LaClair: Mr. Paszkiewicz, care to debate me on these issues?

To the Editor: 

I am pleased that Mr. Paszkiewicz has commented on my recent letter about fascism. However, his understanding of history is sorely wanting.

Greed and other forms of what Mr. Paszkiewicz might call “sinfulness” played a major role in America’s so-called “rise to greatness.” Our ancestors stole the land from the Native peoples, nearly annihilating them in the process. This genocide was an epic atrocity — mass murder of innocent people. They also stole Texas from Mexico. They wanted it, so they started a war, and took it. Such a nation may be powerful, but it is not great.

They kidnapped Africans from their native land, brought them here by force and enslaved them. That is how plantation owners became rich — on the forced labor of others, who could be bought and sold at will, and beaten and killed by their “masters,” who owned them under our laws. 

Maybe that is Mr. Paszkiewicz’s idea of godly justice; it is not mine.

We built this nation by might, not by right, and when the Confederate States seceded, their Constitution specifically referenced The Bible as a justification for slavery. If an almighty God had given everyone rights, or if The Bible was an infallible guide, that could never have happened. 

Biblical literalists routinely imagine an almighty god, then limit his power whenever it suits them. It says plenty about them, and nothing about anything that is objectively true or real. Their vision is a fantasy — the kind of myth that binds a people together for a time but eventually destroys it.

Our nation did not follow its founding principles. If we had followed them, slavery would never have been allowed, we would not have killed off the Native peoples, women would not have been treated as property or denied the right to vote and we would not have overthrown democratically elected governments for cheap oil. These are not pleasant facts, but they are facts.

It is only because new generations of Americans began to take our founding principles seriously that we are slowly working our way out of that. Some of them believed in a god; others did not. Belief in a god is not what has led us to a greater commitment to justice.

Only by honoring all people in their intrinsic worth, and acting to elicit the best in them and in ourselves can we achieve and maintain a truly great society. This is secular ethics of the highest order. We built a rich nation by walking a broad road; to build a rich and just nation, we must walk a narrow road.

This is a choice. Believing in a god is also a choice, as is the choice of which god to believe in. In my view, believing in a God who condemns people to eternal torment for not believing in Him is a very poor choice, which encourages people to denigrate and even dismiss people who do not share that belief. 

History provides compelling proof of that.

Finally, Mr. Paszkiewicz does not understand fascism, essentially at all. Fascism is authoritarian rule in which the state sponsors corporate control of everything. Mr. Paszkiewicz openly supports an American fascist — the ex-president who tried to overturn the clear results of the latest presidential election, then fomented an insurrection, in an attempt to stage a coup detat and stay in power. He and his supporters are trying to overthrow democracy and establish authoritarian rule in the United States, in service of corporate interests, and against the people’s interests and well-being. That is why they are aligned with Russia and other authoritarian regimes. So much for unalienable rights of all people.

I invite Mr. Paszkiewicz to debate these issues with me, having every confidence that Mr. Canessa would be willing to moderate.

Paul L. LaClair

Editor’s note: I would, indeed, be willing to moderate such a debate.

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.