16 July 2014

Something Sinister

Yesterday failed congressional candidate Matthew Burke found something sinister in President Obama’s hosting of the White House Iftar, an annual celebration for the past eighteen years. In a mere 280 words or so this “conservative” writer manages to cram more misinformation and outright lies than could be unpacked in an essay ten times the length. There’s probably a true word in there somewhere or other, but you’d be hard-pressed to find it.

All right, maybe the reverend Jeremiah Wright is or was an “(admitted) Marxist” as Matthew Burke claims; I don’t know, and Burke provided no citation for his assertion. Standard biographical sketches make no mention of this, so I’m dubious—but let it go. But it wasn’t Jeremiah Wright who said that Obama was “steeped in Islam” and “knew very little about Christianity” as far as the available record shows—it was Ed Klein, who was summarizing things he claimed Wright had told him in an interview. I don’t know how accurate Klein may have been in reporting Wright’s view—but the words are his, not Wright’s.

And again, Obama never “declared in 2008, completely on the wrong side of history, that America was no longer Christian.” Far from it. What he said was—and this is completely on the right side of history, so far—“Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation—at least, not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.” As is well known, his original speech read “we are no longer just a Christian nation”; when he delivered it he accidentally omitted the word “just” and had to backtrack. He quite correctly noted that religious diversity (present since the founding) was growing in the United States, and that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and nonbelievers now have a substantial presence in the country. That’s a fact, by the way—not just the opinion of some self-described former Financial Advisor/Planner.

Yes, but the proper thing for the president of the United States to do is to merely tolerate Islam and other “legitimate religions” says this tea-party “writer”. The Father of our Country, George Washington, had a very different view: “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship,” he wrote to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, on 18 August 1790, “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.” Ah, but what did he know? Who ya gonna to believe, America’s Founding Father, or some “Constitutional Conservative” with an anti-American axe to grind?

Oh, yeah, by the way—George Washington never said that line about it being impossible to govern without God and the Bible—it was some lawyer in 1893. You could have looked it up, Matthew—if you weren’t so busy making a goddamn jackass of yourself.

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