That’s the title of David Gelernter’s Weekly Standard piece on General William Boykin:
“Some journalists are all in favor of General Boykin’s right to say and believe what he chooses–so long as Secretary Rumsfeld fires him. They are working under the theory that it is unacceptable for a DoD official to say that Christianity is true and that other religions are, therefore, false. The general also stands accused of calling for a Christian ‘jihad’–but he never used that word, and the accusation has long since been exposed as phony. And Boykin has been accused of casting aspersions on Islam–Heaven forbid! (What prigs we should all feel, after Islam has been so sweet to us.)
“Of course there is no justification for insulting people gratuitously; but clearly that was not the general’s intention. And clearly, too, religion ain’t beanbag. If you believe in one, ordinarily that entails disbelieving in the others. Muslims are familiar with the principle. Some journalists are not. But it’s not so strange; the same thing usually holds for philosophical, scientific, artistic, and political ‘religions.’
“…[T]he ‘offended’ to whom General Boykin apologized can hardly claim that we sprang religion on them out of nowhere. The Judeo-Christian strain in the sacred documents of this country is too formidable to ignore. America’s mission as Lincoln defined it is to act with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right. He spoke for America’s better self, and still does. (Lincoln said that he wished to be a ‘humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty.’ He said, ‘Whatever shall appear to be God’s will I will do.’)
“We are solemnly warned that, nowadays, public expressions of Christianity are ‘controversial.’ Among whom? Look up ‘controversial’ and you will find that ‘upsetting to the Los Angeles Times’ is not the definition.
“The Constitution confers on Jews and Christians equally the right to behave as if they believed in Judaism and Christianity respectively. Christianity is (at any rate) a variant of Judaism, formed on a Jewish armature; the work of Jews, propagated by Jews, focused on Jews. When Jesus is asked by a ‘certain lawyer’ how one might deserve eternal life (Luke 10:25), the two Christian fundamentals that emerge are each verses from the Hebrew Bible–the Bible Jesus knew. By erecting and maintaining America on Christian principles, Christians have tendered Jews the deepest of compliments. Why not accept it in that spirit?”
It is no coincidence that the most effective defenses of General Boykin have come from Jews. The alliance of believing Christians and believing Jews is a signal characteristic of our cultural and political era. I enjoy Donald Rumsfeld’s blithe comment on the Boykin flap: “That’s the way we live. We’re a free people.” Ultimately, however, the defenders of religion, and its place in our culture, have to go beyond free speech agnosticism. The centrality of the Judeo-Christian tradition to our nation, its history and the assumptions underlying its founding must be affirmatively advanced. Bravo to David Gelernter, and many others who have spoken out on behalf of General Boykin (Deacon, for one) for doing so.
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