04 July 2011

Independence day post -- this land is our land


One of the more repugnant memes circulating on the right these days is the idea that America is a "Christian nation". It's true, of course, that a statistical majority of the population is Christian in some sense (often not a very meaningful sense), but to call our country a "Christian nation" on this basis is no less offensive than calling it a "white nation" because a majority of the population happens to be white. As anyone can see, that latter appellation would imply that only white Americans are real Americans, with everyone else being not-quite-Americans, second-class, here on sufferance.

Of course, the religious equivalent of this is exactly what the term "Christian nation" is meant to imply. Katie (whose promising new blog you should check out) posts a video which exemplifies the arrogance of the crabbed troglodytes who think America belongs only to them. It makes the implicit message explicit: The rest of us may live here, but our voices and interests and our very presence are not legitimate. This is not our land, it is only theirs.

Whoever takes such a stand declares himself not only my enemy, but America's enemy.

Beyond religion, the most dangerous enemies of this country are those who promote race-consciousness. Religious beliefs at least tell you something significant about a person in many cases, but race is utterly superficial. Yet race-consciousness has been a terrifyingly-effective tool for dividing Americans who have clear common interests, and in some quarters, it still works.

Make no mistake -- there are fear-mongers out there who seek to spread agitation and panic among the ignorant, in the hopes of stampeding them into support for a far-right agenda of exclusion and division. As examples, we've recently seen well-publicized claims that "whites" will be a minority in the US by 2050, and that already a majority of American babies are non-white. Both of these claims are false. Yes, the demographic face of America is changing and will continue to do so -- but the most important part of this is the break-down of whole concept of discrete racial and ethnic categories. The America of the future will not be a land of white people outnumbered and beleaguered -- it will be a land in which racial categories no longer describe anything real because the boundaries between them have blurred into meaninglessness. It's in this sense that the Presidency of Barack Obama -- a man of mixed-race parentage -- so well symbolizes 21st-century America. And the greatest benefit of this fading of racial categories will be the purging of the poison of race-consciousness from American thinking.

It's a poison which is losing effectiveness anyway in most of the country, due to the sheer disrepute into which racism has fallen; it's seldom expressed in explicit terms any more, as it commonly was, decades ago. But look at that hate-filled video again. Barney Frank, same-gender couples, "they want our children". Gays are the "other" that the haters still openly attack and demonize.

Indeed, they must do so -- it's in the Bible. The Christian Right's rising frenzy over gay marriage shows that they've chosen this as their "hill to die on". But die on it they will. Over the last decade, acceptance of gay equality, even in marriage, has spread through America with startling speed, and the trend will continue. The haters have already lost this battle, they just don't know it yet.

America does not belong only to those who have a certain set of supernatural beliefs, or a certain skin tone, or a certain range of sexual proclivities. It is ours just as much as theirs. It belongs to all Americans -- all three-hundred-plus million of us. From Maine to Midway and from Barrow to Brownsville -- this land is our land.

23 Comments:

Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

I have far more concerns about the corporate takeover of America. Corporations are NOT democratic, they are top-down an authoritarian. Now that corporations are recognized as "individuals" by the legal system, their influence on our political process, and our ultimate fate, is chilling at the least.

BOTH parties bow to the corporate god or they don't survive. Our freedoms will not be lost by tyranny as the Tea Party folks think, instead I believe it will be "sold" to the highest bidder.

04 July, 2011 12:12  
Anonymous Paul said...

Cut to the chase man-call it our nation...Let semantics be damned...

04 July, 2011 12:21  
Anonymous nonnie9999 said...

in future debates, i would love to see the candidates asked if this is a christian nation and if everyone who isn't christian is just being allowed to live here with the permission of christians. should those of us who aren't christian mind our manners and behave ourselves so we don't upset our gracious superiors?

04 July, 2011 15:51  
Anonymous Jake said...

Even undocumented immigrants?

04 July, 2011 16:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RtS: Excessive corporate power is a perfectly valid topic -- it just happens to not be the topic of this posting.

Paul: Didn't I?

Nonnie: Good point. Bachmann gets this stuff across by talking in code ("We are the head and not the tail") which is understood by fundies without ringing alarm bells for the rest of us. If fundie candidates really do think of non-Christians or gays as second-class citizens, let's make them come out in the open with it.

Jake: The point of the post is that America belongs to all Americans equally. Illegal aliens aren't Americans.

04 July, 2011 17:03  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Make no mistake -- there are fear-mongers out there who seek to spread agitation and panic among the ignorant, in the hopes of stampeding them into support for a far-right agenda of exclusion and division.

You hear a lot of that in Sarah Palin's rhetoric. At the 2008 convention, with her "we grow good people in our small towns" and referring to small towns and rural areas as "the little pockets of what I call the real America."

What people like Palin try to do is promote an exclusionary view of what constitutes a "real" American rather than an inclusive view.

And this ties into Robert's comment, because by riling up a segment of the American population by telling them they're the real Americans who are under assault by those secular, liberal elites, they don't pay attention to the corporate takeover.

