Views on politics and current events

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Letter From A Tea Party Leader, And My Response

A recent letter to the Editor appeared in my local newspaper from a tea party leader, Amanda Norris. Her letter, and my reply:

Similarities are few between tea party, OWS

I keep hearing that the tea party and Occupy Wall Street have a lot in common. There are two key issues where we share frustration: the bank bailouts and crony capitalism. 

 Both groups are adamantly opposed to both issues, but that’s where the commonalities begin and end. Tea partiers believe those problems should be fixed by a return to constitutionally limited government – return government to its original scope, and you eliminate the ability of special interests to receive special benefits.
The overwhelming majority of OWS protesters would rather destroy capitalism and replace it with ... what? Not too many of them will say, but I’m guessing it will involve taking from some to give to others. Many ignore the hypocrisy of criticizing bank bailouts while demanding their own bailout through mortgage or school loan forgiveness.

Those folks have a right to protest, but they have no right to litter, vandalize, attack police or disrupt private businesses.How many tea partiers have been arrested at our rallies? Zero. How many OWS protesters? Thousands. There are small groups in communities like ours who respect private property and the law, but standing in solidarity with those who do not sends the wrong message. Wall Street isn’t the lone culprit in this crisis, and vilifying capitalism fixes nothing.

Tea partiers love this nation, want to peacefully restore it, and ensure it remains the bastion of liberty and opportunity it’s been since its inception. OWS occupiers want to create chaos and to replace everything this country stands for with a system that’s failed time and again.
For those tempted to support Occupy Wall Street, be careful who you stand with. If you value this nation, our Constitution, and the rule of law, stand up for them, fight to restore them – don’t stand with those who would violently dismantle them.

My reply:

A Reply To Amanda Norris' Letter
Dear Editor,

To paint people with a broad brush like they are all the same foregoes any possibility of discussion.  Too bad that Amanda Norris has chosen to take this tactic to paint the OWS movement.  She says the overwhelming majority of us want to destroy capitalism and replace it with something else, but we don’t know what. The group that protests Friday at Grandon Civic Center is hardly that. They do want a well regulated capitalism to make a fairer playing field.  Theodore Roosevelt understood the dangers of business getting too big way back at the turn of the 20th century. It was a wise train of thought then, and it is a wise train of thought now.

Ms. Norris says no tea party people have been arrested, that they respect private property and the Constitution, that they love this country.   There have been no arrests at any local protests, private property has been respected, and to infer that because OWS protesters do not agree with tea party philosophy that they somehow cherish the Constitution or this country less than they do, is a cheap shot.     

Instead of slinging mud based on assumptions, try and open an avenue of communication.  Would that even be possible? There are no doubt issues of agreement between the two groups if the hubris of being correct at the expense of the other side being wrong is overcome.  Or will it be more of  the old tactic, keep the peasants fighting among themselves to maintain the status quo? And remember, there are always those who wait in the wings, ready to grasp control from a movement and use it to gain power for themselves. And when that happens, we all lose.  Don’t say it can’t happen to either movement. History proves you wrong.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Random Thoughts On The Prophet Amos

For a long time I’ve been reading the book of the prophet Amos in the OT . Amos is my favorite prophet, probably because his message of justice resonates so deeply within me. The language of Amos not only tells it like it was in ancient Israel and Judah, but for our times too. Sometimes the best way for me to really ‘get’ something is to go ‘whole hog’. Read it, reflect on it, read other commentary about it. So that’s what I’m doing this summer with Amos. And here’s a tidbit of commentary that ‘lifted the veil’ from my eyes, so to speak. The commentary refers to Amos 6:12-14 and I quote from The New Interpreter’s Bible:

“At the center of this passage lies the issue of wishful thinking. Amos speaks of people who put their trust in a strong military force, thinking prosperity (for themselves) is assured as long as their borderers are secure. As long as the enemy can be located outside their borders, the remedy is simple: Keep the army strong, and enjoy life at home. The sickness within can be ignored as long as the parties can continue. But for Amos, the measure of the health, the continuing viability of a nation, is justice, and he has seen it turned to poison. There is no “quick fix” for the internal problems of a society that has turned against itself, but in every generation wishful thinking turns to force as its quick fix. The realism of Amos recognized that force will not solve the problems created by the failure to maintain justice for all, but are there not still more wishful thinkers than realists in the world? In the past, extremely severe penalties for stealing did not stop the hungry from stealing when they saw no other way to stay alive. In the present, more police on the streets and mandatory or longer sentences may seem to be a quick and straightforward way to make communities safer, and indeed, they may have some useful effect. If people in those communities are hungry and hopeless however, there will still be no peace in the land.”

And so it goes, in the time of Amos and in our time. Without justice for all, there will never be peace in the land. Peace and security cannot be brought about by force, only by justice. That so many people are concerned for their own personal ‘justice’ at the expense of others underlines the greed, the self-serving, the exclusivity of the Teaparty and other ultra-conservative political advocates as well as the holier than thou religious. And as for some of the so-called liberals, is it possible that they are doing more harm than good? Is it possible that some of the so-called peace advocates are also doing more harm than good? If justice is not served equally for all, despite economic, social or racial status, how will the world ever find peace? How can The United States presume to be the leader of the free world when questions of national security and blood redemption lead to the invasion of a foreign sovereign nation and the assassination of a ‘foe’? Is that justice, and is that how we as a nation want to serve justice? I wonder, when will the ‘Babylonian Captivity’ of America happen? Or has it already begun?

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