SWN Editorials

Unpacking Inaccurate Political Talking Points

As we get closer in the United States to the general election this November, I have been reading with increased prevalence the opinions of individuals who state what they understand to be important points to consider. Usually this is in the form of a meme or a shared post outlining several things in an “if/then” format, which is generally a horrible way to make a point. But yet, here we are.

The points presented in these posts do not accurately reflect the issues they are meant to represent. The points are obviously biased, but it’s not the bias that I take issue with. All of us have our leanings that form our points of view. We are all biased to one degree or another, and all of us are entitled to our opinions.

What I take issue with are the sources of information that are used to form these opinions. When these sources stem from a willful ignorance of the law, the constitution, or from blatant bigotry, racism, and discrimination, I find myself compelled to respond. Several of these points address current events. 

Police Brutality 

One point in particular asks the question of how many people wouldn’t have been shot by police if they didn’t commit crimes. Even if you ignore the racial statistics involved in current policing practices  (which should never be ignored, by the way) a better and more accurate question would be to ask how many people wouldn’t have been shot if the police had better training in modern policing and were more in tune to the many issues that minorities struggle with. As well, to understand the level of frustration and fear that minorities experience, which can be achieved by listening to and not invalidating them.

Saying things like, “If you don’t want to get killed by the Police, don’t engage in illegal activities” indicates a belief that the death penalty is appropriate for all crimes and puts you squarely in the camps of history’s most notorious dictators and warlords. 

The truth is that most United States citizens stand behind the police. Most understand the inherent danger of being a police officer. Most support the need for protection and service. What many do not understand is that the call to defund the police doesn’t mean to eradicate the police or weaken law enforcement. It means the reallocation of some funds to other agencies to handle issues that the police were either never intended to, or are not equipped to handle.

Being against police brutality and bad policing doesn’t mean that you cannot still support law enforcement and law and order.  Most of the cops I know get genuinely upset when one of their own acts the fool or does something to bring the wrath of the community upon them. As they should be.

Protest by Blocking Roads

Another point that comes up in these political memes is the belief that when protesters who are run over while blocking vehicular thoroughfares somehow deserve it, and the rights of those driving on these roads to an unencumbered journey are more important than another human life.

If you want to understand why minorities are protesting by blocking roads and highways, it’s because their humanity has been systematically stripped from them for generations, their communities are at a breaking point, and still they are not being heard. They are desperate to be seriously acknowledged, and desperate times call for desperate measures. But having your vehicle blocked is not desperate times and running down a pedestrian is not a desperate measure. It’s a felony.

Protests are, by definition, designed to be disruptive and to bring attention to injustices. If you believe that pedestrian protesters should be run over because they are in your way or you don’t agree with what they are protesting, that only proves that you are part of the bigger problem. 

There are a couple of things that do bear mention regarding these types of protests. 

Occasionally protesters block the progress of ambulances, police and fire safety vehicles. Doing so should come with appropriate legal and penal consequences for obvious reasons. Emergency vehicles should never be encumbered when they are in the process of a response.

Sometimes protests do turn violent. That is unfortunate and cannot be ignored. On some occasions, protesters have become aggressive and presented a clear and present danger to passers-by and occupants of vehicles that are caught in the fray. These present circumstances for both the protesters and the victims that do warrant a serious discussion on what should happen next. This is not the space for that discussion.

I am referring to those people who believe the protesters should be run down because they are either in the way or simply because the protesters are minorities or supporters of the causes that the monitories are protesting about.

The Coronavirus Pandemic 

I’ve written and spoken extensively on the coronavirus and its various conspiracy theories. While these conspiracy theories present their own inherent problems, the first line of defense is understanding the severity of the disease. This brings me to another inaccurate talking point. The downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19, and shaming those who are taking precautions. Everyone should be scared of a killer world-wide pandemic like the coronavirus, and understand the responsibility that each of us have for the roles we play in cooperating with the safety protocols that not only protect ourselves, but our neighbors who may be especially vulnerable. 

If you think that your behavior doesn’t effect those around you, either you do not understand how pandemics work or you are willfully in denial of the well-established science. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that you have become irrevocably entrenched in any one of the many ridiculous conspiracy theories circulating the world. Good luck with that.

Shaming those who are making the effort to protect themselves and those around them by making fun of their observances of biosecurity practices like wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, etc. reveals an inherent lack of compassion for humanity. If you are putting your own safety and the safety of others at risk for the sole reason that someone else, be it a regular citizen or even the president, this is a perfect example of blind allegiance. Kind of like sheep.

