My Naivete is Probably Showing

Here’s the thing.

I’ve read and watched a lot about this rally Glenn Beck had last Saturday, mostly because I’m curious. People are fascinated by Beck (or repulsed by him, take your pick). As with so many figures in public life today, he seems to be incredibly polarizing.

My FIL loves Beck. He watches him religiously. We talked briefly about the “Restoring Honor” rally that took place over the weekend.

“He’s the real deal,” my FIL said.

“But the real deal of what?” I asked. “He’s really a successful TV and radio commentator. He’s good at his job. Beyond that, I don’t know what his motivations are.” And I didn’t say it to be argumentative. Beck, much like conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, has a fanatical following — which is fine. Each to their own and all.

Beck has said himself that he’s in entertainment, not politics. The tenor of the Restoring Honor rally seems to back that up.

The point of the rally seems to be that Glenn Beck wants to bring religion “back” to this country.

Theoretically, I have no problem with this. In practice though, I don’t know 1) that religion needs to be brought back to this country and 2) what that looks like.

Let’s take, for example, prayer in schools, which one of the attendees mentions in this video from the rally. (Some people seem pretty reasonable here, and some scare the poop out of me, but, again, to each his own.)

Okay, so we all decide we want “prayer back in school.” Well, most of us want that. A vocal minority of parents of children in public schools do not want prayer in public schools because they themselves are atheists or agnostics or — I don’t know — Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons (like Glenn Beck!).

Since I like the idea of prayer in school, I have actually elected to send my girls to a private, Catholic school, so they can learn about our religion alongside of computer, science, English, math, and Spanish. I don’t know how we reconcile prayer in public school. I think kids who want to pray or have a Bible club/class should have that option. (I find it hard to believe that kids raised in religious households don’t say some silent prayers before pop quizzes or lunch periods they share with bullies, public school or no.) It’s true, though, that I don’t think prayer should be imposed on anyone. I have distinct memories of the one or two non-Catholic students in my high school being excused from school masses without any fuss on anyone’s part (as far as I knew).

Also, the idea that we have to “get this country back to the principles on which it was founded”? Good in theory, maybe not so much in practice. Our country was founded by landed white men, many of whom owned slaves and didn’t think women should have rights outside of the home, and they were very particular about separating church from state — primarily because they didn’t want the STATE to suppress the practice of RELIGION. Freedom OF religion is what’s in the Constitution, not freedom FROM religion. That’s been quite taken out of context lately — I don’t really know when that started, taking prayer out of public school or the realm of government in general, but this brings me back to the fact that I have the choice to send my children to a school where they are not only free to practice the religion I am raising them in, but encouraged to do so. And beyond that I can vote for whom I choose and practice whatever religion I choose. Those two things are not in any way contingent upon each other.

Finally, America rebelled against England because they protested the idea of “taxation without representation”. Well, for good or ill, we have representation out the wa-hoo now. Every year brings us some type of election or another, from local school boards to state governorships to our national leaders in Congress and the White House.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, I truly don’t. But it’s been making my  head hurt for the better part of two days now, thinking about it. My FIL doesn’t like the direction in which this country is moving, and I read and see a lot of fear about America becoming a “socialist” country, and of course, there are people who STILL think Obama is a Muslim — and they are not just backwater racist people; guys, there is a higher percentage of independent voters who now believe Obama is a Muslim than when he was running in 2008. (He’s not, by the way. Has everyone forgotten the brou-haha over Rev. Jeremiah White?) And don’t get me started on the Islamic center in Manhattan, which will have a mosque in it. Just don’t.

I voted for Barack Obama, and I am not sorry I did. I think he’s doing the best he can with what he has. He’s inherited a mess, and he’s trying to get this country out of it. It’s true that it’s not going so well so far, and on top of he economic crisis he was handed, he’s had an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that is siphoning a lot of resources away from his administration. He’s gotten combat troops out of Iraq, and he’s still working on the war in Afghanistan. He knows that al-Queda — not Islam — is the enemy. I still have the highest respect for him because I think he is smart and because I think he wants the best for ALL of America.

People truly believe he and his administration are ruining this country ON PURPOSE. And I don’t get that at all. I don’t understand the Tea Party and Mama Grizzlies, or for that matter, liberals who don’t think Obama’s doing enough. What more do you want him to do? Really? He’s not a super hero; he’s just a really smart guy who’s (again) doing the best with what he’s got.

See? No idea where I’m going. I don’t understand political discourse in this country any more. Or what passes for “discourse”. I don’t know how to fix what’s broken; that is why I vote for the leaders I do. That’s their job. I truly pick the people I think can do the best job. We don’t have a great political system, but we have the best political system in the world. I wish it weren’t two-party because I think that truly limits “we the people” and our voices.

Anyway, I’m going to publish this in all its incoherent glory. If you have something to say, go for it.