Some Advice to Ms. Hicks against Judging Parents

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

— Matthew 7:1-2

Today some ultra-right-wing fluff arrived in my email from someone I know well, and I don’t know if was a big joke (probably it was), but some people obviously swallow this Kool Aid.

I prefer not to quote religious texts, but there is also much wisdom contained therein, and it serves well when it thoroughly contradicts professed Christians of the zealous variety.

The email missive contained an article written by one Marybeth Hicks (who probably would give Ann Coulter a run for sheer outrageousness. Do these women really believe what they write, or are their words just to sustain a livelihood based on pandering to the ignorance or prejudices of their audience?)

Praise from one of Ms. Hick’s admirers is draped over the masthead of her own website: “Fellow moms and dads: It’s time to unite and reclaim the hearts, minds, and souls of our children from socialist indoctrinators! … Marybeth Hicks exposes the Left’s cradle-to-grave campaign to undermine religion, the traditional family, and free market capitalism.”

Hicks begins her piece: “Call it an occupational hazard but I can’t look at the Occupy Wall Street protesters without thinking, ‘Who parented these people?'”1

Not only is Hicks, the mother of four, judging the protestors, but she is also casting aspersions on their parents; in biblical parlance, something like visiting the sins of the children upon the parents.

I submit that instead of looking askance at protestors and pointing a finger at their parents, Hicks should be lauding the parents and their children who get off their duffs to agitate against injustices and bring about a better society.

Hicks, a self-described “culture columnist,” summarizes the “fairyland agenda” of the Occupy movement by one of their placards: “Everything for everybody.”

Sure, why not? Does Hicks believe in “Everything for the 1%, and crumbs for the masses.” Hicks’s crumbs are obviously much larger that the bird crumbs most people subsist on. Moreover, Hicks’s crumbs depend on her fealty to the whims of the elitists, as is clear from being a columnist for the Washington Post, an agitprop organ of the 1%.

As with any extreme right-winger, their stock-in-trade is ad hominem, slinging mud because they are bereft of facts and coherent argumentation. Thus Hicks writes of a the “pipe-dream platform” of the Occupy movement. Does the culture columnist not realize that Occupy movement is a coalition of different factions and actors within society, that it is anarchistic in not being led by any particular personality, and that there is no specific platform besides a demand for social justice?

Hicks attempts witty prose to smear “the protesters [as being manipulated] like bedsprings in a brothel.”

It is easy to trot out simplistic statements; but where is the evidence or supporting logic? What does Ms. Hicks suggest? Should children, as she implicitly characterizes the 99%, obey and submit to the 1%? Should the activists become passive and accept the status quo maldistribution of wealth and power?

Hicks criticizes the parents of the protestors (as if they are only kids and are not joined by parents and grandparents, but such facts would inconvenience Hicks): “There are some crucial life lessons that the protesters’ moms clearly have not passed along.”

Hicks then reels off “… five things the OWS protesters’ mothers [obviously, for Hicks, mothers are most culpable] should have taught their children but obviously didn’t…” [italics added]

Life isn’t fair. The concept of justice – that everyone should be treated fairly – is a worthy and worthwhile moral imperative on which our nation was founded. But justice and economic equality are not the same…

No matter how you try to “level the playing field,” some people have better luck, skills, talents or connections that land them in better places. Some seem to have all the advantages in life but squander them, others play the modest hand they’re dealt and make up the difference in hard work and perseverance and some find jobs on Wall Street and eventually buy houses in the Hamptons. Is it fair? Stupid question.

Hicks obviously does not get it. The protestors are not asking whether the system is fair; they are protesting for the very reason that it is not fair. So I pose a question to the mother of four: Should people just accept an unfair system? It is also a stupid question. But that is where the thought processes of Ms. Hicks lead.

Nothing is “free.” Protesting with signs that seek “free” college degrees and “free” health care make you look like idiots because colleges and hospitals don’t operate on rainbows and sunshine. There is no magic money machine to tap for your meandering educational careers and “slow paths” to adulthood and the 53 percent of taxpaying Americans owe you neither a degree nor an annual physical.

Who looks like an “idiot”? It is not foolish to toss out platitudes that are easily refutable by anyone beyond the diaper stage?

Ms. Hicks does not seem to grasp that the protestors are also Americans, every bit as much as the elitist 1%. By her logic, “free” schooling from kindergarten to grade 12 should also be eliminated (and, indeed, that looks like the direction education is heading in the US and Canada). The “magic money machine” that she snidely refers to is called “tax.” Workers (and corporations) pay tax, and some of that tax money goes to funding an education system. Progressive taxation is a system that gives government the means to provide everyone some semblance of a chance to attain the knowledge and skills to succeed in the capitalist work world. As for free university education, is there a reason that some European countries can provide free university education, including economically besieged Cuba, to all its citizens and the US (and Canada) cannot? Hicks should talk to the Cubans or northern Europeans about how she can get one of their “magic money machines” for the US. At the same time, she might as well find out about a “magic money machine” for universal health care from those same countries.

