Batteries not included
But if you’ve finished fourth-grade math it should be apparent that there is a missing 10 percent, which is the topic of today’s commentary. It also should be noted that this 10 percent is about evenly split between right and left.
Sometimes we can recognize the ultra right by the swastikas on their armbands or their camouflage fatigues. Meanwhile, the far left are recognizable whenever they burn an American flag on the grounds that it’s their First Amendment right.
Aside from such overt displays, it’s usually their words that enable us to recognize them and their political agenda. Sometimes we need look no further than the editorial pages of our newspapers.
The ultra right tells us that any war America was involved in was a “good war,” yet at the same time many would like to take us back to the pre-World War II isolationist years. They’ll tell us how we were sold out in Vietnam and that we could have won that war but for the politicians, without regard to the morality of our being there. The old-timers believe that if our government had allowed George Patton’s 3rd Army to initiate a war with the Russians in 1945, we wouldn’t have had the problems of the past 58 years.
To many of this group, the word equality has no meaning, i.e., minorities are their universal scapegoats and it’s those people of different skin tones who are the cause of America’s past and present problems.
They tend to be ultra strict constructionists of the Constitution and feel that the “Right to Bear Arms” actually means the right to have an A-1 Abrams tank or laser guided weapons in their garage. They believe that the Democratic Party is soft on defense; that we’ve become a welfare state or soon will be; and that the best form of government is a benign dictatorship (although they fail to mention just how one goes about finding a benign dictator.)
They tell us that federal income tax is illegal (well, maybe they’re on to something there) and that the federal government’s responsibilities should be to provide for the national defense, build roads and to allow free-market capitalism to operate unrestrained by governmental oversight, and then stay out of the way.
Opposing those views are the ultra left. The principles that underpin their philosophy is that equality must be extended into every aspect of life, including race, gender, the civil sphere, the military and the economy regardless of any other salient or relevant factors. In this sense the ultra left transcends Marxism and elevates equality above all the other components of democracy.
Their arguments tend to be long on rhetoric and short on substance, and they tell us how conservatives want segregated lunch counters and back-alley abortions for women. However, while reciting their mantra, they feel no compunction about their lack of facts or the lack of specificity in their points of view.
These are the people who vociferously regard voluntary student prayer at high school football games as an attack on the Constitution, yet scream bloody murder unless battlefield detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are allowed to pray to Allah. When they describe those of their own ilk, they use terms such as moderate or centrist. But when they describe conservatives, they call them right wing extremists.
They’ll attack anyone right of center, yet hold them selves above the debate. Their primary tactic when assaulting anyone opposed to their views is to first question their motives and follow that up by criticizing their intelligence. (If you listen to them, you will be amazed at how many conservatives are just downright stupid.)
They excel at finding something noble in any ideology that opposes the principles of democracy. They will find good in communism, an ideology that precipitated the murder of over 50 million people in Russia, China and Cambodia. They’ll find something good to say about a terror organization that supports and finances suicide bombers who murder women and children. And finally, no attack from the extreme left would be complete without mention of the environment, ecology and how it is damaged only during the years when Republicans control the oval office or the Congress.
Both of these factions operate with closed minds, yet are completely at ease with their bumper sticker mentalities. Thank goodness that most Americans are clear-thinking citizens who bring diverse ideas to the national debate.
However, sometimes even voices from the fringe have something relevant to say – albeit not very often. So the next time you listen to or read comments from one of these folks, don’t automatically dismiss all of their points of view. Remember, even a clock without a battery is correct twice a day.
Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com