Saturday, September 11, 2010

One More Time, With Feeling... Ed and I Go At It Again.

Another exchange from facebook, brought here and presented by the GTL for your dining and dancing pleasure:

On Friday morning, September 10, 2010, Ed posted a link on his facebook page, stating: "I am flying the American flag in a moment of remembrance for 9/11."

A commendable sentiment, but with a Jingoistic edge, I thought. I responded, "Fly a flag for all the nations that lost souls on that day, not just ours." Ed responded with a rather sarcastic and puzzling post, "Not sure what other countries were attacked by terrorists on that day, but they should be honored as well."

Here's my reply:

Once again Ed? Nowhere do I say any other countries were attacked on 9/11. Please stop doing this. The straw man routine is crude and disingenuous, not to mention tiresome. My goal in these debates is to try to convince you to consider my opinions and ideas sincerely. To compare and contrast our philosophies and ideas in an effort to arrive at a reasonable set of solutions to real problems -- not to get zingers in and play at innuendo. I realize you are an adept and cunning arguer - but you needn't use a battering ram when a doorbell will suffice.

You're "not sure what other countries were attacked?" Really? You mean you actually think other countries "might" have been attacked on 9/11, you just forgot? Either you're confused, intentionally condescending, or employing a rhetorical flourish intended to mock my statement. I respect your intellect and know you know better. I am being sincere and would rather not be mocked, especially as you are a person who seeks to live by the doctrine of loving one's enemies, and believing that God loves all people, not just Americans.

When Americans are killed in terrorist attacks overseas, we fly U.S. flags at those sites. What is wrong with honoring the dead of other countries on this sad day, in addition to our own? The capitol of the world was attacked. There's enough grief to go around. Plenty of room for everyone.

New Yorkers are America's welcoming committee. If we are to assert our country's glorious exceptionalism in the arena of nations, we should at least be as hospitable to guests (and foreign cultures) as Islam instructs all Muslims to be in theirs.

People from everywhere, Muslims too, were killed on 9/11 -- not by Islam -- but by 19 crazed terrorists. The world as a whole is a colder, harsher place because of their depraved murderousness, and the misguided belief in the superiority of their own religion that fueled it.

Remembering the Dead, and the Living.

I grew up going to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on weekends with my father, watching the twin towers rise slowly, one floor at a time over lower Manhattan, from the most beautiful and iconic vantage point on Earth. In hot or cold weather, under cloudy, sunny, or rainy skies, at dusk when the bright window-eyed skyscrapers flecked the river with gold, or on a chilly morning like today's in a bright, brisk wind. These images are framed in my mind as indelibly as the sight of my own hand, now, in front of my face.

Today I want to mourn the loss of these buildings and the thousands who died within them, alongside everyone who lost something - or everything - on that sad day nine years ago. But saddest of all, I want to mourn the loss of the American spirit of tolerance and civic pride, our love of humanity, our belief in the saving strength of our unique form of government, and our embrace of the people of the world who came to New York - and still come - looking for a decent waking life and a better dream for the future.

Today that dream is receding beneath the crushing ugliness of our new post-9/11 culture, the fearfulness that shuts our eyes, minds, and hearts, the re-emergence of the lynch mob as the quintessential group expression of freedom, and the utter failure of the moneyed media to back us away from the abyss and ask us to listen for the quiet voices, the better angels of our nature.

Please remember with me that Muslims also died in those attacks, and that Americans come in all shapes, sizes, cultures and customs. Please remember with me that we are all children of one earth, of one universe, and for those of religious faith, of one God.

I want us to be clean again, purged of hate and fear. I want more than anything for this to be a day to remember love, to feel love, to forgive, and to ask forgiveness.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Where The Hate Comes From... A Liar, Not An Idiot.

A word on Rush Limbaugh:

Isn't this the man who said it was treason to criticize the president during wartime? This goes beyond criticism into outright paranoid ranting. It's one thing when some rural bumpkin evangelist threatens to burn a Koran. It's another when the most powerful man in radio, who holds enormous influence over the Republican Party and its rabid followers, says this sort of stuff, and is met with silence by the MSM.

Shame on the media whores and hairdos who can't find enough courage to state the truth. And shame on anyone foolish enough to believe this self-aggrandizing weasel. Here's the money quote:

"America was built by people who reject everything Imam Obama stands for, reject everything Imam Obama is doing...Obama's propaganda is the propaganda of failed, dead regimes: the old Soviet Union, Cuba. Obama's railing against capitalism. He's railing against private property...Barack Obama is the antithesis of the founding of this country...Had Obama been around at the founding of this country and had he been known, he would be a joke in American history books today." -- Rush Limbaugh

Thanks to Slate's Doonesbury Daily Dose for the above quote.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Cancer?! Are You Sure It's Cancer?

Ed and I have been having one hell of a time debating politics on facebook. As part of my pledge to not spill my political seed (as it were) on the dusty ground of facebook, I report here parts of an exchange (with edits) that held my attention for far too many hours this week:

Ed writes:

The US government is a lethargic, cancerous growth that continues to sap the vitality out of the country via taxes and is one of the most inefficient allocator [sic] of resources that exists.

To which the GTL replies:

If our government is a cancer, then the Constitution is the original mutated cell itself. I reject this, in the strongest possible terms. I believe, as the Preamble instructs us both, that the purpose of our government is to always strive toward a more perfect union, without corruption, which protects the welfare of all, and in which any one individual is equal in the eyes of the law to any other.

There is nothing cancerous about the Constitution.

If you think the government is a cancer, then you obviously must not agree that our nation has an exceptional destiny in the world. Remember, the United States of America is not a piece of land (the land was here first). It is not the people (there is no special American "race" or "gene"). The one and only thing that makes our nation great is the government for which the founding fathers devised the blueprint, with its emphasis on individual rights and the rule of law, the system of checks and balances, and the guarantee of equality.

With all due respect, and I mean that sincerely Ed, that kind of inflammatory rhetoric will only convince impressionable types that government cannot be fixed or improved, or worse, that it shouldn't be improved as a matter of principle. Once again, I reject this view, principally because the Constitution itself, in its Mission Statement - The Preamble -- seems likewise to reject it.

The cancer is greed, not government
. Your favorite book does not say, "inefficient, bureaucratic government, with its expensive entitlement programs that discourage free markets and individual initiative, is the root of all evil." No. The Bible quite presciently (given how small an amount of money actually existed in ancient times) identifies the love of money as the root of all evil.

And so we know what evil looks like. And no one loves money more than those who choose to make the pursuit of tremendous loads of it their life's work. And the Mecca of those who put money first is Wall Street.

I KNOW you meet lots of people in your line of work about whom you must have serious moral and ethical concerns. I, on the other hand, know only a handful of investment bankers, venture capitalists, insurance executives, etc. Nevertheless, though the sample is small, they all say the same thing, with only slight variations:

Fuck the government.

Fuck the poor.

If I don't want to share I don't have to.

They acknowledge the failure of supply-side "Voodoo" Reaganomics, but want it to continue because it benefits them and their class.

And they all vote Republican.

Are you in, or are you out? With the Rich, or with the rest? Jesus chose his side. What side will YOU choose?