04 July, 2011 20:37  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

and referring to small towns and rural areas as "the little pockets of what I call the real America."

Yes, this is exactly the kind of thing I mean. Most small towns don't have any "out" gays or atheists, or many black people, etc. Nothing wrong with small towns, but there is something wrong with promoting them at the definitive "real America".

Anyway, most Americans don't live in small towns (the population is 25% urban and over 50% suburban).

04 July, 2011 21:25  
Blogger John Myste said...

I would like to second Robert's slightly out of context concern and also say that this nation is a Christian nation. Freedom of religion to many conservatives is similar to the freedom of choice, including the freedom to sin. If you are not a Christian, you are un-American and you will burn in hell. You can be whatever you wish, but if we find out you are not one of us, we lose all respect for you. We are Christian Americans, one nation, under one God. This nation and this God allow sinners in, but know this: you Will get what’s coming to you and that is our consolation.

04 July, 2011 21:31  
Blogger okjimm said...

//"whites" will be a minority in the US by 2050//

whites were a minority back in 1500... so were Christians... and the air was pure, the water clean,and there were no corporations.

There could be merit to a non-white, non-christian America...

If this Land is our land... we need to remember who it once belonged to... and to remember to leave some for the next guys.

05 July, 2011 06:38  
Blogger Tommykey said...

You can be whatever you wish, but if we find out you are not one of us, we lose all respect for you.

Oh John, please have mercy on me!


:-P

05 July, 2011 07:09  
Blogger Wild Clover said...

"This nation and this God allow sinners in, but know this: you Will get what’s coming to you and that is our consolation."

Does this just seem petty and vindictive to anyone else? The poster is "consoled" by the thought that (presumably) anyone they deem a sinner will burn in Hell, or otherwise suffer? I seem to recall one tenet of Christianity is that we are all sinners, meaning the poster too will "get what's coming to them".

I am unconvinced that anyone who actually hews to the core teachings of Christ [the two greatest Commandments- Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and Love thy neighbor as thyself] can make such a statement. There should be absolutely no consolation to anyone that someone who has done nothing to harm you personally will suffer. Granted, being imperfect, turning the other cheek and doing good to those who do you wrong is horribly difficult. But today's extreme evangelicals are less concerned about bringing more people to salvation than to salivating over the idea that anyone they dislike will burn in fire. I am truly disgusted by the poster's comment. Can any thinking religious person wonder why more and more people choose to become atheists, or condemn all religion with a broad brush when the smug hypocrisy of judging others and finding satisfaction in their supposed fate does not jive with anything the Bible teaches?

We are a diverse nation, encompassing many beliefs. It is not given to any human to judge what the Creator finds acceptable in His eyes. Or possibly Hers- Or neither...how can one assign something as mortal as gender to an omnipotent, omnipresent,all knowing being? The basic fact that the Founders assumed a Creator in their preamble and left any interpretation of who or what that Creator is proves a non-Christian foundation. A creationist view 235 years ago in a world without carbon dating or Darwin isn't surprising. As far as I know, Christians and Jews don't have a monopoly on believing in a "creator". Therefore, referencing a Creator also validates Islam, Hinduism, most Native American beliefs I've read of, and multiple other tribal/primitive beliefs around the world. Yet that phrase is one of the most pointed to when someone tries to claim we are a Christian nation.

05 July, 2011 09:34  
Blogger rlthorn said...

Perhaps you are not aware of a statement in a Senate Resolution adopted during the Jefferson Administration (circa 1811)by a senate that contained a number of members cognizant of the circumstances regarding the drafting of the Constitution and the subsequent adoption debates in the States. The Resolution was to ratify a treaty with the Barbary Coast. In this ratification the Senate Resolution stated, "....that the United States is not a Christian nation." Look it up.

05 July, 2011 10:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PM:
I guess the Republicans didn't have time to read Mark 12:28
"And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments [is] Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

05 July, 2011 10:29  
Blogger Marc McDonald said...

Democrats and Progressives have been wimps on a lot of issues over the past 3 decades. But one issue that really annoys me is how the Dems have allowed the GOP to claim the mantel of being the party of "Christian" values.
If "Christian" values mean following the words of Christ, then the Bible is clearly on the side of Progressives.
Christ's message was as radical as anything Marx ever wrote. Christ specifically said that the rich will almost certainly burn in hell.
So what do the Progressives do? We allow the GOP to get away with calling themselves the party of "Christian" values. It's truly sickening.
Yes, there are a couple of obscure verses that seem to condemn homosexuality in the Bible. But not in Christ's own words.
In any case, it'd be surprising if homosexuality WASN'T condemned in the Bible, as virtually everything else is, particularly in the Old Testament.
The Bible says very clearly that anyone who works on the Sabbath should be stoned to death. When the GOP trots out their anti-gay message, we should throw verses like this in their face---to demonstrate that, at least one some issues, the Bible is irrational and full of sh*t.
And we should also reclaim the very strongly progressive words of Christ as our own. We should point out to everyone that Christ was certainly a Liberal and he would have condemned today's GOP.

