Column: Criticizing without thinking is an unattractive trait

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 25, 2001

Masochism, it’s the only reason I can think of to explain my listening to a certain television news commentator.

Thursday, October 25, 2001

Masochism, it’s the only reason I can think of to explain my listening to a certain television news commentator. Masochism and the fact that some of his guests are well worth listening to. Heaven alone knows why they lowered themselves to appear on his cruddy program.

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Actually I don’t listen to him every night. Ever so often, though, inspired by a morbid curiosity, I crawl back, saying to myself that he can’t be as stupid sounding as I remember.

Can’t he? You bet he can. Last weekend he was brow beating a perfectly kindly Christian minister, who feels that the &uot;war&uot; is leading to the killing of too many innocent people in the attempt to do away with the terrorists.

Our commentator turned pink, from pink to cerise, and from cerise to purple. &uot;You have insulted every family that lost a loved one,&uot; he shouted, shaking with rage.

He’s very proud of his rage. &uot;I’m angry,&uot; he says often, &uot;I want everyone in America to be angry. We should be angry.&uot;

Personally I think bragging about being angry is like bragging about being insane. I suppose everyone feels anger now and again, but no decisions should be made when angry, and if you can’t disagree with people without raising your voice and turning purple, you probably should seek a corner away from others.

After all, most people have the uncanny idea that they have a right to hold an opinion without asking consent from some know-it-all huckster. This particular huckster is critical of everything: the way the government is run, the way the schools are run, the way immigrants are treated, the way our borders are patrolled. The theme of everything he says is, &uot;Anything they can do, I could do better.&uot; One wishes he might be given an opportunity to prove himself, in some little endeavor that wouldn’t prove a threat to the country.

Actually I suppose the reason I’m so annoyed at myself for watching him is that he reminds me of my least favorite uncle. May he rest in peace. My uncle was a man who knew all the answers, too, but was more than a little unsure of the questions.

The last time the uncle visited here in Albert Lea, he took pleasure in teasing my large, beautiful, and generally patient Siamese cat. I asked Uncle to desist, but he said he knew all there was to know about cats before I was born and took another swipe at the cat.

The cat returned the swipe with interest, I think close to the bone. There’s nothing more adept than a Siamese cat. I had other reasons for being proud of that cat, but its response in this case still remains as a happy recollection.

Most of the men in my father’s family could discuss religion, politics and current events with some degree of rationality. The uncle, like the commentator, made no remark that had not been carefully pruned of any grain of logic.

On that visit he had suddenly developed an anti-Catholic bias. Don’t ask me why. I’ve never really understood even the more sane members of my family.

When harangued by someone making no sense I usually try to move around. At home I can always put the kettle on, get out the tea bags, and find a cookie or a sandwich, to set before the creature. My uncle, though, was on to this. He followed me around presenting arguments, each more stupid than the last. Finally winding up with, &uot;They crucified Christ, you know?&uot;

That stopped me dead in my tracks, &uot;How do you figure that?&uot;

&uot;Well, who did crucify him?&uot; asked my uncle.

&uot;The Romans, of course,&uot; I told him.

&uot;Ah ha,&uot; he gloated, &uot;And you can’t deny that Catholics are Roman Catholics, can you?&uot;

Some day I may write a book on logic. It’s a subject that should be mandatory in the schools from the third grade on.

Love Cruikshank is an Albert Lea resident. Her column appears Thursdays.