Oct 122009
Authors: Josh Phillips

Since my time writing for the Collegian began, I have done my best to point out the disease that is plaguing America these days: The extreme polarization that pits our citizens against one other and threatens us with a Second Civil War. Lately, I have been trying to think of a way to expose the root of these egregious symptoms.

But then, through no action of my own, I was presented with the solution to my quandary. It came in the form of another staff writer, M. Alex Stephens, whose column Thursday is a prime example of the problem we in America face today.

Before I make my rebuttal, I promise to show Mr. Stephens a few things he refused his readers and fellow staff writers: Respect, decency and civility.

His column began with a faulty non-sequitur, saying that anybody who does not desire a government-option health care plan is out to “ruin as many lives as possible.” And in doing so, this non-sequitur opens up to a hasty generalization, causing him to believe that he can apply this reasoning to anybody not left-of-center.

Let me demonstrate the absurdity of his logic with a simple analogy. Stephens is a radical liberal who studies political science at CSU. As such, all political science majors at CSU are radical liberals. Obviously, this is a logical misstep.

Stephens asks who stands to benefit from socialized health care’s defeat. I say everyone in the United States stands to gain. Avoiding a government-option health care plan will ensure that the government does not overrun the market with a monopoly and that our most productive members of society are not dragged down by others.

If that isn’t enough to grind your gears, Stephens suggests that Obama’s government-option plan is the cure-all to the seemingly random statistic of “45,000 deaths from lack of access to health care.” Who determined this number? And how do we know that every single one of these deaths could have been prevented by nationalized health care? It is a fact of life that people get old and die and sometimes nothing can prevent it.

And in utilizing this erroneous number (as well as statements like the “bloodbath that has killed 4,500 Americans and 750,000 innocents”) Stephens is guilty of the same scare tactics he has attributed to conservatives. The exaggeration almost suggests that our government actually aimed to bring the casualties of war to this stunning height.

Iraqbodycount.org, a well-known ultra left-wing Web site, doesn’t even suggest that 750,000 innocents have died in Iraq. The Washington Post agrees with a report generated by the Library of Congress, which places the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at approximately 100,000. Though still tragic, the number of fatalities is nowhere near what Stephens suggests.

Here we have a kind of ignorance so steadfast in faulty reasoning that it will cause as much attrition as possible, just to ensure that it is heard. It is the same kind of sentiment that can be found on the extremes of both political sides, and it’s never proven to be anything but self-serving, conceited and downright dangerous.

Now, I don’t blame Stephens for carrying a negative sentiment for those he disagrees with, and I would never discourage him from voicing his opinion. It is when an opinion is loaded with blithe arrogance, shady statistics and hateful vehemence that it becomes intolerable.

Must I remind Stephens that the Democrats are responsible for the deaths of 4,000 Cherokee during Andrew Jackson’s term of office? Or that the Democrats fought to keep slavery alive and their resulting secession began the U.S. Civil War? They, too, make mistakes, and we should consider the possibility that focusing on the misdeeds of just one political party in no way promotes the non-partisan view we should all strive to achieve.

Regardless, some choose to cling to the media-concocted doctrine that anything right-of-center is evil. Stephens’ attempt to paint those who disagree with him as soulless, faceless monsters is a tribute to his blatant disregard for civility in political discourse.

It is easy for any of us to become emotionally attached to something we feel strongly about. In Stephens’ case, that emotion happens to be anger, and his column shows the venomous dialogue that appears when we entertain such misleading emotions for far too long.

Josh Phillips is a senior business administration major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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