John McCain’s campaign came out swinging from the Republican National Convention. They called Barak Obama the worst name they could think of. They said he was a liberal.
Try googling images of “liberal” and you’ll find some ugly, vicious, nasty stuff. There’s a photo looking straight down the barrel of a six-shooter with the caption: “Liberals, this is the only view you ever need to see,” presumably a reference to liberals’ namby-pamby habit of trying to see differing points of view. There are multiple pornographic variations on liberals with their heads stuck in a place where the sun doesn’t shine. A mock recruiting poster shows an airman climbing into the cockpit of a World War II era plane with the legend, “Shut the F— Up. We’ll Protect America.” I can’t print the rest of message without being indecent.
There are no positive images of liberals. Only violent threats that equate liberalism with cowardice and treason.
Yet “liberal” was a label that America’s founders wore with pride–especially in matters of faith. George Washington, for example, spoke of separation of church and state as an “enlarged and liberal policy” the rest of the world should emulate. Abigail Adams said she and her husband John both preferred “liberal good sense” from the pulpit when they attended church. Thomas Jefferson, responding to protests that his newly founded University of Virginia made no room for religious teaching, invited a variety of sects to set up private seminaries on grounds adjacent to the campus, hoping that “by bringing the sects together and mixing them with the mass of other students, we shall soften their asperities, liberalize and neutralize their prejudices, and make the general religion a religion of peace, reason, and morality.”
Where did America start to lose it’s way? Maybe in the McCarthy era, when “liberals” were accused of being soft on communism. Maybe in the sixties, when “liberals” who questioned our tragic mis-adventure in Vietnam were labeled unpatriotic. Maybe in the 1970's, when Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority proclaimed in a July 4th sermon that that “the idea that religion and politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.”
Liberals have been demonized long enough. Religious liberalism was the faith of America’s founders. Political liberalism is the philosophy enshrined in our Constitution and protected by the Bill of Rights. Liberals must reclaim their history and heritage from the rabid right-wing.
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