I'm right, you're wrong. I win.
-- Gary Glitter
Further proof that our take on things is all about perspective, skewed though it sometimes may be:
I was talking with a guy I know over the holidays about the end of 2011 and the challenges we face as a community, as a state, as a nation, even as a race of people, in 2012. He's a big tea party supporter, so obviously his take on things slants precariously to the right.
(I've kidded the dude before by noting that his politics reminds me a lot of some of the world's most notable leaders ... and he seemed quite pleased until I told him the folks I was referring to were leaders like Hitler, Mussolini, Attila the Hun and David Dukes. He didn't think that was all that funny, but we got past it. We have one of those give-as-well-as-you-get kind of relationships.)
I asked him what he thought of the Occupy Wall Street movement that had caught hold and spread throughout America in 2011, and I have to admit I was taken aback by his comments.
"Those people are nothing but trouble-makers, wasting the time of law enforcement personnel with their idiotic protests," was his response. "The police should just come in and haul them off to jail, let them spend a little time with the other criminals."
I'm pretty sure I detected a gleam in his eye when he added that he wouldn't be upset if police "cracked a few heads" while making arrests.
When I mentioned that his beloved tea party had also taken to the streets during 2011 and that, indeed, he personally had gotten involved in a couple of local tea party campaigns, he didn't see a connection.
"We were trying to make this country better, to get our elected leaders to return their focus to the things that made this country great," he said. "Those wannabe hippies are just out in the street causing a commotion."
When I pointed out that the Occupy movement was, as well as I could understand it, a protest against the way government had allowed Wall Street and Big Banking to manipulate our economic structure to suit their own greedy agendas at the expense of working-class Americans, he refused to see it that way.
"These people have no right to be doing what they're doing," he said.
I mumbled the trite "agree to disagree" fallback when it was obvious we were worlds apart on the issue. I'm not exactly adept at coming up with just the right quick response off the top of my head.
But as I thought about what my sometimes sparring partner had uttered, it occurred to me that the history of this country provided all the evidence I needed to proclaim that his argument is so skewed it borders on treason.
No right to do what they're doing? If American citizens did not demand the right to question and even overthrow oppressive authority, we'd still be sipping tea in the afternoons and calling our elevators "lifts," our car trunks "boots," our restrooms "loos" and our apartments "flats." And while there would be no Congress, a plus, there would be a Parliament, whose members would wear those funny-looking wigs.
And we'd be dropping our H's and singing "God Save the Queen" before watching cricket matches.
No right to protest? I wonder if African Americans, who would still be considered second-class citizens and denied basic rights had they not taken to the streets, would agree. Or if our soldiers would have remained in Vietnam even longer and lost even more lives if young America hadn't engaged in the anti-war protests of the 1960s.
Sadly, too many of us -- on either side of an issue -- denigrate the efforts of others whose ideology differs from our own ... even if what the other side is doing is pretty much the same damned thing. Such hypocrisy would be comical if it weren't so sad.
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcheralbanyherald.com.