Tag Archives: intolerance

I am the… 47 percent?

Ah, Mittens, Mittens, Mittens. How am I supposed to get any actual work done when you keep saying such ridiculous things?

I have to admit, when my friend asked me I’d heard about Romney’s latest comments taken from an undercover video at a Republican fundraiser, I was skeptical. This is the age of the Internet after all, and, not to diss Huff Po, but they’ll publish anything as long as someone else does first.

But for once it wasn’t merely a hoax. I was honestly momentarily speechless. Even in the context of a campaign, saying that 47 percent of the country are victims and believe they’re “entitled” to things like housing and health care is pretty blatant discrimination and classism.

At first I was merely outraged. Excuse me? I’m “a victim?” I’m “dependent on the government?” I’m “entitled?” I HAVE a job. I PAY taxes. WTF? Coming on the heels of his comments that a middle class income is between $200,000 and $250,000, I was amazed. Is there really no connection at all between the actual middle class and “1 Percent” anymore?

But last night I realized that really is the problem. There’s just no connection at all.

I was explaining the situation to a friend last night and was trying to explain Romney’s view of the role of government and she was just baffled.

“If it isn’t the government’s role to protect and provide for its citizens, whose job is it?”

Me: “Well, they believe that it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself. The government is just there to regulate trade with foreign countries, provide infrastructure like roads and keep us safe from other countries. The rest is private.”

“But what if you can’t take care of yourself and you need some help? What if you’re a kid? Besides, I like things like the FDA. They keep me safe. I wouldn’t trust a corporation to do that.”

To that, all I could do was shake my head and say, “Yeah, I don’t know.”

Among Romney’s comments was another that I was incredibly upset about until I got some idea what he actually meant. Saying that it wasn’t his job to “worry about those people” is a horrible thing to say taken out of context. A president should worry about everyone. But his rebuttal on Fox  essentially said “Dude, I’m talking about running a campaign. I can’t worry about those people because they aren’t voting for me anyway.”

However, that’s where his misconceptions really show, because that’s simply not true.

First off, according to the Policy Tax Center, of the 47 percent of people that don’t pay income tax, 28.3 percent still pay payroll taxes. Which means they have jobs and likely don’t view themselves as dependent on government. Myself included.

Secondly, a lot of people who don’t pay income taxes are staunch Republicans. I come from a small middle-of-nowhere town where over half the population will vote for Romney because, despite having no health care of their own and probably going to the local food bank a couple times a month, they believe they have a responsibility to  take care of themselves. They are not “victims,” they don’t believe they are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Thirdly, a lot of people that believe that everyone is entitled to a good life, provided by the government if needed, are people who DO pay income taxes. Think Warren Buffet’s progressive tax plan. They’re the people that ring Salvation Army bells and donate to food pantries.

So statements like “those who are reliant on government are not as attracted to my message of slimming down the size of government. And so I then focus on those individuals who I believe are most likely to be able to be pulled into my camp” show, in my opinion, a huge flaw in Romney’s thinking.

Democrats are not always poor. Republicans are not always rich. There’s far more correlation between religion and political affiliation than money and political affiliation. (See this really interesting article for a more in-depth analysis.) So stereotyping those likely to vote for Obama as poor? Pretty bad judgment call.

And the race goes on.


You can’t get something for nothing.

“America is an idea – an idea that free people can govern themselves, that government’s powers are derived from the consent of the governed, that each of us is endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America is the belief that any man or woman can – given economic, political, and religious liberty – advance themselves, their families, and the common good.”

Boehner Unveils GOP "Pledge"

Boehner Unveils GOP "Pledge" photo courtesy of USA Today

Good enough. Fair enough. Absolutely right. Also the introduction to the G.O.P.’s new “Pledge to America,” a 48 page manifesto that states what the GOP hopes to accomplish if/when they take back Congress.

In their introduction alone you’d think the Republican half of Congress would have agreed with Obama’s policies and pushed things through in the last two years. For example, even if you ignore the fact that “any man or woman” includes the poor, the uninsured, the homeless, immigrants, minorities, or the LGBT community, you’d think that helping the middle class  and small businesses with stimulus money or controlling big spending that killed the middle class in the first place would make sense. Let me give another example:

“America is an inspiration to those who yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine their own destiny.

