2008-12-26 / Columnists

The Progressive

Our Challenge
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

As a year ends and a new year is on the horizon, our nation faces many challenges with angst, anxiety, and fear. At the same time, there is cause for hope and optimism. We as a nation have squandered the heritage we have, to worship at the altar of Mammon and Mars. As a result, we face difficult economic times and a world that is consistently opposed to our policies overseas. Terrorist attacks in India recently remind us of how vulnerable we are from extremists who use the shield of religion to foster their violent political objectives. This abuse of religion is insidious and disgraceful. We also have people in this country who use their religious beliefs and the flag to foster violence and unethical acts.

Many analysts have commented that the difficult economic times may increase terrorism and unrest around the globe. Is our country immune? It is note worthy that during the 1932 campaign for the presidency, incumbent Herbert Hoover was greeted in Detroit with the chant "Hang Hoover." Our nation cannot afford the luxury to blame Jews, people of color, or the undocumented worker, or foreigner as the cause of the economic woes. Hitler galvanized his country when Germany suffered by using the Jews of the world as scapegoats. During the 1930's our nation had a popular radio show on a major network that featured a Roman Catholic priest who espoused racist theories. There is no need to remind you that Jim Crow laws were not the only barriers to advancement for many American born citizens. Tradition and economic and social barriers keep many people of all races from developing their potential. Our nation cannot allow the crimes and prejudices of our collective history to reemerge.

Our challenge is to correct the financial meltdown by concentrating on social justice. The simple solution to poverty is well-paid employment for our citizens. We cannot allow our corporations to continue to use freelance employment, part time employment, and the use of interns to avoid giving benefits that are desperately needed by our citizens. Corporations should demand universal health insurance for Americans so they can compete in our global economy. Workers should be encouraged to form and join unions so their interests will become part of the national forum. We need to rebuild our decaying bridges, tunnels, highways, schools, and other infrastructure. Our young children need to receive an education that will meet the challenges of an economy that needs workers with skills that too often our young people do not posses. We need to understand that the economy must work for all segments of society.

Our foreign policy must be based on cooperation with our allies to disarm nuclear powers and control weapons, especially nuclear and biological weapons, from reaching terrorist groups. Since the inception of NATO, the only time all NATO countries went to the aid of an invaded country was after September 11. Our NATO allies are still fighting along our brave troops in Afghanistan. We must meet the challenge of terrorism through military means and through securing a diplomatic solution to poverty and injustice that causes war and violence. Israel, her neighbors and the Palestinian people must be encouraged to resolve their differences and our nation needs to realize that our foreign policy must be based on becoming an honest broker that does not appear to back only one party to a possible solution. Our challenges are many, but we, as a nation, have has faced challenges in the past and only when we use diplomacy and economic and social justice as goals has our history been stellar. People across the globe still remember the Marshall plan, the Peace Corps, and the civil rights struggle as American achievements.

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