A Progressive Alamedan

Various writings from a resident of Alameda regarding the political scene. The local perspective of local, state and national politics and a few other odds and ends of local concern. May not be particularly interesting to people outside of the Alameda area.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Fourth of July Brings National Politics to the Alameda Journal

Thanks to a cranky conservative who was offended by the Impeach Bush-Cheney entry in this year's Fourth of July Parade, the pages of the Alameda Journal actually contain national issues! (The Journal is notorious about not wanting to touch national politics in its pages.)

I had written the letter (below) to respond to the gentleman who called for an apology from the Mayor for allowing an "illegal" entry into the parade last week, but it wasn't published right away. Fortunately, other letters were.

This week, a couple more letters chimed in to agree with the offended party. Of course, many more letters defending the free speech of the parade entry — including mine, finally — were published.

Last week, Bruce Elerick wrote the Journal to lament that his enjoyment of the Fourth of July parade was interrupted by a "hippie" display of dissent, specifically the ImpeachBush-Cheney.com entry. According to the author, this was inappropriate subject matter for the parade which, ironically, celebrates the anniversary of Americans up against tyranny and oppression.

This entry was certainly not a renegade participant. They and the other "political" groups such as Code Pink, Alameda Peace Network, Progressive Alameda, Networks of Spiritual Progressives, Alameda Democratic Club, and Alamedans for Climate Protection all entered legitimately, and none of them need apologize to anybody, any more than the participants of the Boston Tea Party owed apologies to King George III.

This is America, which, last time I checked, still has a Constitution with its First Amendment protecting Free Speech. We should consider the places and times where dissent was never expressed, such as Germany in the 1930's and the Soviet Union until the 1980's. Let's be grateful we live in a country where people can express dissent, even if we don't agree with it all.

One of the letter writers in today's paper was almost humorously pathetic in her leaps of logic.
Everyone is entitled to free speech in this country, and that, among other things, is exactly what our troops are fighting for in Iraq. Whether one supporst the war or not is the issue — what is the issue is whether or not we support our troops.

Hold everything! What exactly does an entry calling for the impeachment of our leaders have to do with whether we support our troops? For her, supporting our troops means supporting the war. For me and most of the people watching that parade, there was never a question of supporting the actual soldiers: we want to prevent them from going into harm's way in the first place, keep them adequately protected if they are, and take care of them when they come home.

She continues:
To have a parade entry such as that bus degrades the efforts of the brave young men and women putting their lives on the line every day so that we can keep our freedoms. Why have people forgotten so quickly the thousands of innocent people who were murdered mercilessly in the World Trade Towers on 9/11? Anyone who had any responsibility in allowing this disgraceful exhibit in our parade shoudl apologize to all those offended by it.

Wow, doesn't she see the contradiction here? And the whole apologizing thing is going to be tricky. How are the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington going to apologize to this poor woman and her friends? It's thanks to the founding fathers and the countless others who kept burning the torch of freedom, that we have the free speech we so cherish and that she so greatly despises in her own town.

Maybe it's time for me to write another letter to the editor.


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