The night before this column’s genesis, the song “Kids” from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” came to mind. This thought interrupted my consideration of the notion that so many on the left seem angry and lacking a sense of humor. Having spent years pondering the vast gulf that exists between those on the political left and right, I’ve determined that we all need more humor. In an attempt to lighten up, I’ve altered the lyrics from “Kids” slightly. If you don’t know the tune, Google “kids from bye bye birdie youtube.”
Libs, I don’t know what’s wrong with these libs today
Libs, who can understand anything they say?
Libs, they are overbearing, self-appointed elites
Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy, loafers
And while we’re on the subject
Libs, you can talk and talk till your face is blue
Libs, but they still do just what they want to do
Why can’t they be like we are, perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with libs today?
It’s meant in good fun. If you’re chuckling, you’re likely a conservative. If you’re steaming … well, lighten up. It doesn’t hurt to smile. Not that long ago, good-natured ribbing was acceptable and cut both ways. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that return?
But on a more serious note, let’s address what I really consider a major concern. First, and what many consider truly problematic, is the apparent inability of some people to listen to opposing points of view. That used to be essential in higher education. Listen to others, argue respectfully if necessary and part as colleagues. Good friends could have opposing points of view.
Look at Berkeley today. Riots, personal injury, property damage over differing opinions. How many colleges reject speakers because the kids don’t want to be exposed to differing opinions? Yale and Columbia (among others) come to mind. College students refusing to listen and preventing free speech bodes ill for our future. Also notable is the habit of rioters wearing masks to hide their identity. Those of you who know history or are old enough to remember will recognize this suppression as reminiscent of activity in Europe prior to World War II? Those who won’t learn from history are repeating it. We are witnessing anarchy in our streets.
Left-leaning people are often heard accusing the right of only listening to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc. All this while they refuse to listen to the same people. I have received such accusations from readers of this very column when, clearly, they know not to whom I listen. In fact I do check in with Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, and others. NBC’s Matt Lauer is, however, unpalatable. When he’s on, I switch to “Good Morning America.” I can better stomach them.
If I were king, I’d require that we all listen to each other respectfully. We are all entitled to our opinions. It isn’t required that those with opposing opinions be treated rudely or disrespectfully. Listening to differing opinions can be enlightening.
Free speech and expression of opposing views is the basis of this country’s founding. Is the attempted suppression not bothersome to everyone? Why do those who don’t have open minds wear masks? Who do they represent? We are witnessing and permitting anarchy in our streets. Will it be tolerable should it turn on you?
OK, folks — some of this was tongue-in-cheek and some is more serious. I’ll close with the words Paul Simon penned in the ’60s in his song “The Sound of Silence”— “… people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening …”
Sadly, it seems that Paul was prophetic.