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When Did We Become Afghanistan?

Posted by Rick · November 24th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Over at Approximately Perfect, Justin asks, “When did we become Afghanistan?”

Rod answers that it was “Oh, about 1620 or so.” Because of limitations on blogs like Approximately Perfect — maybe that’s why it’s only Approximately Perfect — I was unable to post my full response there. After congratulating Rod on his quip, I pointed out that funny and true don’t always go together.

Then I wanted to say:

Contrary to recent ramblings of future Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, the public’s willingness to support federal governmental regulation in furtherance of morality is relatively new. While there have always been people “concerned about morality” and there have always been small groups, including the precursors to the modern-day mini-Falwells currently pulling the Bush Administration strings, the majority of Americans have been content with the religiously-neutral form of government established by the Founders. The one time this wasn’t true — during Prohibition — it was a disaster. (You’d think we’d learn.) It took awhile, but the error was eventually corrected with the repeal of Prohibition.

Whereas Jefferson and the others were adamant that the limited function of government allowed for no mandates in support of (nor against) religion whatsoever, modern Americans are convinced that the success of our country is based upon the idea that America was founded on Christian principles. (Such is the state of our educational system today that most Americans have never even heard of the Enlightenment. Those that do probably think it refers to comments made in Matthew, chapter 5.) Like Scalia, they’ll even remind Jews, in direct contradiction to historical fact, that government endorsement of religion has been good for Jews, too. Falwell will point the common interests Jews and Christians share because of the “Old Testament.” (If he’s so sincere about this, why doesn’t he ever call it “Tanakh”? Answer: He likely hasn’t ever heard that word; it’s what we Jews call our Bible.)

There are good reasons to be concerned about what’s happening in American politics today. We should be uneasy. If people had been uneasy about similar happenings in the late 1930s as the liberals were politically (and then veridically) extinguished by the rising Nazi party, the atrocities of that fascist regime would not have come to fruition. (For those concerned with such things, including me, note that I’m not saying that Bush is Hitler. I’m not saying the Bush Administration is comprised of Nazis. I’m talking about the transition from left to right and how it occurred and is re-occuring now.)

People are right to be concerned about what’s happening. But rather than pretend it’s not happening, as Germans did after 1933, we should be doing something about it. In the United States, Congress still holds power. Unlike the Reichstag, it cannot be as easily dissolved.

But it would be sensitive to large numbers of voting citizens telling it what to do.

By the way, for those who hadn’t heard this, what Scalia said to the Jews during his appearance at a synagogue in New York was that,

There is something wrong with the principle of neutrality. [It] is not [meant to be] neutrality between religiousness and nonreligiousness; it is between denominations of religion. Uriel Heilman, “Scalia in shul: State must back religion” (November 23, 2004) The Jerusalem Post.

I’m not sure if I should be worried when Scalia includes Jews as a “denomination” with respect to which government should not remain neutral.

I am sure, though, that all of you who either claim to be athiests or secularists or humanists — or just “nonreligious” for that matter — aren’t included in the group(s) deserving governmental support in Scalia’s vision.

Categories: Politics-In-General

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2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 justin // Nov 24, 2004 at 11:26 am

    Good points, all.

    What would Scalia say of Islam, then?

    Also, I blame Haloscan for our blog’s issues.

    I most often do.

  • 2 Rick Horowitz // Nov 24, 2004 at 11:51 am

    To the extent that anyone should be “blamed” for your blog limitations, you’re correct to blame Haloscan. It’s because of the type of account you have with them. No biggie. But it makes serious responses complicated, because you are limited to 1000 characters which, when you get right down to it, isn’t much.

    I’m not sure I could say what Scalia might say about Islam. It’s a good question. On the one hand, Islam is a religion traditionally considered “one of the three” with Judaism and Christianity. So maybe he’d consider them a “denomination.” This is especially true since the Bush Administration has theoretically “taken on the religious right” and upbraided them for their anti-Islamic comments.

    On the other hand, he might say, “We know they’re evil.” After all, most of the leaders of the “denominations” Scalia thinks government should support say so — and this includes leaders of virtually all the “denominations” Scalia thinks government should support. And Bush isn’t one of those leaders — he’s just the President they believe they elected to administer the branch of their “denomination” that runs the government.

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