Friday, December 01, 2023

MY TURN: For good or for ill?

by CAROLYN F. MATTOON/Guest Opinion
| April 1, 2023 1:00 AM

America, land of the free? Not if you're a female in your child-bearing years. Not if you're LGBTQ+. Not if you're a member of any minority. Not if you're a parent trying to protect your child from being murdered in their classroom. Not if you abide by the Declaration penned 247 years ago that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." There used to be two major political parties in America, Republican and Democratic, but that's no longer true. Now we live in the land of the American Taliban.

What previously was the Republican party has been replaced by the American Taliban. The Taliban are in control and they are busily shredding the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Just like the Taliban in Afghanistan, there's a profound misogynistic dislike of women and an irrational fear of the non-conforming bred deep into the psyche of religious America. The far-right extremists on the Supreme Court, unwilling to set aside their own religious biases for the common good, unleashed an army of fanatics when they overturned Roe v. Wade. But it doesn't stop with a war on women — the fanatics are emboldened. War has been declared on everyone who doesn't subscribe to the beliefs of the American Taliban. Their goal is to turn the world backward. Backward to the Inquisition when religious fascists controlled the world and imposed their twisted vision of religion and morality on humanity. Backward to imprisonment, executions, torture, and unremitting fear to force the masses into compliance.

The Taliban elected to the Idaho legislature last cycle are determined to tear down the underpinnings of society: By eliminating the civil rights of women, minorities, and marginalized groups in our population; By destroying public education, and libraries — public and school — to be replaced with sanitized institutions of disinformation that ban the teaching of our true history; By replacing public schools with private for-profit and religious entities using stolen taxpayer dollars; By cultivating white grievance to incite and increase racial division; By controlling the future through indoctrination of our youth with religious fanaticism, intolerance, and hatred of the non-conforming; By destroying the lives and health of citizens from all walks of life by criminalizing the delivery of appropriate and necessary medical care; By gaslighting the populace with distortions and outright lies to stoke outrage and incite violence in the gullible and ill-informed.

With their actions plotted and funded by deep-pocketed, dark money from out of state, how many of the Taliban in the Idaho legislature are incomers from out of state — just like the Aryan Nations were? They're bent on muscling out native Idahoans to take over the state and impose their perverted and unjustified sense of entitlement on the rest of us. They know what they're doing, and they're doing it to gain power and control.

In March 1965, the day after Bloody Sunday, Reverend Martin Luther King said: "A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true." Archbishop Desmond Tutu, recipient of the 1984 Nobel Peace prize said: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Politics and religion can be used for good or for evil. Too many, like the American Taliban, choose evil claiming it for good.

Where is the visible outrage from members of the former Republican Party who know their party's been hijacked and despoiled by the American Taliban? Where is their counterbalance to the corruption and perversion of the new American Taliban Party? Where is the full-throated public outcry from citizens of any political persuasion who are appalled at the ongoing attacks and daily damage inflicted on our democracy? Is there no one willing to stand up for that which is right? Have we all, as Archbishop Tutu stated, "chosen the side of the oppressor" because we are trying too hard to be "neutral".

NOW is the time for ALL good men and women to come to the aid of our state, and our nation. Don't ignore what's happening around us. Don't wait until it's too late. Stand up for democracy, not theocracy. Stand up for education not ignorance. Stand up for the separation of church and state, not compulsory religious indoctrination. Stand up for tolerance, not hatred and discrimination. Stand up for civil and human rights, not oppression and criminalization. Stand up for acceptance and inclusion, not intolerance and exclusion. Stand up for the preservation of the rule of law, not authoritarianism. Stand up for justice, not injustice.

DO something — the Legislature won't fully fund your public schools, so support your local school levies and then fight to make the Legislature carry out its Constitutional obligation. Support and defend your libraries from those who would ban your access to books they disapprove of. Speak out — loudly and often — against wrongs. Pay attention to who is running for office. Support the election to public office of qualified people who act with honor and integrity, not zealots. VOTE, and rally your family, friends and neighbors to vote — the American Taliban votes and if you don't, you've given them the power to take away your voice, your rights, and the institutions we all rely on.

Don't just do nothing — All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.

• • •

Carolyn F. Mattoon is a Hayden resident.

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