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Establishment plays victim

Matt Zalaznick

The Christian right has a brilliant new strategy: acting oppressed. In TV interviews, Christian conservatives have been playing the victim, complaining their faith is under assault by immoral modernism, and keening about their beliefs not being “respected.” But the belief that isn’t being respected is the fundamentalist fatwa that everyone should think and act just like them. There’s nobody out there who wants to prevent them from following their bliss all the way to the apocalypse. The fanatics want to be free from offense, but they insist on getting offended by what’s not their business – like gay marriage, like whether Tony Soprano says bad words on a TV channel that’s very easy not to watch, like who certain cartoon characters (whom they can also turn off) hang out with. Under this philosophy, somebody looking at a porno magazine in their own living room is somehow forcing good Christian children to look at it, too. Somebody listening to Eminem froth in the privacy of their own Hummer is somehow also drowning out the Sunday morning sermon. From their beachhead within the Bush administration, they’re trying to cram American society into a giant chastity belt. They’re pushing aggressively to bend public policy to do their bidding in entertainment, science and the intimate lives of Americans. They refuse to realize such narrow policy is not possible in a pluralistic society like the United States, which despite the media’s obsession with moral values, gets less and less doctrinaire all the time. Perhaps the writers of the Constitution did not intend to banish religion from government, but the separation of church and state is meant to prevent one group’s voodoo or cabala from dominating their neighbor’s scientology, b’hai or Zoroastrian-ism. So, in a roundabout way, letting Tony Soprano say the F-word 50 times an episode and letting Buster Bunny visit lesbian moms is also ensuring Christian Conservatives their freedom of religion. Americans cringe at the “shariah”-based justice systems of Arab countries in which religion – in all its paternalistic, chauvinistic and ancient rigidity – sets cruel limits for behavior, in some cases allowing women to be stoned to death for cheating on their husbands. American fundamentalists seem eager for a similar system. Evolution is a perfect example. The savvy creationists have skewed the issue by conflating theology with science. Their crusade into biology is as legitimate as a gang of UFO chasers complaining schools are ignoring their theory that human life was seeded by beings from the Andromeda galaxy. Actually, the sky watchers and X-File freaks may have a stronger argument: As our satellites plunger deeper and deeper under the surface of planets like Mars, we may learn some the substances that led to life on earth came from somewhere else. But what the Christian right wants in smothering students’ minds with “intelligent design” theory is to entrench their abstract beliefs as the law of the land. But a public school system isn’t based on notions and mysticism. If our society is not to slide back into the Middle Ages, our nation’s chemistry and biology lessons must continue to be based on extensively studied facts and theories – such junior high staples, for instance, as photosynthesis and how babies are made. But fundamentalist “science” prefers to ignore those ideas, too, lest students miss the role of the hand of God. City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com or 949-0555, ext. 606. Vail, Colorado


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