Answering a “Conservative” Rant; My new weekly duty

Some time ago my local newspaper, The Petoskey News-Review, gave op-ed space to Nancy Sarowski to write a “conservative” opinion piece each week.   When questioned about Ms. Sarowski’s credentials to write such a piece, and about whether the News-Review would allow a “liberal” opinion piece each week to “balance” these views, the News-Review said that they already had a “liberal” op-ed writer in Stanley Kendall.   The News-Review did promise to remove Ms. Sarowski’s only apparent “credential” to write such a piece and would no longer identify her as “President of the Emmet County Republican Women.”   But, with all due respect to Mr. Kendall, Ms. Sarowki’s radical views go unaddressed on a weekly basis, and the News-Review has not removed reference to the Republican Party on the piece.

Now I know many Democrats in our county feel very alienated by the News-Review.   They cite the refusal of the News-Review to publish meeting notices for Democratic functions.  They cite the willingness to allow local Representative Frank Foster’s handlers to publish long explanations of his votes while denying detailed challenges of those opinions by Foster’s opponents…even during the election period.   As an example, Mr. Foster recently voted for Medicaid expansion in Michigan and immediately his PR people slammed Facebook and local media with his explanation for his vote.   Apparently Mr. Foster’s handlers believe that this perfectly reasonable vote would offend a significant portion of his constituency and tried to get out front of any criticism.   On the same day, Mr. Foster proposed a resolution to nullify the Affordable Care Act in Michigan.   This non-binding, illegal, waste of time was certainly done to show the radical right in northern Michigan that Frank is still one of their boys, despite doing the right thing on Medicaid expansion.

But I digress.  Since the News-Review will not allow Nancy Sarowski’s rants to be countered on their pages, I will address them each week on my blog.  I will propose to the News-Review that they at least allow a link to my response to be posted on their web page.  In the absence of that, I hope enough people who believe that Ms. Sarowski’s writing should not go unchallenged will pass along the link to my response.   I think it is important that people in northern Michigan, and beyond, realize that Ms. Sarowski’s views are radical, inflammatory, and not at all representative of the vast majority of us in this area.

In her “column” on June 25, 2013, Ms. Sarowksi tries to make a metaphorical comparison of boiling frogs to what she views as the demise of our society.  The old story goes that if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and gradually raise the temperature, you can eventually boil the frog without it being aware of it because it will get used to each increase in the temperature.  Fair enough.

But what does Ms. Sarowski see as the demise of our society?  She starts with the tired old rant that our country is going to hell right in front of our eyes.  Most revealing about Ms. Sarowski is what she sees as our nation’s “demise.”

First, she complains that people tolerate the words “fuck” and “cunt” in public, but bristle at the word “God.”   Of course she offers no examples of this or any other evidence that ANYONE actually feels more comfortable saying “fuck” or “cunt” while shying away from saying “God.”  (Ironic isn’t it that northern Michigan’s most famous c-word user is our own Republican State Rep.?)

She then goes on a rant about the clothes people wear to church.  Apparently Ms. Sarowski’s god has a dress code.  She derides people who say “we’re just glad they’re coming to church.”  This is such a curious position for someone who claims to be Christian.   I could whip out a bunch of Bible quotes here to support my view that Jesus was a man of the people, not of the rich or proper or those who thought they were more deserving to appear in front of him, but I would simply direct Ms. Sarowski to the sermon on the mount.  That should make her blush in embarrassment for her judgment of people seeking spiritual comfort regardless of  how they are dressed.

She continues her judgment of people by complaining about a popular fashion worn by lots of young people today.  I’m with Ms. Sarowski that I find low riding jeans not aesthetically pleasing.  But note how she sets her story.  She apparently had to go all the way to that bastion of evil, Ann Arbor, to find a couple of boys with low riding jeans.  God forbid they might have been holding hands too!   Fashion statements by youth all over the world have always been used to signal a challenge to authority.   We could construct a long list of “outrageous” things people have either worn or not worn over generations in this country alone to signal a change.  So I suppose that Ms. Sarowski is correct in stating that our country looks different than it used to…and thank heavens for that!  My powdered wig and knickers were getting a little worn out.

Next she takes on conditions in our schools.  She claims teachers can’t use red ink.  I’m a teacher. I use red ink all the time.  Never had anyone complain.   She claims students can walk out of the classroom without permission.  That’s never happened in any school I’ve worked in…not without disciplinary consequences.   She claims students who don’t do their work can’t be failed.   I’ve handed out far too many F’s and while I appreciate Ms. Sarowski’s apparent sympathy for teachers in this rant, her claims are just simply false.  Is there pressure to push students along?  Of course.  But this isn’t coming from parents or students any more than it ever did.  It’s coming from our government that insists on tying school aid to some artificial measures of “success.”  But that’s a different story.

She then wades into the racial waters where she certainly must be uncomfortable.  She claims police can’t describe a suspect by skin color.   I checked with two policemen friends and they laughed.  It’s just not true (at least in my simple little survey.)    And she speaks in pejorative terms about wanting to avoid “racial profiling.”  Don’t we all want to avoid racial profiling?  She seems disappointed that we aren’t allowed to lump all black people into the same image.

