“Let me repeat that: the dark side, suffering, is a good thing. It is so good because it gives us something to work with, something to investigate. Looking deeply into our suffering is how we understand life, how we develop wisdom. And this is necessary to transcend the dark side. With wisdom comes compassion because when we recognize the way things truly are and understand why we suffer we can’t help but to love all beings and to help them release their mechanical grip of the dark side.”—Matthew Bortolin “The Dharma of Star Wars” (via adistantepisode)
This Newsweek arrived in my mail last week. I have an issue with that headline. My problem has nothing to do with my feelings about Obama or whether or not I consider myself a “critic.” Replace “Obama” with “Romney,” “Santorum,” or “Paul” and I’d feel the same irritation.
By giving his article (which is well-written and not nearly as offensive) this title, Mr. Sullivan has done himself a huge disservice. The political divide in the US is deep and painful, and it’s getting worse all the time. In an immediate sense, this title is great in that it’s eye-catching and provocative. In a long-term sense, it’s counter-productive, because it immediately puts Sullivan’s purported audience – critics of Obama - on the defensive. And they should feel defensive. He called them dumb.
So who’s going to read it? Those who already agree with Sullivan. Who’s not going to read it? Those who have criticized Obama and don’t appreciate being insulted. Another jab, and the divide grows deeper. Sullivan’s words are in vain, because he has convinced no one to see his side.
The irony is that Sullivan admits in the article that he was an Obama critic for much of the president’s term; and few things are more annoying than a person who (thinks he) sees the error of his ways, only to become not wiser, but sanctimonious and arrogant.
Maybe it’s not as sensational, but a title like “Why Obama will succeed (despite what critics say)” or even “Why Obama’s critics are wrong” might have invited the target audience to read the article. Perhaps some of them may have even been swayed.
A plea to journalists: Let’s save the jabs and insults for Facebook updates, and try to make our news outlets both respectful and respectable.