I come to the Booman Tribune and to The Daily Kos for new insights, intellectual refreshment, and sometimes for much needed humor, but I do daily battle in the trenches of right wings bastions of reactionism like on The Augusta Chronicle (GA) bulletin board (link below). It’s like preaching to the choir here while it seems like preaching to the deaf there. I don’t need to persuade you, I need to persuade them.

My favorite talk show host is Chris Moore on KDKA in Pittsburgh (am 1020). I have learned a lot from listening to his program. I’m thinking about calling in and talking about the IMF, Argentina, and Iraq all rolled together. However, calling in just to agree with someone isn’t what brings changes. I am much more used to doing battle with a local right wing radio talk show host in Augusta, Georgia (on WGAC am 580) named Austin Rhodes. The same is true with the editorial positions taken by The Augusta Chronicle. I have agreed with only two or three of their editorials in the past 2 or 3 years. Today is no exception.

My point here is to urge liberal bloggers to take the fight to those bastions of Republican smugness like The Augusta Chronicle and unenlightened right wing talk show hosts like Austin Rhodes. Here is my response to today’s Augusta Chronicle editorial.

Save yourselves AC editorial writers!
This is a response to The Augusta Chronicle editorial posted below titled “Save Farris!” Farris Hassan may indeed be a “wet behind the ears” 16 year old, but the AC editorial writers are jaded professionals who try to pass off their insensitivity as wisdom. Save Farris indeed. Save yourselves AC editorial writers from your own smugness.

Farris Hassan is 16 years old. I was 16 years old in 1964 and in the 11th grade when my history teacher taught us to think for ourselves. He taught us to question everything that is mythologized about this country right from its founding. The AC editorial writers are paid not to question IMO. Instead of educating themselves and their readers about tools of domination like the International Monetary Fund which is U.S.-controlled and a partner in seizing control of Iraq’s oil resources, the AC editorialists pass along feel good platitudes like: “That’s a big part of what makes America great: its simple goodness. There isn’t a more giving people on Earth. Most Americans, rather than feel bad about their blessings, feel good about them – and want to share them.”

In Farris Hassan’s 11th grade journalism class I guarantee they have gone beyond kiss up platitudes like the quote above. Part of growing up and gaining wisdom is the ability to accept reality instead of believing in fantasy. This is not to disparage the American people or our essential goodness, but every act of the U.S. government is not an extention of the enlightened ideals or generous character of the American people. U.S. military power and economic domination are hard facts. They appear much harder to those who are on the receiving end of U.S. foreign policies that resort to optional war and strong-arm economic policies. The IMF demands that countries that receive debt forgiveness like Iraq adhere to their rules. One of those rules is that the government will maintain a budget surplus. The United States government does not do what its minion, the IMF, demands other countries do! That’s hypocrisy, and clear eyed unjaded youth like Farris Hassan see it!

Farris Hassan also sees through the superficiality of materialism that is rampant in affluent America. Remember “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”, “The Apprentice”, and other odes to conspicuous consumption? These things are not making Americans happy. Farris Hassan is wise beyond his years. He is not seduced by material possessions.

The problem with America is that we are not unified. We don’t have a common cause that binds us together. Our society is competitive but not cooperative. It is everyone for his or herself, and Farris sees this. We do not share with others. The United States is way down the list when it comes to the percentage of our GDP that goes to foreign aid. Oh yeah, we invade other countries alright. We bomb them, but we do not provide developmental assistance that make wars less necessary and terrorism less likely. Look at the policy in Iraq. Along with pulling some troops out of Iraq, the Bush administration has no plans to ask for more money to reconstruct Iraq. Now that well connected firms have made their fortunes in the reconstruction scam, the dregs are being left to Iraqi contractors. $18 billion in reconstruction funds is a paltry sum when compared to the $300 billion spent on the war and vast amounts of corruption and war profiteering associated with it. Educate yourselves and save yourselves Augusta Chronicle editorial writers. Leave Farris Hassan to his own devices which seem to be working well.

How will America react if and when Farris Hassan speaks out against the war? The AC editorialists will no doubt blow him off as young and naive and get paid to do so. The AC editorial writers are not trying to educate themselves about all aspects of the war in Iraq or to remove the scales that cloud their eyes.
Farris Hassan is questioning things. That is the first step toward disspelling ignorance.

Save Farris!      

Save Farris!

Unwarranted guilt drove well-meaning teen to Iraq | Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

“I feel guilty living in a big house, driving a nice car and going to a great school. I feel guilty hanging out with friends in a cafe without the fear of a suicide bomber present. I feel guilty enjoying the multitude of blessings, which I did nothing to deserve, while people in Iraq, many of them much better than me, are in terrible anguish. …”

– Farris Hassan

You can’t blame a wet-behind-the-ears 16-year-old for thinking he could somehow help the people of Iraq just by showing up unannounced.

And you can understand why, with the drumbeat of self-loathing from the left, he might think he’s a bad person for having a good life.

But young Farris needs to learn patience – and he needs to mature and get on his own two feet before he can pull others up.

Moreover, someone needs to disavow him of the notion that because someone else in the world has it bad, he has to, too.

If the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., student, who traveled to Iraq alone recently for a class project, wants to someday give everything up and work as a missionary or humanitarian, more power to him. We need more people like that.

Or, if he works hard and does well in school, he might someday pull down the kind of income that lets him help others big-time on a regular basis.

But even a well-meaning 16-year-old is poorly suited to be of much help to a war-ravaged, tyrant-shedding nation in which he doesn’t even speak the native language.

And if he someday makes a life out of helping those less fortunate, misplaced guilt is a poor motivation and a shaky foundation.

Before Farris saves anybody, somebody needs to save Farris.

Son, you needn’t feel guilty for growing up in a great country amid accoutrements of comfort and privilege. Your family has worked hard for what they and you have. And countless millions of Americans who went before poured their lives – and in many cases gave their lives – in building and maintaining this great nation.

Don’t feel guilty, Farris. Feel privileged. Honored. Eternally grateful. And feel, as you apparently do, a moral imperative to give back.

That’s a big part of what makes America great: its simple goodness. There isn’t a more giving people on Earth. Most Americans, rather than feel bad about their blessings, feel good about them – and want to share them.

Use your blessings, Farris. Use them to put yourself in a position to help others. Use them to make yourself a better person. You’ll find that you don’t have to eschew all your family has worked or in some exotic quest to be a world-class humanitarian; you pass such people on the streets of Florida all the time. Such people have struck a balance between living well and giving well. It can work.

Don’t leave your home too soon, Farris. And don’t give up the nice car if it gets you where you want to be – like to a great school that can make a handsome young man even smarter about helping others.

From the Wednesday, January 4, 2006 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle  

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