Wednesday, September 1, 2010
middle names and not-at-ground-zero-mosques
My middle name is Marbury.
One that my mother, grandmother and other various ancestors hold. The most infamous "Marbury" we lay ancestral claim to is Anne Marbury Hutchison.
Anne lived back in the day of the Puritans. And didn't exactly agree with the established church. And spoke about it, in public, and without heed to the ecclesiastical warnings of what might happen to her if she didn't pipe down.
So, Anne was sentenced to prison over a harsh winter, while über-pregnant, and eventually was excommunicated. (Her husband helped purchase an island near Rhode Island, relocated the family, and years later returned home from a trip to find Anne and several children scalped by local natives.)
You should read her story.
Here's where I'm getting...
If my beloved heroine and namesake had lived in modern day lower Manhatten, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and 68% of Americans would think her expressions of faith were wrong (and insensitive and whatever other words we're spewing around).
While many might not see the correlation-- Anne Hutchison leading her own version of Bible study and offending the Puritans and the moderate Muslims planning to build a Community Center and offending the Republicans-- it's there. The same reasons that sent Anne and her family packing to a god-forsaken island are the same reasons there are grossly ignorant tweets being made by political has-beens and wannabees.
We are America.
Not just the white, Christian, country-music-loving population among us, but the blacks and latinos and Asians and Catholics and Muslims and atheists.
We have a moral high ground to hold to--one we stake our worldwide reputation on. A high ground that's been used, time and time again, to justify our foreign policy, to allow us to make demands on other nations that we ourselves won't succumb to.
That moral high ground is our defense of Freedom. Freedom to worship whatever. Freedom to say (almost) anything. Freedom to meet about saving the trees or saving the unborn babies. Freedom to live productive lives, unhindered by a religious government that tells us what to do on Fridays. Or Sundays.
This is why we think we're better than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Taliban, Fidel Castro, Hu Jintao and all other present and past despots who regulate religion and its expression.
And we should think we're better than them; better than their narrow-minded, restrictive policies.
As long as we stay better than them.
The minute we tell a peaceful, America-loving, group of citizens that they cannot express their persuasions the way they please, we lose that high ground. We lose a piece of our DNA, a part of our sacred foundation. We lose the very thing that has attracted millions of oppressed sojourners, in search of a better and freer life.
We lose our American-ness.
I will always lobby for freedom of worship and a secular state because history speaks, too clearly, to what happens when one group of citizens is allowed to dictate the religious behaviors of the rest. It's a slippery slope, this religous intolerance. I fear for the future of my children, my white, hopefully-Christian, probably-country-music-loving children, if our nation begins to acqueise these sorts of demands.
Only 90 years ago, another terrorist organization was at the height of its power and influence. Its members met in secret, monitored the social and religious behaviors of its community, and executed acts of terror on undeserving, innocent citizens.
Far too quickly have we forgotten that the Ku Klux Klan members claimed to be Christians. That Christian churches exist in the very towns where these terrorists lived and worshipped. That these KKK members would worship at Little Town Southern Baptist Church on Sunday morning and then meet to discuss their next lynching on Monday night.
And yet, we don't protest, we don't tweet about the "insensitivity" of those Christians with their buildings so close to the hallowed ground of martyrs. We are able to make the distinction between moderate, sane Christians and Christian terrorists.
Another distinction needs to be made. Soon.
If not, at best, we look and sound like idiots. At worst, we lose our Freedom.
(Let's check our facts: The "Ground Zero Mosque" is neither at Ground Zero, nor is it a mosque. The building site is 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. Ground Zero can't be seen from the site. It's a proposed community center, complete with a basketball court, fitness center, theatre, Islamic prayer room, and a memorial to the World Trade Center victims. Sounds pretty threatening to me.)