Today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:
Re "Name-calling trumps civility," Perspective, Oct. 7
Robin Abcarian has gotten to the core of our political discourse: Name-calling has indeed come to trump civility.
But why is that? Is it a symptom of our political dumbing down? Does it mean that we have run out of ideas? Have we lost our sense of being a politically exceptional nation?
I cannot imagine members of our current Congress being anything like the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who in 1776, appealing "to the supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions," pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.
I am hard-pressed to imagine our present Congress doing the same.
John H. Geerken
The writer is a professor emeritus of history at Scripps College.
Abcarian's evenhanded call for Democrats and Republicans to behave as adults misses the point, as all such appeals to civility must.
What is happening in Congress, and even more in state legislatures, is an ominous echo of May 22, 1856, when Southern Sen. Preston Brooks thrashed and almost killed anti-slavery Sen. Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate with his cane.
The act epitomized the loss of civility in national discourse that was driving us toward civil war.
Today's campaign — waged for decades by one party to secure power for the powerful by degrading the political process to the lowest level of race-baiting class warfare — has spawned childish radicals who openly exult in the process of destroying the nation.
This madness can no longer be appeased by the only adults in the room. It must be confronted and named.
We the people are the problem, not Congress.
We blame the tea party, we blame the Republicans and we blame the Democrats, but it is us, the voters, who elected these people who are in turn failing us.
Apparently, many voters have serious short-term memory problems because we continually elect these people and then complain that they are obstructionists and not doing their jobs.
Let's remember this shameful time and put a note on our refrigerators carrying this reminder: I will become an informed citizen and vote for people who will put the good of their country ahead of their self-interest.
Yesterday's Doonesbury: “Lack of paid sick days for workers causes what? Rich owners.” #FastFoodFwd nailed it.
So did Chris Hayes:
All successful social movements are built and all social progress is built out of multitude of tiny miracles just like we saw in New York City.
A single person... a union of thousands or millions who decide against the odds against great risk with no protection to do something courageous, to speak up for their dignity, to proclaim themselves fully human and that was what the fast food workers did today. That was the message of the signs they carried: I am a man, I am a woman.
And this sign should ring a bell, because it's a sign we have seen at a major labor strike before. At this labor strike, in the city of Memphis in 1968, these sanitation workers were being paid so little that many of them, even working full time, needed welfare just to feed their families.
Their jobs were not just astonishingly low wage, they were also incredibly dangerous. The strike got started after two workers were killed, crushed in a sanitation truck's compactor.
Supporting that strike is what Martin Luther King Jr. was doing in Memphis in 1968 when he was assassinated 45 years ago today. He was there to support those sanitation workers in their strike and in their struggle.
This coverage made me tear up. To see people standing up for their rights, risking their jobs, organizing, demanding to be treated with dignity, to be treated as human beings...
Such a minimal request, such a fundamental demand should never have to be made. Treating people equally and with respect is what this country should be all about. And nobody should have to beg for that.
It may not be "official", but this is a huge deal. The "chaste" bit might be a stretch.
SOUTH BEND -- The University of Notre Dame announced plans today to provide more support and services for students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning, including creating a university-recognized student organization.
The move stops short of creating an officially recognized gay-straight student alliance club on campus, which some students and employees have requested repeatedly over many years.
The plan, titled "Beloved Friends and Allies: A Pastoral Plan for the Support and Holistic Development of GLBTQ and Heterosexual Students at the University of Notre Dame," was crafted by members of the university's Student Affairs staff. The university announcement states the plan follows a study of Catholic doctrine and teaching, listening sessions with students, and an examination of student clubs and structures at other Catholic universities.
The plan emphasizes the "respect, compassion and sensitivity" due to all, and calls Notre Dame students to cultivate chaste relationships and to support one another in a community of friendship. A document detailing the review process, Catholic Church teaching and specifics of the implementation of the plan is available online at http://friendsandallies.nd.edu.