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I was discussing with some friends, in e-mail,  Palin's (and other Republicans') current rhetoric, wherein whole classes of people are defined by region or political leanings as "Pro-American" or "Anti-American" or "Un-American"

And one friend asked, "It is really any more inflammatory than saying the Republicans care only for the rich, don’t want to protect the environment, or don’t care about the rule of law?

I answered,

I think it is.

Now, I will admit I don't like any blanket statement about any group, political party or otherwise. "Republicans" are not a monolith, they are a very large group of people who self-identify with that party for very diverse reasons, and some of them have voiced (where I can hear it) their disapproval of some of the actions the Republicans currently in federal offices have taken.

However, current Republicans have chosen to continue to self-identify with a party which has been in control of the government during a time when the middle class has gotten poor, the poor have gotten poorer, and the very rich have gotten much richer. A party which has enacted into law a "Clean Air Act" that allows more pollution than its predecessor law. And a party which has perpetrated hundreds of signing statements, has followed a systematic practice of spying on Americans without warrants in defiance of laws that require warrants, and has held prisoners in secret for years, not charging them in a court of law, and not letting them have lawyers or visits from their families or even the Red Cross.

So I think there is some basis for these opinions, even phrased as extremely as you phrase them. These opinions are about specific policy issues, and are based in true things that have happened in the last few years. If Republicans want to prove them untrue, they can show counter-examples or press their leaders to act differently.

I have likewise heard accusations that Democrats don't care about business, for instance. Whether that accusation is true or false or something in-between those extremes, it's an extremely-stated opinion about a policy issue.

The charge of being "un-American" or "Anti-American" is different. It isn't about any policy issue, it's about identity.

And I would argue that in a derivative sense it's about rights. For instance, how many people do you think will pay much attention if an "Anti-American" is denied the right to vote? Or if they're prevented from getting in a plane to visit their sick Grandma?

This Republican administration, backed by other elected Republicans, has made it clear that they are willing to deny rights to some people (terrorists and enemy combatants), and never mind that pesky Constitution that says that all humans have inalienable rights, or that bright American tradition that someone is innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law.

So, I ask you to ponder this: How far is it from being accused of being "Anti-American" to being accused of being "an enemy combatant"?

I would like to think that it is very far indeed. I really think I'm being more alarmist than I need to be. But ten years ago, I would never have believed my government would have publicly endorsed waterboarding.

This conversation led me to a more realistic (I hope) dream than the one prompted yesterday by the silly picture:

I'd like to see a movement among Democrats and Republicans and Independents and Greens, and people of political parties that don't spring to mind in this moment (are there still any Whigs about?), and anyone else who cares, to stand up and say this "Anti-American" rhetoric is beyond the pale, it is totally unacceptable and obnoxious, and to affirm that we don't have to agree with each other to be good people, and we don't have to agree on policy issues to be patriotic.

The politicians have plenty of motive to be divisive (power) as do the news media (ratings)--if we want to be "One Country, Indivisible", it is the people who must demand that it be so.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
Well said! Well said!

Oct. 22nd, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
"The charge of being "un-American" or "Anti-American" is different. It isn't about any policy issue, it's about identity."

Ding ding ding ding ding!

I'm seriously afraid of the consequences of the demagoguery we're seeing from Republican politicians. There are reports of serious violence, from vandalism to physical assaults, against Obama supporters. Now that they've stirred up that much rage, how are they going to calm it down so we don't have riots if the 'un-American' candidate wins the election?
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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