Sunday, December 6, 2015

The First Amendment

Sometime, way back in the early nineteen eighties, on a date and for reasons not really worth mentioning at this time, I took an oath that if need be I would fight and die to defend this country, its Constitution, and the principles of freedom that make it worth fighting for. Frequently it is said among veterans—at least those of us who have some pride in our service along with sincerity in our oath—those sworn words never expire. I hold this to be a self-evident truth.

I have not yet come upon a time that would threaten my life in exchange for the safety of my country but I do feel it is time to fire a warning shot across the bow.

The problem is I keep seeing things like this in circulation on the internet. 

Now I want it to be very, very clear. I am not here to tell anybody that Islam is good or bad. I am not going to defend Islam nor condemn it. It is not my place to tell other people what their concepts of God should or should not be. Call it civil humility if you like.


“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

You got that? It does not matter if you agree with that religion or not. It does not matter if your version of scripture casts any particular other religion as the ultimate evil on the planet.

I logged onto Twitter yesterday and found someone saying that Islam is a cult and not covered under constitutional rights. Listen, you want religious wars unending and forever? You want America and all of its people destroyed because of them? Accept the premise that your religion is the only one that could be right and all of the rest of them are cults undeserving of protection. You can make that argument. So can any religion. It then becomes a situation where the churches of the world are controlled by whoever has the most of the biggest guns. And we all know that that’s what God really wants; isn’t it?

Ban ANY religion and NONE of us will have any religious rights. ALL religious beliefs will be subject to government approval and control.

Yes, plenty of people are pointing out references from the Quran which promote violence. Some of them are outright bogus. Some of them are taken so far out of context as to have been stripped of their original meaning. Surah 2:191comes to mind, “Slay them wherever you find them,” as the most often repeated example as the argument to ban Islam. Yeah, right. Look at the words that come immediately before it in Surah 2:190, “And fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression—for surely, God does not love aggressors.” It takes on a completely different meaning. The actual context changes the statement from the character of a violent psychotic zealot to the most widely held standard for crossing the threshold of war in the world. Likely it is the same standard you hold.

So are we going to suppose from this that it is the right thing to do to ban a religion followed by more than a billion people worldwide because of a couple of violent verses of their scripture taken out of context? For each of those that can be pointed out from the Quran I can give you two from the Bible that are just as violent and could be taken equally out of context and used against Christians. Don’t believe me? Here they are. I need to make it clear that I don’t necessarily endorse the views of the previous link but at the same time I cannot deny the accuracy and method of the author’s research. Regardless of that, and in summation, there are 1321 violent verses in the Bible.

“Let him among you who is without sin cast the first stone,” is the thought that comes to my mind. True, there aren’t a lot of Christians beheading people today but that’s not the point. The First Amendment is the point.

I need to also make it known this is not pointed out as an intention to criticize Christianity or any of their religion’s brothers. I’m just as willing to defend Christianity with my life as any religion. What I’m talking about is definable standards that don’t throw society into more chaos than it is. And I’m doing it for the defense of all religious rights of all the people around the world in addition to the defense of America. If the standard is to ban religions that have violence in their scriptures, Christianity would be as equally condemned by the United States government as Islam would be. Christians in this country are already experiencing enough persecution without adding the precedent of banning it because of violence in religious texts.

Where the rubber hits the road lies in the concept that if you declare war against an entire religion because some of them in it are killing people for not believing what they believe, you would be doing exactly the same thing as they are and just as guilty of barbarity if you killed them for it. It no longer matters who threw the first punch if in the end we all lose our rights to worship as we see fit.
But there are people running around lopping people’s heads off, supposedly in the name of the “almighty Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful,” (also quoted from the Quran). What to do? What to do?

Look. People go crazy. I don’t know what the deal is with Islam. I don’t care what it is. It is not up to me to fix the problems of a religion that seems to have a long history of violence. That’s their problem to resolve. But there are some undeniable facts to deal with. Firstly, it is the right of any who may choose, to be Islamic or not. Secondly, more than a billion Muslims didn’t kill or hurt anybody today.

This gives us the problem of how to sort them out. For myself I use the same standard as what we used in World War Two. We did not seek to defeat all things and people of German heritage. Just imagine what the world would be if we decided to kill all Germans everywhere. It’s a good thing for me we didn’t because that would have included my own family and you wouldn’t have such a delightful and well thought out article to read such as this. Well, all Germans everywhere weren’t shooting at us. After the war we even rebuilt their country. We sought to defeat the Nazis because they were shooting at us.

That’s the simplest standard I know for sorting out violence. If ISIS wishes to separate themselves out as violent extremists, shoot them. If Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood separates themselves out in the same way give them the same treatment. They are to Islam as the Nazis were to Germany. Let them reap their reward.

All Muslims aren’t shooting at us either; in spite of what social media has to say about it. If you want to do what some people suggest and nuke Islam, then please give me a scenario that doesn’t involve also nuking Dearborn Michigan.

Now begging the reader’s forgiveness I’m going to put on my aluminum foil hat and talk about conspiracy theories for a bit. While I am an ardent defender of religious rights let’s go wild for a bit and suppose that I’m quite the opposite. Let’s say that I am a fervent disbeliever in God and the human spirit in all respects. Let’s say I want to forever and always settle the issue of the Ten Commandments and prayer in public with the banning of religion. Let’s also say that I’m a very powerful and influential person in the world. Let’s say that I want to establish myself as the supreme leader of the planet without the pesky problem of those free-thinking theologians forever and continuously harping about their religious rights. How would I do it? Well, it would take a while, but I would start by promoting just one religion as being exceptionally violent. In fact I would do everything I could to make one become violent just to promote it. Then I would set a precedent for potentially banning all religions by banning the violent one. Better yet would be if I could provoke two of them into fighting each other. Done with sufficient aplomb the people of the world would support me just because I’ve set myself up as the person who could apparently solve the problems I’ve created. “Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” you know?
Such things are good material for fiction writers.

Now I’m not going to mention the Obama administration in any way, form or manner here. Any thoughts you have along the line of thinking about Obama are your own responsibility. I don’t want even the slightest bit of your attention on Obama or any of Obama’s followers. I’m a compassionate enough man as to never wish to put any thought of Obama in anybody’s head in this context. In my utter refusal to mention the Obama administration in any way within this article, I’m going to point out to you that if your perception of Islam is in any way based on the Main Stream Media, you are taking the word of the same people who think Obama is some kind of divinity, while any conservative and/or Christian is a violent, radical, racist, zealot.

Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, if you wish to ban Islam, and are successful, America as we know it is over. Done. Finished. And there would be nobody to blame except you. The simple reason is because it comes into direct conflict with the very basis of all of our freedoms to ban any religion. People have a right to their religious beliefs and practices. Every veteran took the oath to defend this principle and I expect every one of us who take our oath as a lifelong promise to accurately and precisely fulfill it.

It is incumbent upon the peaceful people of the world of all faiths to defend each other. If there is violence within your faith it is your responsibility, for your own benefit, to get it handled or disavow those who are giving you a bad name. It is up to every sane individual to be able to distinguish the difference between violent people and peaceful people without prejudice.

This is exactly what the founding fathers were thinking of when the First Amendment was added to the Constitution. Let’s not spit in their eye; okay? Let’s not dishonor all of those who had to fight and die to protect it. And when it comes to violence let’s sort them out then kill them so God won’t be bothered with the trouble rather than killing them all and letting God sort them out. It just seems like the decent thing to do.

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