Politics in the United States have sunk so low that just about anyone who does not agree with one's strict adherence to some political straight-jacket is seen, not as a political adversary or opponent, but as an enemy. Sometimes the vitriol is so viscious that Americans treat fellow-Americans as outsiders, and call each other names like socialists, communists, fascists, Nazis, etc. While it has been escalating since the 1980s, it has become downright outrageous since the U.S. elected a president of mixed racial background who was and is quickly identified as black. In the U.S., one drop of African blood makes on black. And we cast prejudicial stones at people based on skin color and shade. Sad.
However, let's pause and look at the variance of comments that have been made about liberals and conservatives that carry a lighter aura and temperament. Methinks we need this.
While people from the left and right oversimplify the dilemmas faced by the U.S., and egocentrically think that all the government has to do is this or that and voila!, all will be fine. It is especially distressing when these simple suggestions for complex issues come from power groups that only have an attitude that everyone who disagrees with them is the hated enemy. Or conceal the fact that their opinions come from commercial and all-too-greedy motivations. Too often these hate-filled attacks come from people and groups who have little or no understanding of the historical backdrop to events and developments. When one has only an elementary understanding, elementary solutions seem obvious.
With George W. Bush we have a case in point. From the beginning of his political life, he had the resources and power to devise his own life story. Often it was done leaving others in his destructive wake. His ridicule of John Kerry and John McCain for his own political gain is only a small portion of the story. George W. Bush's trip to the White House and his subsequent horrid administration is not drawn by political perspective, it is drawn from his history; from his sordid history.
"We stand for the maintenance of private property...We shall protect free enterprise as the most expedient or rather the sole possible economic order." -Adolf Hitler
"I cannot admit that any man born ...has either the knowledge or authority to tell other men...what God's purposes are." -Judge Ben B. Lindsey
Oh, how we American "purists" love to heap piles of our "pure" criticism on Moslems. The "purist of the pure" here identify all Moslems as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. What if I were to be so blatant as to tell you that Islam is a religion of Peace? Would you cringe? Would that be impossible for you to process? If you absolutely cannot accept the peace identification with the faith of Moslems, then it is an indication of how completely brainwashed you are, and perhaps more importantly, how easily you can fall prey to any prejudice, especially religious bigotry.
While the history of Mohammed and Islam are somewhat different and easily misunderstood by Jews and Christians, the majority of Moslems are people of peace. True, many have been led in a direction away from the true precepts of Islam, there is also ample evidence to support the reaction that many of that faith have in the way Christians and Jews have historically mistreated Moslem people. In truth, there has been a history of centuries of looking down at Moslem culture and people. We do this even as we ignore the major contribution of Moslem culture, and the flowering culture that was flourishing while Christian peoples were languishing in a dark period in European history. When the powerful nations of Europe evolved and became empires, they stomped heavily on Moslem people and raped them of much wealth and held them down in just about every way possible.
While there are some people who see liberals everywhere, it is well to point out that the United States of America is the only industrial nation in the entire world that never had a strong political movement from the left. To a conservative this is hard to believe. To a conservative, a movement to organize labor is a leftist threat. To a conservative, any taxes are cause for concern and seen as unnecessarily bowing to the left [unless the money is spent on the military, border protection, taxing the middle class in order to give tax breaks to big business, drug enforcement to protect legal drug corporations, etc.].
Milwaukee is a good case in point. For decades in the 20th century, the Mayor of Milwaukee was officially a member of the Socialist Party, and ran for office on that ticket. The last Socialist mayor here was in 1960. Prior to 1960, Milwaukee was well known to have just about the cleanest and most honest city government in America. Since then, there has been a slide and Milwaukee is now seen as a city in great trouble financially, socially, racially, politically, etc. Today not only the term "socialist" has been trashed and made people fearful, the word "liberal" is also feared by many. And the liberals have allowed it to happen with their own lack of principled and assertive leadership. Rather than fight to uphold the rich liberal tradition, liberals have been cowards and ran away to the term "progressive."
The refrain from the old, emotional song confronts us with the choices we have to make in life. Unfortunately, too many of us ONLY see the world as one in which one feels the MUST to ALWAYS support this side or that, especially in political matters. We are a lesser nation for it.
All you have to do is identify a statement or program with a name and decisions are made without any knowledge of the relative merits. We have become a nation of knee-jerk ideologues. I don't know about the knees particularly, but we certainly have become jerks.
One of the more interesting comments left below a recent blog posting of mine is that I have to decide what I must believe. That is totally anathema to me. I've lived a long time, and things I thought were absolutely true now appear to me to be not true. An open mind, free of judgments and belief systems is a healthy mind. But people insist they must believe in some scripted menu for life, some road map for life, some exclusive deduction about life that far too often excludes "the others." Below are some current "beliefs" that may or may not be true. However none are true because they fit some pre-conceived belief system or political posture...
