Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finnish First, Finnish Last

A Finnish atheist took Italy to court and won. Complaining that the Italian practice of hanging crucifixes in Italian classrooms violated her right to raise her child as an atheist, she convinced the European Court of Human Rights to order Italy to remove all crucifixes from government classrooms so as to not offend non-Catholics.

This is outrageous. Why is this woman incapable of raising her child as an atheist just because the majority culture believes otherwise? Unless there is a law making atheism illegal, she is free to teach her kid whatever she pleases. And why should non-Catholics be offended by Catholic symbols in a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic?

But wait! What about America? We are overwhelmingly Christian. Should we not allow Christian symbols in our schools? First, we do. Second, we have the First Amendment, so we shouldn’t. But we do. Am I offended as a Jew? No. I am not offended by another’s faith. Am I worried as an American? Yes. Our government is to be religiously neutral. But I’m not going to go to war over a Christmas pageant in December. When the government links loyalty to a certain brand of Christian faith to success in government and to promotion in the Air Force, then I worry. We do that too. Time to fight. That is why I am on the board of the Interfaith Alliance of Tennessee, the state branch of a national organization that works tirelessly to make sure the US honors and abides by the First Amendment.

When we go ballistic over every imagined slight to our beliefs, we make it all the more hard to muster outrage at and resistance to real threats to our religious liberties.

I am tired of people being offended. It offends me! Get over it. We live in the real world. If you don’t want your kid exposed to Italian society don’t move to Italy! If you don’t want your Jewish kid exposed to Christmas send them to yeshivah or home school them the way thousands of people do who are offended by science. But this is nonsense.

It is like dousing antibacterial spray over everything all the time. It actually weakens our capacity to deal with bacteria. Protecting our children from other people’s ideas only weakens their capacity to deal with other people’s ideas. In the end we will all fall victim to the some guy who just refuses to be silenced, and who has no compunction about silencing others. This degree of political correctness is political suicide.


Sandy said...


Raksha said...

Re >>When we go ballistic over every imagined slight to our beliefs, we make it all the more hard to muster outrage at and resistance to real threats to our religious liberties.<<

I agree. Harrassment of Jews at the Air Force Academy is a threat to our religious freedom. A crucifix in a classroom in an overwhelmingly Catholic country isn't. It's important to keep our priorities straight and save the outrage for real threats, not symbolic ones.

Peter Schogol said...

I've taken to wearing a kippah as an exercise in counterphobia (which until recently I thought was a fear of Formica). I am not comfortable being a Jew in the Bible Belt so by wearing a kippah I'm facing my fear as directly as I can. This may not be the best or most honorable reason for wearing one but it's my reason.

Some people still wish me a Merry Christmas. Either they don't know what I'm wearing, don't care, think they're being funny, are trying to convert me, or have just switched to auto-pilot. No matter. I just return the greeting and feel that I've engaged in a seasonal nicety with my neighbors.