Saturday, January 15, 2011

Train Back On Tracks

When I saw Glen Beck weeping on his show and saying "Thank you, Mr. President!" after his previously having called Barack Obama both a fascist and a communist, there came a sense that some things have now changed.

The psychopath who emptied 31 bullets into a crowd in Tucson last week was not particularly right-wing nor left-wing, although he does appear to have absorbed several demented ideas from those on the extreme right who love to be panicked. He had asked his congressman, Gabrielle Giffords, a Zen koan - "How can there be government when words make no sense?" She could find no sense in his words, and he was insulted.

This could happen to anyone. Suddenly conservatives who once espoused weaponry and called for killing their opponents if they did not beat them in the elections backpedaled furiously. Sarah Palin's map of the US showing gunsights lined up on the congressional districts where she wanted to defeat an incumbent suddenly became a map of "surveyor's markings".  Congressmen denied what they had been.

Then, at a stunning gathering to memorialize the lives that had been taken, Barack Obama refocused the national attention on the victims, on those who just happened to be there when the gunman exploded. When a madman kills, all the damage is collateral damage.

Calling for an end to demonizing and vindictiveness, Obama targeted the source of America's illusory anger. Calling for a straight-forward exchange of ideas, he provided a role for the unhappy, a route toward a world of common understandings. Calling for an end to artificial divisions and made-up conflicts, he pointed America toward a unitive future.

Perhaps Fox News, Glen Beck's employer, had learned that Wikileaks now has "insurance" files on owner Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps the call for a unitive process simply pulled the rug out from under Beck and the oxygen out of his studio. Perhaps hearing Attorney General Holder reading from the New Testament's second letter of Paul to the Corinthians led Beck to realize that we are all God's  disciples, even if we do not announce it to the world.

Perhaps America's differences have become now surrounded by America's unity.

Perhaps they always were.

On MSNBC news last night, on the very liberal Keith Olbermann show, who should appear as guest but an arch-conservative, a very logical arch-conservative, the National Journal's Reihan Salam, who managed to differ without demonizing.


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