I am a liberal. I have always believed I am more of a moderate with strong human rights leanings, but recent events have pushed me firmly into the liberal column. It is four A. M., and these events are now making sleep difficult, so I left my warm bed and landed in the den. Since Facebook often gives me a temporary escape from my mind, I grabbed my iPad. Big mistake. The first thing I saw got me riled up again.
You see, I am not losing sleep over a president who I feel is extreme. We have had presidents whom I have feared before and we will after, and we will survive. It is the pendulum of our politics that gives me hope, even as it sews the seeds of fear. I know that my doubts about an overly conservative president were matched by many other people’s fear about Barack Obama’s liberal tendencies. Those people road out their storm, and I will ride out mine.
We will even ride out the storm of what I view as an unfair tax cut, restrictive health care laws and the fact that corporations are gaining way too much power over their employees and the public. Before we know it, a more liberal political faction will take over, and the conservative part of our society will be crying foul.
What frightens me the most is the loss of our basic constitutional rights. Once the first one truly topples, which goes next? There was a reason that freedom of speech was our first amendment. Those wise men before us realized that without freedom of speech and expression we will never live in a true democracy. If the government or our fellow Americans can stop us from expressing our thoughts through threats, intimidation and punishment, then the free discourse that is the fabric of a free society will die an agonizing death.
Years ago, on Kent State’s campus, we saw what can happen when freedom to express our feelings are challenged. Innocent young people paid a terrible price for a political system gone awry. Peaceful demonstrations must never be squashed, because that can give way to a fascist regime. That can also give way to a violent society. Americans have had these freedoms for way too long to stuff them back in the box, and tonight it is the NFL’s decision and our President’s reaction that is keeping me awake.
I will not be posting this blog until next week, and I imagine that by then the threats of reprisal against NFL players taking to their knees will be lifted, because I believe they are against the law. There are several factors that can, and likely will, be challenged. First of all, this change was made without bargaining with the players union, a clear violation. The second violation is the involvement of government (in this case the president and vice- president) in the teams' decision making, which becomes a violation of free speech. Unfortunately, even though the ban might be lifted, that won’t change the fact that an uncomfortably large number of our citizens support giving up their essential liberty for perceived security.
Whether or not one believes in any particular cause, we as Americans must stand behind each other’s rights to peacefully demonstrate and express free speech. On a personal note, I have always felt the importance of standing to respect what the flag represents, and our flag represents the freedoms (i.e. of speech) that our forefathers fought for, so punishing protesters rather than protecting them seems alien to all that we profess.
On that note, and before I attempt to get back to sleep, I must mention this week’s book. Good Intentions by J. D. Trafford is a legal thriller told from the viewpoint of a beleaguered judge rather than an attorney. It was well written and brings forth many questions about our child welfare system.
As always a complete review of this book follows this blog.