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It's Open Season on Christians Again

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

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Bigotry is Bad! -- Unless of Course, The Target is Christians

One time girlfriend of quirky California governor Jerry Brown in the 70s, singer Linda Ronstadt has been busy lately. She dedicated her song Desperado to Michael Moore and his bogus-mentary, Fahrenheit 911, she got herself tossed out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas, and she gave an interview to a newspaper. Although I doubt this was her intention, she has actually taught us three lessons: One, she and many of her fellow entertainers do have a religion--I'd call it "secular fundamentalism." Two, it's open season on Christians, the last unprotected minority in America. Her third lesson, well, I'll tell you that in a minute.

When loud protests greeted her sycophantic tribute to Moore and his anti-Bush movie she got thrown out of the Aladdin. The casino management ejected her, not because they are all Republicans but because they are all businessmen. Given current political demographics, it is likely that at least half of any randomly chosen audience is conservative and business professionals dislike their hired entertainers insulting half of their customers.

How could someone who has been entertaining professionally for thirty-five years not know that people come to a Las Vegas show to be entertained not to be politically polarized? The answer is that of course she knows this but she is serving a higher cause than her career. She has found religion, the religion of Secular Fundamentalism.

Any seriously committed Jew or Christian would put faith before career. Like countless Orthodox Jews over the centuries, I would unhesitatingly jeopardize my career in order to stand up for my faith. My many Christian friends would do no less. So why should anyone be surprised when Linda Ronstadt also puts her faith ahead of her career?

Just as both Judaism and Christianity each puts a face on evil, so does Secular Fundamentalism. At this stage in America's second civil war, the face belongs to George W. Bush. Linda Ronstadt, as one of the priestly class of entertainers, feels the call to denounce the face of evil, and that call of her faith is more important to her than her career.

Her soul told her to say, "The Bush administration is awful, and so lying and so deceitful. And they're doing so much harm. They're making it more dangerous for us. They have to be stopped, I think. We have to throw the neocons out," (Note to Linda: President Bush is not a neocon.)

Then, in a remarkably candid interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, the entertainer said: "It's a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment."

What do you suppose might be the reaction if an entertainer would say, "It's a real conflict for me when I find out someone in the audience is Jewish. It can cloud my enjoyment"? Or what if some politician had once announced, "It's a real conflict for me when I find out that someone in the audience is homosexual. It can cloud my enjoyment"? Of course almost no entertainers or politicians would ever say anything as bigoted.

But singer Linda Ronstadt did. The point is, however, that she didn't insult protected minorities like Jews, homosexuals, Moslems, or blacks. She insulted what she calls "fundamental" Christians. (Note to Linda: the term, if you must use it at all, is Fundamentalist.) To quote a line from the lyrics of your song Desperado, Linda, "Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand."

The media and the do-good-kiddy-clubs all explode in paroxysms of righteousness any time a public figure inadvertently insults one of the protected minority groups but nobody ever demands an apology when a secular celebrity demeans Christianity. That is because many Americans view Christianity as a problem, an execrable obstacle to America's progress. The rest of us, including many serious Jews, view Christianity as part of the solution to America's problems. We think "progress" is the problem and what we need is a return to traditional morality. That is largely what today's civil war is all about and Ronstadt has shown us on which side she fights.

Oh, and I did say that I'd tell you the third lesson we can learn from Linda's antics. It is that she herself has learned little since those far-off days when she consorted with Governor Moonbeam. She backed losers then and she is backing the losing side now. To quote another line from that song she sang before being banned from the Aladdin Hotel, "We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again."

Radio talk show host, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, is president of Toward Tradition--the American Alliance of Jews and Christians--a Seattle-based, bridge-building organization providing a voice for all Americans who defend the Judeo-Christian values vital for our nation's survival. Read this article on the Toward Tradition website. Reprinting allowed.

Posted: 7/23/04



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