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Why be afraid of Sarah Palin talking at CSU Stanislaus?

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POSTED April 9, 2010 2:23 a.m.
A caller back in November 2008 who identified herself as a Democrat informed me that I was biased since the Manteca Bulletin did not  carry what she termed was “the historic” election of Barrack Obama as president on the front page.

My explanation did not matter that the Bulletin had not carried a single presidential election story on the front page for at least 20 years whether it involved a Democrat or a Republican.

She then asked my party affiliation. I told her I was registered as a Republican. She said that proved I was acting bitter like all of the other John McCain voters.

When I told her that I did not vote for McCain or Obama but for Alan Keyes, she shot back, “The American Independent guy? Then you’re a racist.”

At that point there was no sense in continuing the conversation. It was getting downright silly. The definition she offered as anyone being on the America’s Independent Party ticket being a racist was because of the late George Wallace was about as far off the mark as you could get. It was a pure Gilda Radner of Saturday Night Live fame moment.  She was confusing American Independent Party with America’s Independent Party.

Alan Keyes is brilliant with a commanding grasp of economics. And - as if it should really matter - the man happens to be black.

That incident underscores how it is getting downright impossible these days to have a serious give-and-take discussion about politics in this country.

The “open-mouth-and-unload-character-assassination-rhetoric-first” approach before even bothering to listen to the other side or engage in a reasonable discourse is getting out of hand.

Sarah Palin’s pending appearance June 25 at the California State University, Stanislaus in Turlock is a prime example. People have been hyperventilating about the choice of Palin, outraged that she commands speaker fees - which are being covered by a non-profit foundation that helps support the university - and the fact that a “liberal” speaker wasn’t invited as well.

Painting Palin as a wacko serves no purpose except to fan the flames of animosity and to make those professors who are joining in the howling seem to be judgmental and closed minded which isn’t exactly what you expect at a higher institution of learning.

Palin isn’t an idiot. Like her or not, she is a high profile figure in a political movement. Her views are just as legitimate to espouse as those by Angela Davis who definitely has been allowed access to podiums at state university campuses even after she twice ran as vice president of the United States on the Communist Party USA ticket.

Should Angela Davis have been barred from speaking at public universities? Absolutely not. Nor, for that matter, should be Palin.

One does not have to embrace someone’s ideas or viewpoints in order to let them speak. Actually, you might be able to learn a thing or two by listening to people you disagree with whether it is Angela Davis or Sarah Palin.

To put it politely, I’m not wild about Palin nor would I pay $500 to go hear her talk. That, however, isn’t the point. To try and silence someone by throwing a temper tantrum and magnifying their flubs is juvenile at best.

Obama - whether you like it or not - is the president and deserves respect as such.

Palin - whether you like her or not - is a legitimate political figure just as Angela Davis.

There are those who didn’t want to see Palin as vice president and view her as dangerous just as there were those who didn’t want to see Davis as vice president and viewed her as dangerous.

Palin’s detractors think it is an act against the people of California for a non-profit foundation not controlled by the state to pay Palin’s fees to be the keynote speaker at a fundraiser at CSU Stanislaus. Davis, on the other hand, gets paid by state taxpayers to teach at the University of California at Santa Cruz as part of the History of Consciousness Department.

It might not hurt if everyone took a collective breath and listened for a change instead of joining in the pack attacks.

It never hurts to listen unless, of course, you are afraid of hearing different ideas.
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