Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bush helps bin Laden (again)

Karen Hughes, Bush’s favorite Texas housewife, was recently recruited to shore up our failed relationship with the Muslim world as the newly appointed Undersecretary of State. Unfortunately, a recent exchange with Eqyptian leaders demonstrates that this choice is yet another--I personally lost count years ago-- example of utter incompetence of Bush and his advisors. Here's the quote from the UK's Guardian:

"Many people around the world do not understand the important role that faith plays in Americans' lives," Hughes said. When an Egyptian opposition leader inquired why Mr Bush mentions God in his speeches, Hughes asked him whether he was aware that "previous American presidents have also cited God, and that our constitution cites 'one nation under God'."

"Well, never mind," he said. From the Guardian.

Never mind, indeed. As Kos at has asked, where exactly in the Constitution would one find the phrase “one nation under God”? Anyone?

Yes, everyone knows the answer; it’s not in the Constitution, and for good reason: the founders did not believe that the USA was “one nation under God.”

Now, I can hear everyone moaning, “there goes Grodge, on and on again about Bush, religion etc…”, but indulge me a few paragraphs, please.

This snippet underscores a fundamental tenet on which this nation is founded, and Hughes and Bush do not get it. The USA is not uniquely chosen, and the government of the USA is not based on nonrational “faith”. Rather, we are a community of many diverse states and cultures, and we rely on proveable, identifiable policies of human rights, rule of law and secular ethics. And secular ethics were around centuries before God spoke to Moses.

A recent LA Times op-ed by Rosa Brooks looks at a paper by a religious professor from Creighton University that studies the threat that religiosity poses to our society. The paper points out that secular nations in Europe are actually better off than the USA in terms of quantifiable standards of ethics and well-being: childhood mortality, homicide rates, poverty, etc. And I'll add abortion rates, which are lower in every western European nation than they are in the USA. While Brooks is careful to avoid drawing a cause-and-effect relationship between the USA’s relative religiosity and our social ills, she does correctly conclude that the paper shows at least that the lack of religiosity in society poses no threat.

Further, however, Brooks points out a more compelling argument against religiosity, namely, the dangers of absolutism regarding one’s nonrational beliefs. Like Muslim extremists, American evangelicals see their viewpoints as written in stone by God, and see no problem inflicting their value systems on others. Such justification for intolerance is scattered throughout history with wars and genocide becoming the eventual result.

So, when the Undersecretary of State, representing you and paid by you, goes to Muslim nations and misrepresents the US Constitution, you should be outraged. The sequence that will likely play out in the coming months and years—and has been playing out in Iraq-- is that moderate Muslims will see the US as becoming an unhinged religious extremist state, represented by our modern Christian mullahs, who have less understanding of Muslim culture than they do for their very own US Constitution.

These moderate Muslims will see only futility in attempting to reason with such American ignorance, and the pressure will mount to join the jihad against Western occupation. Do you think I’m wrong? Look no further than Iraq, where US generals now agree that the growing Arab insurgency is due to American military presence in their land. Liberal and pro-Western Muslims are either being silenced with murder or fear. And Karen Hughes has been pegged to fix this failed situation? Please, someone at least get her a copy of the US Constitution.

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