It’s not that some unfortunate and poorly educated old man said foolish things to writers licking their chops for his folly. It’s that this kind of folly becomes the centerpiece of a national discussion. We don’t talk about “that book that just got published” or “this new scientific discovery.”
No. We don’t even know what that is.
Some of us express shock that a man who makes his living carving whistles and pumping shotguns on a television show also harbors deluded views of reality and warped readings of his own religious teachings. Some of us rush to his defense as we dress ourselves in warped views of our own political documents, our hearts aflame with nationalism. Yet we fail to understand that both responses are identical. They’re motivated by the same impulse. And both miss the point.
This should be dismissed as unfortunate rambling. Instead, we sit transfixed, lobbing insults at one another. In the meantime, we’re not paying attention to anything that can save us from ourselves. Instead, we dive right in to the folly that keeps us from the conversation we should be having, namely this one: What can be done to keep us from destroying our home?
The answer isn’t in the colosseum. The fantasy pick. The patriarch of ducks or the cover of a magazine. But that’s what a society starts paying attention to when it loses the values that once allowed it civility. It’s in every history book. If you want to know what comes next, pick one up.
For the record: he should be taken off the air, but not because his comments are offensive to either the public or sponsors. He should be taken off the air because leaving it on the air would reflect a lack of empathy for him and those he loathes.