Facebook cultivates bully keyboard activism

GOP elephants fightingBy Lynn R. Mitchell

On Wednesday news began circulating that former U.S. Senator Bob Dole had endorsed 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush. It didn’t take long for the disparaging remarks to begin showing up on Facebook and other social media.

Like most campaign seasons, this one is becoming very toxic as people defend their chosen candidates. I get it. But where do we draw the line of courtesy versus rudeness, and respectful defense of our candidates?

One Virginia blogger posted a link Wednesday to an article announcing Dole’s endorsement, with the comment, “THAT’S what Jeb! was missing! The comeback starts now!”

It was followed by mocking comments that expanded the negativity. “How many loser endorsements does that make? Romney, Dole, Cantor…” wrote one. Another added, “James Baker.. haha.”

Would any of those commenters say that to the faces of those they disparage?

Bully keyboard activism.

Could we just debate the candidates on merit and leave the personal attacks at home? For years that is what we on the right side of the aisle disliked about liberal activists. One commenter in the thread noted the Pogo quote, “I have met the enemy and it is us.”

The original poster tried to explain that he was not mocking Bob Dole but was, rather, mocking Jeb Bush “for thinking that adding to his campaign an establishment Republican who represents the past of the party is the answer to a campaign that is failing because this is an anti-establishment cycle.”

There is so much wrong in that statement, and it opened questions from others about why we have to be “establishment” versus “anti-establishment” (and the fact that anyone who belongs to a local GOP unit is “establishment” though the anti-establishment ones obviously don’t consider themselves so). And it also exposed a prevailing thought that has been growing in commnts: the “past of the party,” which prompted someone to ask at what age the anti-older Republicans thought people should be cut off: at age 70? 75? Ageism, anyone?

Which brings to mind the saying, “Those who forget history are bound to repeat it.” Sometimes those older, wisdom-filled, information-packed minds are very helpful and necessary in life but especially in politics.

It’s obvious the “politics of personal destruction” is alive and well. The term came into being as a way to describe the liberal tactic of demonizing the opposition. Unfortunately, libertarians are using this tactic against Republicans in a way that undermines the party. Intentional? Or simply an act of zealousness?

Those of us in the blogosphere have developed thick skins throughout the years but even we have a point where it’s time to call time-out for going way overboard. Making fun of a military hero — and doing it on Veterans Day, no less — is one of those times.

FYI — the very brief background on each of the gentlemen whose names were mocked:

Former U.S. Senator Bob Dole was a World War II hero who suffered life-threatening injuries, some that he still suffers from to this day.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was elected as a Republican in a Democratic state.

Former Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor was the highest ranking Jewish Republican in Congress — ever.

Former Secretary of State James Baker served in both the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

How many of us can say we have done one tenth of what they have?

This is one of those times when a couple of sayings we learn while growing up come to mind. The first is the Golden Rule: “Do unto others what you would have them do to you.” The other is one our mothers stressed: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Also drilled into me: Respect your elders.

Come on, folks. When this latest political scuffle is over, we need to be able to join together again to battle the Democratic presidential nominee, most likely Hillary. Let’s hope nasty personal comments don’t inflict permanent damage.

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One thought on “Facebook cultivates bully keyboard activism

  1. […] The news was met with mockery from some (see Facebook cultivates bully keyboard activism). […]

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