Thursday, March 30, 2006

Republican Hot Buttons: Push When Red Herring is on the Menu

The "base" content of the forwarded email just below is typical of the propaganda against immigrants being circulated by American conservatives. Mr. Bush, of course, has Karl Rove to tell him that diatribes like the one below are not temperate and cannot be used by him directly. In his stead citizens who count themselves among his "base" do the work for him and the Administration spends little time disabusing the public of these racist, fascist, ignorant rants. The attitude is hateful, the information is false and falsified---it is not simply ignorance, you may be sure. Most Americans would no longer publicly tolerate such an attack on African-Americans but many did as recently as the 1970s and 1980s. The Latinos are the newest "whipping boy" for conservative politicians to use when they seek ways to distract the public from more important issues.

If conservatives were honestly worried about foreigners taking jobs from native-born Americans, they would force the government to more closely regulate the out-sourcing of jobs by giant American corporations. Bush's corporate buddies outsource so that they can use sweatshop tactics and standards and increase their profits. Every job outsourced by big business takes a job from some willing American worker. No doubt some illegal immigrants have jobs that a native American might have were the immigrant not here but why is that unemployed person more to be protected than the worker who lost a job to outsourcing? In either situation the workers are the losers and the business tycoons are the winners. There really IS a theme here. That theme being GREED, one of the Seven Deadly Sins---I think. If it is not one of the seven it should be.

Following the email I recently received which immediately follows, You will find a reply that, for the most part, is not simply a political response but is a factual clarification of the errors in the Republican attack on their fellow, but poor and dark of skin, human beings. Charming!

Think about this: If you don't want to forward this for fear of offending someone-----


Will we< /U> still be the Country of choice and still be America if we continue to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries that came to live in America because it is the Country of Choice??????

Think about it!

All we have to say is, when will they do something about MY RIGHTS?

I celebrate Christmas...........but because it isn't celebrated by everyone..............we can no longer say Merry Christmas. Now it has to be Season's Greetings.

It's not Christmas vacation, it's Winter Break. Isn't it amazing how this winter break ALWAYS occurs over the Christmas holiday?

We've gone so far the other way, bent over backwards to not offend anyone, that I am now being offended. But it seems that no one has a problem with that.
This says it all!
This is an editorial written by an American citizen, published in a Tampa newspaper. He did quite a job; didn't he? Read on, please!

I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, we have experienced a surge
in patriotism by the majority of Americans. However...... the dust from the attacks had
barely settled when the "politically correct! " crowd began complaining about
the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to ! America.
Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants.
However, there are a few things that those
who have recently come to our country, and apparently some born here , need to understand.

This idea of America being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Americans...... we have our own culture, our
own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH , not Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language.
Therefore, if you wish to become part
of our society, learn the language!

"In God We Trust" is our national motto. This is not some Chr istian , right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women.......on Christian principles.............
founded this nation..... and this is clearly documented.

It is certainly appropriate to display it
on the walls of our schools.
If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as
your new home.........because
God is part of our culture.

If Stars and Stripes offend you, or you don't like Uncle Sam, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet.
We are happy with our culture and have
no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from.

This is OUR COUNTRY, our land, and our lifestyle.

Our First Amendment gives every citizen the
right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so!
But once you are done complaining....... whining..... . and griping....... about our flag....... our pledge...... our national motto........or our way of life....I highly encourage you to take advantage of one other Great American Freedom.......


It is Time for America to Speak up
If you agree -- pass this along;
if you don't agree -- delete it!


I figure if we all keep passing this to our friends (and enemies) it will also, sooner or later g et bac k to the complainers, let's all try, please!


St. Paul City Hall Bans Easter Bunny

Don't you find it rather ironic that Christians are protesting the removal of an Easter Bunny which was a pagan symbol of fertility that the early Church passively accepted in order to make it more acceptable for pagans to become Christians? Until this particular protest, millions of conservative Christians have been protesting the silly use of the Easter Bunny in acknowledging the most extraordinary and sacred event in the Christian calendar! Serious Christians ought to be offended by the use of a pagan fertility symbol to celebrate the execution and resurrection of their savior.

In other words, as the Church spread and began to recruit among Gentiles, it employed facets of those new cultures in order make Christianity more attractive---a multi-cultural approach that the email below attacks. I actually agree that the best way to achieve success in America usually involves becoming a part of the mainstream American culture but how many conservatives complain about the Irish hanging on to their St. Patrick's Day Parades and Parties? How many object to the German immigrants celebrating Oktoberfest? The Chinese celebrating the Chinese New Year? This anti-immigrant sentiment is directed almost exclusively toward Latinos.

