I was born 17 years after the Holocaust ended was shut down by American, Soviet, British and Free French troops.
I’d say “Genocide is a bad thing”. But then Glenn Maxham of Duluth would get mad at me.
Who is Maxham? I dunno. He’s a guy who claims to have “worked for three decades as a radio and television news director in the Twin Ports”, but all I really know about him is that he wrote a letter to the editor of the Duluth News Tribune.
For me, the strident pleas of right-wing dissidents to get government off our backs has a hollow ring, and I conjecture it comes from those unlikely to have personally experienced life in a nation under a truly oppressive regime. I have done so several times.
Hm. That brings a whole new tilt to the study of right and wrong.
After all, I’ve never been gang-raped, had Muscular Dystrophy, been robbed at gunpoint, been swindled out of my life’s savings, had my family killed by machete-wielding ethnic extremists, had a bad overdose on adulterated cocaine, or killed anyone in a car crash, but I know I really don’t want any of them to happen.
Do I have the moral standing to believe that? What gives one that sort of moral standing?
After spending a month in the old Soviet Union and in later visits to its puppet states of Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland, I witnessed the cruel, unjust use of power firsthand that made me realize the wealth of freedoms we enjoy to the fullest here in the U.S.
Ah. So being a tourist in places where bad things are happening gives one that standing! Experiencing a little of something bad qualifies one to criticize it! Now we’re getting somewhere!
So – if someone kisses me under the mistletoe by surprise, get a bad cold, have to scrape graffiti off my garbage can, see my property taxes go up, get called “a white male”, spend a day recovering from some “off” chicken or knock over my neighbor’s garbage can, then I have standing to inveigh against rape, MD, blue and white collar crime, genocide, drugs or drunk driving?
But not until?
OK. I”m still confused.
At age 20 I was drafted during the Korean conflict. I spent nearly two years overseas, compensated with the GI Bill, which allowed me to finish college at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Now well into my retirement years, I live a comfortable life with the help of Social Security and Medicare. I am free to express my political views and free to travel anywhere in our 50 states without checking in with police at the borders to verify my identity and to provide details of my travel plans.
By contrast, I had my camera confiscated in the Soviet Union because I took a picture of still-frozen rivers in July while flying over Siberia. In Stargard, Poland, I was briefly jailed after a person in my party violated an inane law prohibiting pictures of train stations. In all of the Iron Curtain counties I had to leave my passport and room key at the hotel as a guarantee I would not stray outside the city. I was followed wherever I went, and my suitcase examined in each new hotel when I was not in my room. You get the picture.
Well, maybe I do, and maybe I don’t.
So – until I take a trip through, say, Burma, I shouldn’t complain about military dictatorships?
Here at home, I’m growing increasingly weary of vague charges that we must “take back our country,” that liberals are legislating away freedoms and in general trashing our government, charges that are vacuous at best.
Now, I’m still confused, and I’m facing a bit of a dilemma. If I make the “charges” less “vague” and “vacuous”, will Mr. Maxham get more “weary”? Not having had my camera confiscated or my belongings fluffed by the ZOMO, do I have standing or leave to address the isssue? Or should I go rent a Pole?
By Mr. Maxham’s leave, I’ll take a swing at it.
Rarely, if ever, have I seen an enumeration of denied freedoms by the malcontents. What specifically are those who call for a “restoration of freedoms lost” talking about? Cite examples.
Now we’re getting somewhere! He’s missed the list of freedoms we’ve lost and want back!
I’ll run down a quick list, in Amendment order – risking, as I do, Mr. Maxham’s wrath for commenting about Constitutional Freedoms without having had the entire Constitution suspended:
First Amendment: The FCC is working to establish “Net Neutrality”, which will eventually lead to censorship via the back door; they’ve also been working on getting the “Fairness Doctrine” back into effect. If you speak out against a TSA goon, you stand a good chance of being arrested on specious grounds. Campaign finance laws in effect ration speech (both in the “speech is money” sense of the term as well as finding ways to interpret literal “speech” as campaign contributions. Our freedom of religion and association are both under attack with “civil rights” groups sueing landlords who want to rent to coreligionists; there is legitimate concern that if gay marriage is legalized, US courts will follow the Canadian example and prosecute churches that refuse to recognize the practice. Freedom of association is under further attack by lawsuits that prevent groups from choosing their memberships in even harmless ways. In many states, recording the police, even in the Campus speech codes make “free speech” a choosy thing. The Federal Election Commission is still working on ways to regulate blogs. And there is a significant movement in government (including Keith Ellison) that wants to subsidize – in effect, nationalize – newspapers.
