How can this be justified?

Stephen D. Williams
Mon, 01 Oct 2001 21:43:58 -0400

Thanks for the clarification.  See below.

Tony Berkman wrote:

> At 02:59 PM 10/1/01, you wrote:
>> First, one comment about your line below: "I don't know that about my 
>> own country."  I'm really puzzled.  The US will stand behind any 
>> people in the US.  Period.
> I'm not sure it's so cut and dry Stephen.  After all, the US didn't 
> stand behind Japanese Americans in the not-so-distant past.  What if 
> some situation causes panic and unrest.  How confident are you that the 
> country won't again punish a single group.  Suppose, for instance, 
> terrorist attacks were to become pervasive (a biological attack here,  a 
> suicide bomb there, all over the country.  How comfortable would 
> Arab-Americans be that the country would "Stand behind them. Period"  
> I'm not saying it wouldn't, but uncertain times can give rise to 
> questionable tactics.  What if AIDS had escalated much more rapidly than 
> it did?  How comfortable would Gay Americans be in the countries 
> unconditional support, etc. etc.
> I feel badly that I apparently offended many people and brought out some 
> real vitriol with my casual use of "anti-Semitism."  It really wasn't 
> directed towards anyone on the list.  I had read what was, in my mind, 
> an extremely anti-Semitic editorial in the Boulder Daily Camera the 
> previous day (I can't find the bits on-line), and it was still troubling 
> me when I came upon Jim's post which started the thread.
> In any case, what I was getting at about our country was only that 
> throughout history the Jews have constantly been targeted and killed (as 
> have many other groups...).  And while America is certainly the best 
> friend Israel currently has and offers the most freedoms to Jews and 
> other religions, ethnicities, etc. to practice what religion we choose 
> and enjoy the civil liberties we do, I think for many Jews there is a 
> feeling that in some way, we must rely on each other first and foremost, 
> in order to survive.
> Having said that, I am not one to give a blanket excuse to Israel to 
> take all the actions it does and have been vocal and filled with sadness 
> when I see things that strike me as just plain wrong being perpetrated 
> by the Israelis.  And I hated Netanyahu.  There is a part of me that 
> agrees with everything Russel wrote with regard to Secular states.  But 
> there is another part of me that feels like it is very important for 
> Israel to remain a haven for the Jewish people, and I don't know if 
> there is another way....

I'll posit that the US is a better friend to Jewish people than Israel 
is, in the medium run at least.  Mixing religion with government will 
bite you in the butt sooner or later, a clear fact that the religious 
right in the US is confused about.  Or race and government (to cover 
both senses of the word 'Jewish').

To point out an obvious and neutral pair of cases:

Imagine that Israel stops having trouble with it's neighbors, settles 
into a nice democracy, and lives happily ever after.  Being a state that 
favors the Jewish religion and/or Jewish racial segment of the 
population, problems eventually develop:

(Disclaimer: I have virtually no idea what requirements, favoritism, 
negative factors, laws, cultural taboos, etc. are imposed on non-Jewish 
in Israel, but it's been mentioned and I'm well aware of the spectrum 
that occurs everywhere to some extent.)

A) Jewish citizens start tending to become more secular and the 
percentage of believers gradually and persistantly drops.  While still 
of Jewish descent, they are now considered less Jewish because of their 
beliefs and are persecuted more and more.  (Doesn't this already happen 
between the ultra-orthodox Jews and everyone else, including virtually 
all US Jewish aligned people?)  I'll point out that the Church of 
England is still the state religion of Great Britain, but the percentage 
of believers is something like single digits.  (Clarification from a 
Brit please...)  What if those ultra-orthodox Jews were to rule that you 
aren't a proper Jew because of your modern ways?  What are you going to 
do besides move back to the US?

B) Jewish citizens start to inter-marry with non-Jewish races more and 
more, thereby blurring the racial integrity and producing problems for 
progeny of 'full-Jews' who are now very upset by the system that may 
have protected them originally.

This doesn't even begin to talk about immigration, foreign visitors (me 
coming from the US for instance, with no superstitious content or 
deference), etc.

Of course, we expect that Israel won't be executing those that might try 
to spread Christianity or other primitive reactions that some Islamic 
countries have, but some degree of this happens when religion (or race) 
is allowed to govern who is to be disciplined.

I would like to have all of those trying to get various types of 
religion into the US government practices to seriously think about what 
success could mean: Christianity, worldwide, is a minority.  Does that 
mean that in certain neighborhoods with ethnic concentration their 
children could be taught Buddism, Islamic, Judism, or something in their 
public schools?

(Oh, but everyone believes in God.  Everyone Prays (our way).  Everyone 
follows the 10 commandments.  A little advertisement from OUR priest at 
the football game can't hurt anyone, right?

How about us non-theists??)

> Regards,
> Tony

Stephen D. Williams
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