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Jeff Ward: Demonizing the Opposition Only Diminishes You!

So stop it! From Batavia to Clarendon Hills, Western Springs to Lisle, Patchland folks are as guilty as anybody in Washington.

Bill Maher recently came up with one of the most brilliant comedic commentary bits I’ve ever seen. You can watch it yourself here forearmed with the knowledge that the language (no F-bombs) might not be for everyone.

Maher essentially answered has-been rocker Ted Nugent’s assertion that President Obama leads a “vile, evil America-hating administration that’s wiping its (bleep) with the Constitution.”

“If Obama were as radical as they claim,” Maher replied, “here’s what he would’ve already done. Pulled the troops out of Afghanistan, given us Medicare for all, ended the drug war, cut the defense budget in half, and turned Dick Cheney over to The Hague.”

Maher went on to point out that the president had cut taxes and presided over the smallest growth in federal spending going back to and including the Reagan administration. He didn’t break up the too-big-to-fail banks, oversaw a historic increase in the number of oil rigs, and corporate profits are at record highs.

“If he’s a socialist, he’s a lousy one,” Maher quipped.

Then he said something that really hit me: “This isn’t about what Obama is, it’s about what you need him to be, because hating him is what gets you up in the morning.”

Before you hit the submit button, this is not meant to be a referendum on Bill Maher. Again, I like him because his show hosts folks from both sides of the aisle, and he understands that political sentiment goes both ways. I never bought into the bilge that George W. Bush was inherently evil; I just thought he wasn’t very bright.

And the phenomenon Maher so aptly described, demonizing the other side, goes way beyond Washington. Take one short look around you and you’ll see that Patchland is rife with this kind of take-no-prisoners mentality.

We’ll start with Glen Ellyn, where the fracas over the installation of rose to the level of a local Civil War. And the casualties, measured in lost friendships, goodwill and reputations, are almost as horrific as the real thing.

I’m sure Glen Ellyn Patch Editor Samantha Liss is still typing the sentence, “This comment has been removed for violating the terms of use” in her sleep.

Though Batavia is sedate by comparison, the uncompromising uproar over an updated and has been outright baffling. I guess when the downtown stakes are that low, people feel the need to get nutty about it.

In Clarendon Hills, it’s the prospect of . A group calling themselves managed to turn a fairly factual issue into an ugly debate by openly questioning the obviously nefarious motives of the Village Board.

Ain’t it funny how these groups that have the word “for” in their title are never actually “for” anything?

Then there’s this one! In a bizarre Dr. Strangelove-esque turn, the folks in Western Springs turned the clock back to 1955 when, I kid you not, they bitterly debated the merits of .

As I like to say, some of you have way too much time on your hands.

My own Geneva is by no means exempt. In fact, they’re particularly adept at the gotcha game.

There’s the group of homeowners who claim an influx of means the advent of the anti-Christ, there was an absurd and unnecessary battle over a , and we have an whose generally childish behavior makes Veruca Salt look really good.

And speaking of school boards, in Downers Grove, it’s actually that that believes the only way you can bury the hatchet is if you do it in each other’s heads. If our local governing bodies can’t set an example, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Ah! But the winner of the "2012 Rufus T. Firefly Whatever it Is, I’m Against it Award" has to be Lisle, where those folks have gone toe-to-toe over the impending , an ultimately-denied , a technical school’s pending  and an attempt to .

The sad thing is, in every one of the above life-and-death cases, the content of the opposition’s character became more important than the ready exchange of thoughts and ideas, which is ultimately necessary for the survival of any healthy democracy.

So I scoured the Net in an attempt to learn why these contentious individuals, who generally claim to be the proud proprietors of truth, justice and the American way, would be willing to destroy the process just to get their way.

But I didn’t find a satisfactory explanation, so I came up with one of my own.

I believe this damn-the-ethical-debate-torpedoes, full-character-assassination-speed-ahead mentality has become so popular because it absolves us from having to think, come up with a rational facts-based case, and having to take responsibility for our own lives.

There seems to be this growing cultural notion that our own sad plight is always the result of some nefarious “other” and, purely in our self defense, we must completely destroy our foes to assure our own elusive happiness.