Who has ever prevented you or me from saying "Merry Christmas?" I said it all over the place this past December and was not arrested a single time. A few stores made that decision on their own theoretically to bring in more customers and therefore make MORE MONEY. No immigrants went to Court about that! It was the Wal-Mart executives who thought they could make more sales! And as soon as the CEOs realized their decision might hurt PROFITS, they went back to the traditional approach. Their actions were not about the law, not about religion or any other noble principle--it was about MONEY. What are the changes that immigrants have "forced you to make?" I am serious with that question. I have no clue about having been forced by an immigrant to do anything at all.

Almost every child in America and his teachers say "Christmas Holidays" and no one corrects them. The official change has to do with the fact that unlike the days when OUR ancestors were immigrants, many of our new students come from non-Christian countries and there have been Jews in America as long as there have been Europeans. It is a matter of courtesy, if not a Constitutional issue. If you are inviting a guest to your home for dinner and you know that person is a vegetarian, you don't HAVE to cater to that person's diet choices BUT it is a consideration most hosts would not mind respecting. The public schools are NOT supposed to be Christian schools--they are public and the public includes dozens of different faiths. The Puritans and Pilgrims did not believe in celebrating Christmas in ANY WAY other than by going to church. Do you think Christian, corporate America cares about the "original intent" of our founders enough to stop having Christmas sales and advertising? Do they care enough about the religious meaning of Christmas to stop its commercialization? Why don't more conservatives protest that corruption of a Holy Day?

This past Christmas Day came on a Sunday and many American Christians cancelled church services!! Why didn't people who worry about the meaning of Christmas and our American traditions protest that? And, not to put too fine a point on it, BUT does anyone in the nation believe that prior to this change in what we call the winter break, that students and teachers were looking forward to the two weeks off so that they would have more time to think and reflect on God's miraculous gift of his Son? Did even 3% EVER think of it as a RELIGIOUS break? I was seriously trying to be Christian when I was young and in school. The two weeks off in the winter had NOTHING to do with religion as we eagerly awaited it. As a teacher I usually worked alongside very committed Christians. Not once in 31 years of teaching did I hear any of those good people speak of the break in religious terms. I always joined in with the Christians who were appalled that advertisers and capitalist greed mongers had turned Christmas, a High Holy Day, into a sales event at the Malls. Why don't more Christian Americans protest that? Surely the commercialization of Christmas is a far more serious threat to the true meaning of Christmas than the name we give the two weeks off from school! It was not newly arrived immigrants who challenged what the winter weeks were to be called. It was old time, regular Americans who believed that public schools should be neutral on religion as per the First Amendment. Now, they may be wrong but they were not immigrants.

Similar to the Easter Bunny protest, I think it is interesting that the email states that "....winter break ALWAYS occurs over the Christmas Holiday." That fact, too, is a result of early Christians trying to reach out to a different culture. The biggest rival to Christianity in its first 300 years was a religion called Mithraism--its god was Mithras whose VIRGIN birth was said to have occurred at the winter solstice--December 25 on their calendar. Christmas, like Easter, is celebrated on a pagan holiday and was done that way to attract people from another religious culture. (Some free info. here, Mithras was also said to have been executed for his teachings and rose from the dead after three days. His followers were "washed in the blood" literally when they were baptized into the faith--although it was the blood of a bull rather than a lamb.)

How on earth has multi-culturalism "diluted our sovereignty?" What does that even mean? Sovereignty is based on the fact that no foreign government controls us. Just what foreign government has taken control? I, too, am opposed to "multi-culturalism" when the concept is used to encourage any group not to become full participants in the American experience. I fought for years against segregating history into "black history" and "women's history." Not because I did not believe that we had been wrong to have ignored their contributions to our national story but because separating their history did not tell the true story of how we all influenced each other. (My reasoning may have been fuzzy on that but I do understand the sentiment) But, America is as a matter of historical fact multi-cultural. Our diet, our music, our dress, our language*, our heritage, our religions, our dances, our educational system, our political system----EVERYTHING about us is a mixture of all the cultures from which our people have come.. Many southerners take great pride in their Celtic (Scots-Irish) heritage, Minnesotans celebrate their Scandinavian influences. New Orleans celebrates its Spanish, African-American, French and mixed race heritage. The Southwest celebrates its connections to Native American traditions. This has always been true in America. In fact, during the last half of the 20th Century, celebrations of ethnic heritage actually declined from the very prominent role they had had during most of the nation's history. Ethnic awareness is as old as our nation. Some who are upset about it now seem to think it is a new phenomenon.

