Had a brief discussion a short time ago with an associate who likes to feel me out every now and then about hot-button issues like "health care reform" (universal health care now!) and "illegal immigrants" (borders are extensions of gang warfare, large scale, and we're all sons and daughters of immigrants anyway) and gays (I self-identify as a straight ally, and I use the old hack joke that gays should be allowed to marry -- let them be as miserable as everybody else, nyuk nyuk!).
Today, it was the issue of mosque protests, and how we should be worried because the people who flew airplanes into buildings were Muslim, and it's possible that sleeper cells may use mosques to plan future attacks at some point in time. So we need to ban 'em, protest 'em.
No doubt he's getting this message from Fox "News", that TV version of the Weekly World News, which breathlessly tells us that having a mosque built within walking distance of "ground zero" is unAmerican.
UnAmerican? A religious group wants to build a worship and cultural center, and the American response is to hold protests against it?
Now, as a leftist, as a commie, I take a dim view of organised religion. Most days I'm tolerant and accepting of people of faith, whatever faith that is -- if more people lived like Christ, like Buddha, like Mohammad, like any other font of faith, the world would perhaps be a better place. I try to take an ecumenical approach to religion and society, though I'm definitely in the school of "less is better" which in comes to religion in society.
But one of the fabrics of American society, like it or not, is freedom of religion, and it shouldn't take a commie to point that out. It's a constitutionally guaranteed right given to us in the First Amendment that can't be bartered or legislated away.
It doesn't specify which religion, and you'll hear scores of rightwing bible-thumpers arguing we're a Christian nation, but no, Thomas Jefferson advocated the concept of separation of church and state, which protects people like me from people like those religious bigots who decry the Taliban and sharia law but not-so-secretly wish to impose it on America.
And it's that concept that got TJ thrown out of Texas history books this year!
Point being, all these latter-day constitutional fetishists forget the First Amendment, which is rather clear in its message --
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Now, look at the placement of that phrase in question -- the first amendment out of the original ten, the first 16 words -- it couldn't be any more clear. The so-called constitutionalists make a mockery of the very document by proclaiming America a "Christian nation" and by saying mosques should be banned.
That's a rather simple conclusion to a complex issue. If the RW are successful in prohibiting the free exercise of a religion in America, the very fabric of our country starts to fray.
Granted, as a commie, any time the fabric of society starts to fray, any time the rightwing gets froggy and starts showing their fascist tendencies, I see it as one more click towards revolution -- be done with the illusion of free society, be done with the empty, hollow rhetoric, and let's get it on. The more groups they piss off, the more groups they alienate, the more chance we'll see another roosting of the proverbial returning chickens.