Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Limits of Guilt By Association

I've served on my share of boards and commitees that have sought to acheive a positive end in our society. Ultimately, I admit, that my concern is the cause I'm enlisted in, not the background of the individuals I serve with. I'm not going to do BCI check on everyone I serve with. If I hear rumors that someone on the committee had previously done something questionable, particularly decades ago, I'm certainly willing to measure the value of the cause with my association of some cohort who had made some bad decisions decades ago.

The attack against Barack Obama regarding William Ayers is so ridiculous, I sit here puzzled. It's like George Bush's declaration to George Tenet regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, "is that all you got?" Though various associations, I have worked with and even been related to people who are listed as sexual predators. Did I approve of their actions? No I did not. But I was associated with them, and I still value my relationship with them.

I don't limit my associations to perfect people. If I did, I know I'd be hanging with liars. The Bill Ayers thing really disturbs me because we associate with people all the time, some we know have a shaky past, some we don't, but most of us, are willing to overlook past mistakes, and admittedly I fit that mold. The attacks against Barack Obama regarding Bill Ayers and ACORN seem to be born by desperation, rather than by principle.

Many of us liberals want to focus on the relationship of the Palin family to the secessionist Alaskan party. Most of that deals with a desire for fair play. But you know, I've got friends and relatives who don't see it, who are blatant racists. I try to influence them the best I can, but I care for them never the less. Guilt by association has become far too commonplace in our political dialogue, and neither party is innocent, but the Republican party is particularly guilty of this nefarious sin.

Let's listen to what politicians list as their priorities, and whether they jive with ours. If after they are elected and they lose sight of those objectives, let's call them on it. But this guilt by association thing has got to stop if we are to value each other as Americans, warts and all. Demonizing people we disagree with drags us down to their level. I feel a deep profound disappointment in the McCain campaign in their guilt by association tactics. I sincerely wonder how anyone who values our constitution can then go vote for John McCain who has expressed such a willingness to disrespect it.


Jason The said...

Well said!

just-commenting said...

I, too, find the arguments that try to establish fuilt-by-association very specious. I have sat or do sit on a variety of boards ranging from corporations, arts organizations, health care organizations, educational, and other not-for-profit groups, and some are large enough that I did not even know the name of everyone on the board, let alone such things as political persuations or sexual preferences.

None of that was germane to the function of the board. Sarah Palin's rereference to "pallin' around with terrorists" is just one more evidence of her total cluelessness concerning the way most of these groups work and what it means to be on such a board.

Although one board was only 6 people, most average about 20-25, and one was even larger than that.