Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running on fuming: Double standards

When talking about the tactics of desperate Republicans, a common rebuttal is that, “Democrats do it too.” Whether or not Democrats actually are guilty of the same actions depends on the specific circumstance and is another debate altogether. Suffice to say, if the Democrats rationalized a dubious tactic by saying, “But Republicans do it too,” that would be equally reprehensible. That, however, is less common as of late.

The double-standard conceit is a well-worn favorite of the right, who apparently believe that two wrongs, no matter how dubious the connection, cancel out each other. Thus, it comes down to finding enough liberal bugaboos to neutralize conservative transgressions. Scale, timeliness and circumstance are all irrelevant, as long as the scorecard fills up and tilts in their favor.

The operative word in “Democrats do it too” is “too,” the implication being that one can stoop to the lowest level of the opposition, even while decrying that level. That’s the stance of a petulant child, not a thinking adult. In that respect, the comment says much about the current conservative mind-set.

It’s similar to sentiment espoused on various issues. For example, the war on terror:

“The United States must follow the Geneva Conventions.”
“Why? Al-Qaida doesn’t play by the rules!”

But as far as I know, al-Qaida isn’t the barometer for how the United States behaves. In fact, isn’t the whole premise of the U.S. that we are much, much better than al-Qaida? We’re supposed to be on a higher road than our enemies. A nation of laws, not riled up into mob rule and prone to dropping our principles whenever convenient. If the idea is to win hearts and minds, as was the mantra in the early days of the Iraq war, then we should at the very least have something attractive and enduring to counter the worst elements of those we fight. If it’s same shit, different flag, then what’s the point?

And that’s something conservatives should keep in mind: employing the same cheap tactics you allege to hate so much from liberals gives you no high ground. The very same people who think Code Pink are ridiculous idiots also think misinformed and hostile hecklers at town hall meetings are real patriots. Real acts of protest spark critical thinking; everything else is drama. Bluster and aggression might kill with red-meat crowd, but to everyone else it comes off as bitter, vengeful and shallow. If you guys want anyone to take you seriously, you have to be better than that which you criticize.

If that’s even possible. As with the other tactics I’ve described, the double-standard tack attempts to deflect the real issue at hand, instead becoming a superficial fight over whether Democrats or Republicans do something the most. And that is never a productive conversation. Which I guess is the point.

“Conservatives are trying to obstruct the health care debate to the point of hostility.”
“What. Conservatives can’t protest? You never have a problem with liberals protesting.”
“They’re heckling and drowning out speakers and adding nothing of value to the conversation.”
“Liberals do that too!”
“When they do, it’s not productive. But most liberal protests are peaceful, grass-roots and have at least some message beyond reactionary opposition and hatred.”
“You’re such a hypocrite. And a partisan douche bag.”

It’s hard to even call it a double standard. You need to have standards first.


Busplunge said...

good post.

good points.

I wish I had something pithy or clever to say, but I don't.

I was talking to a guy tonight at the hardware store who is my age (60) and he didn't believe Obama was born in America.

He was also against social security and medicare.

NOLA Progressive said...

Again Ian excellent point. We don't need parity between arguments as much as we need to fix things in this country. Double standards and left/right pissing contests don't do any of us any good.

Busplunge- There are way too many of that guy at the "hardware store" out there for my comfort lately. I always wonder with folks who espouse the anti government opinion like that as well, if they will turn down their Social Security check and their Medicare benefits?

Ian McGibboney said...

This very thing was once the subject of a Bloom County comic strip. I think I'll post it.

NOLA Progressive said...

That type of hypocrisy is only fit for the funnies!