Honor Tradition – Do Not Cling To It.

by Pitt Griffin on February 26, 2014 · 0 comments

in Constitution, Religion

In his 2008 campaign Barak Obama famously said of small towns residents in the Midwest,

“And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Many took umbrage. But, while it was not a politically wise thing to say, it is fundamentally true. There is tremendous comfort in tradition – especially religious tradition. Karl Marx famously made the observation,

“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”


Religion was what the proletariat had to mitigate the pain of existence.

The Roman Catholic Church makes a virtue of tradition and constancy. Which is why there are no female priests, contraception remains verboten and abortion is a sin. At least the Catholic Church has a grown-up attitude to science.

Fundamental Protestantism does not. It denies science in favor of a fairy tale (aka a creation myth). Why? Because if God and his creation is eternal, unchanging and small, the faithful can stop thinking. They do not have to worry that what was true yesterday may be exposed as false tomorrow. And uncertainty is scary.

The further beauty of tradition is that it can be molded to the user’s need. Consider the desire to reimagine the US as a nation conceived in Christianity – Tom Delay went so far as to claim that the Constitution had been written by God – despite the evident rejection of a magical being by the founding fathers.

To the true believer, the American motto – “In God We Trust” – is confirmation of the country’s divine origins. But that bon mot was not adopted until 1956, replacing “E Pluribus Unum” – a far more accurate description of the rise of the US).

The Pledge of Allegiance suffered a similar revision in 1954, when “under God” was shoehorned in. And it wasn’t until FDR that a President concluded his oath with “So help me God”. The Constitution did not mandate any reference to a deity.

In the popular imagination the US was also founded as a white, english-speaking place. While it is true that the founding fathers were white and english speaking, the Constitution only discriminates against blacks and Indians and makes no mention of an official language.

Then there are the gun loonies and their own made-up tradition. Overturning years of jurisprudence and national policy that had put limits on gun ownership, a fervid minority has changed the dialogue. Despite vast majorities for commonsense gun legislation – say universal background checks – that issue is dead in the water.

The "well regulated" part of the 2nd amendment is never mentioned.

The “well regulated” part of the 2nd amendment is never mentioned.

The gun extremists’ position is so far from the founders sentiments that they have to make up quotes. This one is a favorite of the lunatic fringe “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth“. Attributed to Washington, it appears nowhere in his speeches or writings.

We are so capable of self-delusion that we have even changed the tradition of America as the land of immigrants. It isn’t just that many brown-skinned people are here illegally, it is that they are here to rape, maim and murder – while living high off the hog on government bennies. Something that no previous immigrant group has done as a whole.

For every mafiosi there were thousands of Italian-Americans legally striving their way up the ladder. Yet somehow the 11 million who are here illegally are viewed as different from the 318 million legally here.

If there is a tradition that we should honor, it is the idea of America. A nation conceived in liberty, where every man was created equal. And everyone was entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And most importantly a nation that was created by men who looked forward, rejecting the traditions of bigotry, tyranny and religious intolerance that epitomized the Europe their families had left behind.

It is a dishonor to the Constitution to imbue it with sentiments antithetical to those who created it. It is a thumb in the eye of Jesus to pervert his message of inclusion to advance a small-minded, hateful agenda.

in god we trust



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