Take for instance former Wisconsin Senator Joeseph McCarthy whose last name became synonymous with unfounded witch hunts. I have no doubt that Senator McCarthy cared very much about the United States and I also have no doubt that Communism was a very real threat in the 1950s. However, going around accusing Americans of being Communists with little or no proof turned out to be pretty bad for his career and should serve as an example of how Americans don’t act.
Except that 60 years later we appear to be living the same thing all over again. Much like McCarthy’s allegations of Communist spies in the State Department, the Armed Forces and in the Executive Branch, another representative of the Northwest Territory, Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann, launched spurious claims of Islamist infiltration of the State Department, the Armed Forces and the Executive Branch. And Bachmann’s claims appear to hold about as much water as those of McCarthy.
Now, this should go without saying but people in sensitive positions like that of Huma Abedin, Secretary Clinton’s deputy Chief-of-Staff, are subjected to rigorous background checks that can lead to disqualification because of excessive debt. Don’t you think that someone who’s delving that deep into your background might notice if you had been developing ties with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood? On top of that, although some Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups are considered terrorist organizations by the US government, as a country we have reopened diplomatic ties with the group so why would it even matter if she did have ties?
Bachmann is no stranger to idiocy and this most recent story only shows what kind of a bullet we dodged when she finally dropped out of the Presidential race. But sadly, she still has a lot of supporters. Add in the fact that an uncomfortably high percentage of the US population still believes that our Evangelical Christian president is a secret Muslim and you can see where this is a problem.
The only positive development in this latest Bachmann debacle is that even people from her own party have finally had to start admitting that she’s out of control. And unlike McCarthy’s four years in the limelight, throwing around allegations like confetti, Bachmann was roundly scolded within a few days. But if there was ever any doubt, I think we can all safely admit now that the former Northwest Territories are still a special place with some very special people.
Muslims don’t have a tradition of proselytizing. Sure, they conquered other societies and let them convert if they wanted to, but sending people out as missionaries wasn’t really part of the program. Even now, Muslim societies with money tend to send that money to Muslim neighbors to strengthen whatever sect within the religion they support. In short, it’s not very likely that a Saudi is going to knock on your door anytime soon and ask if you’ve had a chance to meet Allah.
In the US, we’ve taken a slightly different tack. Instead of breaking away from the missionary traditions of our European forefathers, we’ve taken it to all new heights. It’s not enough that American churches feel compelled to send evangelical missionaries all over the world to teach and convert, they also do the same at home. And all too often these efforts are aimed at the most vulnerable among us: children.
It’s not just churches. It’s also role models like sports stars. When Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin go beyond sports and feel the need to bring Jesus up in every interview, it’s a message to children. It’s proselytizing. When Josh Hamilton has to tell people that Jesus saved him from the drugs, that’s a message to children as well. And as far as I’m concerned, raping children’s minds in this way is just as bad as what someone like Jerry Sandusky did.
There’s a very simple solution to all this:
So, how about it people? How about we keep it in our pants? I won’t show you mine if you don’t show me yours.
When Josh Hamilton says, “It’s a god thing,” he’s applauded for standing up for his faith. When Tim Tebow kneels down and prays, 43% of people who know of Tebow think that god helps him win. And when Muhammad Ali cited his faith as the impetus for his conscientious objection to the draft, America celebrates his principled stand. Oh, wait. I guess that’s not exactly what happened.
You can argue that Ali is different because of patriotism or the like but it’s hard to say that patriotism alone accounts for what happened to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf while playing for the Denver Nuggets. The truth of the matter is, despite our vaunted “Freedom of Religion,” the expression of that freedom really only seems to apply to Protestant Christians and the occasional Catholic. And let’s face it, if you ask the question “What if Tim Tebow were Muslim?” you already know the answer. God help him if he were an out-and-proud atheist.
At RSBS, we’re critical of the things that go on around us. We’re critical of the things going on in baseball (especially Bud Selig’s machinations and the continued but completely baffling employment of Kyle Farnsworth), we’re critical of events in the world at large and we’re critical of the turn our country has taken in the past couple years. But make no mistake, just because we’re critical doesn’t mean we love our country any less.
I spend a lot of my time outside the US and each time I come back, I’m reminded of how great it is. In fact, I don’t think you can truly appreciate the US until you’ve spent some time outside. One of the things that strikes me each time I return is how accepting we are. I have never visited another country where people of all different religions, ethnicity, socio-economic class and so on and so forth live next to each other, work with each other and generally get along with each other.
But recently I’ve begun to wonder what’s going on. For a country that accepts so many different people and allows these people to express themselves in so many different ways (even when it’s tasteless and abominable), why have we all of a sudden decided to focus so much hatred on one group? Take a look:
And it would be easy to say that this is just one isolated incident but it isn’t. As I’ve said before, the people who blow themselves up or go on some ridiculous rampage represent Islam about as much as Timothy McVeigh represents Christianity. Which is to say that they don’t. I’m not a religious person myself but the Constitution, the document many of these people claim as their justification, codifies the right of any person to worship as they will. You don’t have to like that but you can be civil about it. Civil doesn’t mean picketing and ruining their events, for instance. Do they show up and drink all your wine during mass or or run around naked during your Knights of Columbus dinner?
