Monday, March 07, 2011

Passion play

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

If you managed to get through grade school, you've read this many times, but it never seems to influence the way Americans act or feel: a syndrome that seems more influenced by mob psychology and sectarian chauvinism than anything else. Of course, it's long been this way and we've long been a xenophobic and gullible nation, but with the advent of round-the-clock swineherds like Fox News, the grunting and squealing of feral-hog America is drowning out the voice of our founding fathers and of decent men and women everywhere. 

[E]ven if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service. (Ben Franklin) 

The same folks who want to persecute Muslims for their religion and prohibit the free exercise thereof will assert, without twitching their nostrils at the smell of hypocrisy, that this is a Christian nation and that Christian laws, whatever they might be, supersede our national laws about abortion, birth control, spending government funds on Christian activities, and browbeating children into theological submission. It's not okay that a Muslim man doesn't want to drink alcohol or a Jew doesn't want to eat pork, but it's fine that a Christian pharmacist refuses to dispense condoms. Damn the Constitution, we're a Christian nation. The laws of other religions need not apply, and, in fact, although there is no chance whatever that the United States will adopt the Qur'an as a replacement for the Constitution and its body of laws, it's not enough for the grunting pigs of God who would like to make the free exercise of Islam illegal. 

He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3) 

The latest crusade seems to be about portraying every comment by every Muslim as an example of Sharia, from a cabby in Detroit asking that he not be forced to transport alcohol to someone praying in Arabic in front of the White House. According to one witness, he was asking for a blessing on those "Christians" who seemed oblivious to the staggering irony of a mob mocking and cursing a bearded man, bent in prayer, forgiving them for persecuting him. None of this has anything to do with any effort to replace our laws and courts with Islamic laws or Islamic judges, nor can it since no effort exists. As to the rules of private observance, let's let only Christians do that! The only credible attempt of theocratic pretenders to the throne is of course by self-styled Christians, as the porcine squeals of the glossolalians Palin and Huckabee would prove. 

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen... (George Washington) 

Perhaps it's fortunate that such people are stupid enough to hoist themselves with their own petty petards. You'll recall, and perhaps with a smile, Oklahoma's attempt to thwart the non-existent Islamic takeover by attempting a tin-foil-hat law banning all religious commands -- which in effect banned the Jewish commandments they had been trying to insert into American life, but we can't afford to depend on their congenital stupidity when so much is at stake. And yes, it takes a stupid man to think that somehow Americans would decide to write Sharia or Islamic tribal practices into American law in open defiance of the Constitution or that the tiny percentage of Muslim Americans would somehow magically or accidentally do it by themselves.

The courts have decisively ruled that the establishment and free exercise clauses forbid the federal and state governments to prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion or atheism. The Torah, the Bible, the Qur'an, the Gita, the works of Nietzsche: state or federal government may not adopt any of them as preferable, much less mandatory. But we're a little people, a silly people -- greedy, barbarous, and cruel people, if I might borrow from T.E. Lawrence -- and a cowardly, ignorant, and hateful people as well. "Conservative" legislators continue and will persist in thriving on our traditional sins by inventing threats that must be countered by measures to accelerate our inexorable descent into loserhood. They'll continue to demonize the way their predecessors demonized German, Irish, Italian, Mexican, African, Catholic, Jewish, Chinese, and Indian immigrants, and history will continue to prove them wrong.

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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