The problem is, always pressing the attack never eases that internal pain, and these superficial people simply move from target to target with no concern for the infliction of intentional and collateral damage. When they run out of enemies, they simply self-destruct.

What the demonizers don’t realize is, in the end, their tactic not only diminishes the debate, but it diminishes the diminisher. It certainly follows the law of diminishing returns, because bodies like the Lisle Planning Commission have gotten so fed up with the demonizing process, they to avoid those unnecessary detours.

The truth is, the debate isn’t about you, it’s about all of us.

Here’s the thing, if you don’t like the president’s policies, that’s fine. I voted for him and, until very recently, he’s been off my Christmas card list for a long time. But if you’re going to disagree with his policies, then give me a rational reason for why you made that choice.

Don’t tell me he wasn’t born here, because as Maher also said, “We haven’t lost our freedoms! I’m pretty sure the only things Obama has killed are Bin-Laden and Donald Trump’s last shred of dignity.”

Editor's note: Memorial Field is located at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn not Glenbard South. Patch has corrected the mistake. 

Jim Ryan June 22, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Well put, Kate, although I think you only understood one half of Jeff's piece. Let's not forget that the person in the White House now is a socialist, a Marxist, a Nazi, a communist, a tyrant, a Muslim, a Kenyan, someone who wipes his a** with the Constitution (thanks, Ted) and wants to destroy our way of life. My footnote to the above would be talk radio, a certain cable network and the likes of the Joe Walsh (not the talented one).
Jeff Ward June 22, 2012 at 04:49 PM
No, It's a statement of fact. Much like being 6 feet tall is. Jeff
Colin C. June 22, 2012 at 05:26 PM
There have been many valid studies that tend to show that "average" people who self identify as socially conservative have less education and more dismissive of proven facts than those who self identify as socially progressive. Magazines that summarize peer reviewed journal articles including Science, Scientific American, and Discover have published several articles on these studies in the last five years.
Colin C. June 22, 2012 at 06:20 PM
Jeff. You mentioned the dust-up over Campton Hills as an example. I am always reminded of the invective hurled at people by those who opposed the construction of the Kane County Jail at the corner of Rt.38 and Peck. That got incredibly nasty and personal. Of course, the new jail would ruin property values and escaped and released prisoners would pillage the community and rape local residents. I'm not aware of any of that actually happening yet, but there is always hope.
Ray June 22, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Jeff, are you sure you didn't write all these things because you HATE AMERICA? ;)
Jeff Ward June 22, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Ray, You caught me! Well that and I just can't help myself. Jeff
Brian Doyle June 22, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I keep coming back to James Madison's observations in Federalist #10 that "the latent causes of faction are ... sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society" (http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm). This was as true in the late 18th century as it is today.
Lisle Watchdog June 22, 2012 at 10:23 PM
There was actually a paid PR effort to "demonize" and smear the individuals who opposed Navistar's proposed industrial diesel engine testing in Lisle. Tax dollars were used to lobby elected officials for approvals to grant over 2 dozen variances the worst of which would have required a Title V air emissions permit to kick out diesel exhaust pollution. The PR campaign would have cost a bit more today than it did a couple years ago now that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has determined that diesel exhaust is a class 1 human carcinogen and is definately known to cause cancer.
Maria June 22, 2012 at 10:43 PM
From Western Springs to Lisle, Batavia to Glen Ellyn and Clarendon Hill, we have the same problem we have in Springfield and Washington - arrogant elected officials who think they have "power" and have completely forgotten that they represent "The People". Becuase of this, "The People" have to constantly remind them that we live in a democracy.
Justin Eggar June 23, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Colin - you don't have to have a education to be bright. Perhaps it would benefit you to study some of the most famous and /or rich people in the world. If you'd like I can make a more pointed example of what your utilizing education = intelligence means in the real world example. You might not like the point you are making though. Let me take the bait though. What proven facts are these people dismissing?
Justin Eggar June 23, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Jeff, I'm curious, are you referring to your constant demonizing of those that don't hold your political views... Or are we talking about something else here? Maher is junkl. Saying "this is what gets you up in the morning" is utter garbage. Most Americans are just tring to pay their bills, and aside from our ever increasing national debt a good many Americans could care less. In what world can you reference a tool like Maher who demonizes anybody that doesn't believe like he does (and attacks them incessantly) and then try and make a point about rational dialogue. C'mon Jeff, your delicious cooking at 60 Men Who Cook still won't allow me to grant you that kind of intellectual variance.
