Sunday, May 22, 2005

Topic of the Week - Un-Reframing Reality

On December 27, 2004, Time Magazine named George W. Bush Person of the Year...subtitled "America's Revolutionary." In naming Bush Person of the Year, Time Magazine focused its feature to how George Bush is reframing reality in America. How religion and conservatism are changing the way America believes, acts, thinks and what we value as acceptable as a culture. We, as Americans, the article continues are embracing this change...

The media, on a whole, continues to buy into this crap. On the front page of the Wall Street Journal this past Friday, May 20, 2005, the lead caption in the "World-Wide" column stated:

"STEM CELLS JOINED judges in widening Congress's partisan divide." "Talks to avert a shutdown over filibustering of judicial nominees continued, with a bipartisan group of moderates saying a deal is in reach. But rhetoric in the Senate became more unyielding, and groups including religious conservatives plan an ad blitz against any compromise hindering a Republican effort to remake the federal bench. Religious politics also figure in House debate on a bill to ease funding of embryonic stem-cell work. It could pass, thus forcing Bush into an unpopular veto."

Take a minute and read this lead caption again. The second largest circulated newspaper in America acknowledges religious conservatives and religious politics as part of our political process now...does anyone see how wrong this is? Our media, inclusive of the NY Times, Washington Post, CNN, and the other mainstream media write news reports on the interweaving of religious fundamentalism into our political process as if this is OK. As if our system now accepts religion and politics as a blend.

At Fran Liebowitz's performance last week, when Fran stated that "where this is no religion in politics, there is progress...and the opposite is true." When Fran stated this, I sensed confusion in the air. People in the audience actually were somewhat uncomfortable by Fran's statements although history supports her very claim.

I attended a seminar this past Monday on the Patriot Act and how it is affecting our Libraries in having to disclose, if subpoenaed, the identity of anyone who checks out any book. Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota was one of the featured speakers and after delivering a very eloquent speech, Senator Dayton opened-up the floor to questions. The first question asked Senator Dayton if the Patriot Act will continue after its deadline of December 31, 2005, the questionnaire asked "are we stuck with it?" Senator Dayton when on to say that it is almost a certainty that the Patriot Act will continue after discussion and debate this Fall in Congress. I watched the room and almost everyone acknowledged by nodding their head this acceptance of continuation. Many questions were asked on how do we as citizens deal with the Patriot Act...what should we know as citizens so we are more informed about this law.

Coincidentally, I raised my hand and it was announced my question would be the last for Senator Dayton. Everyone gave Senator Dayton an ovation for attending and for his continued fight for our civil liberties and his personal challenge against the Patriot Act. Senator Dayton is truly one of the good ones. However, I had enough.

I needed to ask the very question that was pounding in my head. I started "Senator Dayton, the first question to you this morning asked you directly if the Patriot Act is here to stay...if we are stuck with it after December 31, 2005. It seems to me the follow-up questions were not about challenging the very Act itself but how do we as citizens deal with it, what do we have to be aware of. This troubles me, Senator Dayton. You, yourself acknowledged it will continue. It does not seem to me that our thinking in this room is how to challenge it and stop it from continuing after December 31, 2005. I acknowledge we live in a post 9-11 world, but I really have a hard time understanding how the Patriot Act is good for me as a citizen."

"So tell us in this room, Senator Dayton, give us some reason to support this Act - tell us what detail(s) specifically in the Patriot Act are for the good of us citizens, protects our civil liberties and freedom of speech. Not in general but an actual detail or two. I have read a portion of the Act and skimmed much of it, but I cannot find one detail that is truly good for us citizens and our civil liberties. Please give us one or two."

Well, Senator Dayton answered as best he could...however, he acknowledged he has not read the Patriot Act in its entirety. To his credit, Senator Dayton stated he will be fighting against it and fighting to change the clauses within the Act that affect our civil liberties. He actually stated that he thought following the money was a good thing in allowing government to solicit anyone's bank records...although Senator Dayton sated that President Nixon had him audited back in the 1970's after Dayton accused Nixon of lying...so Senator Dayton retracted this statement and said he wasn't necessarily accepting of following the money. He politely ended his answer by thanking everyone and then departing out the back (which to his defense this was announced before my question that he would be departing immediately afterwards).

