Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Losing Your Rights In This Election? So Who Cares?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are ...

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

It's been a long time since I looked at those words and took them to heart, especially the pursuit-of-happiness thing.

Pursuit of happiness. Doesn't sound difficult. But when people hate you, it's VERY difficult. Because no matter how far you try to distance yourself from hate, it's always seems to surround you, even in the subtlest of texts. For instance: do you want to fall in love? Do you want to marry the person you love? Once married, do you want to adopt children? Can you worship God without some form of formal doctrine? Can you choose NOT to worship any god? Can you have the "freedom of religion" while still having "freedom FROM religion?"

The answers to these questions are most aptly expressed in two words: "That Depends."

Actually, the closer answer is: "That depends on the kind of religion predominant in your country." The aggressive, Right-Wing Christofascists of this country want to see you fall in love with the "right" people. They want you to marry in the tradition of their beliefs (at least in the traditions their leaders tell them are acceptable). You can adopt as long as it fits their guidelines for a "traditional" family structure. They want you to worship their (singular) god in a variety of ways, but those methods of worship must be witnessed by other worshipers and in a proper manner. "Freedom of religion" only takes place within their sphere of acceptance.

In America, there is no such thing as freedom FROM religion.

Groups like the Family Research Council want to take away your liberties because your liberties offend their liberties.

FRC's Tony Perkins:

Dear Friends,

Unless you act immediately by contacting CBS's Bob Schieffer, the moderator in Wednesday's final presidential debate, it's likely that the final meeting of the candidates will not contain any questions on marriage or abortion.

Last Friday, Connecticut's Supreme Court overturned that State's marriage law and mandated that every citizen recognize homosexual "marriage." Voters have the right to hear the candidates answer these timely questions:

  • Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution contains a right for homosexuals to marry?
  • Would you change the traditional definition of marriage contained in the federal Defense of Marriage Act?
  • Do you support the Defense of Marriage Act's provision allowing states not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states?
  • Have you ever opposed any ballot initiative seeking to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman?
I don't know about Bob Schiefer, but I would resent anyone trying to put words in my mouth as if I were so stupid as to not know the most important questions to ask. Schiefer is a PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST and broadcaster. Of course, Perkins loathes the media, whether professional or not.

And the subject has been covered before in the vice presidential debates. Perkins, give your elephantiasis of the ego and your self-righteousness a rest!

To get back to rights and issues, ask yourself this question in the ballot box: will this person or law protect my rights (and even expand them) or will he/it take away my rights?

Just a thought.

The Mirror of The Culture War: Biden vs. Palin

Or Good vs. Not-So-Good

I know that some of this ground has been covered before, but after the Biden-Palin debate, I wanted to revisit it, research it, and emphasize it. I believe that Obama picked Biden for his forthrightness and knowledge of foreign affairs. I also believe that Palin was hastily chosen as a "sign" to the Right Wing Christians. The rallies for McCain-Palin have proven that the radical right needs to vent its frustrations, and not in any respectful way. The rhetoric that McCain and Palin (especially) has used in the campaign, the tone of the campaign's ads, the accusations and implications have given rise to a kind of "mob mentality." Now it has come as a shock to McCain (Palin is clueless) that if you pander to Right Wing Christian leaders, you will inherit their flocks of simple-minded sheep. When he had to correct an elderly lady's impression of Obama as an "A-rab" McCain realized that the victim of his attacks on Obama was not Obama, but the millions of people to whom he was reinforcing negative images.

The difference in the make-up of each side of the campaign has been noted before, but I think it came out strongest at the Biden-Palin debate. It was the culture war come alive. It was the distrust towards intellectuals (or for anyone overtly intelligent for that matter) that exhibited itself in 2000. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it REALLY became blatant in 2004. It was the culture war, not politics, that gave rise to the term "swiftboating".

(Pew Research - Todd Gitlin*, October 8, 2008)

French philosopher Ernst Renan famously said that a nation was a daily plebiscite. In America, we have a quadrennial plebiscite: who are we? And that’s to be determined in a month. Remember that America was defined from the start as the fruit of an ideology, not a nationality. Therefore, America is particularly prone to culture wars. There is no American nationality. So the question of what holds the nation together, of who belongs here, of what this stands for, is a matter open to debate. America is a way of life, in other words, a culture.

Right Wing Christianity is trying to make itself the sole American Culture. I pity America if it does.

*Todd Gitlin is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University, where he also oversees the Ph.D. program in communications.