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Semiformalishmaybe

Examination of Political Opinions

You might find interesting the PDF surveying American political opinions here; it has a decent summary, but the PDF goes into much more detail. Some commentary on where I stand on the issues raised in the paper (this is a big list of answers to survey-type questions):

  • I concur with the general opinion that Americans are safer from attacks now than before September 11th, 2001. The legal and policy changes are largely responsible, although changes in cultural awareness are also a factor.
  • I am not aware of how international respect for the US has changed since the attacks, and would want to do study on the topic before I came to an opinion. I do think that Obama has generally helped America's international esteem, but not as much as he might've.
  • I disagree somewhat with the strong-majority opinion that America was founded on deep religious freedom. Instead, I would state that various specific groups of settlers wanted freedom for themselves, but this did not amount to modern notions of tolerance; that developed later. However, I would agree with the unstated premise that generally speaking, religious freedom is desirable.
  • I wholeheartedly disagree with the strong-majority opinion that religious books should be treated with respect, if that "should" is meant as a legal or strong cultural norm. I believe that "mistreatment" of books is sometimes politically unwise, but that religious books should not be privileged any more than any other book. It is fundamentally acceptable to use destruction or insult to religious books as a philosophical statement, even as such acts rarely are the beginning of productive dialogue. I accept "piss christ", "draw mohammad day", and other acts as legitimate.
  • While I believe that many of the details of church-state separation are unworkable, I agree with the majority opinion that it is nontheless a worthwhile effort to have church-state separation.
  • I seperate race and culture, and while I do not disapprove of any race (and find the idea of such rejection to be objectionable), I believe that is acceptable (in fact, highly desirable) to criticise some of the values and customs of various cultures. I have very little automatic respect for cultural elements/practices tied to their being tradition.
  • On specific cultures:
    • I regard Catholics as a mixed-bag. I have considerable intellectual respect for Jesuits despite significant differences in values, while I have considerable respect for the values of some American liberal Catholics despite my dislike of their lack of coherent positions on many matters.
    • I have considerable respect for Yiddish culture, and moderate respect for general Jewish culture, but I believe that there is ingrained racism in many strands of both, and when I encounter it it deeply bothers me. I am bothered-but-less-so by traditions of separatism in both.
    • I have a strong distaste for Mormon practices and culture.
    • I regard Muslims in ways similar to catholics; liberal traditions within Islam strike me as being generally decent, and I have intellectual respect for a lot of the philosophy of Islam. Any strand of Islam that demands judicial power, even purely over its own people in courts of arbitration, is unacceptable to me here (similarly with Judaism; I don't approve of Beth Dins in our country)
    • Unlike most Americans, I very strongly approve of Atheism in theory, in particular Secular Humanists, Humanist Socialists, and other liberal strands. I believe Atheism is the most sensible worldview.
  • Not mentioned on the study are two communities which I strongly disapprove of; Scientologists and Rastafarians.
  • Right now I do not have consistent interactions with anyone at all, and my social network is very tiny. I have had friendships with people of various faiths in the past.
  • I believe I have reasonable knowledge of the practices of the LDS (Mormons). I consider it to be Christian-of-sorts, but very different than most other strands of Christian. I do not consider it very important to draw clear lines here; I understand it as it is and the definitional boundaries of Christianity could be drawn many ways.
  • I do believe discrimination against minority groups is a significant issue facing the country today, but not a critical one. I do not believe discrimination against whites is a significant issue. I am in a weird demographic, as my regular news sources include none of the (television) sources listed there.
  • I believe I have good understanding of the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims.
  • I believe the question as to whether the values of Islam are at odds with American values and our way of life hinges on which type of Islam we are considering. There are flavours of Islam that entirely fit within American traditions, some that fit less, and some which do not fit at all.
  • I believe that only some American Muslims would be interested in establishing Sharia law as an overarching system of jurisprudence in the US, others would use it as a court of private arbitration plus a guide to their lifestyle, others would just use it as a guide to their lifestyle, and others would ignore it. I would only accept the latter two as acceptable; I believe a ban on private Sharia courts (like a ban on private Halakah courts) is appropriate.
  • I believe that Muslims who can accept only using Sharia as a guide to their personal life should be welcomed in America, just like any other religious community.
  • I have no comment on whether American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the US, given that I am not part of the religious community in the US and that I have no interest in preserving that community.
  • For many flavours of Islam, I am as comfortable with it as I am with other faiths. I consider the construction of any religious place of assembly near my home to be a bit of a shame (as all religions are false), but I have no particular animosity towards mosques (and generally religious architecture is pretty). Seeing public prayer in an airport would likewise strike me as equally a shame no matter the type of prayer. I am entirely opposed to Muslim women wearing face-covering garments, and support a ban on that practice. I am deeply disappointed in other religious-traditional concealing garments worn by Muslim women (or other women) but would probably not ban them. I have no issues with Muslims teaching elementary school provided they are not teaching religious doctrines, same as those of other faiths.
  • I believe Muslim views of the US are mixed but often negative, based on Muslim countries often historically being on the blunt end of American foreign policy. I believe a distrust of the US is warranted, both by Muslims and by anyone in other countries, as the US has often been dastardly.
  • I believe that it is difficult to weigh whether religion on whole is a positive force in society because we would need to know what other philosophies we're comparing them against.
  • I don't know if I agree with the mainstream view that people with strong religious beliefs are more or less likely to have extreme political views, because I am unwilling to commit to a norm against which to judge "extreme".
  • I don't buy into the double standard of evaluating violence done by Christians or Muslims. I recognise that there are violent and nonviolent strands of most religions, even Buddhism.

Immigration:

  • I don't believe illegal immigration is a very important issue facing the country.
  • I think the current immigration system is working with some major problems
  • I believe I have only moderate knowledge about the immigration process in the country.
  • I concur with the majority opinion about most American immigrants, that they are hard-working and have strong family values. I have no knowledge of whether they generally keep to themselves or attempt to learn English.
  • I believe our general kind of immigrants generally strengthen American society, for the reason that our traditional hegemony is likely to collapse soon and the more we break American monoculture, the more resilient we will be to that.
  • I concur with the basic tenets of the DREAM act; I believe that illegal immigrants brought to the US as children, who join the military or attend college merit leniency and a path to citizenship.
  • In terms of a general policy beyond the DREAM act, I favour deporting many and permitting those to stay who have attributes that make them particularly desirable. I believe legal immigration must be favoured over illegal immigration, and that permitting illegal immigration in the general case destroys rule of law.
  • I would accept broader reforms to immigration policy if they seem sensible.
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