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Jon Pilch, Published March 10 2009

Pilch: Freethinkers’ line of logic is flawed

It’s not about the monument. As the Freethinkers contemplate the next move on their agenda, I am certain that they are secretly celebrating the mileage they have gotten out of their current challenge (Forum, Feb. 27).

Another stone on the lawn would have quickly become just another obstacle for the lawnmowers, but the frequent column-inches on local front pages have been a real publicity coup.

I do commend the Freethinkers for one thing: We live in a culture that is sadly reluctant to use many critical thinking skills, as most recently evidenced by our current economic woes. So the idea of actually examining what we are doing, and why, should and does hold some allure.

However, I don’t follow the thread of logic in the monument challenge. Granted, if one doesn’t hold to any absolutes (except, apparently, the U.S. Constitution), then I imagine that the notion of absurdity is equally weightless. First of all, the Ten Commandments were originally given to what would become the people of Israel.

The Freethinkers presume that the Ten Commandments monument implies U.S. government promotion of the Christian religion? I suspect rather that they wouldn’t risk seeming antisemitic and thus politically incorrect, while it is currently in vogue to bash Christianity and even get some sympathetic headlines out of it.

Secondly, a historical monument should reflect (this is profound) actual history. It is linked to the past, not the present. A monument to the Treaty of Tripoli would be appropriate in Tripoli, perhaps. A monument reflecting the origins of the beliefs of the vast majority of the settlers of this region is appropriate in Fargo. (Nowhere does it state that America is a Christian nation – an idea that even God, from his point of view, could not accept – though that may generally be an accurate historical picture.)

An additional monument showcasing the Bill of Rights would be welcome, I think.

The Freethinkers’ proposed monument has no context, except as a sort of anti-monument. It would be a kind of disclaimer that would set a horrible precedent. What next? A little sign next to Rollo the Viking stating that the city of Fargo recognizes that all Fargoans are not of Scandinavian descent?

For the sake of accuracy and clarity, I would suggest that the Freethinkers erect a monument beginning with the same format as the contested tablets ... “Thou shalt have no other gods before ...” and there they would sign their own names. For in reality, under the guise of postmodern thought, their freethinking dates back to the very beginning of human history when mankind first tried to usurp the place of God.