Thursday, September 23, 2010

Political Musings

A friend on Facebook linked an article on Eagle Forum about NEA campaign spending.  Although I have been a member of NEA, as it is required for student teachers in order to have liability insurance, I understand and agree that the organization's influence is extending too far beyond matters of education.  The NEA is often a bully and a monopoly; it seems to be more interested in supporting the status quo than making any progress.

However, after reading about Eagle Forum's mission, I became angry and sad.  Certainly, there are issues on which I agree with the Forum.  But there are other points in which I see intolerance, hatred, and most of all, irrational fear behind the Forum's goals.

I am usually not a very political person.  I don't pay much attention to politicians, and I don't identify strongly with one party over another.  But this website made me so upset, I had to say something.

Here's a run-down of my responses to Eagle Forum's mission statement.  EF's statements in purple, my responses in black.

Eagle Forum supports American sovereignty 
We oppose opening U.S. northern and southern borders to a North American Community, or Security and Prosperity Partnership, or any kind of economic integration.
Why?  What are you afraid might happen?  I don't know enough about this issue to have an opinion, but I wouldn't dismiss the idea of economic integration out of hand.
We oppose all encroachments against American sovereignty through United Nations treaties or conferences that try to impose global taxes, gun registration, energy restrictions, feminist goals, or regulation on our use of oceans. 
If the United States opposes UN treaties, then we have no right to expect other countries to follow them, which reduces our diplomatic leverage.
We support the deployment of an anti-ballistic missile defense to protect American lives. 
Again, I don't know enough about this issue to have an opinion.  I certainly support protecting American lives, but do we really believe that we are in danger from ballistic missiles at this point in time?  This is an example of irrational fear.
Eagle Forum supports American identity 
We support establishing English as our official language. 
Why?  Because you're afraid that otherwise, you won't be the majority anymore?
We support immediate border security to stop the entry of illegal aliens, illegal drugs, women seeking to give birth to "anchor babies," Third World diseases, criminal gangs, and potential terrorists.We oppose all variations of amnesty and guest-worker visas. Our first task is to assimilate the millions of non-English-speaking foreignborn who are legal residents. 
Okay, wow.  First, wouldn't it be better and more effective in the long run to try to stop the causes of all these problems (illegal immigration, drugs, gangs, etc.)?  Then not only our country, but countries all over the world would benefit.  And that last bit, about assimilation; you see no potential gains from having multi-lingual citizens with culturally diverse and rich backgrounds living and working in our country?  As much as we might wish otherwise, we are living in a global society.  We don't have the right or the means to enforce English as a global language, so we will need people who can communicate effectively with other nations, in their own languages.  Why can't we see these people as assets, rather than liabilities?
We support reduction in income taxes and lower taxes on families with children. 
My initial reaction is to say, "Hell yes!" to that, but when I think about it more, I get confused.  I know that taxes are necessary to continue government-sponsored programs, like schools, police, and now, healthcare, but I'm not entirely convinced that the government is spending its tax revenue wisely or efficiently.  So I am tentatively in agreement with this statement.
We support the private enterprise system and reject the false dogmas that tax-and-spend government or a global economy can solve our social and economic problems. 
I agree with supporting private enterprise and rejecting tax-and-spend government.  I'm not sure what is meant by a "global economy" in this context; is EF suggesting isolationism-- close our borders, reduce trace with other nations?  I don't think that is a tenable solution.
We support putting control of health care spending in the hands of individuals by making health insurance tax deductible for all persons, not just for employers. 
Complete agreement.  In fact, I would say that the more choices that can be put in the hands of individuals, the better.  But that really does mean individuals making choices for their own selves, not a select group of "individuals" making choices that affect all persons.

Eagle Forum supports the Constitution 
We support the sanctity of human life as a gift from our Creator, as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. 
As this is stated, I have no argument.  I agree that life is a gift from God, not to be disposed of indiscriminately.  However, I do not support forcing anyone else to accept the belief in God necessitated by this statement.  Also, I think this is a veiled reference to abortion, in which case I refer to my previous comment: the more choices made by individuals, the better.  If you believe that life is present from conception, and that belief is rooted in faith, awesome for you.  Don't have an abortion.  If you're a doctor, you can refuse to perform them.  If, however, other people believe differently from you, you cannot force your belief on them through legislative means.
We oppose all efforts to call a new Constitutional Convention that could rewrite our U.S. Constitution. 
Agreed.  The U.S. Constitution was crafted so incredibly carefully, with so much room for revision and adaptation, that rewriting it is unnecessary.
We support congressional action to curb the Imperial Judiciary by refusing to confirm activist judges and by withdrawing jurisdiction from the federal courts over areas where we don’t trust them, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, the Boy Scouts, and the definition of marriage. 
Hmm.  I don't know what the "Imperial Judiciary" is, but I am skeptical of the "areas where we don't trust them" clause.  Certainly, if you don't trust the government to protect your rights, that's a problem.  But what don't you trust the government to do here?  No one is forcing you to leave God in or out of the Pledge, or disobey the Ten Commandments, or change your personal definition of marriage (I don't know what is meant by the reference to the Boy Scouts, you're on your own there).  Again, I see in this comment the attempt to push one's own individual beliefs onto all people.
We support the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed in the Second Amendment. 
Yep, until any of those individuals prove that they are not capable of doing so safely, after which that right should be revoked for those individuals.
We support making elections honest by requiring positive identification for voters, cleaning up registration rolls, and enforcing ballot security. 
I don't think I have a problem with this, as long as the identification is not linked to the individual ballot, and records are kept confidential.  It should not be possible to determine how someone voted without asking that person.

