NPR’s Reporting on Political Extremism

This morning (Wednesday, May 9, 2012) I could hardly believe what I heard on, of all places, NPR’s Morning Edition. The manuscript is not yet available, but I am absolutely certain that the NPR reporter characterized both the Democratic and the Republican parties as pursuing “extreme” politics.

Well, sure, if by “extreme” one includes policies once embraced by such radicals as General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon.

Senator Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) recognized too late that one cannot out-“Fair and Balance” FOX. The lie, once embraced, penetrates every cell, every membrane, every organ, until it works its way through the entire body.

Republicanism—not in name, but in fact—is indispensible to the health of the nation. Res publica—public or shared wealth—is but poorly equipped to withstand the assaults of political and religious extremism if for no other reason than simply because, in a pluralistic society, we cannot hold in common those things, like religious faith, that are by definition personal and private. To compel the whole to embrace the part undermines the very essence of res publica and so destroys the very heart of republicanism as such.

NPR cannot conceal its own culpability for this madness by hiding behind the mantle of “fair and balanced” reporting; as though fasci (a military term that makes success in war dependent on singleness of mind and mission) and res publica were indistinguishable. Fasci and its advocates gave us Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco, not Washington, Hamilton, and Jefferson.

Only one party, the Republican Party, has embraced the logic of political extremism. And the sooner NPR recognizes this truth, the sooner it may avoid the budgetary chopping block with which one (not both) of the two major parties continues to threaten it.