Black, White and Gray

Today, our local college newspaper published an op-ed regarding the crazy tea-bagger of the month, Christine O'Donnell.  I thought it said what needed saying:

Recently, political comedian and host of HBO's "Real Time" Bill Maher vowed to show a new video each week of O'Donnell's borderline lunacy and completely erroneous beliefs until she appears on his show. O'Donnell appeared on Maher's old show "Politically Incorrect" more than 20 times in the 1990s and provided more than a flurry of outlandish commentaries for Maher to choose from. In one such appearance, she asserted her firmly held "no lying" lifestyle. Hey, she does not lie! That's a good thing, right? We teach our children not to lie. However, when pressed by fellow panelist, comedian Eddie Izzard, proceeded to ask, "If Hitler was at the door and you had Anne Frank in the attic, you wouldn't lie?" She responded, "No."

Now, yes, we do teach our children not to lie. However, we also hope to teach them other values of right and wrong, i.e. we attempt to foster in them a moral compass that can guide them through the complex situations human beings find themselves in. Most everyone can firmly agree that if Hitler was at the front door and Anne Frank was upstairs in the attic, that they would lie. Not because if he found her he would probably kill her, and you for hiding her, but because it is the right thing to do. Despite being a grown woman, O'Donnell has not dispensed with elementary notions of moral correctness when it comes to just actions. Rather, she holds on to the black and white perception that rests diametrically opposed to a clearly vivid world of grays.
Read the whole article here.

These are the people who are being elected.  People who's world view is arbitrary and simplistic.  Who will never be swayed by reason, logic, or proof.  The world is billions of years old, not 6000.  Evolution ceased to be a theory long ago.  E=Mc² is not some liberal, satanist plot.  It's a physics equation that describes the relationship between matter and energy, nothing more.  The separation of church and state is meant to protect religion -- All religion.  To protect the basic right to believe (or not believe) according to one's conscience, without fear of retribution.  It is not an assault on belief.

Our nation's problems are complex.  What I've noted above isn't.  But they can't even handle that.  We've now got poster children for mediocrity holding public office.  People without the intellect or imagination to handle anything resembling a gray area.

Came across this tweet...

@brianbeutler: Who among us wouldn't refuse to lie to protect a Jewish girl from Hitler, but happily lie about attending Oxford and dabbling in witchcraft?

Is America a Christian nation?

Well, yes and no.

In 1779, as Virginia’s governor, Thomas Jefferson had drafted a bill that guaranteed legal equality for citizens of all religions—including those of no religion—in the state. It was around then that Jefferson famously wrote, “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But Jefferson’s plan did not advance—until after Patrick (“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”) Henry introduced a bill in 1784 calling for state support for “teachers of the Christian religion.”

Future President James Madison stepped into the breach. In a carefully argued essay titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” the soon-to-be father of the Constitution eloquently laid out reasons why the state had no business supporting Christian instruction. Signed by some 2,000 Virginians, Madison’s argument became a fundamental piece of American political philosophy, a ringing endorsement of the secular state that “should be as familiar to students of American history as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” as Susan Jacoby has written in Freethinkers, her excellent history of American secularism.

Among Madison’s 15 points was his declaration that “the Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an inalienable right.”

Madison also made a point that any believer of any religion should understand: that the government sanction of a religion was, in essence, a threat to religion. “Who does not see,” he wrote, “that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” Madison was writing from his memory of Baptist ministers being arrested in his native Virginia.

I've always described myself as a "devout agnostic ", but as I get older, that description seems more and more like a cop out.  While I still believe that it's possible that some intelligence may have created life, or, more likely, created a universe where such things are possible, I can say with confidence that it bears no resemblance to the Judeo-Christian deity that most of us grew up hearing about.  One could speculate endlessly about what, if anything. could have brought all of this into being, but it's not exactly constructive.  It's one of many, many reasons I now refer to myself as an Atheist. 

That being said, I'm also an American.  I consider it my duty as such to protect the religious freedoms of my countrymen.  As Jefferson stated above, " It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  The larger issue, of course, is freedom itself.

Read more:

You had me at Leonard Nimoy

  • Henry Ford
  • Walt Disney
  • Alex Rodriguez
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • Barack Obama
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Joan Rivers
  • Fred Astaire
  • Dean Martin
  • Vera Wang
  • Bobby Jindal
  • Colin Powell
  • Olympia Snowe
  • Frank Zappa
  • Henry Mancini
  • Eugene O'Neill
  • Henry Heinz
  • Groucho Marx
  • George Gershwin
  • Nikki Haley
  • RenĂ©e Zellweger
  • John Cassavetes
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Michelle Kwan
  • Spiro Agnew
  • Joan Baez
  • Oscar Hijuelos
  • Ralph Nader
  • Norah Jones
  • Larry King
  • Eric Holder
  • Benny Goodman
  • Narcisco Rodriguez
What do all these names have in common?  They all meet the definition of the term "anchor baby".  When someone presents you with the idea of altering the 14th amendment, think of the mothers and fathers, who came here to seek better lives.  Then think about how this country has benefited from their sons & daughters.

If there is any reason to consider this the greatest country on earth it is because of these people, and those like them, and the freedom and diversity that allowed them to grow as people.

American culture didn't arise from a vacuum.  It was brought here by our ancestors.  By its very nature, if one thing assimilates another, both are changed.

And that is as it should be.

Thanks to Time Magazine for the list