I am continually appalled at some of the folks we have appointed to lead us in our national Congress. It’s not that they are fundamentally “bad” people – they want to make the world a better place just like all of us. What gets to me is their definition of what “making it better” looks like, and their blatant disrespect for (or ignorance of) the Constitution. Today’s example: Sheila Jackson-Lee, Congresswoman representing a highly Democratic district in Houston since 1995.
Today she spoke at the Michael Jackson memorial. The video of her speech can be seen here. Among her comments was that Jackson and his family are “symbols of America.” That Congress understands our law says that “people are innocent until proven otherwise” and that Michael Jackson was “the good samaritan” who “cared and loved for the world.”
“For this reason,” she says, ” we have introduced, into the House of Representatives, a resolution… that claims Michael Jackson as an American legend and musical icon, a world humanitarian – someone who will be honored forever, and forever, and forever, and forever and forever.”
A House Resolution? I wonder how many other people who have sacrificed their lives in service to their country received such a distinguished honor.
Let’s be honest. Michael Jackson was an extremely talented individual who wanted a peaceful and loving society. He was also accused of child molestation on multiple accounts. SJL is right, in America you are legally innocent until proven guilty, and our basic liberties depend on that premise. We would rather allow criminals to go free than to punish even one innocent person. But it doesn’t mean those criminals are not criminals. Just because MJ was never convicted does not mean he was innocent. Of course, we like to believe someone like Michael wouldn’t do something so horrible, but isn’t that always the story? How often do the parents of victims say “yeah, he seemed pretty sketchy, but we left him alone with our kid anyway.” It’s the seemingly innocent people you have to question sometimes, and we all know the twisted life experiences that shaped MJ’s personality.
In the first case, back in the 1990’s, he paid the accuser $22 million out of court. Not only was the case never tried, but he must have felt that the evidence was against him. On the second set of charges a few years ago MJ was acquitted. I am not saying that he did or didn’t do it – that he is or isn’t a pedophile. What I am saying is that it is quite likely that he did, and the fact that Sheila Jackson-Lee is trying to have a House Resolution to honor him as an American icon and humanitarian is wrong on several levels. Congress seems to barely have enough time to debate the huge Cap-and-Tax bill, and the Health Care bill, and they’re going to spend time talking about this? Forget the ethical implications, can anyone tell me why it’s even necessary? I can see no reason, other than the simple fact that it makes people feel good and perhaps gets Jackson-Lee some recognition among her likely voters.
Is that how we’re supposed to be running our country? Do we base our political agendas on whatever glitters the most at that point in time? Would we rather charm people’s emotions than talk about tough issues and try to do what is right? Well, it definitely seems that way to me.
But this isn’t the first time Jackson-Lee has done something that I believe is below the expectations of a House representative.
Apparently, in 2003 she criticized the weather establishment for not giving hurricanes more black sounding names. The Snopes.com page quotes her as saying, “all racial groups should be represented.” What a ridiculous comment to make. Hurricanes used to be named with complicated and hard to remember conventions, until 1953, when they started giving them human names. Referring to things as “she” was, and still is, a common use of language – like, “she’s a big one” – so it followed the logic to give them feminine names. However, in the 1970’s many women got upset at the use of only women’s names, as if to suggest that only women could bring such a fury – which if you ask me might very well be true, but don’t tell my wife. In any case, we started alternating between male and female as a result of not wanting to cast the shame of disaster on any particular gender. But SJL’s complaint is that black folks want in on it too. Really? Is anyone actually making this a big issue? If so, I haven’t heard it.
Some people just want to complain about something because it gives them attention and makes them seem as if they are doing something. No one in a position of authority wants to look like a lame duck – especially if you label yourself an activist and a progressive. But conservatives such as myself subscribe to what Thomas Paine once said: “That government is best which governs least.” There is a time for government to act, and a time for it to remove it’s hands and allow people to resolve issues themselves, without more laws, more regulations, and the gradual but persistent corrosion of liberty.
People like SJL call on government to solve every problem, and they bring a new agenda to the table every day. We need people in Washington who understand restraint and moderation. That authority and power should be used sparingly, and not like some social magic wand. Otherwise we will eventually find ourselves trapped by the fruit of our own ambitions, unable to take back that which we gave away in our moments of passion and fear.
Update: Jackson-Lee apparently did not get the support she sought in Congress, with some of her fellow Democrats fearing that the debate could break party unity and disrupt their more important agenda to end American prosperity – I mean, the climate change and health care bills. Looks like Pelosi was the one to can this one. Good for her – even if it was politically motivated. Here’s the article.