Friday, August 27, 2010

SHAMELESS!!! (I'm Talking About Glenn Beck)

While I don't agree in full with the Color of Change's Turn Fox Off campaign (after all, even hate-spreading folks like Glenn Beck have 1st Amendment rights), these points they make about Mr. Beck's and Bill O'Reilly's  racist rants deserve some reprint here, given that the nut the psycho Mr. Beck is having a little shindig at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of one of the greatest civil rights speeches of all time.   From a letter circulating the Internet from the Turn Fox Off campaign:

A year ago, Glenn Beck called the President a racist who had a deep-seeded hatred for White people.1 In just over a week, he says he will "reclaim"2 the legacy of the civil rights movement by holding his "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC — on the same day and place as Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech.3

You can get mad at Beck. You can protest and try to prevent him from stepping on Dr. King's honor for one day. The reality is that the next day — and five days-a-week from there on out — Beck will be back on Fox News, speaking to millions and spreading hate, lies, and fear, as he does every week.

The real problem is Fox News. Fox News gives Beck his platform, and Fox promotes his events — all despite Beck losing virtually all of his major advertisers in the last year.

Fox's rhetoric is not just divisive; it's dangerous. Last month, a heavily armed man got into a gun fight with police after he was pulled over on his way to kill people at the Tides Foundation4 — a non-profit that was little known until Glenn Beck repeatedly demonized it, claiming it to be the center of a great conspiracy.5 Last year, Kansas doctor George Tiller was gunned down while at church6 after Bill O'Reilly called him a Nazi, a "baby killer," and warned of "Judgment Day."7

SHAMELESS!!! (I'm talking about myself)

I wrote an article last week that dealt with what I thought about the mosque being built in N.Y. City. I hope that you will listen and call in to my weekly radio show this week when we get deeper into the subject. You can listen on KWAM 990 in the Memphis area, or you can listen live at Every Saturday and soon to be Sunday at 4 o'clock, p.m. I truly can appreciate all sides of an argument, and I think you will find that to be true the more you get to know me.

We will also have a live report from the Lincoln Memorial about everything that is happening there tomorrow and we will also pay tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream Speech". I know someone is going to comment "That's not the name of the speech!" I know, but everyone knows what you are talking about when you say it that way.

Join my fan page on facebook, The Average American, and remember the Average American is not Democrat or Republican, it is YOU and ME. Never be defined by a title.

Thank you,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Founding Fathers and Christianity (or, stop using just another pathetic excuse to try to make me behave like you do)

Often when debating our rights to freedom of religion, I run into people who identify with conservative Christianity who want to explain to me what the founding fathers intended.  I've heard that the founding fathers never intended this to be anything other than a Christian nation.  I've heard that the founding fathers were all Christians.

Like most things, it's just people repeating what they've been told by their parents, their preachers, or their Fox News talking heads.  When you really start to read what Presidents wrote in letters, autobiographies, and speeches, you get a whole different perspective. Let me introduce you to the tip of the iceberg.

George Washington trusted others of different faiths, so much so that he allowed them to be his employees, and interact at his home, with his family.  This included Muslims.  When hiring workmen for Mount Vernon, he wrote to his agent, "If they be good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mohammedans [Muslims], Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists."

He also wrote in a letter to a Jewish community, "All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

Thomas Jefferson could not have been more clear when he was writing to establish religious freedom for the state of Virginia:

"that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty"

Our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions.  It tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage.  Which at once destroys all religious liberty.  Pretty powerful stuff.

James Madison was also very clear on the issue of civil rights and religion, saying "the civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed." This was later incorporated into the 1st Amendment.

Were all of the founding fathers Christians?  Would they pass the test by conservative Christians today?  Did they believe in the Bible as the literal word of God?  Benjamin Franklin, though appreciative of the moral values one can learn from Christian teachings, wasn't even sure that Jesus Christ was Divine:  "As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity:   "

As it turns out, many of the Founding Fathers were Deists.  And Deists aren't even Christians, per se.  Note how this definition even lumps Islam in there with Christianity as a faith-based religion, for those who think Islam is not an actual belief system.

Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without the need for either faith or organized religion. Many Deists reject the notion that God intervenes in human affairs, for example through miracles and revelations. These views contrast with the dependence on revelations, miracles, and faith found in many Jewish, Christian, Islamic and other theistic teachings.

