Friday morning, Paul and I, at the urging of a well-meaning friend, descended on our state’s Capitol for what was meant to be a book signing in the legislative gift shop. It was a slow day for book sales, I fear, though we watched dozens of Washington State calendars selling hotter than hotcakes, and were mildly dispirited by the disinterested yawns (“Washington Then and Now?” the handful of power brokers who wandered past seemed to exclaim, “Been there, done that.”).
There were, as always, pearls of conversation and gentle conversators, but for the most part, we stared blankly at each other and wrestled over a single New York Times. Much amusement was provided when I found a life-sized ad for HBO’s “Saddam, BMOC” and we took turns shooting pix of each other.
Then we each in turns wandered up into the Rotunda, where we discovered an unfolding scandal. While Christmas had reached its merry tendrils into nearly every nook and cranny….
(as always, click to enlarge photos)
…there were serpents in that Yuletide tree (note the state patrolman patrolling with care). But first, let’s visit the capitol’s own creche, a simple stable amongst the marble columns.
Not 30 feet to the left, ATHEISTS had insisted upon their 1st Amendment rights (damn them), and placed a sign reading, in part, “Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
FOX news, namely Bill O’Reilly, had taken up the cause a few days ago, encouraging his viewers to express their outrage to the Guv. Hundreds of calls and emails poured in hourly. Christmas under siege, Santa held for ransom, myrrh stolen from Christ child. Protesting churchgoers were up in arms. Some added their own signs (see more state patrolmen patrolling beyond the tree).
Then, between 7 and 7:30 in the morning, someone stole the atheists’ sign. Dan Barker, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation proclaimed the act, “unfriendly.” Later in the day, someone turned the sign in to Country KMPS’s Ichabod Caine. The State Patrol is investigating.
Below, see the brightly colored placard on the left; also in place of the original anti-religious sign is a terse gold-colored reminder from the Foundation: “Church/State – Keep them separate”. George Washington – not a foe of religion, although perhaps of religious partisanship – has positioned his enormous head between opposing sides (his bust here was, Paul informs me, given to the Capitol Building by the Daughters of the American Revolution).
Meanwhile, downstairs in the basement gift shop, Paul and I thanked the staff for putting up with us and left the marble corridors of power, heading once again for our own cluttered basements, which make up in padding what they lack in grandeur. Outside, Paul paused once more to glance at the Times.
In wearing this mask, Paul wrote me earlier this evening, we were doubly posturing, acting the part of an actor acting the part of Saddam, who spent decades rehearsing his own execution by practising it on others.
Is there some significance here? A cradle of hypocracy liberally perfumed with Frankincense? Heavens to Murgatroyd, I’m reluctant to bring up old lessons, but aren’t we all, to some extent, reaping those whirlwinds?