The latest in the propaganda series from Al Fonzi (“American then, America now,” Dec. 8) needs a response. He comments upon the extreme degree of division within the U.S. and he is not totally wrong there. But, like much else that he writes, it is from a distorted historical perspective. There have been numerous severe disagreements in U.S. politics since the early years of the republic. While not as extreme as the ones that caused the Civil War, many are comparable in degree to what occurs today. Somehow, we have survived them and hopefully will survive this time as well.
Fonzi has followed in the tradition of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Ed Bannon, and so many other neo-con political commentators in using exaggeration, distortion, selective memory, and assorted other rhetorical tricks to justify his own political biases and, of equal importance, to denigrate the views of those with whom he disagrees. And he wonders why there is polarization? Why so many of differing opinions have just given up and resorted to the same sort of ad hominem attacks that his side has used so effectively?
Truth, historical and otherwise, is often not simple. Many people who strain their capacity just to survive daily struggles tend to seek simplicity in things like politics, philosophy, and religion. They do not want to spend the time necessary to truly comprehend (as far as possible) complex truths. This leaves a big opening for demagogues, and they use it to con such people into supporting entire manufactured belief systems because they find certain specific views to be appealing.
I have to note that these con artists are not restricted to the right-wingers—there are numerous lefties and even some “centrists” that do the same. It is just that the neo-cons have done so more blatantly over the past 25 years or so. Many of their followers are basically decent people but rarely consider opinions or information not generated by the right-wing media echo chamber. I wouldn’t be surprised if their opponents end up doing the same in a reaction.
Since it appears that Mr. Fonzi is going to be a regular opinion columnist here, I am not going to take the time to pick apart his commentary. I don’t have time to do that on a regular basis and it would take more space than even this lengthy response.
-- Ron Holt - Arroyo Grande