“Whenever the agenda of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to institute a new governing agenda and set a different course.”

True. And guess what? With 66% of the vote, in 2008 we did just that. We elected our first black president. We overwhelmingly elected Democrats to Congress. We wanted our elected officials to cooperate for once and finally GET SOMETHING DONE. We believed that those of us that ‘yearn to be free and have the ability and the dignity to determine our own destiny’ would get health care, would get help getting an education, would get help finding jobs, would get help with housing so that we could figure out our destiny. That’s hard to do while living hand-to-mouth. We wanted our sons and daughters home and for the billions of dollars we’re spending building other country’s economies to benefit us.

And guess what you did, Republicans? You stalled everything! You made sure there was so much misinformation, so much infighting, so much sheer ridiculousness that people still don’t know how the health care bill works. (Now granted, that’s not all your fault. Obama wasn’t helpful either. But he was busy trying to get the damn thing through in the first place.) People honestly think that Obama isn’t an American citizen. That he’s a Muslim even though he goes to a Christian church (not that that should matter in a country built on religious freedom). That he’s going to send old people to “death camps.”

And even those of you who know this isn’t right, know that laws like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell discriminate against those brave enough to serve our country, won’t stand up! (I’m looking at you Senator Susan Collins of Maine.)

And you want to issue a manifesto?!?

So here’s what it says, in brief: They want to repeal the health care bill. They want to extend the Bush era tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year. They want to freeze stimulus spending. They want to freeze hires in government departments. They oppose taxes on carbon fuels. They oppose government regulation of Freddie and Frannie.

How will this help our economy?!?

So, you’re going to take health care away from children with incurable conditions that are no one’s fault. From those, like me, working 3 jobs and still unable to afford health insurance. From kids finishing college and looking for a job in this horrible economy who get sick or hit by a car, that under the new bill are now allowed to stay on their parent’s health insurance another few years. I think you get the idea.

You want to extend tax cuts from the old administration that got us in this mess in the first place. That’s not going to help the disappearing middle class. I hope they realize the wealth gap is reaching Great Depression era standards.

You want to freeze spending, and freeze hiring? You really, really, truly want to stop the government from HIRING PEOPLE THAT NEED JOBS? Wow.

And oh, you want to stop regulation of the banks that got us into this mess in the first place. Double wow.

Here’s a newsflash: You can’t get something for nothing. You can’t take away health insurance and expect people to be able to contribute to a thriving economy. You can’t be a world leader when others are pushing ahead with green initiatives and we’re not giving companies the economic push they need to do it. You can’t have a healthy economy by taxing those that currently have no money and foreclosed mortgages. You can’t stop hiring people and expect your economy to grow. You can’t ensure this doesn’t happen again without some oversight into those who got us here in the first place, since they obviously can’t be trusted to read the signs themselves.

As you say yourselves: “In town halls and on public squares, in every corner of this country, people have gathered and spoken out – in small groups and larger crowds, through phone calls and in letters, through websites and new technologies.

Though these petitions come from different walks, their message is uniform: Washington has not been listening.”

Hey GOP, it’s time for you to listen.

An Argument Against Calling a Pot a Kettle

Before I begin this rant, remember that primaries are on Tuesday! Don’t forget to vote! And if you lean my way, live in Wisconsin and aren’t sure who to vote for, Fair Wisconsin Education Fund has put together a great list of LGBT-friendly politicians across Wisconsin! Check it out, and again, DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!

Twin Towers Burning

Twin Towers Burning on 9/11, courtesy of encephalus.com

Over the last week, I’ve had several conversations with members of my age group about 9/11. It’s amazing that it’s been nine years since my parents, glued to the radio, tried to explain the importance of hijacked planes and burning buildings to my baffled 13-year-old self. (I was home-schooled. No TV for me.) And most of my friends and I, discussing 9/11 in bars and between classes and during smoke breaks, have agreed: we’ve moved on. It’s a tragedy, and one we will never forget, but the world has continued to turn. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Airport security is still a bitch. We voted in a half-black man whose middle name is Hussein, for chrissake. We just want him to help us find a job.

