Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson, Facebook, Friends and Fakers

I let the internet outrage me occasionally.

At the moment, it's Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black boy was shot to death by a cop. The resulting outrage gained international notoriety when the police responded by rolling out armored personal carriers, troops equipped more for Iraq than main street, and started arresting reporters for reporting.

I post political musings pretty regularly on Facebook. A few of my friends are strong Republicans, who think Obama is a dictator (if not the anti-Christ) and Obamacare signals the fiscal and moral decay of our nation. I feel like I'm all over the board on issues, I try to support the best idea over political parties. I am strongly for Obamacare, for example. And I'm also very argumentative at times. So at times I get into epic back-and-forths.

I think it's great I have Facebook friends I absolutely disagree with. If I didn't, I'd be inside a dangerous echo chamber just reinforcing my own beliefs with lots and lots of likes.

One group I've had a love-hate relationship with is the Tea Party. I think many of their ideas are ruinous and downright horrible. I think their passion and commitment to the Constitution is admirable. Indeed, my second favorite politician is a Tea Party congressmen from Michigan, Representative Justin Amash.

The death of Mike Brown is horrible, and the police response unfathomable in America. You would think the segment of America who thinks that Obamacare is tyranny, and fiercely pushes back on any attempt to restrict any type of gun in America after another horrible shooting would be up in arms about a military style crack down on protesters and media.

But no. With few exceptions, the Right side of the spectrum has been silent. I would say "you don't get to pick and choose who the Constitution applies to" but the sad thing is, for a lot of our history we did. The rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution only applied to whites. One would hope that era was over, but a quick scan of any of the comments on any Ferguson news story will show you its not.

The crackdown on the first amendment in Ferguson separates the wheat from the chaff. If you only get all sentimental about the Constitution when talking about Obamacare or the Bundy ranch, but aren't when journalists get arrested and tear-gassed, you aren't really the Constitutionalist you think you are. The thing those self-proclaimed patriots miss is that when you don't stand up for other people's rights, you are only eroding your own. A classic poem explains it well.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

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