Some people say that the most vile attacks on Obama are racially motivated and that latent racism is perhaps the real motivating issue behind the protests; others say that Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, attended an Indonesian madrassa, and is both a communist and a fascist.
Some people say that evolution is a fact; others say not only that evolution is just a theory, they also think that Intelligent Design is an acceptable alternative.
The first statement was a matter of opinion; it really is possible that Obama is the victim of racist attacks, but it is not possible for Obama to have been born in Kenya. I only put them together because when some people point out the stupidity inherent in believing that Obama is a Muslim, they retort “well, you believe all protesters are racist” – as if that puts me on equal footing with you. It is not the same to make a valid opinion (racist motivation) and to be flat out wrong (it is known for a fact that Obama was not born in Kenya).
The second statement compare two ideas; one is science, the other is not. One is fact, the other one is belief. And just to make it perfectly clear, evolution is a fact. To contradict fact is to be wrong.
Notice how I didn’t bother putting a label on the people who say these things. That’s because it should be fairly obvious to you who I’m talking about, but if I said “conservatives say this”, one tends to think that I mean to say “all conservatives”. I figured that people are having a lot of difficulty understanding that distinction lately. I also did it because I wanted to demonstrate these contrasting ideas without all the ideological baggage attached, if only for a split second. Sometimes, there really aren’t two sides to a story. Sometimes, it really just boils down to truth vs. stupid. Reality is not up for interpretation. When both arguments are given equal time and weight before the media, we have what is known as false equivalence. It’s a form of political correctness that tries to find a middle ground between competing ideas by saying that one side is just as crazy as the other, or one argument is just as valid as the other. It’s putting appearances before truth is what it is. It’s cowardice.
I remember a review that Roger Ebert wrote a few years ago for the film “Team America: World Police”, in which he calls out Trey Parker and Matt Stone for treating “both sides” as if they were two sides of the same coin. Ebert said then that the problems were too great for somebody to refuse to stand for principle; now, the problems are even greater.
Let us not pretend that the nuts on the left are the same as the nuts on the right – when Bush and Cheney eviscerated the Bill of Rights and subverted the Constitution at ever turn, they acted far more Hitler-ish than anything Obama has EVER done. When the Supreme Court handed Bush the election, that was an undemocratic subversion of the will of the people and the right to have every vote counted; do you mean to tell me that the left accusing Bush of stealing the election is the same as the right accusing Obama of being a Kenyan-born Muslim – despite the FACT that he isn’t?
When Keith Olbermann rails against an enemy, at the very least he is backed up by FACTS – that is not something you could always say about Bill O’Reilly and it something you could NEVER say about Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Olbermann and O’Reilly are NOT simply batting for their own teams; they’re not even playing the same sport.
Which brings me to the difference between Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly. There’s a reason Stephen Colbert prefers “truthiness” to facts. It’s because one of these two prefers “truthiness” to facts. People often compare one to the other on the grounds that they are both talking heads and on different sides of the ideological divide. But the facts are what sets them apart – one of them bases his strongly worded opinions on fact while the other basically lies. What sucks is that I can’t prove any of it to you if you don’t believe in facts. You’ll just have to look at their track records – why not start with O’Reilly? 15 minutes on Media Matters or FAIR.org should give you an idea of who’s shooting straight.
I believe that while not all liberals and progressives argue from facts, most of them do. I wish there were a way to measure this. There already do exist organizations that measure accuracy in reporting – the aforementioned Media Matters and FAIR.org – and they always seem to go after Fox News. It’s not that their biased. It’s just that, as Stephen Colbert once said, because reality has a decidedly liberal bias. I agree with facts and valid opinions; over the years, I have come to the conclusion that it is the reason I call myself a progressive.