Statues and Flags

While it is true that toppling a statue doesn’t change history, it does remove reminders of the darkest and most heinous era in our history from the public eye. Especially for those whose families and people groups continue to be effected by the ideologies that the likenesses of these statues stood for.

You don’t see statues of Adolf Hitler or other members of the Nazi party placed in public spaces in Germany, or statues of Mussolini and the Fascist party adorning town squares in Italy. Statues are purposed to commemorate heroes and heroic acts. 

The statues and flags commemorating the Confederacy and by association slavery and all of the horrors that accompanied it belong in a museum. The same goes for anything that glorifies inhuman behavior or was produced in a time where such behavior was socially acceptable. 

If you want to learn about this era in our history, there is no shortage of research information available. Teaching about these things is paramount in the effort of learning from our history. Advocating their return or glorifying their existence is unacceptable.

Black Lives Matter 

This is one I truly grapple to understand. The widespread belief that the Black Lives Matter movement has done more to promote racism than all the Confederate Memorials in the past 100 years. This shows a gross lack of understanding in what causes racism and the very purpose of protesting. Movements and ideologies like BLM and Antifa exist to bring attention to racism, bigotry and discrimination. 

The belief that the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement to bring attention to racism actually causes racism is a logical fallacy of the highest order. It’s like believing that bringing attention to domestic violence is the cause of domestic violence, or that bringing attention to the opioid epidemic actually causes opioid overdoses, or that bringing attention to pedophilia actually causes pedophilia. Do you see a pattern here? The belief that the BLM movement causes racism actually exposes a person’s own racism. 

For Love of Country 

Statements like, “If you don’t love America, leave it” not only shows a total and complete lack of what the United States stands for. This includes the rights granted to each and every one of us by the constitution of the United States, and the very basis of the oath taken by every individual who has ever served in the armed forces.

The “agree with me or leave the country” point of view actually puts you squarely in the camps of history’s most notorious dictators and warlords. It’s really not that difficult to figure out the trend here.

While we’re at it, statements like, “Would you hire a person who hates animals to care for your dog?  Then why would you elect people who hate America?” show a lack of understanding or willful ignorance about even the most rudimentary tenets of Democracy or how and why a representative republic exists. 

The belief that anyone who disagrees with you hates what you love is not only extremely subjective, but further believing that they should be silenced denigrates every person who has ever donned a uniform in the armed services, alive or dead.

These issues stand on their own as deficiencies on individual and societal levels. When they are compounded by the infusion of lies and conspiracy theories, it further complicates things.

It’s important to understand what is true and what is not. Like the fact that a sitting President doesn’t have the authority or legal capacity to amend the constitution. Not even the Supreme Court with all of its power has that authority, regardless of a sway to the left or the right. Like the fact that none of the constitutional amendments are at risk, especially in the current partisan climate.

It takes ratification of two-thirds of the House and Senate just to approve a proposal to amend the Constitution, and then it gets sent to the states for a vote. After that, fully three-fourths of the states must affirm the proposed Amendment or change. The last thing anyone needs to worry about is the constitution being changed. Nobody is coming for your guns.

A Note on Celebrities 

There is either a lack of understanding or a confirmation bias attached to the concept of the roles that entertainment and athletic celebrities contribute to positive change in society. There is a shared point of view and general dismissal of celebrity “interference” and influence because of a belief they are speaking “out of turn.

Take a moment to think about all the things that you voice an opinion on that are outside the scope of your expertise or experience. The only reason for the dismissal of celebrity efforts is because the particular celebrities that you believe should shut up are speaking in favor of something you are against. 

When the shoe is on the other foot, fists are raised in solidarity. Hypocrisy at its worst.

For Better or Worse 

I’ve heard people say that the only thing that’s gotten worse since Trump became President are the Democrats. This is a subjective opinion, of which those espousing and exclaiming it are fully entitled to hold according to the constitution. 

What is not subjective is what is actually getting worse. Such as the nationwide growth and emboldened acceptance of racism, bigotry, and discrimination. Such as the rampant increase in the denial of science. Such as the utter contempt for higher education. Such as the increasing mistrust of well-respected and trustworthy news agencies. Ad Nauseam.