Eagle Forum exposes the radical feminists 
Okay, just to start with, I think radical feminists are not really trying to be covert.  That's the definition of "radical".
We support constitutional amendments and federal and state legislation to protect the institution of marriage and the equally important roles of father and mother.We honor the fulltime homemaker and her rights in joint income tax returns. 
Protect it from what?  I don't understand this part of the anti-gay-marriage argument.  How does gay marriage endanger traditional marriage?  How does that hurt people?
I agree with honoring the roles of father and mother, so long as individuals are permitted to define those roles as they see fit.  If Dad wants to be a fulltime homemaker, I support him in that choice.
We oppose the feminist goals of stereotyping men as a constant danger to women, while at the same time pushing women into military combat against foreign enemies. 
Certainly, not all men are a constant danger to women.  But men in general are more able to harm women than vice versa, due to issues of size and strength.  Women are right to be wary; this does not mean they have the right to pre-empt a supposed "attack" with pepper spray or other devices.  As for the second bit, have women been pushed into military combat?  Did I miss something?  How is allowing women the choice of military service a problem?  If you're a woman and you don't want to serve, don't enlist.
Eagle Forum successfully led the ten-year battle to defeat the misnamed Equal Rights Amendment with its hidden agenda of tax-funded abortions and same-sex marriages. 
Okay, tax-funded abortions, no.  But again, as long as you don't have to pay for it, how does someone else's abortion, or someone else's gay marriage, hurt you?  I don't understand why it's your business in the first place.  If you think homosexuality is a sin, don't do it.

Eagle Forum supports traditional education 
Every child should be able to read by the end of the first grade and should be taught to read using phonics.We urge parents to teach their own children to read before they enter school. Reducing illiteracy is an Eagle Forum priority. 
EVERY child???  Are you kidding me?  Children are different from each other; each will learn at a different rate and in a different way.  Phonics might not work for every child.  I agree that reducing illiteracy is really important, possibly one of the most important issues, but this is not the way to do it.  Certainly, if parents have the time and ability to teach their own children to read, that's awesome.  But if they don't, they and their children should not be penalized.
We oppose and deplore the dumbing down of the academic curriculum through fads such as Outcome-Based Education and courses in self-esteem, diversity, and multiculturalism. 
Oh, this makes me mad.  Self-esteem, diversity, and multiculturalism are dumbing down?!?!  When kids feel good about themselves, respect and understand those different from themselves, they are less likely to turn to drugs and violence, and more likely to stay in school and become functioning, useful members of society.  Argh!
We oppose liberal propaganda in the curriculum through global education and Political Correctness. 
Hmm, propaganda, or basic respect for human beings?
We support parents’ rights to guide the education of their own children, to protect their children against immoral instruction and materials, and to home-school without oppressive government regulations. 
Yeah, I'm for that.  You want to home-school your kids?  Go for it.  As long as you're not abusing them, have a good time.  But parents who are not willing or able to do so should not be penalized.
We oppose the feminist goal of federally financed and regulated daycare. 
Not federally financed, no.  But available and affordable daycare, definitely.  And how is that a "feminist" goal?  Simply because it helps out mothers who work outside the home?
Eagle Forum was a primary factor in passing the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment, and we strongly support its enforcement to protect children against psychological testing and mental-health screening without parental consent. 
I don't know much about this, but parental consent seems like a good idea.
Eagle Forum sponsors programs for Eagle Forum Collegians and Teen Eagles so they will be taught accurate information about American history and current issues.
Accurate according to whom?  Statements like this don't really mean anything unless you already know what the organization considers "accurate".

All in all, going through this list was an enlightening experience for me, as it allowed me to clarify my own beliefs and opinions to myself.  Some of these statements just make me so angry; I think part of why I'm so enraged is that they seem like reasonable people, and I agree with much of what they say.  It's just hard to believe that we can be on the same page about some issues, and reading entirely different books on others.

Where are you, my readers, on some of these issues?  Can anyone clarify some of the questions I've asked, namely, why do these people care so much about the private lives of other people?  You can respond in comments, but I will be moderating to avoid any nastiness.  It is possible to have respectful, thoughtful conversations about these issues, without acting like my 3-year-old preschoolers.  Be nice, kids!

1 comment:

  1. I don't even know where to start. There are a very few places where I might agree with them (mostly where you do, in fact), but overall, the inflammatory language completely turns me off. I think I stopped affording them any credibility when they referred to "American sovereignty."

    This "we're right, if you're not with us you're against us" attitude is incomprehensible and frightening to me. I guess that's how these folks would feel about my opinions as well, so maybe we could bond over that?