Saturday, February 05, 2011

"Those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint."

I don't have to look for evidence that the United States of America isn't united, unless you consider enraged confusion to be a uniting factor. A Pew polling report last year showed that only 34 percent of Americans think Obama is a Christian. I have no idea how many Americans like me, don't give a damn if he's a Zoroastrian as long as he keeps his scriptures under his pillow and not under mine. His religion or lack thereof is no more significant to me than his favorite basketball team and indeed the private beliefs of most of our better presidents have rarely been a factor in their official lives.

Of course those who wish to destabilize and polarize what's left of the informed electorate for reasons of partisan gain are happy to make an issue of it and for them it's indeed a game with few rules and only one strategy: attack, attack, attack. Prominent amongst that breed of snakes is of course, Fox News, who can depend on a base of religious chauvinists and racist bigots who know less about the certainties they profess than their enthusiasm might indicate.

Take the recently manufactured "scandal" about the inaccuracy of Obama's reading of Isaiah 40:31 at the National Prayer Breakfast this week. Fox Followers can't really be expected to know much about the archaeological history of Isaiah, the variations between extant scrolls or that chapters 40 - 66 seem to have been written about two centuries after Isaiah himself, but apparently they have so little regard for the knowledge of America's scholarship that they also don't expect us to remember that there are other and better translations than the King James version, some of which have incorporated what has been found at Qumran and most of all: that the original certainly isn't in English. President Obama was simply quoting the very popular New International Version. Some scandal.

One can hope that these fragments scraped from the bottom of the GOP slime barrel, indicate that the barrel is empty. Sad to say, it's very easy to make a fool of one's self in America, but it's still difficult to get Americans to notice it amidst the sound and fury.

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