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August 19, 2010

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That's really quite remarkable. The GOP is willing to risk American lives in order to sow hatred and bigotry for a short term boost to electoral prospects. Wow.

Wasn't this clear at least as early as 2002?

I take the larger point that the rising anti-Muslim sentiment and the douchebags who are deliberately stirring it up have very starkly illustrated this, and it's true that the NSDAP-style demonization of Muslims has gotten bad in a way it never was even during the Bush years. But given the milestone that we just passed, I'd be remiss to not call attention to the seven-year demonstration of the GOP's willingness to put American lives at risk for electoral gain.

Back on the current hysteria though, this is really starting to scare me. It's not a fear that the GOP will be successful at using this to win elections, although that's certainly a concern. It's a fear of what this could become, and what a relatively small number of bad actors could turn it into.

It's getting to the point where analogies to the anti-Semitic hysteria of 1920s and 1930s Germany are no longer hyperbole. It is really, sincerely worrisome. I fear that we're just around the corner from outbreaks of serious violence against Muslims and mosques.

alternately: they really do believe we're at war with Islam itself.

and nine years of reading wingnut blog posts makes me believe this is definitely true. they actually really do think this. they think it's an existential war: Freedom vs Islam.

i have no idea how they think we could win such a war, or even what victory would look like. but, i wouldn't be surprised, given the inanity of thinking we're at war with a religion, if none of them has thought that far ahead.

cleek: that's what many of the rank and file think. But Rupert Murdoch? Newt Gingrich? Koch?

I doubt it. But there's electoral gold in them thar hills, so rile the rubes.

I don't get all the hatred for Muslims. It's not like they killed Jesus.

Ethno-religious and ethno-nationalist political parties, like the Republican Party, are not known for their pluralism or their appreciation for liberal democratic values.

The GOP is willing to risk American lives in order to sow hatred and bigotry for a short term boost to electoral prospects. Wow.

I'm gonna second Catsy. This has been pretty clear for several years, and it's inescapably obvious now. Yet, the political 'conversation' in this country (and often on this blog) is so dysfunctional that if you note something like this, you are - even today - ignored, deemed 'shrill'; since you are pointing out something outrageous, it is *you*, not the thing itself, which is deemed outrageous. If we can't face simple facts, we will be eaten alive by them. And 'we' includes you so-called conservatives who cling to Denial so tenaciously. I know nobody likes to be lectured-to, but..for pity's sake, snap out of it!

I probably come off as extreme to some righties here, but I'm actually a moderate and reasonable guy, and conservative in many ways. But I don't see any reason not to call this what it is: borderline treason - not in a legal sense so much as in a *de facto* sense. It is aiding and abetting the enemy for rather ephemeral short-term gain. Party over Country. To paraphrase Harry Truman, Eric is simply observing an obvious truth, and others *think* it's hell (or 'extreme').

But there's electoral gold in them thar hills, so rile the rubes.

unquestionably true.

the rubes include many Congress-persons, too.

Eric: "for little more than electoral gain..." may be the most naive six words I've ever seen you string together.

And for an interesting peek into whether or not we're "at war with Islam" and if we are, why we are, consider "Why I left Islam" from the August 19 American Thinker magazine. It's thought-provoking and IMO well worth the read.

Cleek, probably true.

Maybe some of you remember the Gallup poll from 2006, where support for requiring Muslims to carry special ID was at 39%.
I wonder how that would look like now.

This is also related to the right wing rhetorical battle to have Islam labeled an 'ideology' rather than a 'religion.' The people doing this need to recreate the Cold War clash of ideologies on some level in order to prevent their Manichean worldview from generating too much cognitive dissonance. Without a clash of ideologies the casually accepted linkage between militarism and Christianity and democracy become problematic.

consider "Why I left Islam" from the August 19 American Thinker magazine

as an atheist with a bit of a pessimistic view of religion in general, not much of that was surprising to me. and a lot of it felt like things i might think about other, non-hated religions, or of religion in general.

ex.:

[religion] glorifies death by calling many of its martyrs the solders of [god]. [religion] preaches superiority of the "we" and inferiority of the "other." It is a creed steeped in superstition, demands blind obedience to authority, and sanctions just about every form of freedom -- the very precious gift of the Creator [whoever] that makes us humans. Everything in [religion] is in black and white. One is either [a believer] -- good -- or non-[believer] -- bad. Men are superior; women are subservient. This life is worthless and should be offered for the pleasure of [god] as defined by the clergy.

fundamentalism is fundamentalism.

