Wise Words From A Wise Man

Last night, I read Nicholas Kristof’s column from yesterday, an open letter to his conservative friends.  While he is kinder and more forgiving than I am, I do agree with most of what he says, so I’ve decided to share his letter here with you.  Mr. Kristof has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, as well as numerous other honours far too numerous to list here.

A Letter to My Conservative Friends

Hold us accountable, but please do the same for the charlatans who deceive you, use you and cheat you.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Jan. 27, 2021

AMHILL, Ore. — This is an open letter to some of my old friends and neighbors who believe that Donald Trump won re-election, who think that face masks are for wimps and who fear that Democrats are plotting to seize their freedom.

Dear friends and neighbors,

Relax! We liberals aren’t plotting to round you up in “re-education camps.”

I was horrified when a couple of old friends here asked if they were in danger for having supported Donald Trump. I gently told them that they were in no peril — and I was stung that they felt greatly relieved to hear it.

Yes, I know that Fox News is peddling nonsense about Democrats setting up re-education camps, and that a Wall Street Journal column asked, “If you were an enthusiastic Donald Trump supporter, are you ready to enter a re-education program?”

Folks, you’re being played. Again.

These are some of the same charlatans who argued last year that, as Fox News put it, the coronavirus is “just like the flu” and that mask mandates are a step toward “tyranny.” More than 400,000 coronavirus deaths later, some people are dead because they believed that drivel.

Then there’s the rubbish about the election. This month, just days before Joe Biden’s inauguration, a childhood friend told me confidently that Trump would swoop in to serve a second term. When I told him he was wrong, he was astonished that I could be so poorly informed, and he helpfully advised, “Don’t pay attention to those liars in the mainstream media.”

You’ve been hoodwinked, exploited and manipulated by con artists waving flags, casting lies and monetizing bigotry. Steve Bannon, who suggested beheading Dr. Anthony Fauci, defrauded Trump supporters into donating to build a border wall and then used some of the money for himself, according to a federal indictment.

Here on our family farm, we received a direct mail appeal warning about “Islam in Yamhill Schools” and pleading for donations to protect Christianity. No, that isn’t about conservative values, but about spreading hate and hysteria while grabbing at your wallet.

So let’s give America a chance to heal. And, as I told my worried friends, don’t hesitate to stand up for your conservative values. We need Republicans! America benefits from a loyal opposition.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week called for trying harder to keep schools open. On that issue, Republicans have been more right than many Democrats.

But half a century ago we didn’t need the racist George Wallace wing of the Democratic Party, and today we don’t need the wing of the Republican Party that embraces conspiracy theories and winks at violence.

The grand question: Without that wing of today’s G.O.P., what’s left?

One glimpse of the conundrum: The G.O.P. representation in Congress is losing Rob Portman, a widely respected senator who announced he will step down, and just gained Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, an extremist who in 2019 endorsed the idea of shooting Nancy Pelosi in the head. When a party loses a statesman and gains a kook, that’s a bad omen.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii G.O.P. this week recommended the “high quality” commentary … of a Holocaust denier. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich warned on Fox News that Democrats are trying to “exterminate the Republicans.” Sure, Democrats sometimes say and do dumb things, too, but there’s no symmetry.

As I see it, the last, best hope is twofold. First, Republican leaders must learn that extremism is a losing strategy. Only one G.O.P. candidate for president has won the popular vote in the last three decades, and the loony Arizona Republican Party has lost about 10,000 members since the riot in the U.S. Capitol and its censure of party elders like Cindy McCain. If Trump is further discredited through prosecutions or scandals, it is possible (though far from certain) that his malign influence on the party will diminish.

Second, to dampen that extremism, advertisers should stop supporting networks that spread lies and hatred, and cable companies should drop channels that persist in doing so. As a start, don’t force people to subsidize Fox News by including it in basic packages.

Is this a slippery slope? Yes, and it makes me queasy. But we all recognize that there are red lines: Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan grand wizards have First Amendment rights, but we shouldn’t pay to give them microphones, nor should commentators on the left or the right get megaphones to promote violence. Extremists enjoy free speech but shouldn’t be buttressed by advertisers or our cable fees.

So, conservative friends, fear not: We’re not plotting to lock you up in detention camps. We need you to keep us honest. But you’ve been scammed in ways that have hurt the country we all love. Hold us accountable, but please do the same for the charlatans who deceive you, use you and cheat you.