Anyway, I just wanted to make sure I put that out there. The USA is a great country. In my opinion, it’s the greatest country in the history of the world. It would be nice if these douchenozzles could stop attempting to prove otherwise.
Note: Apparently the video has been taken down due to a copyright claim by George Collins. We’ll keep looking for a new version so you can see it. In the meantime, here’s a brief background on what happens in the video.
And so in this Podcast…
…the fullest, rawest, most awe inspiring podcast yet, RSBS convenes as Jeff, Allen, Johanna and special guest Mark Piebenga from Second City all come together for one rip-roarin’ time! Among the topics of conversation (sponsored by Lifestyles and encouraged by Miller Lite) are strains to one’s right glute, burning one’s hand on the hot stove, hiding one’s pain with the NBA… and much, much more!
All to make you smiley face!
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For more on Mark’s work on RSBS‘ Ninemen’s Morris series, check out this story then click on the Ninemen’s Morris tag at the bottom for more early 20th century hilarity!
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Subscribe to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
Subscribe via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
*Special thanks to our PodMaster Keith Carmack. You can check out Keith’s wicked podcast and his subsequent film projects at Undercard Films. The dude has mad skillz, so you might wanna pay attention. Do it! Now!
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Recorded Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Special days historically fall prey to those who use them for their own gain. Like when god decided to send Jesus to earth on Christmas and then have him die on Easter. Seriously, you’re god and that’s the best you could do?
It’s no different now. From simple and relatively justified things like MLB putting players in pink for Breast Cancer awareness or having everyone wear number 42 to commemorate Jackie Robinson to things that don’t quite feel right like Glenn Beck marching on the National Mall and claiming the mantle of MLK on the anniversary of the “I have a Dream” speech, these days give both demagogues and dissenters context for their issues.
Sadly, most of the time it’s the demagogues who get the coverage. I have spent a bit of time in Muslim countries and most of the people I have met are nice people who want to make a living and provide for their families. Yes, they’re serious about their religion but they don’t use it as an excuse for violence.
So what’s the point in getting them riled up by staging a Quran burning? I know the event has been canceled and I know that the pastor of a small church in Florida does not deserve as much coverage as he has been given. But when David Petraeus, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama and the Southern Baptist convention all agree that what you’re doing is a bad idea, maybe it’s time to stop and rethink.
As odious as the planned act may be, even worse is the day on which it falls. Sometimes a Saturday
is more than just a Saturday. Like when it’s September 11th. Using a day like today that should be reserved for contemplation and mourning as a vehicle for the same kind of bilious beliefs that fueled the hijackers nine years ago means we all lose.
I preferred it when September 11th had no meaning, when it wasn’t a special day. But that is no longer possible. So maybe it’s time that people stop grandstanding and allow this day to have one simple message. Hate kills. That goes for Terry Jones, Glenn Beck and Michael Moore just as much as it does for Bin Laden.
Whether you like him or not, whether you agree with him or not, one thing can definitely be said about our President. He has some cojones. I don’t mean this in the pejorative sense, as in, “Where he does he get off saying that?” No, I mean nothing but respect. His stances may not always be popular but at least they reflect a sense of integrity and a fundamental understanding of the law.
Let’s start with sports. The President is a White Sox fan and even though I don’t like the White Sox, I respect him for sticking by his guns. When he showed up at Nationals Park to see the Sox during interleague play, he didn’t throw on the home team cap. He wore a Sox cap, same as opening day. In fact, one of my many issues with Bill Richardson during the primary campaign was his claim that he liked both the Red Sox and Yankees. We all know that’s not possible. Baseball law says so. There’s none of that tomfoolery with Obama.
And when you get into what are often referred to as more “substantive” issues, Obama also rejects tomfoolery. Like health care or “Don’t ask, Don’t tell.” People may not like his stands but what he does is based on a firm understanding of the Constitution.
Which is why I’m also proud of the President’s stand on this ridiculous Ground Zero mosque kerfuffle. Yes, I understand that the men who crashed those planes into the WTC claimed to be Muslim. Timothy McVeigh claimed to be Christian. Does that mean no churches should be built near where the Oklahoma City Federal Building stood?
You can argue that the President may not have chosen the best time to weigh in on the controversy. But what you can’t argue is that the United States is a country built on the rule of law, the foundation of that law being the Constitution. When the Constitution grants the freedom of religion, that’s not just the freedom to be Christian. It’s the freedom to follow any religion or even no religion at all.
Sometimes this freedom isn’t pretty, like when you’re dealing with Hare Krishnas at the airport or Moonies milling about in Central Park. But it’s also the reason your mom and sisters don’t have to shave their heads and why we men don’t get in trouble for trimming our beards. It’s sad that a public figure being willing to say this requires cojones.