[INSIGHT]Better watch that mouthWhere there is action, there is a reaction. But the recent behavior of the governing party seems to show that it forgot this rule. Lawmakers from the party make sarcastic remarks about the Constitutional Court’s ruling that scratched the capital relocation, directly clash with the opposition parties, use abusive language toward newspapers and speak whatever is on their mind to anyone critical of the party. They don’t appear to take into consideration any reaction that such behavior would provoke.
Let’s take a look at a small case. When about 1,500 seniors from every field commented on current affairs, the governing party used rough language in speaking to them. Its members heaped criticism on them, such as calling them the vanguards of the military coup or people who had fared well during the dictatorships.
Among the 1,500 people, a number may have expressed their concern without any political ambitions or hope of personal gain. After having their say, the majority probably returned to their quiet, everyday lives.
But how would these people have felt after having the governing party’s abusive language hurled at them? Wouldn’t the party’s criticisms have led some people, who otherwise would haven’t signed up to protest, to make up their mind to sign up again and even go out into the streets for demonstrations when time comes?
Didn’t the Uri Party think of the possibility that although it might consider its words trivial, its excessive criticisms could stir up people and unnecessarily make its opponents fiercer?
Prime Minster Lee Hae-chan’s criticism against the opposition party was the same. Because of his remarks, the operation of the National Assembly has become crippled, and the tension between the ruling and opposition parties heightened.
Criticizing the opposition that harshly is practically inviting a fiercer backlash from that party. In other words, it amounts to encouraging the opposition party to become more hard line, and the result is turning out that way in this case. Is it indeed right for the prime minister to ask for a hard-line opposition party?
His criticism toward the Chosun and Dong-A Ilbos may have achieved the effect of impressing the president, but would the two daily newspapers just sit back and listen to his remarks, which included phrases such as “Don’t be so frivolous,” or “traitors”? Above all, didn’t he know that his words would upset millions of readers of the two news outlets?
As for JoongAng Ilbo, he made some remarks that sounded like praise at first, but they ended up irritating the JoongAng reporters.
Hard-liners in the Uri Party gladly spoke well of him and seemed to think that his remarks would consolidate their supporters. But whether he is a conservative or a liberal, rude and loose talk can never be a virtue.
Despite the calculations the governing party might have made, I don’t know what else he achieved except for aggravating the political environment by pushing the opposition party to take a tougher stance and stirring up conflict with his unnecessary provocation.
The Uri Party’s inability to accept the Constitutional Court’s decision produced no practical gains, only creating a wide range of concerns about the ruling force’s constitution and level of legal awareness.
There is a saying that we should not make a snake venomous by tampering with it. Even a common neutral person is bound to become a hard-liner when provoked and irritated repeatedly.
When the governing party’s self-righteousness and disregard of the hearts of the people cross a line, even ordinary people can be disappointed and angry. The farther the party crosses the line, moderate people will become hard-liners and hard-liners will become extremists. Extremists can easily become activists who take risks at any opportunity.
Writers have recently tended to use harsh language and violent words. Due to the governing party’s bill on private schools, many leaders in religious and educational circles who are usually gentle are making extreme remarks and warning that they would even take collective action.
The activity of the forces critical of the government has shown signs of becoming bolder and more active. Unprecedentedly, groups of alumni and office workers began to participate in the gatherings of anti-government forces.
Why is this happening? This proves that people who are usually quiet get angry and tough when provoked.
Many gave good-intentioned advice to make the economy a priority and to respect the people’s hearts, but the ruling forces have long turned a deaf ear to them. So more people are disappointed and indignant. Support for the president keeps decreasing and what people say about him is too embarrassing to describe.
They should no longer make a snake a viper by hitting it. To speak fiercely and hurt the other party with a sharp tongue is not good politics. They should not forget that there will be an even sharper, more poisonous retaliation to their remarks.
The governing party should deeply think over the causes and background for the chronically low support rate of the party and the serious estrangement of the people’s hearts, about which the party itself is worried.
* The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Song Chin-hyok