[Note: I'm on the mailing list of my parent's friend, Jim, who live in Dallas, is a very nice fellow, but sometimes passes along stuff that I can only call Red State drivel. Here is my response to one I received today. The first part was the transcript of a commentary by Ben Stein on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary, the second part related paricularly horrid comments by Anne Graham on the occassion of Huricane Katrina (read: God deserted the victims because we weren't religious enough), and the third party was self-congratulatory screed on how much God will like you if you send this email to all your friends, even if they will be offended, and this is no laughing matter. ("Are you laughing?")]
Sorry, but I can't let this pass without comment.
If they know of him at all, many folks think Ben Stein is just a quirky actor/comedian who talks in a monotone. He's also a very intelligent attorney who knows how to put ideas and words together in such a way as to sway juries and make people think clearly.
I wonder why the author didn't point out that he wasn't just an attorney, but an attorney and speechwriter for the Nixon White House, a long-time Nixon appologist that said of Mark Felt ("Deep Throat," whose existence Stein denied vehemently until the day Felt revealed himself), "If there is such a thing as justice in this life or the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth." He's also a vocal supporter of the Republican Party and an anti-abortion activist.
By the way, I've always admired how attorney's can use their abilities to "put ideas and words together in such a way as to sway juries and make people think clearly." Somewhat less admirable is their ability to distort facts and use logical fallacies and rhetoric to deceive people -- skills that no doubt come in handy when you're writing speeches for Richard Nixon.
Or this garbage.
"I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are."
Just for starters, I would bet you anything that this is an outright lie. Ben Stein lives in Malibu, works in show business, and, gosh shucks, just has no idea who all these celebrities are.
"Next confession: I'm a Jew."
Wow, what a shocker. Who, exactly, is supposed to take saying you're Jewish as a confession? (Well, apart from Nixon, who was an over-the-top anti-semite.)
So Ben Stein thinks we will be surprised by the fact that he likes Christmas trees, and likes it when people say "Merry Christmas" to him, even though he's Jewish. Well, I believe he's telling the truth this time. Most Jewish people I know personally feel the same way. Heck, I'm an atheist, and I like those things, too.
Be that as it may, there are many people in this country that believe that public funding and public lands shouldn't be used to promote secular holidays, symbols, and beliefs. I don't really care all that much myself, but I have to admit that they have a point.
Ben Stein knows the law, so he knows they have a point, too. But he's clearly motivated to blur the destinction between them and his straw man: a liberal-athiest conspiracy to wage what Bill O'Reilly calls a War on Christmas. (Bill O'Reilly wages his war on the war on Christmas with fabricated anecdotes.)
"I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country."
I have no idea, either. I also have no idea where he got the idea that anyone is promoting this concept. It's obviously a straw man.
"I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat."
"Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?"
The reasoning here is that unless we allow secular displays on publics land, atheism is being shoved down his throat, because, apparently, Ben Stein can't be a Jew unless they can have nativity scenes on intersections in Malibu. Further, someone (unclear who this is, but I'm guessing it's the same straw man from the previous paragraph's logical fallacy) is promoting the idea "that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him."
Let me get this straight: the Christmas-tree haters want you to worship Nick and Jessica and won't allow you to worship God. Well, even though I'm an atheist, I have to agree that this is an unacceptable state of affairs, not the least of which because, as an atheist, I have no desire to worship Nick and Jessica, and I do believe that you should be allowed to worship God as you understand Him. (Or Her. Or Them. Or It.) But I'm not really very worried about that, primarily because it's pure paranoid fantasy fabricated to make Christians see themselves as victims and that's what really offends me.
About 3% of Americans are atheists. Are these 3% disproportionally powerful? If so, it's not reflected in the makeup of U.S. House of Representatives, where only 4 out of 435 members (less than 1%) have left their religion unspecified. Non-religious U.S. Senators: 0. Supreme Court Justices: 0.
Okay, so how many of those four congressman are just concealing the fact that they are, in fact, Christians, but are afraid to have it be known because Christians are discriminated against in this country? Do you think that any of the 431 other congressman might actually be atheists who are afraid to have it known because atheists actually are discriminated against?
According to a recent study conducted at the University of Minnesota, atheists are the most distrusted minority in America. More distrusted than Muslims, recent immigrants, and homosexuals. Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.
So my message to Christians who believe they "aren't allowed to worship God as they understand them" is: stop being such a cry-baby. You want to know what it's like to actually be alienated from the body-politic and subjected to discrimination? Try being a Muslim. Or an atheist.
As for the screed on how God didn't protect the victims of Hurricane Katrina because we don't have prayer in public schools: this is the World's Oldest, Biggest Pile of Horse Manure, and it would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. Anne Graham should be ashamed of herself, and her father should be ashamed of her (and probably is).
("And being the gentleman He is..." has she ever actually read any of the Old Testament?)
Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
I agree: Do not think twice about sending messages regarding the Lord. That's why, Jim, I want you to send my response back to whomever sent you this pompous, inane, self-righteous, hateful rant:
God told me to tell you to shut the fuck up.
Are you laughing, now?