Sunday, May 4, 2014

Rationalizing Bigotry

John Ragosta's April 23rd post to Religious News Service, "Can there be a rational compromise on the Pledge of Allegiance?", confused the shit out me. He seems to understand both the political issues involved as well as the historical precedents. Towards the middle of his piece he writes:
"Jefferson understood that the government had no business promoting religion or even suggesting that those who did not believe in God, or some other particular of religion, were somehow less patriotic or less committed citizens. (This is even truer with schoolchildren.)
In the Jeffersonian tradition, we should not force any citizen, much less a child, to choose between making a religious declaration and appearing to be unpatriotic and facing the negative opinion of his or her peers."

Ragosta seems sincere in his sympathy regarding atheists being singled out and harassed. This apparent attitude does not seem to match the title of the piece. Unfortunately shorty after displaying some understanding he starts to turn to mush. It is almost as if he wants to find a way to accommodate discrimination.

"At the same time, as a lawyer, historian, parent and citizen, I wonder whether a lawsuit is the best way to resolve these disputes. In addition to wasting enormous amounts of tax dollars and time, the litigation risks further dividing Americans, forcing us to “choose sides” against one another."

Huh? I admit it is unpleasant and unfortunate that this is the route we have often had to take when defending or establishing the rights of specific groups of our citizens. That does not make it any less necessary or open the door to "compromise". It also seems to escape him that it is not, in fact, the litigation that is "dividing Americans." The Pledge as it is currently written already divides Americans. The phrase "one nation under God" is pretty clear in its meaning. If you don't believe in God you are not part of the "one nation." It doesn't get any more divisive than that. As for wasting tax dollars, I have a problem with that statement for two vary simple reasons. 1. Since when is defending basic human/civil rights a "waste"? 2. The government is itself forcing such "waste" by continuing to support the use of such divisive ploys as inserting religion into public policy.

As an atheist, how can you compromise with something that insists by its very nature that being an atheist is un-American. And how can any decent theistic American put up with such an affront to the very ideals our country claims to stand for? There is NO "rational compromise" on discrimination and bigotry. It seems rather straightforward and simple to me. Either you support equality or you don't. If you support the current configuration of the Pledge then you have just confirmed that you are a bigot.

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