I can already hear liberals (of which I am one) shouting “false equivalency” at their screens and firing up their post blog rebuttal. I've already observed this new favorite line of my progressive friends popping up all over progressive blogs and Facebook pages, particularly anytime that it is suggested that Fox News and MSNBC are to some degree in the same business. “Foul!” “False equivalency!” The whole matter worries me.
I am worried because we are becoming more of a reflection of the Fox Newsers everyday. (I know, I know “false equivalency!”). Just in shouting “False equivalency,” we are proving it. Much like the Beck-heads ingest and then regurgitate Beck's talking points (I am intentionally saying Beck's and not Republican's, because the tide has reversed course a bit in that relationship) with little to no thought and manage to do it with the kind of convicted dedication that you usually only see in suicide bombers, we are slowly beginning to do the same.
As you can see in the video below, the phrase “false equivalency” is one that Obermann, and others at MSNBC, are using to reorient the argument in a way that makes them a clear winner (and quite frankly a bit of a victim as well). So, not only are we buying into it and using their terminology to defend it (like Beck watchers are prone to do), but we are buying into a false argument that has been artfully crafted in much the same way that Fox News has done so many times.
That does not mean we believe they are equal, just similarly inserting divisive perspectives on national issues in a way that negatively impact our overarching ability to engage with the other side in reasoned dialog. Let's face it, they both are businesses and gain monetarily by putting a negative face on the other side. While MSNBC clearly bases their commentary more on facts in comparison to Fox's fear based commentary, the demonetization, name calling and false urgency that both sides practice are only serving to further divide this nation and that divide helps halt progress... so, which side of the debate do you think our current approach helps the most?
I'm not saying it is easy to have dialog with the other side (see my xtranormal video). I'm not even saying they want to engage in dialog (not engaging plays to their desired outcomes). I am saying that relationships are always at least two-sided. You do not get to simply point to the other side and say it is their fault. Like it or not, it is a relationship and not only are we in it, but we are partly (not necessary equally) responsible for the tenor of our debates.
It is all a matter of degrees not a matter of equivalency. You don't have to be exactly the same distance from “sanity” to be too far away from it to be helpful. MAD, mutually assured destruction, doesn't require both sides to have the same weapons or an equal number of them. It only requires for both sides to be far enough away from peace that the other side will be too frightened to make a move. “Would you like to play a game?” (shameless reference to one of my favorite childhood movies, “WarGames”)
Christians are offered a third way out of the false dichotomy that humanity always tries to place on itself. Theologian Walter Wink calls it, Jesus' Third Way. I wrote a sermon based on it that you can find here. This response begins with loving your enemy not villainizing them. It looks like nonviolent resistance. It stands over and against any type of violent response.
It doesn't have to be physical violence. Bullying is violent. And while we on the Left are great at standing up and demanding that the world stop bullying teens who are gay, we tend to do it in a Facebook post that is followed by a grown up version of bullying as we call Beck and idiot or paint a Joker face on Bush in response to the one that was done on Obama. I'm just as guilty as anyone. The xtranormal video I made doesn't exactly play fare in the false dichotomy it paints between the mental facilities of the Tea Partier and the member of The Christian Left. Just because you try to intellectualize the content of your bullying, it doesn't make it any less bullying.
I'm tired of these games we play. What scares me is the way we on the Left are slowly falling pray to joyfully playing these games, that stand over and against what Jesus taught, just so we can hold on tightly to what want to believe. If you are on The Christian Left, God calls you to a better path. For that matter, if you are a Christian, period.
I'm tired of the games - tired of the mutually insured destruction to which these games lead. It is not what God wants. God want for us, plans for us, hope...and a future. The current path is not the path that leads us there.