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Letter to the editor
Disagree, but do it respectfully
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Forsyth County News
Jerome Ostrom’s letter in the Sunday, July 11 edition of Forsyth County News was a perfect example of what’s wrong with our political culture today. I counted 13 insults that he hurled at those who have the nerve to hold different views from his (which he apparently finds unacceptable), including Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and, I presume, Independents. His rant — and I use the term generously; tantrum might be more accurate — included these derogatory names: ignoramus (twice); liar (as well as bald-faced liar); simpleton; Marxist/Marxism (seven times, must be his favorite insult); cabal; vulture; half-witted; contaminated; evil; hysterical; and idealistic (for some reason, a character flaw to Mr. Ostrom).
He also spat out these sarcastic slogans, implying some kind of moral or intellectual superiority to his beliefs: “it’s 2010, Bunky, not 1950”; “hello, anyone home?” and “got it, Bunky? It’s real simple.”

Mr. Ostrom’s decree that “any vote for anyone not a Republican is a vote for Marxism” is insulting, and the direct opposite of current U.S. political trends: a dissatisfaction with both major parties, more interest in third parties, and a significant increase in the number of Independent voters who understand that both parties have their share of corruption, over-spending and incompetence.

At worst, though, it shows a Taliban-like rigidity in thinking: that OUR way (our religion, our culture, or in this case, our party) is the ONLY way, that WE believers are right and just, and all others are infidels to be mocked or condemned.

Mr. Ostrom is certainly entitled to have and express his beliefs — but so is everybody else. Our country was founded on that basic right for all Americans. Our veterans, including my father, fought for it; and our military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan are bravely fighting for it today. Our political system is supposed to reflect informed, reasoned debate on the issues, with respect for other viewpoints. It’s sad, and corrosive to our democracy, when those who are unwilling or unable to have such a debate resort to spewing hate-filled insults at those who disagree with them.

Jim Callison