A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Liberty And American Martyrdom

Recent events have set me to thinking again about the constant political brouhaha being created by militantly conservative Christians--over gays, over monuments with the Ten Commandments, over Terri Schaivo, over teaching Darwinian biology even at this late date, and over anything whatever except the genuine freedom they have to worship openly, in any way they choose, that is the real consequence of the separation of church and state.

All this in the name of ending American Martyrdom. What is American Martyrdom? Well, if you want to find out about it in depth, the classic author is David Limbaugh, brother to Rush, in his book Persecution: How Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity. Go read some of it, at Amazon.com, if nothing else. At least with the excerpt you will be in far less danger of death while laughing. And after you read that piece of foolishness, you can examine the real legal issues of the separation of church and state in schools here and here.

American Martyrdom is the oppression of having people who don't think like you do disagree with you.

For example, consider the upcoming event where Senate Majority leader Bill Frist will be speaking to the congregation of American Martyrs to cultivate his base for the 2008 Presidency:

The April 24 "Justice Sunday" telecast is sponsored by the Family Research Council. Its president, Tony Perkins, said in a letter to supporters: "We must stop this unprecedented filibuster of people of faith.".... "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms."

Whose afraid of the Big Bad Fillibuster?

Even more persecuting than having people merely disagree with you, is having people disagree with you longwindedly for hours and hours, while trying to regain the input into the governing process of this country for a majority of its citizens--which they do have a right to even if they are not Christian Martyrs.

Poor babies!

Now real Christian martyrdom is something to command anyone's respect, whether in history or in the news. It certainly commands mine. We just buried the last pope in the same crypt as the first pope, and the first pope was crucified upside down:

Concerning the manner of Peter's death, we possess a tradition--attested to by Tertullian at the end of the second century (see above) and by Origen (in Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl.", II, i)--that he suffered crucifixion. Origen says: "Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer". As the place of execution may be accepted with great probability the Neronian Gardens on the Vatican, since there, according to Tacitus, were enacted in general the gruesome scenes of the Neronian persecution; and in this district, in the vicinity of the Via Cornelia and at the foot of the Vatican Hills, the Prince of the Apostles found his burial place.

Other more exotic and equally tortured deaths followed:

St. Ambrose of Milan and the poet Prudentius, give particular details about St. Lawrence's death. Ambrose relates (De officiis min. xxviii) that when St. Lawrence was asked for the treasures of the Church he brought forward the poor, among whom he had divided the treasure, in place of alms; also that when Pope Sixtus II was led away to his death he comforted Lawrence, who wished to share his martyrdom, by saying that he would follow him in three days. The saintly Bishop of Milan also states that St. Lawrence was burned to death on a grid-iron (De offic., xli). In like manner, but with more poetical detail, Prudentius describes the martyrdom of the Roman deacon in his hymn on St. Lawrence.

And this went on with greater or lesser intensity for almost 250 years (!) between the time of Nero and the reign of Constantine.

Those who kept their faith under such conditions were nearly superhuman. Nearly, but not quite, if the evidence of contemporary Christian martyrdom has anything to say about it. The videotape of Gracia Burnham held with her husband Martin, who died in their rescue, by Muslim terrorists in the Phillipines, shows the wrenching face and voice of chronic uncertainty and horror. It is a piteous human spectacle, and a reminder that any martyrdom is a vessel of unendurable fear and mental pain. It was doubtless so for the first martyrs and every one subsequent, despite the promise of Paradise Christ gave to the good thief.

Side by side with this, David Limbaugh, whether in book or website, shrinks to pigmydom. As do Judge Roy Moore and his noisy Alabaman supporters, wailing and caterwauling as the granite Ten Commandments were removed from his courthouse, followed later by the good Judge himself for contempt of the laws of the land. As do Bill Frist, Tony Perkins, and the Family Research Council.

These righteous and tormented American Martyrs regularly and inevitably return to a good healthy dinner in a nice private home where no one fears a knock on the door in the night, an apprehension by armed men, and a bloody, tormented death, testing faith to the uttermost extremity.

So let's examine what would relieve David Limbaugh and his cohorts of their persecution and martyrdom, allowing them to re-emerge into the light of day from the metaphorical Christian catacombs to which they have been driven, communing with their dead and carving rough fishes into the limestone walls.

Well, first, of course, and most immediately, the judges who have committed the heinous breach of "good conduct" by interpreting the law in accordance with precedent, statute, and state and federal constitutions, would be summarily impeached. Then they would be replaced by judges who would defer to the higher power of the laws of God to correct the imbalances of the trumpery laws of man, such as the establishment clause of our Constitution.

Perhaps if they succeed in doing so they will magnanimously concede that all religions are equal in their right to exist, even if some are "more equal than others". Perhaps, but don't bet on it. A close reading of the history of European Christianity, or Islamic Radicalism, bids fair to convince you that this is unlikely. And even without that, there are always these fine folks, the Christian Reconstructionists.

After that the power of Senate Fillibuster will be broken.

After that, we'll see.

To put the matter succinctly we can go to the fine and thoughtful recent post by Chris Bowers, which states the facts in a way which I think all Americans would agree with if they give the matter careful thought:

A large faction of America's shrinking white Christian population has coalesced into the dominant political force within the conservative political coalition in our country. As time goes on, they are winning more and more white Christian émigrés from the liberal coalition, a process that shows no signs of slowing. They are using this newfound unity and the power it brings with it to repeatedly declare war on all those who they feel threaten their culture and identity: gays, liberals, seculars, immigrants, Muslims, scholars, entertainers, northeasterners, west coasters, you name it. You know this list of enemies already because you hear them listed, by name, on a regular basis by conservatives in America. They do not shirk from using the identity labels of the identities they despise, and they remember every time when someone uses an identity label as a slur against them. This is because, at least in their idealization, they are fighting a battle of civilizations, a battle in which all of those listed above are the enemies.

So why do the American Martyrs indulge in such breastbeating over their supposed Martyrdom? Because their numbers are shrinking. Because America is becoming, slowly but surely, non-white, non-christian, pluralist, and diverse, and they can't stand the thought of it. Nor can they stop it. The process will be complete within the lifetime of most of us. These next few years are their last chance to seize power and impose their will and their view of life on everyone else.

The American Martyrs must not only be free to worship, they must be given perpetual rule and domination over all the rest of us. That is what the matter is about. It is not about any particular issue, not about abortion, not about gay marriage, not about "intelligent design", not about judges, not about boulders in the courthouse, and most emphaticly not about religious freedom. If it were about any of these, liberty, compromise, truth, and limited and balanced government, with true separation of powers, would be sufficient to adjudicate them. We still have these, and if those of us who are not martyrs have anything to say about it, we will keep them.

They will lose. If not now, then later. America has never been held hostage by any one particular faction, and if all Americans are consulted, it will not be now. In America, if you decide to take no prisoners in government and public discourse, you are sowing the seeds of your own ejection from the political dialog.


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