After reading Graham Murphy’s recent editorial (“Fear conservatives’ fears,” Sept. 8, p. 5), I am quickly reminded of that timeless, immortal phrase that has become a trademark in the American cinema and culture: “You can’t handle the truth.” I, along with millions of other movie-going Americans, can easily associate this language with the image of a voracious Jack Nicholson condemning a young and indignant Tom Cruise. However, for me, these words have taken on new meaning, especially in response to the idea of “conservatives’ fears” expressed by Mr. Murphy.
Before I address this idea of fear and how members of the American conservative right have allegedly ignited it for the explicit purposes of political gain, I first take issue with Mr. Murphy’s cursory summarization of conservative talk radio. He refers to it as the “only form of media that conservatives can rightly claim dominance over.” While this statement may be seen as simple and benign, upon closer analysis its implications appear much more revealing. Indeed, such a statement is equivalent to saying “baseball is the only sport the New York Yankees have dominance over.” In fact, only having dominance of talk radio has inspired and united a vast network of mainstream American conservatives who, for the first time in decades, feel they have representation in an otherwise hostile media environment. This is by no means a fringe or isolated audience, but rather one whose numbers consistently rise above 20 million people and rival such perennial ratings winners as Oprah Winfrey and Larry King.
In addition, conservative talk radio has single-handedly placed a check on “big media” by spawning such alternative news outlets as FOX News and MSNBC, all of which force the network hierarchy to exhibit bi-partisanship in their news coverage – bi-partisanship that was absent for too many years. While much work remains to be done in this regard, the situation is considerably better than it was ten short years ago. Furthermore, given his belief that conservatives only have dominance over talk radio, is Mr. Murphy implying, perhaps inadvertently, that the liberals have dominance over the other forms of media, such as network news programming and print outlets? I find this hard to believe because it is a claim that is consistently and vehemently denied by all ranks of the American Left. However, given the substance of his words, we are left with no other conclusion.
As we learned on September 11, the world is a dangerous place and, contrary to Mr. Murphy’s views, it is a world that we have every reason to fear. Indeed, Mr. Murphy is ingrained into the naively egalitarian, Clintonian worldview, which has at its core a fundamental misconception as to the nature of evil.
In short, he and the members of his party cannot handle the truth. They cannot handle the truth that the war on terrorism will take us to all corners of the globe; that the doctrine of preemption is the only one that can seriously counter such a formidable and evil foe; that in order to protect innocent Americans from another September 11 we must continue to make further sacrifices in money and blood in faraway and distant lands.
It is no surprise that Mr. Murphy is left with the conclusion that President George W. Bush’s “fear” about Iraq is a petty political stunt. Having been ingrained into the Clintonian worldview, where poll numbers and concern with legacy dictate foreign policy, Mr. Murphy cannot fathom a president who actually raises legitimate concerns over the state of American national security and is not afraid to ensure such security with unyielding military force.
President Bush can handle the truth – the truth that evil exists and can be soundly defeated by superior military power. I argue that the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq, while horrible and tragic, have served to distract terrorists from seeking civilian targets in our homeland and, in this regard, have “curbed terrorism.” I also strongly disagree with Mr. Murphy’s claim that President Bush “predicated the entire war on the fear of (weapons of mass destruction) and terrorism.” The fear was more centered around Saddaam Hussein – a man who had twice brutally used chemical weapons on his own people, had systematically defied the mandates of the international world for 12 years and had tortured and imprisoned thousands of political dissenters.
Let me also remind Mr. Murphy that the Democratic Party has been relentless over the past decade in utilizing scare tactics. Indeed, it was Ted Kennedy who warned that poverty would skyrocket if Republicans were allowed to reform welfare in 1996. It was Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic National Committee who last year issued the despicable advertisement depicting an elderly woman falling off a cliff, preceded by a picture of President Bush and a warning to all seniors regarding his position on social security privatization. However, most disturbing of all was the Al Gore presidential campaign ad devised partly by the NAACP, which directly implicated that Bush was a southern racist and was somehow responsible for the dragging death of James Byrd.
In closing, let us remember that the way to defeat fear and evil is to confront it with steadfast courage and determination. We must not, if I may, sugarcoat it or pretend it doesn’t exist, for such a worldview has already cost us too many innocent lives. Thankfully, we have a president who can meet such a monumental challenge. Thankfully, we have a president who can handle the truth.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in political science