November 17, 2004.
To Bill O'Reilly, "O'Reilly Factor", Fox News:

Dear factor of superstition:

Some US public organizations force American children to give an oath to God. The American Civil Liberties Union wants to stop that, on the Constitutional ground of separation of church and state. You condemn the ACLU for this "narrow interpretation of the Constitution".

Yesterday you chanted, as if you were a bird on a branch, and the sun was rising, about how good it is to take an oath to a "higher power". Then you attacked France, as Fox News does every thirty minutes. The theme was Fox's preferred line, that France opposed the war in Iraq because France is all about profits. So I guess the 80% of Europeans who oppose the war in Iraq are, according to you, all about profits? Why are you so profit-obsessed that you think everyone partakes with your obsession? Are you not afraid to project a supreme American value ("profits") onto people who worry about much higher principles? It's hard to visualize half a billion Europeans opposing American militarism because of all the profits they personally made in Iraq. Maybe Europeans have values unbeknownst to you?

Or is it that people such as you, because you are singing the praises of the "higher power", do not have to worry with higher principles, such as peace, justice, sensibility, sensitivity, common sense, reflection, intelligence, and empathy for other cultures? After all, are not these higher functions the business of your "higher power"? You seem possessed by the will to put people under that "higher power", so they stop thinking too. But living in a democracy means, PRECISELY, that one does not live UNDER ANYTHING. To teach children that they are ruled by a higher being, as a civic virtue, is to teach them PRECISELY what democracy is NOT about. In democracy it is the people (demos) who rules (kratos). In tyranny, it is the single (tyrano) "higher power" which rules.

In democracy, the people rule, but this also means that the people are responsible. They don't need someone to "look out for them" (as you say you do). They look out by themselves. They don't need a father, or a "higher power". But then they cannot hide behind it either. As the Athenian people assembly decided to follow a politic of aggression, invasion, submission, and destruction of other states through military force, 200 Greek states turned against that people of the United State of Athens, and their huge, but morally overstretched empire.

It was precisely because neither Athens nor Socrates understood that, in a democracy, the people, and only the people, are the ultimate authority, the ultimate higher power, and ultimately responsible on an individual moral and intellectual basis, that Athens failed, and that Socrates was condemned to death. Because Athens believed her hubris and her Gods protected her against war crimes, she committed them nonchalantly, and massively, turning the civilization she led against herself. Consequently, the arrogant (and criminal!) Athenian population was nearly annihilated by the (Greek) world coalition, and the principle of democracy took 22 centuries to recover. The vengeful remnant of Athens then accused Socrates of having violated the patriot act, with too much thinking, allowing "impiety" to set in.

In the last American elections, 97% of the candidates who spent the most money got elected. Is this the American "higher power" we are supposed to learn to take an oath to? Is America confusing money and democracy, and so thinks France is confusing profits and principles?

In any case, do not expect 800 million Europeans to take an oath to a "higher power" anymore, be it "God" or America. First their God is not that of America, and Europeans are not America's children. America is not viewed as the boss anymore, but as a mad bull which has lost its way. Secondly, the only "higher power" Europeans want to recognize is that of higher reason, which derives from higher principles and values American schools have ignored lately, busy as they were, giving oaths to God as if in northern Nigeria.

Sincerely yours,

Patrice Ayme'
Berkeley, California.