25 thoughts on “Wise Words From A Wise Man

  1. Jill, the phrase regarding losing a statesman and gaining a kook speaks volumes, sadly because it is true. While Senator Portman had views different from mine, he has always been above board in his actions. As for the newcomer to the House, anyone who threatens violence toward anyone for a different political view has no place in a position of leadership. And, that includes the former president who has done such on more than a few occasions. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jill, it gets even more weird by the day. Republican Representative Greene has articulated that a Jewish laser from space is causing the wildfires. This would be shameful if it were not so ludicrous. The question to be asked of Ms. Greene, is it easier to believe this than a person known for lying telling you without proof the election was stolen from him? Keith

      Liked by 2 people

      • I heard that, and I held my head, moaning, thinking, “What the hell has become of sanity in this country???” What is shameful is her trolling of David Hogg, her racist comments, her denigration of the mentally disabled, and then her being put on an education committee! I used to wonder how the good people in Germany felt in 1933. Now I know.

        Liked by 1 person

    • It does speak volumes, and last night I found Ms. Greene has filed impeachment charges against Biden … on his first day in office! Yes, I know that the impeachment charges won’t ever see the light of day, but this is the kind of trash the republican voters are sending to make our laws!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jill, one thing about Ms. Greene, she will sink herself without much help. I think it was Mark Twain who said “Better to let people think you are a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.” Keith

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, an apt quote. Only thing is that … the republicans will allow this garbage to keep its seat in the House, will allow her to continue to spew her hateful message. Will she sink her own boat? Depends, I think. Will the likes of Kevin McCarthy put a stop to the b.s., or merely slap her lightly on the hand with a wink-wink?

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Hello Jill. What is the Republican party? I have been asking that for some time. Recently I seen a news show say that both the Republican and Democratic parties are split in two. The Republican party split into the Classic Republican party at 17% and the tRump Republican party at 17%, while the Democrats split into the Joe Biden Democratic party at 17% and the Sanders- Warren Democratic party at 17%. Basically, the parties have split into two camps, moderate and right or left.

    Maybe we should expand the recognized political parties in the country, have multiple parties like some other countries. Yes that would mean coalitions would need to be built, but it would represent the wants and desires of the people better. For example I am a progressive who doesn’t feel represented by the Democratic party, yet I vote for the Democratic candidates as they are far more in line with my values than Republican candidates ever could be. Would that change with more parties? Would more parties decrease the tribalism? Maybe those who live in countries with multiple political parties could answer these and other questions. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s gone too far with the cultists and the lies and misinformation they believe and will always believe. Truly their brain chemistry has been altered.
    We are past the point of no return and it will play out, but it won’t be pretty.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Nice man talking to nice people. But what about the rest. The freaks who voted for QAnon, those who denounce the free press as liars, and those who think face masks take away the wearer’s freedom. Then of course there are the ones who cheered on the violence and would happily have taken it further. I think the GOP won’t keep the Democrats honest they’ll just use them and lie to them while calling for unity.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Methinks it would be inappropriate for me to say what I would like to do with those who are conspiracy theorists, followers of QAnon, rabblerousers, self-sanctimonious creeps, etc. Sigh. I … I give up. There is no hope for this nation, we deserve the storm that is coming and that will destroy us all.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. They’ve lost their Action Clown doll haven’t they? It’s not their play yard anymore.
    Gee…that’s tough.
    What shouldn’t really surprise me is that with all this babble these folk demonstrate just how little they know about how their own nation works. Re-education camps? In the USA??? Geez Louise…….Gimme a break!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Brave words, but how many liberals are willing to be so kind after the way we have been treated of late. Sure! I’d be willing to turn the other cheek, if I trusted a Repuglygarbagecan to not have a shiv in it–I have no such trust. Nor do I want to trust anyone not wearing a mask to breathe on me from less than 2 metres, preferably 3-4, as coronaviruses do not carry tape measures with them, and do not listen to Covid spokespeople.
    I don’t hate Trump’s MAGAts, not the way I despise Trump himself, but until they admit they let themselves get carried away in worshipping him, I want no part of them. Anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, anti-SJWers, anti-sanity purveyors, all of them can stay in their own little bubbles and rant and rave all they want, but I have no need to listen to them, or to party with them
    It started in 2017, approximately, when I agreed to have an open conversation with a woman who called herself a free-thinking Republican. It did not take long for this person to tell me she had thought freely about all the lies Trump was accused of telling at that time, and openly decided he was not lieing, and that the liberal news media were printing fake news. If this was a free-thinking republican, I did not want to meet any Trump cultists. I did not even say good-bye to her, I deleted her from my followed blogs and never went back. I guess they call that ghosting now, and I was happy to become a ghost. How could any person calling themselves a free-thinking ever believe Trump was an honest man? It still boggles my mind.

    Liked by 3 people

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