Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A sad day for America and the World

Well, we have fought, and fought hard, and honestly, for the forces of hope, love and reason to prevail in the American election. Apparently, we could not, unfortunately, balance out the forces of fear, greed and war. George Bush won, and our champion John Kerry lost. Well I guess, in fair play, congratulations are in order for the Republicans. But I contend that it is a sad day for America, and a sad day for the World. Why do I say that?
The right wing has done an excellent job - we must admit - at turning up their base:
- those majoritarily white evangelical Christians so intent on associating Jesus-Christ and war-mongering
- those people intent on putting their brand of Christianity in every institution in the United States so intent on establishing Israel from the Sinai to Babylon, and deny the Palestinians a homeland side-by-side with Israel
- those people so intent on deciding for every single American, what being an American should mean, and so intent on dictating to the World what being a decent people shoul mean
- those people so intent to go to the Middle East and "invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them all to Christianity"
- those people that believe that not being Christian, is not being American, and want America to be the new champion of Christianity around the World (crusades anyone?)
- those people that applaud when America goes at it alone in the World, like the mighty cowboys of the Far-West, like the mighty Rome...
- those people that want to bring about modern forms of witch-hunting, establishing their version of moral rectitude as the model to follow, like in England during the Victoian era (just look at their take on Hollywood, Gay Rights, Women in position of power - as opposed to the housewife, etc)
- finally, those people that are afraid of losing their white privilege, with the rise of minorities numbers in th population.

Let me give my take on some of these groups. If it were up to some of these people (and America might have just made it up to them), I would never be able to talk to you today, because they would not allow the so called "activist judges" that allowed Brown vs. Board of Education to come to pass, in a largely very hostile environment. They would not allow the Civil Rights movement to go through, because it advocates the right for Blacks to be able to marry Whites, live around whites, associate with whites, and sometimes be the whites' boss. This is the brand of people that breeds - intentionally or not - the white supremacist feelings and tendencies in this country, and around the World.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I am myself a Baptist Christian, from a fairly moderate family, and I am proud to be Christian. But I cannot bear to be associated with those groups within Christianity that are motivated in their faith by attitudes of intolerance, arrogance and disdain towards the rest of the people on the planet. It is those attitudes that created the notions of the "white man's burden", which was used to justify so many massacres, injustices and destruction in places and cultures in Africa, Latin America, and even here in the United States with the virtual destruction of the Native Americans, and Slavery. Just as most educated Muslims are highly offended by the attitudes and actions of such people as Osama Ben Laden, and Al-Zarqawi, I am highly offended at the attitudes and the actions of those extreme Christians within the last century, and in this one.

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter said, in a debate with Peter Beinart, in Oct. 2004, that Christianity would be better for the people in the Middle East, because wherever Christianity has gone with Missionaries, they brought peace along (I believe she cited Japan, South Korea, etc). She also went on to say that the last bad thing Christianity did was the crusades, that they did not kill that many people, and that Christianity has not done anything bad in the past 600 years. Well, I'll be damned!! Unless I am mistaken, right-wing Christianity (this means both protestants and catholic by the way), at different times, supported racism, supported slavery of blacks and others, supported white supremacy, supported the Nazi Regime in Germany, supported the brutal colonization process in the whole World (and often participated in it), encouraged the execution of often innocent people for witchcraft or "heresy", and now want to see (litteraly or figuratively) the elimination from the face of the planet of Muslims, Gays, and the God given right of freew will and individual self-determination.

Now, Right-Wing Christian pundits always point-out that in the Islamic World, people get their hands or their heads chopped-off every day, on live TV, and women get stoned, and women are not treated equally to men, there is polygamy, there is pedophilia, etc, and that it makes them morally inferior to the mighty Christian United States. The allegations are of course (at least partly) true, but their conclusion is highly flawed. In fact, those allegations are more a statement of the similarity of Islam to Christianity, than to its differences. If I just take the rights of women (i.e.: this was a big deal in Afghanistan), people in the United States are quick to forget that women did not get the right to vote until very recently... in fact if it was not for the Liberals, they might have waited until 1982 like in some places. Women fought for their rights in this country and others, and they often had to fight the Christian Churches along the way to getting them. So the argument that Christians are so much better than others does not fare. In the United States, we still have the death penalty, racial discrimination, unequal pay between men and women, etc. We do not have suicide bombings, of course, but we have F-16s and hydrogen bombs, and -God forbid - the nuclear bomb.

When I hear pastors on TBN (Evangelical TV channel) describing the US Army of light fighting on God's side to accomplish some prophecy in Ezekiel, or what have you, to liberate Babylon from the infidels, it unfortunately does not sound very different from the rhetoric of Islamic fundamentalists. It was even funnier to hear the similarities in the prayers before the war, on Arab Muslim and American Christian fundamentalist channels: they both called fo the God (the same God by the way) of Abraham, to give them his mighty sword, so they can crush the enemy (in this case each other). So right wing Christians need to ask themselves (like a certain Yeshu Ben Yusef, a.k.a. Jesus-Christ, said): why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own?