Except midterm elections have appeared and, since the economy isn’t going to revive itself in the next 2 months, politicians and the media need something, anything else to talk about. Cue the “Terror Mosque.” Cue some guy in Florida holding “International Burn a Koran Day.” Cue the Tea Party Movement. Cue a 24-hour news cycle. Cue an over-flowing of intolerance. And here we are.

Now before I begin talking about the complete difference between the Park51 site, a debate with some actual merit, and an idiot with a handlebar mustache making Christians and Americans look intolerant and uneducated, let me acknowledge how much all this intolerance makes sense. Not logical sense, but in the sense of two wars draining our resources, a government and media that have scared the spit out of gullible Americans about terrorism, more failed terrorism attempts (think Times Square and the Underwear Bomb), and most of all, a failing economy. America is tired. America is scared. America just wants someone to blame, because honestly, we’re still not sure how we got here in the first place. Republicans can’t blame Bush, Democrats can’t yet fully turn on Obama, Independents are blaming everyone. So let’s blame the people that started this mess in the first place by disrupting our happy economy and lives and killing over 2,000 innocent people: Muslims.

Now I fully understand the inaccuracy of that last sentence. But put short and sweet, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now, on to the difference between Park51 and Pastor Terry Jones.

International Burn A Koran Day

International Burn A Koran Day sign, courtesy of the NYT

In case you’ve been living without technology, human contact, or any interest in America for the last few months, a man in Gainesville, FL with a ridiculous handlebar mustache proclaimed that “Islam is evil” and he has a right to burn the Koran because it’s “full of lies.” (I reserve the right to burn his pamphlets for the same reason.) The media picked it up and suddenly Mr. Jones caused a giant stir, causing even President Obama to call him off, and inciting riots in Afghanistan and Pakistan complete with burning effigies. Intolerance at it’s height.

But here’s the thing about Mr. Jones and his 50 fundamentalist parishioners. While they obviously need to learn about the Koran, it’s origins, and the common tie between Islam and Christianity, they’re well within their rights to burn the Islamic Holy Book, (assuming the city granted their burning permit, which it didn’t). If you can burn a flag, you can burn a Koran. They’re allowed free speech just like the rest of America. The End.

To me, they proved a point they weren’t trying to make. Namely, that just as Terry Jones doesn’t speak for all Christians, the members of Al-Qaeda don’t speak for all Muslims. The world mourned with us during 9/11. And that includes Middle Eastern countries.

Well, you’d think that would be the point. But looking to the Park51 site, it’s obvious that most people haven’t thought about it that way, though some, like those in Gainesville, have. Instead, somehow Terry Jones has become equated with a supposed mosque site by Ground Zero. Which really just makes the whole thing worse. It’s legitimate, at least in some ways, for people to worry about having a mosque so close to the site of a horrific tragedy caused by Islamic extremists. It becomes less legitimate when this worry is associated with people like Terry Jones. Now even those actually concerned with the feelings of the 9/11 survivors just look like, how to put this, intolerant blanking blanks. The two should NOT be compared!

Does that mean that every single person complaining about the Park51 site is just concerned about hurt feelings? Absolutely not. Many do think just like Terry Jones. Case in point: the site is not just a mosque, but part of an entire community center complete with a pool, and somehow that gets neglected a lot.

But it’s an important debate to have within our nation, and one long coming. Can we finally begin to put aside the suspicion, the fear, the us vs. them mentality, or are we going to make some of our citizens move their place of worship to a less unsettling arena? The answer remains to be seen. But I believe Park51, if built on the planned site, could give people a chance to see that building a mosque, along with a pool and community center, will not blow up New York City. Neither will it in any way endanger our right to pursue life, liberty and a thriving economy.

Instead it will provide construction jobs, give neighborhood kids a place to play and learn life skills, and offer some of our citizens a place to worship the God of Abraham in the manner they see fit. As they did in the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers. As is their right.

Disagree with me? Want to offer another opinion? Have better links than I do? Comment below!