Re: Crowther’s column

Hal Crowther contends that our country’s conscience, brain and heart have gone missing, and his sole evidence for this seems to be the popularity of Fox News and the ‘refudiation’ of an agenda he supports (“Gone missing: The country’s conscience, brain and heart,” Nov. 17). Would someone please explain to me how such contempt for fellow citizens squares with the fabled tolerance to which most progressives pay at least lip service? Do I really have to tell Crowther that hate is not a family value?

Even if you set aside the canard about abortion on demand empowering women, or forgive his inability to understand why any woman would be Republican, Crowther’s cri de coeur pinballs toward incoherence: On the one hand, “every racist and xenophobic impulse threatening to a nonwhite president was exploited without apology.” On the other hand, the “demonization” of Barack Obama “wasn’t significantly more savage than the assault on Bill and Hillary Clinton in 1994.”

So which is it, and when did we lose our minds, exactly? Was it in 1994 or 2010, or might it have been in 2008, when too many people thought a junior senator accustomed to voting “present” deserved the Oval Office on the strength of his racial heritage, his charisma and his diploma from the school of bare-knuckled Chicago-style politicking?

Where Crowther looks at midterm election results and sees only a Cowardly Lion, a Tin Man and a Scarecrow, I see an increasingly engaged citizenry. On the other hand, if Crowther is right, he ought to be happy, because it’s the unthinking who are most likely to embrace being wards of the state.

Patrick O’Hannigan

Re: Crowther’s column

What the Hal? Simplistic, clichéd, shoot-from-the-hip perspective from one of the last remaining spin-free, clearheaded, heartfelt, unabashed voices of political/ cultural logic is both surprising and response-provoking. To cast the recent Republican sweep as a matter of the haves and the have nots, with the have wannabes spending their votes as lottery tickets (with odds seen much more favorably than logic would suggest) is a mistake, a point well stated in the Nov. 24 Back Talk letter by T.H. Foust. It’s just too easy, too mindlessly glib, kinda like saying 9/11 was the result of Muslim jealousy of American wealth.

More substance might be revealed in analysis of the evolving toxic side effects of the customizing tactics in our ongoing capitalism experiment, especially regarding the now blatant purchase of elected rule-makers and the resulting defeat of populism by statism. There goes the democracy.

The stuff that underlies this ghoulish tableau has been described decades ago by folks like Theodor Adorno, Vance Packard, Marshall McLuhan, Christopher Lasch, Charles Reich and Noam Chomsky. In 1976, Howard Beale arrived in the movie Network to show how humans cave in and exchange their dearly held, high-minded principles for power, authority, fame and fortune.

Correlations might easily be drawn between conservative advances and factors such as:

  • the burgeoning academic emphasis on competition and prestige that defines success in terms of net worth, and encourages the need to impress others as a way of life (résumé as brag book);
  • increasingly commonplace are those who find appeal and comfort in authoritarian, vertical, hierarchical structure with clear rules, laws, expectations to guide them;
  • the normalization of preemptive strikes, a lack of conscription, and war as a way of (background) life;
  • increasing uniformity comfort, diversity fear.

Is the current unfolding really a surprise?

Gordon Strauss
Chapel Hill

Re: Crowther’s column

Hal Crowther’s lament about our nation is commendable; however, flushing out why our country has no “Peace Party,” conscience, heart and brain doesn’t jell.

Historical scholars and many economists have been writing for years about the decline of our nation fostered by multinational corporate power. CEOs began outsourcing manufacturing in the early ’70s, starting with companies like Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M), with the intent of reducing our reliance upon mundane labor while increasing profits. But this unwitting strategy opened Pandora’s box and ended up throwing the baby out with the bath-water!

Now we are faced with figuring out how to create jobs from thin air since the Chinese are cornering the market for growthrenewable energy. The Chinese are producing solar and wind products at warpspeed while we sit in our canoes without a paddle. Additionally, until we reinstitute a military draft, there will be no quest for a Peace Party since there’s nothing to rebel against. Moreover, we cannot acquire a sudden conscience, heart and brain about America’s potential because the plutocrats in control are hell-bent on squandering our educational system to a point where the people no longer rely upon the printed word for their knowledge but instead only listen to talk radio and TV network news.

So, Hal, how do you expect Americans to logically respond when they have little opportunity to read or even breathe since they’re scrambling just to stay alive? Lament, indeed! The USA is on the verge of extinction. Either we revolt or emigratenothing in between will change the fabric of this nation.

Joan Halgren

Re: Citizen Awards

In your lead paragraph on the Indy Citizen Awards (Nov. 24), you say that “crazed ‘birthers’ still contend, despite official documentation to the contrary, that President Barack Obama was once a citizen of Kenya.” As one of those “crazed ‘birthers,’” I would like for you to cite for us the “official documentation” that you rely on.

You might also explain why he has spent almost $2 million on lawyers to keep most of his life history from being made publicincluding his original, official birth certificate from Hawai’i, his college and university records, his passport records, his Chicago political records, etc. etc. I would like to have definitive answers to the many questions that have been quite legitimately raised about Obama, which he defiantly refuses to answer.

By the way, apparently it slipped your mind (or you were sorglos) that the Native Americans also immigrated to North and South America between 13,000 and 20,000 years ago. But that doesn’t count.

Another BTW: Are you aware that the International Affairs Council in Raleigh makes an annual N.C. Citizen of the Year Award? It was awarded last Friday to Dr. Assad Meymandi at a special dinner.

J.E. Williams