The day Joe Biden threw me under the bus
I used to get a kick out of Joe Biden. He's smart, funny, and even if he looks like a guy they'd cast to be president, there's nothing generic about him.
And no doubt, his vote in favor of the AUMF was much better than Hillary's.
But here, from the archives of my old site, is a posting about where he lost me, because he told me he disrespects people like me: secular Democrats.
The good news is that my position apparently makes me an "elite"!
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Are you chafing in today's politically correct world, where you can't thoughtlessly hate whole groups of people?
Okay, confession time: your humble typist here does not believe in organized religion, praying to Joe Pesci, nor in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
So, I was pretty disappointed to see Joe Biden, the master of Democratic nuance, hang non-believers out to dry on Bill Maher's Real Time. Amidst a rather cogent critique of the GOP's hypocritical religiosity, he suddenly decided to fluff up their favorite straw man, the godless liberal:
I think the problem with a lot of elites in the Democratic party, quite frankly, is they communicate they don't respect people's faith.
Joe, tell me something. Where are these terrible, influential, pagan liberals? Have you ever seen one?
A non-believer hasn't gotten near American political office since Abe Lincoln ignored the PDB titled, "Booth determined to strike at Ford's Theatre."
Being an atheist used to be a pretty private business, until the fundies began their joy ride through the wall between church and state, and for the most part it still is. How many churches are in your town? And how many atheist meeting centers?
Who exactly is waging the "War on Christians"? Must be gruesome doing triage for that conflict. "What happened, Mrs. Applewhite — that nasty ACLU wouldn't let you run a prayer service during science class? Are you okay?"
The point of Biden's grandstanding is clear: he fancies himself the most electable Democrat, because he will uniquely wrap himself in the shroud of Turin. In fact, he's so holy he wanted to rip out the Adam's apple of a colleague who dared call an old-school religious ritual "quaint."
But, let's play angel's advocate: maybe Biden's not saying that atheists are bad, he's just saying not to disrespect religion.
Right, and GHWB's "Willie Horton" ads weren't intentionally race-baiting. Political campaigns are waged in symbols, and he's invoking the same ones that help the Tom DeLays defile our country. When we hear Biden distinguish between the "good atheists and agnostics" and the so-called liberal elites (and manages to name one of any import), I'll accept that he's not making us his sacrificial lamb. Until then, it's a safe bet that he thinks a halo will be his brass ring.
By the way, former Canadian PM Kim Campbell has said some refreshing truths at Maher's desk over the last couple of years:
You know, I don't think in Canada you could be prime minister if you were ever quoted as saying that you thought God wanted you to run, and you thought the jury was still out on evolution.
I think when we face radicals who actually don't accept the rules and don't accept the historical consensus of the separation of church and state, who have no respect for the notion of what science is, all of these kinds of things, it is so mind-boggling that people are kind of paralyzed. They don't know what to do. And so they keep thinking, "Oh, it's just a marginal thing; they aren't really this focused at changing things." And yet they are.
From his other comments, Biden manifestly understands this, which makes his strafing of atheists with friendly fire all the more calculated, cruel, and corrosive.
Well, I have a message for you, my Christian / Jewish / Muslim / Scientologist friend. We mean no harm to your planet. Truly.
If you think we're dismissive, please be honest about how you feel about atheism. You think it's somewhere between naive and dangerous. Is it so bad if that's how we feel about organized religion?
And we have a lot more to fear from you than you do from us. Not only are there a lot more of you, you guys are a hell of a lot more aggressive.
I've had Mormons walk onto my lawn during a barbecue and stare in my face and try to convert me. I've had to steer around screaming people foisting "You'll Burn in Hell" pamphlets on me. At most every baseball game in the last four years, I've had to endure stadia full of my countrymen chanting the theo-jingoistic "God Bless America." My neighbors have funded $150 million (the Boston Archdiocese's latest settlement estimate) worth of boy rape. Oh, and some religious dudes slammed some airplanes into buildings, as best I recall — and in the "crusade" that followed, Jesus told our leader to attack a completely unrelated country.
So, should I vent in your direction now and again, please don't take it personally. It's just that a bunch of your brethren are fucking up and/or breathing down my neck. I guess it's impolite for me to notice....
But all that said, only a fool would think all or most of you are like that. I don't think you're stupid — plenty of nicer and smarter people than I am are religious, and so are 100% of the people I've ever voted for.
For your part, do you consider us worthy candidates for office or for your sons' and daughters' hands, or are we just reprehensible "elites"?
Ideally, the Democratic party is a big tent where people with and without religious faith can respectfully work together to make this a better country and world.
I want to us to retake the government more than the next guy. I'm not one of these radicals who thinks that every special-interest group needs to be front and center in the platform. I'm not looking for us to go out of our way to scare Ohio soccer moms out of their precious supply of bejesus.
But what profiteth a party if we gain the whole government but lose our soul?