Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Big Christianity

Christianity makes up 23% of the world population and is America's religion. The popular catch phrase is that America is a "Judeo-Christian" country, but many people misunderstand this term to mean that the country is both a Jewish and a Christian country, although it is not exactly clear how they define that. The Jewish population in America is 2-4%, not exactly what one would expect from a Jewish country.

Most people don't even consider the meaning of the term "Judeo-Christian," and generally just take it to mean that America is both a Jewish and a Christian country, referring to American religious tradition. But because Christianity itself is a religion "based" on Jewish values, the term "Judeo-Christian" really refers to the Christian religious tradition of America. In the same exact way, Islam is a religion based on Jewish and Christian values, but we cannot say that Muslim countries are "Judeo-Christian-Islamo" countries. For example, the first Americans set up churches, not synagogues.

In fact, the term "Judeo-Christian" doesn't even mean that America is a Christian country, for America is a secular country deeply influenced by Christian values and morals, which are deeply influenced by Jewish values and morals, which is why America is a "Judeo-Christian country." Therefore, a "Judeo-Christian" tradition absorbs and filters Jewish traditions, and the remnant is given the title at hand. If Jews and Christians both adhere to the Judeo-Christian tradition, then can it be said that there is no difference between Judaism and Christianity? Jews adhere to the Judeo tradition and Christians adhere to the Judeo-Christian tradition.

In terms of sheer numbers, America is a Christian country, and to appease the Christians who state that those who do not accept Jesus are not really Christians, America is a country of Christendom, for Rome and countless countries in Europe were also Christian countries, even if not everybody there went to Church every Sunday. Syria is a Muslim country and Israel is a Jewish country.

Furthermore, Christianity makes up America's consciousness. For many Americans of all walks of life, Christian theological concepts such as the Trinity and Jesus' death for sin, are inextracably associated with G-d. When your average unaffiliated Christian American talks about G-d, you better believe that the name "Jesus" will come out of their mouth soon enough. This makes me cringe because I don't believe that "G-d" and "Jesus" belong in the same sentence. Jewishly uneducated secular Jews will also speak about religion in terms of Christianity, and interestingly enough, their rejection of Christianity is made apparent by their disgust of the Judaism that they are talking about, Judaism through a Christian lens. Even atheists reject religion and agnostics are skeptical about it on Christian terms, they use Christianity as a negative symbol by which to express their beliefs in opposition to, although they are a bit more "pluralistic" in their viewpoints.

This is "Big Christianity."
Racists Unite

Racists have a strange way of uniting, but you won't find members of the KKK listening to Jose Feliciano with members of the Black Panthers. But when in comes to Israel, which is a country that has Jews in it, both groups actually share similar sentiments - "I friggin' hate you."

Why am I saying this, you might ask, and what is my basis? I was looking at a magazine of Israel just a while ago and I saw a picture of two cute little Israeli Ethiopian girls. When I used to be involved in Israel advocacy on my university campus, I remember attending anti-Israel tyrades by an interesting hybrid of professors, one of which was a tenured Africana Studies professor, and it's true, he was a black anti-Semite.

The professor, it's also true, has seen his share of real nasty white on black racism in South Africa (I think so at least), but even if he hasn't, he stands at the ideological forefront of symbolizing black rights and plights, which is made evident by the fact that he speaks in pure poetic rhetoric and wears a colorful dashiki. Part of his rhetoric is the absolute racist government of the apartheid country, Israel.

Why did the cute little Israeli Ethiopian girls remind me of this monster? Because his attack on Israel's racism always seemed to steer around the presence of Ethiopian Jews in Israel (regardless of the social problems that they face, like all other immigrants). In short, I was getting the feeling that he did not take into account their presence in Israel, which put some holes in his theory.

And then I realized it, racists (black people who hate white people, for example, are also racists) have a tendency to hate Jews, and hatred has many forms. Nevermind that they go out of their way to perceive "whiteness" in (European) Jews and refuse to see them on their own terms, as Jews. Furthermore, these types of people almost completely ignore Middle Eastern Jews ("brown Jews") when criticizing Israel, as if they are some unnamed population. When they talk about Israel, they mention the supposed Israeli oppression of Arabs, "brown people," but completely ignore that there is such thing as racism based on religion, such as the racism that the Arab Muslims enacted towards the Arab Jews. Is this not "brown on brown" racism? What about the tribal violence that occurs in Africa? Is that not black on black violence?

One way to express hatred towards Israel, the validity of its plight, and therefore the rights of Jews, is to hurl words such as "Nazi" and "apartheid" at Israel. But that's just an obvious one. A less obvious idiocy has an adverse relationship with the good that comes out of Israel; no surrounding Arab country (Muslim or Christian), has afforded even the notion of equality to its black population, while Israel, despite problems, has managed to bring Ethiopian Jews into the mainstream. Israel-haters will use the sophisticated argument that the integration of the Ethiopian Jews has misplaced Arabs, but is it only me that realizes that these haters are missing the section in their brain that is capable of perceiving the good of Israel? Perhaps Africans have been used as political pawns before in the history of nations, but these African Jew-haters are more than eager to categorize Israel in this same category.