Re: George W. Bush's Speech on September 20, 2001

From: Olga Bourlin (
Date: Sun Sep 23 2001 - 10:02:15 MDT

From: "Samantha Atkins" <>

> Eugene Leitl <> writes:
> > On Fri, 21 Sep 2001, Michael M. Butler wrote:
> >
> > > I consciously adopt the language of my audience. At the end of a
> > > recent post, I mentioned God even though I'm an agnostic. Was the rest
> > > of the content valuable, or rendered valueless?
> >
> > The latter. To cite a recent case, a superficially reasonable email on
> > post-WTC policy sailed into my inbox a few days ago. It made sense right
> > unto the final sentence, which read "God bless America". Now, I don't
> > trust people basically driven by inscrutable motivations. One might
> > support points of policy, warily so, but certainly not the person
> > it. Sooner or later, the dissonance must surface.
> What is the big deal here? Saying "God bless America" speaks quite
> to the 90% of Americans according to polls who have some level of theistic
> belief. To ask for God's blessing on America in the face of 9/11 and that
> level of belief is almost mandatory if you want to reach the people and
> to their hearts. Why should those who are not theistic make such a big
> about this?

Well, then, what about the remaining 10% - are we chopped liver? When a
President speaks to all the "American people," how does it compromise
anything he may need to say if he simply talks about the business at hand?
(In fact, he compromises what he has to say every time he mentions God,
because that's coo-coo and childish, e.g., just like having an "Invisible
Friend," you know, except for grownups.) Certainly it's the President's
right to mention God, just as it is his right to mention that he believes
the earth is flat (althouth even if he and 90% of Americans believed THAT,
it would still not make it true). But, and this is the most important
issue, he would still be excluding 90% of his audience. Neutrality
regarding the God issue is a better idea, IMHO - we are supposed to be a
secular government, after all. However, it may be more appropriate for the
President to talk about "God" to a captive audience of churchgoers, for
instance (although it would still be coo-coo).

Here is something interesting I picked up from one of those free weekly
left-and-right of center alternative presses (a point of view the regular
dailies in America are not wont to print, as it makes just too much sense
and may radicalize the delicate sensibilities of their reading audience):

Dan Savage in The Stranger, Sept. 20, 2001 (excerpt from his column "Savage

"Who could be against prayer at a time like this? Or against God? Well, I
am. Does anyone doubt for a moment that the people on those four doomed
planes were praying? I imagine that the doomed people hanging out of the
windows of the World Trade Center were praying too, as were the people all
over the country watching this tragedy unfold on TV. I even slipped up and
said a prayer. And what good did that prayer do?

" 'If we believe absurdities,' Voltaire said, 'we will commit atrocities.'
On September 11, suicidal Islamic radicals, their heads stuffed with
absurdities, committed the most appalling atrocities. And what are we told
to do in response? Trot out our own absurdities: Turn to God. Pray to God.
God listens. God cares. Does He really? If so, I'd really like to see Him
get off his ass and prove it once in a while."


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Oct 12 2001 - 14:40:55 MDT