Unrest is the catalyst for movements and change

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March 21, 2010

Movements for change are part of every society or culture. Over the years there have been abolitionists, the progressives one hundred years ago, women’s suffrage, labor, temperance, civil rights and many other movements in the United States. We can look back over these movements with a certain amount of objectivity, praise and/or criticism, because we have lived through them and have incorporated or discarded them. It is hard to be objective in the midst of a movement however. Seeds of unrest can also be taken over by the crazies.

Smaller or broken government

            The call for smaller government is a rightful restraint on the growth of government, but now strident voices are calling our government broken. It is easy to fall for this thinking when our leaders don’t seem to listen to us and we read about the billions of dollars of debt. Both Republicans and Democrats have expanded the role of government over many decades.

Taxes

There has been a huge outcry against taxes for several decades. Now in the midst of economic crisis lawmakers are afraid to levy taxes to fund our government properly. They think the solution for all of our woes is to let the people take care of their own needs. But some needs are bigger than individuals and not all people have the wherewithal to provide for all those needs all of the time. Education, highways, and national defense are just a few.

Liberties

Many demagogues decrying current government practices call for greater liberties. Yet the Patriot Act of 2001 took away liberties in the name of security. One of the groups seeking liberty today are gays and lesbians, yet many of the right wing oppose granting them freedom.

Constitution

            There is a growing group of people who think that the Constitution must be strictly interpreted to mean what the writers intended. It has been amended 27 times, changing the meaning of the original document in most cases by adding freedom to more people, such as the five rights in the first amendment, right to trial by jury in the fifth, states’ rights in the tenth, freedom for the slaves in the 13th, right of women to vote in the 19th, right to vote at age 18 in the 26th. Do people really oppose these amendments? Unfortunately, yes.

            Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) "suggested that the federal income tax was unconstitutional. The Constitution, when it was signed, it did not even allow a federal income tax.”  (1) This leads me to believe that strict constructionists do not think the Amendments are part of the Constitution. The founders had the foresight to include the provision of amending it in Article 5. This makes all the amendments part of the Constitution.

According to the Washington Post, Jim Linn, an electrical engineer from San Diego, says that “the Constitution must be interpreted in ways that match his understanding of the Founders' intent. That would mean scrapping a lot of the amendments, he acknowledges, but not Nos. 2, 10, 16 and 17.” (2)  These pertain to guns, states’ rights, income tax, and direct election of Senators.

Are strict constructionists disguising their support for slavery, the subjugation of women, and denial of freedoms of speech, religion, and the press? Are they so woefully ignorant of the Constitution that they don’t know what they are talking about? The columnist Leonard Pitts rightfully calls these people “crazies”. (3)

Nativism

            Nativism was a strand of thinking in the nineteenth century that opposed immigrants. That same nativism is appearing today among the “crazies”. Former U.S. representative Tom Tancredo (Colo.) said. "People who couldn't even spell the word 'vote,' or say it in English" elected Obama. (4) This statement shows Tancredo’s ignorance more than that of the people he vilified!

Conclusion

            We must be very careful about these views and not let their emotional tug drag us into a destructive movement. We must stand up to these crazies and speak the hard truth of justice and compassion.

Correction:

Two readers alerted me to an error in my February column. The error took nothing away from my message. Lt. Joe Cable sang “You have to be taught” prejudice in South Pacific, not Emile. My apologies.

 

Norbert Bufka is a Midland resident and monthly contributor to the Midland  Daily News. He can be reached by email at norbert609@sbcglobal.net. You can visit his website at www.thisonly.org. See website for references for this column.

 

(1) from a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on 2/18/10.

Think Progress Feb 19, 2010 http://pr.thinkprogress.org/2010/02/pr20100219   

(2) Ann Gerhart and Philip Rucker, “The Tea Party is still taking shape”, Washington Post, February 6, 2010; A01 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/05/AR2010020501694.html?wpisrc=nl_headline

(3)Leonard Pitts: Some are crazy, incoherent to an extreme Thursday, March 4, 2010

http://www.journal-news.com/opinion/columnists/leonard-pitts-some-are-crazy-incoherent-to-an-extreme-580090.html

(4) “The Tea Party is still taking shape”, see note 3 above.