Tuesday, January 09, 2007

OP ED: Being a conservative ain't easy

Being a conservative is not easy … never has been. I am not referring to the drubbing of the GOP and the ascent of the strident left-wing leadership in the Congress in last year’s election. I am not referring to the unabated conservative bashing by the national press cabal.

I AM referring the idiocy in the ranks of the right. Cases in point:

1. Congressman Virgil Goode (R-VA) goes bonkers because Congressman-elect Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim, prefers to be sworn in with his hand on a Koran rather than a Christian bible. This is a no brainier. As a conservative who believes in individual rights, I could care less if a congressman-elect want to be sworn in on his college term paper. We have too many examples of official malfeasance to believe that the bible or the oath produces moral legislators. I also believe that by laying his hand on his own religious text, it has more meaning. To make him swear on a book outside his belief nullifies the implication of the oath. It is a fraud. So, how can we be a conservative if we do not respect the individual right of a Muslim congressman? Though I am not likely to agree with the new Muslim legislator, I think it says a lot about America that we can elect a Muslim to high office in an atmosphere that would just as easily promote prejudice and intolerance. Please delete the very bad Virgil Goode from the register of bonafide conservatives.

FOOTNOTE: It was decided that Congressman-elect Ellison will be allowed to swear in on a Koran owned by Thomas Jefferson. It will be walked over from the vault of the Library of Congress for the ceremony. Oddly, I AM bothered by taking a national treasure from safekeeping for the indulgence of a freshman legislator. He should certain be allowed to swear on the Koran, but let him bring his own dang copy. This has all the earmarks of a public relations stunt drummed up by the new House leadership.

2. Then there is Pat Robertson. I have a great regard for religion and the religious. However, I am not compelled to believe that everyone who has “reverend” in front of his or her name is automatically a pious theologian. If you have read my blog, you know that I think the REVEREND Jesse Jackson is a Machiavellian, power-hungry, racist grandstander. My feeling towards the REVEREND Pat Robertson is not so precise. I just think he is an egomaniacal nut case. In his latest idiocy, he claims that God has told him (apparently God talks to him a lot) that there will be a major terrorist attack on the United States late in 2007. Duh! If I wanted to play fortuneteller, that is one prediction I would make. Of course, Robertson admits that he has been wrong in the past. However, he does not explain how the infallible God gives him the wrong info. In one instance, he claims God told him that a devastating tsunami would hit the United States in 2006. First, we do not get tsunamis. That is an eastern hemisphere phenomenon. We get tidal waves. I would think God would know the correct term for his vehicles of wrath. Tsunami? Tidal wave? No matter. The prediction was a wash out. Robertson notes a bit of flooding in New England as a “partial” fulfillment of his prophecy. So… if some time in 2007 a small grenade goes off in front of a Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, THAT would be a “partial” fulfillment of Robertson’s God-given warning. His prediction skills are on the level of newspaper horoscopes … interpretation is everything. So, here is my dilemma. Either God is not infallible, or Robertson is delusional. Please excommunicate Robertson from the role of the righteous right.

3. As a conservative in a multi-theological nation, I think we have to separate religious beliefs from conservative principles when the two come into conflict. Gay rights. It is certainly permissible for any religious group to define sin for their voluntary membership. However, no self-respecting conservative is going to deny basic civil rights of individual freedom to any group. I think gays should be allowed civil unions (leaving “marriage” to the religions to perform or deny). All marriages in America are civil unions, protected by a body of law. It is just that some of those civil unions are sanctified as marriages by the religious community. I say, let adult human couples decide who they want to partner with in a civil union, and let the churches decide who they will bless with a religious rite. If we were as tolerant as good conservatives should be, we would not find it so remarkable that Dick Cheney has a gay daughter, and we would not find it incomprehensible that she loves and supports her father. So … please kick the pain-in-the-ass homophobic gay bashers out of the conservative closet.

4. I think burning a flag or two is one of those “inalienable” rights the conservative founders had in mind. It is a form of protest that is currently protected under the all-important First Amendment. That is why the fascist conservatives need to amend the Constitution to make it illegal. It is a bad, un-conservative concept dragged into the public spotlight by the nationalist element of the body politic. I am a flag waver, but the flag I wave in pride can be flown upside down to indicate distress, warn as a bikini as a means of avoiding indecent exposure, and burned to ashes in peaceful revolt – the kind Thomas Jefferson so well understood. Our constitutional government has survived quite will with an occasional burning of Betsy Ross’s needlecraft. So … let the flame of freedom drive the nationalists from the conservative campground.

Some may say that my desire to cast the philosophic heretics out of the conservative movement will destroy the coalition that provides the core power base. I prefer to think of all the people who would join our ranks if it were not for the lunatics who too often characterize … nay … mischaracterize our cause.

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