Barack Obama’s pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., has left his campaign because remarks he has made were “inflammatory.” Geraldine Ferraro has stepped down from her position in Hillary Clinton’s campaign because remarks she has made were “inflammatory.” Meanwhile, that George W. Bush labels huge swathes of the world as “evil” is NOT seen as a problem by far too many.
The common thread running through all of this is that it seems our tolerance for discussion of issues in anything other than a black-and-white, cartoonish way is very limited, indeed. Racism and sexism are real … but as a culture we can’t seem to even begin to address their complexities. Instead we get all riled and victimy, pointing fingers and shouting “foul.”
It would be so nice if our leaders could talk with civility and depth about matters that tear at the fabric of our culture. It would be nice, too, if the press and pundits could. And it would be nicer, still, if we, the public, displayed an appetite for informed and intelligent debate. I don’t see it happening … not now. As the Democrats wrestle for power in an increasingly ugly internecine struggle, the likes of Olbermann, Matthews and Russert fan the flames and go for ratings and “news” at the cost of real content.
So forgive me, if I return, with March Madness on the horizen, to musings about Pokey Chatman’s journey … and Pat Summitt’s raccoon episode, and Rutgers’ challenges going into the Big Dance … and other such matters (about which civil debate seems more possible).