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Friday, July 09, 2004

Let (the Two) Americas be America Again

What does it all mean?

Words from the Episcopal liturgy of my childhood come back to me now -- the "outward and visible signs of an inward and spiritual grace." (My apologies to anyone offended by my secular and political use of this religious phrase, which is used to describe the Christian sacraments.)

I haven't uttered those words in thirty years, having long since become a Jew by choice. So why now do they come to me? It was simply what occurred when I read, courtesy of DANEgerus, that John Edwards's "Two Americas" echoes a speech given by James P. Cannon in 1948 to the 13th National Convention of the Socialist Workers Party:
". . . For there are two Americas — and millions of the people already distinguish between them.

One is the America of the imperialists — of the little clique of capitalists, landlords, and militarists who are threatening and terrifying the world. This is the America the people of the world hate and fear.

There is the other America—the America of the workers and farmers and the “little people”. They constitute the great majority of the people. They do the work of the country. They revere its old democratic traditions—its old record of friendship for the people of other lands, in their struggles against kings and despots — its generous asylum once freely granted to the oppressed.

This is the America which must and will solve the world crisis — by taking power out of the hands of the little clique of exploiters and parasites, and establishing a government of workers and farmers. . . . "

Oy... Add to this the fact that Kerry's slogan, "Let America be America again," comes from a 1938 poem by Langston Hughes (see William F. Buckley on this). According to literary critics, "Hughes . . . called for a rethinking of dominant American beliefs and an acceptance of the tenets of Marxism." According to the NY Daily News, Vintage is in the process of publishing a volume of Langston Hughes' poems, with a preface by Kerry.

I have no objection to any one of these bits of information in and of themselves, and I'm certainly not trying to defame the Democratic candidates through negative associations. It is the gestalt of it all that concerns me. The emerging pattern, and the trajectory it implies for the Democratic Party, is so disturbing that I seek to disassociate myself. This is, in great part, why I will vote for Bush.

The sinking, sickening feeling is becoming all too familiar. I had it last when I learned that Kerry had plagiarized a speech that President Kennedy was to give on the very day he was assassinated (Jewish Current Issues May 31, 2004, and also this, in the American Spectator) - but with a twist, a reversal of Kennedy's meaning.

Take a look (in order of appearance):
Isaiah (62:6-7): "I have set watchmen upon your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night; you who make mention of the Lord, take no rest. And give Him no rest until He establishes and until He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth."

Kennedy speech: "We, in this country, in this generation, are -- by destiny rather than by choice -- the watchmen on the walls of world freedom."

Kerry speech: "We do not have to live in fear or stand alone. We don't have to be a lonely watchman on the walls of freedom."

All this makes me very sad and wary. These are "outward and visible" signs . . . that the Left has abandoned my values. Even without Gore's brown shirts comment, the Democrats have gone too far in too strange a direction.

And if that's the cake, then this is the utter icing. The article from the American Spectator -linked above- quotes a Kerry campaign staffer:
"He's not going to get any more specific than he already has . . . We're just not going to set ourselves up to be held accountable."
If that's an outward and visible sign, then the inner and spiritual is . . . well, yuck.