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Local View: Our most sacred values are under assault

Ed Wexler/Cagle Cartoons

I was in third grade in the early 1950s when my teacher told the story of a World War II German officer's defection to the American side. When asked why, he replied that the German high command distributed American news stories and cartoons attacking President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his war policies. The high command believed sharing the newspapers would improve troop morale and their support of the superiority of the German soldier over a poorly committed and disgruntled enemy. However, the German officer thought that any country that could criticize openly both its leader and its policies, without the fear of reprisal, must be an extraordinary country.

And so it was.

On the 6th of January 1941, President Roosevelt gave his famous four freedoms speech. He declared that we, as citizens of this free country, were entitled to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Does President Donald Trump believe in these?

Freedom of religion: When will those of the Muslim faith be treated with the same consideration as Christians, Jews, and Hindus and undergo the same scrutiny as all those who seek justice, equality and freedom?

Freedom of speech: Why should NFL players fear being fired for their right to demonstrate peacefully against what many perceive as injustices to black people? How can it be disrespectful to the flag when the flag, in fact, symbolizes our right to demonstrate peacefully? Do soldiers risk or give their lives for a piece of cloth waving in the wind? Or do they make such sacrifices because the flag symbolizes the freedoms we have, including our right to protest? If kneeling for the national anthem shows disrespect to the flag, what does using your power position and making financial threats to deny people their Constitutional rights show? Which is the greater threat to our country? Hasn't the president violated his oath "to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?" How long before we return to the John Adams Sedition Act of 1798, when people were jailed for speaking out against the government?

Freedom from want: When will Trump and the Republican Party either fix health care or live up to their promise to write a health care bill or a tax bill that meets the needs of all the people, especially the poor and the hard-working middle class? When will this government come to the realization that supply-side economics, the great trickle-down theory, never trickles?

Freedom from fear: When will the hostile rhetoric and comments of total annihilation turn into constructive talks and genuine peaceful coexistence? And when will Americans reach a reasonable compromise on gun control, where people have the same advantage that ducks have in Minnesota, a state where a duck hunter's gun is limited to three shells, preventing a slaughter of ducks and allowing time for some to escape? Why do we continue to support rapid-fire weapons with clips that hold 100 shells? When will women have equal opportunities for employment and equal pay for comparable work without the fear of being sexually harassed by males whose position makes them think they can demean or touch women inappropriately? And when will we live without the fear of extinction from our abuse of this planet?

At this time, the words of President Abraham Lincoln come to mind: "Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."

When will our current government and president live up to that promissory note that all people are created equal, with certain inalienable rights, in the land of the free and home of the brave?

Joe Giesen

F. Joseph Giesen of Duluth worked 41 years in education and is a longtime advocate for equal rights.

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