Whispering Against the Shouters

[submitted as a comment in the NYTimes in response to other comments on Paul Krugman’s op-ed column “Imaginary Health Care Horrors“, March 30, 2015.]

In a comment in the New York Times, “Frank” wrote:

The trouble is that Democrats are not there defending [the Affordable Care Act]. They have bought into the myth that people don’t like it and so they are afraid to speak out.
And in so doing, they are perpetuating the false story. That’s how the Democrats lost seats in 2010. They allowed the shouters to go unchallenged and if they do it again, they will lose again.

It is not enough to challenge the shouters — the challenge must be brought with the same theatrical sense, the same bombast, the same excess as the shouters use. Otherwise, the challenge is just a whisper in a roomful of shouters.

We see challenges — even Senator Sessions [actually, his staff] had to back away (slightly, in a statement not a speech) from his original ridiculous claim. But the challenge never got a headline, didn’t get replayed nearly as often as the original shout, and landed in places like this one — read by hundreds against the shouter’s audience of millions.

We protest, but not loudly enough, without enough outrage, without enough theatrics to earn a spot on the replay machine. We challenge politely against shouters who … well, who SHOUT!

Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders, and a few others are willing to shout back but they are quickly marginalized. They should be promoted to the forefront and given the microphone.

When challenging those who willfully and contemptuously lie, the challenge must be straightforward, in words people clearly understand, without any confusion — call out the liars as liars, the stupid as stupid, the cheats as cheats, the frauds as frauds, the BS as BS. There is no position that is too high to use these words against those who perpetuate lies, who cheat, who are openly, arrogantly stupid, who willfully defraud, who repeat BS over and over again.

A challenge isn’t a challenge if it is whispered in the corner.

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