Rumblings

Can you hear it? Can you smell it? Can you feel it? There’s something stirring.

I love storms. I love the release of energy and the sweeping sense of all the world opening up to receive the cleansing of the rain.

But the clouds aren’t the only ones rumbling. Today, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer, made some rumbles of their own in a USA Today Opinion article titled, ‘Un-American’ attacks can’t derail health care debate.

While I applaud the effort by Pelosi and Hoyer to connect with the American people and urge civility in the discussion about Health Care Reform, I find the label of “Un-American” to be quite, well, Un-American. I, of course, sent my response to USA Today; but I’m sure there will be a number of excellent responses the editor can choose from. So I will post the full, unedited version of my response here.

Ad hominem.

It means “against the man.” Ad hominem is a logical fallacy that seeks to discredit an opponent’s position by attacking the opponent himself. Conveniently for Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Hoyer, this can be accomplished with great words such as “un-American” and simple avoidance of the view itself. Inconveniently, ad hominem is a logical fallacy for a reason.

Be honest, Speaker and Congressman—do you even know what the views of these “un-American” protesters are? Have you stopped to listen to their concerns and their frustrations? People in America are disturbed about this Health Reform bill. Some of them aren’t even sure why. It could simply be certain Members of Congress laughing at the notion of reading the bill before voting on it. Whatever the concerns of the American people, you do not discredit their objections by calling them names and questioning their allegiance. It is our right to question, to speak, and to dissent.

You are our elected officials! You are our public servants! Perhaps the reason Americans are growing frustrated enough to raise their voices at these Town Hall Meetings is because you aren’t addressing their concerns. Maybe you’re not even listening. If you were listening, you would understand that Americans are unsettled about this Health Reform bill.

Instead of trying to discredit Americans for sensing that something isn’t right, how about taking them seriously and answering their questions.

There is so much to be said about all of this. The lack of respect between citizens and elected officials is outrageous. And I’ll state it clearly–just for the record–I do not condone violence, and I wish those opposed to the Health Reform bill would speak with clarity and with conviction, rather than with raised voices. And I certainly do not condone any behavior that could be viewed as a threat to our congressmen and senators. Violence is not the answer, America.

But I have to tell you honestly, I wonder what Congress expects? How many times can you poke a sleeping dog before it’s your own fault he stirs and bites you? Stop your crying. If you don’t want to get bit, stop poking the dog. Answer the questions of your constituents. Stop mocking. The more you dismiss these people, the more adamantly they will insist they be heard.

Talk about rumblings.

Pax Christi.

Semmie.

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