Friday, November 23, 2007

Charlie Sykes Mischaracterizes My Analysis Of His Fight With Interfaith

I am fine with Charlie Sykes calling my blog posting about his skirmish with the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee "genuinely silly."

In an Internet environment often rendered useless with name-calling, that's refreshingly mild.

And I do think, and I repeat, that he's in a hypocritical position because of his earlier battle with Miller Brewing over its participation in a tasteless and offensive advertisement.

If you're going to get offended about someone misusing religious symbolism (a Last Supper image), then don't praise and defend others who are doing the same thing (tampering with the Islamic Crescent and playing with the Star of David).

So be consistent, or risk being labeled a hyprocrite.

(Some updated information about the origin of the bumper sticker design, associated with an Israeli museum that promotes religious dialogue, tolerance, and social understanding, is here. The so-called 'parodied' design that Charlie and his fellow right-wing bloggers are defending is certainly the wrong place insert a Swastika, aim it at Islam - - and then say their handiwork has virtue.)

But I take issue with his statement that my posting indicates "[I] really do hate conservatives and all their ilk."

I defy any reasonable person to find that thread in my posting. (Again, it is here.)

And let me point out that I get along fine with any number of conservatives, including my "Backstory" (WMCS-AM 1130) roundtable colleague Rick Esenberg, the conservative blogger and Marquette Law School teacher.

Have we disagreed about many things? Of course. That's part of the reason Eric Von had us as regulars (I have fallen away: Rick is more reliable). But do I hate Rick?

Of course not. And I'd be shocked if he said he thought I do.

Charlie may also have forgotten that when he asked for a liberal to call into his radio show and attack the Colorado 9/11 hate-monger Ward Churchill, I was the one who called in and was put on the air.

One reason I pulled out of traffic and called in immediately on my cell phone was because I particularly hated the way Churchill connected innocent 9/11 World Trade Tower victims to the holocaust - - as perpetrators - - calling them "little Eichmanns."

That made his attack on the victims doubly-disgusting, since Eichmann was evil incarnate, and I object - - and Charlie can call me perpetually offended about this, because I am - - to anyone throwing around the Nazi label where it absolutely has no relevance.

Which brings me to another point:

Charlie lumps me in with people who call conservatives Nazis. That I have never done

I dislike seeing or hearing that kind of ignorant, casual and inaccuratly-out-of-context use of the term whenever I see it.

I remember emailing Jeff Wagner and WTMJ station managers complaining that Wagner referred to supporters of an anti-smoking ban as the "smoking Nazis"- - I got no replies, by the way - - and it grates on me when Rush Limbaugh mocks supporters of women's rights as "feminazis."

Maybe we on the left don't speak out loudly enough when people on our side of the argument throw the term around. I'll be vigilant about it - - and I will do the same when I see rightists doing it, too.

I know Charlie's Nazi reference came in a catch-all list of complaints he has against people who disagree with him, and I have already pleaded guilty to have called Charlie a hypocrite (another in his list of complaints), but I don't want to be associated with people who throw that "Nazi" term around.

I can appreciate that Charlie is under some pressure in this battle - - one that I continue to think is not in the interest of WTMJ to have on its air, blog, and with Interfaith and its mainstream membership.

That's a judgement-call for the station, of course. But he still needs to be more accurate in how he describes the situation - - a situation much of his own making, and elevating.

Bottom line:

Charlie's was the genuinely silly stance to take in support of a genuinely silly bumper sticker (he called it "Pure Genius") that adds nothing of substance to the public debate.

I do give Charlie credit for having opened his comment privilege to me and others who disagree with him.

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