Sunday, August 23, 2009

Free Speech - Only for the Left

In 1969, President Nixon made reference to the silent majority, those who did not have the time or inclination to be actively involved in political causes. The silent majority were the hard working Americans who paid their taxes, voted in elections, attended church, and took care of their families.

In recent months, it appears that the silent majority is becoming increasingly fed up with what is happening to their country and are beginning to raise their voice. Bailouts, federal subsidies to huge corporations, stimulus packages, along with cap and trade legislation has stirred a sleeping giant. But nothing has awoken the silent majority more that the debate over health care reform. Many, previously silent on the great issues of government policy, are now expressing their concern through Tea Parties, petition drives, and e-mails to Congressional representatives. The most notoriety has come from their attendance at Town Hall meetings in local Congressional districts. There have been challenging questions and great frustration expressed by the local citizenry.

The media and left-leaning politicians have painted these meetings in a negative light. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer said, “These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views — but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American. Drowning out the facts is how we failed at this task for decades” (USA Today, 08/10/09). According to Pelosi and Hoyer, these passionate citizens are un-American for speaking up.

Senator Tom Harkin, "As we have seen in recent days, opponents are pulling out all stops to kill the reform effort. This is a shame" (AP, 08/09/09). What a shame that concerned Americans are speaking up against policies they believe are not in the best interests of the United States.

Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada accused the protesters of trying to "sabotage" the democratic process. "These are nothing more than destructive efforts to interrupt a debate that we should have, and are having. They are doing this because they don't have any better ideas. They have no interest in letting the negotiators, even though few in number, negotiate. It's really simple: they're taking their cues from talk show hosts, Internet rumor-mongerers ... and insurance rackets." (AP, 08/07/09) I guess Senator Reid would have Americans simply follow the Pied Piper Obama of Washington into an abyss from which there may be no return.

To Representatives Pelosi and Hoyer I say "You are drowning out the facts and opposing differing views." To Senator Harkin I say, "Shame on you for failing to listen to your constituents." To Senator Reid, "Americans have better ideas, but you and your cronies are the ones failing to listen."

I, for one, am fed up with those who think it is OK for those on the left to protest and cause disruption, but accuse hard working Americans of blocking debate when they finally speak up. When the Gulf War started in 1991, I was working in the Federal Building in downtown Seattle. Gulf War protestors blocked streets and made the Federal Building plaza their home. It was so bad, that federal workers had to have a police escort to get into the building. The building was then locked down for the day. The public was unable to come in and conduct their business. The press covered it as a wonderful demonstration of free speech and protest. Similar protests occurred when the U.S. invaded Iraq and deposed the murderous tyrant, Saddam Hussein.

Now, when hard working Americans are leaving their families, or community and church activities, to peacefully speak up, they are accused of blocking the debate. Without presenting hard evidence, some media sources are reporting an uptick in militias and racial hate groups (see Mercury News, 08/22/09). Who is trying to stifle debate? Who is using scare tactics? Apparently, free speech only exists for the left.


Lee Beardall said...

A few thoughts:

I have heard news analysts suggest that the political right is now using the same Saul Alinsky tactics that were used so effectively by the political left in the 1970s. Alinsky, said to be the guru of modern community organizing, famously (or infamously) said, among other things: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

As an urban planner I have been to a few raucous community meetings not entirely unlike many of the town halls I have seen on TV.

To those of the left or the right, or “non-political” community activists, who engage in obstruction, shouting matches, name calling, fear tactics, intimidation or ridicule at town hall or community meetings, I say (to paraphrase from Shakespeare)--a plague on all your houses!

In the case of the current health care discussions, and although I may be monitoring too much left-leaning media (LOL), I have seen many sideshows, but not as much constructive debate as I would like.

There was a good op-ed piece--a debate between Cal Thomas (a conservative) and Bob Beckel (a liberal)--“How to Break up Town Brawls” in USA Today about a week ago.

Bill Beardall said...

Only those who know of Saul Alinsky would accuse the "right" of using Alinsky tactics. Most citizens who attend these townhall meetings are simply concerned about the direction this country is heading. Sometimes emotions run high. Frequently, organizations such as SEIU and ACORN are attempting to take over the meetings, thus causing even more disruption. Consider the case of Kenneth Gladney in St. Louis, beat by thugsfrom SEIU. All citizens who wish to be heard, should be heard and not have their voices stiffled by the Obama media, labor unions, or ACORN.