To its credit, the Record-Eagle meticulously publishes a balance of op-eds on various topics. Typically, someone like Pat Buchanan on the right is balanced by someone like E.J. Dionne on the left. But I wonder about its editorial judgment in deciding to publish the October 8 opinion piece by the justifiably obscure Doug Patton. In it, Patton deplores the closing of the WWII Memorial as a part of the government shutdown. I happen to agree that this was an unfortunate and clumsy piece of theater by the administration. But there is a difference between strongly expressed political views and demagogic ranting.
For example, here is how Patton refers to the duly-elected president of the United States: “Barack Obama is a Chicago street thug in a $1,000 suit. He is ruthless, arrogant, imperious, and filled with disdain not only for those who oppose him but also for the ignorant voters who put him in office. Anyone who would deign to work for his administration has sworn allegiance to an ideology that is anathema to the Founders of this country and the Constitution they crafted.”
This blast of hot air is followed by a long list of alleged sins, including “misappropriating funds.” To quote: “Anyone seen that $20 billion he extorted from BP after the Gulf oil spill”?
(Now, I’ll grant you that the Founders crafted a Constitution that perpetuated African slavery, so Patton may have a point there, if only subconsciously. But sympathy for poor “extorted” BP? Hmmm …)
This stuff and other arrant nonsense in the op-ed can be dismissed as the ranting of a committed ideologue. But I think that Patton then takes a turn to one of the most un-American utterances I’ve seen in responsible media. Here it is in all of its perversity:
“It as though [Obama] was conceived in a petri dish by mad scientists and raised by leftist intellectual radicals who suddenly unleashed him on this country from out of nowhere. He is not the stuff of which this naton was built. Quite the opposite. As a member of my family is fond of saying, “He’s not one of us.”
I suspect (and hope) that Patton doesn’t realize that last comment is right out of the playbook of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister. As you may be aware, much of Goebbels’ propaganda was devoted to making Jews the “other” — in other words, “not one of us.” It conditioned the German mind to accepting the most vile depictions of Jews. I should be clear that I am not accusing Patton of anti-Semitism. After all, President Obama is a Christian, not a Jew (or a Muslim). But I do believe that Patton crossed the line with this malodorous comment.
Can it be that our political discourse has fallen this low? I certainly hope not, for all of our sakes.