In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, PFAW founder Norman Lear describes the values that have guided his activism for the past 30 years: a belief that the right to individual liberty is not dependent on one’s religious beliefs and that the opportunity to pursue a decent life should be available to all. Now, argues Lear, those ideals are being held hostage by demagogues of many forms, and it is up to the American people to fight back.
The religious right leaders who got me engaged in politics often portray such things as free expression and equal protection for all Americans no matter their race, religion or sexual orientation as anti-Christian and un-American, as symptoms of cultural decline. I couldn't disagree more. What strikes me as un-American are the greed, deception and systematic corruption that have infected politics, business and so much of our culture in recent years. Some of those with power and privilege have worked to create a system that continually reinforces that privilege and power, leaving ever-increasing numbers of Americans without reasonable hope for the kind of life their parents worked to give them….
Call it the American dream, the American promise or the American way. Whatever term you use, it is imperiled, and worth fighting for. It is that basic, deeply patriotic emotion that I believe is finding expression — bottom-up, small-d democratic expression — in the Occupy movement. We can, and I would say must, fully embrace both love of country and outrage at attempts to despoil it. What better cause? What better time?
You can read the full op-ed here.