A sentence in today's (August 5)New York Times op-ed, "Campaigning to the Choir," by Amy Greene, struck me as closely and intimately related, though not at all obviously, to another article in yesterday's afternoon edition of the Times, "Google and Verizon Near Deal on Pay Tiers for Web."
The sentence in "Campaigning" that I'm referring to is, "We must restore America to its Judeo-Christian roots;" a line in Zach Wamp's political ad in his bid to be governor of Tennessee. America's roots are Judeo-Christian only in the same way that, if one had themoral audacity to suggest the outrageous, "America must go back to its white roots."
The Judeo-Christian link, relative to what distinguished the United States, is coincidental, not causal. It's coincidental in that the majority of those who settled our eastern shores in the 16th, 17th and 18th centurieswere European (andverywhite, by the way), and had a heritage that was Christian, not Jewish. The Judeo part, again, is coincidental in that Christianity had developed out of -- and away from -- Judaism.
That we have continuously failed, and too often miserably, to live to our principles does not amend the fact that certain principles indeed distinguished and distinguish America from all others to the point they were set on parchment; such principles that all men (and now women, and all races and ethnicities and sexual orientations) were imbued at birth with essential equality, the right to be treated and respected by the justice system justly without reference to their economic or other status. Another principle is that certain freedoms as the press and speech and the practicing of religion must not be tampered with by the state, regardless whether a majority likes what is written, said, or preached. Indeed, that is what differentiates a right from mere privilege. Those codified rights distilled out of girding ideals, and every one of those was a European Enlightenment reactionagainstthe unjust and harsh reaches of religion, especially as executed by the Church in Rome, which itself was Christian, or Jesus-like, only via advertising. (Where in any of the gospels can burning at the stake, having one's bones pulled from their sockets, or being drawn-and-quartered -- all practices endorsed and practiced by the Church -- be found?)
So averse to close and specific identification with any religion, be it Judaism, Christianity, or other, were the founding fathers that in the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, those senators who were less than a decade removed in time from the authors of the Constitution wrote: "As the government of the United States is notin any sensefounded on the Christian Religion . . ." That some may prefer to pass over the operative phrase, "in any sense," Iemphasized it.
The issue and the tragedy is that so many in the U.S. actually believe the poisonous falsehood enunciated by Wamps in his ad, and that has been promulgated as factual by hosts of hispreprocessorsand contemporaries. The fact it just is not true hasn't slowed the spread of the contagion; contagion because the spirit of it is eviscerating of our principles and ideals and has led to some of the most vicious predation.
But I've heard folks cry they (and others) believe what they believe because they were "raised ________." Look, every single on of us was gifted from birth with an exquisite collection of five senses and a brain that was wired toward analysis, regardless of what our parents and others may have believed, and schooled you in. I challenge anyone to explain how one's heritage lifts him or her from the hook. Where's the adequacy, the exculpatory excuse?
No! How one was raised is not exculpatory. Raising that is nothing less than an abominable plea on behalf of making victimhood valid. It does not. Nonetheless, playing the victim is what perhaps an overwhelming majority enjoy, and seek. That's because, if one is a victim, one cannot also be held in any way responsible for the dire straits one might come to be in. "I couldn't help it. There was nothing I could do about it. I didn't know." And I say, oh just shut up. Did you bother to look, to try to find out? Grow up. Take that kernel of responsibility that adulthood -- the biblical, "I put away childish things" -- appends to adulthood's rights and privileges. Quit whining . . . like a forlorn post-pubescent teen.
Now the connection to the article, "Google and Verizon Near Deal on Pay Tiers for Web."
This past April, a highly conservative federal appeals court ruled against the Federal Communications Commission's right and authority to regulate Internet rates and practices. (Retrace to the beginning of the preceding sentence, and ponder as you proceed how your relatives' and neighbors' Republican leanings and votes will, not may, cost you money and the freedom to use the Internet! Still want to make that claim about "peace in the family" and not "discussing religion or politics"?) The federal issue went to what was known as "net neutrality;" that all Internet transmissions had an equal right to transmission delivery rates; that Comcast and other broadband companies must be "neutral" in their pricing of what is conveyed over their lines. And the bottom line, in a very real business sense of the phrase, is that, if the broadband companies can differentiate in the rates they charge their customers, they will.
You might find no philosophical difficulty with the idea. The broadband companies used their money -- highly subsidized with preferential tax breaks -- to lay the cables, etc. You may feel that way until you realize that in any given geographic area they've either a monopoly or are members of an oligopoly with very few members; two or three at the most. In other words, whether you're a business or an individual, your broadband service provider choice is severely limited. As your choices are severely limited, the choice, what you care to pay for service is limited pretty much to two: either pay the demanded subscription rate, whatever it is or may become, or go without Internet service.
The inchoate peril in an unregulated broadband goes directly to the basic enshrined rights of freedom or the press and of speech, and the public's opportunity to research for the truth. Rupert Murdoch has been busy buying local television stations lately. Clear Channel already owns most of the radio stations in the country. Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox, has a political bent neither I nor anyone needs to explain. Clear Channel has folks like Rush Limbaugh running on three, four, and more stations in any given metropolitan market, and will not give progressive talk an opportunity to test the market waters for audience reception. The claim is that it, like Fox, is a private entity, and thus has no obligation to let those it disagrees with onto the playing field.
Extend now, if you will, the conservative right's close policing to what it prints and airs to what you can get at what price over the Internet. Think it can't happen? Oh, you silly, silly boy or girl: It's happening, right now! Let's see a show of hands. How many have heard the details, and hence know something about, the travails surrounding Bristol Palin's marriage/wedding/separation/divorce and what's his name? A few days ago, ABC's Good Morning America devoted a full 9-minute segment to it. The only reason that Disney, highly attuned to the connection between corporate net profits and viewer preferences corporation, did that was because it knew that such trivial blather would be more readily received than, say, the perils to the pocketbooks and freedoms of average Americans that matters of net neutrality would. Soooo borrrring!
Still be bored when you receive that statement stating your broadband service rates will be tripled . . . if you elect to subscribe to their fastest delivery tier?
But, you'd heard nothing about net neutrality. If you heard anything at all, it bored you. You immediately flipped it away as you might a peskymosquito. Those jokes your best friend sent were more interesting. "Hah, hah, hah," you got a good laugh out of them.
Not quite so likelyaresponsewhen you get that notice I spoke of above. Yet, by intentionally not paying much attention, you'd also enjoy one highly prized benefit: you could claim to be a victim!Remember: When it comes to being made a fool of, like it or not, admit it or not,we're all our own general contractors.
An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."