I skimmed the "Why I Left Islam" piece. The thought it provokes in me is that a lot of what it says about Islam could be said about Catholicism (just to take the example I know best, since I was raised Catholic).

Catholics -- good. Non-Catholics -- bad.

My mother and beloved grandmother were going to hell for all eternity because they were Baptist.

The Crusaders were heroes; we were all soldiers of Christ.

We ate Christ's flesh every time we went to Communion.

I myself was going to burn in hell for all eternity after I kissed my boyfriend at the age of fifteen.

Women are too flawed to be priests.

The Catholic Church is still trying mightily to maximize the extent to which its rules are enforced by the government: see the SSM campaign in Maine last fall for my Exhibit A. It has interfered for more than a century in our legal system by trying to influence laws relating to sexuality and childbearing (and has often succeeded).

If belief in transsubstantiation isn't as superstitious as anything Islam can throw our way, I don't know what is.

Cleek, that was my reaction as well: thinking that most of what she wrote could easily apply to my own rejection of Christianity with little or no modification.

I'm a little confused as to exactly what argument or idea that article is supposed to support in this context.

What Cleek, JanieM and Catsy said.

Fundamentalism is Fundamentalism.

Of course, mine is right...

I agree with all above that fundamentalism is fundamentalism, and in its most extreme application, is almost universally without compromise. But we were talking about the belief in some (mostly wingnuts, but fomented endlessly by Fox News et al) that we are at war with Islam.

I'm not as well read in religious texts as I'd like to be, but it strikes me that the Qu'ran can be - and too often is - interpreted as a uniquely bloodthirsty proscription for worship. Applied to the letter of its ultimate fundamentals, even in the modern world, its dictates still get otherwise innocent people stoned to death for having consensual sex outside of marriage. I thought the American Thinker article illustrated some of those elements clearly and from a perspective sufficiently personal as to make it worth reading.

Anyway, I found it so.

I read the "American Thinker" piece and was struck by the fact that the writer was raised in a Muslim family, but that her parents nurtured a certain amount of open-mindedness and tolerance in their children.

I could have written that article, too, if I had been raised in a strict, intolerant religion of any sect or denomination.

As it is, I could have written that article and entitled it "Why I Left The Republican Party."

JanieM, if you were consigned to hell, where was your boyfriend going after you kissed him?

My high-school girlfriend was Catholic but no one seemed to mind in her family that there was kissing going on. On the other hand, I wasn't permitted to tell my Protestant and beloved grandmother that I was dating a Catholic, for fear that all hell would break loose on Earth.

It occurs to me that since every (western) religion seems to consign members of all other religions to hell, that hell must be a highly ecumenical place and that the kissing possibilities must be endless and delightful.

Hell is a place where you can kiss in peace.

I'm a fundamentalist kisser.

xanax: as with Catsy's question about the argumentative direction of the observations contained in the article, I'm curious as to the argumentative direction of your first point about Eric's naive six words.

Not that it was argumentative.

Applied to the letter of its ultimate fundamentals, even in the modern world, its dictates still get otherwise innocent people stoned to death for having consensual sex outside of marriage.

This differs from Judaism and Christianity only in that there are few remaining pockets where fundamentalism is practiced with such strictness.

The texts call for the same punishments. But then, there are plenty of predominately Muslim nations where such fundamentalism is also out of favor, or not adhered to strictly.

Don't you see that a terror attack on the U.S. by a Muslim American or Americans would be the best thing for the Republicans possible? They could get elected, then dispense with the Constitutional niceties preventing a corporate authoritarian/theocratic state.

John Thullen, thanks for my laugh of the day.

Oversimplifying the story: my boyfriend was more pious than I was, therefore more apt to go to confession and get absolved, therefore probably not going to hell.

On the other hand: point taken. :)

*********

My Protestant and beloved grandmother was faced with the problem when my mother decided to marry my dad. It wasn't pretty, apparently, but she came around.

"I'm curious... your first point about Eric's naive six words."

