Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Douglas here.
Steamboat Springs Recently, when Hillary's campaign mouthpiece hit Barack with the foulest Democrat slur - comparing him to Ken Starr, Obama's surrogate fired back, calling Clinton a "monster."
Hillary, asked whether she believes Barack is a Muslim, intentionally left room for doubt, saying "there is nothing to base that on - as far as I know."
Geraldine Ferraro, who with Walter Mondale lost 49 of 50 states in the 1984 presidential election, went for the hat trick, calling the media "sexist," Obama's lead a result of being a "black man," and critics of her gibberish "reverse racists."
Meanwhile, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour - a McCain supporter and former top dog of the Republican National Committee - warned that Obama is the most "liberal" senator. Barbour pronounced Barack "to the left of Hillary : to the left of Teddy : to the left of Bernie Sanders, who runs for senator as a Socialist. I mean, he's to the left of the Socialists."
So, while we fight a global war and work to heal an ailing economy, our two political franchises try to blind us with labels.
But we are complicit. We are all too willing to gouge our own eyes. We blind ourselves by wrongly applying labels every day. Labels give cover for intellectual laziness, fear and prejudice. It's easier to pigeonhole an opponent than to sit down and find common ground.
Case in point. Two weeks ago, I wrote about racist wrongs committed against Randall Nelson and the misguided decision to prosecute Randall for defending himself. The response to the column was overwhelmingly positive. Wherever I've gone the past two weeks, people stopped me to say how much they appreciated my writing about Randall. I also received numerous calls, all but one positive.
That caller, "Craig," started our conversation by letting me know Craig is an alias. Craig wanted me to know three things: He wouldn't give a buck to help Randall, nor would anyone else; he considered me a politically correct liberal; and he would be watching me - a pathetic imitation of James Woods in "Ghosts of Mississippi."
Craig's batting 0-for-3.
First, more than 120 people crowded the benefit for Nelson, and many others continue to contribute by mail. To date, more than $19,000 has been raised, and with a bit more help, the Nelson's legal bills can be retired. In Randall's words, "The benefit turned the worst time of my life into the best day of my life."
Second, asked how he concluded I was a liberal - based on just one column - Craig said it was because I had worked for ABC Radio. This twisted deduction will come as a shock to acclaimed conservatives Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who call ABC home. Indeed, I was a fellow talk show host of Rush's on a conservative station in Baltimore.
As for Craig's threat to keep an eye on me, well, Craig isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. When Craig called from his job, Caller ID captured the number. The number, combined with his voice and his telling me when he'd be at the Special Olympics in Breckenridge, makes for easy identification.
So, the watcher becomes the watched.
I'll admit I'm tempted to out Craig. He works for one of Steamboat's most prominent businesses. But to do so would unfairly smear a national business and his co-workers. That would make me just like Craig.
Instead, I'll hope that Craig wasn't at the Special Olympics just to fly the corporate flag.
I'll hope that Craig realizes the physically and mentally challenged are too often labeled derogatorily, just as he labels others.
And I'll hope - no doubt in vain - that our national leaders will stop the label game and address the issues that matter.