In spite of our Constitutional right of free speech, it is a fact that sometimes, when one dares speak out about something that is true, and not necessarily complimentary about our country or some powerful group, that individual stands to be, well, quieted.
I am thinking of two conversations that are swirling around our country right now. First, the presumptive candidate for Secretary of Defense, former Senator Chuck Hagel, has drawn criticism for saying that the “Jewish lobby is intimidating.” And secondly, anyone who dares say that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be outlawed in this country stands to be called “unpatriotic” and one who is not in support of the Second Amendment.
First, the “Jewish lobby” statement. Is it safe to say that the Jewish people have a lot of power in this country, and that they probably DO have a strong lobby that MIGHT BE intimidating to some? I didn’t know there was a “Jewish lobby,” but so what if it is intimidating? The National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby is intimidating, isn’t it? Someone said today that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has a lot of courage because she and her husband are going to promote gun control. She has courage, this newsperson said, because she is going up against the NRA. The reason the NRA lobby is intimidating is because it has power, and it has power because it is well-funded and well-organized. There is nothing wrong with that; it is doing what an effective lobby group is supposed to do.
If there is a Jewish lobby, and it is “intimidating,” that means that this lobby group, like the NRA, is well-funded and well-organized. That’s a good thing. Lobby groups exist to advocate for their people, their groups, their causes. If the Jewish lobby is “intimidating,” then good! To say that it is intimidating does not mean one is anti-Semitic, not in my view. It simply means that it is respected for the work it does and for the effects and result it produces.
There are some things that we as Americans don’t like to talk about, and if someone says something about those “things,” he or she stands to be criticized, free speech notwithstanding. When the war against Iraq began years ago, one could be dubbed “unpatriotic” if one criticized it. When someone says that certain policies and practices in this country are racist, he or she is accused immediately of playing “the race card.” When attention to the treatment of women in this country came front and center, one could be called “sexist” if he or she said that a woman was not qualified, for example, for a job or position that she clearly WASN’T qualified for.
It is a ridiculous way to live, being afraid to say what’s true. Saying what’s true, in a polite and civil way, having the freedom to do that, is part of what makes America …America. I don’t think America ought to allow the sale of automatic and semi-automatic weapons. We are not in a war. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are for war, for military combat. They are meant to kill a lot of people in the shortest amount of time possible. I support the right of Americans to own guns – with proper procedures in place to check potential owners out – but there is no way ordinary people need to be walking around with semi-automatic weapons!
We as Americans think too narrowly. Just because I might criticize something America does or does not do does not mean I do not love America! If I criticize, or make a comment about the media being biased does not mean I hate the media. We are adults; we ought to be able to know the truth and talk about the truth, or even our opinion about the truth or untruth of a situation, without being labeled or shot down or criticized.
Whenever one has many rights and privileges, one also has great responsibility. The responsibility we have as Americans is to think more broadly and allow more views that our own, without labeling someone because he or she has a different opinion. Thinking so narrowly kind of makes a mockery of the “rights” we hold so dear.
A candid observation …