de obmibus debutandum
(Translated from Latin, means to “doubt everything.”)
If Karl Marx were alive today, he’d be making frequent guest appearances on CNN, MSNBC, and perhaps even FOX News. That’s right. Imagine Marx sitting opposite Bill O’Reilly.
Marx wasn’t a political fanatic, nor was he an extremist. Certainly not when you examine most of his writings. In fact, back in his day Marx is what we’d now call a social commentator. Think of a leftist version of George Will. He wrote about politics, economics, and world events.
Since television “talking heads” didn’t exist back then, Marx instead scribed his ideas. Those views were published in various newspapers and periodicals, including even some based in the United States. He also wrote a few notable books, which weren’t particularly well received when they were initially written, another way of saying Marx was way ahead of his time.
To: Athletes Around the World
I beg all of you. Please stop.
When one of you catches a touchdown pass, stop thanking me.
Seriously, do you think I spend my entire Sunday afternoon watching the Browns-Titans game? What do you think I am — some kind of sadist?
I’ve got earthquakes to plan, tornadoes to unleash, wars to schedule, and horrible biological viruses to create. I’ve got more than enough on my plate already without having to take your phone calls pleading with me all the time. It’s enough to wear a god completely out. I’m famished.
Call me what I truly am — an effervescent couch potato. I’d much rather sit by and do absolutely nothing while heads get decapitated by some of my most loyal admirers who openly exploit my name for their own political causes. I passively watch and do nothing other than feign minor interest because my name gets mentioned. Doesn’t that make you wonder about how much I truly care? Think of it another way. If I fail to intervene and put a stop to those horrors, do you really think I’ll interpose my divine powers to cure Auntie’s cancer or allow Browns’ wide receiver Taylor Gabriel to catch a touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Hoyer late in the fourth quarter to beat Tennessee?
A few weeks ago, an active-duty serviceman currently serving in the United States Air Force was forbidden from re-enlisting.
Because he refused to take to the official oath required of all American servicemen and servicewomen, which includes (for many) the quarrelsome expression, “so help me god.” [SEE FOOTNOTE 1]
The Air Force sergeant, who’s name has not been released to the public, is an avowed atheist. For him, pledging an oath to what he believes is a false deity would be brazenly dishonest. What’s the point of raising one’s right hand in a ceremony, and then taking a bogus vow? Wouldn’t that make the oath meaningless and render the entire process a farce? It would be like pledging to obey commands from the Easter Bunny.
When I first read the news story about this brave American serviceman who was denied the opportunity to proudly serve his country for no other reason than not professing a belief in a god — I was dumbfounded. Yet again, we secularists were caught off guard. I asked myself — is this 1914 or 2014? Haven’t we yet reached the ambitious plateau of reason in American governance and society where religious litmus tests are no longer required to serve in the armed forces?
Nationalism is a scourge. Should you doubt this, look at its grisly record.
In its very worst forms, nationalism has triggered countless international conflicts senselessly costing tens of millions of lives. Nationalism has pillaged immeasurable natural resources from our lands and plundered federal treasuries. Nationalism has fortified our most sinister and self-destructive racial and ethnic divisions. Nationalism has provoked bombings, justified invasions, and been used to rationalize longstanding occupations which enslaved and exploited those who were conquered. In short, throughout human history — much like religion — nationalism has caused far more harm than good.
Yet, much like the sword, nationalism cuts sharply both ways. When harnessed constructively, nationalism has be used for much greater common purposes. Nationalism has rallied ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Nationalism has aided significantly in defeating terrible foes, both at home and abroad. It’s instilled a widespread devotion to collective interests as opposed to self-centered individualism. On occasion, nationalism in its various forms — community pride, allegiance to country, flag-waving patriotism — has served societies well, especially in tough times.
Oddly enough, many of the kinds of people we peg most strongly with possessing nationalistic tendencies now brazenly insist they want to break away from the United States of America. That’s right. A sizable number of people in this country, including many self-described patriots, would be in favor of giving our nation a long wave goodbye, followed by the middle finger. And who says breaking up is hard to do?
Mr. President — you cheated on me.
I no longer trust you.
Once upon a time, we the American people tearfully accepted your proposal. We agreed to wed you. We were thrilled when that big day came when you finally walked us down the aisle called Pennsylvania Avenue. Then, four years after being together, we renewed those marriage vows, by electing you again.
That’s faith. That’s trust. That’s hope.
So, what did you do?
Well, you cheated, Sir. You were unfaithful. Over and over again. You kept promising, and kept failing to deliver. Finally, you even quit making promises. You just walked away. You quit on us.
Don’t deny it, Mr. President. There’s been a long string of mistresses — with cute names like family vacations, golf clubs, ill-timed political fundraisers, and just about anything else which provided a convenient excuse from coming back home to the White House, doing your daily chores, occasionally putting in a little overtime, and behaving like a faithful partner.