The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Palin debate continues:

Fighting fire with fire

I received just one e-mail in response to my “Sarah Palin is an unctuous and bilious person who wants to be president” column.

Maybe people are bored. Maybe they’re afraid their comments will end up in print. More than a few people congratulated me in person. I’m sure others want to pillory me. Humanities major Matt Brumit wrote to ask me if my column was intended to be satire, or, if not, what “literary technique” I was using. He admonished me that “anti-hate arguments work a lot better when they are not riddled with hateful statements.

I told Brumit that in most circumstances I would agree.,but this is not most circumstances. I then quoted America’s greatest satirist, Mark Twain, who wrote: “In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.”

I told Brumit that those more religious than I might call my comments ‘righteous anger,” adding that sometimes firemen must set fires in order to extinguish other, more devastating fires. I guess you could call my technique “fighting fire with fire.”

I understand Brumit’s point. The Democrats are the good guys. The good guys aren’t supposed to stoop to Karl Rove’s level. Rhetorically, it’s counterproductive to engage in ad homonym attacks rather than address the flaws in your opponent’s argument, and it’s paradoxical to accuse someone of hate speech by using hate speech.

On that point, Brumit and I do not disagree. However, I don’t agree that what I said qualifies as hate speech. Unlike Palin, nothing I said was intended to cause anyone to act violently.

I think Palin is a hatemonger. It is not hatemongering to point that out. I think Palin must be defeated. I don’t, however, believe she deserves to have her head cut off, a sentiment her followers have expressed toward Barack Obama.

Let me make this clear: I do not advocate or condone violence against Palin.

It should bother everyone that the Secret Service is investigating death threats made against Obama at Palin rallies. It should bother everyone that Palin has not condemned the hate comments her followers are spewing, with greater frequency and vehemence.

Those of you who have paid attention have undoubtedly heard that this is the most important election of your lifetime. Granted, the lifetime of the average Daily Campus reader is somewhere between 18 and 22. So let me assure you: this is the most important election in all our lifetimes.

In 2000, George W. Bush promised to unite the country. He is responsible, however, for what has been one of the most divisive and destructive presidencies in history. John McCain and Palin offer more of the same. The fact that Palin, in rally after rally, willingly plays, for personal gain, to the vilest and most dangerous of human instincts should alarm even the most irenic among us.

And what does McCain do? Sit on the sidelines and watch like a pit bull owner who throws puppies to his pit bulls for sport.

Bush defeated McCain in the 2000 because McCain refused to respond in kind to the gutter smear (that McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child) that Rove and his sleaze merchants waged against McCain in South Carolina.

Today, with Rove protégé Steve Schmidt calling the shots, McCain has found in Palin a sleaze merchant who knows no boundaries. There is nothing Palin won’t do to win.

This is the same Palin who sat in the pews of the Wasilla Assembly of God while her pastor proclaimed that terrorist attacks against Israel were God’s punishment on the Jews for ceding part of Israel to the Palestinians.

The same Palin who sat in church while an Evangelist from Kenya, who claimed to have saved a village from a woman he determined to be a “witch,” blamed world financial troubles on Jews, just minutes before laying hands on Palin.

Richard Silverstein wrote in the British newspaper The Guardian: “Frankly, candidates like Palin are the Jews’ worst nightmare. The sentiments she expresses are part of a vestigial memory we internalize about what intolerance and bigotry sounds like. […] But we know when we’re not wanted, and as non-believers we’re not wanted in the evangelical Christian world view, except as enablers of Jesus’ final coming.”

While at least a quarter of Americans are drunk on hockey-mom witticisms and inane references to viewing Russia from the coast of Alaska, the rest of the world is questioning our sanity.

To suggest that pleasantries, niceties and reason are going to win the day against Palin is, at best, na’ve. John Kerry lost in 2004 because he refused to “dignify” Republican-funded swift boat attack against his character. The price in 2008 is too high.

Novelist Ayn Rand said, “Those who deny [reason] cannot be governed by it.” Bush and the last eight years are proof of Rand’s insight. Reason is completely lost on Palin and, I fear, on many of her supporters.

So, I guess, Brumit, my answer is this: any voter who has convinced himself or herself that Palin is exactly what America needs is not likely to be won over by a reasoned argument.

George Henson is a lecturer of foreign languages and literatures. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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