AND THAT’S OK. OR MAYBE IT ISN’T
Every year, twice a year, in fact, I have an experience that makes me feel like a stranger in my own land. It usually happens in December and April, and the discomfort that I feel is palpable.
The people perpetrating the offense have no malice in their hearts. In fact, they are sharing their love and their beliefs with me. The problem is that they have no understanding that their beliefs are not mine, or that I really don’t want what they are offering.
From Thanksgiving until December 25, each year, people come up to me, unsolicited, and wish me a Merry Christmas. It would never enter the minds of these kind individuals that I do not share their joy regarding the birth of the man they believe to have been The Messiah.
And right in the middle of Passover, I am constantly being greeted by folks celebrating their belief that their Messiah was resurrected on a Spring Sunday. They don’t wish me a Zeesen Pesach (Sweet Passover). No, instead, they wish me a Happy Easter.
Yesterday, I was in the local stationery store when a woman came in to buy a Lotto ticket. When she was done with her gambling, she smiled and wished the owner of the store a Happy Easter. He rolled his eyes. He is from Pakistan and a Muslim. He told me that he used to comment on the fact that he wasn’t a Christian, but that the people to whom he made these comments just didn’t seem to get it. I related a couple of stories to him which I would like to share with you.
Some years ago, I was in a store in the South in the spring. At the end of my purchase, the cashier wished me a Happy Easter. When I told her that I was Jewish and did not celebrate Easter, she responded by saying, “You mean Jews don’t believe in Jesus?” I told her that we didn’t, and she gave me an icy stare, as if I was the devil incarnate.
The owner of the stationery store nodded in understanding.
I went on to tell him about a trip I made to Greensboro, North Carolina about a decade ago. I was staying in a hotel in a rather remote part of the city. The local cuisine consisted of a Shoneys, a Papa John’s and a McDonald’s. Breakfast was at Mickey D’s, lunch at Shoney’s, and it was pizza or pasta every night for dinner for the week I was there.
Now, the McDonald’s had something that we don’t have here in the North, a greeter. In this case, the greeter was a sweet little old lady who, somehow, ended up becoming my breakfast buddy. On the morning I was heading back north, I told granny (that’s what she was called) that I was on my way to the airport. As I left, she smiled and said, “Y’all fly safely with Jesus and the Virgin Mary, y’heah”
Old granny had no idea, apparently, that there are folks out there who didn’t go to the Baptist Church every morning and to the local preacher’s tent show on Sunday. To her, the world was Christian, and that’s all there was to it.
And that’s OK.
Or maybe it isn’t.
You see, it is just that philosophy that has enabled George Bush and the neo-cons to hijack our country and our Constitution. It is just those people who voted for Bush, not because he would be good for this country, but because he was against abortion and gay folks and for the abolition of gun control.
The economy, who cares? The war, no problem! None of this mattered, because Jesus hates those damned Sodomites, and George W. Bush is just the man to protect us from them sinners. To them, getting’ a little in the Oval Office was a far worse crime than taking the country into war based on a pack of lies.
And there are plenty of other Dubyas waiting in the wings, only these guys ain’t so dumb. Think I’m wrong? I have two words for you, Sam Brownback. If you don’t know who he is, pick up a copy of Thomas Franks’ seminal work, WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS?, and learn all about how Senator Brownback (R-KS) has consistently represented the worst interests of his constituents and has consistently been reelected on an anti gay, anti abortion, pro gun platform. And that same Senator Sam Brownback is now deep in the muddy of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination.
If you think a guy like Brownback can’t be elected President, I have a bunch of words for you, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. None of these guys represented the best interests of America or Americans, but they all became President. One of them is believed to have been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for 6 of the 8 years of his presidency, but he managed to get reelected anyway. One may have so much brain damage from years of drug and alcohol use that many believe him to now have the lowest IQ of any man ever to serve in the White House, and he got reelected too. Beware of Sam Brownback and others like him. George H.W. Bush was evil and smart. Brownback is worse. He knows how to manipulate those folks who think everyone is a Christian, and, if those people get behind his campaign, we are all going to be in deep trouble.
And with that comforting thought in mind, have a happy Summer Solstice, and y’all fly safely with Vishnu and The Buddha, y’heah!
HENRY A. HONIG – THE PUNDIT