Sunday, November 07, 2004

Now we can talk about it.

If I thought anyone read my blog, I would tell them to go read any of the recent posts at unfogged and apostropher. I understand why this kind of talk was verboten before the election, but it feels really good to have people whose opinions I respect finally expressing it. Separation of Church and State, baby! This has always been the main reason I vote against Republicans. I care about the economy, and war, and incompetence, and dishonesty, and most of the other major reasons people have given for opposing Bush. But honestly, even if Bush had been clearly superior on all those issues, I still would have voted against him because I believe in secular democracy. I would never say that the religious right in America are worse than the terrorists or the Taliban or Saddam, but I sincerely believe the RR are a bigger threat to America. The US could afford to lose a few major cities to terrorism and still remain fundamentally unchanged, but if we become a country where religiously dictated morality is enforced by the government, we are no longer America. Bush, Delay, Hastert, Santorum, Demint and others have made it clear that they fully intend to take several large chunks out of the wall between church and state. Small issues like "under God" in the pledge and Ten Commandments monuments are the canaries in our coalmine. The major struggle of our time is not "Freedom vs. Terror" or "good guys vs. Terrorists" or "Christianity vs. Islam" or even "the West vs. Islamofascism". It is the Western tradition of pluralist Enlightenment rationalism vs. Fundamentalism in all its forms, and in that struggle, frankly I'm not sure which side the Bushies are on. We're talking about Reality-based government vs. Faith-based government. Whether the Fundies are Christian or Muslim makes no difference to me; I know which side I'm on.

5 Comments:

At 12/03/2004 01:46:00 AM,

Hey, I found your blog because my ID is GaijinBiker and I was searching for my own blog! (I just started it, there's nothing much to see yet.)

Anyway, as an atheist, I agree with you that separation of church and state is crucial -- and I also think you are overreacting.

Consider that "religiously-dictated morality" in America was a LOT more prevalent in the past than it is now. The Puritans and pilgrims and colonists were a lot more religious than most Americans today. And even as recently as the 1940's and 50's, divorce was a scandal, women were subservient to men, and homosexuality was the love that dare not speak its name. The trend in America is toward LESS religious influence in society, not more.

It's such a strong trend, too, growing out of our progress in civil rights and women's rights, assimilating immigrants, and so forth, that it is doubtful anyone or anything could reverse it.

Even if the Republicans really wanted to turn America into a complete theocracy, they couldn't do it. Any real step in that direction would be unconstitutional. Little things like "In God We Trust" on our money, etc., have actually been addressed by the Supreme Court, which held they are essentially empty rituals with no real imposition of religion on anybody. They are not, therefore, "canaries in the coal mine" -- because any new law that actually did try to impose religious beliefs or restrictions would be struck down. Even if Bush packs the Court with ultra-conservatives, there are some lines even they just can't cross.

While many Americans are very religious, they (excluding the few real wackos) are also rational. They know that we have come too far and achieved too much as a nation, to throw it all away in favor of fanatical religiosity. That's a problem for nations with nothing else to offer their citizens -- like Arab dictatorships and monarchies. Not us. God isn't going to fix our cars or program our computers. We know that rationalism is the path to success, justice, equality, and strength. We are so dependent on rationalism and reality that it would be impossible for us to cast them aside.

Finally, while excessive religion in a disfunctional society can be a major threat to freedom and justice, so can the enforced absence of religion. In the past, communist and fascist regimes did away with the notion of God, because they wanted no notion of an authority above that of the all-mighty state. Seen in that context, America's strong relgious tendencies are actually a check on government power.

So, sure, stand up for the separation of church and state, but keep a sense of perspective while you do it: America is not turning into a religious dictatorship, no matter what Bush, et al, do.

 
At 12/03/2004 09:24:00 PM,

Wow, a comment!

Yeah, that was pretty hyperbolic. Post-election depression and all that. I'm feeling much better now.

You're right. The arrow of history is clearly in the direction of more human freedom over time, and probably the worst the Bush administration can do is slow it down for a blip.

But I don't think we can afford to give these guys an inch. I still mean what I said about the main struggle of our time being against fundamentalism. I'm just more optimistic about our chances than I let it sound in that post.

I'm also not as confident in the Supreme Court as you seem to be. Scalia, at least, has made it pretty clear that he believes in more than just the "ceremonial deism" of God on the money and such.

I don't believe in enforcing any worldview, but I think it's important to stay vigilant against those who do.


So you're another Gaijin Biker. What do you ride?

 
At 12/03/2004 10:35:00 PM,

I'm riding a Honda X4. Great machine, too bad Honda canned it after the 2003 model year.

I had a picture of it up at my new blog, http://www.ridingsun.blogspot.com/ but it looks like the "free" image hosting I used has decided to cut me off. I'll get a photo of it up there again soon, along with more cutting-edge blogging.

Keep in touch... we gaijin bikers have to stick together.

 
At 12/03/2004 11:36:00 PM,

Ok, got the picture back up there now. Have a look!

 
At 12/03/2004 11:48:00 PM,

Sweet ride.
I didn't realize the X4 had been discontinued. That bike's got some serious power.

If you haven't yet, check out the "Gaijin Bikers in Japan" main page that the Stinger and I have been running and adding to since 1999. A lot of it's pretty old, but there's some stuff up there that might be interesting to a Tokyo-based biker.

 

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