Tuesday September 15, 2009 | Compassion & Civility in Society

September 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Coming Up | 22 Comments

Civility and compassion are two commodities that sometimes seem to be in short supply. Examples start with our political conversation – or lack of conversation – and include other examples often found in the headlines. Rabbi Brad Hirschfield says You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to be Right, in fact, that’s the name of one of his books. He says we can be civil to one another. Rabbi Hirschfield joins us to share more thoughts along those lines.
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield – Author of You Don’t Have to Be Wrong for Me to Be Right, former activist in the West Bank and Radio Host

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  1. Obama is the adult in these arguments. An expmple in with the “you lie!” remark. Wilson apologized, Obama’s done with it, let it go.

    I think race plays a big part with the Teabaggers.

    • What’s worse Obama lying or Wilson calling him on it? Obama has since changed his position on the issue that supposedly didn’t exist. I’m happy to debate it honestly with civility if you can.

      Your use of the race card is appalling as is the hideous term you use to describe peaceful demonstrators who happen to have a different view.

  2. Please comment on the terrible lack of civility in politics such as Harry Reid calling Bush a liar and refusing to apologize, Dick Durbin comparing the Bush administration to pol pot and nazi regimes, John Kerry claiming our soldiers were “terrorizing women and children”, Nancy Pelosi denigrating protesters as Nazis, John Murtha saying the Haditha soldiers were murdering in “cold blood” before the trial which exonerated them and then refusing to apologize, Alito’s wife being reduces to tears during his confirmation because of the terrible unfounded accusations, the claims that 9/11 was an inside job, the race card being played against any and all disagreement with Obama and Obama contently saying opponents are lying about his health care plan when there are not.

    • Oh, hey Gregg, don’t forget Dick Cheney telling Senator Leahy to go f himself on the floor of the senate!

      • Yes, good point.

  3. I admire your guest’s perspective and obvious integrity. What troubles me, and what I think should bother all Americans, is the absolute factual dishonesty of most of the arguments put forth by the right wing of this country, from blaming the Community Reinvestment Act for the economic recession (it’s all the poor people’s fault!) to the death panels nonsense, opponents of the President are so shrill and so desperate that there doesn’t seem to be any depth to which they won’t sink to derail him personally. This falls under the ad hominem aspect of the attacks. I can’t help thinking that there are a core of people who simply don’t respect or love this country enough to tell the truth.

    • I can make a logical case about the CRA and housing crises as well as the death panels if you would like. No “ad hominem” just facts. Let me know I stand ready.

  4. Mike,

    Respectfully, I would like to disagree with your comments about the President lying concerning illegal immigrants being covered by the proposed health care bill. Please check the non partison factcheck.org for complete details (http://www.factcheck.org/2009/09/obamas-health-care-speech/). I understand you have an opinion about the matter but NPR should strive to be a little more non-partisan so as to promote a more civil discourse.



  5. I am not vain enough to think my post would be read but I am naive enough to believe that there would at least be an attempt for some balance.

  6. A great show this morning. Here’s a world view that works for me.
    Define that the purpose of religion is to create a structure (God) by which I as an individual, and we as a community, lead our lives. If a religion survives for an extended period, it must include Darwinian priciples, first of which is that an act is defined by the religion as good or evil based upon its contribution to the common good of the members of the religion. That is difficult to do accurately on its own, but becomes very much more complicated when we try to identify the people of the common good. As your show emphasised, our classification of who is us and who is them is very much in flux. To be successful in this new world, we do need to conceed that every one of us is “we”.
    Thanks for your great program Ab

  7. I enjoyed this show very much and will tell my son, who is a religious studies major at UNCC, about Rabbi Hirschfield’s book. My son decided to become a religious studies major after graduating from a very large Christian School in Indian Trail. (We transitioned him there after two years at Fletcher School so he could succeed with dyslexia. The public school graduation rate for children with learning disabilities is about 39% – which should be another show because my son would have been discouraged from doing a college prep curriculum in public school yet his religious professors at UNCC feel he was “born to be a scholar” and he has done very well in college – even making straight A’s last semester but I digress.) While at Christian school, he came to believe that there was entirely too much ignorance regarding other cultures and religious traditions and that this ignorance was breeding arrogance and intolerance. He hopes to become a teacher of world religion and help eliminate this problem in future generations.

    On a lighter note, addressing one of Mike’s comments about Twitter: I also think people’s Twitters can be very self-centered and silly (ditto Facebook) but I see the advantages, too, which is why I recently set up a section called Woofer on my local dog lovers website so people can update each other on what their dogs are doing now – LOL! It hasn’t really caught on yet but I think it could be big because so many dogs are just an extension of their owners these days. Of course, not my dogs – they have their own distinct personalities – LOL!

