The Alternative


Birds of a feather


             News of the Civil Rights Summit at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library caught my attention when I heard George W. Bush was making an appearance there. Bush, being a Republican and LBJ having been a Democrat, for an instant, made it seem like a contrived event.

    But then I thought of the two men and their similarities, something we should all try to do more often, in the spirit of equality. After all, wouldn’t that spirit be at the root of a conference on civil rights?

    What are civil rights? Wouldn’t they be our ability to do whatever we want? But then if when we do whatever we want infringes on the rights of others, maybe they can no longer be called rights. It would get pretty complicated if I wanted your Harley and took it as a matter of my right to do whatever I want. You might then, oppose civil rights.

    LBJ holds a special place in my heart because he was president when I was 13 to 19 years old. That’s a time when we all are teetering on the brink of total dependence and caring for ourselves. A time when we go from being told what to do to making up our own minds, and then suffering the consequences.

    Keeping with the spirit of equality, the two Texans had a lot in common. They both ignored the civil rights of entire populations halfway around the world. Calling these people “gooks” or “towel heads” doesn’t make their civil rights cease to exist. G.W. and LBJ both caused hundreds of thousands of deaths. I don’t remember LBJ wearing his Christianity on his sleeve like Bush, but he did brag about his so-called compassion through his Great Society programs.

    How could Johnson claim we were fighting communism when he was instigating it here at home faster than any poor Vietnamese farmer could ever foist it on us? Here is a list of his “accomplishments” toward that end: Federal aid to education (with strings attached), Medicare and Medicaid (why have medical costs skyrocketed after so much competition was eliminated?), endowments to humanities and arts (what about the civil rights of taxpayers who don’t like art?), Head Start, and Food Stamps (where have all the fathers gone? Long time passing).

    And how could George W. Bush claim to be fighting terrorism when his own CIA issued reports of how terrorism against the West was a product of our interference in Muslim societies? Mr. Bush also, while claiming we were fighting for freedom, signed The Patriot Act (making search warrants obsolete), increased federal spending 60 percent (as the bumper stickers say, Freedom Isn’t Free. Nope. We lost about $2 trillion of it to Bush.), No Child Left Behind (just the parents), and Medicare Part D (the largest expansion of the welfare state since LBJ himself).

    Preemptive war and the welfare state are the same thing. It has always puzzled me seeing advocates of the welfare state opposing war. They are both violations of human rights.

    George Bush and Lyndon Johnson both had little regard for rights to life or property. The summit at Johnson’s library being billed as some kind of wonderful celebration of human progress while ignoring the evil perpetrated by him, signifies just the opposite. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was well-intentioned, but rights are no longer rights when they violate the rights of others.

    The vulgar joke George Bush used in his speech at the summit does not fit in a newspaper column, but it epitomizes the arrogance of our leaders and their god-like opinions of themselves. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was pure political grandstanding and had nothing to do with human rights. A real civil rights act would simply state we have the right to control our own property and no one else’s. 

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