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The forces of reaction…

Dear Joe,

Hmmm…education, history… I don’t know about that. The E-mail you forwarded about how Obama will destroy the nation in Hitlerian fashion sounds pretty selective and hysterical to me, not to mention distrustful of democracy and our systems of government, politics, and social production, which may not be all we want, but they are certainly things we all contribute to.

That being said, I resist and distrust things that come with the admonition that if I don’t read it, I’m part of the problem. Plus, you author claims to have a corner on historical knowledge and the interpretation of historical events, their causes, and their conditions. She mostly sounds like she’s really upset that a black man is the president.

Everything she says here is in the “history books,” which tells me this is more a Glenn Beck-like “we have just discovered” person or a Rush Limbaugh “we know you want to know what you don’t know” person.

Beck, as you know, “discovers” and “uncovers” most of his alleged news in the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Daily Post. Limbaugh uses “facts” and “truths” very selectively and without any context but his own. Just the other night, I heard Michael Savage use outright lies and falsehoods to upbraid a caller for calling some teabaggers on being racist. In all, it reminds me of Charles Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith in the 1930s.

The bad logic, the racist undertones, the emotional sensationalism, and the fear mongering… Come at me with something that isn’t already determined to indict one “side” or the other. I really have an issue with these alleged thinkers who are constantly asking the question, “When did you quit molesting your sister?” and then saying, “see, he molests his sister because he said he didn’t. He’s clearly hiding something.”

In the end, here’s what I know:

The last time this kind of hysteria arose was under Clinton, while the greatest threats to personal liberty happened under GWB. Clinton at least had the right idea and was bringing defense welfare under control. Under Bush, the national treasury was looted, the government parceled out to political friends and corporations, and defense welfare expanded to the point that we wound up in a hole deep enough to warrant drastic measures. Moreover, government was used to expand the goals and interests of the private sector with taxpayer money–a huge shift of national wealth from the people to the holders of stock, from the bottom 80 percent of the economic pyramid to the top 1 percent. From Reagan to Bush I, income and wealth inequity grew at a rate not seen in a century. They stabilized and then declined during the Clinton years, and then started rising again in the GWB era. The little guy is taking a fucking and the teabaggers are taking part in their own oppression.

I will say that the teabaggers are racist. It’s not, “what you call racist is really reality.” These people are truly disturbed that a black man has made it to the White House. Just look at the signs they carry, the placards they post, the things they say and pictures they post on the internet.

And I say this even as I say I am not out to destroy the nation. I will not have religion in government. I will not have government in religion. I will not delegitimize people I disagree with, as I am often invalidated because I can be called a “liberal.” I am not a demon.

I’m an ACLU member who supports and defends the Bill of Rights. I believe, as did John Locke, that law is for civil society and religion is a personal matter. I am an American in blood and bones, and to have that constantly questioned by people who think they have the right to intervene in my private life by assuming they know what I stand for and what I believe is insulting and un-American.

I will also not be made to be grateful to anyone for making a living. I believe that the national patrimony is best protected by the diffusion of power and wealth, rather than a concentration of both in a few hands. The advantages big business and corporations enjoy in this country mean that small business and the self-employed are, except for in a few situations, left to services and restaurants. That the wealthy produce demand does not mean a more worker/yeoman republic would not. I will not kiss the hand that says it feeds me. I will starve, my family will starve than to demean ourselves on the alter of an alleged free market, which is neither free nor democratic. Nor will I accept that my life comes down to consumer choices, which is what democracy seems to mean to followers of the talking heads.

I do feel that the spooks have come out to spew this fear and hatred because we have a black president, because they cannot or will not take part in a debate, because their ideas are bankrupt, and, finally, because they support a status quo that they think benefits them, but in fact benefits the ConglomCos of the world.

The threat to freedom, Joe, lies not in having to wait in line at the DMV but rather our willingness to wait in line at the WalMart, not in vigorous debate but in refusing to debate by starting discussions with name calling, not with those we disagree with but with those that we agree with.

As it is, I maintain an independent mind and existence. If the government takes your guns, I will join your resistance but not your conspiracy-seeking friends. If the government does one thing to take your property by force, I will defend (and have often defended in my journalism) you against such action. When the government stops taking taxes to support free-market, free-enterprise, private-sector profits, I will join you in support of business.

In the meantime, I see the post-McCain/Palin hysteria for what it is, the fear of those who would turn back the clock to a time that never existed. The fear of those who blindly follow and support coercive power. The fear of a people who have lost faith in democracy, trust in their fellow humans, and love of their world.

Patrick

P.S. Sarah Palin is the great thinker of the Republican right?

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