Monday, July 11, 2005

This is Why I'll Never be in Politics

I was having lunch with some friends recently, one of whom is gay, and we were discussing the recent episode of 30 Days where a straight Christian man moved in with a gay man in San Francisco's Castro district for 30 days. At the beginning of the show, the straight man said he wasn't so sure if he believed homosexuality was anything but a choice. The Bible says that God made man in His form, and homosexuality just doesn't fit in that mold, he reasoned.

Ridiculous, I thought. If God made us all in his image, how does that explain for all of the diversity among people? Some are black, some are white; some are tall, some are short; some are allergic to peanuts/lactose/wheat; some are resistant to certain diseases/cancers; some are left-handed, some are right-handed; some are kind, some are cruel; some are relentlessly upbeat, some are depressed; and some have physical or mental differences that lead many to label them as deviating from our standard of "perfect." All of this shows me that, while God may have used his image as a blueprint, he allowed a certain amount of variation to come into his design. And I grew up being told that God loved everyone equally, no matter who they were or what they looked like.

If only I had been as eloquent at lunch. To my horror, the first thing that came out of my mouth was something like "If God made us all in his image, how does that explain genetic differences like Down's Syndrome... Is he going to say that they are 'mistakes' because they weren't made in God's image? Or is he implying that they somehow chose to have that condition?"

Brilliant. I could see the face of my gay friend straining to think through my logic. I'd like to believe she knew I was trying to take her side, but I don't think it was lost on her that I had just compared her sexual orientation with mental and physical retardation. My point was — and is — that people are different, and many of these physical and mental differences were not chosen. What would make someone think that any of those differences makes people less desirable in God's eyes? Or less like His image?

However, comparing homosexuality to a genetic abnormality like Down's Syndrome wasn't really where I wanted to take that line of reasoning. While most of us would argue that people affected by Down's Syndrome are every bit as worthy of God's love as the rest of us, clearly those are two separate issues that are beyond comparison. I certainly don't believe that homosexuals are handicapped in any way (except, maybe in the finding a mate category ).

So you see why I won't be running for office anytime soon. I can take a stand in defending a group of people AND manage to insult that same group all in one conversation. This is why I think I'll stick to blogging. Maybe I'll stop with the analogies, too.

More Words of Wisdom

I was shopping at Target yesterday and I read the following on the back of a man's t-shirt:
"The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war." It's hard work to maintain the peace, as any mother of multiple children can tell you. Heck, it's hard work for me to maintain peace in myself.

Another bumper sticker idea I saw somewhere recently that's a little tongue in cheek but still valid: "Two Reasons to Keep the Separation of Church and State: Islamic Fundamentalists and Evangelical Christians." Dangerous to make that equation, I think, but the point remains the same: if you give an inch, you allow for the foot to eventually be taken as well.

Friday, July 08, 2005

A good editorial from the NY Times

The bombings in London have left me shaking my head again over the sad state of affairs -- and how the war in Iraq distracted us from a very important mission of capturing Osama and negating Al Qaeda before they struck again. Too late. They have. All along I have said I would be supporting our administration if they were spending all this time, money, and lives on fighting the real enemy. (Apparently, the administration knows that many of us out here feel that way, so they constantly try and tie the 9/11 attacks to Iraq, even though other branches of our own government--and the CIA-- have said otherwise. But I digress...)

But, today a friend forwarded me this editorial from the NYTimes, which I like because it gives the Islamic community its fair share of responsibility for helping stem the flow of radical Islamic fundamentalism. I'm sharing it here with you. Pass it on as you see fit.

NY Times
July 8, 2005
If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Yesterday's bombings in downtown London are profoundly disturbing. In part,that is because a bombing in our mother country and closest ally, England,is almost like a bombing in our own country. In part, it's because oneassault may have involved a suicide bomber, bringing this terrible jihadistweapon into the heart of a major Western capital. That would be deeplytroubling because open societies depend on trust - on trusting that theperson sitting next to you on the bus or subway is not wearing dynamite.
The attacks are also deeply disturbing because when jihadist bombers taketheir madness into the heart of our open societies, our societies are neveragain quite as open. Indeed, we all just lost a little freedom yesterday.
But maybe the most important aspect of the London bombings is this: When jihadist-style bombings happen in Riyadh, that is a Muslim-Muslim problem.That is a police problem for Saudi Arabia. But when Al-Qaeda-like bombingscome to the London Underground, that becomes a civilizational problem. Every Muslim living in a Western society suddenly becomes a suspect, becomes a potential walking bomb. And when that happens, it means Western countries are going to be tempted to crack down even harder on their own Muslim populations.
That, too, is deeply troubling. The more Western societies - particularly the big European societies, which have much larger Muslim populations than America - look on their own Muslims with suspicion, the more internal tensions this creates, and the more alienated their already alienated Muslim youth become. This is exactly what Osama bin Laden dreamed of with 9/11: to create a great gulf between the Muslim world and the globalizing West.
So this is a critical moment. We must do all we can to limit the civilizational fallout from this bombing. But this is not going to be easy.Why? Because unlike after 9/11, there is no obvious, easy target toretaliate against for bombings like those in London. There are no obviousterrorist headquarters and training camps in Afghanistan that we can hit with cruise missiles. The Al Qaeda threat has metastasized and become franchised. It is no longer vertical, something that we can punch in the face. It is now horizontal, flat and widely distributed, operating through the Internet and tiny cells.
Because there is no obvious target to retaliate against, and because there are not enough police to police every opening in an open society, either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists - if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings - orthe West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way - by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.
And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.
What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.
The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving theprophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.
Some Muslim leaders have taken up this challenge. This past week in Jordan, King Abdullah II hosted an impressive conference in Amman for moderateMuslim thinkers and clerics who want to take back their faith from those who have tried to hijack it. But this has to go further and wider.
The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long ast he Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst.
_______________end of NYTimes editorial__________________

Indeed, it would be a disaster if we were to disallow any more Muslims into the country -- in my mind it would be a disaster if we were to shut out any one group. America is what she is because of a grand variety of ingredients. I had a professor in college who hated the melting pot metaphor because melting something so drastically changes its core; instead, Dr. Burnim preferred the American Stew metaphor -- where each ingredient and spice brings it's own special flavor and enhances the whole. The Muslim community has good things to offer America; just as the Germans, the Irish, the Africans, the Catholics, the Christians, the Jews have offered us in the past 200 years. Let's not forget that.