Our Opinion: Rallying to preserve all our freedoms

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Judging from the large, spirited crowd that attended Sunday's annual Four Freedoms Coalition Rally at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Sunday, there must be a great deal at stake in America when it comes to the preservation of our freedoms. There is — and it arguably goes beyond the famous Four Freedoms espoused by President Franklin Roosevelt nearly 80 years ago.

The Four Freedoms Coalition is comprised of more than 150 community groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses and elected officials formed in December 2016, a month after the election of President Trump. With the president facing an impeachment trial in the Senate for attempting to influence the upcoming presidential election and then obstructing efforts to determine what he had done, and having come dangerously close to triggering a war with Iran for reasons that have not been clearly articulated or justified, it is clear that the fears that led to the formation of the Coalition have been realized.

The Four Freedoms are freedom from fear, of religion, of speech and of want. All were addressed articulately by speakers Sunday and all are under assault in one form or another. The rise in instances of anti-Semitism in America prompts fear among Jewish residents of the Berkshires, who want only to practice their religion freely. Logan Malik of the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT) spoke of freedom from want in the context of environmental decline, and what future generations will lose if it is not addressed. The Berkshire Eagle's Jenn Smith said that freedom of speech is in large part about youth being free to speak and be heard, adding that the much-demonized media are not the enemy.

Keynote speaker Sen. Ed Markey added four more freedoms: Freedom from war, freedom from climate change, freedom from gun violence and from social justice and inequality. In an editorial board meeting at The Eagle on Monday, the senator noted that all four freedoms are at stake in the upcoming presidential election. President Trump, asserted the Democrat, kept Congress and the American people in the dark when he risked war with Iran and has dismantled environmental protections. Sen. Markey said that there is no hope of gun law reform with Donald Trump in office, and the Senate in control of Republicans, adding that economic inequality and loss of minority rights have increased during his first term.

It is alarming that so many of our freedoms are under assault, and that a good argument can be made that those freedoms can be extended in number from four to eight to perhaps more. It is heartening, however, that there are so many people, including here in Berkshire County, who are aware that they are under assault and people must rally to preserve them. Eighty years ago, those freedoms were protected, but it is an ongoing battle. It is a battle that must be fought today.



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