Perhaps the only change this country needs is the gift of freethinking
To the Editor,
This is in response to Ronda Keck’s letter, published in the November 3, 2012 issue.
It seems that we find ourselves in need of First, it is imperative to explore whom former Secretary of State and Senator Daniel Webster was. A prominent hiccup in his career occurred during the 1820 Massachusetts Constitutional Convention.
At the convention he spoke in opposition of universal suffrage (for white men at the time), and believed that the right to vote be based solely on whether one owns property.
Yes, at the time, any form of universal suffrage was over a century from becoming a reality, but how can anyone praise a man who wanted to limit any American’s right to vote? Granted, there are still those few today who cannot grasp the concept of equality.
Webster was also an avid supporter of slavery. In his famous The Seventh of March speech, he believed that maintaining slavery was essential to keeping the South from seceding from the Union. He also supported the Compromise of 1850. One of the provisions of the compromise was the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. It declared that all runaway slaves be returned to their masters upon capture.
Webster believed slavery and religion went hand in hand saying, “There are thousands of religious men, with consciences as tender as any of their brethren at the North, who do not see the unlawfulness of slavery.”
Granted, the Bible supports slavery as well, “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way (Leviticus 25:44-46).
Webster was also delusional on the treatment of slaves in the South. He said, “The South, upon the other side, having been accustomed to this relation between two races all their lives, from their birth, having been taught, in general, to treat the subjects of this bondage with care and kindness, and I believe, in general, feeling great kindness for them.”
The conditions slaves faced in the South was detestable, with sub-par living conditions, a life lived in perpetual fear, and no hope of ever being free.
If Webster would have only looked to the Bible for help in determining how long slaves should be owned for, “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom” (Exodus 21:2). Webster must have missed this passage.
Because of his ill-received remarks, he resigned from his Massachusetts Senate seat. Why would anyone want to associate Christian values with a man who cannot see the unlawfulness of slavery? Webster was a no more than a political bigot.
Also, Webster was born in 1782 and had no hand in the founding of this country in 1776, or the vicious battles that led up to our freedom.
The idea of the “biblical family” has no credence over the people of this country. America was founded on the idea of religious freedom, and freedom from religion.
One religion cannot impose their beliefs upon others simply because they believe their morals are societally superior. President Obama did not “twist the scripture,” he advocated for equality.
Between 40 and 50 percent of traditional “biblical family” marriages end in divorce or legal separation. “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). Clearly, there are larger issues with the “biblical family” than homosexual marriages.
Our relationship with Israel is an unnecessary drain on the U.S. government’s financial sustainability. Since WWII, $115 billion in bilateral assistance has been given to Israel. In 2007, the Bush administration and Israel agreed to a 10-year $30 billion military aid package according to the Congressional Research Service.
Critical public investments like education, job training and infrastructure would benefit greatly from $30 billion.
During the Great Depression, 32 million people became unemployed in this country. Sixty percent of American’s were considered poor by the U.S. government in 1933. In New York 25 percent of schoolchildren were malnourished. In the mining countries of West Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, 90 percent of schoolchildren were malnourished during this time.
Due to the low quality of life many American’s felt during the Depression, the U.S. government sought to protect the American people from the ills of unstable economies. Out of those protections came many social programs that still provide unemployment benefits, food stamps, welfare, healthcare, and retirement provisions.
The current economic downturn is one of the worst in recent American history. Sadly, many families are struggling for a livable income that provides food, shelter, healthcare, and other necessities. Yes, there are those who abuse the system, though, could anyone consciously allow a quarter of this country’s children to go hungry?
Perhaps if the $30 billion that is earmarked for Israel is put towards education and job training, there wouldn’t be the “entitlement society” that has evolved today.
This country was founded upon the belief of an individual’s freedom. We have the choice to partake or abstain from certain activities and have the freedom of free choice separate from social and political pressures, especially when concerning one’s body. This, of course, includes abortion. If you find the act detestable, then do not partake in it, protest against it and raise awareness, but do not dictate what a woman, or anyone, can and cannot due to their body.
Forgoing any quotes by historically political bigots, I end this with Christopher Hitchens, “Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.” Perhaps the only change this country needs is the gift of freethinking.
(Editor’s note: The beginning of this letter was first pubished in the Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 issue of the Herald, but due to its length could not be printed in its entirety.
The letter appears here unedited.)