Mouse June 23, 2012 at 05:40 AM
You want to really know the cause? Talk radio and FOX News. They have proven that there are $billions to be made by lowering yourself to the bottom of the barrel and attempting to drag everyone else there too. So now we're a gaggle of me-too parrots. It's disgusting.
Justin Eggar June 23, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Mouse - are you suggesting that the cause is "the others guys"? Because I heard them say the same thing.
Jimmy June 23, 2012 at 06:44 AM
"Jeff Ward: Demonizing the Opposition Only Diminishes You!" How ironic! ward is now lecturing US about demonizing the opposition. This is the same "columnist" who in an April 2011 Batavia Patch opinion article implied that Tea Party activists, fiscally-conservative Americans and many MILLIONS of other Americans are racists for demonstrably disagreeing with and loudly protesting against obama's irreparably-destructive, nanny-state, entitlement-demanding, welfare-mentality, redistribution-of-wealth policies. Writing about these vocal dissenters (Tea Party assemblies) and, to a lesser extent, their incredibly influential sway at the ballot box (November 2010 elections), ward attempted to marginalize their agenda, impact and legitimacy by asserting their uproar was less a spirited objection over obama's policies, but was actually much more a vile objection over obama's skin shade. The following is a quote from ward's April 2011 article: "You see, whether you like it or not, that kind of effort takes hard work and it's far easier to attack a black president instead." Because of this nonsensical and ludicrous assertion (and from many of his other asinine assertions), my opinion of ward could not get any worse. Unless, of course, ward just happens to be one of those bicyclists who wears the gay-ish, skintight, multicolored, look-at-me, bicycle attire.
Jeff Ward June 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM
And so my point is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!
Edward Andersen June 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Having lived in Western Springs for twelve years, I am well aware of their water issues. Unlike the surrounding suburbs, Western Springs takes their water from deep well water not Lake Michigan. There has always been an undercurrent of residents, who want to switch to Lake Michigan water. The water had issues back in the 80s and 90s, but recent developments have now impacted people's appliances and drinking water. So, I don't quite see the author's point on the Western Springs water issue.
Mike June 23, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Jeff and liberals like him, are like the bully in the schoolyard poking a boy with a stick. When the boy starts to fight back the bully cries foul and says " let's be civil" Fox news and talk radio continue to be a voice for half of America if not more. Traditional Americans who believe in limited government , individual freedom and personal responsibility are no longer sitting quiet..,.. And the libs can't stand it. " liberals want conservatives to stop talking.....conservatives want liberals to talk more"
Meadowman June 23, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Studies done by liberals always conclude that liberals are more intelligent than non-liberals.
Jeff Ward June 23, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Mike, I want less government too, but the truth is - as Maher pointed out - all the Republican presidents back to and including Reagan have run up government spending while the two democrats have not. The most heavily taxed county in the country is Kendall County which is as Republican as it can possibly get. If conservatives actually did more than just talk about less government, I'd be 100 percent behind them, but they don't. Jeff
Mouse June 23, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Justin, what "others guys"? Did you read what I wrote? The business of political babble for profit is huge (check out what your favorite media mouth makes if you don't believe me)and the easiest way to continue raking in the hundreds of $millions is to foment fake controversy, name-call and in some cases outright lie on-air every day. There is no money in constructive discourse or the truth. It's a repeat of the newspaper industry's fit of yellow journalism over 100 years ago. Here's what Frank Luther Mott described as yellow journalism's five characteristics: Frank Luther Mott (1941) defines yellow journalism in terms of five characteristics: 1) scare headlines in huge print, often of minor news 2) lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings 3) use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts 4) emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips 5) dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system. In today's electronic "news" media you have ALL of these back in use. #4 and #5 have morphed into, respectively, animated primary-color background graphics (usually red white and blue for obvious reasons) and the laughable insistence that the talkers are not part of the "mainstream media" when they are all owned by the largest media corporations on the planet. Nothing has changed, and you're being played for profit.
