“Replace Town Halls with Study Halls”   2 comments

Freedom_of_SpeechThe phase, “…you’ve come a long way baby,” doesn’t apply to the Republican Party — unless you are referring to going backwards. Just the other day I read this Rush Limbaugh quote, which at best represents the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party, or at worse the new Republican Party: “Global warming is no different than health care, is no different than cap and trade … It is simply another branch of liberalism, statism, that is designed to expand government control over individuals and their liberty and their freedom and their income.”

How, put that quote into context with a quote from Jonathan Rosen’s review of Douglas Brinkley’s new book, “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.”

“The subtitle is telling — the crusade for America, not “wild America” — because for Roosevelt, living forests and petrified forests, bird preserves and buffalo ranges were essential for the country’s survival as a moral and military power.”

Let’s face it; this great American leader was a “tree-hugger” at a time when such issues were not a part of the zero sum game of patrician politics. Because of Roosevelt and the Federal Government, this beautiful country has saved more than 234 million acres of wilderness, which ironically happen to be the images most often used in depicting “America the Beautiful,” one of our patriotic songs. A year before Roosevelt died, he was quoted as saying, “Thank Heaven I sat at the feet of Darwin and Huxley.”

Another great leader, by the same name, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote of the four freedoms:

  1. Freedom of  Speech
  2. Free of Religion
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

These freedoms, sometimes referred to as the “Four Essential Human Freedoms,” were represented in the now famous Norman Rockwell paintings, Four Freedoms. The first, Freedom of Speech depicts a citizen standing in a town hall setting, surrounded by less than enthusiastic citizens.

As Paul Krugman wrote in a recent N.Y. Times column, “That’s a far cry from what has been happening at recent town halls, where angry protesters — some of them, with no apparent sense of irony, shouting ‘This is America!’ — have been drowning out, and in some cases threatening, members of Congress trying to talk about health reform.”

One can’t help but wonder what both Roosevelt’s would think of today’s political operatives who are exploiting the fear and anxiety of many Americans. Maybe we need to do as Bill Maher has suggested, “We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.”

Bill Maher is today’s Mark Twin “who liked Theodore Roosevelt personally, felt he was ready to “kick the Constitution into the backyard whenever it gets in the way.” Jonathan Rosen ends his review of Douglas Brinkley’s new book writing, “What this book makes abundantly clear is that his inspiration, vision and courage were as rare 100 years ago as they are today and that without them our country would be uglier, and poorer. Most usefully, it is a vital reminder of the key element of conservation, so often neglected: You cannot save what you do not love.”


Posted August 8, 2009 by kenneturner in Commentary, Life

2 responses to ““Replace Town Halls with Study Halls”

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  1. Hi Kenne,

    I see you’re still at it! Good for you. I’m just getting on the computer. Still in the healing process, with about 2 more weeks to go. That will be a total of 9 weeks!! I am ready to join the world.



  2. Great shot…wish it were heard around the World. Extremists, regardless of the national origin, cause or time in history, forget that we have two ears and one mouth and should use them proportionately.


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