Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Forward to the Dark Ages

Although the religious right seems to think it an abomination, one of America’s founding values is religious tolerance as expressed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. The Framers spoke and wrote eloquently of God and spiritual values but they also recognized the pernicious influence of established religion.

That’s why I am distressed to see that the “democracy” BushCheney is establishing in Iraq comes with a distinctly religious flavor. Not only does the Iraqi Constitution prohibit legislation that conflicts with the tenets of Islam but the effect of American blood and treasure seems to be increased sectarian violence.

In a country where mixed marriages between Sunnis and Shi’ites were common, they are now becoming rare if not impossible. Not only are dating rituals increasingly hazardous but these days finding a partner who meets the family religious requirements is extremely difficult.

He was a dashing young computer engineer. She was a shy student at his alma mater. They fell in love over lunch last year in the university cafeteria and promptly became engaged.

As they prepared for a future together, the couple barely discussed a subject that, under Saddam Hussein's rule, amounted to a footnote in matters of the heart: He was a Shiite Muslim; she was a Sunni Kurd.

But now those labels are tearing the couple apart. Barred by their families from marrying anyone of the opposite sect, the couple has erased one another's cellphone numbers and stopped speaking.


Each thwarted Sunni-Shiite relationship etches the gulf between the two groups a little deeper and foils another opportunity to produce the next generation of children with mixed backgrounds -- those living testaments to the not-so-distant peace between the sects.

...[A] 24-year-old Sunni who said he would never marry a Shiite, fears that Iraq has already begun a free fall into carnage.

He shook his head and pointed at a dirty white ashtray filled with five crumbled cigarette butts. "The future of Iraq will be like this," he said.

An ashtray. The perfect metaphor for BushCheney’s “democracy”.


Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

actually (and this is a truly fine point, yet, a crucial one) the concept that the founders were crafting was not one of tolerance but liberty. tolerance implies that a minority belief or viewpoint exists at the pleasure and whim of the majority. with religion this is not to be the case because tolerance, once granted can be withdrawn. while liberty is expected to endure. george washington wrote a letter stating just that to the first jewish congregation in newport, rhode island in his first few weeks as president. they had written him about whether or not they could expect tolerance from the new nation and he wrote them back (you can still see the letter in newport) stating that they could expect "liberty to follow their hearts and consciences" from all.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Rez Dog said...

Excellent point. Words do have meaning. Liberty reflects the ideas expressed in the Declaration of Independence more faithfully than tolerance. Thanks for the clarification.

7:16 AM  

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