I won't go off too long on the "In God We Trust" issue. It was NOT a result of anything having to do with the founding fathers. The first time it was used on coins was near the end of the Civil War (1864). That lasted a few years and then the practice disappeared. It was used again for a while again just after the turn of the century. Disappeared again. Not until 1955 was it placed on all our currency and it was not the National Motto until 1956. Again, the national motto had nothing to do with our founding fathers. It was an action taken by a Democratically controlled Congress to demonstrate a difference between America and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Similarly, "Under God" was NOT a part of the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950s and it was also done as a part of the propaganda wars with the Soviet Union.

There seems to be no way to clarify the mistaken notion going through American conservative circles recently about our nation having been founded on Christian principles. The truth is exactly the opposite. One of the main reasons that our rebellion against the British was such a major world revolution was the fact that America had the first major government established on a secular theory--the cornerstone of which was democracy and the fact that in our revolutionary society, the national power rose UP from the PEOPLE and was not handed down by God to a monarch who then ruled as he claimed "God told him to." ALL major governments and governmental theories prior to the US were based on--to some degree or another--the notion that governmental authority was derived from God. That theory made the government much more powerful over the people because it claimed that God had put it into power.

The justification for and the structure of the American government was based primarily on the writings two men, John Locke, who was not Christian, and a Frenchman, Montesquieu, a Catholic because he had to be but whose theory of separation of powers was based on the principles of the Age of Reason and not the bible or religion of any kind. When Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, John Adams and the rest went about the revolution and the writing of the Constitution, they deliberately avoided any biblical references or Godly inspirations in terms of how the government was set up and how it was to be run. The great, noble experiment of American democracy was seen all over the world as the first rationally based theory of government--a secular theory. The government was not anti-religion but it was not inspired by religion either.

Of course the values expressed in documents like the Ten Commandments overlap many of the laws enacted in early America but not because the founders were devoted to the Ten Commandments. If you recall the story of Moses, God gave the Commandments to the Hebrews after they had begun to falter in obeying the laws God have given them through Abraham and the early Hebrew patriarchs. The Commandments were meant to do what all governments have to do--maintain a civilized, orderly society. Since all governments have similar functions, there is bound to be overlap. Murder, stealing. Adultery, lying, are things that disrupt any society so almost ALL governments have laws against them. IF the founding fathers had intended the nation to be a Bible-based nation, it seems odd that they completely ignored the two greatest commandments about loving God with all our hearts and to have no other Gods before him. Not one word about what the Bible says are the two main commandments. That, however, is circumstantial evidence. If one wants to know for herself what the "founding fathers" thought about Christianity, religion and government, we have many, many documents and speeches and letters written by the founders. NOT a single one of them argues that this is meant to be a Christian nation. Among the founders, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, Madison and John Adams were Deists rather than Christian. They'd all been church members because colonial laws required it. But, they were not believers in a personal God who was active in history.

Washington made a point to edit out all references to God or Jesus in the speeches his writers brought to him. He thought it unwise to mix religion and politics. Jefferson, relying on his knowledge of Greek and Latin, wrote what he referred to as a rational New Testament translation in which he refused to include a single reference to any of the supernatural or miraculous events in the Gospels. He railed against the virgin birth, the physical resurrection, life after death and many other beliefs held dear by Christians. In his campaign for president, one of the the biggest obstacles to his campaign were the charges of his being an atheist. People back then read his works and knew his beliefs. All these men respected religion to one degree or another and understood the important role of religion in providing a cultural glue to hold a society together. They understood that many Americans took religion seriously and rarely made a point of challenging it publicly. One can get an idea of their real attitudes by carefully reading Jefferson's words inthe Declaration of Independence. In it he states that all humans are endowed with certain rights---life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (John Locke had said life, liberty and property). Jefferson said that we were given those rights by "Nature" and "nature's god." He used the term "nature" first. For a deist like Jefferson, referring to "nature's god" was almost precisely the same thing as our references to "Mother Nature." In fact "Mother Nature" as an expression is a hold-over from primitive, pagan religions who worshipped a Female Deity as opposed to the patriarchal Hebrews. "Nature's God" refers to the laws of nature--that a distant, impersonal God MAY have put in place, according to the deists.

