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Santorum v. OCCUPY : Encapsulating the American Misunderstanding

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"I think it's really important for you to understand what this radical element represents. Because what they represent is true intolerance," said former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum to the cheers of the audience in Tacoma, Washington.   I though, for a moment, those cheering were OWS, for as I understand it OWS represents intolerance of institutional exploitation of individuals.   And there is nothing more American than that, except for, perhaps, toleration of individuals.

Santorum called the Occupy Wall Street Protesters intolerant when they protested his speech and harnessed him during their opportunity for a redress of grievances.   The moment encapsulated the pivotal American misunderstanding, a dividing line if you will between political beliefs more stark than party lines or any sort of political opinion. Santorum went on to compare the intolerance of people using their First Amendment right to challenge his doubletalk to the intolerance of people in California who overturned the banning of same sex marriage.   The decision was intolerant, he implied, to the Catholic values this country was founded on. This logic is admittedly a leap, but in the mindset of the American misunderstanding it works.

  The intolerance shown in California was, according to Santorum, toward Catholic values in allowing individuals to practice their marriage fetish and gain a tax break.   Not that there's anything wrong with that. Mitt Romney proudly scammed his way into not paying a dollar more than necessary.

  The fact is that people in California are so tolerant as to allow same sex marriage and their tolerance is worth applause.   The decision is rooted in a tolerance of individual behavior, not intolerance.   The OWS, as I see it, has penetrated the American misunderstanding, the dichotomy of tolerance and intolerance among individuals and institutions.   We have to be more tolerant of individual rights and more intolerant of institutions.     

Santorum represents conservative institutions and is seeking to represent the institution of the U.S.A. He knows not the difference between individuals and institutions and tolerance and intolerance.   Institutions are not people my friend.   The Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited institutional funding of candidates has thickened the air with the purification of the American misunderstanding between individuals and institutions.   That's why I thought the protesters were cheering, for yes I am intolerant of institutional exploitation, even that of religious institutions, Catholic or Muslim or otherwise. Santorum seemed completely unaware that this institutional intolerance is an American traditional precept as much as is practicing the same values that religious institutions claim. He seems totally unaware that this country was founded, not in support of Catholicism, or Anglicanism, or any other particular religious institution. In fact he had certain disdain and contempt for them despite being moral by any Golden measure.   They did not embrace any religious institution, but ideas of freedom from their impositions.   In fact many were running from religious institutions or institutions sanctioned by religious institutions.   The impositions of the church were disdained so much that Catholics themselves experienced radical bigotry.   Again, there is an example of what is now, thanks to the Supreme Court decision to yield First Amendment rights of living breathing individuals to corporate institutions, the American misunderstanding.   Institutions are not individuals. OWS represents the American understanding of the dichotomous difference between tolerating individuals and refusing to tolerate institutional exploitation.

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About Ethan Indigo Smith:


Activist, author and Tai Chi teacher Ethan Indigo Smith was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity, Ethan's work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humor.

The events of September 11, 2001 inspired him to write his first book, The Complete Patriot's Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism, an insightful exploration of history, philosophy and contemporary politics. His more recent publications include:

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

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