I’m a bit disappointed with Al Franken. Ben Stein has donated to the Franken campaign, and he has accepted the money — come on, Al, let’s see some principles. Stein is a dishonest fraud who is peddling Intelligent Design creationism in his upcoming movie, Expelled; he’s a former Nixon speechwriter, and he defends Nixon. I know they might be friends in their personal life, but this is politics — Franken should stand up for his liberal ideas and courteously refuse to take money from a stupid right-winger.
Besides supporting pseudoscience in the schools, here’s another reason to reject Stein. There’s a letter that’s been going around for some time, purportedly from Ben Stein. According to Snopes, only part of it is, so I’ll just tackle the part that we can assign to Stein’s feeble brain.
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are: Christmas trees.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, “Merry Christmas” to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me, as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
And I’m an atheist, and I don’t object to Christmas trees either — and I probably go farther than Stein, in that we put one up every year. This caricature of atheists that they get cranky when you say “Merry Christmas” is also a dishonest stereotype — I even say “Merry Christmas” myself. So? Stein isn’t trying to promote tolerance here, he’s merely perpetuating a caricature to further condemn atheists. And he’s just getting started.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution, and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Atheists don’t claim America an atheist country: it’s a secular nation, a whole different beast altogether. It’s one where we’re expected to tolerate a whole range of different views, including atheism, and where religion does not have a say in how government is run. You also can’t find Christianity in the Constitution; it’s a secular document, just like my driver’s license and my birth certificate and the rules for baseball are secular.
Christians are the majority in this country, and they’re the ones doing the pushing. I’m getting a little fed up with the martyr complex of an 80% majority that whines about not being able to force their silly beliefs on the other 20%.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica, but we aren’t allowed to worship God as we understand Him? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.
I don’t know who Nick and Jessica are either, so I certainly haven’t felt any compulsion to worship them…and I’d be very surprised if our government were pushing oaths to Nick&Jessica in our classrooms, was establishing special Nick&Jessica-based charities, or if our president tried to justify his insane wars with the claim that Nick&Jessica wanted them.
Even us atheists are happy to allow you to worship your god however you want. We do object to the fact that the right-wing fruitcakes think we should also worship your god however you want.
So that’s Ben Stein: not very bright, illogical, and an unthinking mouthpiece for the religious right’s dream of declaring America a Christian nation.
Return the money, Al. Tell him, as a friend, to donate it to the ACLU or the Southern Poverty Law Center. If he’s really a friend, he won’t mind.