Father Jonathan will be appearing on "FOX & Friends" Sunday, March 12 at 7:50am ET. He will be discussing his "Open Letter to Hollywood" blog.
In a perfect world we would be living in a Kingdom — no partisan bickering, no below-the-belt smear tactics, no corruption scandals on Capitol Hill, and no campaign finance shenanigans. The perfect king would declare perfect law in a perfect way. We would all perfectly recognize it as perfect, and would obey perfectly. The result would be perfection.
But it’s not. Aren’t you glad? Quite honestly, that perfection sounds perfectly boring.
Our current system of representative democracy is a lot of things, but boring it is not. It is invigorating, tiring, confusing, exhilarating, and often unfair. Nonetheless, as bad as it sometimes gets, it’s the best we’ve got — the best we could ask for in an imperfect world.
Today, on this Interactive Friday entry, I want to do something a little different. I want to show off to you how good our imperfect system can be, and how this blog has been part of that good. You know what I try to do — give voice to the other side. Not the other side of Washington D.C., not the other side of right-wing or left-wing politics, but the other side of one-dimensional punditry. You and I work together to uncover the hypocrisy and ignorance of unprincipled action. We look at social issues with eyes on what’s right and wrong.
Before sitting down to scribble this blog, I meandered through the archive of the past entries (see “archive” box to the right of this current article). They’re hot and meaningful for us now, but more so for our children and grandchildren tomorrow. I wish I knew how to rectify all that’s wrong. I don’t have all the answers, and I certainly don’t have the power. Nonetheless, sometimes uncovering and revealing what’s behind the big story and getting us all moving, has positive effects. Sometimes it doesn’t. In these weeks, it has. Let’s take a look how it has in these five big stories below (including Hollywood!).
1) On Wednesday, February 20th, we made mention of the pending take-over by DP World (a company owned by the United Arab Emirates government) of operations at six major U.S. ports. I predicted that if we kept up the pressure on the White House, they would be forced to do a Harriet Miers-style about-face. Yesterday, that’s exactly what happened. This report says it all. Here’s a snippet:
"DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations ... to a United States entity," H. Edward Bilkey, the company's top executive, said in the surprise announcement that seemed to spread relief throughout the Capitol and the White House.
That didn’t just happen. The White House, after listening to the outcry of the American public and the U.S. Congress, did some work behind the scenes.
Our principle won out. On-the-ground national security is of utmost concern. This political turn-around in the White House is democracy at work.
2) In the same blog, we tried to reframe the Mexican immigration debate, highlighting the hypocritical and ineffective nature of the status quo. We showed that it is a policy of use and abuse (tacitly permitting the hiring of millions of illegals for economic benefit, then unabashedly endangering their human rights). We stated that the solution requires greater enforcement on the border, but cannot depend on enforcement alone. We need immigration policy and procedure that corresponds to the reality of the economic interdependence of the United States and Mexico, and always respects human rights. This requires dialogue. That dialogue had come to a screeching halt.
The very day of our blog entry, President Bush made an unexpected call to the president of Mexico from Air Force One. This is what the White House had to say about that phone call:
“….The president also gave President Fox an update on congressional efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The president reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, including a temporary guest worker program. And then they also talked about the security and prosperity partnership that was developed by Canada, Mexico and the United States, and talked about the possibility of meeting soon on that initiative. And that's really the readout for that call."
Our principles won out, because immigration is about people (both Americans and immigrants), not politics, and dialogue is paramount. This renewed dialogue is democracy at work.
3) On Monday, February 27th, we sounded a human rights red alert. We warned of the shortcomings of the reform proposal for the U.N. Human Rights Commission. By Tuesday, General Assembly President Jan Eliasson was already backing down from his hopes to get a vote passed last week. It was U.S. pressure that did the trick. The Senate passed a resolution on Thursday that put the nail in the coffin. The vote was stopped. Who moved the Senate? Who moved the U.N.? We, the people, did.
Of course, the downside to this delay is that some U.N. member states are expected to stall the process for several months, and some rogue countries will try to pass outrageous things. That’s part of an imperfect world. A good site to follow the controversy on is www.eyeontheun.org.
Our principle won out — human rights must never be bartered. This political turnaround at the U.N. is democracy at work.
4) On Monday, March 6th we wrote an open letter to Hollywood. I thought I was on to something, but I didn’t expect the colossal response you gave. In less than 48 hours, my inbox was bogged down with more than 1,900 e-mails. 1,823 of these (see, I read your e-mails!) were oozing with praise. The praise was not for me — it was for the principles we share. Did Hollywood listen? The answer came yesterday from the powerful lobby group of major Hollywood studios, the Motion Picture Association of America. MPAA members include the top studios — Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Universal Studios Inc, Walt Disney Co. and 20th Century Fox.
The MMPA spokesman first revealed that ticket sales are down:
“Hollywood movie ticket sales around the world dropped by 7.9 percent last year to 23 billion dollars, with the U.S. box office accounting for nearly 40 percent of the haul. Movie ticket receipts in North America dipped by six percent in 2005 to nine billion dollars, according to a study by the ratings statistics firm Nielsen Entertainment/NRG that comes as movie-goers increasingly stay out of cinemas.”
Next they admitted that the movies people do go see (cfr. We, the People, awards) were well-received.
“Most movie-goers were satisfied with their recent experiences at the movies and felt the movies were a "good investment of their time and money."
Finally, they came up with a conclusion remarkably similar to ours. Did they read the blog? Read this, it’s unbelievable:
"That said, we can't bury our heads in the sand. We have to do more to attract customers and keep regulars coming back. It is no secret that our industry faces new challenges but with every challenge, there is an exciting opportunity."
The article continues, once again, mirroring our suggestions for reform...
“Most moviegoers in 2005 went out to catch family films, with movies rated PG-13, meaning that children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult, accounting for 85 percent of the most watched films in 2005.”
Our principle won out: Moviemakers have a responsibility to society. Making movies that reflect the values of Americans, instead of the values of the very sick sub-culture of Hollywood, will send people to theaters and also line moviemakers’ pockets with gold. This admission from Hollywood studios is democracy at work.
5) On Wednesday, March 8th, I wrote a controversial piece on the South Dakota law banning almost all abortion in the state. We praised its people and its legislators for standing up for the unborn, but we also lamented that this legal move is probably not the best method for defending life. In my opinion, the Supreme Court and the nation are not ready to ban Roe v. Wade. This being said, I spent most of the article praising South Dakota for defending the rights of states, rights usurped by judicial activists, the justices of the 1973 Roe case being the prime example.
Our cry, and the cry of many others, was heard. Tennessee waded into the fight the next day with a 24 - 9 vote by the state Senate to amend the current state constitution to represent its constituents’ belief on abortion.
Our principle won out — states do have rights, as do unborn babies. This new activity in South Dakota, Mississippi, and Tennessee is democracy at work.
So, America (and other readers of this blog): we, the people, do make a difference. None of us can change the world on our own, but we can make a difference. In this imperfect world, this imperfect system is the best we’ve got. If we speak up, as you and I have done, we will be heard. Thanks for your time and for all of your e-mail messages (the ones that I really do read).
Talk to you on Monday.
God bless, Father Jonathan
P.S. Many have asked me for the URL (web address) of the blog. Here it is: www.foxnews.com/fatherjonathan. Passing it on to your family and friends is one way to continue to make our voice heard.