Got it all wrong
Regarding Larry Bargenquast’s letter titled, “A liberal ‘Carol’ ” (Dec. 15):
Bargenquast has it all wrong. Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a “liberal” story in its original form. Ebenezer Scrooge gets the message of brotherly love in the end.
To change it, one would have to give it a conservative, Republican view. Scrooge would lose his business because in the economic turndown, he’d get no help from the government and the banks wouldn’t loan to him.
Consequently, Bob Cratchit would also lose his job and would receive no unemployment benefits because Republicans voted not to extend them. The Ghost of Christmas Past would have given tax cuts for the wealthiest top 2 percent and run up the deficit by not paying for two wars.
The Ghost of Christmas Present would claim the president wasn’t a United States citizen and vote “no” on everything including health care for children like Tiny Tim.
The Ghost of Christmas Future would see Tiny Tim as a cripple forever. Alas, he can’t get that surgery, he has a pre-existing condition and no insurance company will take him.
The Future Ghost is heard saying as he fades out of sight, “Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps!” Beryl Bennett
As a progressive and a lover of books and history, I became angry when I read Larry Bargenquast’s letter about what Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” would be like if Dickens were liberal (“A liberal ‘Carol,’” Dec. 15).
Dickens was one of the most outspoken social progressives of his time. Growing up in a debtors’ prison (because at that time, when a father couldn’t pay the bills, the whole family went to prison) forever colored his thinking.
He wrote about the inhumane treatment of the underclass by the aristocracy. He spoke for the weakest in society: orphans, widows and workers with no rights. His pen shone a light on deplorable conditions in his country and the risk of it leading to revolution as it did in his classic “A Tale of Two Cities.”
If Bargenquast can’t see the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge, who represents the heartless greed of corporatists, when he sees his workers as people and therefore deserving of fair treatment, then I give up. If Dickens, a master story teller and progressive, can’t make him see, then I certainly can’t. But I won’t let him turn this important piece of progressive literature into something it is not: a simple tale of Christmas joy.
I have read many rants in your letters section where liberals attack conservatives and vice versa. The recent letter about Charles Dickens,’ “A Christmas Carol,” as written by a liberal has to be on the list of the stupidest I’ve seen (Dec. 15).
What makes Larry Bargenquast think that a liberal would have written the story differently? Look at the many injustices Dickens wrote about in his other books. “David Copperfield” is widely regarded as being semi-autobiographical, as both Dickens and Copperfield were sent to work in warehouses at a young age.
Copperfield’s father ends up in debtors’ prison, which is a feature in several Dickens novels. In “Nicholas Nickleby,” Nickleby’s mother and sister end up at the mercy of evil Uncle Ralph after Nickleby’s father died. Nell and her grandfather wandered from town to town homeless in “The Old Curiosity Shop” and Nell was a victim of her grandfather’s gambling addiction. “Oliver Twist” is a novel about a workhouse orphan who is captured by villains and taught to steal for a living.
Dickens’ novels are filled with themes such as homelessness, poverty and child endangerment. No, I don’t know what his political leanings were, but I doubt that they were conservative.
Charles Dickens might be amazed that one of your letter writers recently unfavorably compared the philosophy of liberals to himself (“A liberal ‘Carol,’” Dec. 15). Dickens’ work shows a strong commitment against the status quo and for social reform. He was shocked by the conditions of slavery in the United States during his first visit to America in 1842, which convinced him even more of the need to abolish slavery.
“A Christmas Carol,” written in 1843, is a message permeated with his lifelong support for the poor and against the abuse of power among the wealthy class in England. He saw this firsthand as a boy when his father was thrown into debtors’ prison, resulting in devastation to the family.
The liberal message of “A Christmas Carol” is hard to miss. The recent experiences of Americans losing their livelihoods because of Wall Street abuses in the name of profit should make us all the more sensitive to that message.
One thing that liberals believed through the centuries is that change is possible, even in the hardest of human hearts. Even Eben-ezer Scrooge was converted, thanks to his ghosts.
Read “A Christmas Carol” once again and see if your heart has been changed.