We so badly wanted to write this month’s article on some of the comments that have been made during the Republican debates for the Presidential nomination. Our favorite, which apparently also is the media’s favorite, was the comment made by Mitt Romney that he certainly would not have illegal immigrants working for him “I told them for Pete’s sake, I am running for office”. This comment certainly illuminated who Mitt Romney is. He wouldn’t hire illegal aliens, not because it is wrong, not because it is against the law, but because he is running for office.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, we cannot devote this column to politics or at least to debates. Two years ago a grass roots effort cascaded across the country. Supposedly, the Tea Party was born out of everyday citizens being fed up with the spending of our federal government. If truth be told, if not created by FOX news, it certainly was spurred on by a number of their talk shows/newscasters.
When this Tea Party revolt started, those in the media on the conservative right championed this grass roots effort. They applauded how ordinary citizens were exercising their freedom of speech and their rights to protest and petition the government. The clamored how this was the American way and that this was the essence of pure democracy.
Now, some two years later, a new movement, one that is truly grass roots has taken hold. These are the people who are occupying Wall Street along with other cities around this country and around the globe. These are normal citizens of various countries and especially Americans who are fed up with the way our government seems to protect the wealthy, benefit the corporation, and excuse the banks. These are people looking for a job and wondering how the financial markets and banks could lose billions of dollars and be bailed out and yet they as ordinary citizens face virtual financial collapse on a daily basis.
These people certainly are not the backbone of the Republican party. In fact, they may be to the left of the Democratic party. Because of their political ideology, all of a sudden this grass roots effort is now spoken about by those on the political right as being un-American, unlawful, a bunch of cry babies and whiners. Unlike the Tea Party people these people do not have the right to redress their government and to exercise their basic freedoms.
As free speech advocates, Benjamin & Aaronson have represented some people who we have ideologically hated along with personally detested. We have stuck up for their rights to express themselves in a free society and although we hated their message, we stood up for the fact that they had a right to disseminate it. We do not make our living using freedom of speech and of the press. We make our living by defending it. Yet, those who do make their living by the use of freedom of speech and freedom of the press seem to pick and choose who has that right to speak and to express based upon that political view.
We find nothing more abhorrent than those who use this basic freedom to criticize others who are availing themselves of that same right. Why are not the newscasters on FOX, not championing the messenger’s right to disseminate the message while disagreeing with the message? Why on the other hand do they belittle the messenger when they do not like the message?
We have always believed that if you take away the rights and freedoms of those that you disagree with, that one day someone will take away your right to express your message also. In this vain, we applaud those who are protesting against the banks and the financial institutions. Not because we necessarily agree with their message although we may, but rather because of their exercising their First Amendment rights to express themselves, to redress the government and to simply complain.
We have watched some newscasts and there are always some rotten apples within the barrel. This however does not make the entire barrel rotten. In the same sense, we have watched some police officers be overzealous in their treatment of some of the protestors. Those protestors who have and are committing crimes, which is the vast minority, should be punished as any lawbreaker. Those protestors who are simply protesting, should be applauded for standing up for their rights, and for being basic freedom seekers.
Personally, we have wondered when there was going to be that Counter Balance to the Tea Party. It is about time that the politicians, news media and the everyday citizen realized that down deep this country has not slid so far to the right. The progressive, caring, and humanistic part of the political system may have gone to sleep after Obama’s victory. Apparently, it is starting to awake.