The Big Book of Meanness


America has been told that they are yearning for a more "moral" nation for the past, nearly, twenty years. The people who have led this snail paced charge have tried to show their own virtues by proclaiming their support for such vague tenets as "Family Values" while fighting the purported "sleaze" on television, in movies and in music.

One of the self-proclaimed leaders of this silliness has been William Bennett, a former education and drug czar as well as a losing aspirant for the Republican candidacy for president and, of late, the founder of "Empower America", one of the most hate filled right wing organizations existing today. Bennett, first and foremost a politician, has even written a book to explain how to be a moral person and humbly titled it "The Book of Virtues".

Taking on such powerhouses of "sleaze" as Jenny Jones and Montel Williams, while ignoring the conservative campaign contributing owners of the stations which carry these shows, he has also proclaimed Rush Limbaugh "possibly our greatest living American". Bennett sees no irony in reviling shows about "Get Bigger Breasts Or Else" while supporting a hypocrite and liar like Limbaugh, a "man" who stated in a broadcast "We're in bad shape in this country when you can't look at a couple of huge knockers and notice it" and once mocked then 13 year old Chelsea Clinton as "the White House dog".

Bennett, ever the purveyor of moral living, also guested on and has often extoled the virtues of Bob Grant, New York's most hateful talk radio host, one of the few human beings who make Rush Limbaugh look intelligent and thoughtful. Grant, who has stated his wish that the New York police would machine gun the participants in a gay-pride march and proudly proclaims the desire that, "I'd like to get every environmentalist, put 'em up against a wall, and shoot 'em." supports the nastiness that has become the Republican Party so, of course, Bennett loves him.

Bennett has completely ignored the hate filled and racist radio programs of such Republican heroes as G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North. When asked why, his spokesperson could only answer, "Mr. Bennett is focusing on one issue at a time." More precisely, the answer should have been, "Mr. Bennett is only attacking targets that don't support ultra-conservative causes at this time."

Perhaps Bennett and his ilk would do well to examine the sources of the funds which pay for these shows he and his comrades so revile. He might well find it instructive to note the very conservative bent of the owners of these shows; Jenny Jones is owned by Time Warner; Gordon Elliott by Rupert Murdoch/Fox Broadcasting; Geraldo Rivera was owned by Tribune Co. but is now mercifully abandoned to MSNBC; Montel Williams and Maury Povich by Paramount/Viacom; Ricky Lake by Sony and Jerry Springer and Sally Jessy Raphael by Multimedia/Gannett. These conservative moral midgets, however, love it when Bennett attacks these programs simply because, in doing so, Bennett is providing millions of dollars in free publicity.

Gentle readers, the far right is not the place to go to look for moral leadership. In fact, in most cases it is a wonderful place to find everything that is morally wrong with America. It was the conservatives who ridiculed and mocked the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a Communist. It was the conservatives who ridiculed the peace and anti-nuclear movements of the 60's as un-American. It is the conservatives who mock and debase anyone who stands up in America and demands racial and economic and educational and legislative justice. It is the conservatives who have destroyed all of America's faith in every institution which once made America a nation to be proud of.

William Bennett is not the moral crusader he tries to appear to be. He is just another politician who is pandering to America's lowest common denominator in hopes of someday, again, achieving some high official office where he can live off the political system's welfare program. He has aligned himself with the most hate filled and nasty media personalities America has to offer while trying to fool the American people into believing he is something he is not: a decent human being.

The problem, of course, is that far too many Americans look no further than the surface of a person, confusing style with substance, without ever attempting to look any deeper. To do that would take independent thought and that isn't something most Americans are very good at these days.

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Copyright 12/24/97