Thursday, December 13, 2007

Craziest Republican of the Day: Steve King

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yet more right-wing cultural warmongering during the holiday season:

Rep. Steve King recently (R-IA) introduced legislation recognizing the "importance of Christmas and the Christian faith," despite previously opposing resolutions recognizing the Muslim celebration of Ramadan and the Hindu Diwali.

A spokesman for King told ThinkProgress that the congressman simply "thought it was important to honor Christmas" by introducing the bill. Yet [yesterday] on Fox News, King went further, decrying an "assault on Christmas" from "secularists" who want to "eradicate Christ from Christmas." Ignoring the Constitution, King claimed America is really a "Christian nation."

"And let's worship Christ and let's celebrate Christmas," he added, as if somehow the overwhelming majority of Americans are not worshipping Christ and not celebrating Christmas.

If America is a religious nation at all, it is a deistic one, not a Christian one, at least not a Christian one in the sense that many on the theocratic right think it is, and certainly not a Christianist one.

Regardless, there is certainly no "assault on Christmas," and certainly no war.

Just who are these "secularists," these "naysayers"? Those who hold -- with the Founders, I might add -- that there is, and must continue to be, a constitutional separation of church and state? Those who respect, and wish to acknowledge the existence of, other faiths? Those who do not wish to see America become a Christianist theocracy?

Or, rather, are they just another Enemy dreamed up by the right to wage a culture war most Americans don't want waged, a war to divide Americans and to score political points off the wreckage?

I mean, take me, for example.

I'm a liberal, a Democrat, and a secularist. I do not believe in God, any God, any gods, and there is a great deal about organized religion, including Christianity, that I find objectionable, to put it mildly.

And yet I am not necessarily anti-religious. I am enough of an agnostic not to turn my secularism into ideology, and enough of a liberal, that most of all, not to want to intrude upon the private lives of others -- just so long as others accept the basic tenets and requirements of liberal society.

And I celebrate Christmas. For reasons of tradition, not faith, but this is still an important time of the year for me. The religious elements of Christmas may be of little concern to me, but there is obviously a great deal more to Christmas than what allegedly happened according to the Christian Gospels.

Even so, I do not wage war on those who celebrate Christmas for reasons of faith. And I am hardly an exception. There may be some secularists who oppose Christmas altogether, but most do not. Many of us celebrate it, in fact, even as we show respect for other traditions, other faiths, at this festive time of year.

So where, then, is the alleged "assault" coming from? Jews and Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists?

No, certainly not -- not in America, where a general culture of toleration prevails, not the culture of culture wars promoted on the right. Honestly, are there so many non-Christians marching in protest of Christmas? No.

If anything, most non-Christians, like many Christians, have come to view this time of year in more ecumenical terms, hence the recent elevation of Hannukah and other non-Christian celebrations to a more prominent status than they might otherwise enjoy, even within their own faiths, the purpose being to include as many faiths and believers as possible, not to exclude those who are not Christian.

That many on the right seek to wage cultural war at this time of year tells us a great deal about what the right is all about. It is about an America that is, essentially, un-American.

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