  8. I missed the beginning of the show so I went back and listened to the podcast. I find it utterly amazing that Rabbi Hirschfield would cite a radio host (Rush) comparing Obama to Hitler. I heard that particular show and the good Rabbi missed the point entirely. Rush was responding to years of the right being labeled Nazis. Most recently Pelosi’s statements regarding the peaceful protesters. There was Al Gore calling bloggers “digital brownshirts”. Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., declared the protesters guilty of “Brown Shirt tactics.” Not to mention Dick Durbin’s comments that I cited earlier. Does it matter that Hitler DID nationalize health care, he DID take over the auto industry. There ARE comparisons that are much closer to the left than to the right and I’m not calling the left Nazi’s. I, like Rush, am simply saying “how dare you call us Nazi’s when your policies more resemble their positions”. The examples I gave earlier in this thread were from our elected leaders. Rush is a mere radio guy, who cares? If you want to cite radio personalities then how about Rachel Maddow, Ed Shultz or Janeane Garafalo who have said much much worse about Bush. Remember the “Bushitler” tee-shirts? Meanwhile Obama listened to Rev. Wright (civility?) for 20 years without protest and we were told during the campaign that it wasn’t important. Obama goes on to appoint as Green Czar a man who accused Bush of wanting to kill blacks with pollution and being involved with 9/11. Obama’s associations do matter. Does this sound like Obama wanting to respectfully compromise? Sure there are extremist on the right but the difference is that the extremist on the left are in positions of power.

  9. It’s too bad that Jimmy Carter did not make his hideous, unfounded and uncivil statement before this show. I would like to think that they would have denounced it but I’m dubious. Also, since Mike and Rabbi Hirschfield seem to have short memories. Here’s a reminder. Please scroll all the way through. Not enough? Here’s more. Is it any wonder we on the right are fed up and don’t want to be lectured on civility? Please Mike, I’m begging, denounce this and try harder for balance the next time.

  10. My apologies, the second link should go here.

  11. I contacted Rabbi Hirschfield with my concerns, here’s his reply:


    And I completely agree with you! I also hope that you will agree that for public radio, we did a reasonable, if imperfect, job of making it known that there are abuses from both the right AND the left.

    It’s also true that we focuses on the right because Mr. Wilson is a Republican and frankly, because on the Rush/Obama/Hiter thing, the analogy reached a huge audience which largely laughed it off.

    But there is no question that grotesque comparisons and ugly words emanate from all political corners. I have written about it extensive on both Beliefnet and Newsweek.WashingtonPost.com. Ironically, in those settings I get attacked for even suggesting that the left has much for which to atone. Please check both columns out, become a regular reader and also a commenter. You should be heard/read by my readers.

    Best Wishes,
    Brad Hirschfield

  12. Really, really great program that caused me to hold the mirror up to myself and ask some tough questions. Thank you!

  13. I’m a little late commenting, but after listening to Tuesday’s broadcast I was just over the moon! I am WILDLY enthusiastic about Rabbi Hirshfeld’s approach, and I can’t wait to get my hands on his book!! I would also recommend Eric Law’s books as well (“Inclusion” and “The Bush was Burning but not Consumed”) As a white, mainline, Southern WASP pastor…I’m so glad that President Carter spoke so openly and categorically about the covert racism vis à vis our exceptionally gifted president. Racism that we are attempting to mask and justify under many different guises. R. Hirshfeld’s statement about anger being born of deep fear was an epiphanous moment for me. This ugly streak of racism in my home state (and home town too) can not go unchallenged, but I’ll bet that Rabbi Hirschfeld will give me some tools to dissipate the fear and to do so in a loving manner.

  14. Hi Mike, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your program.
    I especially want to thank you for having Rabbi Hirschfield on your program. It would be wonderful if you had the Rabbi on again. I heard that he and a Bishop from New York city have a talk show. Is that true. I am a devout Roman Catholic member of St. Gabriel’s church here in Charlotte. I wish more of the clergy in the area would be a little like the Rabbi Hirschfield. Thank you again and keep up the good work that you present to our city. We need to pray real hard that God will keep blessing America. Marie A

  15. It is not the case that all points of view are worthy of respect or even recognition. Both civility and open mindedness can be easily taken to the extreme, in which case they both become gullibility. Lies aren’t worthy of respect in any situation. It is also not the case that facts must be fair and balanced. Debate only exists when there are two sides. Sheesh….so much material here…so little time.

  16. Wow! It has been 15 years since I worked in the newsroom of a large paper. At the time, I couldn’t help noticing that a majority of the journalists did lean to left and did so for a vareity of different reasons – most of which were obviously personal. (So much for objectivity) Still, I had no idea that the mainstream media had gone from leaning left to actually censoring the news in order to promote a liberal agenda.

    • I bet you, like others who make such claims, can’t give a single verifiable example of “promoting a liberal agenda.” I bet you can’t even define “liberal agenda.” Just because you disagree with reality doesn’t mean it’s biased against you.

  17. Calm down, Joe. Your are making a lot of assumptions. I never said anything was biased against me and I never said whether or not I was a liberal or a conservative. Frankly, I don’t care to affliate myself with either group. I am simply commenting on the crude behavior toward President Bush that was not reported by the mainstream media. Why do you think it wasn’t reported?

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