As the writer of the editorial below correctly states, "God is a part of our culture." So is atheism, so is communism, so is free-thinking, political freedom, inclusiveness, exclusiveness, honor, corruption, murder, reverence for life, a woman's right to choose, Christianity, Judaism, Islam. His reference to the First Amendment misses the main point of the amendment. Popular ideas, thoughts, politics and religion do not need protection. The majority protects them by definition. The First Amendment's greatness is in the fact that it protects unpopular, minority, radically liberal and radically conservative thoughts and expressions. Freedom of expression would be pointless if we were all supposed to end up thinking the same thing.

In 2006 conservatives control all three branches of government and they win most elections. History is on their side---right now. But everyone who has studied history knows that the pendulum always swings and it is virtually certain that sometime in the near future liberals will, for a while, represent the majority of the people. The editorialist, being in the majority, is comfortable saying that if we do not get with the program and agree with him, then we ought to pack up and leave. One wonders if he will so easily give up his nation, his citizenship, his home when the liberals return and pursue a course of politics that he completely disagrees with. Is it true patriotism to pack up and leave one's country just because the politics are temporarily going against one's beliefs or would a real lover of his homeland stay and fight--complain, whine, argue, write long emails or anything else at his disposal to try to return America to what that individual believes is America's true spirit. I am a patriot. I believe in the message of the Statue of Liberty which welcomes all immigrants. I believe in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. The editorialist's attitude which amounts to "think like I do or keep your mouth shut or get the hell out of MY country" goes against some of the most cherished principles this nation has built itself on, principles that have made America a "city upon the hill" for millions of people from all over the world. He has the freedom to speak hatefully about anyone who has different ideas from his own and I have the right to respectfully disagree. I love America just as much as he and apparently, I love the Bill of Rights more. I can accept his different beliefs (although I wonder why people who think like him never bother to check their historical facts,) while he rejects my right to disagree with him. Which position is the American ideal you want preserved?

Mason Myatt
Birmingham, AL

* one main reason American English is so hard for immigrants to learn is that American English has always incorporated rules and words from other liguistic tradtions---as did the original English language for that matter. We have words that we use on a daily basis from many languages: German, Latin, Greek, Various African dialects, Scandinavian, even some Russian and Japanese. Our grammar has also been influenced by many different cultures. Again, that makes it harder to learn. There is not a consistent set of rules that can be organized in a concrete manner. English has always been hard to learn and as we know, in the past, many, many immigrants, particularly the older ones, never learned the language. It often took 2 or 3 generations for the kids to have English fully as their first language. Back then, most Americans just understood that was happening and why. The current anger seems to be directed almost exclusively toward the Latino community of immigrants. One reason is that when the Europeans were moving to this country, they were often fairly well-off and in the middle classes. Some had had more formal schooling. Many of today's immigrants are very poor, with minimal formal education and have come here to better their lives from the poverty they experienced in their native lands. If anyone were to check out the efforts to include Spanish on signs and on directions for operating things and all the other Spanish language we see and hear in the US, he would find that the efforts are being lead by native-born Americans who realize that the pace of life in the 21st Century is incredibly faster than ever before. Immigrants simply do not have the "grace" period to learn as they go that would have worked fine when we were an agricultural society. If they are not given a boost regarding language, they will be held back in a society that no longer waits on any of us. That will slow down their assimilation into our culture and hurt the economy they are here to serve. Americans who are making a point to learn Spanish are, for the most part,connected to the world of commerce and know that having the language to conduct business will expedite sales and profits. Healthcare professionals are also learning more Spanish as are law enforcement officials. Health care workers do it so that they can better care for the sick. Cops do it because knowing the language can diffuse situations that might otherwise result in violence and unnecessary killings. It is for the overall good of our society. These new immigrants WILL learn English and they will probably do it faster than our ancestors did because it will be an economic necessity.


Blogger Bradford said...

These forwards--like the one you dismantled so methodically and effectively--are so replete with fear. Fear of an enemy that white Americans create, need and pretend to destroy. Fear that America just might become what it's been for four centuries--a melting pot. They want a cream-based soup, really, a nice bisque, perhaps. But, a spicy, dark stew just will not do.

7:48 AM  
Blogger pjgodwin said...

my head hurts...

2:45 PM  
Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Your point that the pedulum eventually swings the other way is well taken. It's already starting to happen. People are fed up. Will they try to steal the next election? Of course they will. Will they succeed? That's another question entirely.
Tom Degan

1:40 AM  

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