The Conservative Crackup

Ross, To Comment Is Not To Hate
E-mail debates of newsworthy topics.
Nov. 7 2008 12:42 PM

The Conservative Crackup

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I am stunned by the coarseness of your writing, Ross. While we have not met, so little of what you have written is in any way respectful or acknowledges that you are addressing not some abstraction but a fellow human that I can only pray that if any of your family or closest friends come into contact with this commentary that they reach out to you in the most gentle and understanding way, without precondition, to calm an anger that is harmful to the soul.

Genuine love and affection do not reside on the Internet, so I cannot extend it to you, but in my heart, I forgive your great unkindness. I do hope you can free yourself from its enslavement. Realize that your meaning is bound up in the occasions in your life to be of service. Ross, once you allow yourself to see your dependence upon others, and their need for you, I am certain you will appreciate the cruelty of what you have written. To the extent that Slate accepts Ross' submission as appropriate commentary directed toward helping the Republicans find their bearings, it must be accepted as a counter example from that which is ultimately desired. Ross' anger is as unexplainable as it is wrong. Yet Kathleen suggests that Sarah Palin perhaps embodied exactly such anger; the anger of the "ordinary" person. One could sense that anger in the mobs riled by Mrs. Palin's tirades about Obama being in a conspiracy of some sort with Bill Ayers. It was frightening to see on tape, and it is even uglier to see it rear its head here.

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Ross, you are not ordinary in God's eyes; nor are the women facing abortion as a tragic answer to a dismal, impoverished, and near-hopeless existence. Ross, you and she are brother and sister made in God's image and are expected to be of help to one another. That is a lesson for the Republicans.

If it be useful idiocy to save even one child from death by lifting up the economic or social prospects of the mother, I accept the title as an honor among men. It is pro-life. If it is hypocritical not to want to treat as criminal the woman abandoned by the selfishness of an abusive spouse, I embrace the hypocrisy. It, too, is pro-life.

Barack Obama is a good and decent man, and it is unacceptable for a dialogue of this nature to elevate any policy difference into hatred or animus. John McCain's most honorable and memorable moment of the campaign was when he came to the defense of Barack against the perhaps Palin-provoked anger of a woman who insisted on calling the senator an Arab. Had Sen. McCain adhered to that ennobling defense of his opponent through the end of the campaign, he would have had a decent chance of winning a still-sizeable undecided vote. McCain, however, fell back into the name-calling so patently and sadly exhibited by Ross. McCain could not free himself from the hateful way of winning by denigration, and he lost.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of the Catholics in America saw exactly what I see in Barack Obama: a gifted man asking only to be a support for other men. He is an imperfect man, as we all are. His party commitments have not let his mind free of ill-considered measures like FOCA, but those who came to his side because the Republicans had defaulted on the issue of life hope the Congress enacts a law that will promote life and not invite its destruction. It is better to be part of that honest effort than the passive, smug Republican partisan complacency that thinks of the defense of human life as just another issue to be ranked and, worse, ranked lowly.

Ross, you rank high on my list. If I have offended you in some way, I ask your forgiveness. For we remember, in the reminder from Benedict XVI, St. Paul admonished Christians to be reconciled with their brothers before receiving Holy Communion; and Pope Benedict echoes his words: "Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist, may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive."