November 5, 2004

Ongoing Discussion 11-04

Another essay written as part of an ongoing election-politics discussion; the recipient had made rather free with my hospitality, but deliberately concealed his far-right religious and political views, and the fact that he was an admirer of the odious Ann Coulter (who sneers at others for their alleged ignorance, but confuses “advice and advise” in an online posting), and that he did not consider the Vietnam War to have been a mistake. Even after Robert McNamara himself, the architect of that war, had admitted as much in “The Fog of War.”

I challenge you to find the places where I said any of the things that you attribute to me. You are still putting words in my mouth. I never said you hated black people. I said that the Republican party has actively sought to disenfranchise black and other minority voters, and took advantage of Southern racism and disgruntlement after Johnson’s Civil Rights Act to expand the ranks of their party. I didn’t ever say nor was I trying to prove that faith is “irrational and prayer is a waste of time.” Show me where I said that. I do have faith and I do pray. I said that people’s individual religious beliefs have no place being legislated, because America has a little thing called the First Amendment. The papal humanae vitae, and mulieris dignitatem, whether I agree with their principles or not, have no business dictating American policy any more than the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. Reading and understanding them would not change my position in the least. The contents of all of these documents and teachings are immaterial with regard to American laws, because our constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Our nation is diverse, and Americans worship and relate to the Divine in many different ways; choosing one religion to use as a basis for our laws would be unfair to those who practice different religions or no religion. You would protest mightily if Buddhists took over and forbade the eating of meat, or you were forced to meditate every day, or if verses from the Koran were posted in front of government buildings.

You haven’t told me much about what you believe, except that you think that your religion should dictate policy, even if others don’t share your beliefs, and even if it victimizes poor women, children, and gay people. You’ve been so busy with the kind of crazy hyperbole (Saddam-loving leftists) that you pick up from talking-heads shows that you haven’t limned your philosophy at all. I don’t get “talking points” from TV news shows, because I rarely watch them. When I have used other people’s words, I have attributed all quotes and ideas to their authors. Believe it or not, everything else I have written to you has been my original work and thoughts, not cribbed from liberal pundits. I came to these conclusions on my own, not because Michael Moore or John Kerry or Garrison Keillor told me what to say.

You’re the one who brought up China, not me. It’s a totalitarian, communist state, and its human rights record is atrocious; they clearly do not value human life the way we do here. I said several times that I would never want their forced abortion policies in America, any more than I would want forced pregnancy and childbirth. As I said before, I don’t support any policy that takes away people’s control (forced vasectomies?) over their own bodies. Any kind of law restricting reproductive rights disproportionately affects the poor, and I think they're wrong.

The Catholic church’s demonizing of birth control has kept many third-world countries where Catholicism is more or less the national religion firmly in the third world. As I said before, it’s impossible for families to focus on educating their children and bettering their lives when they can barely afford to feed them. Since the Pope has personally visited most of these countries, I don’t understand how any human being, much less a man of God, could see the misery of the Mexicans or the Brazilians, for example, and continue to advocate practices which serve to keep people poor, hungry and ignorant.

George Bush is intellectually incurious, and his relying on hunches rather than facts or reality bothers me. As an NPR commentator said yesterday, rather than focusing exclusively on facts, I think that John Kerry should have also invoked the passionate morality of the civil rights movement, which would have involved people emotionally, not just practically or empirically.