The Larry King interview with former president Jimmy Carter last night was ... well, it was wonderful. "Jimmeh" (one of my personal heroes) was his consistently humble, wise, compassionate self, an example I wish all politicians would follow. Some highlights:
"...for the first time in the history of our country since Thomas Jefferson said build a wall between church and state there has been a deliberate and overt, not secret melding of religion and politics or the church and state, which I believe is not only contrary to what our founding fathers intended and what everyone else has agreed to the last 230 years but also in my opinion as a Christian it's different from what I've been taught to believe in my religion...But this is something that Thomas Jefferson espoused, as you know, when he said build a wall between church and state and I happen, as you know, I'm a Christian and I believe that Jesus Christ ordained this when he said 'Render under Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.' So, this breaking down of the barriers between the two is just one of the elements in recent years that causes me concern."
"Ordinarily most of us, whether we are Christians or Catholics or Protestants, whether we are Jews or whether we might be Muslims, we basically agree on justice, on service to others, on humility, on truthfulness, on peace, I worship the Prince of Peace, on forgiveness and on compassion. So, there are a lot of things that bind us together.
"A fundamentalist though, as I define in this book, in extreme cases has come to the forefront in recent years both in Islam and in some areas of Christianity. A fundamentalist by, almost by definition as I describe is a very strong male religious leader, always a man, who believes that he is completely wedded to God, has a special privilege and relationship to God above others.
"And, therefore, since he speaks basically in his opinion for God, anyone who disagrees with him at all is inherently and by definition wrong and therefore inferior. And one of the first things that a male fundamentalist wants to do is to subjugate women to make them subservient and to subjugate others that don't believe as he does.
"The other thing they do, and this is the only other thing I'll add, is that they don't believe that it's right to negotiate or to compromise with people who disagree with them because any deviation from their absolute beliefs is a derogation of their own faith. So, those two things, exclusiveness, domination and being very highly biased are the elements of fundamentalism.
"we had the Second World War, which was a lot more destructive for our people. In fact, my own uncle, Tom Gordy (ph), was captured by the Japanese about two weeks after Pearl Harbor and he was a prisoner for four years. He was tortured severely, only weighed 85 pounds when he came out of prison. He was almost dead.
And after that the Geneva Accords were written, which was approved by and even negotiated by the United States and we agreed that in order to protect our own reputation and in order to prevent our own service people from being tortured if they were captured that we would not torture prisoners who were held by us."
"After 9/11 there was a unanimous approbation and sympathy for our country around the world. We had the opportunity then, Larry, of forming a phalanx of almost every nation on earth to join in a concerted team effort to root out and to minimize the adverse effect or threats from terrorism.
"We frittered that away by unnecessarily going into Iraq under false pretenses and now, of course, we have had more than 2,000 of our young people die, in my opinion heroically but in an unnecessary war."
"I think that these social issues can divide people unnecessarily. We ought to work on things in religion, I presume that you're talking about religion, that would bring us together, a consistent commitment to justice.
"We worship the prince of peace, not preemptive war. We should believe in humility. We should believe in being generous to people who are in need.
"And we should not favor the richest people in America with tremendous tax breaks at the expense of people who are working family or poor people."
"As you know, the minimum wage under this administration has been frozen at $5.15. Since it was frozen the Congress have increased their own salaries by $30,000 a year. We have one of the lowest minimum wages in the whole world in the developed parts of the world.
"And this has been a radical change over the past as well because almost all of the taxes that have been reduced have been for the richest people on earth.
"And many conservatives, I'm sure a lot of them in Alabama, your neighbors, are very deeply concerned about the unprecedented deficits that have been accumulated during the last four or five years.
"And the deficits have been brought about not because we're giving better services to, the working class people that you represent, but because we've given the enormous tax breaks to the richest Americans alive."
"I believe that the recent public opinion polls, Larry, have shown a great and growing disillusionment with what's been happening in Washington in the last five years. And there's a doubt about this administration and the direction it's going.
"And I don't think there's any doubt that there's a strong belief among most Americans that we ought to keep fundamentalism out of religion and out of politics, and we ought not to meld the two, and separate and break down the wall between church and state that's been part of our heritage since the founding fathers' times."Transcript here.