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.