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Susan Jacoby thinks Memorial Day is Disgusting

May 31, 2007 03:44 PM

This is how she answers the question "How do you keep your faith during times of war?" in the Washington Post-Newsweek blog "On Faith."  At first, she says that she doesn't want to answer the question, because she rejects the premise.  And then:

The reason I changed my mind and decided to comment, however, has nothing to do with the unanswerable theodicy question and everything to do with my disgust at the annual American celebration of a melding of patriotism and religion so often used to justify war. I was at home working on Memorial Day and wanted to take a break to watch a movie on television. Fat chance. Nonstop movies glorifying war were the only movies being shown. Iwo Jima. Custer's last stand. The Civil War, including the "glorious" lost southern cause as well as the cause of ending slavery. Alvin York overcoming his pacifism. General George Patton, as certifiable a military lunatic as America has ever produced, quoting scripture and slapping a soldier with what would today be called post-traumatic stress disorder.

The endless references in these movies to the Bible, and to God keeping watch over soldiers, are as nauseating as the endless television news stories about the "miracle" of a slain U.S. soldier's family finding an Iraqi puppy who was, apparently, the last creature the doomed young soldier had a chance to cuddle.

And Newsweek and the Wa-Po think this kind of commentary constitutes "intelligent, informed, eclectic, respectful conversation" about religion?  It's none of those things, not when one of your panelists thinks Memorial Day is disgusting, and Biblical references are "nauseating."

HT: Amy Alkon, who thinks Susan Jacoby is marvelous.


I'm with Daniel Dennett, who said religion should get no more respect than, say, animal husbandry. You see a problem with questioning the widespread ridiculous belief, sans evidence, in god? Or, do you believe simply because you were told to believe, sans any proof god exists? And if so, do you also believe your toilet will speak to you tomorrow morning? Because there's as much evidence for that.

Amy Alkon   ·  June 1, 2007 12:10 AM

Whew! Amy! Empty and militant simultaneously!

Susan Jacoby must be a woman 'of one book' and I'd bet against it being C.S. Lewis.

ollie   ·  June 1, 2007 06:12 AM

Amy--I'm questioning her hostility, her word choice, and her utter lack of respect for other people's points of view. If someone wants to be an Atheist, fine. That's their choice. But if you hold yourself out as someone who is part of a respectful dialogue, you can't be so patronizing and dismissive.

NBS   ·  June 1, 2007 08:25 AM

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