Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Not much original thought from me at the moment (and its a months-long moment, I fear), but I will use this blog to stockpile really great articles from other people. At the very least, I will be able to read them again and reflect.

This article comes from the San Antonio Express-News, a newspaper I only look at to read Brent Zwernerman's Aggie sports blog. I went from reading about Von Miller being compared to Ray Childress to this. I feel like this author captures some of the frustration of the public at this pivotal time without applying a partisan filter to the events of the day. I will be reading his stuff in the future.

Dissent OK, unless it's against Obama's plans

Jonathan Gurwitz

Remember when dissent was considered to be the highest form of patriotism? That would have been during the era that began after George W. Bush's inauguration.

It was the summer of 2002, in fact, when leftist historian Howard Zinn — not Thomas Jefferson, to whom the saying is frequently misattributed — popularized the dissent-equals-patriotism formulation in a magazine interview. That era ended on Jan. 20, 2009, the day of Barack Obama's inauguration.

Today, if you merely disagree — dissent is too strong a word — with the policies being formulated by the Obama White House and the unchecked Democratic majorities in Congress, you could be some sort of mindless Nazi. That's what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to insinuate when she referred to Obamacare protestors as “AstroTurf” who were “carrying swastikas and symbols like that.”

Well, yes. There have been a few protestors who in very poor taste have utilized Nazi symbols, mostly with the universally recognized, crossed out red line to indicate what they are against — an unprecedented expansion of government power.

If you assume, charitably, that Pelosi was merely expressing disgust at the casual use of symbols of hate to express a political disagreement, ponder this: Where was her sensitivity over the years when explicitly equating Bush with Hitler was considered to be an elegant expression of political thought?

Suggesting that the U.S. government is in any way comparable to the Nazi government and shouting down opponents, as a handful of ignorant Obamacare protestors have done, is offensive and wrong. But it is surely no more offensive or wrong than the suggestion by one of the most powerful political figures in the nation that peaceful citizen protests are an artificial manifestation of stormtrooper mentality.

In case that suggestion was in doubt, Pelosi clarified it in an op-ed she penned last week for USA Today with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. “Drowning out opposing views,” they wrote, “is simply un-American.”

Drowning out? Un-American? Perhaps they had in mind the Service Employees International Union, whose blog declares the imperative, “We must fight back against lies and fear-mongering to drown out the opposition.”

No, wait. SEIU mans the barricades for Obama and supports one or all five of the unsettled health reform bills in Congress.

Perhaps they were referring to Kenneth Gladney, an African American who was roughed up outside a town hall meeting near St. Louis. Police made two arrests for assault.

No, wait. Gladney was giving out “Don't Tread on Me” flags and the goons who allegedly attacked him were Obamacare advocates and, in video of the incident, appear to be SEIU members.

Perhaps they had in mind the speaker at a recent political rally in Virginia. “I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way.”

No, wait. That was Barack Obama, president of the United States, telling opponents to shut up and move. The same president whose White House has set up an Internet tip line for patriotic citizens to report “fishy” criticism of the yet to be defined health reform plan. This is no way to restore civility and elevate the debate.

The official White House blog instructs informers to rat out suspicious dissent by emailing Get it? Rally around the flag. There's liberal nuance for you.

Remember when a false appeal to patriotism was considered to be the last refuge of a scoundrel? This saying actually did come from Samuel Johnson, an 18th century British conservative. The era for scorning such appeals evidently came to an end in the United States on Jan. 20 as well.

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