Elayne Riggs' Journal (for Leah)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

One Creche More or Less

Well, this is a little disturbing - Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum and Ezra Klein all seem to think some folks are making too big a deal out of people who want to put up religious displays in public places. Like, you know, we have bigger fish to fry, or something. Digby has a wonderful response to this that's immediately gone into my Koufax 2005 nominations bin (I have less than 10 posts saved in that section and three belong to Digby), but I wanted to put in my two cents, having grown up Jewish in a very Christian neighborhood.

I don't know what religions Matt and Kevin and Ezra practice or grew up with, but I'll bet they're majority ones. Mine wasn't. Oh, it may seem so now, at least as far as lip service goes, "Christian" having become "Judeo-Christian" even though Jews constitute only 2.2 percent of US population according to the U.S. Census Bureau (see tables 67 through 69 in this PDF) and break down worldwide thusly:

But my point is, this disproportionate influence is a fairly recent thing, and even with it there are still numerous incidents of intolerance and hatred directed towards Jews. When I was a kid I faced a hell of a lot of anti-Semitism, from having stones and eggs thrown at our house when we dared to put up Chanukah decorations, to being chased home by mobs or surrounded by kids on bikes and pinned to a tree until the tree-bugs started crawling all over me and... Sorry, the memories are still pretty painful, even 40 years later.

Now, maybe some liberals who didn't grow up experiencing this irrational hatred (and Ezra's kinda young) have no idea what seeing symbols of the majority religion all over the place does to your psyche. I'm convinced that the public celebration of others' Christianity was a major contributing factor to the prejudice I experienced as a child. It just seems to me that public displays of Christ-stuff are another version of the tyranny of the majority - if they made me feel that left out, how isolated and excluded must Hindu kids feel now, or Muslim kids, or Buddhist kids? Don't they count? Don't atheists? They sure seem to worldwide (see chart above), but in a country that's specifically prided itself for 200+ years on its acceptance of people from all different nations and creeds and beliefs? Not so much.

So pardon me if I continue to rage against the dying of the light of religious tolerance. But it happens to be important to me that others don't shove their religion in my face. Because if they can get away with that... well, let's just say that images of arms with tattooed numbers still haunt my nightmares.

P.S. Heartfelt thanks to Dave, Kevin and particularly Jeanne ('cause her post made me weep again, but in a good, catharctic way) for linking to this post. That's some heady A-list linkage for this little blogger!