Kate June 23, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Jeff, Presidents propose spending, but Congress approves it and adds to it. When Clinton was president, we had a Republican Congress. As for Kendall County, I don't know where you get your facts, but Lake County is the highest taxed county in the country; Cook County has the highest sales tax. And we don't need to look any further than Illinois to understanding government spending. Democrats have had the legislature and governor's office for more than a decade. Illinois is now the state in the Union with the highest debt and worst credit rating.
Mike June 23, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Jeff, I'm by no means going to defend current or past republicans because they are also part of the problem. But look at Illinois versus Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio all states run by CONSERVATIVES who are trying to get the fiscal house in order, and succeeding for the most part. The Conservative tea party movement was against all big government and the nanny state. At least get behind the party that "talks" about less government instead of the party that wants bigger government and more spending. Also, using Bill Maher to make a point is a joke. Click the link bellow for refuting info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Total_Deficits_vs._National_Debt_Increases_2001-2010.png http://blog.heritage.org/2012/05/24/the-truth-about-president-obamas-skyrocketing-spending/ You may also disagree with the source, but there are 2 sides to an argument.
Ned June 23, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Bill Maher - really? MAHER: CONSERVATISM NOT AN IDEOLOGY, ‘IT’S JUST ABOUT BEING A DxxK’ - http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2012/06/23/Maher-Conservatism-is-not-ideology-%20just-about-being-adick
Justin Eggar June 24, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Yes - I read what you wrote. Fox news and talk radio. However, there are a ton more news stations that are guilty of this (not just Fox). Truth is the media is horribly biased and you are guaranteed that any time they push something as a fact that the primary fact involved is that it has their own spin on it. My point wasn't that ou're wrong - its that everybody likes to say the other team is guilty of it while ignoring their own.
Mouse June 24, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Clearly you didn't understand what I wrote then. Fox News and talk radio proved the market. Now there are dozens of carnival barkers (on both "teams") chumming the water in hope of creating false controversy for profit. Personally I don't have a "team" here because I don't consider the future of this country a "sport". It's time to end the game.
Justin Eggar June 24, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Everybody has a team, whether they admit it to themselves or not. As to political babble, it's been around for ages. Fox is unlikely an originator in that. Unless you are suggesting that the concept of profit via false controversy is a new one.
Dan June 24, 2012 at 03:39 AM
Mouse were you thinking about global warming when you compared this list to today? Scare headlines in huge print. Lavish use of pictures or imaginary drawings. Parade of false learning from so-called experts.... A good way to demonize the other side might be to call them a name say deniers. Yeah you guys are on to something. I think were just being played for the sake of profits!
Mouse June 24, 2012 at 04:38 AM
No, I was mostly thinking about sheep like you, Dan. And maybe Glenn Beck.
Colin C. June 25, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Justin, Intelligence is largely inborn but without knowledge is pretty much useless. Knowledge comes from education, formal and informal. Neither equates with being famous or rich. The studies that I mentioned worked with people who denied the validity of evolution, geology. cosmology, and other developed sciences. When those who professed disbelief of the scientifically proven facts in these and other subjects were presented with solid, factual information and then interviewed again months later the tendency was for their denial to actually increase in spite of the fact that they could not refute the evidence that they had been given. It would appear that they rejected what they had learned simply because it did not fit with their chosen world view. Thus they chose to believe myth over reality. I think that most of us are prone to doing this to some extent but I also think that one should be open to that which oppose our preconceptions. There is a wonderful scene at the end of the play “Inherit the Wind” where, having outdebated the William Jennings Bryant character on the subject of evolution vs creation, the Clarence Darrow character picks up copies of The Origin of Species and of the Bible, contemplates both, then puts them both back into his briefcase as equals, both worthy of study and understanding. I think that we need to know the difference between fact and faith.
Kyle June 25, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Dear Jimmy, I have great news for you my friend! There are a few functional aspects of wearing tight, breathable fabrics while riding a bicycle, besides being more comfortable. For one, it's safer to have minimal loose fabric flopping around the machinery that carries your body through traffic. Minimal flopping fabric also creates minimal drag/wind resistance, which leads to a more efficient ride. Also, we have discovered that multicolored 'look at me' attire assists in -get this- making one more visible to motorists or other pedestrians. You know, for safety. So please, before you make a bad joke about things you obviously know nothing about, take a minute to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Hugs, Your "Gay-ish" Neighbor

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