Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dei Gratia

It happens with surprising frequency: a self-righteous sack of human fertilizer pounds pulpit or podium spewing words like napalm: homosexuality is SINFUL and IMMORAL! Gays are EVIL! Their agenda must be STOPPED!
And it’s usually just a matter of time before that person is exposed as a pathetic self-loathing gay man himself. (Do the names Ted Haggard or Republican California Senator Roy Ashburn ring a bell?)

I get somewhat that same feeling when I hear those teabaggers and militia-types harangue about the evils of tyranny and government intervention in one’s personal affairs. Sure, they certainly fling invective against tyranny and oppression, but I suspect, like the most vocal anti-gay activists, they actually harbor a deep and hidden lust for the very thing they rail against.
They fancy themselves the philosophical heirs to the American patriot movement of the 1770’s. Strangely, however, many of these tea party conservatives also state we should bring God back into government. (And in the case of Christian militia movements such as the Hutarees, they want to implement this civic piety by force.)
Which brings us back to the American Revolution. Look at a British coin from the colonial period. You’ll see a picture of King George III and the legend “Dei Gratia Rex” (“By the grace of God, King”). Now THERE’S a government based on the Lord! Right there on the coins it states that civil authority is derived by the grace of God. The American patriots, though, once they achieved independence from those who minted that coin and established a stable government, stated proudly it derived its authority from “We the People”. Damned secular rabble!

So despite all their posturing and attempts to assimilate the external trappings of the patriot movement, the fact is their ideology is more closely aligned with the British colonial authorities! In other words, if these guys somehow found themselves transported back to 1775, they’d be fighting for the Tories!
While you might think I’m merely indulging in a bit of rhetorical exaggeration in saying that, I assure you I mean it quite seriously. In defense of this proposition, may I submit for your consideration the recent actions by the conservative-dominated Texas School Board. In formulating new history standards, they are actually proposing the removal of Thomas Jefferson from the curriculum in favor of Thomas Aquinas (who argued the truth of the proposition on that British coin - that civil power is justly derived from the Almighty) and John Calvin (who actually set up a rather bloody, nasty and repressive theocracy in Geneva)! It seems the Hutarees would have been right at home there. Noodle on THAT for a bit!
(As an amusing aside, this same school board removed the children’s classic “Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?” from a list of approved elementary school texts. The reason? Its author, Bill Martin, was accused of writing a book on Marxism. It turns out, however, they had the wrong Bill Martin. The one who wrote the book on Marxism is a philosopher in Chicago and – aside from sharing a common name - has no connection to the children’s book author. Upon being informed of this, the embarrassed board reinstated the book. Yep. THIS is the caliber of intellect we’re dealing with!)

These people may TALK a lot about freedom, but I think freedom is what these people really can’t stand. Their flags may be emblazoned with the words “Don’t Tread on Me”, but I'm guessing if they had the chance they wouldn’t hesitate a minute to tread on US!

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed that liberal atheists such as us tend to live by the golden rule, i.e., do to others what you would like to be done to you. Every atheist I know uses that as his (or her) fundamental moral code.

    So when a right wing nut says, "Don't tread on me." We automatically convert it in our minds to, "Don't tread on me and I won't tread on you."

    The mistake we make is assuming that everyone uses some variation of the golden rule. So while we universalize our moral statements, plenty of other people do not.

    So when a right wing nut says, "Don't tread on me." He means that and only that. He's not making any statement at all concerning his treading, only our treading. And as you point out, he's more than willing to tread all over you anytime he wants.