A plea for fair comment

By Ralph Wallace | Jan 31, 2019

This is a column about this column. Particularly, this is about responses and reviews of this column. Another View is penned by a small group of writers who are hardworking, thoughtful, earnest and, yes, conservative. They are truly grateful for the opportunity to present a conservative view in newspapers which, typically, have a dominant liberal slant. Chalk one up for the owner and editors of these papers for supporting balance.

I am the newbie in this group, and it was my distinct honor to have been asked to participate. However, after having written several pieces now, I have been disappointed by some of the of the column’s reviewers, who I believe have been blatantly unfair in their response and, while I have the temerity to opine on this matter, I am not necessarily speaking for all of my fellow columnists.

What deeply concerns me is the type of dismissive, ad hominem response that is totally devoid of oppositional argument. For example, my most recent column related a heartfelt childhood experience that I presented as a parable on the contrast between capitalism and socialism. I affirmed that this was a true story in which I, daringly, did not even change the names of those in the narrative. I was aghast to receive a review by a frequent critic of this column that was expressed in two sentences: “B.S. Stop watching Fox News,” and followed by a cut-and-paste of three articles on Scandinavian socialism! Surely, I deserved a little respect for my childhood story not being “B.S.” and I never made any reference to Fox News.

Furthermore, couldn’t this reviewer have commented on the argument I proposed in the parable? I would have welcomed that response. I can only imagine how this type of review might have been applied to "War and Peace": “Bad book. Author is Russian.” Apologies here to Tolstoy – I am not in his league.

I submit that this dismissive, ad hominem reaction by many on the current left is eroding political discussion and debate and that some of it is quite dangerous. For example, it was incredible to discover that two Democratic senators, Mazie Hirono and Kamala Harris, sent written questions to Brian Buescher – President Trump’s nominee to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, questioning his fitness to serve, based on the facts that he was a Catholic and a member of the Knights of Columbus, a 140-year-old service organization.

Incidentally, the Knights of Columbus defended minorities for more than a century, commissioned works on black and Jewish history, stood against the Ku Klux Klan, and today assists victims of the Islamic State. However, to the disapproval of Hirono and Harris, they are Catholic! While I am a Christian, I am not of this denomination. However, our politics have sunk to a sad low point if being Catholic fails a religious test to serve in our government.

So now, after conservatives and Catholics, we have a third group that rounds out the “three Cs” that many on the left dismiss out of hand – capitalists. Times have indeed changed. Not too long ago, it would have been pretty unusual to claim in sober conversation that one was a socialist. Today, not only is it a badge of honor for many Democrats to proclaim, it is a platform from which those on the left can dismiss with impunity anyone who confesses to be – horrors -- a capitalist!

In summary, it is my fervent hope that the topics presented in Another View inspire vigorous, on-point debate and argument. Fair, thoughtful political discourse is a cornerstone of American democracy. I sincerely hope that the writers of this column, its critics and the editors of these participating newspapers will agree with my view, albeit conservative

Can’t wait for the readers’ response.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Kevin Riley | Feb 03, 2019 19:17


I know this is a very old cliche but welcome to the internet where nothing will go the way you think it will.

No hearts and flours here.

Posted by: Ronald Horvath | Feb 03, 2019 10:27

Oh, poor put upon Ralph.  Well, I noticed that you hardly read my responses either so all this whining is hardly in order, especially for a so-called "conservative."  

As I've said so many times on these boards conservatives are the true "snowflakes" of political debate.  Or, in the words of Edward G. Robinson, "they can dish it out but they can't take it."  

And, really, your "heartfelt" story of childhood economic trauma hardly justified your comments on socialism, a simple indicator that, like so many knee jerk conservatives, you know next to nothing about it.  I know you think you were making some profound point, but, just like your clueless president, you missed the mark by assuming instead of thinking.  

Democratic socialism has little to do with economic exchange.  It has more to do with using the excessive profit from capitalist institutions for the common good instead of allowing them to hoard it overseas for the good of no one but themselves.  Capitalist excess has become so blatant in recent years that the American people are waking up to the real reasons for income disparity:  capitalist greed and the economic power it gives them to bend our government to their will.  Is it any wonder that:

"Polling in recent years has consistently shown a majority of millennials are enthusiastic about “socialism,” often preferring it to “capitalism.” For millennials, “capitalism” means “unaccountable rich people ripping off the world,” while “socialism” simply means “not that.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/socialism-boomers_us_5b59d206e4b0de86f49449ea

Perhaps it's more telling that in the recent government shutdown the Republicans in congress found time to lift sanctions against a Russian oligarch -and chief contributor to the campaign coffers of Mitch McConnell- but not to alleviate the worst effects of the shut down on government workers.  Indeed, some Republicans were only too glad to see people driven from their jobs and thereby reducing the hated "guvmint."


Or maybe a better example is the recent legal actions against the makers of Oxicontin, who are accused of spreading the use of their dangerous opiod through unethical means and flooding our health care system with drugs that eventually have caused the deaths of 130 people a day, and even after the epidemic of drug deaths they caused become evident their only concern was how they could profit from getting in on the anti-addiction "business."  Capitalist excess, much?  Does this industry deserve $270 billion in government subsidies every year?

Let's face it, Einstein nailed it when he said, “The real purpose of Socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development.”

In other words.

"There are two modes of invading private property; the first, by which the poor plunder the rich ... sudden and violent; the second, by which the rich plunder the poor, slow and legal." -- John Taylor, "An Inquiry into the Principles and Policy of the Government of the United States" (1814)

Of course conservatives -or Republicans, at least do believe in some socialism.

“The first top-to-bottom audit of the Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. "As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world," said Sanders. "This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged, you're-on-your-own individualism for everyone else." Bernie Sanders,  http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=9e2a4ea8-6e73-4be2-a753-62060dcbb3c3

And of course Puerto Rico is still waiting for a pittance of that to rebuild it's shattered island.  And they're not alone:

"Hurricane Michael, the brutal storm that hit the Southeast US in October may have faded from the headlines, but its victims are still dealing with the impact. Eight weeks after the hurricane, hundreds of Florida residents are still living in tents because their homes were destroyed...  residents have consistently complained that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not provided enough relief to the region and are worried that the long-term efforts to rebuild the area have largely been abandoned.

Contending with this inadequate response from FEMA, a number of left-wing groups throughout the state have stepped in to provide direct aid, in addition to the aid provided by the more usual volunteers and local churches.


“The American people are helping us,” city manager Mario Gisbert of Panama City Beach declared in October. “FEMA will eventually come into the game and get the accolades in six months.”

Well, isn't that typical of the trump administration if not conservatism in general;  Socialism for the deserving rich and more misery for everyone else.  

I hope that this hasn't been to much for your to absorb, Ralph.  I know that you'll have a hard time applying any of this to your little story, "heartfelt" as it was.  So, I'll leave you with just one last dreaded "copy and paste" that may (or may not) enlighten you more.

“In our families and workplaces and places of worship, we celebrate men and women of integrity who work hard, treat people fairly, take responsibility and look out for others. If these are the principles we live by in our families and neighborhoods, they should also be the principles that guide and govern our economic life… My father was a minister of the church, and I have learned again what I was taught by him — that wealth must help more than the wealthy, good fortune must serve more than the fortunate.
-Gordon Brown, Prime minister of Great Britain, 03/15/2009 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/opinion/12Cohen.html?_r=1

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jan 31, 2019 15:41

I agree with your commentary. To disagree is a right of passage, to scorn and torment is sadly sour grapes! Keep up the good commentary1


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