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Opinion

Speaking of Moses

Letter to the Editor, New York Times, November 1, 2009

Feiler's statements that the Hebrew prophet Moses "is the patron saint of Washington," and "embodies the American story" are to American history what creationism is to real science.

If Moses were the "original proponent of freedom and justice for all," how does Feiler explain the prophet's liquidation of 3,000 Hebrew dissidents at Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:28)? Even Cecil B. DeMille fudged that scene in his movie "The Ten Commandments."

Admittedly, the story of America cannot be told without acknowledging the religious convictions of the men and women who gave it birth, but then- religious fervor needs to be put into perspective.

Last time I looked, the Great Seal of the United States bore a Roman eagle, not the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, as Feiler suggests the Founding Fathers wanted. There may be sculptures of Moses on the facades of our capital's buildings, but those buildings are based on Greco-Roman models. Our symbol of justice is a blindfolded classical goddess.

Our national motto is written in Latin, not Hebrew. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution based on Plato, Livy, Cicero, Machiavelli, Beccaria, Locke and Rosseau. Their ideal was Cincinnatus, the Roman patriot.

Feiler may have lost his bearings walking the trail of the Bible in his PBS specials. He may find a winding path from the Holy Land to America, but it is alongside a straight and clearly Roman road.

John L. Mancini
Floral Park
President, Italic Institute of America

 
 
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