Fear and Voting in Las Americas

Fear mongering is hardly something new in American Politics.  However as we get closer and closer to a possible War with Iran, we need to take a step back and look at our motivations.  Sure, fear is an awful thing that makes us easier to manipulate on election day.  However it also makes it easier for us to accept when the government lies and bullies its way into war.  They are just trying to protect us, after all.

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

In essence when we give into political arguments that appeal directly to fear, we are leaving the home of the brave and entering a cowardly world filled with authoritarianism, might makes right, and every bit of tyranny the good people of this country have fought against for centuries.

As Americans we are so much more than a nation of fight or flight automatons.  We are a nation of thoughts, debate, innovation, bravery, and freedom.  This identity exists only in our actions, and only so long as our actions reflect these ideals.

We are the land of the free and the home of the brave only if we live up to those principles in practice.

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Blogging Against Theocracy Continues

As part of the blog against Theocracy weekend, I’d like to highlight a few interesting posts and share some more thoughts on the subject.

This is the last day to participate in the blogswarm, but it is not the last day to take part. We can and must keep this going until Theocracy is no longer a viable threat in this country, and people of all walks of faith and non faith can act free of government intrusion into their faith.

To be clear, government regulation of who you can and cannot discriminate against is hardly an intrusion into faith. Requiring a faith test for government posts, or recognizing one religion in a location that suggest inequality before the law represent an extreme intrusion into one’s faith. On that note, the first of the outstanding posts (read them all!). Amanda of Pandagon jumps in:

Or that your Bible belongs in your bedside drawer, not displayed as a monument in front of a courthouse, signaling to non-Christians that they are considered lesser in the eyes of the law.

The rhetorical impact of religious symbols doesn’t enter into the Church/State separation discourse often enough. It not only adds a sense of legitimacy to one particular set of beliefs, but throws differing sets of beliefs into a lower status. For example, check out About Kitty’s post on Chaplains in State Senates:

The current chaplain of the Minnesota State Senate, Dan Hall, has said… (from Pastor leads outreach to state leaders)

“…these committed public servants have a need to understand the bigger purpose of life and to know the Lord in a deeper way.”

…and…

“We must pray that they would know God’s heart and have the courage to vote as Jesus would.”

What message would this send to any Senators of non Christian faiths (especially when it is so rare for an elected representative to voice their atheism)? How about to their constituents? How would it feel to know that when your Senator votes on issues where Church and State may collide (such as reproductive rights, gay marriage, etc), that they are being exhorted to “vote as Jesus would.”?

You should also check out Feminists Don’t Bake Bread’s post on Christian Rhetoric:

YO EVERYONE! If you’re going to quote something in the Bible, can you please try and remember it’s socio-political background and take that into account when attempting to sort out its meaning?

Anna’s discussion of what “Turn the other cheek” is actually saying is profound:

This was, again, Jesus telling people to stand up and point out the unfairness of what was going on.

What Jesus is saying here is simple:

Treat others with respect. Require others treat you with respect.

Or, the more familiar – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Another way of looking at it:  One is following the opponent’s rhetorical actions to the natural extreme:

The follow up quote, about the tunic and the cloak? If you owed someone money, they would take your tunic at night, every night until you paid the money, leaving you just your cloak to wear. (Consider that – I owe the bank money through my credit card right now. If they could show up every night until I paid off my balance and take my shirt but leave me my coat?) This was, again, Jesus telling people to stand up and point out the unfairness of what was going on.

Pointing out the unfairness by going along with the opponent’s action in a way that defeats it.  This is very Tai Chi.  So much so one might call Jesus’s call to “Turn the other cheek” a prime example of Tai Chi Rhetoric.  It provides a new window to look at people like Gandhi, Dick Gregory.  It also provides an exciting way of reclaiming religion as a source of inspiration that carries over into politics in a good way.  One does not have to be a Christian to respect and admire both the principal and the practical effect of “Turn the other cheek” as a rhetorical approach.

Blue Gal (who started the whole thing) has an excellent post up on Christian Leftists.  The Jewish Atheist has a post up about the notion of America as a humanist nation, and the Springy Goddess has an outsider’s view into American politics tinged with worry, hope, and well wishes.

These are just a few of the awesome blogs against Theocracy.  Even that list is incomplete.  It is waiting for you.

So come on, it’s a great crowd of people blogging on a great topic:  Separation of Church and State.

Come add your voice to ours.

Supreme Court on Global Warming: Hit and Miss

The Supreme Court has done a wonderful thing in requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the Environment.

However the language used in the majority opinion leaves a little to be desired:

As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted, “… the State has an interest independent of and behind the titles of its citizens, in all the earth and air within its domain. It has the last word as to whether its mountains shall be stripped of their forests and its inhabitants shall breathe pure air.”

Is it just me or is it kind of creepy that the State enjoys the last word on whether “its inhabitants shall breathe pure air”.  So the State could, at its pleasure, choose to suffocate us?

Perhaps a better way to phrase this would have been that the State has an obligation to protect the rights of its citizens, and that protecting the health of the environment plays an essential role.

There’s no need to assign the State Vader powers to acknowledge its vital role in protecting the environment.

Here is a link to the full opinion.