OPINION – Over the years, I have known a lot of people from all walks of life with myriad cultural, religious, and political points of view.
I have had friends who barely clung to the edge on both the left and right, which can make for some very interesting discussions.
Some are up to the strenuous give and take of passionate discussion. Others are not and usually check out when the going gets particularly tough, which it often does.
Those who stick around realize that real friendship can endure stark differences of opinion.
I’ve got friends, in fact, who are passionate in their dislike of the current administration, who lean very heavily to the right, who are adamant that America got it wrong in the last two presidential elections. It’s only fair that I hear them out, considering the opinions I have expressed for George W. Bush and others from the far right over the years.
The thing is, no matter how heated the discussion, decency remains at the root of our discussions.
Unfortunately, not everybody has this sense of decency.
Late last week the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a Christian-based conservative group that has helped put a number of politicians into office, had a conference in Washington, D.C. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the marquee speaker. He was joined by a group of conservative stalwarts including senators Rand Paul, Kentucky, Marco Rubio, Florida, and Ted Cruz, Texas; representatives Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania, and Kevin McCarthy, California; and former Arkansas governor and one-time presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. This was no lightweight gathering, and, as you would expect, they took the President to task on a number of issues.
What wasn’t expected, however, was a crude attack that took place away from the conference floor when somebody placed a urinal cake with President Barack Obama’s likeness in one of the urinals.
To their credit, representatives from the Faith & Freedom Coalition told MSNBC:
We doubt this was done by any of our attendees, we strongly condemn these actions. No matter how anyone may feel about the president’s policies, the man and the office deserves to be treated with respect. We are outraged by this disgusting act.
Despite the fact that there is a lot of venom spewing from the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party and that a fair number of this group’s members were present, I’ll take them at their word.
Besides, it doesn’t matter who the person who dropped the disgusting piece of commentary into the urinal aligns themselves with, it is still evidence of the depths we have arrived at as we continue to tear each other apart as a nation.
Just because this statement is protected under the First Amendment doesn’t mean it is beyond contempt. It was an outrageous act, totally lacking in human decency and respect.
You have problems with Obama? Don’t like what happened in Benghazi? Opposed to the Affordable Care Act? Disagree with the five-for-one prisoner exchange? Fine. State your case and I’ll state mine, but know that I’m out of the discussion the moment you lose touch with your humanity.
The United States is losing much of its stature around the globe because of the crude, arrogant manner in which we treat each other and the complete disdain we have for our system and leaders.
This has tarnished our image in many corners of the world that look upon the United States as a laughingstock for its hypocritical posturing, aggression, and arrogance. We bewilder our neighbors to the north and south, and frustrate those in Europe who look at us as a violent bunch mired in racism and pseudo-religious fanaticism.
Of course our image in the world has been a wild roller coaster ride for many years now, dipping and soaring from the lofty heights achieved during the Kennedy administration.
Much of this is based on uneven – even failed – economic and foreign policy over the years, the racism that lies just below the surface of this nation’s skin, and the greed that has overtaken our desire for equality, which are also at the heart of the bitter differences that divide us. We don’t like each other very much and seem willing to allow the greater good of the nation to suffer so long as we can prove the other side wrong, or so it seems to those who study us from afar. If it wasn’t for military might and a checkbook opened widely to foreign aid, our stature in the world would plummet even further.
Because to earn the respect of others, we must first respect ourselves, despite our differences, and we are not doing that.
There’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned political donnybrook. It’s part of the American fabric.
But, let’s also keep the fight within the bounds of decency.
No bad days!
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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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