Senator Graham, please stop using Quaker language to ramp up hostilities

Call this an open letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos called on President Obama to step up hostility against the Iranian regime. He also called the president, who endures more personal attacks daily than Graham is showing much awareness of, “timid” and “passive.”

The kicker is that Sen. Graham employed the old Quaker expression “Speak truth to power” to convey his rhetorical bellicosities.

I myself was a Quaker for years, although I left my meeting several years ago–a local Religious Society of Friends meeting, here in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. In my opinion, Graham is wittingly or unwittingly engaging in something offensive to people of conscience. It is no more appropriate for Mr. Graham to lift one of the oldest Quaker expressions, and to 180 its message to boost hostilities, than it would be for him to use the Mormon temple as backdrop for an open-bar party, etc.

Anyway, the “speak truth to power” phrase is not applicable to the United States government vis-a-vis the Iranian government in the first place. Speaking truth to power is David versus Goliath, the self-exhortation the weak give themselves in positions where they are materially powerless, the self-reminder that in the worst circumstances they may voice something that will live after them. The U.S. government is not the weak facing the strong here. That may be the position of some of the protestors in Iran. But it would be morally presumptuous for a comfortable U.S. senator to exhort Iranian protestors to go out into the streets and die for their cause, whatever their cause is. Besides, the Iranian regime is hearing all kinds of speech.  

The very vagueness of these pseudo-spiritual exhortations by some of our GOP spokesmen should be a clue to the media outlets that give them a platform their ersatz message has hardly earned. What exactly are they recommending, after all? –parachuting American soldiers into Tehran? Invasion? (Not yet.) It is a measure of the limitlessness of presumption that some rightwingers can–even given their track record re Iraq, the Palestinians, Afghanistan–presume to put themselves forward at this juncture, just for the narrow political objective of undermining a measured response to Iranian violence by a U.S. president. Further demonstration, if proof were needed: They figure that every war ultimately benefits them. Crisis benefits them. Violence benefits them. So the political talking points get trotted out–whatever talking points make crisis worse–that’s the ticket.

What would be best and safest for this country and for the world would be a peaceful transfer of power in Iran. The Iranian people have the best hopes and wishes of the majority of the U.S. public in that regard. But that message could be conveyed much more effectively, and constructively, if the individuals most culpable for getting this country into war in the Middle East would pipe down.

One thing all this irrational exuberance (for bloodshed) signals is a continuing lack of transparency and accountability in the corporate news media. When media outlets stand to profit–materially–from actions and policies they support, the public should have access to that information in order to make an informed judgment.

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