“A dagger at my heart…”

August 21, 2008

Once again (see this post) I return to the story of mass arrests in NYC – peaceful protesters, or people not even demonstrating, hauled into the precinct station, some of whom were held for days.  Only two people tried – acquitted of course – in proceedings that surely must have been absurd to witness given the evidence available that totally undermined all of NYPD’s claims. Everyone else released, no charges.  Why were they arrested?  HYSTERIA!

The New York Times has been following, and sometimes editorializing about the process by which the lawsuits against the city are being settled.  Today, it describes how at great cost in legal fees and staff time, after much stalling and stonewalling, the city is paying out millions of dollars to settle claims related to its violation of civil rights.  Of course, the NYPD admits no wrong doing – state organs never do.

The article quotes the fellow shown in the picture above:

Then they started arresting us, one by one. At that point, I got emotional — I could not believe in my country, in my city, I could get arrested for doing absolutely nothing and standing on the sidewalk,” Mr. Shirazi added.

Are there any lessons from the day? The Law Department said the $2 million payout did not mean the police had done anything wrong. “This settlement was reached without any admission of liability on behalf of the city and the individual defendants,” said Ms. Halatyn, the city lawyer.

The Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

Mr. Shirazi said that as he was being handcuffed for the first time in his life, he told the officer that the plastic cuffs were squeezing him. “He said, ‘You should have thought about that before you came out this morning.’ It was like a dagger in my heart, that a police officer of my city would come up with anything like that.”

In what does patriotism and love of country consist?  Following orders motivated by unthinking fear or hallowing and practicing the ideas that gave it rise in the first place?

Let Us Damn Godless Men

February 26, 2008

hellfire preaching

The religious right in our country has been busy for some time trying to get over the falsehood that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Yes, the founders were raised as Christians. Yes, only a few were atheists, although many were Deists of the Jeffersonian-Voltairean sort. Yes, the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the Constitution, but then, neither do the words “separation of powers.” Those two ideas, however, are clearly central to the meaning of the document.

Perhaps no better evidence for the non-Christian, secular nature of the state our Founders bequeathed to us (aside from the fact that God isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence only mentions the Creator, and the only mention of religion in the Constitution is negative, i.e., there shall be no religious test for office) is the testimony of the contemporary evangelists who did not like the point of view of the Founders. Here we have a quotation from the emminent Timothy Dwight, a prominent evangelical of the time who later headed Yale College:

“The nation has offended Providence. We formed our constitution without any acknowledgment of God; without any recognition his mercies to us as a people, of his government or even of his existence. The [constitutional] convention by which it was formed, never asked, even once, his direction, or his blessings, upon their labors. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system without God.”

Amen to that, Tim!

This quotation can be found in the article linked here.

Un-Separate Church and State!

November 10, 2005

Yes, all this blather about the ‘wall’ between church & state is growing tiresome. Let us forget the lessons that the Founding Fathers knew so well and start down the road of government sponsorship of religion! Jeeez, those fundamentalists don’t know what they are wishing for.

To stifle the thriving growth of religiosity in America (a condition which I regard with bemused regret), there is no more sure-fire way than to get the government involved in subsidizing it. Then we secularists can sit back and enjoy the ensuing melee as the various sects all fight with one another to get more money, to be the official sect, and to deny access to those few sects that ‘everyone’ agrees are not true religions, e.g., Pagans, Satanists, Hindus (idolaters), and perhaps Jews and Moslems! Then the meaning of state-sponsored religion will be apparent, but will it be too late?

Of course, it might get out of hand, so I wouldn’t really want to go down that road. After all, we should all keep in mind the event that is the source for the eye-witness account recorded in the image at the top of this post, St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, August 24, 1572. A real state-sponsored Christian on Christian pogrom in which the French king authorized the mass murder of French Protestants. When Church and State are joined, as an intelligent man said at a talk I heard recently, the king speaks with the authority of the universe, and the priest’s words are backed by the power of the state. What recourse for the dissenting individual?

Some people these days are purveying the absurd myth that the Founding Fathers of the USA actually wanted to found a Christian state. I guess that depends on who you consider to be the Founders: the Puritans? They wanted a theocracy, to be sure, and were very eager to exile anyone from their midst who didn’t toe the line, e.g. Roger Williams; Ben Franklin, TJ, Alex H. etc? They were the opposite, schooled in Deistic Enlightenment values. They may have been Christians, but they wanted a secular state. And from where did the most vigorous support for separation of Church & State come? From Virginia, home to many evangelical sects, all persecuted in England, and very clear on the dangers of having an official state religion. But time makes fools of us all…