By Jerry D. Haight
Some time ago, the inhabitants of a large aquarium held my fascination for the better part of an hour. The engineers designed the tank as precisely as possible to give the viewer a cross section of a reef similar to one of those great barriers found in Australia. On a canvas of emerald blue water was a base of brilliant white coral swaying with the artificial current. Then painted was a kaleidoscope of color and shapes of the wide variety of denizens occupying the aqua sphere. There was a school of blue ring angelfish with their brilliant yellow and transparent green framed in turquoise. Then came a procession of various anthias with scales shimmering in brilliant yellows and black, reds and oranges, limes, pinks and blues. The inhabitants ranged in size from the small timid soapfish to a massive whale shark. Some of the occupants were passive, some aggressive; some gregarious; some aloof, but all unique and beautiful.
But even in the pristine environment of the beautiful aquarium there was fish poop, somewhat analogous to the seeming pristine environment of our radio airways.
This thought came to mind not long ago when as an "occasional listener" of talk radio my dial landed on the Rush Limbaugh show as it sometimes does. A sampling of what I heard was a searing attack on the American mainstream media, calling them "the drive-
Growing tired of the incessant conservative bias and the wall to wall derogatory, Inflammatory, Critical dialogue, I was delighted to find an opposing viewpoint from a liberal talk radio station emanating out of Denver. On tuning in, they were in the middle of an interview when, Al Sharpton declared "this kind of sloppiness, ignorance and fabrication is run of the mill in Limbaugh's commentary, both broadcast and print. From dioxin to Whitewater, from Rodney King to Reaganomics, Rush Limbaugh has a finely honed ability to twist and distort reality." Further, Al Sharpton told the audiences that the Federal Communications Commission should take Rush Limbaugh off the airwaves because of offenses toward racial minorities and other groups. During other forays into what I hoped would be more refreshing, I encountered wall to wall hatred for George W. Bush by both host and callers, blaming him personally for the wars in Iraq Afghanistan, a bad economy, unemployment, energy shortages, dependence on foreign oil, and high gasoline prices. Then a diatribe comparing our former president with Herbert Hoover who, he said, was solely responsible for the great depression, the stock market crash, bank failures, factory closures, rampant unemployment and soup kitchens. Following that was an attack on churches, calling them the "tool of the right" citing the "fat cat evangelists pocketing billions for their right-
Then the host, David Sirota, told his audience "Republicans are nothing but a bunch of liars." then, said that is just "Republican regime BS" referring to the notion a more business friendly environment might encourage business growth and higher employment. Another comment had our country turning into a full-
Then from various "guests" of the host, I made note of the following:
Jay Marvin -
Tom Hardman (Sarcastic) No! It's just fine that Republicans turn public education over to profit-
Tom Hardman On Nit Romney's announcement of candidacy for president; Romney is a candidate that just oozes layoff, he leaves a trail of corporate layoffs and bankruptcies. It is prophetic that on the day of his announcement, unemployment reaches new highs". Then, "Republicans do not believe public sector jobs are real jobs and equate them with welfare".
Howard Minckler (Referring to Republicans) "reinventing history to control and enslave the majority of our population is only for the super rich to have POWER and complete control over the majority. Their world view is selfish, narcissistic, anti-
Rev. Toni Cook "I am sick and tired of the religious right telling the world they have the only religious point of view,"
Ray Taliaferro "In the days following the horrific events in Tucson, liberal politicians and pundits have, practically in unison, blamed Jared Loughner’s shooting rampage on the “political vitriol” that, they say, emanates from “right wing radio,” Fox News, and conservative websites.
Then a host related a story about Mercedes Benz, the automaker who paid $65 million in fines for failing to meet pollution standards. The company, according to the host, deducted the $65 million as a business expense in carrying on its business. Then the host railed about how than means "you and I" paid $65 million so that a bunch of rich people could drive around in big fancy cars and ruin our lungs. Just as I was doing the math; let's see, first, a tax deduction does not translate in what "you and I" paid since a deduction only reduces the income on which the top income tax rate of 35% is determined, that being $22.75 million in tax reduction. As I felt my skin crawl at the exaggeration, the host went on to say "Fortunately, the IRS was on to this scam and denied their claim". I felt scammed.
From these forays, I found little that was enlightening, positive, encouraging, helpful, hopeful, meaningful but rather what I found was derogatory, Inflammatory, Critical, strong conservative bias, strong liberal bias, ridicule, accusatory, derisive, divisive, discordant, antagonistic, hostile, argumentative, contentious, misrepresentative, manipulative, benders of the truth, hateful, disrespectful, instigative, false and inaccurate characterizations, demonizing, dehumanizing, disingenuous, stereotypical, fabrications, half truths and very polarizing to say the least.
At the peak of my disdain, I heard President Obama suggest that America's political discourse is being crippled by conservative talk radio and cable news shows. But then I remembered at a speech given in Tucson, he stated " we are all Americans, and we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country". I struggled to find consistency in his statements so have to look at his actions to give credence to his substance.
Finally, I had to ask rhetorically, which of the bodies buried at Arlington, or in France, Italy, Belgium or entombed in the USS Arizona were republican or conservative? Which of the marines hoisting the flag on Iwo Jima were democrats, liberals or progressives? Do we ask any of the soldiers, sailors, marines or any of those in harm's way of what political persuasion they are; and when they come home in flag draped coffins, are there different flags based on party affiliation?
One might ask, what has this to do with an aquarium? As I look around at the diversity of Americans, our cultures, our colors, shapes, sizes, walks of life, education, philosophical diversity, religious preferences and see far more that is admirable and all unique and beautiful as in the aquarium. But alas, like the aquarium, there is poop in our water as well, a lot liberal and a lot conservative.