Friday, August 05, 2005

Column 44 - Gibbons (3)

University of Nevada Chancellor Jim Rogers, a Republican who was thinking of running for governor, recently described Gibbons as someone who’s not very bright and might look for simple solutions to complex problems, such as the state’s higher education budget. This remark caused a major flap, at least in Northern Nevada, most of which centered around Rogers’ position with the University. It seems that, for those who back Gibbons, a University Chancellor has no right to characterize another public figure, and to do so is in some way to fail to live up to his august position.

I don’t have much use for characterization, and as at least one letter-writer pointed out, Gibbons’ background, a B.S. in Geology and a M.S. in Mining/Geology from the University of Nevada at Reno, suggests Chancellor Rogers was probably incorrect in his assessment of Gibbons’ intelligence. Still I think he has a constitutional right to say it, and if he wants to say that the institution he heads graduated someone who is not too bright, and twice at that, I suppose there is a degree of accountability in that.

What amazes me is the flak Rogers caught, including calls to members of the Board of Regents demanding that the Regents do something about this exercise of First Amendment rights by the Chancellor. It seems that if you are of the far-right persuasion, as I assume Gibbons’ supporters are, your boy can say anything. (By way of review, Gibbons called those who questioned lavish corporate donations to the 2005 inaugural festivities "communists", then he called people who opposed his position on the Iraq War "those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals" who “would be put to death at the hands of Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden…it's just too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket" to become human shields in Iraq.”)

So when Gibbons, a far more public figure than Rogers, characterizes people who disagree with him with epithets that are much stronger than “not very bright,” that seems to be OK with his followers, but when someone else characterizes Gibbons, that person should, at the very least, face censure from those to whom he is accountable in a job that has nothing directly to do with his political ambitions.

This is characteristic of the current thinking of the far-right in Nevada and throughout the United States. Reason and facts play little part in their thinking, and name-calling and characterization rule the day. Like the late unlamented Senator Joe McCarthy, Gibbons has no hesitancy in calling people with whom he disagrees Communists, or plagiarizing a speech someone else gave to talk about liberals, hippies, and human shields. Rogers is equally willing to smear and characterize, he’s just more judicious in his tone. The Right had no compunction about smearing mud on John Kerry’s war record, and was not bothered at all that there were no facts to back up their allegations, and there are those who still insist there were WMD’s somewhere in Iraq.

It’s time the American electorate took off whatever ethical and moral blinders have made this campaign of lies, deceit and name-calling tolerable to us. The far Right has a philosophy that the end justifies the means, and that kind of thinking has never led to freedom, human rights, or the moral high ground. Let the Republican gubernatorial hopefuls self-destruct and look at what candidates such as Dina Titus have to offer for Nevada. Oh, and watch for the storm of name-calling and vilification this column sparks from our local right wing. That should be fun.

1 comment:

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