Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jeff Katz, Culture Warrior

Actually, no. Do not be alarmed. Plus, when I think of culture it tends to be solely focused on music, movies and books. Always has, always will.

What bugs me lately is the lack of respect shown to other people, particularly people with some sort of title that should command civility, if not deference. The town hall meetings I watched today, those of Arlen Specter (R, no wait a minute, D-PA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) were appalling.

It's not that I have a problem with the angry folk opposed to the President's health care plan. The idea that these are false protests is a tricky analysis, as it applies to every movement. Did the masses wake up on August 28, 1963 and spontaneously decide to congregate on the mall to fight for civil rights? Well, no, it was an organized event, but the people were very real. Has there ever been a mass protest without some organizing force behind it - March on the Pentagon (Norman Mailer wrote a whole book about the people who put the protest together), the Million Man March. You get the picture. It would help if the people attending these town hall meetings knew what the hell they were talking about, but without a real bill to reference, anything can be assumed and is.

It troubles me to see men and women threaten and taunt Senators of the United States. They're office deserves better. I don't say this as an elected official myself. I have a friend who hates George W. Bush (actually, I have a lot of friends who hate George W. Bush). This friend was in a position to meet the President and, when face to face with his nemesis, my pal was overwhelmed by the aura of the office and was humble as pie. As he should have been. It's the President of the United States!

We all end up in situations where we don't believe who we hear, or don't like the surroundings we're in. I'm not one of those "in my days it was different" relics, but it WAS different once upon a time. I'll give you a personal example. I was at a Catholic Mass last week. Now, I'm not Christian, and, in no real way other than birth am I even Jewish. At Mass, I didn't sit there and roll my eyes, or laugh at things I found hard to believe. Why? Because you're not supposed to. You're supposed to mind your manners and be respectful, survey your surroundings and act appropriately. In the presence of a Senator, even one like Arlen Specter, people should behave better. In fact, it's more effective than wearing "Proud Member of the Mob" T-Shirts, or carrying a pistol on your belt to an anti-Obama rally.

It's impossible to respect anyone's opinion on any issue when they carry on so despicably.

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