Second Amendment: Most major cities still crimp the rights of the law-abiding citizen to keep and bear arms, as do a few states. They adopt gun control laws that don’t inhibit crime, but make citizens criminals for exercising their constitutional rights. States enact arbitrary and unrealistic laws government self-defense, which in effect criminalize perfectly legitimate behavior in self-defense, on largely political and ideological grounds. Classes of firearms are prohibited due to arbitrary, purely cosmetic and PR issues. (Or is Mr. Maxham only concerned about the freedoms he values? I gotta ask…)
Third Amendment: OK, so far so good.
Fourth Amendment: Police can seize and sell property on accusation for drug charges – not conviction. Cities can use extralegal administrative/non-judicial means to seize property – or merely devalue it to the point of untenability – and remove residents on purely political grounds. Property rights are routinely and constantly infringed by administrative edicts from government bureaus – pollution control, transit, economic development, zoning and other government bureaux. Oh, and the TSA can grab your junk, and if you say “boo”, they’ll throw you in Guantanamo.
Fifth Amendment: With allegations of sexual assault and domestic abuse, “guilt until proven innocent” is becoming the rule. Citizens accused of drunk driving are routinely deprived of Fourth Amendment rights. County social service agencies have immense extrajudicial power to intervene in family situations – sometimes needed, but other times either in error, or in conjunction with the designs of other agencies.
Ninth and Tenth Amendments: The courts have let the Commerce Clause serve as a catchall to empower government regulation; the powers of the States and People – on property and land rights issues, election issues, education, healthcare and many other issues – have been sucked into the bureaucratic vortex.
General Economic Liberty: Government actions are subjecting me, my kids, my grandkids and my great grandkids to a mountain of debt. When one is indebted against one’s own will, one is not free. Here or in East Germany.
That was about five minutes’ work. I’d continue, but I bet Mr. Maxham is getting “increasingly weary”.
No doubt many are well-meaning but are woefully misguided and seem to labor under the impression that, to be a genuine patriot, one must hate liberals and be anti-government.
Whoah, there, bigfella! Where did “hate” come into this?
At the risk of “increasingly wearying” Mr. Maxham, since when does honest, spirited dissent, and trying to keep our government in check, equal “hate?”
By Mr. Maxham’s “logic”, when I tell my kids they can not build a skateboard park in my backyard (with my money!), that’s “hatred”.
I’d hope even Mr. Maxham could see that logic; if I need to translate it into Polish to give it more of that authentic eclat, I’d be happy to help out.
The health of our democracy depends upon having a healthy, effective, two-party system.
Now, I learned Latin in high school, not in ancient Rome – ha ha! – but I know a “non sequitur” when I see one.
There are, and always will be, many shortcomings in our system that need improvement.
Right. The question is – do we have the right to address them, if we have never been tourists in the USSR?
Mr. Maxham, I’m here to help. Please – send an enumerated list of people who you’d allow to protest against US government policy.
But when viewed in a comparative sense, our government ranks among the best in the world.
And a lot of us just want to keep it that way. And once we know who Mr. Maxham would allow to work on that, we’ll get right down to business!
I fail to believe the negative tactics of the Tea Party, and its ultra-conservative sympathizers, can improve upon it.
All kidding aside, Mr. Maxham, why would you think anyone would care what you think about how we, The People, exercise our First Amendment rights to try to make our country a better place and keep our freedoms from eroding further than they have?
What – besides a tour to the Warsaw Pact – would have ever given you the impression that your dismissal of our efforts, and our exercise of our rights, had any merit at all?
Glenn Maxham worked for three decades as a radio and television news director in the Twin Ports.