I just sent this letter to the editor to my local newspaper:
Although I disagree with his politics, I always read Nate Smith’s letters to the editor because he expresses his ideas in a clear, thoughtful manner and gives me something to think about.
In his letter Saturday (“Obama’s insulting arrogance”), though, Mr. Smith lost perspective. He is upset that the singer Beyoncé performed the national anthem at President Obama’s inauguration. Mr. Smith’s complaint is that after Mitt Romney’s defeat in November, Beyoncé posted the message “TAKE THAT MITCHES” on a social media site and therefore was a poor choice to sing the anthem because “mitches” rhymes with a naughty word. Mr. Smith calls President Obama hypocritical because Beyoncé performed the anthem even though the president seeks less name-calling in politics.
We should not, however, forget that during the president’s first four years in office, he was subject to criticism that makes “mitches” mild in comparison. Locally, during the presidential campaign, the president was targeted by “America vs. Obama” campaign signs, which implied the president is not American but rather an “other,” an outsider. Opponents claimed he was born in Kenya (another “other”) and that he was a Muslim—a racist claim because it implies followers of Islam also are “others” less worthy of respect than American Christians.
He continually was accused of being a socialist, a Communist, and all manner of other names more offensive than “mitches.” Speaking of “insulting arrogance,” there was Rep. Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” at the president during the 2010 State of the Union address.
When I was growing up, my mother told me that if I ignored people who called me names, they would go away. Perhaps if the American people (through their media surrogates) would ignore political name-calling, our elected officials would realize that cheap, self-serving political grandstanding is in no one’s best interest. Perhaps then they could get down to the hard work of making America a better place for all of us.