Monday, November 20, 2017

Roy Moore, Our Annual Thanksgiving Short Story and a Vocabulary Addition

Roy Moore's Lapel

What has bothered me the most about the Roy Moore thing is not its sexual harassment aspects, as horrendous as they may be.  That has been going on for years so long as women, consciously or not, try to appeal to men in a manner intended to make them appear attractive or even desirable.  Biologically, they do so because of their inate, basic purpose … the continued propagation of the species, just as that same biologic sexual urge to ultimately reproduce motivates men to be attracted to them, and sometimes make unwelcome, even perverted, advances toward them.  Sadly, this will never end.   In the Western world, the cosmetic and apparel industries are based upon it.  Elsewhere, religious extremists attempt to deal with it by segregating and even masking women, hiding their physical attractiveness.  Their efforts also ultimately fail.  So enough about sexual harassment.  What bothers me about Roy Moore, then?

The man doesn’t understand nor respect the Constitution of the United States.  Its First Amendment specifically precludes Congress from making any laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.   Roy can profess any faith he wishes because our government does not ally itself with any particular religion.  Roy doesn’t understand this. That’s why, as a judge, he was repeated chastised for erecting monuments to the Ten Commandments at his court house.  Americans can respect the religious basis for some of the rights which our government protects, but that religious basis has no place in our laws.  Our Founding Fathers were mostly men of faith, but ultimately they kept that faith out of government, despite the efforts of some to include it in the country’s early years.

Roy doesn’t understand this.  Here is a picture of him.  Notice what is in his lapel.  It’s an American flag hanging from a somewhat larger cross.  

This is different from similar flag pins which show our friendship with other nations by including, for example, a Canadian, Israeli, or Polish flag along with the Stars and Stripes.  He may believe what his pin represents but let him keep it in his heart and house of worship; it does not belong along with the American flag.  Roy doesn’t get this.  Perhaps his devout faith is the reason.  That is the same explanation that the Taliban or ISIS give for their behavior.  And in Iran, where the nation’s chief Ayatollah is automatically the head of State, it works too.  But not here.  


Roy can grope and pinch women, regardless of age, all he wants and of course be exposed to legal consequences if what he does violates civil or criminal law, but let him keep his cross in his heart and in his house of worship.  He can even wear it on his lapel, but not entwining the American flag.  His jacket does have two lapels.

This posting would be incomplete if it did not mention that others in government are also playing fast and loose with the First Amendment's guarantees regarding religion. While less conspicuous in their confusion over the separation of church and state than Moore, the Attorney General and the Vice President, both "religious" men, bear watching.
Jack Lippman

Something to Believe In    (Our Annual Thanksgiving Story)

Jack Lippman

Wang looked up in amazement at the gigantic balloons which floated down the avenue above the parade.   

Some were in the shapes of elephants and clowns and characters he recognized from the TV shows he had been watching.  And the music!  There were blaring bands from all over the country interspersed among the floats.

 “But, Mom, what is this parade all about?  Who are we paying homage to?” the thirteen year old asked the middle-aged woman who held his hand tightly.  “I remember parades like this in China, but they were always in honor of the Party or the working man.  I know you have tried to explain Thanksgiving to me, but who are we thanking?  Where are the leaders we should be cheering, like we did in Tiananmen Square on May Day?
“Wang,” she answered, “We are giving thanks for having the things which make our life so happy.  You know, the food on our table, our clothes, the nice apartment we live in. Americans give thanks in many ways, some even thank God for what they have, but Wang, God personally won’t be part of the parade.”

 Max, on the boy’s other side, gave Louise a jaundiced look.

 “Oh,” the boy replied.  But it was clear that he was still confused.  “You mean I won’t be seeing Jesus in the parade?  He’s the one I usually thank for that kind of stuff. That’s what Reverend Lee taught us to do.”
“No, but if you want to be thankful to him, you can, Wang.”  

