QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS
For the Mass Media
1. Have you considered finding talking heads for talk-radio and TV who are passionate about issues but whose passions are not predicable? I get bored turning on a show, seeing a familiar face, and immediately knowing what the loudmouth is going to say – regardless of the issue. Must we give every microphone to Rush Limbaugh and his imitators, left and right?
2. In a society in which crimes are commonplace, why do you devote so much attention to individual “celebrity” crimes, like the Jon-Benet Ramsey killing? Wouldn’t a discussion of sociological trends be more interesting than a constant barrage of attention to individual crimes? Are you turning news into tabloid pseudo-journalism?
3. If Thomas Jefferson were alive today and ran for President (as a Democrat, I presume), do you honestly think he’d have a chance to survive the campaign season? Wouldn’t your political “experts” brand him as too stilted, too aloof, and too wonkish to be electable?
4. Why do your sports reporters constantly feel the need to talk about spoiled, narcissistic jerks like Terrell Owens, even if they’ve never won a Championship? Is there a reason why we need to follow their tribulations on a daily basis? Do you think all sports fans are motivated primarily by schadenfreude? I thought the point of spectator sports was to relax and enjoy the exploits of good people who perform spectacular feats, but you pay no more attention to Tiger Woods’s excellence, say, than to Owens’s incessant pouting or back talking. Why?
1. Why do so many of you support gay marriage and oppose capital punishment, but virtually none of the top leaders of your party purport to share your views? Why don’t you find other leaders who share your perspective? Do you see
2. If you care so dog-gone much about people other than your family and friends, why do you spend so little time joining social action organizations? Do you think that your fellow liberals have demonstrated in the amount of time they’re willing to devote to the planet (as opposed to themselves) that they care more about Mother Earth than conservatives?
3. Do you think liberals can continue to ignore the power of religion and spirituality? How can you hope to compete with conservatives if, every week, they “unionize” with fellow travelers in church, listen to sermons there about the evils of the liberal agenda, and then head out with the mission of fighting for their principles? When they’re doing that, what are you doing – driving your kid to soccer practice? Reading the newspaper? Sleeping?
1. If Jesus were alive today, how much would he care about helping the poor? And if the answer is “a lot,” would all of his methods involve self help or would he request big sacrifices from those who are wealthy? For example, would he fight the tax on huge estates by calling it a “death tax,” or would he instead propose ways to use that money to help support the working poor?
2. With whom do you sympathize the most – human embryos, fetuses, or children who are poor? Why do you talk so much about the first two groups, and so little about the third?
3. If you hate unnecessary killing, and you want to condition people to be gentle instead of violent, have you considered giving up hunting? In fact, have you considered a vegetarian diet?
4. Are you concerned about global warming? How do you respond to those who say that there is a near consensus in the scientific community that current trends, if left unabated, will result in terrible disasters for our planet?
5. You rested so much of your defense for the Iraq War on Saddam’s temerity in flouting the United Nations’ demands, and yet you constantly bash the United Nations? If you don’t respect the UN, why should he?
For Those Who Wish to Transcend Liberalism and Conservatism
1. Are you organized at all? Why don’t you identify certain principles, goals, and programmatic suggestions that you believe all of us should agree upon? Please!
2. Do you know of any politicians that you can trust as a fellow traveler? I mean trust – not someone who stakes out moderate ground only when it’s expedient.
For Moderate Muslims
1. What in blazes are we going to do with the loonies who follow the cancer-agent known as Osama Bin Ladin? If the “surgical” approach that we took in
1. Why do I keep encountering Catholics who are theological liberals but who attend churches led by theological conservatives? Wouldn’t it make sense for your people to split into Orthodox and non-Orthodox groups, like we have in Judaism? Or do you liberal Catholics feel like you can’t, without effectively becoming Protest-ants?
For My Fellow Reform Jews
1. What is it about Reform Judaism specifically – or liberal Judaism generally – that we believe will survive for the next 500 years? What’s the glue that gives us a raison d’etre: our common culture? Our ethnicity? Our religious principles? Our rituals? Our spirituality? Wouldn’t it be worthwhile for the community systematically to explore these questions, and then polish the gems that we reveal?
2. Let me ask that question differently: How should we stop the decline in our numbers – (a) procreate like the Orthodox, (b) preach against intermarriage to a community that consists largely of intermarried families, or (c) figure out a way to make our religion a more compelling alternative to a secular lifestyle? If the answer is (c), would anyone care to share any ideas?
1. You wouldn’t mind if I revisit one or more of these themes, would you?