We are losing much of the forward momentum we’ve achieved towards a safer, cleaner, healthier society more accepting of our vast differences. We are a nation that used to pride itself on its innovation and its stance in world as leaders in the sciences. More and more people are adopting ideologies that favor pseudo-science and conspiracy theories because they speak to confirmation biases even though they have been systematically disproved. We have become the laughing stock of the planet.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

If you believe that the private sector systematically moving jobs overseas is anything other than the result of free market economic practices and not swayed by politics, you should understand that the choice to move jobs out of the country is a matter of the bottom line. 

Corporations have been doing this for decades, regardless of which party controls the White House, Senate or Congress. While the stock market takes cues from current or projected events, the actual capitalists make their decisions based on profits and what they believe will increase them.

They answer to shareholders, not what anyone considers anything remotely altruistic in principal. If it costs ten dollars to make something in the USA and one dollar to make it somewhere else, it doesn’t matter who is in the White House. They will move as much of their operations abroad as possible. Period. End of story.

The Military and the Constitution

If you really, truly support the military and our veterans, then understand that this support should exist whether or not you agree with a political, ideological, or religious point of view. It is the military that protects our constitutional guarantees and freedoms to agree or disagree and to voice our opinions through protests, movements, and other forms of expression, and to do so without fear of reprisal or molestation from the government. This is the basis of why the United States still exists as a representative republic.

If you believe that the military should only protect the rights of those who adhere to the policies and demands of the president or a particular ideology or religious belief, then you are supporting a communist totalitarian state or a military dictatorship. The constitution applies to everyone, not just those who agree with you. Even unto the act of stating displeasure of the country, its principles, or icons. 

This includes burning an American flag or not standing for the pledge of allegiance. Even if you believe these to be reprehensible, they are freedoms that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers have given their lives to ensure. The right to express oneself without being censored by the government belongs to all citizens, natural or otherwise. Not just to those who agree with you.

Religion and the Constitution 

The first amendment guarantees freedom of religion. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom only for your religion. It means freedom to worship as you choose, to the God, gods, or goddesses you choose, to not worship at all, or even to be an atheist or agnostic. 

I’m speaking directly to the Christian evangelical community here. The United States may be a nation with a majority of Christians, but it is not now nor has it ever been a Christian nation. It was not founded on biblical principles, but on a version of Hammurabi law and English Common law without the compulsory edict to belong to any religious organization. This is not my opinion or personal support or non-support of any religious belief or ideology, but a matter of historical record. 

The United States constitution is and always was a purposefully secular document. Demanding that laws be enacted on religious principles is not only unconstitutional, but anti-American.

Do You Love Me?

Do I hate the United States? No. I love my country. Even though I live as an expatriate, I still believe that the United States constitution is the best governing document in history. It is because of the freedoms and rights that are enshrined in the constitution are guaranteed to everyone is why I hold it in such high esteem.

I could literally write tens of thousands of words on the constitution, but for the purposes here, it is enough that you understand I don’t hate the United States of America. I just don’t like what it has become. The soul of our nation is in peril, and this makes me very sad.

The divisions in our country at this point in history are not because of deficiencies in our constitution, per se. They are due to those who have been elected to govern at the highest levels, including the President of the United States and the members of our elected legislative branch who espouse rhetoric that is deliberate in its craft and presentation to drive a wedge into the heart of who we are as a nation.

They have that right, though. What they do not have is the right to engage in activities and behavior that suppress the rights and abilities of those who disagree with them by silencing their constitutionally guaranteed voices.

Final Thoughts

If you disagree with what is happening now and what has been happening for the past four years, then vote accordingly.

If you are disgusted by the unrelenting efforts to turn the county into a fascist state, then vote accordingly.

If you are wringing your hands at the growing support of bigotry and discrimination, then vote accordingly.

If you truly believe that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law, and that there should be no political preferences to the freedoms we all hold dear, then vote accordingly.

If you believe that we should not to be judged by the color of our skin, by our religious affiliation or lack thereof, because of who we love, or for our economic and social status, then vote accordingly.

You have a responsibility to make your voices heard, and exercise your privilege to cast your votes for the candidates that support these freedoms that make up the heart and soul of what it should mean to be a United States citizen. 

As individuals we are entitled and privileged to cast a vote according to our conscience. An educated voter is a building block to the democratic process. An uneducated voter is a hindrance. And I’m not referring to academic education.

The United States is at a turning point. One of many turning points that continues to shape who we are as a nation. Again, I implore you to vote accordingly.

– by Al Stefanelli – Publisher, Syndicated World News