Kern's Holler Contrarian Opinion

(Temporarily Modified) Rule #6

If you're a fan of the show NCIS, you'll know what I'm talking about here. Our hero, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, has certain rules by which he lives his life. One of them is #6, "Never apologize, it's a sign of weakness." I'm going to take a serious liberty here, and temporarily amend rule #6 to be: "Apologize when you're responsible for a wrong, but never apologize for how other people think or feel."

But this post isn't about NCIS, or Gibbs and his rules. Exactly.

There's a very well-known and popular blogger who posted An Open Letter to American Muslims yesterday. In it, she apologized for the inflammatory rhetoric of those that oppose Cordoba House, the mosque and community center currently being planned for a site somewhere near "ground zero" in New York. She says she's ashamed and embarrassed of how Muslim Americans are being treated in their own land.

Erin, invoke (temporarily modified) rule #6. Apologize when you're responsible for a wrong, but never apologize for how other people think or feel. You're free of any guilt on their behalf, and they have a right to their beliefs, even if you don't like them.

This morning I read a blog post by Dick Cavett, called  "Real Americans, Please Stand Up."  I admire and respect Dick Cavett, but I'm calling bullshit on him for this post.

I'm as real as you are, Dick. Don't pull that "Real Americans" crap with me. It didn't work when George Bush said, "You're either with us, or you're against us," and it's not going to work now. Telling us that "real Americans" only believe in freedom of religion is a boatload of crap. I happen to believe in freedom from religion - does that make me less of a "real American"?

Real Americans believe lots of things. They believe that their way is the only way, they believe that all ways are valid, they believe in "no shirts, no shoes, no service," and they believe that Armageddon is coming in 2012. Real Americans believe all sorts of amazing as well as all sorts of ridiculous things.

George Bush didn't get to judge the quality of my "American-ness" any more than you do, Mr. Cavett.

Many of us want to be lofty in our ideals, but are practical in our approach instead. We're liberal and conservative, and bigoted and not, and we sing "Kumbayah" at least as often as we sing "Onward Christian Soldiers." We believe in freedom from religion as much as we believe in freedom of religion. We recognize the validity of a variety of beliefs, and the right of everyone else to be wrong. ;)

People who hate Muslims do so for their own real or imagined reasons. My grandmother hated Catholics. Others hate Jews, or Fundamentalist Christians, or whatever. There's not a one of us that truly understands what goes on in someone else's mind, what makes one person fear or hate or reject people from another group. We label, and categorize, and judge, and whether that's right or wrong, it is the way it is, and Americans are not any better or worse at it than anyone else in the world.

I won't apologize for how other people feel, or what they believe. They have that right. Neither will I allow anyone to take away my "Flaming Liberal Membership Card" because I believe that we should be tolerant but practical, open-minded but realistic, and respectful but not obsequious.

To tell you the truth, I'm as sick of hearing phrases like "true patriots" and "real Americans" as I am "good Christians," "godless Atheists" and "innocent Muslims."  We are what we are, in all its bloody, messy, prim & proper, foot-stomping, fist-swinging, passive, aggressive glory. And I'm ok with that.

Fortuna Lee