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posted: 2/21/2014 5:01 AM

Witch-trial mentality blocks sound discourse

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It appears there is no longer a line between healthy opposition to a president and outrageous efforts to ruin him through gross manipulations of the truth. In some ways, the people who are yelling the loudest with the most inaccurate accusations remind me of what happened in Salem, Mass., in 1692. Then, some hysterical girls made wild accusations that certain people were practicing witchcraft. Now, a cabal of hysterical right-wing commentators and organizations are making wild accusations about the president and his administration.

No doubt there is plenty to legitimately complain about. But they slice away parts of actual facts until they completely misrepresent the truth. Then they present them to the public with their special brand of ridicule. They obviously think their audience is stupid and gullible enough to believe whatever they're told.

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Those accusations of witchcraft scared many into allowing the executions and imprisonment of hundreds of innocent townspeople. While the girls used hysteria, the right-wing propagandists are using constant repetition of their creatively inaccurate versions of the truth as their effective propaganda tool. And they are managing to split the country into angry factions. It's the same method that created such terrible results in 1930s and 1940s Europe.

Dissent is good. It's a necessary building block of our democracy. But we can express our displeasure, our concerns, even our outrage, as civilized, respectful human beings. There is no place for propagandists (right wing or left wing) who are trying very hard to tell us what to think, how to vote and who to hate. We Americans do a pretty good job of making our own decisions. That's why we are who we are and why we need to tell these spreaders of misinformation to take a hike.

Len Brauer

Palatine

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