Good news this week: after a difficult, expensive and often harrowing process, I had a successful interview with the American immigration service, so I am now a legal permanent resident of the USA (holding a “green card”). While we waited for the interview, I was reading my notes on James Doull‘s Philosophy and Freedom, and realized it had given me a much better understanding of the country in which I have settled.
One of the more curious features of American political conversation is Americans’ attitude toward their Constitution. In American politics, the Constitution is a scripture, a sacred text; and I do not mean this at all metaphorically or analogically. The Constitution literally is a scripture, for it has the most important hallmark that a scripture has: while the meaning of the text is endlessly debated, the text itself is universally regarded with great reverence and respect. Both of the warring sides of American politics accuse the other side of disrespecting the Constitution (the language used is typically stronger than “disrespecting,” often involving bodily functions of some variety). Some might argue that the Constitution is not a scripture because it is not “religious,” but this is already to beg the question; I have yet to find an adequate reason to distinguish between the “religious” and the “non-religious,” or reasonable way of classifying the two.
This attitude toward the Constitution has perplexed me since before I arrived in the country. Continue reading