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Stop the name-calling, already

Last week I debated whether or not I should write this column and at that point decided not to. The reason was that I didn’t want to write another column that might seem like I was just using an anecdotal incident to bash and stereotype liberals. But I’ve decided to go ahead and write it while adding a disclaimer.

Some might have already heard or read the comments concerning former President Ronald Reagan made shortly after his death by liberal political cartoonist Ted Rall. If you missed it, here are quotes from the cartoonist’s own Web site:

In his “Rallblog” for Sunday, June 6 — just a day after Reagan’s passing — Rall wrote it was sad that “Ronald Reagan didn’t die in prison, where he belonged for starting an illegal, laughably unjustifiable war against Grenada under false pretenses (the ‘besieged’ medical students later said they were nothing of the sort) and funneling arms to hostages during Iran-Contra.” He continued by ridiculously blaming Reagan for the Sept. 11 attacks and describing the former president as, “A real piece of work, Reagan ruined the federal budget, trashed education, alienated our friends and allies and made us a laughingstock around the world.” The real kicker came when Rall implied that Reagan was burning in Hell by writing, “I’m sure he’s turning crispy-brown right about now.”

Even after criticism came streaming in to Rall for showing disrespect to Reagan and his family in their time of grieving, Rall didn’t back off. In a later entry on his blog, the cartoonist answered an e-mail asking him to refrain from his comments until after the funeral by commenting, “When Fidel Castro dies, his relatives will be sad, but I doubt that’ll cause Republican commentators to lay off. (And yes, I’m comparing Reagan to Fidel — even though Castro isn’t quite as bad as Reagan.)”

Mocking the dead and causing more pain to their families is nothing new to Rall. Some may remember that after the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, Rall mocked Tillman for joining the Army and fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. In a cartoon, Rall had Tillman asking at his enlistment, “Never mind the fine print. Will I get to kill Arabs?” He also characterized the former football player as ignorant; as an “idiot” and a “sap.”

Here comes the disclaimer:

Before you think I’m going to use this as an occasion to expound on the evils of liberalism and the absolute hate that liberals spew, think again. I’m going to be the first to admit that many ideologues on both sides — left and right — have been, at times, guilty of overdoing it when it comes to name-calling and outright hatred of their ideological opponents. So I’m not about to start generalizing Rall’s opinions as indicative of liberal thought. In fact, many liberals showed proper respect to both Reagan and Tillman after their deaths.

These examples from Rall point to a problem with both sides of the political spectrum. That problem is one of hate. Some people on both sides have, for whatever reason, made it a habit to resort to demonization and name-calling.

Both sides of the aisle should remember that, for all their disagreements, most of the people on both sides are doing what they believe to be best for the country and the world.

I, for one, am opposed to many of the policies that former presidents Clinton and Carter pursued, but I would never think of suggesting that they were burning in Hell for what they did. Nor do I think that most on the left would agree with Rall’s comments on the same fate coming to former President Reagan.

Hate should never be aimed at individuals, but rather at their actions. The old Christian saying is “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” Christians are also commanded to love their enemies.

While it is perfectly appropriate for Rall and other ideologues on both the left and right to hate and oppose the policies pursued by certain elected officials, it is neither appropriate nor moral to hate the official and suggest they should burn in Hell. We should instead pray that they change their ways.

Adam Fowler is a senior majoring in political science. oraclefowler@yahoo.com