Opinion » Rhetoric & Reason

An obscene personal attack



American politics took a nosedive into a sewer last month with first "Roseanne" making a racist tweet about President Obama's longtime closest personal advisor Valerie Jarett. For her brain-dead remark she lost her career of 40 years, was dumped by her network and her agent, and branded for life as an ignorant racist.

This incident was quickly followed by another cruel remark from a diva of the left, Samantha Bee, host of the program Full Frontal. Roseanne's tweet, made in the middle of the night and possibly while under the influence of something, wasn't her first offense; she's made a career of being offensive, allies herself with eccentrics all over the political landscape, adopts the most extreme conspiracy theories, and continuously allies herself with political hacks of the outer edges of American politics. She's neither "conservative" nor "liberal" but an attention-seeker and political opportunist who finally sank her own ship.

By contrast, Samantha Bee is a hard-core representative of the left, and her comment, directed at President Trump's daughter Ivanka, was premeditated, scripted, vetted by her network producers, and included on her teleprompter. If you hadn't heard what she said, it was in reaction to a photo Ivanka posted of herself and her infant son. Bee called Ivanka a "feckless c—-t" and advised her to dress in a manner to seduce her father to get him to reverse his immigration policies. Bee's remark "wasn't just a word, it was an obscene personal attack" on Ivanka, (Peggy Noonan's rebuke to a female, liberal commentator on Sunday's Meet the Press) misogynistic and extremely depraved, even for Samantha Bee. The response to Bee's swan-dive into the sewer was far more muted, causing her to lose only two sponsors to date but no retribution from her network. Not surprising since the TBS network fully vetted her script and was complicit, as was her audience, which wildly cheered her disgusting performance. Adding insult to her performance, the following day Bee was also given an award. The "apology" she offered was rank hypocrisy, but being a scion of the left, all is forgiven.

One might ask what prompts celebrities to degrade themselves and their audiences with this type of behavior? In the case of Bee, it might be her sinking ratings (and need to shock) as her show has dropped 29 percent year over year, according to Fox News, and shows considerable failings among millennials, whose approvals of her performance has nose-dived 47 percent since 2017.

President Trump bears responsibility; his scorched earth, obscenity-laced campaign of highly personal attacks left a toxic political landscape. He owes the nation an apology and needs to learn humility is a virtue.

Listening to other commentators, the continued slide into obscenities in lieu of policy discussion offers little hope for improvement. Roseanne's self-destruction was assured by her touching the American "third rail of politics" (racism). Samantha Bee, by contrast, assaulted a conservative, beautiful, graceful woman celebrating a mother-child relationship.

This phenomenon has been growing for 40 years as the debasement of American culture continues unabated. It began in the mid-1960s with rejection of every cultural norm and authority with civility being the first casualty. It's neither new nor confined to just conservatives.

When Jimmy Carter was candidate Carter, he was ridiculed for his Southern accent and religious affiliations, was never accepted, even as president, as a genuine representative of liberal-progressives. They tolerated him as better than the Republican alternative, barely. I personally observed the contempt local progressives expressed for Carter and his followers.

For the real deal, conservative President Ronald Reagan, all the stops were pulled out. He was labeled a "cowboy," a euphemism for an immature and impulsive individual, not to mention stupid, unsophisticated, unworthy of being taken seriously. His 40 years of public speaking, writing, and governing the largest state were irrelevant. His critics seldom bothered to actually read anything he wrote. Actually, the man was quite eloquent, inspirational, and spoke through his convictions, developed over a lifetime of living among and fighting for regular people and the cause of freedom.

The treatment of the first President Bush was similar to that of Reagan. Bush was the youngest Navy carrier fighter pilot of WWII, a recognized hero and former CIA director before becoming vice-president and president. The treatment of his son eight years later was considerably worse. "Bush 2" was an engineer, Harvard MBA, and a fighter-pilot, yet portrayed as an incompetent bumpkin. Media portrayed Bush as unsympathetic and shallow. Most don't know he shunned publicity after visiting rescue workers on the 9/11 rubble pile. The press didn't follow him to the hospital where he spent three hours comforting family members waiting for news of their loved ones.

We've entered dangerous ground with celebrities engaging in the most extreme forms of denigration of political opponents. When you de-humanize individuals, they become the collective "them," a key component in the march toward violence against the few followed by mass violence against the many. Physical attacks on Trump supporters were commonplace during the 2016 election, continuing today and culminating with last year's attempt to mass-murder Republican congressmen.

The dehumanization of Trump's family is beyond the pale, unacceptable, and will lead only to further destruction of the tattered remnants of American society. Δ

Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at [email protected].

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