Friday, December 28, 2007

A letter to my house guest

I didn't want the evening to get unpleasant, so for the sake of your son and the other guests I sucked this up. But I can't keep it inside, so I'll vent here, where you will almost certainly never see it. Because you don't read blogs, do you. No, you watch Fox news. And you read the Bible. So you already know everything you need to know.

I actually thought for a while that we were going to get along. When you said you believed in freedom and small government I was right there with you. But then you told me that you supported George Bush. How could that be? I asked. You say you support small government, but George Bush has expanded both the size and the power of the government more than any other president in history, and yet you support him? Yes, you said, because George Bush is a man of God, and because he is a man of God, whatever he does must be good. He doesn't lie, because lying is not Godly, and George Bush is a man of God.

OK, well, I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.

Then you told me about the cancer, and I sympathized. And you told me about how hard it was to get laetrille, and I sympathized, because even though I don't think it's going to do you any good, I think you have the right to put whatever you want into your own body free from government interference. I thought you would agree. But when I asked you if you thought marijuana ought to be illegal you said yes, and when I asked you why you said because marijuana is a mind-altering substance.

OK, well, I may not agree with what you say and all that...

But then I asked you if you thought alcohol ought to be illegal. You took another sip of your 2003 Old Vines Zinfandel and said that alcohol should be legal. But alcohol is a mind-altering substance too, I said. And with a smirk on your face you replied, "I'm not consistent."

Well, I'm sorry, but that is not OK with me. Because what that means is that you, sir, are not a man of principle. You wrap yourself in the Bible and the flag and speak of duty and honor and natural law, when the fact of the matter is that the only thing that guides you is your own desires. Laetrille and alcohol ought to be legal in your mind not because of any principle, but simply because you want to consume laetrille and alcohol. You complain about liberals being self-centered, when the fact of the matter is that in your mind it's really all about *you*. You support George Bush because he's promised to make *you* safe. By whatever means necessary.

That is not OK with me.

I told you that my grandparents' generation fled Germany for Palestine in the early 1930's. You thought I was a Jew. Hitler would have agreed with you. But I do not consider myself a Jew, and neither did many of my ancestors. I didn't tell you this, but when the Gestapo came knocking on my maternal grandfather's door it came as a shock to him. He actually had no idea that he was Jewish. He thought of himself as German through-and-through. (I know this because I interviewed him a few years before he died and he told me so. I taped the interview. I'd put an audio clip up so you can hear him say it in his own words, but he says it in German so you wouldn't understand it anyway. And besides, you don't read blogs.)

Hitler came to power in much the same way that George Bush did. He was democratically elected. And he then proceeded to do much of what George Bush has done: dismantle the rule of law in favor of a cult of personality based on a promise of security, except that the bad guys back then weren't Al Qaeda and illegal immigrants, they were the Gypsies and the mentally retarded and the homosexuals. Oh, and the Jews. Let's not forget the Jews.

I actually pointed this out to you (more gently, because as I said, I didn't want to make a scene) but I think it went straight over your head: Hitler enjoyed enormous popular support in Germany, much more than George Bush is having (because, frankly, Hitler was a hell of a lot smarter than Dubya). The point is that although Hitler is nowadays considered the very paragon of evil, he was not regarded that way by his contemporaries. In fact, even some of George Bush's ancestors were supporters. Hitler was regarded by most Germans at the time as a great leader, a great patriot, a courageous man who restored Germany's strength and restored her rightful place in the world after the humiliating defeat of World War I. (And if he'd been just a little less reckless he might still be regarded that way today.)

Evil often comes wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible.

And no, I'm not talking about George Bush. I'm talking about you. Because you wrap yourself in the mantle of principle, but when it comes to the real test you don't live your life according to principle, you live it according to your own desires. You want your Zinfandel and your laetrille and to impose your narrow-minded and bigoted view of the world on everybody else with the force of arms.

And you would deny your own son the right to marry the person he loves just because it doesn't fit your notion of "natural law". (You didn't see the irony when I asked if you thought contraception should be illegal and you said, "Of course not." I didn't really expect you to. But I wasn't surprised. Of course contraception should be legal because, after all, *you* want to be able to use it! And it's all about you, isn't it?) You cause unnecessary suffering to further your own selfish desires and don't bat an eye. In fact, you're proud of it. That, to me, is the definition of evil.

Maybe you get some credit for marching for civil rights back in the 50's, but today, sir, you are a bigot and a hypocrite.

And that is not OK with me.

I welcomed you into my home at the request of your son, who, as I told you, is one of the finest human beings I have ever had the privilege to know. I would share a foxhole with him any day of the week before I would share another drink with you. I welcomed you into my home and you spent the evening spewing your vile right-wing fascist bile while never once asking my opinion about anything. I wonder, if I had behaved that way in your home, would you have extended me the same courtesy? II'd give long odds against it.

I welcomed you into my home and I was civil to you. but make no mistake, I didn't do it for you. I did it for your son.

You don't deserve him.

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