People enter the field of psychiatry or psychology to find themselves. * People enter the field of theology to find God. * Chicago is called the "Windy City" because of the wind [NOT true]. * Trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Umar Abdulmutallab in federal court shows Obama coddles terrorists. * The Bush administration almost always indicted terror suspects as criminals and tried them in federal courts. * When viewing how the federal court system worked in trying terrorists, Republican Mayor of New York and GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, commented: "I was in awe of the system. It does demonstrate that we can give people a fair trial." [Jane Mayer story in 'The New Yorker']. * The Bible tells children to kill their parents when they conflict with the theology of the day. * The Bible tells parents to kill their children when they are sinful. * The Bible chastises rich people and tells people to give away everything and follow Christ. * The Bible tells people to pay their taxes and "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." * Roman Catholic priests married and had families until the Church felt is was losing too much money as these priests left their estates to their families...and thus the Church required priest to be celibate. * Some Popes married. * Rabbinical Judaism terribly mistreated the Essenes. * Adolf Hitler was greatly helped to power in Germany by American industrialists. * A young George W. Bush fathered a fetus that was then aborted with his family's help. * Because of the lies and exaggerations uncovered at an East Anglia university, climate change is a hoax. * Global warming and climate change are the same thing. * Record snowfalls in the southern U.S. states prove there is no global warming. * When climate change occurs, weather patterns and fronts are altered and areas that were traditionally cold are warmed and warm areas receive more preciptation including snow because evaporations around the globe put moisture in the air. * Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. * Official birth certificate records show Obama was clearly born in Hawaii. * Amazingly, the same people who criticize Obama for being a member of a specific church also say he is a Moslem. * A higher percentage of Roman Catholics in the U.S. use contraceptives then people in the general population. * Violent crime has gone down in states that have eased up on laws related to concealed weapons. * Violent crime has gone down to a greater extent in states that have greater restrictions on gun ownership. * Crime has gone down in states that have enacted capital punishment. * Crime has gone down to a greater degree in states that have no capital punishment. * Using the term "Libertarian Party" is alot like the Nazis advocating liberty for big business to do what it wants to do...that's is how Nazism took hold in Germany when corporations like I.G. Farben, Messerschmidt, Krupp, etc. got whatever they wanted, including huge military contracts. * The health care reform advocated by Democrats would have saved Medicare, offered health care to tens of millions of Americans without it, and got costs down because big insurance companies would FINALLY have some competition for rates. * Newt Gingrich would make a great president. * Paul Ryan would make a great president...as long as nobody carefully looks at his plan for America. * More Republicans have decided not to run for Congress than Democrats. * Today the term Independent means one is independent of intelligent thought and information. * Reid and Pelosi have been horrible leaders in Congress. * The Haitian earthquake happened because Haitians made a deal with the devil. * Stop reading!, in confuses the issue. * Rush Limbaugh is officially a convicted criminal. * These kinds of absolutes are not at all helpful in moving the nation or the world forward.
Last Thursday I was at a public insitution gathering when the first news came in about the plane that crashed into an office building in Austin, Texas. Immediately I began to hear comments about "Obama is too easy on those damn terrorists!" or "When will Obama learn?" or "That's what we get for coddling the terrorists," or "No doubt it is some Moslem terrorist." It was almost as though people were pleased that their illogical judgments about the Obama administration were being confirmed.
A little while later more specific news began to filter in about it being some disraught American who flew his small plane into an IRS office building. I could feel the air go out of the room, as though people were sad to learn that it was an American and not an Arab Moslem. I was astonished. Is this how prejudice and judgementalism play out in today's hateful American society?
Yes, it is possible to be informed in the United States. Yes, it is possible to find objective journalism in the U.S. No, no place is perfect in reporting the news. However regularly following these news sources will get you much closer to the truth than following MSNBC, FOX, Moveon, Limbaugh, or other news outlets that only slant the news and do not report it objectively ...or even make an attempt to do so. A partial list I suggest...
The British Broadcasting Co. is still the gold standard in international news. BBC.co.uk/
While it will be interesting how the Republicans in Congress spin the open-ended invitation made by President Obama to discuss health care reform, but don't hold your breath for reconciliation. In fact the very word "reconciliation" has already been manipulated by the conservatives in Congress. Originally the ability to require only 51 votes in the Senate to move along legislation has been skewed by the GOP to filibuster everything...and I mean everything. And when the "reconcilation" of the past when only 51 votes were required is told in truth, suddenly all the conservatives are aghast. But the very term COBRA that is used to help people hold onto health insurance when they lose or change jobs, contains this provision because the "R" in COBRA means reconciliation...51 votes required. Much major legislation in the past has been done this way. Health care for children in poverty was covered by 51 votes. So were many, many pieces of important legislation in the past. Not today; the GOP demands 60 votes.
Look, I am pleased that a minority in the Senate can delay action with the 60 vote requirement. Repeat: I am pleased that is usually required. But when there are lies floating around that it should always be required in major legislation, the historical facts prove otherwise. The lies get me about the current conservatives in Congress. Of course...let me repeat that...of course the Democrats lie. But when "no" becomes the only thing permitted in the GOP because a black Democrat sits in the White House, then it is time to shed some light on it.