You might have heard about the latest successful rightwing hissy-fit: environmentalist and White House advisor Van Jones is being attacked by conservatives for calling Republicans “assholes.” But he’s saying what many Democrats are thinking. I don’t mean that any individual Republican is an asshole (or that there aren’t Democrats who are assholes). I’ll willing stipulate that they are no less kind to small animals and children. But as a party and as a political movement and organization, they are assholes. Consider:
- Invading a country which had nothing to do with the Sept. 11th massacres, and then accusing Democrats of treason for opposing the invasion, or even not supporting it enough (remember Max Cleland?).
- Zealously supporting acts of torture, which the U.S. after World War II found so horrible that it executed the perpetrators (and, as above, anyone noting this was tarred as Unamerican).
- Being so terrified of black people that citizens of New Orleans languished for days before being rescued.
- Being willfully ignorant of human-associated climate change, even though there is overwhelming evidence for it.
- Opposing the recent stimulus package, even though recent analysis show that without it, the economy would be worse, and hundreds of thousands more people would be unemployed.
- Either remaining silent or supporting the ‘deathers’ and the myriad lies about healthcare reform, while at the same time, not even suggesting a plan to prevent the roughly 18,000 deaths per year that result from lack of health insurance coverage.
Mind you, this is a very short list (I’m sure readers can add more in the comments). Anyway, this means they’re assholes (or worse).
At this point, some reader (maybe more than one) will work himself into high dudgeon about ‘incivility.’ But invading the wrong country, supporting economic policies that would keep people unemployed, and so on, these are not interesting debate subjects, after which, we can all go to a nice cocktail party and be friends. People will suffer or die due to those who hold these stupid ideas. Being called an asshole is getting off easy.
These ideas have had horrible consequences (or would have, had they not been averted). And these ideas are consciously held by people–many of whom just happen to be Republicans. So, I will be ‘civil’ when they are ethical and moral. Until then, we should view this as an excellent framing opportunity. It allows us to make the argument that certain policies have immoral and unethical outcomes, that politics should not only be discussed in objective terms, but normative ones. Or put more simply, calling them assholes is a very simple and straightforward way to cut through all the chaff they’re throwing up, and get to the basic point: what they fight for is wrong. Hell, if nothing else, they have to deny it.
Besides, they are assholes.