GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

September 18, 2013

Letter: Syria debate letter rife with 'propaganda'


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

With all due respect, the only thing crazy about Mary Madore’s letter (the Times, Tuesday, Sept. 10) regarding the “craziness” of any military action against Syria was the content of the letter itself.

As someone who has made it a part-time job to track, monitor, and document the rhetoric and activities of the far right, overwhelmingly white, Tea Party extremists who now dominate the base of the once great party of Lincoln, reading Ms. Madore’s letter was like listening to Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh, and Glen Beck, along with reading the propaganda spewed on blogs and websites like GOPUSA Eagle, Red State, Tea Party Patriots, and Cape Ann’s new, primarily right-wing site that emerged after the Times eliminated anonymous commentary.

Now, Ms. Madore did correctly point out that the Syrian opposition is, in addition to many who seek truly democratic reforms in Damascus, made up of some who seek to impose a strict Islamic state in place of the Assad regime.

But Ms. Madore was, at best, disingenuous, with her inferences that the Syrian opposition is made up of nothing but radical Islamists looking to impose Sharia Law on Syria and slaughter Christians in the process.

Again, Ms. Madore was parroting comments made by Sen. Rand Paul — the man who recently said he thought the long-dead Milton Friedman would be a good choice to head the Federal Reserve when Ben Bernanke steps down. Sen. Paul publicly questioned why President Obama would want to retaliate against Bashar al Assad, despite his use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians, when Assad, according to this senator who aspires to the presidency, is a strong defender of Christians.

The inference was clear. Paul was implying that Obama, by contemplating military action against the dictator in Damascus, was somehow anti-Christian. The theme played well in more than a few right-wing media outlets and blog and websites.

These extremists who now dominate the base of the GOP have all but destroyed any semblance of civil discourse and political maturity in the United States.

Nothing exemplifies that sad reality more than Jeb Bush’s caving to pressure from right wing extremists and declining to present Hillary Clinton with a medal from the organization he heads that celebrates the Constitution because his handlers decided that Jeb’s doing so would provide a photo op for the extremists of the Republican Party to use against him in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries.

These right wingers have every right to express their views and opinions. Likewise, intelligent and decent Americans from across the political spectrum have every right, not to mention an obligation and responsibility, to counter them at every opportunity.

The debate over what to do in Syria is far from over. No matter what happens, the implications for the nation and the world are enormous.

That is why we need an adult and intelligent discussion of the issues, not the kind of “craziness” and anti-Obama paranoia that so filled Ms. Madore’s letter — the kind that right wing pols and ratings seekers so love to enflame and exploit.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester