The Small Town Editorial of 12/19/12

I just read a really patriotic sounding editorial written by someone who seems very nostalgic for what he considers to be a “lost” America…  He longs for days past when we did not try to be considerate of the feelings, beliefs, and experiences of others (ALL others, rather than just those who look and think like ‘us’) — lumping all those dark qualities under the unsavory name of “political correctness.”

He bemoans the public acceptance of anyone other than the straight, the white, and presumably the male real “Americans.”  He muses fondly about times when God (his, no doubt) was the centerpiece of citizenship, when criminals were treated more harshly, and when animals were used for research on a broader scale.  Though, to be honest, it’s sometimes difficult to know if his comparisons are there because he really wants there to be more animals used in medical/ cosmetic/ drug testing, or whether the point he is trying to make is that he thinks stem cell research should be limited or abolished.  Similarly, it’s hard to know whether he seriously wants to eliminate taxes for those who “work hard for their money;” or if he just wants to set up tighter qualifications on those who receive federal assistance.

But the really interesting part of this newspaper editorial posted to the internet is the language, voice, and style of the writing.  It is full of high-sounding phrases and buzzwords meant to rally the nation and bring back the AMERICA the author wants us to remember we once called home.  “The land of the free and the home of the brave”– really does sound so so good.  A place where there were publicly sponsored nativity scenes, and where porn wasn’t so easy to come by.  A place where victims were duely cared for and abortions didn’t happen.  A place where you could execute criminals for their crimes, and where politicians were honest and loyal and true.  You know — AMERICA.

This man remembers fondly the place I lived as a child — but he remembers it quite differently than I do.  I remember McCarthy the witch-hunter who ruined lives with fear and anger and hate.  I remember that this country was built on the blood and bones of the people whose land it was when we arrived.  I remember a country made prosperous and wealthy by slavery.  And by murder of indigenous peoples in order to steal their land.  I remember a country where only 1 group of citizens — white men — actually had any rights or say in governance.  And not even all white men.  Not the Irish.  Not the Italians, in some states/ cities.  Not the Greeks.  Not the Jews.  Certainly not the women.  Not children, or the poor.  And no one would imagine — the Chinese or Hispanics.

I remember a country where on the Gulf coast, supervisors at the gigantic company town oil refineries could visit the wives of their workers during the workday for sex — and use the threat of unemployment — and starvation — homelessness — to glean the benefits of their position of power and dominance.  And where dockworkers were hired based on what percentage of their wage they were willing to kick back to the foreman who was managing the roster of assignments.  Those who gave up more (and more and more) could have the privilege of doing life-threatening labor for 16-20 hours a day — for just a fraction of what was being paid by the bosses.  And if they died in the process — nobody knew their names and ALL the pay they had earned went to the foreman.

I remember a country where a woman had no choice but to accept beatings from her drunken husband, and year after year of pregnancy to produce children who could work fields and take jobs in factories and subsidize family income.  And where at least half the children she bore would die of what are now easily curable diseases and sickness — or from beatings and abuse of their own.  Or starvation and malnutrition due to poverty.

I remember that prisons have not always been filled with the guilty.  (as they are now?)  and where forced labor of prisoners that resulted in death was as common as — the common cold.

I remember photographs of 20 year-old young men who looked 50 from poor diet and long outrageous hours of back-breaking work — for next to nothing — in the workhouses of robber barons and “princes” of industry.  We’ve all seen their pictures — glassy eyed and dried out before their time.

I remember that our all-knowing founding fathers designated that some people were actually just 3/5 of a person.  And other people — women — were not actually people at all.  And all slaves, regardless of their color, age, sex or nationality — were the property of their masters and owners and husbands and fathers.  In some places, only white men could even own a piece of land or a house — much less anything else.

So in reply to the man who longs for the “land of the free and the home of the brave” of our past, I’d like to suggest that his spectacles are a little pink.  Rose colored, in fact.  He’s remembering something he saw in a movie, or that some equally nostalgic old-timer told him about.

I’d also like to suggest that his vocabulary — as well as his education — could use a little updating.

Let’s take his “editorial” apart, one line at a time, and see what he really has to say:  [please note, I have tried to reproduce all the punctuation/syntax errors exactly as they appear in the original document shown below.  so don’t write me and tell me about run-on sentences, missing or misplaced commas,  parallel structure; or any of his un-noted rhetorical problems….]

Has America become the land of special interest, and the home of the double standard?

Clearly, the author believes this is true, or it would not be his opening line.  So it really isn’t a question — it is a RHETORICAL question.  And as rhetoric — it is vague.  He is obviously going to get specific in what follows.

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

If we lie to Congress as a body while under oath, it is a felony.  Congress is a group of men and women.  If, as individuals, they lie to each of us separately in conversation; or if they lie to a reporter so their attempts to deceive us are broadcast to all of us at once, it is no more illegal for them than when we do it.  But it is illegal for them to lie under oath or in a sworn deposition.  No double standard, there.

The implication, however, is that they can lie about what they believe and think and do it with impunity.   However — if we do not choose to re-elect them because of their lies, I’d call that punishment.  “No more free rides for liars” sounds like a good voting criteria….

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

Not quite.  If I, a white person, dislike a specific black person — that’s a personal choice.  If I dislike black people as a group — that’s racism.  If a black person dislikes me individually — that’s his/her choice.  If he dislikes whites as a group — it’s still racism.  No double standard.  The only double standard here is the way the author phrased the comparison so that 2 not-equal things are made to appear equal on the 2 sides of the ledger.

Technically, it’s a logical fallacy.   In street parlance, it’s apples and oranges.

Most obvious, however, is the “us” and “them” mentality at work.  This man has just published the depth of his whiteness and isolation, and it’s being reposted everywhere.  Is it possible to be more “not part of the melting pot” than this?  –I don’t think so.

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

Actually, not so much millions as billions; and the majority of the money is spent to separate criminals from free society to protect the society from them.  There is also a feverish debate on whether rehabilitation or punishment is the correct word.  Regardless — most of the money is spent on 3-strikes-your-out marijuana charges, which are commonly agreed to be victimless crimes.

As a side note, it seems a little odd that the author here seems to be faulting the “American” society for not spending enough federal tax money to help victims.

Just saying….

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

Let’s get specific on the language here.  What you CAN teach (as opposed to MUST teach) are 2 very different things.  And — both are decided at the state and local level.  Schools may forfeit federal funds if they fail to meet certain standards or teach certain things — but education content is determined locally by school boards, boards of education, and state accreditation boards.  Teaching that homosexuality is OK (or not) or that having children outside of marriage is OK (or not) or that using or not using birth control is OK (or not) or even that having a parent who does not live with you, having step-parents, having parents of different races, teaching or not teaching a creation story, teaching or not teaching evolution theory, teaching or not teaching manners, –wearing make-up, attending dances or movies, wearing certain clothes or hairstyles — all these topics are in the hands of the people next door.

Similarly, there are no prohibitions about using the word God.  Or devil.  Or Christmas, Passover, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, or Zeus.  It has always seemed to me that a course in the literatures and holy books of the great religions would be a real improvement to most curricula.  –and not just here in “America.”

(By the way, we live in the United States.  We are US citizens.  We are Americans — but technically so are residents of Canada, Mexico, and all points south.)  Again, just saying….

you can kill an unborn child; but it’s wrong to execute a mass murderer;

Actually, both are false.  It is against the law to execute a mass murderer in some states.  But in other states, it’s de rigueur.   Also, if you kill a pregnant woman, you are guilty of 2 murders.  Beyond those distinctions, you enter a real language-stew.  This author very pointedly used “unborn child” — when even later in his own words he called the same subject “unborn fetus.”  The only conclusion can be that once again, the author is attempting to compare dissimilar apples and oranges with the smoke and mirrors of comparing one person to another.

The best legal minds in the world, in all of history haven’t managed to sort the language of the unborn — so I’m reluctant to take this guys word for his “fact” that an unborn anything is equal to an adult of the same species for the purpose of this argument.

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

We do burn books in America.  All the time.  And rewriting history to tell the story some particular person/group wants told is as old as paper.  I believe the extreme cases of rewriting books he might be referring to are those done by the Texas School Board in order to edit the Judeo-Christian Bible into the curriculum in the form of Creationism, and to mask the injustices perpetuated by Joseph McCarthy et al.

we got rid of the communist and socialist threat by renaming them progressives;

Both communism and socialism are economic theories and sometimes descriptors of societies which attempt to put them into practice.  This is also true of capitalism, barter & trade — and a host of other economic models.  As theories — they do not threaten, conquer, or tease.  They don’t preen or pose for the camera.  Those are human behaviors.  An economic theory does not creep across a nation or kidnap people unawares.

And if this man thanks a person who calls himself or herself a “progressive” is an unwitting (or co-conspiratorial) communist, Marxist, fascist, capitalist, socialist, humanist, nudist or Buddhist, then he is mistaken and needs to buy some real history books and a dictionary.

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

First, to claim we have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea demonstrates a kind of social ignorance that is embarrassing.  It took war to even begin to accomplish what he claims is simple and easy — and thousands of lives lost and disrupted.  We can only assume this man is willing to send his own children/grand children and neighboring children to Ciudad Juarez to die so that he can keep Mexican workers from crossing the border into Texas and harvesting our cotton for less than minimum wage.

Wait — what was he saying about the “land of the free?”

