If there was any doubt that the level of civility in this country has sunk to an all-time low, it was erased in the immediate aftermath of Senator John McCain losing his battle with cancer. Most Americans on both sides of the aisle hailed him as a hero who had given most of his six-decade adult life in service to his country. He gave his life for it after being shot down over North Vietnam and spent five years in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp.
I may have disagreed with McCain 85 to 90 percent of the time. But no one can credibly deny that his service to this country deserved to be honored. Sadly, some of the more extreme elements on both sides of the aisle have tried to deny him that honor.
For instance, Fox News had to shut down commenting on YouTube videos about McCain due to a torrent of vile attacks. Kelli Ward, who is running in the Republican primary for Arizona’s other Senate seat, whined that McCain’s family tried to steal her thunder by announcing he was abandoning his treatment regimen–then had the nerve to tweet a eulogy to him.
The idiocy has extended to the far left as well. When Congresswoman-in-waiting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a tribute to McCain on Saturday night, a number of her followers pilloried her as a sellout or worse.
For a time, it looked like Donald Trump may have topped them all. He crassly refused to greenlight a formal White House tribute to McCain, one of his biggest gadflies on the Republican side–despite nearly all of his senior staffers begging him to do so. On Monday, he had the White House flag raised back to full staff, and only a firestorm of bipartisan criticism persuaded him to lower it to half-staff for the rest of the week.
But American Family Radio afternoon drive-time host Bryan Fischer may have found a way to hit at least as low as that, if not lower. He actually suggested that McCain stopped being a hero when he was released from the Hanoi Hilton. No, this isn’t snark.
Um, Bryan? McCain was a flawed man. As a former pastor, you should know that we’re all flawed. But for you to even suggest that the “praiseworthy” portion of his life more or less ended once he was released is, for lack of a better term, deplorable. Are you willing to say that to the faces of other POWs who go through bumps in the road after they’re released?
You wag your finger at McCain for divorcing his first wife and marrying Cindy. But yet, you still bow down to Trump, who has been married three times and, in all likelihood, has cheated on all of them. Oh, that’s right–you and your fellow religious right pigeons gave Trump a “mulligan” as long as he gives you the policy nuggets you want. But since McCain had the guts to call you out–as did his predecessor, Barry Goldwater–you seem to think you can put on your Puritan’s hat.
And even if you do disagree with him about campaign finance reform and immigration reform, Bryan, to effectively suggest he is no longer a hero as a result of policies with which you disagree betrays a level of pettiness that would do Trump proud.
You don’t expect high standards from religious right talk radio. But Fischer has done and said a number of things over the years that make you wonder if his bosses at the American Family Association have any standards at all. For instance, in 2012 he loudly supported a common and utterly discredited argument from tax protesters–the income tax is unconstitutional. People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch got a clip.
How ridiculous is this? The courts look so dimly on that argument that any lawyer who makes it is practically asking to be sanctioned.
Earlier in 2012, Fischer openly embraced AIDS denial. He invited Peter Duesberg, a respected molecular biologist turned chest-beating AIDS denier, on “Focal Point,” and agreed with Duesberg’s long-discredited claim that HIV is a massive racket to get more money for research grants. No, this isn’t snark–Right Wing Watch got a clip.
No respectable broadcaster would allow anyone who spewed this bilge to keep his job. And yet, AFA saw fit to let Fischer keep his mic after openly embracing conspiracy theory not once, but twice. So it should come as no surprise if they have no problem with Fischer taking a cheap shot at a man who, flawed as he may be, is still a hero.
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