Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What America has become

Someone recently forwarded to me the Commentary made by Ken Huber in the Iosco County News-Herald last June, entitled “What has America become?” I feel for the author. In these times of economic insecurity and global change the world does seem to be an unfriendly place. However, the mixed up arguments, false analogies and outright falsehoods put forth in this small piece are deceptive. It’s no wonder that the piece has gone viral in the conservative blogosphere.

Let me address the letter piece by piece. First:

Has America become the land of the double standard?

No, there has always been a double standard. We were founded with a portion of our country in slavery and women did not have equal rights with men. The rich always had more advantages than the middle class, working class, or the poor.

Let’s see: if we lie to the Congress, it's a felony and if the Congress lies to us it’s just politics;

Let me cite another quote:

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance." John Philpot Curran, 1790

People in power lie, they always have and always will. The responsibility of a free citizenry is to keep informed, and to hold their leaders accountable.

if we dislike a black person, we're racist and if a black person dislikes whites, it’s their 1st Amendment right;

This mixed up article is wrong on so many levels. There is no constitutional protection on being liked, there is however the protection of speech. There is a lot of hate speech out there; it is all protected - whether it is the KKK or the Black Panthers. This statement speaks to the level of vitriol in our society. Mass media bombards us with this all the time. Hate speech should never be acceptable. It is protected, but it is not acceptable.

the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims;

We as a society do not do enough for the victims of crime. That said, locking up criminals and doing nothing to rehabilitate to them doesn’t help us either. Using my home state of California as an example, if you look at all the prisons built under the leadership of George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson - they aren’t working. The state is going broke and its prisons are part of the problem. Crime prevention and rehabilitation are cost effective especially when compared to the cost of incarceration.

in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process;

Another mixed up argument. No one should be afraid to express themselves because of the sexual orientation, or their faith. As an adult, I look back on to some of the things my peers and I did to each other growing up and I hold regret in my heart. We picked on people for everything and I wish that we had been called on the carpet more often. We need to be a more tolerant society, and this needs to be taught in the schools. This extends to all aspects of our life.

you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer;

Flip is around to get the other perspective:

you protect an unborn child, but it is okay execute a mass murderer;

My Christian faith teaches that both are wrong. I think consistency is important in this point. I don’t think you can reconcile many people to the inconsistency in these two positions. There is value in all life. We need to focus on the issues that bring us to the point that a woman in a clinic faces a horrible decision; or the point where someone is sentenced to die.

we don't burn books in America, we now rewrite them;

This is nothing new. This country has a long history of banning, burning and editing books.

we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive;

What on earth is he talking about? International politics? Certainly not. Domestic politics? Does the writer know of all the abuses done in the 20th Century to people by naming them as communists or socialists? This kind of argument rings of fascism. Does the writer realize that? Fascist. Domestically, the most progressive President in the last fifty years was Richard Nixon. If you look at his policies from then now, he would be a Democrat.

we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea;

This is another false analogy. You can’t compare our border with Mexico and our patrolling of the DMZ in Korea.

if you protest against President Obama's policies you're a terrorist, but if you burned an American flag or George Bush in effigy it was your 1st Amendment right.

If you advocate killing the President or overthrowing the government by force, yes you may be a terrorist. Burning the flag, or an effigy falls under protected speech.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas;

This one bugs me too, but the author is mixing up arguments, again. Don’t put the nativity scene on public land. That’s the simplest answer.

we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people;

Do I have to really refute this one? This is simply wrong. Wrong. Wrong Wrong.

we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

Says who? Show me one organization or person that says both. I don’t think you can. Many say one, but I know of no one who advocates both.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don't want to work; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs;

These were not originally grouped together, but I did for the sake of argument. Who exactly is the money being taken from and who is it being given to? Are we talking about people receiving Medicare, SSI, or social security? Are we talking about those receiving unemployment benefits? Are we talking about those receiving WIC or food stamps, perhaps welfare? Perhaps the author is describing corporations that get subsidies or loan guaranties? Please tell me who is getting that handout and who doesn’t want to work?

I’m all for tax fairness. Everyone should pay according to their ability to pay. I like what Warren Buffet said about taxing the rich more. Taxes though, won’t solve the problem. We have to reform our economy and bring home many of the jobs we have exported overseas. Let’s not fight a war on a credit card.

we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct;

Examples please? Political correctness and the “talk radio” mentality abound. It’s easier to shout someone down than to listen to what they are really saying, or trying to understand their problem.

parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games;

Yes, we all need to be better parents and invest the time in our children.

the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

This too is factually wrong. Both Presidents did something. Bush did too little too late thinking that this was a state issue and not a federal issue. Obama relied too much on the private sector to clean up its own mess; but there was a significant federal response. As a nation we need to be better prepared for emergencies of all types.

And how do we handle a major crisis today? The government appoints a committee to determine who's at fault, then threatens them, passes a law, raises our taxes; tells us the problem is solved so they can get back to their reelection campaign.

This is a good place to end. We get the government we deserve. In the end, we need to become a more active electorate; more educated and we need to hold our leaders accountable. Stop going for the simple fixes: term limits; constitutional amendments; arcane budgeting rules, etc. We need to fix our budgeting and fix our economy.

We need to recognize that we as a nation share a common weal and that by working together we can fix whatever problems plague us.

What has happened to the land of the free and home of the brave?

It’s here, but it needs to get off the couch and get back in shape.

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