Feb 192009
 
Authors: Alex Stephens

My article last week on church behavior probably infuriated many Collegian readers, if not causing them to throw down the paper in disgust and curse my name for writing such blasphemy.

Admittedly, there are many things about my piece that deserve alteration and clarification, and admittedly my hindsight is much better than my foresight, but, kind readers, as fellow columnist Ryan Nowell phrases it, I entreat you to hear me out once more.

Whenever columnists rant about touchy subjects, whenever the political pundits embarrasses themselves, or tear some inept politician a new one, or even when the Collegian published “F*** Bush” — all of them are acting out of one emotion: the love for their country.

What? How does a critic’s comparison of George W. Bush to the Antichrist translate into love?

It’s simple. Dissenters rant and rave about what they dislike in American society because they care about their country and its well-being. The phrase goes, “dissent is the highest form of patriotism,” and I couldn’t agree with that more.

America, and indeed the world in general, is always progressing. Often not in a positive direction — it seems to degenerate at times — but our cherished right in America to free speech is what keeps Uncle Sam in line and indeed makes us a better people.

What would happen if Republicans in Congress became like-minded with the Democrats? What if no one protested the invasion of Iraq, Vietnam, Korea, the World Wars and so on? What if no one was critical of the stimulus plan, of offshore oil exploration, of the corn industry, of our involvement with Israel, of Obama-infatuation, even of the way dog breeders operate? Puppy mills would proliferate, that’s what!

We got a taste of what happens when no speaks out, and we are reminded of it every day in the financial world.

Just yesterday, yet another bank was accused of what The New York Times described as “massive ongoing fraud” to the tune of $8 billion. Last month the biggest scam artist in the world, financier Bernard Madoff, was finally wrangled in, and for years companies have been caught too late, costing millions of jobs and taxpayer dollars. The world seems to collapse when society slacks on oversight, and that’s just in American business.

By constantly riding Bush’s rear, his critics were doing their very best to help ensure that he was fulfilling the president’s job as well as he could. They believed he was not doing what was best for America.

That’s completely subjective, I know, for many thought — and still think — Bush did a fine job of running the country, while many think he did a fine job of ruining the country.

That’s just it though. When we don’t agree on matters, we argue about them, which leads to a better understanding of both positions, and hopefully progress. Each side of the debate tries to keep the other on its toes.

When I advocated the taxation of churches that chose to act politically, many critics constructively countered my argument in ways that broadened my scope of thought. For that I truly thank them, and I look forward to more criticism on my future, inevitably inflammatory, commentaries.

When important people such as the president make decisions, it’s our responsibility to scrutinize them as thoroughly as possible. Perhaps we can alter their thought sufficiently enough to where their next decision is better than previous ones.

Just like the theory of capitalism, when competition exists efficiency rises and the consumer wins. Or so it goes, I’m told.

Let’s not have a monopoly on thought. Let’s debate, argue, criticize, offend, and in doing so continue to make America, and ourselves, better.

I love America because we can be controversial without fear of suppression, because we can have open and honest dialogue on even the most sensitive issues. So the next time one of us in the opinion page writes something that offends you, keep this sincere appeal to your understanding in mind.

Alex Stephens is a junior political science major. His column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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