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Monday, November 22, 2004

Post-election letter to like-minded friends

Monday, November 22, 2004

Post-election letter to like-minded friends

To those who know me well it is no secret that I am a social progressive. I do not
find much comfort in the corporate-linked politics of either the US Republican or
Democratic National Parties. However, at the same time, I believe that at this time in American history the Democratic National Party, while far from perfect, is a better channel than the Republican Party for making changes in policy that better the lives of not only working-class and middle-class Americans, but also the majority of people around the globe. In the wake of the recent US election, many moderate and progressive-minded Americans were not only disappointed, but also disillusioned. Some of us, including me, slumped into a state of despair during those first few days after the election. I would not allow myself to stay down, however. I am a fighter by nature, or perhaps it is by nature of me being human that I am a fighter.

In any case, in the wake of the US election of 2 November 2004, I wrote and emailed a letter of concern to my friends across the country in an effort to encourage them and myself as well as to rally the troops, so to speak, to not give in to despair. I share this letter below in the hope that it may encourage any who may read it and prompt discussion:

Friday 12 November 2004

Dear friends:

I believe that the contingent of moderate-minded to progressive-thinking Americans is like a sleeping giant waiting to be awakened.

As a former fundamentalist Christian (from birth to age 29) and as one who was
involved for eight years with the ex-gay movement (a largely conservative Christian network of organizations devoted to trying to change the sexual orientation of gay, lesbian and bisexual people), I keep an eye on what the Religious Right has up its sleeves.

In the wake of the election, we dare not lose heart and sit back quietly. More than 50% of Americans eligible to vote do not and did not approve of the current Administration’s policies in many areas. The fact that younger voters and minorities did not turn out in mass to sway the vote away from what amounted to the election of many who favor a new wave of extremist conservatism is irrelevant at this point. The fact is that there are many in this country, more than 50% of the population, who can be rallied NOW to slow the tide of extremist politics in this country. Conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christians are NOT the majority in this country and they do NOT have the mandate or blessing of the American people to sway this country to the extreme right unless we let them. All of our political leaders--local, state and federal--regardless what their political leanings may be, need to hear our voice now. Our elected officials need to know that we, the majority of Americans, do not support and will not tolerate extremist or discriminatory legislation or actions which threaten the lives and civil liberties of any Americans. Further, the Religious Right needs to be forcefully called on its tactics and plans NOW, before it wreaks the kind of havoc which we may not be able to undo in our lifetimes, such as pushing through the appointment of extreme right candidates to the pending openings of hundreds of federal judgeships and positions on the US Supreme Court. More federal judgeships are expected to come open in the next four years than at any
four-year period in US history.

Like it or not, we are truly in the midst of a "cultural war" and we can not turn back or stop fighting now. As an example of the kinds of battles that may lie ahead, below is a link for an Associated Press article from a few days ago entitled "Falwell Plans for 'Evangelical Revolution'". It speaks for itself. At the risk of sounding alarmist, I urge you not to underestimate the devotion of the Religious Right--they will stop at nothing to take away whatever civil liberties they can from any who do not agree with their interpretation of "faith and moral values". Please remember that I say this based on my understanding and experience as a former right-wing Christian and based on my study of religion and society through the years. I participated in right-wing Christian extremist politics in my twenties, including the extremes of the nonviolent anti-abortion movement Operation Rescue, Traditional Values Coalition and other organizations, and I understand the devotion and tactics of the Religious Right from continued observation through the years.


In these times we need to remember Rev. Martin Luther King's words when he said that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." (Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963)

I close with a well-known quotation from the famous German pastor Martin Niemoeller taken from the Jewish Virtual Library

( http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Niemoller_quote.html ):

The Failure to Speak Up Against the Nazis

This quotation is often cited incorrectly. The exact phrasing was supplied by Sibylle Sarah Niemoeller von Sell, Martin Niemoeller's wife. The remark was made in reply to a student's question, "How could it happen?"

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

- Martin Niemoeller -

Though we fortunately do not have the kind of extremists in power that Nazi Germany faced, the principle still applies that if we do not speak out for all Americans, we too may be silenced by extremist politics someday.

May those of us who are in favor of tolerance and preserving civil liberties in this
country take note, mobilize and fight like never before!

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