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Cherry picking scripture for politics is wrong
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
In his letter, “American vision, conservative style,” Frank Aquila defines the conservative principle as believing in “individual freedom and individual responsibility.” I’m liberal, yet believe in this same principle. Those who value individual freedom and individual responsibility cross party lines and ideological boundaries. Right or Left, Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat, they recognize this concept’s importance in our daily lives. So it is inaccurate to ascribe this mindset strictly to Conservatives.

 I do disagree with Mr. Aquila’s personal interpretation of “America Conservative-style.” He starts by asserting we have “rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where government should be limited and our leaders should be fiscally responsible limiting taxation and government bureaucracy.” He outlines these conservative values only to undermine or contradict them with his subsequent examples. He suggests that “federal regulations should require each person receiving a driver’s license to be a United States citizen and each citizen should be required to use a state license or identification card to vote.” This would seem to increase government bureaucracy and control, rather than the stated conservative stance of limiting it. More layers of bureaucracy and paperwork would be needed to enforce these policies. Under Aquila’s plan, overseas citizens, working in America with legal visas and permits, would be denied driver’s licenses. Why penalize them? Having to produce an ID card at the polls smacks of an Orwellian “big-brother” government , eroding the individual freedom that Mr. Aquila earlier touted.

Mr. Aquila supports the government using “necessary means, such as surveillance through the Patriot Act to gather important information to assist our military and protect America from potential terrorist attacks.” While our nation’s safety is of the utmost importance, so are the basic rights and liberties which our Constitution guarantees its citizens. The saying, often attributed to Ben Franklin, that “those who would sacrifice freedom for the sake of safety, deserve neither” should be heeded. As citizens, we must be very careful in what liberties and rights that we are willing to give up, in reaction to fear.

Criticizing Social Security, Aquila writes, “People should have their “own” right to invest in their “own retirement.” He equates the government health care plan with “interference of government bureaucracy.” In short, “less government is the best government.” But substitute the word “safety” for “retirement” in his first statement. Does anyone really think that public safety that protects us through police and firefighters is truly “government interference” and we would be better off individually funding our own fire protection and private security firms through personal accounts? Our public safety system, with its dedicated police and firefighters, serves us well. Mr. Aquila abhors the possibility that “interference of government bureaucracy” in health care would limit our ability to choose our own doctors. Yet he has no qualms about government control of and restrictions on abortion. That seems to be contradictory.

He reveals more inconsistencies in logic when he advocates giving all veterans “job security and tax deductions for housing and college education for their children.” Apparently government intervention or “interference” is acceptable, as long as it is for causes that Mr. Aquila supports. I don’t see how the government can ensure “job security for all veterans” and provide either a college education or tax deduction for that education (Aquila isn’t clear) for all veterans’ children. This would add another level of bureaucracy and additional cost to a government that Mr. Aquila supposedly wants to keep small or “less.” Praising our deserving veterans is admirable. But grandstanding for impractical benefits that actually flaunt the conservative principles that he champions, is not.

Mr. Aquila’s claim that “homosexual propaganda...has drifted into our grade school curriculum” is baseless. And who exactly gets to define what “homosexual propaganda” is? If our children are taught to treat others with respect and dignity, even those students who have values which conflict with theirs, is that considered a “homosexual agenda”? Over years of MUSD board meeting attendance, I’ve never witnessed the school board or administration promoting “homosexual propaganda” in grade school curriculum. Instead, I’ve listened to numerous references to “Character Counts” and its pillars which include respect, responsibility, honesty and trustworthiness.

Aguila ends his letter with this Bible quote, “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fool’s heart is at his left.” (Ecclesiastes 10:2). Are readers supposed to draw a parallel between right/ conservative/ wise man’s heart and left/ liberal/ fool’s heart? Cherry picking scripture in order to bolster a secular, political position is a perversion of God’s word. The religious symbolism of “the right hand” found in the Bible and Apostle’s Creed, should not be distorted simply to serve one man’s desire to insult those with differing political beliefs.
Karen Pearsall
March 20, 2010