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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Tom Lehrer had it right.

Read today's Times in print and it's a pretty depressing appearance across the top of the inside national pages. Intolerance -- in Delaware, Seattle and Santa Ana, California. Not to mention Haifa, Beirut, Baghdad and Tehran. Or Mumbai and Islamabad.

And through it all, George W. Bush (you know the uniter, not the divider) fiddles and diddles trying to come to grips with the emotions he helped to unleash as part of his and Karl Rove's quest for election.

OK, the Bush political machine is not directly responsible for the Aryan Brotherhood and their ilk. But in his quest to appeal to the Ayatollahs of the Christian Right he certainly bears some responsibility for the sordid little story in Georgetown, Delaware. Consider this attitude:

"What people here are saying is, Stop interfering with our traditions, stop interfering with our faith and leave our country the way we knew it to be, said Dan Gaffney, a host at WGMD, a talk radio station in Rehoboth, and a supporter of prayer in the school district.
Or this:
"We have a way of doing things here, and it's not going to change to accommodate a very small minority," said Kenneth R. Stevens, 41, a businessman sitting in the Georgetown Diner. "If they feel singled out, they should find another school or excuse themselves from those functions. It's our way of life."

Is he Shiite or Sunni? Or another form of fundamentalist? Isn't this what we are allegedly fighting about in Iraq? Democracy, which includes freedom of religion and religion and tolerance (and courtesy) toward the beliefs of others?

Meanwhile, across the continent, we find a classic situation where intolerance mixes with easy access to weapons to create a classic one-sided grudge match. Time will tell what other demons possessed the suspect, who declared "I'm a Muslim American, I'm angry at Israel." But the fact this could happen at all is a sign of the malaise gripping this country.

And through it all, W. displays a stunning indifference to the urgency needed to calm to what is taking place along the Israel-Lebanon border.

Maybe he's just a fan of another piece made popular by Lehrer.


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