These protestors seem cognizant about the “magic money machine” of which Hicks seems oblivious.

Nevertheless, Hicks points out “this obvious fact” to protestors: “… Real people with real dollars are underwriting your civic temper tantrum.”

Is Ms. Hicks is not throwing a temper tantrum? As for her puzzling logic: how is it that real people’s money is funding the protestors? They are protesting because of the unfairness where not all citizens have jobs and money to pay for the basic expenses of life.

Hicks’s third “thing”:

Your word is your bond. When you demonstrate to eliminate student loan debt, you are advocating precisely the lack of integrity you decry in others. … No one forces you to borrow money; you are free to choose educational pursuits that don’t require loans or to seek technical or vocational training that allows you to support yourself and your ongoing educational goals. Also, for the record, being a college student is not a state of victimization. It’s a privilege that billions of young people around the globe would die for – literally.

Your word is your bond. Ms. Hicks, that is why people are protesting — to bind the government to its word. You see, there is something called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the United States is a signatory to. Hence it is bound by its signature to uphold the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. One of these articles is Article 26 (1), which states:

Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

However, if tuition fees are exorbitant, they pose a barrier to those who merit such an education. Furthermore, students in poverty are pitted in an unfair competition to decide merit. To fairly assess merit, the playing field must be leveled.

Yet, Ms. Hicks seems okay with many students being saddled with gargantuan debts to attain an education. This system of student debt has been called a “swindle,” where student borrowers are “… in a position similar to subprime mortgage debtors is also indicated in the Bureau of Labor Statistics…”2

To blithely state, as Hicks does, that “No one forces you to borrow money…” is just ludicrous. High tuition fees force students without funds to borrow money. And, as she points out in her article, a higher education is the way to a job.

Nonetheless, student loans can be forgiven, and it would, arguably, be good for the economy.”3

Hicks’s fourth “thing”:

A protest is not a party. … You look foolish, you smell gross, you are clearly high and you don’t seem to realize that all around you are people who deem you irrelevant.

This is pure ad hominem, revealing more of the speaker than the target of the speakers mudslinging. It reveals that speaker of ad hominem has no persuasive logic or facts to back her assertions, so instead she cast slurs. Is that how a mother should teach her children to behave?

Hicks blames the unemployed for their joblessness. Obviously the system is fine. Says Hicks:

There are reasons you haven’t found jobs. The truth? Your tattooed necks, gauged ears, facial piercings and dirty dreadlocks are off-putting. … Occupy reality: Only 4 percent of college graduates are out of work. If you are among that 4 percent, find a mirror and face the problem. It’s not them. It’s you.

Yes, and what kind of jobs do the college graduates have? Alan Nasser, a professor emeritus of Political Economy, said, “Most of these jobs will be low paying and will not require a bachelor’s degree.”2 How much debt should one incur to get these jobs?

Freedom is obviously another peeve of Ms. Hicks. In Ms. Hick’s ultra-conservative world, people should conform to the dictates of the system.

As for her discombobulated logic, how is it she can support expensive education that forces students to take on onerous debt loads to study and graduate, and then call upon people to go to college to get a job?

What is “off-putting” is people who think it is okay that life is a lottery, that some people cannot receive an equal chance at a good education, that some people are born into the lap of luxury through exploitation of labor, that some people are plunged into poverty through the misfortune of ill health and not being able to afford health insurance, that destitution and homelessness are mere facts-of-life, that racism and discrimination is a fact, and that the monopoly media portrays the unfair system as the best system.

If people had always capitulated to such weak-minded nonsense, then slavery would still exist in the US; workers would have no right to organize for workplace safety, fairer pay, shorter work weeks, overtime pay, worker rights, etc.; women would be stuck in the kitchens without the vote; and Indigenous peoples (the rightful custodians of the land) would be marginalized to reservations.

But all of this doesn’t matter because Ms. Hicks can always trot out her truism: Life isn’t fair.

However, that makes for one hell of a good reason to protest.

Many of these “things” are honor bound by signature of the government to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — for example,

Article 23.
•(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

and

Article 25.
•(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

As Hicks stated: “Your word is your bond.”

Amen.

  1. Available at Merybeth Hicks, “Some Belated Parental Advice to Protesters,” Town Hall, 20 October 2011. []
  2. Mike Whitney, “The Student Loan Swindle,” Dissident Voice, 21 October 2011. [] []
  3. Who would foot the bill [for student debt forgiveness]? … there is one deep pocket that could pull it off—the Federal Reserve. In its first quantitative easing program (QE1), the Fed removed $1.3 trillion in toxic assets from the books of Wall Street banks. For QE4, it could remove $1 trillion in toxic debt from the backs of millions of students.

    The economy would only be the better for it, as was shown by the G.I. Bill, which provided virtually-free higher education for returning veterans, along with low-interest loans for housing and business. The G.I. Bill had a sevenfold return. It was one of the best investments Congress ever made.” Ellen Hodgson Brown, “QE4: Forgive the Students,” Dissident Voice, 21 October 2011. []

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.