Deism was a religious philosophy in common currency in colonial times, and some Founding Fathers (most notably Thomas Paine, who was an explicit proponent of it, and Benjamin Franklin, who spoke of it in his Autobiography) are identified more or less with this system. Nevertheless, several early presidents are sometimes identified as holding deist tenets, though there is no president who identified himself as a deist. Although George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Tyler, and Abraham Lincoln are often identified as having some degree of deistic beliefs,[6] most of these identifications are controversial; Washington in particular maintained a life-long pattern of church membership and attendance, and there is conflicting testimony from those who knew him.

Another example of a founding father who probably wouldn't pass the litmus test of today's conservative Christians:, John Quincy Adams left detailed statements of his beliefs, showing that he distanced himself from the branch of his church.

You see, radical right-wing conservative Christianity was never a part of the founding father's plan.  They wanted true freedom of religion and expression.  It is a more recent phenomenon that has led to conservative Christians thinking that they are somehow entitled to 1) describe themselves as the "vast majority" of Americans, even when it's clear they are not 2) pass laws regulating the behavior of everyone in the country based on their religious values and 3) use hate-based scare tactics to try to limit the civil liberties of everyone not just like them.

People who belong to this group are as free to hate as the next person.  Just stop blaming it on 9/11, or Barack Obama, or whatever, and start calling a spade a spade:  if I don't worship like you, you don't think I'm a worthy American.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why Are Americans So Upset About The Mosque?

When I was asked to be a contributor to this blog, I was very excited. On my radio show I try to focus on the things that liberals and conservatives have in common, therefore making it easier to talk about our differences. Now, I am a staunch conservative but I have the ability understand all points of view, whether I agree or not is a different story. That is why I take such issue with the mosque being built NEAR the sight of Ground Zero. Let me make it clear (To steal one of Obama's favorite lines), I know that it is not AT Ground Zero, but it is too close for comfort for an overwhelming majority of Americans.

Let's look at history. The swastika has been around for thousands of years. It has been a sacred symbol to Hinduism, Buddhism and many others. It was used by the Vikings before Hitler's grandfathers grandfather was even thought of. Around 1920 the swastika was adopted by the Nazi party and, therefore, sealed its place in history. Generations later, the symbol is still illegal in Germany even though in its infancy, the Nazi party was only about 3% of the German population. That point is key.

Flash forward to 9/11/2001. We all know what happened and how many thousands were killed. We, as average citizens, also know that the attacks were waged by "Radical" Islam and not the religion/nation as a whole. Recent estimates say that the "Radicals" only make up about 3% of the Islamic faith. Hmmm, interesting.

It has been said over and over again, and I am one of them, that we are a country that tells Wal-Mart where they can and can't build and how they will build if allowed at all. To this day there is not a Wal-Mart in Manhattan, NY but several mosques. But there is an even deeper point. When American forces took Baghdad in, I believe, 2003, they raised an American flag. There was an outcry that started with President Bush and worked its way down. We were not there to conquer, we were not a conquering nation, we were there to help the citizens of Iraq. Now, however you feel about the war, that was our stance. We were not going to fly our flag in the face of the people, but that is exactly what is happening to us now. Muslims and the Nation of Islam are flying their flag, symbolical, in the face of the victims of 9/11 and of the American People.

I feel like I am talking to my kids when I have to say "Why do I have to be the one to tell you that this is a bad idea." Why do we have to be the ones that are understanding and sympathetic. Not one person, with any brains, is saying "You Can't Worship." In fact not one person is TELLING them, Muslims, anything at all. We are asking, pleading, don't do this here. Yes, a lot of people do see Muslims, as a whole, as the ones that attacked us in NY, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, P.A. I think that it is up to the Muslim community to make us understand that they are not. Show us some compassion and admit that this is probably not the place to plant your $100,000,000 flag. Be understanding that we, and to a greater extent New York, are still raw. We have gotten into the legalities, but there are a lot of things that are legal to do that are not right to do. I think it would go a long way in how Average Americans view Muslims if they just stepped up and said "You know, we have every right, but this is not the place or the time." If they would do this, they would hear a "Thank you" from this American and a million others like me.

Thank you for letting me have my say.