Thursday, September 13, 2012

Since when are bigotry and intolerance American values?

It is nothing short of horrific that the Romney/Ryan response to the murders of American diplomats in Libya was to attack President Obama, claiming he had "apologized for American values."

But what are these American values that Mitt Romney is defending? Based on the YouTube video that was the ostensible match to the international tinderbox, the values he defends are absolute religious intolerance and hate-filled and deliberate provocation to violence. Not exactly the freedom of speech our founders envisioned. No, it's the 21st century equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theatre. 

As the story unfolds, it seems clear that the Republican ticket has been captured by the voices of hatred and intolerance, and they will do absolutely anything to gain a political advantage – even endanger the security of the American people, the American military, and our diplomats.

No matter what the politics, Americans do not turn on one another when our nation’s security is at stake. Democrats rallied to Republican President George W. Bush’s side when we were attacked on 911. Unfortunately, Romney/Ryan seem not to understand the need to stand together.

This spectacle is reminiscent of what the nation witnessed in the U.S. Senate in 1954, when Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy attacked the U.S. Army and those who supported our military.

Here is the relevant history, from the website of the U.S. Senate:

In the spring of 1954, McCarthy picked a fight with the U.S. Army, charging lax security at a top-secret army facility. The army responded that the senator had sought preferential treatment for a recently drafted subcommittee aide. Amidst this controversy, McCarthy temporarily stepped down as chairman (sic) for the duration of the three-month nationally televised spectacle known to history as the Army-McCarthy hearings.

The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch's attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy's career: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"

Overnight, McCarthy's immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.

The Romney/Ryan ticket should pay close attention to McCarthy’s fall. Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.