Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The 'S-bomb'

About six years ago I was part of a men's small group, the founder of which whose politics were, to be kind, extreme. During one conversation, he called my economic views "socialist."

That effectively ended the relationship, though it continued for six more months.

You see, what he didn't -- and probably still doesn't -- realize is that using that term to describe people who don't agree with his agenda is a form of bigotry, similar to using the N-word on me as an African-American.

In fact, in decades past the insult of choice was "communist," used on such folks as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, whose only crime was trying to influence government to do right by the poor and/or powerless. Using -- or, more accurately, misusing -- that term only stymies debate, subverts justice and causes resentment.

For that reason I suspect that the people who throw "socialism" around so readily aren't really interested in preserving their "freedoms," despite what they say -- what they really want is to maintain their privileged status. After all, they don't see how, to take a current example, expanded health-care benefits will benefit everyone down the road; they only concern is how much it costs them today. However, these same people never give any practical solution to this particular crisis, save "market solutions" that caused the problem in the first place. Nor are they actively involved in advocating for those who don't have.

This is why conservatives have the reputation of being cruel and insensitive -- they're focused on their orthodoxy even when it hurts people.

During the gasoline crisis a couple of years ago, the man I mentioned above sent a mass e-mail containing an opinion piece, "Avoiding the Socialist Temptation," which argued that, even though gas was approaching $4 per gallon, the "market" should set the pace and government involvement would only make things worse. (I learned later, however, that speculators were manipulating the market.)

Anyway, I replied to all with a simple verse from Scripture: Micah 6:8 -- "[God] has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does he require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

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