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2008-2010 Posts

On Rejecting the Politics of Hate and Personal Attack

Starhawk, in the Washington Post, October 17, 2008:

“In the normal course of events, I’m a pro-anger kind of a gal. I came up through the feminist ranks in the seventies, when we were energized by the realization that all our lives, we women had been told to be ‘nice’, sweet, to placate the guys and not get them riled up. If we got angry, we either looked ‘cute’ or were unattractive raging b-words (rhymes with Witch). Anger was a rational response to the constrictions and dis-empowerment we faced as women, and it became a driving force in our efforts for cultural change. Ironically, one of those results is Sarah Palin’s candidacy. It is a triumph of feminism that we have so changed the culture in this country that the same kinds of reactionaries that wouldn’t have voted for a women in 1968 and would have opposed a woman voting in 1908 now have to turn to one to energize their base.

“Anger, however, is a dangerous emotion. Like fire, to which it is often compared, it can regenerate the forest when it burns through low and fast, or jump to the crowns of the trees and burn thousands of acres, devastating life and land. McCain and Palin have been piling up the trash to start a burn pile on a red flag day, when economic drought and winds of fear and panic are whipping it out of control. For that, they bear a huge responsibility. They have deliberately used innuendos, outright lies, and personal attacks to create an incendiary atmosphere. Palin has stood silent while her supporters chant to kill her opponent! That is tantamount to instigating and condoning political violence, if we must speak of ‘terrorism’. McCain has protested some of his followers’ excesses, but in condoning the strategy that feeds on fear, suspicion and thinly veiled racism, his attempts are like trying to beat out a few sparks in the tall grass after he has fed the blaze. Those of us who lay claim to some form of spiritual leadership should absolutely condemn the tactics of personal attack.

“We should call our politicians and our communities to think, speak and act from our best selves, not our worst, from respect and compassion, not from stoked-up rage and hate. Now, I grant you, it’s not going to mean much to McCain or Palin to learn that a Witch thinks they are behaving in a despicable and immoral way. Might even encourage them. But I call on you, sisters, brothers and freres of other faiths, especially you Christians whose voices will carry more weight, to speak out strongly in condemnation of the politics of hate. Speak to the McCain campaign, to your own congregations and coreligionists. Become the dampening rain that can douse this particular fire. A raging wildfire creates its own wind and weather, and feeds on itself. Regardless of your political convictions, hatemongering hurts and endangers us all.”

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