Author’s Note: In response to my comparison of how George Bush and Thomas Jefferson address the issue of relative human worth (Counter Punch, June 9, 2003), I received several very kind responses from free-thinking Americans. One reader, however, Rudy from rural Wisconsin of all places, wrote to inform me that I am just another misguided liberal, educated directly into ignorance, led astray by “Saint Thomas Jefferson,” the “Genghis Khan of the Western World.” Now, of course, Rudy’s comments do not deserve a response, but what the hell? Our times may have become entirely political, but they are certainly not correct.–GL
Thank you for your response to my editorial commentaries on relative human worth in Bush World. Even though you found little of merit in the effort, I figure a guy who reads Counter Punch can’t be all bad. On the other hand, perhaps you are only following the Biblical injunction to “know thine enemies.” I can’t argue with that either, but I do think you error in where you are looking for your enemies. Let me explain so that you need not live in fear of honesty and common sense.
My ancestors came to America from southern Germany in the middle of the 17th century and several of the fathers and their sons fought willingly in the American Revolution. As a result, my great grandfolks carried first names like “Jefferson” and “Madison” instead of “Jacob” and “Isaac.” My family moved to southwestern Wisconsin in the 1850s as second generation pioneers from the State of New York. My grandfather started the first bank in my hometown and, as a youngster, I received many pats on the back from local farmers for being his grandson. Damn, that always felt great. My grandfather had foreclosed on no one during the Depression, eating the losses himself rather than ruining his friends. He was not alone in this effort to keep people more highly placed than profits. I come from a family and community steeped in progressive Republicanism (Bill Moyers, “This is Your Story,” June 4, 2003).
That entire almost-decent Republican era was dead and gone by the time the dark-eyed California used-car salesman ran for the Presidency. Dick clearly established a solid precedent for the role of un-policed corruption in American political life, unless you haven’t noticed what a corrupt joke you Republicans have become since then. Have you people ever voted for a human rights bill while I have been alive?
In 1927, my grandfather hauled his family over the dirt roads of South Dakota to watch the dedication of the carving of Mount Rushmore. My father’s family and my family have visited Mount Rushmore nearly every year since. Eight years ago, I moved my family from rural Wisconsin to within two miles of the Shrine of Democracy where I can say good morning to our Deist Fathers every day. It helps with the loneliness that results from admiring Jefferson in an America devoted to Hamilton and the Tory god.
To be certain, good Sir, your knowledge of American history and the values of nascent Christianity and nascent Democracy, as well as your grasp of patriotism, isn’t worth a spit, let alone 3,200 Iraqi civilians. But, that is beside the point, and I do not want to discourage you for a moment. Rather, I urge you onward in your efforts to disparage Jefferson and his democracy and the liberal thought it springs from.
Do you realize that your religious self-assurance implies that you know something Jefferson didn’t know? It implies that you know something Franklin and Washington and Madison and Paine didn’t know. Pretty impressive, I must admit. I would have guessed, fool that I am, that men capable of synthesizing a viable democratic political philosophy as an alternative to European monarchical and papal rot might have touched upon most of the important bases. There is nothing wrong with nascent America values, Rudy. It is just that people like you have ignored them and more recently replaced them with fundamentalist American neo-rot.
In assigning your allegiances and delineating your enemies, do you realize the absurd proportions of your religious ego trip here should you turn out to be wrong? Do you realize that your self-assured style of ill-informed, fabricated Republican commentary has offended virtually every educated nation on earth? Do you realize that George Bush has already destroyed any semblance of American and Christian morality by thinking pretty much as you do? Or is it you who thinks like him? Do either of you ever think for yourselves?
Do you realize that old American allies in Europe are already talking about cutting your water off (George Monbiot, “How to Stop America,” New Statesman, June 9, 2003)? Do you realize that the European Union could bankrupt America in a week should these good people tire of Bush’s self-righteous American imperialism? Surely you must agree with Bush that money, especially oil money, is what makes the world go round.
Do you realize that this sorry American outcome at the hands of the world is inevitable, virtually guaranteed, with America under the dominion of religious fanatics who worship mammon and believe themselves infallible and entirely above the law, human reason and the people? You know, Rudy, people like yourself.
Do you realize that with America’s fall from “grace” as the world’s self-appointed judge, jury and executioner, when vengence-based religion and crony capitalism are discredited in the eyes of the world, the doors will once again be open to the values of nascent Christianity and Science and Democracy, the values upon which American democracy was founded?
Do you realize that I can beat George Bush over the head with Jesus and Jefferson all that I want, and you can disparage our Fathers all that you want, and the outcome for America will be precisely the same regardless? Nothing that you or I say will change that outcome. We can only hope to change how we think about picking up the pieces that Bush leaves us to work with.
For your efforts, Rudy, I am therefore most thankful, because the sooner you blindly self-righteous folks discredit yourselves along with vengeance-based religion and crony capitalism, the sooner we can all get back to the Democracy our enlightened Deist Fathers intended. By doing the work of Bush’s god, you are doing the work of Jefferson’s God as well, the one in the head and heart of every person, the one who works only through the free will and the good will of the people.
The “second coming” is when you religious people stop talking about Christ and start thinking like Him, instead of thinking like the depotic Roman Emperor, Constantine. Men like Jefferson and Franklin and Priestly and Paine were pretty accomplished at this over two centuries ago. Had they not been, you would not be here, Rudy.
Their peace be with you and yours, as I remain,
Sincerely if not respectfully yours,
DR. GERRY LOWER
DR. GERRY LOWER lives in Keystone, South Dakota. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org