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

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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The Way I See It: Joe Wilson’s insult

When President Obama spoke about health care before a joint session of Congress last week, not everyone liked what he had to say.       

In an outburst as remarkable for its candor as for its incivility, Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) cried out, “You lie,” to Obama’s claim that his reform plan would not benefit illegal immigrants.       

Wilson appeared embarrassed by his demonstration and left the chamber shortly after the speech. Although he apologized to the White House, some Democrats are pushing for the House to officially register its distaste.  

This is nothing new. George W. Bush’s speeches didn’t get much respect from Congress, either. Democrats booed his State of the Union in 2005. In 2007, John McCain fell asleep.

Surprisingly, being yelled at by a U.S. Congressman wasn’t the worst insult Obama faced over the past week. Thousands of people descended on the Capitol on Saturday to protest health care reform. One waved a sign that compared Obama to Hitler. Another sign decked him out in ghetto garb.

All in all, though, it was a fairly tame week for the president, compared to how it’s been going. This summer, people showed up to Obama’s town hall meetings armed. Two pastors said they were praying for Obama’s death. One, the pastor Steven L. Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., titled his sermon “Why I Hate Barack Obama.”

Republicans weren’t the only ones guilty of spewing hate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called town hall protesters “evil-mongers.” Van Jones had to drop his appointment as White House green-jobs czar when it came to light that he had once branded Republicans “assholes” and that he’d signed a petition accusing Bush of purposely allowing 9/11.

It would be easy to chalk all this up to political leaders jockeying for attention in a sound-bite culture. But the problem goes much deeper than that.

In this country, we’ve come to believe that differences of opinion have less to do with reasoned disagreement and more with our opponents being jerks. We can accept people who worship a different God, choose a different lifestyle, or even root for a different sports team (unless it’s the Red Sox). But when it comes to people who vote for a different party, no compromise is possible. They must be ignorant, evil, or both.

It’s time to start accepting that in a world as complex as the one we live in, people will have all kinds of beliefs. Those with whom we disagree, even violently disagree, are much more likely to be good, intelligent people than not. We should recognize that our disagreements are political, not personal, and that there is nothing wrong with two people seeing things differently.

Except for those Red Sox fans. Them I can’t abide.

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