Saturday, January 21, 2017

To The Incoming Administration

No, Augoeides is not going full-on political for the next four years. My focus will remain the same as always - the magical, the religious, the paranormal, and the just plain weird.

This is not because I'm politically disengaged, but rather that others generally make political points far better than I do, and today's post is a case in point. I was going to write up a defense of the principle of religious freedom today, in solidarity with the ongoing protests across the country, and address it to those in the incoming administration whose history shows their support for granting the Poor Oppressed Christians special privileges that are denied to members of all other religions.

But then, I remembered this article that a friend shared with me a few weeks ago. In my opinion it is spot-on, and makes my point far better than I ever could. Folks who are not very bright commonly whip out the statement that anybody who is in favor of tolerance, religious or otherwise, has to tolerate their intolerance, a sort of Godel's Formal Systems Theorem for dumbasses. But the thing is, tolerance is more like a methodology than a formal philosophical principle. As the article puts it, tolerance is a peace treaty, not a moral absolute.

Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.

When viewed through this lens, the problems above have clear answers. The antisocial member of the group, who harms other people in the group on a regular basis, need not be accepted; the purpose of your group’s acceptance is to let people feel that they have a home, and someone who actively tries to thwart this is incompatible with the broader purpose of that acceptance. Prejudice against Nazis is not the same as prejudice against Blacks, because one is based on people’s stated opposition to their neighbors’ lives and safety, the other on a characteristic that has nothing to do with whether they’ll live in peace with you or not. Freedom of religion means that people have the right to have their own beliefs, but you have that same right; you are under no duty to tolerate an attempt to impose someone else’s religious laws on you.

I honestly have no idea what President Donald Trump is going to actually do regarding religious freedom issues. Vice President Mike Pence has a long record of supporting what essentially amounts to Christian supremacy. Trump's history of supporting various issues is all over the place in his public statements, and as he has no political record, the actions he plans to take as president are hard to discern. But what I have seen so far during the campaign has been troubling. In order to obtain support from the Poor Oppressed Christians, he has promised them all sorts of special treatment and unique access.

Whether he was telling the truth about that or not, I am convinced those who want special privileges for their particular kind of Christian and no one else are fundamentally un-American, and don't understand the principles on which this country was based. Or, if they do, they are convinced that the Founding Fathers were wrong to address freedom of religion as they did. Either position is dangerous for anyone who doesn't toe the Poor Oppressed Christian line, and that includes other Christians with whom they disagree. The agenda they hope to implement is disastrous, and should never be enacted.

This is another of those issues on which Aleister Crowley was prescient. Regarding Thelema, he states the following in his "New Comment" on verse II:57 of The Book of the Law.

Every Star has its own Nature, which is ‘Right’ for it. We are not to be missionaries, with ideal standards of dress and morals, and such hard-ideas. We are to do what we will, and leave others to do what they will. We are infinitely tolerant, save of intolerance.

I honestly and sincerely hope that the new administration will be mindful of this principle, and that my fears about them enacting policies that will strip the rights of minorities, religious and otherwise, will turn out to be unfounded. I do know that whenever such an idea is floated, I will push back here on Augoeides to the extent of my abilities to do so. I may not have a particularly large following in the overall scheme of things, but I will do my part to support the issues that I am passionate about.

Religious freedom has to mean religious freedom for everyone, full stop. This principle has made the United States one of the most religious and simultaneously one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, and in that respect, has truly made America great. Let's not allow a bunch of petulant crybabies to take the whole thing down.

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