Several online commenters have been offended by my admittedly left-wing beliefs.

Apparently, they believe that labeling me a “liberal” is somehow going to convince me of the errors of my ways.

To add insult to injury, these same folks have asserted that I am a “radical progressive” and therefore to be dismissed.

I could argue that the critics are right-wing believers. That, however, is their opinion, and they are entitled to it, no matter how wrong I think they are.

But, if they want to accuse me of being a “radical liberal progressive,” that is something I am proud of and not at all ashamed.

In short, if they want to label me something they are not, I plead guilty.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Planned Parenthood, Trout Unlimited and the Sierra Club (where I was once employed) are all organizations of which I am a member.

These organizations stand for (and often file lawsuits for) the exercise of the First Amendment, voting rights, a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, and to protect the environment for humans and nonhumans.

In my beliefs, there is nothing to be ashamed of by belonging to any of these organizations.

I have never been, and never will be, a member of any right-wing organization, white supremacy group and especially not the National Rifle Association.

If believing in free speech, free press, freedom of religion and other First Amendment rights makes me a “radical liberal,” then I am guilty.

If belief in a “well-regulated militia,” as the Second Amendment has it, is radical, I plead guilty.

If my beliefs that a military-style semi-automatic assault weapon should not be owned by a civilian and that belief runs counter to that of the NRA and its corporate supporters, I plead guilty.

If I believe in welcoming immigrants to this county and other tired, poor, hungry persons yearning to be free, then I plead guilty.

If I support family farms over factory farms, I plead guilty.

If I am accused of believing that climate change is real and most of it is caused by humans, I plead guilty.

If I believe that separating children from their parents is an absolute wrong, I plead guilty.

If I believe that decisions about childbirth are between a woman and her doctor and that politicians should butt out, I plead guilty.

If I, a son of the South, reject the notion of white supremacy, I plead guilty.

If the many other beliefs I hold that are too numerous to list, taken in entirety, make me a “radical liberal” or a “progressive” in the eyes of right-wingers, then I assert that I am an unabashed radical liberal and progressive and will do all in my power to elect leaders who think and believe likewise.

Enough of politicians who defend the indefensible and would return this country to a time of slaves, Jim Crow, women as second-class citizens who would not have the right to vote, and who view our nation’s natural resources as something from which industry can profit.

Instead of hate for the “other,” how about compassion? Instead of worshipping at Wall Street, how about supporting local entrepreneurs?

Instead of demonizing the highway system, libraries, police and fire departments and other tax-supported entities as “socialism,” how about recognizing that capitalism and socialism can co-exist, that this county embraces both?

I am an American and a liberal progressive; the “radical” part I disavow.

It is not at all radical to believe in those things that have made this country what it is, and I want to see those things continue.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

Ken Midkiff, formerly the director of the Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign, is now chair of the city’s Environment and Energy Commission and serves on the board of directors of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.

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