I am a big fan of Roger Ebert's blog. He's wonderfully insightful, and I wanted to share a recent post.
I'm not a big fan of liberal radio pundit Norman Goldman, but he said it right a few days ago: "I am AFRAID. Yes I'm playing the fear card, America, because I am genuinely afraid!"
Myself, I grieve and weep for the fear, jingoism, hatred and xenophobia that plague our society to the core of its collective culture.
We have to do better. We (liberals unafraid of the label) have to be aggressive, stop apologizing for a common sense, science/research/data-based worldview demonized by fundies, and push harder with progressive ideals and general GOODNESS than they can counter with their intolerance.
We can beat them if we get off our damn couches, and turn our complaints into action.
We can beat them.
We already know the numbers. Pew finds that 18% of Americans believe President Obama is a Muslim. A new Newsweek poll, taken after the controversy over the New York mosque, places that figure at 24%. Even if he's not a Muslim, Newsweek finds, 31 percent think it's "definitely or probably" true that Obama "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world."
When the focus is narrowed to Republicans, a Harris poll finds 57 percent of party members believe he is a Muslim, 22% believe he "wants the terrorists to win," and 24% believe he is the Antichrist.
These figures sadden me with the depth of thoughtlessness and credulity they imply. A democracy depends on an informed electorate to survive. An alarming number of Americans and a majority of Republicans are misinformed. The man who was swept into office by a decisive majority is now considered by many citizens to be the enemy. Some fundamentalists believe he is the Antichrist named by Jesus in the Bible.
This many Americans did not arrive at such conclusions on their own. They were persuaded by a relentless process of insinuation, strategic silence and cynical misinformation. Most of the leaders in this process have been cautious to avoid actually saying Obama is a Muslim. They speak in coded words and allow the implications to sink in. I recently watched Glenn Beck speaking at great length about Obama's Muslim father, but you would not have learned from Beck that the father, who Obama met only once, was not a practicing Muslim in any sense.
Rush Limbaugh has told his listeners he can find "no evidence" that Obama is a Christian. In Paul Krugman's op-ed column in the New York Times on 8/29, Limbaugh is quoted: "Imam Hussein Obama, is probably the best anti-American president we've ever had." Limbaugh obviously doesn't believe Obama is an imam. How many of his listeners realize that? Is he concerned that his words will be taken seriously?
These opinions have an agenda. They seek to demonize the Obama Presidency and mainstream liberal politics in general. The conservatism they prefer is not the traditional conservatism of such figures as Taft, Nixon, Reagan, Buckley or Goldwater. It is a frightening new radical fringe movement, financed by such as the newly notorious billionaire Koch brothers, whose hatred of government extends even to opposition to tax funding for public schools.
... Palin and Beck have so far both been content to let this process work without specific comment on their part. Their silence is a symptom of a cancer infecting American democracy. Our political immune system has only one antibody, and that is the truth.
The time is here for responsible Americans to put up or shut up. I refer specifically to those who have credibility among the guileless and credulous citizens who have been infected with notions so carefully nurtured. We cannot afford to allow the next election to proceed under a cloud of falsehood and delusion.
We know, because they've said so publicly, that George W. Bush, his father and Sen. John McCain do not believe Obama is a Muslim. This is the time -- now, not later -- for them to repeat that belief in a joint statement. Other prominent Republicans such as Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul also certainly do not believe it. They have a responsibility to make that clear by subscribing to the statement...