It’s who we are

Blog friend Dave posted an interesting essay in June which I just came across while perusing his blog (my favored morning occupation while sipping my coffee after the swim – a blog a day keeps the narcissism away). His post was about the right’s misplaced celebration of the Founders  as unerring. Thinking of  today’s un-American kerfuffle about the Muslim center in lower Manhattan (I don’t use the term Ground Zero and I don’t know why. Must be the New Yorker in me.), I liked this bit :

Benjamin Franklin wrote in his essay “Tolerance”: “If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. These found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here [England] and in New England (America).”

We have always been the inspiring example to the rest of the world of what a tolerant society looks like – hundreds of millions have striven to be like us. I don’t ever want to see that – the best in us – go away. But many apparently do.

13 responses to “It’s who we are

  1. Odd, Moe; I’m a New Yorker and I use the phrase Ground Zero – admittedly, I also used to use the phrase, The Pit.

    As to “tolerance” – there are and should be be limits to it. We have never, even under the guise of religious freedom, let people do whatever they wanted irrespective of how egregious or wrong normative American society felt about it.
    There’s also the issue of the bias inherent in who or what is decided to be tolerated. While “Cordoba House” seems to be resolved, it did bring up some points that should still be addressed.

    No to flog my own blog, but how would you respond?


  2. jonolan:
    I read the post. Your analogy to KKK is very apt, yet I found it a little ironic when you said that liberals would do ‘everything in thier power to stop it’. Because over the decades, the main – often only – defender of the vile KKK and it’s freedom of ‘speech’ (which would of course include such a building) has been the American Civil Liberties Union, the liberal bug-a-boo the ACLU (hey, that rhymes!)

    Also, we are not Serbia or Bosnia, thank Elvis. They don’t have a First Amendment. (And it wouldn’t be our business anyway.)

    I don’t think this ocnversation is over. Once the tempest passes – as it will – I think the issue and the reactions will be studied and discussed for some time.

    (I do know what Rosewood is; I think we as a people have permanently moved far beyond tolerating anything as vile happening in this country again.)


  3. Meant to say I agree iwth what you said that there’s still a lot to talk about.


  4. As for the ACLU – sort of true; their desire to balk the government whenever possible does occasionally lead them to do odd things.

    As for Serbia / Bosnia – I never said that we were like them. I asked how Liberals would respond to such an action over there. We ALL tend to complain globally these days after all.


    I do know what Rosewood is; I think we as a people have permanently moved far beyond tolerating anything as vile happening in this country again.

    Do you really believe that many people felt any differently about Cordoba House? So… “we as a people have permanently moved far beyond tolerating anything as vile happening in this country again” might not be that far off the mark, just no in a way that would favor, Moe.


    • I didn’t think that ‘balking the government’ would be a position opposed by conservatives. There’s no blanket agreement among liberals on thier stances – lots of thier positions perceived as liberal are opposed by many many liberals. But they’ve been called Liberty’s Lawyers because they are dedicated to the Bill of Rights.

      Which is why they’ve defended
      Rush Limbaugh
      Oliver North
      the NRA
      Jerry Falwell
      etc, etc, etc

      They’re all about ‘don’t tread on my bill of rights’.


  5. Ms. Holland,

    I think we have to make a distinction between a moral and a legal conflict. Legally politicians cannot stop the ground zero Mosque. Morally they have every right to oppose it.

    As opposed to what San Diego officials did to a Pastor holding Bible studies in his home in 2009. Even though it was reversed, these clowns used their official power to try to shut down religious meetings. Wait, if they are Christians, it’s ok for politicians to mess with them.


    • What’s the story with the pastor? Not something I’ve ever heard of and you KNOW I”m a news junkie. Was the issue that they were Christian, or that they were violating some zoning ordinance – like running a church out of their house which would not be allowed any more than would a business that has customers visitng hte premises?


      • Misuse of zoning regulations if I remember correctly, Moe. It has happened so often that they finally had to pass the the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and still have a backlog of cases in federal court over it.


  6. Wait, did you forget that the Founding Fathers founded this country on Christian principles? And that when Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, and Adams spoke of freedom of religion, their intent was to allow for the free selection of one of the Christian factions. Musselmen, Jews, and atheists need not apply.


  7. In general, Freemasonry and the shrouded particulars of its beliefs aside, that was somewhere between the intent and the preconception of the Founding Fathers. They were all grounded in Christianity; even the ones who turned away from organized religions had turned away from Christianity without adopting any competing faith or joining any competing sect of any other God.


  8. Benjamin Franklin was more of an agnostic, if I recall correctly, than a Christian. I read his Autobiography many many years ago and my memory is not that good. He may have been raised Christian, but I don’t believe he was a practicing one. As I recall, he had an agreement with a friend, that whichever one died first, that one would try to send a message to the survivor and tell him what was on the other side. The friend died first and never contacted Mr. Franklin. At least that is the way I remember it, though I can’t find that part in the book anymore.


  9. There were a lot of enlightenment thinkers in that founding generation. And as Freemasons, they could believe in any god – the Christian god, the Mohammedan god, the Hindu god etc. Just so they beleived in a god.

    While the founders were probably believers and that informed their moral direction, that did not translate into Christianity in all cases.


  10. I’ve read a lot of these biographies, many of which are excellent. Oddly, I’ve not yet read a Washington bio.

    Just want to note that of them all, I think Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton does hte best job of bringing the period to life. It’s really terrific.


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