When Louise and Max had gotten Wang from the Mission Adoption Society less than a month before, they had been told that the Mission people who had taught him English also converted him to Christianity, once they had gotten him out of China where proselyting was illegal.  One of the things they had agreed to was to raise the boy as a Christian.  Neither Louise nor Max really practiced any religion.  They decorated a tree at Christmastime, but had never set foot in a church in their entire lives.  Max was born Jewish, but he lacked a religious background and was totally non-observant.  Louise came from a family of atheists.  So, when they paid the $25,000 adoption fee to the Mission Society, they didn’t object to agreeing to raise the boy as a Christian.  And the Mission people didn’t really care.  So far as Louise and Max were concerned, decorating a Christmas tree and hanging up a stocking Christmas Eve would suffice for his religious upbringing.  But Wang’s constant questioning was getting to be a bother.

The parade was drawing to a close, and the level of tension was increasing.   Wang felt it and didn’t know why, but suddenly, the final float of the parade came into view.  Mounted on a sleigh pulled by eight animated reindeer, and waving to all, was Santa Claus, resplendent in his white-trimmed bright red outfit, his snow-covered beard cascading down over his chest.  A loudspeaker boomed out his cries of “Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas to All!   Ho, Ho, Ho!”   

Wang’s eyes opened as wide as they could, as Santa rolled by their curbside position.  The cheers were deafening. 

“That’s Santa Claus.  I saw him on the TV yesterday.  Is he the one we thank for everything on Thanksgiving?”

This time Max answered him.  “No, Wang.  Santa may bring the gifts, but he isn’t the one who gets them for you in the first place.”

The boy looked puzzled.  “If I shouldn’t be thanking Jesus or Santa for the gifts, should I be thanking you, Mom and Pop?”

“Well, sort of,” Louise replied, but obviously, she wasn’t happy with that answer and the thirteen year old wasn’t either.

“Look,” he said.  “I know you two aren’t Christians, and until last year, I hadn’t even heard of Jesus.  So whether or not I believe in him really doesn’t matter. I can take him or leave him. But now you’re telling me that I shouldn’t be thanking Santa either.  This is sort of like what things were like in China.  Everyone used to thank Mao for everything.  Now, that was before my time, but then they told everybody to thank someone else, and finally, just thank the Communist Party, and that’s what I did in the orphanage, but that was okay since they ran the place.  But who do I thank here in America?  I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, what with you adopting me and all.  I just don’t feel it’s enough to thank just you two for all you’ve done for me.

My God, Louise thought.  Perhaps we should have waited for an infant, not this boy with his inquiring mind.  Maybe he’ll end up being a scientist or something, she mused. 

Later that night, in bed, she turned to Max.  “Max, do you believe in some force that controls the universe, some original cause or something?”

“Like God, you mean?  No … let’s leave it at some kind of power that started it all, and forget the divinity part of it.”

“You’re more of an atheist than my Dad was, Dear,” Louise replied.  “I’m beginning to think, if only for the boy, we have to believe in something.”

Max answered, “Well, Miss Atheist, you’re not going to get me involved with Jesus or back to the smelly old shuls I remember from Brooklyn.  Let’s find something nice and non-religious to credit everything to, and give that to the kid.”

“At least then,” Louise continued, “He’ll have someone … or something … to thank on Thanksgiving.”

And so it was that Louise and Max joined an introspective philosophical group, which met in a professor’s apartment on the Upper West Side on Tuesday evenings, in the hope of learning some answers to the questions the boy was raising.

Wang eventually started accompanying them to the meetings, and perhaps because of his Chinese background, quickly took to what was going on, and understood the discussions in perhaps greater depth than the adults there.   And he never again had to ask about whom to thank for the blessings which he received, but he did give great thought to whether the bounty he shared was indeed a blessing, or perhaps it should be looked at in another light.  He loved to talk about these things with Louise and Max for hours on end after the meetings.

Louise was very happy with the outcome.  Max turned to vodka.

Vocabulary Growth

One of this blog’s followers brought the following word, which I had never heard before, to my attention last week   Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it.  

“A kakistocracy (English pronunciation: /kækɪsˈtɑkɹəsi/) is a system of government which is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined as early as the 17th century. It was also used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant usage in the 21st century.”

Feel free to use this word in writing letters to Congress or to the media.  Its users back in 17th century England were probably opposed to Oliver Cromwell who had overthrown the monarchy and had put Parliament in charge.  If you cannot manage to guess to whom 21st century users of the word might be referring, just CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE RECENT ATLANTIC ARTICLE which brought this obsolete word back into current usage.  "Kakistocracy!" Go for it!


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Jack Lippman 

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