Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Dialogue With the Right

I wrote my neighbor to complain about his forwarding that poem -- see the entry before this one -- to me. He responded with a short note:
Hi Charlie, I am sure that you know of the former Judge, Roy Moore and the
reason's for which he was removed from his position. I am sorry that this
kind of news is offensive, to you. This is not saying anything more, than
that our country is in very sad shape, from a Biblical standpoint. I
received this from a friend of mine, and all I did was try and share it! I
shared it with practically my entire e-mail address book. Just a sharing os
issues confronting each and every "Red Blooded American" that lives within
the boundaries of the USA. That's all that it is....

No offense meant, sorry again my friend.

Here's what I sent him in return:

I know who Roy Moore is. I'm offended by the message of the poem because it suggests that the problems in the United States can all be blamed on people who disagree with Moore's religious beliefs.

Many people do wonderful work on the basis of their religious convictions. I have great respect for what you do in our community. And I have great respect for what my parents do through their church to help the homeless. But to suggest that America is literally and figuratively going to hell simply because we aren't all conservative Christians seems incredibly simplistic and unhelpful. Once we throw out the idea that this is a nation where people of DIFFERENT beliefs can live in peace and tolerance, once one set of beliefs is imposed on everyone else, this country will not be the United States we have been brought up to love and honor. It will be a totalitarian regime not unlike the Taliban or Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq.

Doesn't it bother you that statements like this one from Roy Moore make so little allowance for diversity of opinion?

Your own experience of living in our neighborhood and interacting with me and my family should suggest that, although we may have very different political views -- I have never voted for a Republican, for example -- we can still agree on lots of things that matter, such as mutual respect for our community, for nature, for God's creation (or whatever you wish to call it). That's the beauty of living in a free country.

I'll be the first to admit that terrorism scares me. But what scares me more is that the people of the United States will let their fear of terrorism destroy the freedom and love of democracy that made our nation great and that continues, despite all of the missteps of recent years (such as the prison abuse scandal), to make this country a beacon for all those who experience overt oppression in their homelands.

The people who are working so hard to make the United States and Britain leave Iraq, the ones who are plotting to commit terrorist acts against Americans at home and abroad, the ones who hate us enough to kill themselves in order to kill us, these people are not lacking in religious conviction. They BELIEVE in their god with staggering intensity. And they even believe that our god is their god, though Jesus is for them a prophet like Moses and not the son of god. But their belief doesn't stop them from wanting to murder. In fact, it's their belief that MAKES them want to murder.

What these people lack is not a foundation in faith. Indeed, I'm willing to bet that the members of Al Qaeda and other extremist Islamic groups would AGREE COMPLETELY with everything Judge Roy Moore says in his poem.

What they lack is the experience of life in an open society. What they lack is the concrete taste of a freedom that matters. What they lack are precisely those characteristics of American society which we, in our deep-seated insecurity as a nation, are in danger of destroying.

Think hard about what you value, [NAME WITHHELD], as a "red-blooded American." Would you really be happy living in the sort of theocracy that the Iranians suffer under?

With best regards,

If you recall my debate with knicolini a few months back about whether it made sense to engage with neighbors like this one directly, you'll know that I was hesitant to speak out. That hesitance is disintegrating as fast as our moral credibility in Iraq.

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