Furthermore, It is sad that moral rectitude for today's right-wing Christians, is basically limited with issues that take their meaning below the belt. I am always fascinated how much the forces that claim the moral high ground, are obsessed with gender and sexuality!!!! Or to be more accurate, the evil thereof!! In fact, that is a matter that is true to almost all religions (in my opinion): the greatest disputes of morals within, between, for and against religions these days, often come down to three things:
- who one can/cannot have sex with (i.e: relations within wedlock, relations out of wedlock, polygamy, polyandry, homosexual relations, inter-racial relations)
- how one presents the attributes of their sexuality (more or less revealing clothing)
- how one is treated according to their sexual organ (gender and power, gender and self-determination rights, etc.)
- how much one can show in public of a sexual act, and to whom, if to anyone at all (R rated movies, TV-MA movies, strip shows, porn movies, Howard Stern, Janet Jackson, etc)
- what a one does with the potential consequences of sex (pregnancy, abortion, contraception, condoms, etc)
These were basically the reason why most of the right wing voters turned out! In fact, religious people have concentrated themselves so much on matters of sex and gender roles, that I am really not surprised to hear of those scandals in the church, with priests and pastors abusing kids, or having secret affairs!

So from these "sexual frustrations" - and a fear of not being the undisputed moral authority on the planet any more - rises an anger of the Right-Wing towards the Liberal-left, as those Godless evildoers of the ACLU, who are supposedly "depraving America, and binging the devil with them".

What does the "evil" liberal-left seem to contend? Well, my understanding of the left that I support, is that they advocate:
- Tolerance and respect of others (even those you disagree with) and their opinions
- Personal responsibility for one's choices and actions
- Religion as a personal choice, creed and way of life
- Respect for the belief in God (or other deities)
- Security for the right not to believe
- Integrity and honesty
- Rejecting discrimination on the basis of race, gender, origin, class, religion and/or creed, opinion (except as regarding to murder-inciting hate-speech) and sexual orientation (and this is where the right-wing calls us evil, because we don’t want to kill gay people because of who they sleep and live with).
- Constant hope in the capacity of mankind to bring about a better future
- Confidence in the transformative possibilities of reason and science
- Government as a participative tool and for the people's progress, not a totally estranged, distant and obscur realm of special interests
- Working towards a tangible cause/effect relation between the taxes paid, and the services received.
- And of course, the separation of church and state: when you mix them, the dominant religion tends to impose its will even on those that do not follow that religion. And when that happens, we become in breech of the 1st amendment. That is one of the values that sets the Western World apart as fairer systems.

Now, are those principles really evil? I don't think so. It is simply their use and interpretation by the right wing that make them sound so. We in the left promote people standing behind their beliefs, and taking responsibility for their actions, and not simply blame it on some outside entity be it God, Satan, the devil, a demon or otherwise. But many of us, including myself, do strongly believe in God.

We support our gay friends because we believe it is their choice/orientation and it is their life. If one believes that homosexuality is against his/her religion, and one believe it is a choice (which I do not), then that person knows how not be one. But we should not, by government policy, deny a fringe of the people their God-given right to live a happy life, simply because we disagree with their lifestyle. If that’s the case, we should also deny creditors the right to happiness, because they are the only people (money-changers) that our Lord Jesus actually came out strongly against. I am too attracted to women to ever be gay. But gay people did not do anything harmful to me. Why should I persecute them, and stop treating them as humans, as my neighbors, with fairness and justice?

We also support equality in rights for women, for people of all races and religions and class, because we believe that every human being should be given a fair chance to succeed in this World, and in this country. Contrary to what the right-wing wants people to believe, we do not support rewarding mediocrity, but in providing tools to generate excellence. That is what we stand for.

There are, in fact, Christian Churches (such as the Quakers in America) that have fought the good fight, and stood for the noble American and, I believe, simply human principles of freedom, equality, justice and the pursuit of happiness, for all people. Those are the Christian Churches that I want to claim as Christians, following the path of our Lord. These are the churches that understood that love thy neighbor did not mean love thy white Christian neighbor.

Now, this is not an indictment against Christians, as it might sound. It is an indictment against bigotry, and the arrogance of some of our brethren that believe that they have the right to speak as if mandated by God to judge all humans. They do not give people he opportunity to discuss heated topics openly, without the scare-tactics, and their cloak of the noble Christianity masks othr agendas. They have proven that, with Karl Rove, they can further those agendas pretty far!!

And so today, the forces of the left lost an election in the United States. The right-wing is going to nag us for the rest of our lives about this. We are going to see tougher FCC rulings, tougher zoning laws, more gay-bashing, more corporate greed, more people chosing between pills and food, more wars, more terror incitement, and a more disenfranchised people in the US and the World. But the fight is still on, and maybe we can succeed in bringing out the compassionate conservative in President Bush (which would be a major achievement!!!).

Whether that happens or not, I am of those that believe that everything always falls into place in the form of Justice, eventually. Our ideals are morally so much more noble and sensible, because they do not imply undue harm on regular people. Our ideals are the ones that allow us to continue the dialogue with even those Republicans that are conservative in their conservatism. As all can see, I have very strongly held views too. But I am willing to have an honest debate about it, and I am (I believe genuinely) waiting to be convinced otherwise. It is that ability to accept genuine and full debates on issues and values that the left usually have, that give me the confidence to say that we will be back very soon. After all, technically, it is just four more years!! We do have to rethink our delivery, but we will back!

1 comment:

Ziyad said...

Insightful post. I must say you made very good points all along. I am proud to see christians like you.

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