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“Us” Vs. “Them” Open Letter to Sean Hannity on how his words of war were taken seriously.

July 30, 2008

This morning, I was reading a listserv I belong to Called WATER (Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual) – a women in church movement led by Mary E. Hunt, a prominent progressive Roman Catholic theologian. Mary’s recent post to the listserv directed me to the website Religion Dispatches, where she has an excellent essay on the recent sanctions against Roman Catholic women in the Diocese of St. Louis, where Sr. Louise Lears has had an interdict against her from the Archbishop of St. Louis, for going to an illicit women’s ordination ceremony. The essay goes on to address the ways that progressive Roman Catholic women are continuing to respond, and attempt to communicate in the face of excommunication. Hunt talks about how scary and poweful organized groups of females must be to the hierarchical church. This made me go “heee!” with glee.

But after I arrived at the site, my attention was immediately drawn to two articles related to the recent shooting at a Unitarian church in Knoxville, TN, by a man acting on his hatred for “liberals”. The shooting took place during a performance of a children’s play – Annie, to be specific. Both pieces were op eds – one by a woman who is a former Unitarian, responding to the war aspect of “culture wars” and the other a letter to Sean Hannity.

The author of this essay, Candace Chellew-Hodge, worked with Sean Hannity at his last gig before he made it as a conservative hate spewer, on FOX. It has come to light, that the disturbed man who opened fire in this church, had been reading extremist conservative rhetoric by the likes of Hannity, O’Rilley, etc.

In her letter,  RDEpistle: Open Letter to Sean Hannity, Chellew-Hodge calls the man she knew and worked with into account for his words and his actions: that by creating an “us” vs. “them” mentality, he and his ilk have done much to deteriorate one of the things that has made American great in the past – our ability to pull together in times of need, inspite of our differences in political ideology. In essence, she calls Hannity out for using the culture wars, to just create a plain old war. Her piece opens with the following quote from Hannity:

“If the Left succeeds in gaining and retaining more power, the well-being of future generations will be at greater peril. I fear (our children) will inherit a nation that is less free and less secure than the nation we inherited from the last generation. It is therefore our job to stop them. Not just debate them, but defeat them.” — Sean Hannity (emphasis mine)

Now, I know that extremist liberals have contributed to this sense of “us” vs. “them” too. It’s just that, you don’t read about people reading books by Colbert, and running off to defeat the RIght by shooting up fundy Christian Churches, do ya? Just not a Liberal thing to do – us being “wusses” and all.

Chellew-Hodge reminds Hannity, and in turn the rest of us, that at the core, a country, we are a “we” and that we must be responsible to treat one another as “we” in order to live effectively and promote the best of liberal and conservative values. I applaud her, and remind myself that the balance she is calling for, where we don’t kill one another to reign supreme, is a most difficult, yet terribly important, balance to achieve, which yield the best of what each side has to offer.

If your ideas are valid and true, they will speak on their own merit, and not need the derision of an entire group to come across as valid – that’s the easy way out.

Go read these essays – they are both Excellent.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2008 1:11 pm

    I’m so tired of the us vs. them mentality. And I’m tired of a society where, say, if you happen to hold eight liberal positions and two conservative positions (or vice versa), both sides treat you as a traitor and a moron.

    Life doesn’t come in neatly defined little ideology statements.

    I’m just sayin’.

  2. July 31, 2008 10:23 am

    This is why I support hate speech laws. I don’t care what any says in personal conversation, but when you broadcast hate to the masses, you can’t be surprised if people act on it.

    I am just waiting for someone to use the word “cockroaches” like the Rwandan RTLM did.

  3. episcopalifem permalink*
    July 31, 2008 10:33 am

    Nah, Ruth, it doesn’t come in neat little packages, and that reality is why we need to keep discoursing with one another – few people hold to all the ideologies of one side or the other.

    Dan – Agreed. If you spew hate to make money, and broadcast that hate message, you should be accountable if someone does something horrifically stupid as a result of reading that hate message.

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