Dennis, Whatever Happened to Bob?

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Dear Mr. Prager,

[This, obviously, is an open letter to Mr. Prager and to all people with extreme, unchecked viewpoints, right or left]

I used to listen to your “Religion on the Line” radio show in the ‘80’s, religiously, when it was hosted by you.  I still think it is one of the better shows that radio produced during that time period.  Remember “Bob” (I think his name was “Bob”)?  Bob would call in each week like clockwork with some idea that you always found time to discuss no matter what his idea was?  The respect you gave that guy really impressed me even though I lacked a great deal of interest in most of the ideas Bob wanted to discuss.  I confess that I did often find myself thinking with a certain amount of dread, “Oh, no.  Not Bob again?”  But, regardless, you always seemed to be so fair with the guests on your program, the people who called into your show and fair in your analysis of the issues and topics you would chose to discuss on your program.

Since having lost track of what you have been up to since those days, I stumbled upon a random article that appears to have been written by you. So, I was a surprised, given my prior opinion of you, to find so much unfair propaganda in your article; more so, it seems, than the propaganda that is the subject of your attack in your article.  The type of propaganda you are promoting I think is actually the bigger problem in America today with respect to the degree of condescending contempt that can be found in it.  I don’t know if it is years of irreconcilable condescending attitudes towards each other (“conservatives vs. liberals”, etc.) that is the cause of this sad state of affairs.  But, my recommendation is that it should stop.

I’m sure that there are some liberals who are fond of distorting the facts.  But, I see just as many if not more conservatives doing worse.  How often do I see posts from my very conservative friends on Facebook saying something disparaging about my political party and/or distorting a policy platform to the point where it no longer is a true representation of that platform at all?  Most of the time, I don’t post a thing in response but when I do, it’s usually something positive to try to make them think about what the heck it is that they are really posting.

The distortions I see posted to Facebook every day are very similar to some of the comments that appear in your article.  It is also a little ironic given the amount and type of criticism you have for the commercial that you are writing about.  For example, consider your statements: “Women do not make less than men for the same work. And wage differences based on gender have been illegal for over 50 years. This fraudulent claim has been debunked so often that it is utterly irresponsible to keep repeating it.

I think I agree that it is “utterly irresponsible to keep repeating it,” but, probably for different reasons.  Seriously, this conclusion and opinion you have is clearly a distortion and a poor generalization of “countering” what “liberals” are promoting.  Very few knowledgeable left leaning people are arguing the point that “women make less than men for the same work” if by that you mean the same exact work, same company, same output, same company benefit, etc.  Your comment misleads people to a conclusion about what “liberals” generally believe that is simply not true.  What is being argued more often by “liberals” is this:  women are paid less than men when considering their household incomes.  The argument is backed up by a government study which concluded household incomes for women are less than household incomes for men.

Why household incomes are less for women than they are for men might be due to a whole array of causes.  It might be due to the jobs women select for themselves.  Maybe this selection is a result of stereotypical societal pressure or, perhaps, it is just personal preference based.  Or maybe it’s due to the economic situations of businesses that are more likely to hire women vs. those that are less likely to hire women? Who knows?

The crazy thing about the issue being cited as one example of liberal viewpoints gone awry is that it is not even a liberal viewpoint.  It’s just the way it is; a fact based upon a statistical government report.  So, the topic of discussion (that there is an “untrustworthy” viewpoint promoting a disparity between the incomes of men and women and this is “a liberal viewpoint”) is itself yet another unfair and objectionable distortion of the facts.

In the end, all this confused doublespeak ends up being is just another way for conservatives to point to liberals to show the world how bad it is to be a liberal. It serves no other purpose.  Also, any hope for a reasonable discussion on the original topic (the government report) is lost because the topic we should be discussing has moved to something entirely different.  Distraction is a common tactic many people use to win an argument but it doesn’t make that tactic any less despicable in my opinion when the more important discussion never occurs.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter why household incomes are less for women.  What matters is that we promote a society that continues to encourage women to achieve the same things that men can achieve.  And why should we do this?  Because it just makes our country better and freer.  The more people who are encouraged to excel with great ideas, the better off our country will be; the more ingenious and innovative our country will be.  It just makes sense.  That’s the more important point that gets lost because you are too focused on celebrating and belittling how liberal and “untruthful” those liberal ideas are.  We should, instead, I think, spend more time casting the spec out of our own eye.

What I would like to see are forums more like your old “Religion on the Line” show where people can discuss what they really believe in a civil, respectful and well thought-out way.  You have a right to your opinion.  I have a right to my opinion.  And we respect each other’s right to have that opinion.  But, all the while, it is absent these distortions of truth.  In other words, cultivating a little more respect for the opinions of others just like you did on your “Religion on the Line” show in the 80’s is something I think is desperately needed.

And if distortions do happen to seep into a discussion, they can be systematically and properly dealt with in a manner that is more representative of our traditional American way of discussing our differences rather than yielding to all this unnecessary, unhelpful saber rattling from both sides without any intention to respect the other party’s opinion, without any intention of understanding the other side’s position and without any intention to really get anything done as a result.  In fact, all the saber rattling does is to make the civil divide greater, the civil war bigger and, subsequently and quite frankly, it makes it more dangerous for our country to exist as the beacon of light that it needs to be for freedom, justice and liberty for all.

Your “civil war” you write about can be easily ended.  But attitudes need to change for this to happen. It doesn’t start with political parties or with “Conservatives” or with “Liberals” or with Congress.  It starts with us.  We need to change our attitudes if we expect to make America function in the way it should and needs to function again.  We need less propaganda from both sides and more civil discussion of the untainted facts.

Lastly, and, in conclusion, I have a final proposition for you to consider.  To help in the effort of ending this “Civil War” that I agree is negatively affecting and dividing our country, how about helping me to promote a new Internet show similar in spirit to your old “Religion on the Line” radio show?  We could call it, “Civility on the Net?”  Maybe we can even get “Bob” to call in and/or post a comment or two?



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