On April 10, Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West, a Republican, claimed that up to 81 Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist Party, and pointed to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Unfortunately, his deliberate mischaracterization has incited his backers to pick up the old Joe McCarthy fear-mongering chant, "The Commies are coming!" Didn't we learn anything from McCarthy's hateful witch-hunt?
On April 14, Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky, compared President Obama's policies to the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin and accused him of "waging a cultural war against the Catholic Church." He said, "In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama -- with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda -- now seems intent on following a similar path." Bishop Jenky is off base and simply wrong.
His claims are based on his disagreement with the abortion issue and the contraceptives provision of the Affordable Care Act. He surely knows a woman's right to an abortion is protected by the Constitution as held by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade in 1973 and the contraceptives issue was addressed and a revised compromise plan was announced on Feb 10. So, where is this alleged "cultural war on the Catholic Church" or any other religion?
Is this what we've come to; labeling those who disagree with our ideologies with the most despicable name we can find? Sadly, this false and offensive claim that President Obama and Democrats are somehow marxists or communists or socialists committing heinous acts has become the go-to sound bite for far too many of the GOP faithful.
Hitler and Stalin were ruthless dictators who murdered millions of people and imprisoned and tortured millions of others. Marxism and communism brings to mind oppressed and persecuted people, iron-curtain Russia and anti-civil-rights Red China; all of which my Democratic Party friends and I despise and condemn. How anyone can seriously compare President Obama and Democrats to those barbarians and their atrocities is beyond me. But they have branded us such so I thought I should know what they think we believe. Here's what I found:
Marxism, communism and socialism are related but not identical or interchangeable and their definitions are just as fluid, muddled and self-serving as the propagandists' use of them. The best summary I could find says; Marxism is the political, economic and social principals and policies advocated by Karl Marx; a theory and practice of socialism including three basic tenets:
1) The labor theory of value which asserts that the value of an object is solely a result of the labor expended to produce it. Wrong! I believe value depends on rarity, quality and supply/demand principals.
2) Dialectical materialism which is a strand of Marxism, synthesizing Hegel's dialectics, proposes that every economic order grows to a state of maximum efficiency, while simultaneously developing internal contradictions and weaknesses that contribute to its systemic decay. In its simplest definition, Hegel's dialectics, as quoted by Hegel, means; "...the State has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State..." Wrong! I and other Democrats believe the opposite.
3) There is class struggle and dictatorship of the proletariat (the lower class who own nothing) until there's the establishment of a classless society. Wrong again! My Democrat friends and I have never promoted dictatorship or a classless society. Rather, we are trying desperately to save the middle class and help the lower class.
This marxist/communist/socialist nonsense is really because we: support Social Security and Medicare; believe the poor need a helping hand; believe women should have the same rights as men and should make their own decisions about their health; believe workers have the right to fair wages; believe everyone should have an opportunity for a higher education; believe in civil rights for all; believe we should be able to freely practice any religion we choose including none; believe the government has no right in our bedrooms; believe we should be good stewards of the earth and environment and; believe the wealthiest of us should pay a little higher taxes because they benefit more and are more able to pay. If those tenets mean communism to you, so be it ... but they hardly mean dictatorship, oppression, religious persecution, torture and murder that the word "communism" conjures up.
I can't change minds that are made up. Propagandists and critics will still exercise their right to spin, exaggerate, twist and distort facts, move the target and fall back on semantics and "yeah buts." But among the electorate, can't we have civil dialogue about our differences? If we are still not convinced can't we simply agree to disagree without resorting to the hateful rhetoric, name calling and labeling? Can't we leave Joe McCarthy and his paranoia where they belong? Surely, we're better than that.
Beauchamp is a retired aerospace marketing director and consultant and a member of the local Coffee Party living in North Ogden.