Column No.   118 By  Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - August 10, 2006

JUNKIE:  Dr. Jonas’ article today is a rerun of his perspectives of Sen. Dick Durbin’s speech on the floor of the US Senate in summer of 2005 questioning Bush’s inhumane treatment of prisoners at Gitmo and comparing the treatment to the techniques used by the Soviet Union.  Sen. Durbin was roundly attacked by Republicans and their allies in the press at the time for daring to compare Bush’s policies to those of the Soviet Union.   Dr. Jonas’ article published in TPJ can be found at this hyperlink, “THE DICK DURBIN DISASTER.”

The point Dr. Jonas so clearly made was that there are “sides” in the fight to preserve constitutional democracy. My take on his article at the time was that Dr. Jonas was making a critical point.  Does the Democratic Party really want to win and maintain constitutional democracy in the United States?

Dr. Jonas wrote this follow-up article, which has been slightly edited for republication, making the case that there are but two sides; and Americans have to choose.

There are many perspectives circulating on Lamont’s victory over Sen. Lieberman on Tuesday.  We invite you to reread Dr. Jonas’ article below in the context of the choices that citizens of Connecticut made on Tuesday.


Last week I in this space, I published a lengthy column on what I called “The Dick Durbin Disaster.”

Stephen Gheen kindly introduced my article with the following words [slightly amended]:

“Dr. Steven Jonas authors an article today that [puts in bold letters] the problem that threatens the vitality and reemergence of the Democratic Party.  Dr. Jonas frames the issues with simple perfection: ‘Do we want to win?  Do we really want to restore and preserve our precious constitutional democracy and above it, the Rule of Law?  [If we do], the first thing we have to do is recognize that there are sides in this battle and then recognize who is on which side.’  [In his column] Dr. Jonas draws the sides and provides some critical [recommendations] for Democrats.”

Over the years since 9/11 and the Georgites’ response to and use of it to undertake in earnest their long planned full assault on Constitutional democracy in the Untied States, I have occasionally thought of a union song from the 1930s by a woman named Florence Reese.  Although we in the upper middle-class, left-wing, Depression/New-Deal Era households of the type in which I grew up, in New York City had not-too-much in-depth knowledge of, and certainly no direct experience with, the events, or even the type of events, to which it referred, the song was a staple.

The song was about the situation in the coal-mining county of Harlan, Kentucky that came to be known as the “Harlan War,” during which the county came to be known as “Bloody Harlan.”  The “J.H. Blair” referred to in it was the local sheriff who, after he had his men violently break up a local meeting of the National Mineworkers Union, famously said: “The Red revolt in Harlan County has been crushed!”  For a further brief history of the period, I refer you to http://www.carlestes.com/bloodyharlan.html.

Let me share with you the lyrics of that song, which often bring tears to my eyes when I think of them, and do now as I write this.  Will we need to have a book entitled Cry the Beloved Country written about our glorious land too?  For me, these words just resonate so well down to our own time, sadly on so much larger a scale.

“They say in Harlan County there are no neutrals there You’ll either be a union man or a thug for J.H. Blair.

“Chorus: Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

“My daddy was miner and I'm a miner's son And I'll stick with the union 'til every battle's done.

Come all you good workers, I have good news for you I'll tell of how our union has come in here to dwell.

“Chorus: Which side are you on? Which side are you on?”

“Oh workers can you stand it? Oh tell me how you can; Will you be a lousy scab or will you be a man? Don't scab for the bosses, don't listen to their lies Us poor folks haven't got a chance unless we organize.

“Chorus: Which side are you on? Which side are you on?”

In defense of the Constitution, there are only two sides.  Just as on the slavery question, there is no middle ground.  You are either for it, or agin’ it, as they would say in the hills of Kentucky, and North Carolina too, for that matter.  The only question now is: is our side going to organize for its defense and protection before it is destroyed by the Republican Religious Right, lead by the Georgites, and win the battle through organizing and electoral politics?  Or will we have to fight for its Restoration after they have completed the campaign of total destruction leading to theocratic fascism they are currently engaged in?