What's my point of all this? I believe we need to un-reframe this "reality" that the media and us as Americans seemingly accept as OK. That we are in an age where religious conservatives and our political leaders are actually allowing debate on religious beliefs as part of public policy. That we as citizens actually seem to be silent when religion is being initiated into our political system whether it be at a federal level, a state level or a grass roots level. Silence is consent? I hope not people.

My request to everyone is to consider posting one topic, one issue that has actually either been voted on as a bill and/or is being attempted to be heard on either the Senate or House floor (federal or state) and/or you are experiencing in your backyard as part of your city council that has a religious group's backing or a religious or conservative overtone within it...help create this awareness for anyone reading this blog on the many, many initiatives that we are seemingly accepting as part of our reality in America today. Click on this link to post one issue where you see this reframing of reality initiated by conservatives and The Christian Right and how it is wrong - http://christianwrong.blogspot.com/

Maybe posting some of these religious initiatives will help us open our eyes a bit and motivate you to get involved somehow...whether it be as a volunteer to organizations committed to fight separation of church and state, donate money to organizations fighting for the separation of church and state, attend a fundraiser for a candidate that values separation of church and state, write your local politicians and media and put pressure on them to fight for the separation of church and state and/or simply speak out in discussion of politics with a friend, family member or colleague on how this acceptance of melding church and state is wrong

2 Comments:

At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At Fran Liebowitz's performance last week, when Fran stated that "where this is no religion in politics, there is progress...and the opposite is true." When Fran stated this, I sensed confusion in the air. People in the audience actually were somewhat uncomfortable by Fran's statements although history supports her very claim.

Why do you believe this, and why does it evidently give you so much comfort to believe it?

1. America is a nation founded by Christians. The influence of Christians upon American politics, from the Puritans to John Witherspoon to Martin Luther King Jr., is undisputed. Are you saying that the American Revolution was not "progress"?

2. Both the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution were anti-religious movements, bringing about regimes that persecuted Christians. Was the Reign of Terror in France "progress"? Was the bloody tyranny of Lenin and Stalin "progress"?

3. The founding of the state of Israel was an explicitly religious act, rooted in the acceptance of the books of Genesis and Exodus -- with God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob -- as historically true. Was this incompatible with "progress"?

One might enumerate at some length the evidence that contradicts Liebowitz's anti-religious statement. And I am myself a hard-liner when it comes to the First Amendment's guarantees of religious freedom and its prohibition on any act by Congress relating to an "establishment of religion." But the question is: Why does it make you and Ms. Liebowitz so happy to think that her counterfactual statement might be true?

 
At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I’m sorry you brought it up as it still bothers me from last December. You know, Time’s Man of the Year.

Our dear Mr. President should have been the poster boy on Christian Herald Magazine’s front cover…not Time Magazine’s. What were they thinking? Looking back a bit, I do believe (like most of us) those brave folks in the 1770’s who fought, risked and laid down their lives to build the framework for us today were pretty rational and intuitive folks, wouldn’t you say? As they in deed saw the need for themselves as well as the need for future generations to have among others things, an ideal of separation of church and state. But no, “…poor George, poor George…” could not have know that, and just could not help himself as it would have meant he would have had to been able to read, study and interpret the Constitution…need I explain further?

Have you ever seen, listened to this Head of State orator of ours? A most embarrassing sight each time he opens his mouth. Doesn’t say much for Time magazine does it or those on staff who make the selection of this Man of the Year thing each December. Makes you cringe doesn’t it.

Its kind of like being in this war that we entered into for all the wrong reasons. You know, having a Commander in Chief (who really did serve, I mean let’s face it, the Air National Guard? Give me a break.) Now poor George is in charge of our Armed Forces? Am I missing something here? (Oh by the way, I’m a Viet Nam Vet…and I enlisted for 4 years in the 60’s to serve…not duck and dodge as some do).

Anyway, this war of ours, you know the one, the George II war (as I call it), the one that we were lied to as to the rational to enter this desert war abroad. Now having the same person (George) express his own personal religious beliefs on us and rammed down our throats…hum, what’s next? Oh I know, the censorship of any and all printed material this Leader of ours doesn’t like. Gee, now I wonder if he has even heard about “Freedom of the Press?” Yikes, what a scary thought….perhaps he knows about it! Man of the Year…”Shame of the Year” would be more apropos.

 

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