I see people crowing about her ‘acceptable’ speech last Wednesday … I literally want to vomit with rage,’ a comment from Anibundel said.   “‘I am shocked by the depths of my hatred for this woman,’ another commenter, CJWeimar, wrote.   “‘It is impossible for me not to read about her in the newspaper in the subway every morning on my way to work and not come into the office angry and wanting to kick things,’” wrote another.   Kick things?   Ed Koch, who was campaigning in Florida for Obama, e-mailed (Oct. 6) after the Biden-Palin debate, “I agree that Biden won the debate. However, I also think that Palin’s performance during the debate with Joe Biden made clear to America that she is no rube, but rather an intelligent, thoughtful person who clearly is not as knowledgeable as her opponent Joe Biden, particularly on foreign affairs. She deserves the media’s respect, instead of its mockery and efforts to destroy her by their clear distain.”   ”Interestingly,” Koch added, “highly intelligent women friends of mine who support Barack Obama, as I do, were horrified when I told them of my views and that I was writing this commentary. Their position is not to give Palin any credit.”   Imagine, “highly intelligent women” being “horrified” at someone — even someone supporting Obama — who simply doesn’t hate Palin as much as they do.   Notice that Koch sees this “hate” phenomenon among women, not men.   Why do so many Democratic women feel so shameless about how crude they can be, how well they can hate?   Koch isn’t the only (man) Democrat who feels that we should be able to disagree without being so nasty and demeaning.   Pres. Clinton agrees with Koch. He told the Associated Press (Sep. 22) about Palin, “I come from Arkansas, I get why she’s hot out there, why she’s doing well. People look at her, and they say, ‘All those kids. Something that happens in everybody’s family. I’m glad she loves her daughter and she’s not ashamed of her. Glad that girl’s going around with her boyfriend. Glad they’re going to get married.”   Clinton imagined good people thinking, “I like that little Down syndrome kid. One of them lives down the street. They’re wonderful children. They’re wonderful people. And I like the idea that this guy (Mr. Palin) does those long-distance races. Stayed in the race for 500 miles with a broken arm. My kind of guy.   “I get this,” Clinton said. “My view is … why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don’t we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?”   There’s a mean wind blowing in this country.

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