It’s time liberals start calling out conservatives for ‘alternative facts'
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A country afraid of words.

The late, great George Carlin first famously spoke of the “seven words you can never say on TV” in 1972.

Since then, some of those words have changed. Television has changed. If we’re talking HBO, Showtime or Netflix, you can say whatever you want.

But when it comes to political discourse on television and in our personal lives, we seem to have strangely embraced a new set of words that we are, for some reason, not allowed to say.

They are words like “lie,” “liar,” “bigot” and “stupid.”

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In fact, any questioning of another’s motives, honesty, integrity, or rationality has now been labeled as “uncivil” and is forbidden from the airwaves of CNN, Fox, MSNBC and even (sadly) NPR.

 

This is a dangerous prospect.

I’m not suggesting that every political discussion should devolve into name-calling or that we shouldn’t be respectful of others. But I am suggesting that we should call lies lies, bigots bigots, insincere people insincere, and stupid or baseless accusations stupid.

Carlin, of course, once also noted that “we have no more stupid people in this country; everybody has a learning disorder.”

But, kidding aside, stupid notions and stupid policies can have actual effects and should be condemned as stupid, not simply “different.” When someone presents “alternative facts,” another person should alternate from the usual “civil” discourse. For some reason, we’ve gotten rid of shame when shaming is often helpful.

We’ve allowed the dishonest to continue to be dishonest without any fear of repercussions. Jeffrey Lord, Boris Epshteyn, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and their ilk can continually dissemble on live TV without any concern that anyone will call them out on it.

They don’t have “different points of view;” they’re just plain dishonest and greedy people looking to benefit from their dishonesty.

Liberals have made the mistake of tolerating dishonesty for too long. We tolerate it so much, in fact, that we’re often dishonest with ourselves: we’d like to believe that the Trump supporters we know — our friends, coworkers, and relatives — somehow aren’t bigots.

Yet the rational part of us knows that they either agreed with Trump’s racist, bigoted and misogynistic statements and policies or those statements and policies didn’t bother them enough not to vote for him.

Heck, Trump was a key figure in the birther movement; he said he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the country (and, no, he did not say “temporarily”) and is currently pursuing that policy; he said would consider having a registry for Muslims; he said that Mexico was sending us rapists; that a judge of Mexican descent couldn’t be impartial and that he liked to grab women’s private parts. Yet we pretend that his supporters somehow aren’t bigoted. It doesn’t make sense and we know it.

During the presidential campaign, I talked about the War on Truth, and now it is clear that it is indeed an all-out war, with Trump consistently attacking and discrediting reliable media and sending out his minions to do the same.

Liberals have woken up to this fact, yet they still don’t know how to combat it. The Republican disinformation machines of Breitbart, Fox “News,” Newsmax, et al, plus Trump’s own Twitter account, have created a scenario in which we are no longer battling on the same field, yet liberals keep acting as if opponents’ motives are just as pure as theirs and that they are just as informed.

But we’re not debating David Frum, George Will, or William F. Buckley anymore.

I have a crazy idea: When Kayleigh McEnany or Jason Miller or Sean Hannity lies, we should call them on it — not later or off-screen, but right to their faces the moment they do it.

We’ve entered this dystopian world wherein being a bigot or a liar is OK, but calling someone a bigot or liar is not.

Respect is something that’s earned. You’re not supposed to respect another’s opinion when it’s insincere or based on prejudice. If you pretend to respect opinions that you know are dishonest, you yourself are being dishonest.

Liberals have to stop congratulating themselves for being so “civil” and concentrate instead on being 100 percent honest.

FDR famously declared (about the monied interests) that “they are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.” He didn’t sit around and worry over hurting his opponent's feelings. And his successor, “Give ’em Hell” Harry Truman, was no different, once stating, “I never gave anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

Liberals should learn how to give a little hell.

Ross Rosenfeld is a political pundit who has written for Newsday, the New York Daily News, Charles Scribner's, MacMillan, Newsweek.com, Primedia and The Hill.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.