We’re all quick to jump to conclusions. Whether we’re self-declared liberals or conservatives, registered Democrats, Republicans or Independents, we don’t hesitate to criticize the other side. When Warren Buffet wrote an op/ed piece “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich,” FOX News erupted into a continuous invective, labeling him a socialist.
Conservatives have dubbed President Barack Obama similarly without any basis. First of all, the stigma associated with the concept of socialism is manufactured and on top of that, these accusations are unwarranted. One could deem it to be a form of demagoguery, with the conservatives appealing to big corporations and vested interests.
For more instances of unwarranted criticism, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann provides quintessential examples. She never thinks twice about criticizing people or ideas. She doesn’t even pause to examine the evidence or lack thereof. Right after the Republican debate in Florida on Sept. 12, she insinuated that the HPV vaccine that Texas Governor Rick Perry mandated in Texas caused mental retardation. She never apologized for her heretic statement, but instead she based her claim on an audience member’s story.
Like most of the contenders for the Republican ticket, Bachmann too jumps at every opportunity to criticize Obama. Unlike her serious competitors Mitt Romney, Perry and Ron Paul, she fails to meet a standard of sensibility. When Obama recently announced that the troops would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year, as planned, Bachmann said “We should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues.” She conveniently forgets that Iraq never requested help and that asking for oil as repayment would look grossly crass in the eyes of the Arab world. Plus, the last time repayment was forced after a conflict it didn’t work out too well (World War II). Now, if you’re a liberal, you’re likely to be at least slightly miffed by all this invidious dialogue. But how many people look at the flipside?
Perry was recently criticized for owning a hunting camp whose name purportedly contained a racial slur. Various publications condemn him for being racist because of this, but there is a glaring lack of evidence. Perry said that the rock displaying the name of the camp was painted over in 1984 and a game warden recalled seeing the unpainted rock between 1980 and 1990. Most sources say they saw it in the 1980s except one source who ‘believed’ he saw it around 2008, but that could very well be false.
While people throw around words such as ‘racist’ and hint that Perry is intolerant, his policy initiatives belie such notions. He recently executed a white supremacist convicted of an abhorrent and gruesome hate crime. You may not agree with the death penalty, but Perry does and he signed a bill that meted out stricter punishments for hate crimes. One of his more tolerant policies has come under fire within the GOP – his choice to provide in-state tuition to children of illegal immigrants. Moreover, Wallace Jefferson, the first African American Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court was appointed by Perry.
All of these things point away from Perry’s supposed racism. Sure, he may be a radical conservative and a bigot in some regard, but that by no means is reason enough to jump on the criticism bandwagon. Criticism shouldn’t be gratuitously unjust; it should be warranted and proportionate.
Nikhil Rao is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com