Right-wing hyperbole was goad to violenceNo sooner had the...

the Forum

April 26, 1995

Right-wing hyperbole was goad to violence

No sooner had the president finished his Tuesday night news conference than two CBS commentators, Fred Barnes and Joel Kline, declared that he was on the defensive.

They were referring to the president's answer to the loaded question asked by a reporter who suggested that Clinton is irrelevant to the present political process.

No one knew at the time just how unfitting both the question and the commentators' smug pronouncements would seem the next day, after the president moved quickly to respond to the disaster in Oklahoma City.

On the Sunday morning news shows, even the conservative commentator George Will was falling all over himself defending the legitimacy of the federal government and condemning extreme right-wing actions.

Everyone in the media is acting as if they never heard politicians use anti-federal government rhetoric.

What better example could anyone give these media experts than the last election, with its constant hyperbole.

Remember Rep. Rick Santorum's campaign posters showing flag-carrying, fife-playing revolutionaries asking us to "join the fight"? Or Newt Gingrich's nationally broadcast assertion that "liberal big government" policies caused the death of Susan Smith's two babies?

The self-satisfied pundits obviously have been brainwashed by the constant drone of complaint by the self-serving "revolutionaries" who pretend that the federal government is not needed anymore.

There is no doubt that people who hold powerful government positions quite often abuse their offices for personal gain.

History is filled with examples of people who have suffered because of the evil of those in power. African slaves and Native Americans were just two of the biggest groups of victims.

Yet time after time, other Americans, the true patriots, have picked up the pieces of destroyed lives and freedoms and gone on to make the government more responsible and efficient.

Learning from the mistakes of foolish and vain bureaucrats, other federal employees go on to build the things that are central to modern life -- roads, schools and hospitals -- while protecting themselves and their democracy with a strong and proud military.

Throughout our history, our wisest leaders have pushed us to make freedom and respect for each other our most important goals.

Only with such leadership, and despite the objections of detractors, were such problems as civil rights and child labor addressed.

I'm certain that the right-wing politicians and commentators who talk constantly about reducing the size of government did not intend to encourage right-wing extremists to reduce the size of government buildings with truck bombs. But they should stop using knee-jerk, anti-federal government bombast.

Regardless of what the political "experts" say, I believe that Americans know that good government does not come cheap. Pandering to taxpayers by saying it can be done without much personal expense is just plain irresponsible.

Bill Clinton is right about the role of the federal government, and he has done very well in reducing its size to allow more effective, efficient use of our money while keeping the important functions of government working.

The commentators should give him credit for it. I hope American voters do, too, and not allow "revolutionaries" like Mr. Gingrich to dismantle the federal government with questionable political "contracts."

Joe Otterbein

Shrewsbury

Red meat hazard

Alex Hershaft feeds off public fear, including fear among your readers. His letter "Dangers of meat" (April 18) proves it.

Mr. Hershaft, president of the radical animal-rights group FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement), tweaked a few statements in his letter to scare readers while promoting his agenda.

For example, saying that U.S. per capita fish consumption grew 25 percent in the past decade sounds daunting unless you check U.S. Department of Agriculture figures -- which show fish consumption only increased 6 percent.

Mr. Hershaft also implies that a "succession" of U.S. health authorities have promoted vegetarian diets. The fact is, the American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, American Medical Association and the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute all recommend reasonable amounts of lean meat in a diet.

I'm sure Mr. Hershaft has read the same information many of us have seen, but he chooses to twist and stretch the facts to his liking. I find it appalling that Mr. Hershaft enjoys using such unfounded scare tactics to frighten and worry readers.

Ned Sayre

Churchville

More child care

While appearing somewhat proactive and visionary in his requests for county budget spending, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger III has failed to acknowledge and keep up to date on a very important delivery system -- child care for working parents.

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