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.

Let’s start with the question: Is this true?  Does protesting against “President Obama’s policies” make you a terrorist?  Really?  I can imagine that a few drunk and disorderly folks might be arrested at a Tea Party rally — but I’ve never actually heard of it.   As opposed to those arrested in an ongoing basis in the Occupy protests.

But getting out a turn-stile clicker isn’t really necessary — since the jails are no more filling up in Obama’s second term than they were in W’s.

In a real argument –we’d call this a straw man.  Everybody knows it’s not a real claim.  It’s just fighting words meant to draw more fire and more flame from both sides.

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

Once again — apples and oranges.  You can’t use public funds gathered from all taxpayers to pay for a celebration of 1 group of taxpayers.  You can’t use public spaces bought and paid for with everybody’s tax dollars for the sole use of one sub-group.

And I have no idea what that has to do with porn on the internet or pay cable.  You pay for both services — so if you don’t want to watch porn — don’t subscribe.  If you don’t want it accessible on your search engines, then put up the child guards.

Gee whiz.  Do we have to do everything for this guy?

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

And again — is this true?  No.

In fact, I’d just call this lying to try and make a point.

And doing a bad job of it.

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

Is THIS true?  Okay — yes, it probably is wrong to use animals in inhumane ways, but when it comes down to it — we still do research on them under some circumstances because it is the only sound and scientific way to get certain answers.  As for using a human fetus for the same goal?  No, we don’t.

I am pretty sure he is trying to talk about stem-cell research, but doesn’t have all his facts.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don’t want to work;

Another logic problem.  The intent of phrasing his statement in this way is to give the impression that all the money taken from those who work hard for their money is given to those who simply don’t want to work.

And is that true?  No.  More than 38 cents of every tax dollar goes to buy a standing army and pay for wars.  In fact, less than 3 1/2 cents of each dollar has anything to do with social welfare programs.  So what is this man talking about?  Fire departments?  The National Forestry Service?  The EPA?  The FDA or the CIA/FBI?  How about health and safety inspectors?  Or school nurses and teachers and counselors?  Public assistance after natural disasters? Does he want to stop paying for those things, too?

No.  Nothing so specific as any of that.  He’s talking about trying to make a case for the “good ol’ days” — when we let people starve to death by the railroad tracks.  When we locked up the mentally and physically disabled in warehouses and left them to die.  When people who got old and were unable to work could be stacked like cord wood in “retirement homes” and left in the care of minimum wage drunks and school girls.

we all support the constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology;

Really?  He must be talking about people I’ve never met.  I support the Consititution.  And the Bill of Rights.  They are both amazing documents.  But one of the things that makes them amazing is that they are nomic.  That is, they are living, changing, adapting, refine-able, re-think-able documents.  Amendments and questions and re-evaluations are built into the system.  We can, as a nation, grow and change over time.  And THAT is the most precious aspect of this country’s core pieces of paper.

They are not stagnant.

And really — he should have quit while he was ahead.  the rest of this “editorial” is too much FOX and not enough newshound.

we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct;

Nobody of serious mind believe that.

parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games;

In a few houses, maybe.  But in some places it’s replaced by cigarette burn-discipline and ballroom dancing.  Give me a break.

the land of opportunity has been replaced with the land of hand outs;

Nobody believes this, either.  He’s just trying to be quotable.  Like the FOX and newshound line above….  Cute and quippy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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

You know, I think he’s trying to demonstrate that he dislikes the mistakes of both men equally.

Nice try.

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

Again, no reader of serious mind thinks this is anything more than rhetoric badly scored.  He’s trying for the big finish.  The big punch at the end.

FAIL

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

I’ll tell you what happened.  We made our way through the infancy of our nation; we survived the greed and dishonesty of slavery and fought the Civil War.  We got ourselves into one “war to end all wars” — only to discover the difference between bravado and foolish misplaced loyalty in 1917, and the insanity and hate of 1937, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44– and the relief of 1945.  We saw our families broken and torn apart by pride and war and drought.  And we started growing up.

At every decade — we grew up.  And we grew up more.

And here we are again.  Still growing up into a prosperous nation.  A healthy place to raise children.  A place where those with no freedom can come and find some.

We still have a lot to learn — but we are not children any more.  Telling fibs and trying to pass half-truths off as sound reasoning — gone.  We’re wise to  those games of childhood.  Or we are becoming wise.  And wiser still.

Half-baked rhetoric and un-researched pseudo-facts don’t fly in the days of Google and the interwebs, old man.

I guess that’s why he put his “editorial” in the local paper.

copy of the image of the editorial as posted on Facebook, 12/19/12, with name obscured

copy of the image of the editorial as posted on Facebook, 12/19/12, with name obscured

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