NGUYEN: Narrow American Principles
But I Digress

There’s no hope for the rest of us. By that, I mean anyone whose heritage, values and principles are not wholly consistent with what are deemed “American” principles.

That is what I got out of Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson’s recent interview on “Meet the Press,” during which he insinuated that Islam is inconsistent with the Constitution and that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.” Taking things a step further, he added that a president’s faith does matter, depending on which religion he practices and whether it is compatible with the Constitution. The incompatible religion he had in mind, needless to say, is Islam. As much as I am disgusted by the brainwashed and prejudiced bigotry that enables such rhetoric, in a way, Carson isn’t lying. His fallacy, however, lies in focusing on just Muslims, because the American way of life of which he speaks is hardly compatible with anyone who does not believe in his God. Carson defines American principles and values as Christian ones, intimating that any belief system that does not comply with Christianity or preserve it in some way is un-American. This Christian domination, perpetrated by generations before Carson’s, embodies unconstitutionality; every other belief system in this country tolerates Christianity to its fullest extent, yet Christianity has a remarkably low threshold of toleration. Of course, this is not to say that each person who practices Christianity in this country adheres to religious discrimination as demonstrated by Carson. However, it is hard to deny that the culture of American Christianity is indeed heavily discriminatory against “incompatible” religions and that it has practically monopolized religious freedom.

Although not by design, Christianity has become a bedrock of American democracy. The Constitution and the laws of this land have been interpreted to promote the welfare of Christianity, and anything that does not support the advancement of that welfare is vehemently opposed. For example, the rise of terrorist groups affiliating themselves with Islam threatens Christianity as the foundation of America, even though the actuality of the threat is not that extreme. Yet, the presence of the threat prompts the established culture to react, labeling all Muslims as a part of that threat. This fuels the prejudice that led to the arrest of a young Muslim boy who brought a clock to school a couple of weeks ago, that incites “random” airport security checks on Muslims, that motivated Ben Carson to oppress the opportunities of an entire population and that ranks Christianity superior to all other beliefs.

As I mentioned before, this effort to preserve Christianity does not only target Muslims. A recent effort of Christian preservation was directed at homosexuality when Kim Davis cited her constitutional right of religious freedom as a reason to not issue marriage licenses to gay couples. What Davis fails to comprehend and what all of these efforts fail to take into account is that her interpretation of the Constitution is wrong. Religious freedom laws allow one to practice his religion, but it does not allow one to coerce others into practicing a particular religion. The Constitution allows one to exercise religious freedom insofar as it does not intrude on the rights of others, which Kim Davis and all those who are taking substantial measures to oppress the equality of sexuality are doing.

Time and time again, interpretations of the law have been used to discriminate against certain groups of people. I said that there is no longer any hope for the rest of us, because as long as the culture of American Christianity thrives, equality is certainly not a reality. While the Constitution emphasizes that all are created equal, the experience of that “equality” is determined by how one’s heritage and beliefs align with the intrinsic prejudice of America. Initial equality at birth is tainted over time as one’s development becomes incompatible with the narrow image of what an American should be. Although that image has incrementally broadened to diversify the definition of an American, it still carries an underlying bias that has existed since the founding of this country, excluding people based on ignorant stereotypes of those who are not white, straight, Christian and so on. Perhaps we are all created equal in that we are all born into the same flawed and damaged nation, but that equality is ephemeral, and it dies with every second we are alive.


Lam Nguyen in a sophomore in the College. But I Digress appears every other Friday.

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One Comment

  1. I understand this is simply a matter of bad timing, but this should probably be taken down. Not that I disagree with the content, but publishing this a day after American Christians were essentially executed (from what we know) in Oregon, this article certainly isn’t the best look for a news site.

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