By By Katherine Yaremko, Columnist
A little over a month ago, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote an incredibly insightful piece about the mentality behind the division between the Democrat and Republican parties. His reasoning as for why discussions have grown so contentious between the two parties stems from the way each views its own stance on fundamental issues.
Each party conceives its own opinions as morally right; and those of its opponents are not merely wrong, but obscenely wrong. I feel his article will remain relevant for some time to come. Even now, it demonstrates that there are two critical features involved whenever two opposing sides confront each other on an issue.
This dilemma is particularly relevant given the protests over union rights in Wisconsin. Although the word "negotiate" has been tossed around a lot, the protests do not merely concern what rights the government is or isn't willing to give them. A larger issue of ideologies and motives plays a role.
It is crucial that we discover ways in which we can talk about political issues. We need to remember to show respect for others. At the same time, we must recognize that what we are dealing with on the political scene is a fundamental difference in morals.
There have been enough comparisons made over the last few weeks between Wisconsin and Egypt. Logically, protesting for the removal of an oppressive dictator is not equivalent to protesting to retain bargaining rights. This has not prevented comparisons from being made. While both protests are important means of exercising human freedom, we should be careful not to use terms that generate the strongest possible emotional reaction when describing our situations. When we do so we tend to mischaracterize.
It is natural for individuals to want to feel part of a grand, unifying cause. While I cannot speak for those who significantly jeopardized their safety in Cairo's streets, and who continue to do so in streets throughout the Middle East, I am sure that, mingled with the fear and dread, protestors experienced a sense of pride and tenacity in fighting for their freedom.
The common human need for connection to a greater cause leads us at times to make inaccurate and, sometimes insulting, analogies to certain events in order to elevate their status. The Wisconsin protests for unions to retain their bargaining rights are without a doubt important and necessary.
As Paul Krugman states, regardless of one's personal opinion about unions and how they function, one cannot doubt that unions represent an extremely important check against forces of immense wealth and greed. But to compare them to what took place in Egypt is to entirely misrepresent the situation.
Too often today, we are careless with our language. We blow relatively small events out of proportion. If we can rectify this we might begin to view events in the world with a little more accuracy and respect.