Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Response to My Benghazi Column

Langford column: Truth or parody?

Guest Column

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 6:05 PM CST
Marilyn Langford’s column last week was about a Republican congressional committee which found President Obama and his staff “guiltless” in the Benghazi incident. I considered the column to be intriguing. Perhaps, because I have spent my adult life dealing with literary analysis, I saw in it all the characteristics of a specific genre. It was a parody, a kind of writing that pokes fun at what, on the surface, it seems to support.

A PARODY uses unnecessary repetition to achieve an undeserved emphasis. Langford begins her column by repeating the word “Benghazi” three consecutive times. She makes each repetition so emphatic that the single word is a sentence in itself. This emphasis is exaggeration, another trait of a parody. For an intelligent reader, one Benghazi would have been sufficient to relay Langford’s message. Three Benghazis, each as a sentence, was over-kill. It was like killing an ant with a hydrogen bomb. Why did she emphasize her point so thunderously? A psychological principle indicates that the more uncertain one is of his view, the louder he screams it.

LANGFORD DELVED into farce when she concluded readers were sick of hearing about Benghazi. Then, she plowed forward with a whole column on the very subject she said was making readers sick. Why would she want to make county readers sick? She talked about conspiracies being rift in the country. Was this a conspiracy? I couldn’t tell.

THERE WAS something classic about the way Langford presented readers the findings of the congressional committee. The committee determined President Obama and his staff were “guiltless” in the Benghazi tragedy. Langford seemed to believe that being guiltless was a major victory for truth and integrity. All it showed is that the president and administration had not to have perpetrated actionable crimes.

THE PRESIDENT maintained unawareness and lack of involvement in the events of that night in Libya. Isn’t that a crime in itself? It was Democratic President Harry Truman who kept the sign on his White House desk: “The buck stops here.” In short, the president is ultimately responsible. Claiming ignorance or denying involvement does not absolve responsibility. With President Obama, the buck never gets to his desk. It goes to some remote, shadowy desk, to an unknown and without the president’s knowledge. In the Benghazi situation, the buck is said to have landed on the desk of a group of nameless intelligence analysts. The president is unaware, a stranger to personnel, isolated, uninformed and so politically inactive, I feel sorry for him. No wonder he spends time on the golf course. He doesn’t have anything else to do.

CONSIDER THE multitude of scandals that define his presidency: The veterans’ care scandal, the IRS scandal, the Affordable Care scandal, the domestic and foreign spying scandal, Benghazi, etc. The president was ignorant of every aspect of these troubling situations. Not only was he uninvolved, he didn’t know what had happened or who had done what. If the president Is telling the truth, why didn’t he know? Why wasn’t he involved? One must wonder who our leader is, who is running the Ship of State and who is in charge. For the record, using a small reason to justify something when there is a larger reason that invalidates the small reason is another kind of fallacy.

MY FAVORITE part of Langford’s “parody” was her comment about people who watch Fox News. Triumphantly, she proclaimed that people who watch Fox News are less informed than others and there are studies to prove it. “Less informed” is the politically correct way of saying “more ignorant”. Langford must have spent considerable time working on that part of the column because never have so many fallacies of reason occupied so small a space.  When I was a young boy, my daddy made me understand that one must not clump a whole group into one mold. In short, it is inherently wrong to assume that all Fox viewers are alike. Some Fox fans may be members of MENSA while others may be ignorant, but the group will be as diverse as any other large group. There are numerous studies which prove it. I would like to know the origins of the studies Langford cited. Are they harboring a bias, an agenda? What were their qualifications?  Surely Langford knows one can find studies which support every bias and agenda under the sun. By the way, I watch MSNBC and Fox. I wonder what that makes me.

LANGFORD’S DICTION demonstrated an unmistakable disdain for all republicans and for FOX. She used loaded terms such as “downright lies” and “demonized” in her reference to them. I admit I don’t know the difference between a lie and a downright lie, so I don’t know which one the president is guilty of. I do know there is a substantial number of videos which show the president’s penchant for telling untruths. Once one is caught lying, all his statements become suspect. The president took no chance of being misunderstood. He lied all along.

IT MADE me proud that Langford did depart from the usual democrat response to every criticism of the president. She did not introduce the “race card”. She understands that one can disapprove of a policy, an action or a plan for reasons other than that the president is half African-American.

I know Ms. Langford’s column was no parody. She wasn’t making fun of her own views. She was serious. She was expressing what she believed, and I admire any one’s courage to do that. There were many accusations, and they were stated in strong terms. One party seems to wish the other party would vanish from the earth, and the other party is guilty of the same feelings. Does anyone think of peaceful co-existence anymore?

I GREW up in an avidly political family. One of my father’s joys was to be a part of a fierce political debate. One might think he and his opponent were about to fight to the death, but they didn’t. When the debate was over, they shook hands and left still the best of friends. What has happened to us that we no longer observe even simple rules of courtesy where people with opposing views are concerned? Have we become such egomaniacs that we think there is only one way and that is our way? Until we become respectful of others and their opinions, we are less than the great republic our ancestors created, regardless of whether we are Democrats or Republicans.

YES! THIS column is a parody…of sorts.

Wendell Ramage of Forsyth is the former editor of the Reporter and is a retired English teacher.

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