Adam Graham
Scorched earth
By Adam Graham
May 8, 2010

Is it time for the left to get some well-deserved payback? The Conservative site, Respect the Great Game thinks so. They want to know why is allowing Keith Olbermann to post on an official blog.

Incredible hypocrisy is going on in the pro sports world. While Keith Olbermann writes for and covers big NFL games, Rush Limbaugh couldn't even purchase a team and was driven out of football over some over-hyped statements about Donovan McNabb and his media coverage.

The double standard isn't limited to Mr. Limbaugh. Screenwriter Andrew Klavan has stated regarding Hollywood, "If you're a conservative, especially a religious person, people have to meet in secret. They talk in whispers. It's a very disturbing kind of culture."

The left has not limited its attempts to ruin lives over politics to media figures. Margie Christofferson, a co-owner of the El Coyote Café in California was reduced to tears by a mob of gay rights activists angry for giving $100 to help passed Prop 8. She apologized if she offended the gay community, but failed to comply with their demands to give a $100 donation to repeal Proposition 8, stating, "I cannot change a lifetime of faith." Similarly, Scott Eckern resigned as artistic director for the California Musical Theater after a boycott was threatened, stating, "I am disappointed that my personal convictions have cost me the opportunity to do what I love the most."

With Olbermann, conservatives have a chance for revenge. To do unto the left as the left has done to conservatives. It's a viscerally appealing prospect. The question is whether it'll actually make things better.

A famous axiom about communism is that it succeeded in making people equally miserable. If the goal is to achieve equality of misery, then going after Keith Olbermann makes sense. If not, it's an ill-conceived declaration of war on the ever-shrinking non-political sphere.

One of the problems in our civic life is a faction that wants to make everything political, that wants to wreak havoc on the lives of political opponents by making them suffer for daring to have a different political opinion. The consequences of this are profound.

First of all, it makes people afraid to express their opinion, lest they, like Scott Eckern, find their entire career trashed. This is poison for citizen involvement. Second is that it makes our politics far more personal and visceral as more people stop discussing issues and become part of emotion-driven vindictive mobs.

The Olbermann attackers' goals, taken to taken to their logical conclusion, would mean would have to insist, to write about baseball, you can't speak out on politics. When one has set up a system where, if you comment on politics, you forfeit your other occupations and associations, you have effectively penalized political activity.

In addition, what can be said of the aims of getting to fire Olbermann? It's unlikely to succeed because your average conservative is not this vindictive and outraged. After an Oregon school teacher urged people to infiltrate tea parties to make them look like racist nuts, the local tea party head opposed firing the teacher.

Further, Olbermann is too obscure a target. Given Mr. Olbermann's ratings, if you asked average conservatives if they despised Olbermann, they'd give about the same response Rick gave in Casablanca, "If we gave him any thought, we probably would."

Even if the movement were to succeed, what would be the upside? They would have driven the host of a low-rated news program on a low-rated network off a blog that hardly anyone's heard of. Not exactly the Republican election victories of 1994 and 1980.

On the downside, this type of thing encourages more of such movements on both sides of the political aisle and will further poison our political dialogue. Success in the attacks on Olbermann at will mean people in an ever-increasing number of occupations will have to choose between speaking up on issues of the day and being able to enjoy other parts of life.

I've known an executive director of a Christian political organization who served as a high basketball announcer. In the mid-2000s, I alternated between writing fiery conservative commentary and lamenting the poor state of Colorado Rockies baseball at the time with no political edge. Such efforts are endangered by those who want to make everything political. The harder it becomes for people who can't live off the government to be involved in politics, the less conservatives will become involved.

If conservatives really want to level the playing field, they won't do it by trying to get Keith Olbermann fired. They'll get it by establishing websites, publications, and media companies that will allow conservatives the ability to create and think without fear of reprisal. President Obama said it well. "The future belongs to those who build."

Every liberal media company and organization that so frustrates conservatives has been built or acquired over the years by liberals. Whether it's newspapers, movie companies, or basketball teams, leftists have been acquiring institutions of cultural importance. The question for the future of conservatism and the battle for our culture is whether conservatives are willing to build, or will be content to whine.

© Adam Graham


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Adam Graham

Adam Graham was Montana State Coordinator for the Alan Keyes campaign in 2000, and in 2004 was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Idaho State House... (more)

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