During most of my adult life, I avoided putting too much thought into politics because I had a sense that I had other work to do as a pastor which would be hampered were I to become involved in political matters. Now that I am retired, I am paying much more attention and am finding that these are interesting times, with the far Right trying very hard to advance its program of negativity toward government, diversity, minorities, and on and on. All the while, they are trying equally hard to avoid words which might reveal their inherent racism and elitism.
For several months I have been tracking Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh, as well as going back over clips of Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin in an effort to understand how anyone could have supported them. The level of dishonesty, sheer ignorance, and blatant hypocrisy I have found in each of these sources has been dumbfounding.
Time and again words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer have come to mind, words which in his day applied to those who defended the Nazi regime in Germany. Today, methinks, they describe the Far Right in American politics. Bonhoeffer wrote in the essay After Ten Years:
“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed – in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical – and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”
Stupidity? Yes, I think that’s the most accurate word for such Fox tricks as they pulled in September of 2012, repeatedly showing during the day a photo of President Obama sitting next to a person dressed as a pirate on “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” The issue which had offended the Fox team was that the day before the President had not met with Israeli President Netanyahu, citing lack of time. And they were right — meeting with a pirate instead of a president is terrible.
The only problem, just a tiny one, was noted later in the day by Fox on Twitter (but never on the air): “The picture we aired this morning of the President and the pirate was from 2009.”
Aside from the fact that their little Tweet hardly counts as the apology which Fox owed, the larger question is, How could a station devoted solely to the news (or so they say) make such a ridiculous error? There are many conceivable answers to that question, but not one which does not make Fox News look simply stupid.