I Could Go On Singing   (2018May02)

Photo Apr 14, 12 18 26 PM

Wednesday, May 02, 2018                                               4:01 PM

I Could Go On Singing   (2018May02)

Kanye West talked sloppily recently and everyone jumped down his throat—and sure, he could have just said that Stockholm Syndrome played a role in the tragedy of American slavery—but Kanye West is a songwriter—he speaks impressionistically, not rationally.

The same for Trump—his whole career as a huckster, he’s always used sales-speak—he speaks impressionistically, not honestly. This is a core American problem—differentiating between reason and preference. Our First Amendment guarantees our right to voice our opinions—making our opinions sacred, to an extent. Factual, rational knowledge is a survival tool—making the hard Truth sacred, as well.

Therein lies the problem: yes, your opinion is sacred—and the truth is sacred—but (and this is very important) they are not the same thing. Mixing the two up is the go-to razzle-dazzle for every culture warrior and nationalist. Political platforms differ mostly in precisely how each ‘team’ decides to conflate opinion with truth.

Why do Americans have so much trouble classifying one from another? Faith. This country, at its bedrock, began as a place where people had the mental courage to confront the danger of theocratic government. We said from the outset—and with good reason, even in that tiny, nascent colony—that government and law must be kept separate from religion.

Before I continue, I apologize for seeming to equate faith with mere opinion.  That is not my intention. But men can and do have differences of faith even within a single congregation—and in this way, faith differs from scientific truth in a fundamental way. People can differ in their ideas about the source of creation, life, and beyond—and still agree on evidence and proof. Thus law and governance can only be righteous apart from religious vagaries.

Many Americans have always winked at this most important precept—assuming, naturally, that the majority religion (Christian Protestants) would still be given its due. Indeed, that is the case—‘Under God’ was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950’s by Red-Scare-panicked WASPs. “In God We Trust” is, inexplicably, on our money. (Then again, money itself is hard to explain—but I digress.) Mandatory school prayer wasn’t fought in court until the 1960s. Xmas, Halloween, Saints’ Days—many American traditions have a Protestant origin. Even Thanksgiving—while the quintessence of American traditions—was, is, and always will be, after all, for giving thanks to ‘God’.

This was—I emphasize ‘was’—an Anglican-populated colony for centuries before the Revolution—and so, for all the time before—and long after—the only usage for ‘separation of Church and State’ was to keep any of the Puritans, Quakers, Shakers, Episcopalians, et. al. from hijacking the law away from the whole. Catholics didn’t count—because everyone hated Catholics in England, where they’d all come from.

So, yeah, ‘separation of Church and State’ started out as something less than it is today—just like our Constitution, which originally intended to direct a mere thirteen colonies of farmers, sailors, and tradespeople, on how to govern themselves. ‘Separation of Church and State’ may have begun simply as way to stop the infighting among the first New England Puritans—but its genius and clarity are as much a part and parcel of our American Liberty as our Freedom of Speech. That used to be clear to all Americans.

And that reminds me of what I hate most about the Neo-Cons and Neo-Nazis. The evil these people represent was exposed and ridiculed out of the public eye, long, long ago—and with no small expenditure of civil disobedience, persecution, and even violence borne—and the bastards just re-issue it like some movie re-make.

The younger generations don’t have our memories—they don’t know the long story about how we should cherish every yard of social justice ever won by any good man or woman, over the centuries past. Thus, if some skinhead tells young people his holocaust-denial conspiracy theories, before a teacher has a chance to teach those kids the real history, in school—that’s irreversible—and it’s a crime against their minds.

That’s what I hate most about those evolution-denying, caravan-cowardly, money-grubbing…well, you know me—I could go on. But I’ve said what I had to say, for now.

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