Calling the kettle black
In response to the letter entitled, “Republicans should follow Constitution,” if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black I don’t know what is.
It’s widely known that the political agenda of the Democrat Party is to fundamentally and irrevocably change the United States Constitution. Now, with Biden in office, he has launched his first major attack against the Constitution, and he hasn’t even been in office for 30 days.
The man swore an oath to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution. I don’t know what part of that is confusing to the Democrats, but it sure is for some reason. As if the the Second Amendment attack is not enough now the Democrats want to seek legal recourse over Trump’s First Amendment rights.
Get a clue before calling out others you disagree with.
‘Dirty energy’ won’t end with Keystone
Brian Barnett has a history of sending vacuous letters to this column, and his latest was no exception. It was so inane that I was tempted not to reply to it, but it was a perfect example of the reason I have not retired from writing to this column.
He accused me of attempting to paint Democrats as unprincipled (something I thought I did quite well, by the way). Readers will note that he spent few words refuting my “attempt.” The only thing he mentioned was the Keystone Pipeline, so lets look at that more closely.
He said that the job losses would be temporary. I think they would be either four or eight years long, and I wouldn’t call that “short term.” But what will happen in the meantime?
By some reports, it costs about $10 a barrel to transport oil through the 2,170 miles of Keystone while it costs an estimated $30 to $35 a barrel to transport it by truck. The roughly extra 30 cents per gallon we’re paying at the pump already is at least partly caused by Biden’s ill-advised closing of the pipeline. Will that be temporary?
It’s also noteworthy that a wealthy Democratic supporter owns the trucking firms likely to benefit from the extra trucking needs. Was this another quid pro quo deal Biden snuck by us?
Mr. Barnett called the oil carried by the pipeline “dirty energy.” But, will killing Keystone stop the production of that energy? The answer would be a huge no. The truth is three-fold.
First, wind energy, which I would assume Brian considers “clean,” could not operate without petroleum products. According to Quora, the freezing point of oil is 37 degrees Farenheit. So, when it gets much colder than that, wind turbines won’t work because they’ll lack a functioning lubricant!
Weather problems in Texas and Germany, (where solar panels got covered with snow and ice) left millions without heat and water! Gas and oil products are the only reliable sources of energy. And besides, the company that owns and operates Keystone already has alternative plans to build pipelines north to the Arctic Ocean and east to New Brunswick.
The “dirty energy “ will continue to be produced. Biden did nothing to reduce global warming! The only things Biden accomplished were hurting American jobs and income and benefitting a wealthy donor. We better keep an eye on him.
Editorial ‘missed the mark’
Once again, The Crescent News (C-N) has missed the mark on their thoughts regarding the Nobel Peace Prize and Black Live Matter (BLM) movement. The paper’s editorial on Feb. 4 falsely claims the BLM movement has exhibited “violent behavior.” Can I have a citation, please?
As anyone with internet access and basic research skills can do, I looked into the evidence of the claimed violence of the BLM movement. Through my research, I quickly found the C-N’s claims were false and incredibly misguided. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, which is funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, found more than 93% of all Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful. They defined violence to include any injury to protestors or police and any toppling or defacing of statues or government property.
However, the project did find there were disproportionately violent government responses to the BLM protests. In their report, the project mentions authorities “disproportionately used force while intervening in demonstrations associated with the BLM movement, relative to other types of demonstrations.” The BLM movement and its protestors did not exhibit (in greater than 93% of cases) violence, rather the police did.
By following the editorial’s point, any person/organization/movement/entity involved in violence, whether they incited it or not, should be ineligible for the Prize. With this logic, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban, Lui Xiaobo, who was arrested for fighting for democratic values in China, Juan Manuel Santos, who worked to end Colombia’s civil war and many others should have been ineligible.
The real concern I have for the C-N editorial can be tied back to the report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project I discussed above. Through a public poll, the project found that 42% of the American public believe “most protestors associated with the BLM movement [were] trying to incite violence or destroy property.”
Where are these incorrect beliefs coming from? Is it from misleading/false news or biased media framing? As the editorial mentions, we live in a time “in which truth is often turned on its head and we are asked to believe things that are difficult to comprehend by most objective standards.” Here, we agree, although I’m not sure the C-N would recognize their direct involvement in turning the truth on its head, such as the Feb. 4th editorial does.
History and pandemics
I just discovered a profound and — to me — new revelation about the relationship of pandemics and the rise of extremism in society.
Historically, AIDS, Ebola, SARS and now COVID-19 have all been accompanied by a time of anti-intellectualism and anti-science thinking. For example, the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic was followed by a dramatic increase in the number of people voting for the Nazi Party in Germany.
Extreme thoughts and behavior are not unique in history, but, as an example, there is currently a noticeable connection between the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in extremist and white supremacist material available online. As people feel stuck at home, they are turning to the internet to vent their frustrations; sometimes in very hateful ways. Scapegoats are found to be made responsible for the situation. Such frustrations have led to the attack on Jan. 6 in Washington.
As a society, we have experienced a sense of isolation and loss of control of our lives due to required masking and social distancing. At the same time, the most conservative media sites have experienced record numbers of followers.
The most interesting relationship to me, however, is the number of people who seem especially drawn to various religious explanations for their views. Some see the pandemic as a sign of God’s retribution for our moral laxity, even as the end of time, or blame God for the situation.
In a recent NPR-Ipsos poll one person out of five said they believe that “Satan-worshipping, child-enslaving elites seek to control the world.” Others, ignore masks and proper distancing because they believe God will take care of them.
The article I read, “Eroding Trust, Spreading Fear: The Historical Ties Between Pandemics and Extremism,” ended with the hopeful note that the rise of extreme thinking and actions following pandemics tend to decrease with time, and that the strategy of the new administration in this country of trying to cool things down, and bring concrete results may be what is needed in our day. Perhaps, QAnon, Proud Boys and the like will soon be a matter of history.
Hopefully, a new day has begun as we anticipate moving past this pandemic, and with a new attitude in Washington that doesn’t always need someone to blame for everything they don’t like.
Rev. Tom Steensma