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Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty? (Part 1)


Dea Libertatis

A Sense of Perspective on Liberty?
Part 1,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)


On Wednesday, 1 April 2015, Wolf Blitzer's "Situation Room" on CNN discussed the diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  Among those he spoke with was freshman Republican Senator from Arkansas, Tom Cotton.  In the course of the discussion, Wolf Blitzer asked Cotton about the RFRA bill in Arkansas, which occasioned the following comments from Cotton (source here):


I also think it's important that we have a sense of perspective about our priorities. In Iran they hang you for the crime of being gay. They're currently imprisoning an American preacher for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in Iran. We should focus on the most important priorities our country faces right now. And I would say that a nuclear armed Iran, given the threat that it poses to the region and to our interests in the region and American citizens, is the most important thing that we'd be focused on.


More recently (3 April 2015),. The Wall Street Journal published comments (article by Reid J. Epstein) made by former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina (who is reportedly considering "a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination"), condemning Apple CEO Tim Cook as "hypocritical" for expressing his opposition to the RFRA bills in Indiana and Arkansas.  From the article:


CEOs like Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook, who publicly objected to the Indiana law, have engaged in “a level of hypocrisy here that really is unfortunate,” said Mrs. Fiorina, who was CEO of Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005.

“When Tim Cook is upset about all the places that he does business because of the way they treat gays and women, he needs to withdraw from 90% of the markets that he’s in, including China and Saudi Arabia,” she said Thursday afternoon during an interview with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors. “But I don’t hear him being upset about that.”


In both of these comments we see the same idea expressed (and rather explicitly), namely, the idea that injustice in foreign lands is a more pressing concern than injustice in our own nation.  Both of the people making the statements have attempted to appeal to Protestant Fundamentalists and Protestant Evangelicals (who have unfortunately become more like Protestant Fundamentalists over the past few decades), and also to Catholic Credalists.  Evidence of Cotton's efforts to exploit the religious beliefs of others in order to gain political power for himself have been well documented.  See, for example, this piece at The Washington Post.  As for Fiorina, the same piece from the WSJ quoted above has this to say:


Mrs. Fiorina, who made her name as a glass-ceiling-busting corporate executive, is fashioning herself a social conservative as she prepares to enter the 2016 race. She is staunchly opposed to abortion rights and has sought to own the religious liberty issue in recent days.


The Bible which both purport to be defending contains a number of statements which would be uncomfortable for Cotton, Fiorina, and numerous other far right wing extremists, social reactionaries, and would-be theocrats.  One such passage (I Timothy V, 8) relates directly to claims that the American people ought to be more concerned with injustice in other countries than in America itself, that injustice in America is somehow irrelevant due to foreign injustice:


If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.



Ms. Fiorina, who is being hypocritical?  Someone like Tim Cook who publicly speaks out about injustice in his own backyard, or someone like you who ignores the teachings of the religion she supposedly wishes to defend?  Mr. Cotton, who is the one who espouses Christian faith only when it is convenient for, or beneficial to, him?  Someone like Mark Pryor who understands that the Bible is capable of diverse interpretations and recognizes that legislation intended to impose one such interpretation on all is not only un-Christian, but also un-American, or someone like you who imagines that he is worthy to judge the faith of others in direct defiance of Romans XIV, as well as Matthew VII, 1-5, and goes on to subvert his own nation's interests in favor of the interests of his political party, the interests of those who financed his campaign, and/or the promotion of war?

Do you not realize that presuming to condemn the injustice of others, while wallowing in one's own injustice, is exactly the subject of Jesus' words in Matthew VII, 1-5?  Do you not understand that Christianity teaches you to be humble enough to recognize your own faults and mind your own business, since, as Romans XIV states plainly:


Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. ... Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God ... So each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Then let us no more pass judgment on one another ...


Indeed, to be so presumptuous as to go around the world meddling in the affairs of every other nation on Earth in the name of justice, and yet doing nothing to address injustice in America, is not only hubris, but blatant violation of the teachings of your own faith.  Hypocrisy?  Woe unto you, for yours shall be the greater damnation.

Liberty is not something an unfree people can export.  Until liberty, justice, and equality are extended to all in America, efforts undertaken in the name of America purporting to spread those values to others cannot succeed, for the seed of a corrupt plant cannot produce a perfect fruit, no matter what soil it is planted in.

Or at least these are the implications -- if not the explicit statements -- of the words of the Bible you both wish for others to believe that you follow.

(To be continued ...)