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As Long as We Remember...

April 16, 2010

Some of My Best Friends

Roy Meachum

Some of my best friends had a rollicking time Thursday, speaking and ranting against Washington, the White House and the current resident. If you’re read my columns, I have made crystal clear my opinions on all three.


To recap: after years working and living in the District of Columbia, Capitol Hill and the environs, I never try to take anybody’s political promises and guarantees to the bank. I supported Barack Obama, so did many other people. I will talk for nobody, except myself: I think the president should be permitted time to work and think things through. I permitted George W. Bush the same courtesy. Every newly elected politician gets ditto from me.


Some of my best friends heatedly disagree; instead they’ve joined tens of thousands who were disappointed in the last national elections. The first group came together about the same time Mr. Obama was sworn in.


Evoking Boston’s famous incident when the first Americans dumped tea into the harbor, rather than pay an outrageous tax on their very favorite non-alcoholic beverage, the movement is named TEA, for “Taxed Enough Already.” Being semi-retired, on limited income, I don’t share their passion, but then I don’t pay as much to local, county, state and national governments. This must be said.


Since seemingly everyone knows I scarcely shy away from a public fight, I confess I’m sitting this one out and not because some of my best friends are involved up to their eyes, including their brains. I believe the situation will work itself out.


The TEA “partiers” have become lividly frenetic since the health care resolution became law. I choose to wait and see how the dang thing develops after courts and amending legislators have their say. Too many years in Washington I experienced the difference between high-minded oratory and the reality of the actual benefits, restrictions and costs. I believe our national community has a collective responsibility for the sick and maimed.


As I wrote on, Social Security replaced the countrywide poor houses. General approval goes to how emergency wards provide medical care when poor citizens simply don’t have a personal physician; we all get into the act by paying more and more for insurance.


But that’s my view. Again, some of my best friends heartily differ. When we get together an unspoken ban goes on talking politics. We enjoy each other’s company, as civilized women and men. Although I mightily enjoy the products of Hops and Barley microbrewery, I stayed away Thursday afternoon and evening. Being friends of mine, they have every right to free speech, with all the latitude that arrives with it.


That’s my position on the most important issue of these times. When I choose not to listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch TV’s Fox News, no one among my close acquaintances insists that I am stupid for my choices. They deserve identical courtesy from me.


In my heart I refuse to believe the TEA party is either anti-black or anti-Semitic. Because my gray hair was once blond, framing blue eyes, African Americans convict me – in their minds – with prejudice against their people. The same goes for Latinos. In other words, they judge me the same way too many whites treat them.


I have been accused of hating Jews because I don’t approve individual Israeli speeches or actions. For humane and national reasons, I refuse to toady to any government, including my own.


That’s what some of my best friends were demonstrating and saying Thursday, the deadline for filing most income taxes. As much as they test the limits for free speech, the more space I have to exercise arguments, generally in answer to their outspoken charges and theories.


More power to TEA party and all their collegial adherents.


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