America is constantly changing and that is good. But that doesn’t mean that all change is good.
Dec 12, 2005,
America was founded by Protestants fleeing from religious persecution. They not only had an appreciation for the need for religious liberty, but also had respect for the Hebrew Bible. As a result, the Constitution of the USA reflected both. One hundred years prior to the Constitution being written, Jews and Protestants in Europe were being burned at the stake for religious heresy.
But before writing the Constitution, America’s founders had to declare their independence from the tyranny of Great Britain. In doing so, they declared,
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
What a powerful expression of the ethos of America. Jews began fleeing religious persecution and economic depravation in Europe one hundred years later. They, too, viewed America as the “promised land” and indeed, it was. They fought against antisemitism, discrimination and unbearable working conditions for the next hundred years and, in doing so, made America a better place for themselves and for everyone else. They dominated the cultural scene both on Broadway and in Hollywood; thereby, infusing Jewish values into mainstream America and, in turn, they became American. They changed America and America changed them.
My parents emigrated from Poland in the 1920s, but had to come to Canada because the doors had closed to Jewish immigration in the US. North America (America) was very antisemitic at the time, since the Christian establishment felt the Jews were a threat to them and their economic order, which they dominated. (And so they were. They lead the labour movement in the twenties and thirties, which greatly strengthened the working man in America.) This, of course, was in addition to the theologically based antisemitism.
Remember, in 1939, the US turned away the ship the St. Louis, filled with Jewish refugees, resulting in the death of most Jews on board. In the 1930s, when Canada’s immigration minister was asked how many Jewish refugees Canada would accept, he infamously said that “none was too many.”
I went to elementary school during the war years in a town of 14,000 and can remember to this day how uncomfortable I was, having to sit through the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the singing of Christmas carols, or to excuse myself from class. I also remember the occasional sign “No Jews or Dogs Allowed”, the restrictive quotas at universities and the restrictions on Jews joining country clubs. I remember hating such restrictions and I yearned for a world of no barriers. I was not religious, but felt my Jewish identity to the core.
As a result of all this discrimination and their own values, Jews became prominent in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s. In this way, the Jews again made America better for themselves and for everyone else. Quotas were dropped, restrictions were removed and Jews excelled in all walks of life. Truly the promised land. In time, the Christians made room for the Jews as partners and hence, the constant reference to America being founded on Judeo-Christian values, the strong support for Israel among the American people and the disproportionate representation of Jews in the government. Along with this greater acceptance came assimilation and much intermarriage.
The civil rights movement brought in its wake the liberation of women, the liberation of homosexuals, multiculturalism, relativism and secularism.
Religious prohibitions were challenged by secular liberties. First came the battle for abortion, which may or may not be over. Then came the battle over gay marriage, which is far from over. Now, there is the battle to remove God, Moses, the Ten Commandments and “in God we Trust” from the public square. There are many similar battles being fought.
In the main, these are battles between Christian Evangelicals, with some support from Orthodox Jewry, on the one side (Right) and liberal churches, Reform Judaism and secularists, both Jewish and otherwise, on the other side (Left). This same divide is reflected in such issues as Iraq, the “peace process” in Israel, the war on terror, appointments to the Supreme Court and just about everything else.
The Right is also joined by persons who are not motivated by religious values, but by patriotic values. The Left is joined by people motivated by socialism, Communism, anti-Americanism and antisemitism.
If this cultural war wasn’t enough, a new cultural war is well on its way; namely, that between an Islam lead by “radical Islamists” on the one side, and both the Right and the Left on the other.
This is a battle that the Right comes to with girded loins. The Left, on the other hand, is defenseless. Paradoxically, the same tools they used to weaken the Christian opposition to their secularism only serve to strengthen and empower the Islamists. These tools, according to Rabbi Spero, included “employing terminology they knew good-willed people ? us ? would readily accept: compassion, sensitivity, inclusion, tolerance. Especially tolerance, for who wishes to be called intolerant, the deadliest of the neo-pagan seven sins.”
Other tools include the use of the law to whittle away at established norms and values. So, what’s wrong with that? We see from the battle of who gets appointed to the Supreme Court: there is law and then, there is law. It is the same legal tools the Islamists use to tear down our society to make room for them. Nothing is ours or is sacred. The Right is not permitted to prefer its own values or culture to that of Islam because everything, we are told, is relative.
By reducing the Judeo-Christian culture to one of many, through multiculturalism, the Left has opened up the door to the values and culture of Islam that are totally inimical to the established culture. And the Right has been handcuffed in their defense by the imposition of politically correct speech. The irony is that Islam is the greatest threat of all to the values of the Left, and the Left doesn’t even see this threat coming because they are too busy attacking Christians, Bush and Israel as the biggest threats.
I want to preserve America with all its movements for change. No one wants to go back to the America that existed in 1900. America is constantly changing and that is good. But that doesn’t mean that all change is good. Muslims are welcome to come to America if they accept the dominant culture in the public square as all other peoples do. In fifty years time, if they have proven themselves good Americans and not broken our china as our house guests, then they will have earned their place in our society. But first, they have to be proven worthy. If they are unwilling to accept our norms and values, then they should not be permitted in.
I don’t see eye-to-eye with the Christian Right (mostly on theological questions), nor do I with the Christian or Jewish Left (on political questions). I choose to support the Christian Right, though, because they support Israel and America, and fight Islamofascism. I oppose the Christian Left and the Jewish Left because they undermine Israel and America, and protect the Islamofascists.