In my quest to find the truth about what is going on in our country and in the world, (you can't count on mainstream media for true information anymore) I came across this very interesting editorial, written by a New Jerseyite. Since I originally am from New Jersey, I felt a sort of kinship with the writer.
Anyway, his words ring true for any thinking person, who wonders why so many people, as Mr. Testa put it, voted for Bush "the symptom not the problem". As he states, it is the voters, especially the religious RIGHT that put him in office. Thanks, Jim Testa for writing such a clear, easy to read, bit of TRUTH. We need media minds like yours in these LIES infested times. Carolyn
Why The Christian Right Is Always Wrong
by Jim Testa
This issue began with the idea of doing a politically-themed issue timed to come out before the 2004 presidential election. Great idea, right? Only if you know anything at all about Jersey Beat, you know that we don't exactly have a reputation for getting issues out on time. They come out, and have for 22 years, and I'm proud of that. And one of 'the things that's kept me from burning out or going insane over that time is that I've learned not to stress out over deadlines. This isn't Newsweek or The New York Times.... if we're a week or two (or three or four) later than what we planned on, well, that's just part of being DIV.
But with this issue, I wanted as many people as possible to see this issue before Election Day in November... but if you find yourself reading this after the election, that's okay too. Because in the editorials and opinion columns and interviews that you'll find in this issue, you'll find information and ideas that go far beyond who wins on November 2, 2004. Hopefully what you will find here is not just another reason to vote George Bush out of office, but the how's and why's of getting involved in the political process for the rest of your life.
People talk about punk rock all the time, but what does "punk" really mean? I like to think that at least in part, punk is about being part of an ongoing revolution that looks to undo the "old" way of doing things. Big corporations put out records? Punk rock says, it doesn't have to be that way, we'll put out our own records. Rich promoters controls which bands play what venue? Punk rock says, Let's put on our own shows. Media conglomerates publish pop magazines that pander to the least common-denominator? Punk rock says, we'll put our own fanzines and write about what we really care about.
I'd also like to think that being an American is all about being part of an ongoing revolution too. What revolts me most about the Neo~Cons and the Ashcrofts and their ilk is the post-9/l I screed that questioning authority is somehow unpatriotic. Nothing is more patriotic than standing up for your beliefs and speaking out. It's the foundation of this country. It's what the United States of America is built on. There is no document more sacred to me - and l would think, to any American, than the Constitution. And yet we have elected and appointed officials in Washin9ton D.C. who are not only working to pass new amendments banning abortion, flag-burning and gay marriage, but actively seeking to repeal or curtail the freedoms we were given in the Bill of Rights.
It's not so much that George Bush should lose arid John Kerry should win this election. George Bush is a symptom, he's not the problem. The real problem are the people who put George Bush in office, people whose beliefs are not our beliefs, whose goals are not our goals, whose values are not our values, whose concept of right and wrong is not the one we share as free, independent thinking Americans.
The history of the United States has always been a story of empowerment, of extending rights. Oh yeah,we got a lot wrong, but that's part of being human. But look at all we've fixed. - abolishing slavery, women's suffrage, the civil rights moment. Now that tide has turned; political discourse talks about using the courts and the legislatures to take away rights, to limit freedoms.
What's ironic is that the Bush agenda hides behind the cloak of Conservativism. But if you know anything about Conservative ideology, you know that's nothing but blatant hypocrisy. The true Conservative believes that man is inherently more capable of making moral decisions than the government; that government governs best when it governs least. Yet this modern Conservative movement is all about legislating morality - banning abortion, taking the issue of gay marriage out of the hands of the states, limiting scientific research in the name of questionably religious ethics.
I was raised a Catholic. I lost my faith a long time ago, although when life turns bad, I (like most other people) still turn my eyes to heaven and pray for help. But the values I learned as a Catholic stay with me. We were taught that Jesus fed the poor, healed the suffering, championed the meek. We were taught that his death and resurrection happened for the benefit of all humankind - not just people who looked like us, talked like us, worshipped like us, The Evangelical Christian movement - of which George Bush is both a member and a driving force - has taken Jesus' message and twisted it to its own agenda.
I've read the New Testament. I don't remember it saying anything about hating people. Christ's message was a message of tolerance. But Born-Again Christians think that only "they" have the true answer, Only they worship the one true God and only they wil go to Heaven. The rest of us, those of us who aren't born again, we'll just go to Hell. And since we're going to Hell anyway, it's perfectly all right if we get pushed around a little while we're still here on Earth.
William F. Buckley once said that as a Catholic, he didn't need to be born again; he was "a congenital Christian." Mega-ditto, Bill. But none of us "needs' to be born again to enjoy basic human rights, guaranteed to us in a Constitution that specifically calls for the separation of church and state. (Funny, 1' also remember another guy who said something about "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God that which is God's." Sounds like the same idea, doesn't it?)
Here's my theory. The Christian Right know in their hearts, above all else, that they are going to heaven, because they've taken Jesus into their hearts. So it doesn't matter what else they do while they're here on Earth. Plunder the environment? Why not? Give to the rich and take from the poor? I'm not sure the Jesus I read about in Paul and Luke would like that, but Bush and his cronies at Halliburton don't seem to mind the idea. Invade another country, violating generations of United States foreign policy, because you have a personal gripe with the guy running the place? Sure. What's a few thousand dead American soldiers (and tens of thousands of dead Iraqis) if we make Baghdad safe for Gulf Oil and Starbucks? None of those heathens were on the glory train anyway.
Here's what I hate most about the Christian Right, though. Not that they're evil; that they're smug. They think they have this country in their hip pocket, because the people who don't follow them into church on Sunday are home in front of their TV’s watching Fear Factor and celebrity poker. They think the rest of us are too apathetic, too jaded, too stupid, or just too cowed to fight back.
And that's why it's important to vote. Not just this election, but every election. Why it's important to protest. Why it's important to speak out. We have to let THEM know that WE are here too. We have to make our voices heard, and we have to spread the message that it's all right to open your window and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Because that's the only sane response to the current state of this country.
There are some excellent books reviewed in the current issue of Jersey Beat that you should find and read. Mark Anderson's ALL THE POWER: Revolution Without Illusion provides a step-by-step guide for true punk activism, combining commitment and idealism (and, lest we forget, patriotism,) with punk ideals and ideology. Krist Novacelic, the bassist of Nirvana, has written a short paperback called Of Grunge And Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy. It's all about using the power of the ballot and the public forum to create meaningful change.
The first time I was old enough to vote, I not only voted, I volunteered and canvassed door to door for my candidate. He was a man I believed in passionately, and I hated his opponent as much as I'd ever hated anyone. That candidate was George McGovern. His opponent was Richard Nixon. And you know (I hope) how that election turned out. But less than four years later, the tide had turned, and the majority of Americans felt, as I did, that Richard Nixon wasn't fit to be President. Nixon was undone by a handful of diligent and persevering newspaper reporters, a group of honest politicians on the Watergate Committee, and most of all, public opinion.
Never think your opinion never matters, never think your vote doesn't count. If you do, they win.
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CAROLYNCONNETION - I've got a mind and I'm going to use it!