05 July, 2011 11:03  
Blogger Dusty Crickets said...

A couple quotes from our Founding Fathers...

John Adams (1735-1826)

"The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate a free inquiry? The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded. But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes."

and

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

"Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is none more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory in itself, than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid, or produces only atheists and fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism; and as a means of wealth, the avarice of priests; but so far as respects the good of man in general, it leads to nothing here or hereafter."

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_founders.html

05 July, 2011 12:44  
Blogger Dusty Crickets said...

Here's one more from Paine.....

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel."

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_founders.html

05 July, 2011 12:49  
Blogger John Myste said...

Tommy,

Mercy granted.

Dusty,

I love you! I would marry you right now if that were not gay. That is, unless you are a female, in which case it is not and I will.

05 July, 2011 13:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

JM: That's how a lot of them obviously think.

Okjimm: Most countries are built on land that the ancestors of the current inhabitants took by conquest from someone else, if you go back far enough.

TK & WC: JM is OK -- he's one of the good guys -- he's just illustrating how the bad guys think. There's no doubt that a lot of them do gloat over the thought of those who are different from them burning in Hell or being tormented during Armageddon or whatever. Judgmentalism is their most salient trait. And, yes, I know this is embarrassing to Christians of a non-extremist stripe.

RLThorn: I've heard of that -- actually "the government of the United States is not founded on the Christian religion". Unfortunately the Barbary states probably had a hard time imagining the concept of a genuinely secular state.

Anonymous: Not sure I see your point.

MMD: There are a lot of things attributed to Jesus that can be read various ways. Homosexuality is explicitly condemned in several places in the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments, though not in words attributed to Jesus personally. But the overall thrust is clear. Certainly if we took the Bible seriously, we'd have to execute almost everybody.

DC: Thanks for the quotes.

05 July, 2011 13:38  
Blogger Tommykey said...

TK & WC: JM is OK -- he's one of the good guys -- he's just illustrating how the bad guys think.

I knew, that's why I was going along with the joke.

05 July, 2011 16:17  
Blogger John Myste said...

Wild,

As far as I know, Christians and Jews don't have a monopoly on believing in a "creator".

If understand the data correctly, you are right about that. The Jews have it all wrong and are not allowed to join the monopoly. The Christians alone control the Creator. The Jews are a minority who killed Christ by letting the Romans crucify him. God ordained the execution of Christ, or so the rumor goes, but that is OK because it was His son to do with as He pleased. Oh, God, we are all children of God! Some of those outraged at the results of the Casey Anthony trial are OK with God’s treatment of His child. Since I am an American and Christians own America, I guess if I am to live here, I have to be OK with it also.

Praise Jesus, His Father, and that other God that goes by several names, including Ghost, which I think is His Biker name.

Respectfully,
J

05 July, 2011 20:50  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Mornin Infodell ...

I read this already when you first posted it, but wanted to add a short story here now please (True)

Back a few year's ago after visiting your great City of Portland (I truely mean that too, when I say "Great") I was at a local auto repair inde shop (for Asian vehicle's, since I drove a Nissan Pathfinder SUV back then, and needed some work I couldnt do myself) ... the guy who own's the shop came here from South Korea as a kid, went to High School here in Dallas though ... I was telling him of how much I loved PDX/ Portland ... he also been there before and said ... "I can see that, I love Portland too ... not having to deal with all these f'n Mexican's and Black's that we have in Dallas, and more Asian people, alot less crime, etc ..." (very similar word's). I was a little suprised actually ... but ... that's his point of view. I am a white male, American born (English, Jewish, Danish, and Italian familia background) ... yet since my childhood, have associated with many folk's of color ... especially Mexicano's and Black's ... who frankly if it wasnt for them Mexicano's and Black's ... I wouldnt probably be here today ... so this has had a big impact on my race relation's/ thought's, due to all the help when I was down and out as a young troubled teen as well as a young man, I received from these folk's that didnt even know me as familia or anything. Just wanted to add that.

Thanx ....

06 July, 2011 05:30  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

"What people like Palin try to do is promote an exclusionary view of what constitutes a 'real' American rather than an inclusive view."

What is it with these extremist GOPers and their "real Americans" and now Herman Cain's statement that Mr. Obama isn't a "real black man?"

The GOPers certainly have a fixation on the illusion that anything they belong to or believe in is "real" while the rest of us wander forlornly in Ersatzistan.

There has to be some psychological underpinnings to this need to feel exclusive and exceptional.

I wonder what it is...

06 July, 2011 09:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC: Racism exists in all groups of people. Of course, he may have been objecting to behavior patterns he associated with those groups -- after living here longer he'd realize that behavioral and cultural differences don't correlate with race very much.

SK: I think it's a combination of (a) a very narrow sense of what's "normal", but living among great numbers of people who obviously don't conform to their definition; and (b) realization that the fundie / far-right mentality is in the minority in the US, which brings a need to de-legitimize the majority.

07 July, 2011 04:48  

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