Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

June 20, 2009

Guest columnist Dawson Mathis: So many outlets for hate

As one who has observed the national political scene for almost 40 years, mostly up close and personal, more recently from a healthy distance, I am struck by the relentless and mean-spirited verbal assaults upon the man who is now President of the United States. Never before in the history of our country have such prolonged attacks come from so many different sources.

From the daily screeds of talk radio to right wing blogs and scurrilous e-mails full of totally false information, the attacks are unending. Constantly referred to as “the messiah” and “the anointed one” by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, he is said to be a “secret Muslim” who cannot even choose the right condiments for his hamburger!

Never before in our history has there been so many outlets for hate, with 24/7 cable news, talk radio and unlimited Internet available to anyone with a computer. Fortunately our first amendment protects our precious right of free speech, unfortunately, there is no truth filter on the Internet, or no method to counter the half truths or total lies that clog our airways daily. One local “talk” radio station programs at least 12 hours of right wing attacks on the President daily, with the only moderate/liberal voice confined to late evening hours. With such neverending bombardment, it is really amazing that the President remains so popular with the American people. One must assume this is because most people, recognize this hate-mongering for what it is, an attempt to discredit his presidency and cause the election of a Republican, any Republican in 2012.

One example of how the Internet is used to spread untruths was prominently displayed in a recent Sunday VDT. It contained in a letter from a prominent, highly respected resident who cited an e-mail he had received (from an unnamed source) alleging that the president had signed an order providing funds to pay for the movement of Hamas members into this country for resettlement. The only problem with this allegation is that it is totally wrong. No such order exists, or ever has.

No doubt there is, and will be in the future, much about which to criticize this president and his administration. It would, however, be refreshing and I believe in keeping with the American spirit of fair play if we could keep our debates within the bounds of honesty, and not based on personal attacks and untruths.

Guest columnist Dawson Mathis is a resident of Nashville and former U.S. congressman.

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