By Tera Ertz
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
The important part of this conversation begins at the 7:44 mark. Hypocrisy is a word we here frequently in the world of politics. Conservatives are held to be hypocrites for everything from bad marriages or youthful misbehavior to objecting to President Obama on policy yet supporting folks like Herman Cain and Clarence Thomas. The broad brush stroke of conservative so called hypocrisy that permeates our media, politics and culture is based on two pillars, the basic misperceptions we have allowed to proliferate about Christianity and our belief system, and Saul Alinsky’s Rule # 4, make them live up to their rules. Because the ten commandments, and Christianity in general ask that Christians do their best to abide by a biblical moral code, and because political correctness has cowed us into allowing non-Christians to define a large part of the public understanding of that code, these two pillars have combined into a powerful bludgeon used on conservatives in all walks of life, but most especially in politics and what passes for news these days. The theory goes that Christians are required to never fail in their attempts to draw closer to God, and that any transgression that doesn’t fit the liberal narrative of the touchy feely, warm and squishy picture of Christianity therefore proves the hypocrisy of the individual. Of course, what this attitude fails to take into account is that fact the Christianity actually promotes the idea that we are incapable of living up to our rule book, and only by our acceptance of God’s grace will we ever make any progress toward moral perfection. And, that in the Christian worldview, this progress is uneven and filled with bumps in the road (as a prominent man once said of our economic recovery), in other words it is an ongoing process that last a lifetime and is filled with constant failure. Christianity does not demand that we do not fail to live up to our moral standards, it simply demands that we give ourselves over to God and allow him to continually guide us toward that moral standard.
Now, here in American there is the added dimension of patriotism and the belief in individual liberty and responsibility that combines with the moral character of conservatives to add fuel to the liberal fires of hypocritical condemnation. The narrative goes that if you as an individual have not done every single thing that is required, under the liberal perception of what you think patriotism means, you are therefore a hypocrite and not to be trusted. And you should be denounced as unfit to breath the same air as the rest of creation. Unfortunately for liberals like Mr. O’Donnell, this use of the word hypocrisy does not actually reflect the definition of the word.
the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc, contrary to one’s real character or actual behaviour, esp the pretence of virtue and piety
Now, considering that the root of this term is biblical in nature, I find it a bit strange that the public guardians against using religious standards to dictate acceptable personal behavior use it to denounce their foes, but worse it is not an accurate depiction. Conservative do not profess a standard of human perfection, or even societal perfection, nor do they profess superhuman qualities that would allow them to be all things to all people at all times. They profess the belief that the power of the individual is superior to the power of government and that the power of God is the only power stronger than that. Even in this relationship, the individual is still sovereign in that he has the choice to follow or not. And it must be noted that to be a hypocrite in this sense of the word, your actions or character must be contrary to the standards you profess, not the standards someone else thinks you profess or wishes you professed.
1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.
Mr. O’Donnell first asked Herman Cain if he was grateful to this government (which in itself is misleading because as some would say, this isn’t your granddaddy’s government, and the government does not equate to the country) for putting him through school while he served in the Navy. Now, aside from the clearly biased wording, this could be considered a somewhat legitimate question, I suppose for obtaining some clarity on Herman Cain’s philosophy on the role of government. Mr. Cain’s response was to clarify that he did not serve in the military, but instead was a civil servant in the Department of the Navy at the beginning of his career. He went on to say that he very much appreciated the opportunity to further his education that their fellowship program provided, while pointing out that he had in fact already obtained a degree in Mathematics prior to serving with the Department of Navy. In other words, he provided clarity that Mr. O’Donnell had neglected to provide in his questioning, and he responded, quite winningly to the question of his appreciation of his country. What was Mr. O’Donnell’s response? “I misread your book, I thought you had served in the Navy, and now you’re telling me you didn’t, so can I ask how you avoided serving in the military during the Vietnam war, your war years, how did you avoid military service during Vietnam and after avoiding service why should you be Commander In Chief?” Um, really? Now Mr. Cain’s response was kind of funny to start, and perhaps Mr. O’Donnell should take the suggestion to have someone else start writing his questions for him. After Mr. Cain’s response, which included the little detail that the local draft board and military board told him that the Navy preferred to keep him in his analytical capacity rather than a combat position as he was more valuable to them there, and the other pesky detail that he still signed up for the draft, Mr. O’Donnell went on to say this:
“I am offended on behalf of all the veterans of the Vietnam War who joined Mr. Cain, the veterans who did not wait to be drafted like Mr. Kerry, they had the courage to join they didn’t sit there and wait to see what their draft board would do, they had the courage to join and fight that war, what prevented you from joining and what give you the feeling of after having made that choice you should be Commander In Chief?”
Mr. O’Donnell was 18 years old in 1969, the height of the Vietnam War, and instead of enlisting, he went to Harvard to study nothing related to real science or progress (his Wikipedia entry does not specify what he studied but I’m thinking an MA in BS is probably about right), and went straight into punditry and politics from there. Mr. O’Donnell, has no record of military service at all, and quite a record of making disparaging remarks about those who do. So, Mr. O’Donnell, how did you avoid being sent to Vietnam, during the height of that war, what did you do to avoid serving in the military in your war years? And after making the decision to sit on the sidelines and not get drafted instead of having the courage to join and fight that war, what gives you the feeling that you have the right to express offense and outrage on behalf of the men and women who have fought and died to provide the freedom for you to spout your inane and uninformed bullcrap across our airwaves? Mr. Cain has proven himself, time and again, to be a man of integrity, a paragon of conservative principle and the embodiment of the American Dream. You sir, on the other hand, are a pretender to virtues and ideas that you obviously don’t even comprehend, let alone possess. Until next time, Learn the Lingo, and be wary the wielders of words.