Fox News has always been the enemy to many on the left. The place where "fair and balanced news" is often tilted like a broken pinball machine. Where talking point memos are created as marching orders for conservative America. A network that we assume to be evil, yet what is hard to often swallow is they are sometimes right.
This week I ran into two young assistants to Fox News host and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at a restaurant and got into a very intense conversation about gay marriage. As a strong supporter of marriage equality, I argued my points, but they were having none of it. One of them agreed that gay people should be allowed to wed, just don't call it marriage... call it something else. The other one was adamantly against the idea all together. These two kids did not get angry, they just disagreed. And not only did they disagree, they went to sleep that night thinking they were right. Just like every night when Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly or Mike Huckabee get on the airwaves and think they are right. And you know what? They are right. Just right to them.
A few weeks ago, I phoned Sean Hannity after I called him a gangster in the news and the first thing he asked me was why did I believe he was more gangster than any rapper? Let's see... you are quicker to go to war when you think you are threatened. You are against gay marriage. You are more homophobic. You are less likely to allow people to have sexual freedom. You believe men have a place in society, that's separate and somehow better or more powerful than women. You are not really racial integrated in this world. So as far as I am concerned, he is more gangster, more sexist, more homophobic and more racist than the average rapper. (I later took back racist.)
So as we were talking he explained that all of these things are not true. He never dated black women for instance, because he's married to his high school sweatheart! Never had a girlfriend. When I said that he thinks gay sex or gay relationships are an abomination in the bible, he said that that man has a role to protect women and do certain things and God created a certain order and we must follow it. When I argued about the 300,000 innocent Iraqis or Afghans that have been killed during Operation Freedom, he used that lovely term: "calculated loss." He is conservative in the true sense of word. He lives by his book and for that I have to respect him... but I don't believe that everyone else has to be made to live by HIS book. People really believe in a strike-first foreign policy... it protects our country, so they say. They bully us and push us around, so we bomb the shit out of them and wipe their country off the map. They really believe that.
And while they believe all of this, they stomp on us. And while they are stomping, they smile as we just get angrier, with them and with ourselves. So, we turn them off, tune them out and call them evil. That is where they win and we lose. We play on their battlefields, in their costumes and in their language. And we forget that that they may not be good for America, but they are really, really good for TV and that is what the genius and my friend Roger Ailes is selling. TV.
I don't think that Roger wants to do harm to America, I actually believe he wants to make this country a better place. But if that means that Fox News goes out of business, forget about it. I know that Sean Hannity believes in what he is saying. Instead of being the angry left, maybe if we took a moment and listened to them, there could be some common ground, more compromise, more bi-partisan voting.
As progressives, one of the things it means is that we are open-minded. One of the things we stand for is a lack of rigidness. We have always led with compassion, while conservatives lead with values and safety. But if we don't listen then we are no better than they are. We will end up walking out of meetings with the vice president just like them. Cause at the end of the day Sean Hannity and his boys think they are right. And we think we are right too. All patriots want this country to be more perfect. We all believe in our hearts that our way is right. I didn't say turn on Fox News, as you know my politics are to the left of Dennis Kucinich, but when it's on and you walk by and you hear their rhetoric, don't assume they're wrong. A great yogic teacher said, "You have two ears and one mouth for a reason." You don't have to agree with them, you just have to listen.