The institutionalization of angst


“What has America become?” by Ken Huber, as reproduced from the Iosco County News Herald. (Click on the image to view the full size version)

An article reproduced from a 2010 small town newspaper, the Iosco County News Herald, has been making the rounds for a while, and inspiring various responses across the political spectrum, from applause to derision, and everything in between. I feel this is important enough to write a response that’s something other than a kneejerk reaction (one way or the other), because people really do feel this way, and while I believe this is an honest cry for understanding, I also believe that it’s misguided.

What has America become?


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

Lets see: if we lie to the Congress, it’s a felony and if the Congress lies to us its just politics; if we dislike a black person, we’re racist and if a black person dislikes whites, its their 1st Amendment right; the government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals and they do almost nothing for the victims; in public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK, but you better not use the word God in the process; you can kill an unborn child, but it is wrong to execute a mass murderer; we don’t burn books in America, we now rewrite them; we got rid of communist and socialist threats by renaming them progressive; we are unable to close our border with Mexico, but have no problem protecting the 38th parallel in Korea; 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.

You can have pornography on TV or the internet, but you better not put a nativity scene in a public park during Christmas; we have eliminated all criminals in America, they are now called sick people; we can use a human fetus for medical research, but it is wrong to use an animal.

We take money from those who work hard for it and give it to those who don’t want to work; we all support the Constitution, but only when it supports our political ideology; we still have freedom of speech, but only if we are being politically correct; parenting has been replaced with Ritalin and video games; the land of opportunity is now the land of hand outs; the similarity between Hurricane Katrina and the gulf oil spill is that neither president did anything to help.

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

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

– Ken Huber
Tawas City

Would you consider me not to be a true American, then, because I stand for progressive values? Let’s unpack this point by point.

“If we lie to Congress… but they lie to us” — yes, we definitely agree on that one. But it’s partly the fault of a corrupt electoral system and a supreme court ruling that allowed dark money into politics — and we voted those lying congresspeople into office. It’s a wonder that a few stars like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Tammy Duckworth made it through.

“If we dislike a black person but…” It’s still your first amendment right to dislike a black person, as it is theirs to dislike you. But what Mr. Huber does not consider here is that the black person has hundreds of years of good reasons to dislike white (European) people. Yes, it’s racist in both directions, but that black person probably has very good reason, in the form of a long and horrible racial history at the hands of Europeans and later Americans who have treated him as a subhuman — and even used their Bible to justify it.

“The government spends millions to rehabilitate criminals…” Yes, we agree there AND there is considerable complexity to the issue of prison populations in this country, beginning with the privatization of prisons and the school-to-prison pipeline that feeds right into it, generating ENORMOUS profits for the people who run those private prison systems.

“In public schools you can teach that homosexuality is OK…” Homosexuality is a well established scientific FACT, and happens not only in humans but in pretty much every other kind of animal on the planet. Whatever you think about where it came from, it’s a fact. And if you believe that God made us all, then you must believe that God made people homosexual — BY NATURE, because that’s how homosexuality works. It’s not a choice, it’s understood by science to be a characteristic, like blue eyes or red hair.

Now, the other half of that statement is deeply troubling, because GOD has no place — none — in scientific discussions, and an education free from religion is a constitutionally protected right, for very good reason. Not everyone believes in the same god, not everyone walks in the same faith. Remember the discussion we had years ago about “one mountain, many paths to the peak”? It applies here, and our founding fathers were absolutely correct to separate the two. There is no country in the world whose government is based in religion where human rights atrocities do not occur. And no, I’m not just speaking about Islam. The Holy Roman Empire were among the worst offenders.

“You can kill an unborn child…” A woman’s right to autonomy over her own body is her right by law and by choice. Whether or not she carries a child to term is her choice, and must not be forced on her by law. Family members who could donate blood or a kidney to save another family member’s life are permitted BY LAW to decline because they are permitted bodily autonomy. Most women choose to abort for very, very good reasons and the red herring about using abortion as birth control is merely a distractor. Capital punishment is wrong for a long list of reasons, both moral and logical. Think about it: capital punishment says that it’s okay for the state to kill someone in order to demonstrate that killing is wrong. Huh? A criminal is a living, breathing, viable human being, no matter how fucked up they are, and it’s not our place to kill them — it is, if you choose to believe such a thing, solely the purview of your God. Also, killing a criminal is *more* expensive than a life sentence (I’ll go dig up the statistics if you’re interested). I could go on, but there are other points to cover.

“We don’t burn books in America, we now rewrite them…” I’m not even sure what point Mr. Huber is trying to make here. Should we burn books? Erm, no. Not even the most troubling ones. And rewriting them includes rewriting textbooks to perpetuate blatant falsehoods to fit some legislature’s view of morality. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, and those beliefs should not be dictated by a legislature that’s hell-bent (pun intended) on forwarding its own restrictive view of morality. That’s not their job.

“We got rid of the communist and socialist threat by calling them progressive…” Really? Really? Do you understand that progressive values have nothing to do with communism or socialism in the sense that Mr. Huber means them? The failings of communism and socialism had to do with the fact that they were *authoritarian” in nature, which is not a progressive value. Bernie Sanders calls himself a “democratic socialist”, which is not about authoritarianism but about lifting up ALL people in this country and closing the divide between the grossly wealthy and the increasing poor — just as Jesus admonishes his followers to do.

There are many more points in that editorial which I’m not going to address because they’re similar in nature, and similarly polarizing — to wit, the separation of church and state, the separation of moralism from morality (and neither has a place in politics), and other dualistic arguments.

But one last point I’m going to highlight is Mr. Huber’s assertion that “we take money from those who work hard and give it to those who don’t want to work.” There is so much wrong with this statement I hardly know where to begin. First of all, most people who receive public assistance are working their ASSES off and can still not make ends meet because wages have stagnated while inflation continues to race ahead. The remainder are truly in need because they *can’t* work for whatever reason. When I was injured, I received assistance because I could not work. Am I then a welfare queen? Nope. The “welfare queens” that conservative media are so fond of deriding are a TINY portion of the population. Welfare abuses are statistically small. But this kind of thinking suggests that they’d rather cut all assistance programs because 5% of the population abused it. So do the math — that means the other 95% who really, truly need the help (because Wal*Mart refuses to get OFF the public dole — who’s the real welfare queen here?) should be left out in the cold to punish that 5%.

Perhaps you and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and if so I would ask you to consider keeping an open mind about what your media is feeding you. God doesn’t belong in government. “Politically correct” is a term that has been twisted to mean “censorship”, when really what it means is “don’t be an asshole.”

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