by Steve Clem on March 17, 2013

If you were to believe all the things that come across my Facebook news feed on a daily basis, you’d think we had a Socialist, Muslim, non-US-citizen tyrant in the White House who wants to take away all your guns, take away all your money, and give it all to the Muslim Brotherhood. Our president is here to destroy our country from the inside out.

He wants to put the oil companies out of business, wants to prevent you from being able to pray to whatever God you choose to, and while we’re at it, he wants to eat your puppy as an appetizer.

So what are we to do about this travesty, this treason?

Well, I’m quite certain — based on the things I see from my Facebook friends — that there are some people out there who would like to have President Obama meet the business end of their AR-15, which is sometimes used for hunting and sometimes used for fighting tyranny, depending on the day. (But it’s never used to kill innocent children.)

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying Obama is flawless. In fact, I’d say he’s been disappointing to me over his first-term-plus-a-few-months in office. In my humble opinion, he comes across as smug, seems to be following advice from people he shouldn’t be, and is better at delivering speeches and firing up a crowd than rolling up his sleeves and getting things done.

But he is not:

  • a Socialist (or a Fascist, for that matter).
  • a Muslim.
  • a tyrant.
  • a non-US citizen.
  • trying to destroy this country from the inside out.

He IS a black man. And it’s hard to not think that’s the main factor in the underlying fear and loathing of all things Obama. I’m not calling anybody a racist. But I do have to wonder why he’s still being targeted for things that have been disproved time and time again over the last five years.

Because I don’t remember this fear and loathing during the last presidency. Oh sure, there was plenty of hatred toward Dubya. But I don’t count the criticisms from the people who fashion hats out of tinfoil and believe the 9/11 attacks were carried out by our government.

I fully admit that Dubya lost my support when he decided to invade a sovereign (and predominantly Muslim) country as a preemptive strike against false intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction. As a student of international relations, I was well aware of the fact that Osama Bin Laden initially made our country his primary target during the first Gulf War, back in the early ’90s. A decade later, he got our attention with the worst terrorist attack on our soil. So taking our fight back to the scene of the crime seemed to be a bad idea to me. And to Dubya’s father — but that’s another story altogether.

But my disagreement with his policy always came with a respect for the office. Because that’s how I was raised. You take your hat off when you walk into a government building. And you sure as hell don’t wear shorts into a courtroom (no, I wasn’t in courtrooms as a defendant, or as a plaintiff). Disagreement is allowed, but not without respect for your opponent.

But thanks to a two-pronged disinform-and-disagree strategy from the Republican party, a media that is out of control in all directions, and the inability to fact-check all of the gajillion statements being made on the interwebz each day, our society is at an all-time high level of cray-cray.

The politics of fear is the new way. You don’t have to offer up solutions if you’re successful at making the other side out to be the boogeyman. And it’s much easier when the boogeyman doesn’t look like your constituents. Fear that which you do not know or understand.

So people are posting videos on how to build your own AR-15 and stay off the government’s radar. They are posting links to articles claiming Obama is intentionally trying to cause the price of gasoline to rise. I even read a link on Facebook last week that said because our nation is not a pure democracy, but a republic, that therefore Republicans are better than Democrats. And just last week, we witnessed GOP senator Rand Paul suggesting that Obama would call in drone strikes against members of the tea party.

The stupidity must stop. Can we please bring back some decency, some respect, and even a little bit of common sense to our political discussions? Because let’s face it: there are many people collecting big fat salaries right now in Washington, DC, and they don’t all live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And they also don’t give one rat’s ass hair about you. Or me.

I know I’m not going to convince most of you of much. But I hope I can convince you of this: even if you refuse to respect the man, and even if you fear him for whatever reason, please respect the office. And if you can’t do that very American (and patriotic, flag-waving, apple-pie-eating) thing, well then, just do me a favor and STFU.

* * * *

Steve Clem is a divorced dad, a recovering Republican, and a Prisoner in the Tundra. He is in The Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the largest Hokey Pokey of all time. He was the founding editor of the Iowa City weekly The ICON.

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