Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sympathy for the devil

(Photo: Lauren Victoria Burke from the Hartford Courant)

To their credit, the Hartford Courant has provided in depth coverage of Senator Creepy Joe™ Lieberman's speech to John Hagee's group, Christians United for Israel, last evening. On their website, they provide a complete copy of Lieberman's speech.

It's a speech premised on a fairy tale. I'm a non-believer in the miracles and mysticism portrayed in both the Old and New Testament. But I see their value as a metaphorical, and symbolic approach to a set of moral codes and beliefs. What I can't countenance is a political leader of any country, using the "words of God," as justification for any political or governmental action. It is, in fact, what Lieberman suggests in his speech - that "Americans and Israelis alike are the children of freedom and know alike that our rights to life and liberty come from our Creator."

To begin with, I don't think Lieberman, Hagee, or anyone else will find the United States of America name-checked anywhere in the bible. The "promised land" is mentioned often, and the Israelites can, indeed, claim they have a geographical promise from God, if one is willing to believe that such a God exists.

What's more, the founding fathers of this country were clear in their efforts to keep church and state separate, after suffering under the indignities of a government in which a king acted with "divine right."

But beyond this, Lieberman makes a broad argument about fighting mightily for the security of Israel and America, using the bible as evidence that is shall be so. In one sentence Lieberman dismisses the "demi-gods" of ancient Greece as mythology, and in the next, lauds the heroics of the "great humans" like Moses and his sister Miriam, who had regular conversations with God.

Coincidentally, Moses is considered a Muslim prophet, so it doesn't matter whose God is whispering in whose ear to destroy which enemy, it is downright frightening to think that any leader, of any country, is relying on the word of god to make policy, and to make war.

Aside from the fact that it's now clear that Creepy Joe™ Lieberman uses the bible more readily than the Constitution to justify his policy decisions, he also spent a good part his speech denouncing partisanship (though, for once, he didn't use the word.)" Apparently Joe hates to be hated, but he loves to hate.

In the defense of the indefensible Hagee, he says: "A person should be judged on the entire span of his or her life's works. Rather than searching for ways to tear each other apart, we should be searching for ways to close the gap that separates us from each other, to better understand each other, and to judge each other with the humility and certainty that each of us is imperfect."

This from the man who has spent the past four Sundays on news talk shows searching for ways to tear his political opponent, Barack Obama, apart.

One final note, Lieberman borrows generously from the book of Exodus for his speech - citing the story of Moses and his human failings. In what's typical of conservative religious zealots he cherry-picks verses that will suit his need. What he fails to acknowledge is that Exodus also contains these injunctions from God, among many others, in which God condones slavery, instructs his people to have love of enemy, and warns against sharing the idolotry of false religions:

Thou shalt not molest a stranger, for you know the hearts of strangers: for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.

If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years shall he serve thee; in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

If any man sell his daughter to be a servant, she shall not go out as bondwomen are wont to go out.

If she displease the eyes of her master to whom she was delivered, he shall let her go: but he shall have no power to sell her to a foreign nation, if he despise her.

If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lie underneath his burden, thou shalt not pass by, but shalt lift him up with him.

Thou shalt not enter into league with them, nor with their gods.

Thou shalt not follow the multitude to do evil: neither shalt thou yield in judgment, to the opinion of the most part, to stray from the truth.

Neither shalt thou favour a poor man in judgment.

He's your God, Joe, and he has spoken.

No comments: