2000-09-09 / Letters

Points To Ponder

Dear Editor;

Over Labor Day weekend, I made two observations: one on television and the other on the bus. Here is the television observation.

On the ABC Sunday morning news program with Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson (who was absent this week), Roberts was speaking to Reverend Pat Robertson and Rabbi Abe Foxman of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League about Leiberman’s religion, the role of religion in American politics and the Constitutional basis for the separation of religion and politics.

Foxman expressed the notion that politics and religion should be officially separated while Robertson asserted the counterpoint. Both valid and significant points.

The interesting point of the discussion transpired when Robertson referred to Dr. Martin Luther King’s application and "usage" of religion during the 1950-60 Civil Rights Movement. This, Robertson exclaimed, was one of the social and historical justifications for the "mixing" of religion to influence politics and the legislative process. Good point.

Foxman countered that religion and politics was also used to create, implement and justify the enslavement of African peoples in the first place. This was the point, Foxman asserted. Religion in politics could be utilized or manipulated for evil as well as good. Why open the door? Brilliant.

Foxman, interestingly, suggested to Robertson that the topic of slavery was one he really didn’t want to engage in. Why not, I asked the television screen.

Roberts then jumped in and jabbed Foxman with the historical fact that abolitionists used religion to oppose, contest, fight, and eventually dismantle legislative slavery. That’s why I like Cokey. Always searching for the truth in the middle.

Earlier in the century, W.E.B. DuBois said that America’s 20-century problem was, and would be, the "color line." Well, it’s 21 century and the issues regarding African-Americans and slavery, segregation, Jim Crowism, and human rights are still inseparably intertwined with America’s current state of economic, judicial, political, and legislative affairs, as well as the country’s future.

Who would have ever thought that the international discussion of presidential politics, a vice presidential candidate’s religion and the constitutional separation of church and state would have anything to do with despicable institutions of slavery and segregation and the existence of a southern African-American preacher who merely had a dream?

I tell you, wonders (and miracles) never cease. Neither, apparently, will DuBois’ prediction.

TIMOTHY AARON-STYLES


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