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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. 

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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