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Columnist’s suggestions perpetuate divisiveness

I find myself compelled to write in response to an article that appeared in The Sun on Jan. 1 from Susan Stamper Brown, an opinion page columnist. I realize perhaps it was the holiday and a lack of editorial supervision that let her foolish compilation of commentary on issues, “A List of Suggestions for Liberals for the New Year,” appear. However, having recently read Thomas Jefferson’s quote on preferring newspapers without government to government without newspapers, I consider it a duty to offer an opinion.

First, by creating a list of suggestions for liberals as opposed to one for all citizens, she continues the divisive tone that has plagued the country and grown particularly stronger since the election of Barack Obama. Some of her suggestions such as “share in meaningful debate” and “seek truth” are worthy ones for all citizens on every degree of the political spectrum, but by including them on her list for liberals, she implies that conservatives are already engaging in this behavior. One glance at Fox News would prove this implication wrong. Her additional suggestion of doing charitable work also implies this is something not done by liberals, as is her suggestion to become a student of history. I find both these items would do well to be on a list for all citizens as well.

She makes two suggestions, touch a gun and value life, but clearly doesn’t see the contradiction in the two. According to her, “gun-free zones are helpless-victim zones,” which ignores the facts. In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day, and more than three deaths each hour. 73,505 Americans were treated in hospital emergency departments for non-fatal gunshot wounds in 2010. After the first anniversary of Newtown, it seems disrespectful to be so flippant in regard to gun use.

She also has some interesting suggestions on money — make money being the first, then telling folks to get a job and stop blaming the economy. Apparently, the horrific economic times we’ve just passed through, which were second in scope only to the Great Depression, are just an excuse the unemployed have been clinging to. And she reminds those working at minimum wage they shouldn’t expect a living wage. However, her suggestions also include buying an SUV, so be sure to work that into your budget (not quite sure why this gets thrown in the mix?!).

She suggests we put our money where our mouth is, with some implication that one should either embrace capitalism or shouldn’t buy anything. I’m wondering if she’s heard about General Mills’ decision to change their signature Cheerios product by eliminating genetically modified organisms in response to consumers’ demands. I’d say that’s evidence that folks understand how to make their money talk, not only embracing capitalism but making it work for them.

Her last suggestion, to read the Constitution, gives her the opportunity to highlight the Republicans’ first order of business in 2011 and the complaints about it being their first order. I’m thinking the “fuss” Stamper Brown refers to was that most Americans expect their representatives to have read the Constitution before they get to Washington. That way, when they get to Washington, they can get down to business, which might not include shutting down the government or becoming the least effective congress of all time.

Perhaps Ms. Stamper Brown was a little hung over when she compiled her rambling list or it was a synopsis of her New Year’s Eve dinner party conversation, but I suggest we try to make the new year a less divided and more productive one for the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.

Karen Bryer


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