Tag: University of Southern California

As Is: What Goes Around Seems Here Forever

As Is: What Goes Around Seems Here Forever

“But now it’s just another show and you leave ’em laughing when you go. And if you care, don’t let them know, don’t give yourself away.” From Both Sides Now, written by Joni Mitchell

For at least six decades I have held to a position that seems to be unsupported by anybody else I know. You’d think that would be controversial, but, amazingly, not a single person has raised any objections to my basic philosophy thus far. That’s pretty unusual.

The ante seems to have gone up; so, now that we’re about halfway into this decade, let’s see if there’s any blowback. Yeah, I know, tossing a hand grenade and then throwing my body on top of it seems like a counterproductive means of persuasion — but one’s reality is only the property of the possessor. I think I first expressed this in print in the Chicago Seed, a radical newspaper, back around 1971 and I’ve said it a lot ever since, so you might have heard me say this before.

I am a big-ass believer in freedom of religion. Therefore, I am a big-ass believer in freedom from religion: you can’t practice your beliefs if mine stand in your way, and vice versa. This is why I only go to Chick-fil-A on Sundays.

Therefore, and this is where the ice gets thinner, I am and long have been opposed to a Muslim state and I am equally opposed to a Jewish state. I’m also opposed to a Christian state, and lately fighting the Christian Nationalist bigots and liars has become my raison d’être.

Yeah, I know. That pretty much puts me on the other side of — at the very least — a majority of my fellow citizens. 28% of Americans classify themselves as religious “nones.” 17% of them identify as atheist, 20% as agnostic and 63% as “nothing in particular.” (Source: C Mandler, CBS News, January 24, 2024  — quoting Pew Research). I note these numbers continue to be on the upswing, and that is a cause for hope.

So, I don’t have a horse in any Middle East war. Sorry, folks. I carry the torch for freedom of religion.

Unless you’re paying rent to a native tribal council, I do not want to hear the hypocritical “but my great-grandparents used to live there” argument. Not unless you’re willing to hand me the deed to one of the Egyptian pyramids that my ancestors helped build. This is America and all white people came from somewhere else.

I also believe, with equal devotion, in freedom of expression. If you morally object to something, you have a right to share, promote and defend your beliefs, and you have the right to gather with others who have the same opinions. This is why I am strongly opposed — and greatly repulsed — by the actions taken this part week at Columbia University, the University of Southern California and other so-called ramparts of knowledge. People who do not like either “side” of the Gaza/Israel War have every right to say so. People are getting killed, and those who object to that have an obligation to say so.

This does not mean I support in any way, in any manner, in any shape, Benjamin Netanyahu and his dwindling group of followers. Nor do I support Hamas, the Taliban, Yisrael Beiteinu, Boko Haram, Hizballah, Shas, the current rulers of Iran, the Likud Party, Hobby Lobby, and similar ultra-extremist religious terrorist organizations. If I declined to mention your favorite hate group, that is because, in my heart of hearts, I feel real estate in the etherverse is limited.

Oh, yeah. One thing more. Despite my Joni Mitchell quote above, I do not believe in “there are two sides to every story” bullshit. Thanks to Celeste Van Dorp, one of my most influential high school teachers, I firmly believe in multiple causation. There are lots and lots of reasons for damn near everything.

Sadly, not all reasons are good reasons.