Next, we get her “family values” rant.   Why is it that alleged “Christians” like Ms. Sarowski have such a darn hard time being Christian?   If you were to read her article without giving it any more thought than she used in writing it, you’d think divorce,  pre-marital sex, and abortions are province of only modern America.     Pre-marital sex has been around since…well…there’s been sex and before there was marriage.  Abortions have been around since there’s been unwanted pregnancy (probably forever) and GOP attempts to take away women’s reproductive rights won’t stop abortion either.  They’ll just make it more dangerous (seems very un-Christian to me!)  As for divorce, that too has been a permanent fixture in our society and according to a couple of sources I checked, it’s actually going down.

And then come the dreaded homosexual innuendos.   Do people like Ms. Sarowski honestly believe that homosexuality is a modern invention? If it is modern, why does the Bible include references to it? Does she think that accepting people for what they are is somehow undesirable?  Has she read ANY of the gospels?  Has Ms. Sarowski actually looked at how sex education is taught or is she just so out of touch that she thinks teachers are in the classroom showing how sodomy can change your life?

And there’s more.  She makes a very odd claim that school officials say parental rights end at the front door of the school.  What?  I’m a teacher and have been for a while.  I have no idea what she’s talking about, and sadly, neither does she.

She then references legal gun owners being harassed without providing a single bit of evidence of this.  I don’t need documentation; I just need one shred of evidence that legal gun owners are being harassed.  By whom?  How?

On to the FCC and relaxation of rules restricting free speech on the airwaves.  It doesn’t take a lot of research to show that sexual assaults are lower in countries that don’t demonize nudity like we do in this country.  Puritan values are repressive, stifle creativity, and lead to anti-social behaviors.   You can look it up.  And for someone who pretends to support the Bill of Rights, I’m amazed at how many restrictions of those rights Ms. Sarowski approves.

We move on to the Fox News segment of Ms. Sarowski’s rant.  She hates President Obama.  I get it. She should just say that instead of showing her ignorance of such concepts of socialism, communism, and fascism. Under President Obama’s administration, income disparity continues to rise and the stock market (a fundamental measure of the health of capitalism) continues to rise.  The doom and gloom she fears is just not happening. She, and her ilk, would be far better off just saying, “I don’t like Obama and I will oppose anything he supports.”  It would be mind-numbingly silly, but at least it would be honest.

As the article comes to a close, she tosses in some references to Islam sure to get her readers in a wad, and then invokes the wisdom of America’s most hypocritical president, Ronald Reagan.  How this man whose second wife (divorce) was pregnant before marriage (pre-marital sex) is a beacon for “family values” has always befuddled me.  Reagan disregarded the Constitution whenever it didn’t suit his agenda, and his decidedly un-Christian attitudes toward the poor and minorities are among the most well-defined in modern history.  This was the man who said “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism,” as he watched poor people getting free food distributed by the Hearst Corporation.

So I’m not taking advice from Ronald Reagan, or anyone else who demonstrates such hypocritical and heartless views toward my fellow citizens.   As opposed to Ms. Sarowski, I see our country very much like it’s always been.   We have been an engine of change since our inception.  We are richer because we stand up to authority.  We are better because we accept immigrants and blend their culture into ours.   We are resilient because we change.   We are stronger when we free ourselves from the bonds of those who cannot afford change.  And if that causes dismay to a ranter like Ms.Sarowski, that’s just the price we’ll have to pay to stay a great country.


2 Comments on “Answering a “Conservative” Rant; My new weekly duty”

  1. Jeremy McBain June 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    You are welcome to write a letter to the editor expressing your views. As for the meeting notices, we have published all meeting notices of all political parties that have been sent to us. Perhaps the reason it was not published was because no notice was sent to the newspaper. We allow any elected politician the opportunity to write a guest column, which is why we published one from Frank Foster. You may have noticed we also publish one from Carl Levin each month. Jeremy McBain, executive editor, Petoskey News-Review.

    • Mark Pontoni June 26, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Mr. McBain, I really do appreciate the opportunity to express our thoughts in 300 words or less in the letter to the editor column. You have published several of my letters over the years. But the playing field is not level when certain points of view are allowed full columns. I think it is important to hear from Mr. Foster, Mr. Levin and others in the newspaper. It is equally important to allow more detailed responses to those columns. Incumbency is already a huge advantage for politicians. I don’t think the News-Review ought to be exacerbating it.

      As for meeting notices, there does seem to be a great deal of disagreement as to whether Democratic meeting notices get published. I guess it’s a he said-she said thing at this point.

      More importantly, I question the value of Ms. Sarowski’s column in a paper that serves such a vital function in our community. What exactly is her point each week? To moan how liberals are killing the country and how conservatives are just better people? Shouldn’t those discussions be left to family reunions or barrooms? If Ms. Sarowski is allowed to make unsubstantiated claims about liberals, someone at the paper ought to be willing to have those claims answered directly. The best solution would be to find a conservative columnist with more talent and less vitriol. I read a lot of conservative columnists and I learn something from them every time. From Ms. Sarowski, however, I only learn how shallow she is and little she really has to say.

      So my recommendation would be either to open the paper up to someone willing to keep Ms. Sarowksi honest, or to drop her altogether.

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