Since electoral gain appears to be one of the ultimate gods to which GOP operatives genuflect and before which the faithful kneel... Eric's using such a diminutive to describe success in that effort ("for little more than electoral gain") seemed to me a bit naive. That's all.

And @2:22 I meant prescription for worship (not proscription) though, frankly, either might work.

Why I Left Islam:

I came to the realization that the root cause of my people's degradation and suffering is Islam.

i doubt this, perhaps it runs mostly the other way

I came to the realization that the root cause of Islam/fundamentalism is my people's degradation and suffering.

Eric's using such a diminutive to describe success in that effort ("for little more than electoral gain") seemed to me a bit naive. That's all.

To be honest with you, the idea that the US, or western democracies in general, face any kind of existential threat from Islam, or that the greatest risk to basic human freedom in this country comes from Muslims, seems, to me, to be the really astoundingly naive position.

The largest majority-Muslim nation is Indonesia, which has a republican (small r) form of government. Post-Sukarno, they've been reasonably friendly toward the west.

Third largest Muslim population is India. Muslims there have conflicts with Hindus, but are generally not trying to overthrow India's parliamentary democracy and replace it with sharia.

Neither country is picking fights with the West.

Islam is a big tent.

I'm not as well read in religious texts as I'd like to be, but it strikes me that the Qu'ran can be - and too often is - interpreted as a uniquely bloodthirsty proscription for worship.

Read the Bible then. Read Thomas Aquinas. Read Jonathon Edwards. John Calvin. Read modern day Christian fanatics. All monotheistic religions aren't exactly the same (although if they weren't as similar as they are, there would surely be fewer conflicts between them). But they all share something very scary: the propensity to use a dreadful idealism with which to rationalize atrocity. They ALL can and have done that - and Christianity is probably the worst offender (I think it is). What's more or less dangerous about religion is how it defines morality, restraints. Christianity is a lot less 'humanist' than the other two, in that regard.

Read up.

(btw, I was raised a Christian and belong to no religion).

With all due respect Eric, I wouldn't call the Taliban and virtually all of rural Sudan a "few remaining pockets." And it is precisely because those particular fundamentalists (the remaining pockets?) have been unable - or unwilling - to differentiate between the metaphorical nature of religion and that which ALLAH himself REALLY actually orders and commands them to do in HIS name, that makes those elements especially chilling and too often grotesquely dangerous in what they are willing to do. Just ask Daniel Pearl's parents.

That said, I agree there are "Satanic verses" in the texts of most religions. But the only even vague equivalency I can draw in modern Judeo/Christian society is those who murder doctors and blow up the clinics where abortions are performed in the name of (their) God.

Thanks, all.

I'm with Catsy in that I believe the GOP has several tigers by the tail at this point.

The hatred they are generating among their armed core chicken farmer electorate against Muslims, blacks (via James Earle Brietbart) gays, immigrants, government employees, and the President of the United States is reaching very scary levels.

All of those groups should become heavily armed in self-defense. That is not sarcasm. Secret Service protection for the President and prominent Democrats had better be unrelenting from now on.

Further, there are elements of the Tea Party who absolutely despise Wall Street and the bankers. How the Republican Party expects to continue their slavish devotion to the latter while containing the hatred of the former is going to be interesting in a Robepierrian sort of way.

Plus, I'm dying to watch the Republican party begin to dismantle Medicare -- you know, the gummint laying its hands on the Tea Party's Medicare.

Also, the fact that 40-some percent of Americans now have at least some suspicion that Barack Obama is Muslim is astounding.

That's some kind of horrific success at hateful propoganda.

In the current atmosphere being ginned up into some kind of blood wrath, it's like a University professor in 1932 Germany being suspected of having a Jewish mother.

Things are going to end very badly unless the haters are stopped in their tracks, because murder is afoot.

Eric @ 2:35: "This differs from Judaism and Christianity only in that there are few remaining pockets where fundamentalism is practiced with such strictness."

I should have read you more carefully. (So, um, never mind about the Taliban & Sudan.) The poet William Blake said "One thought fills immensity."

Note to self: listen to Blake... don't try to multitask.

The largest majority-Muslim nation is Indonesia, which has a republican (small r) form of government. Post-Sukarno, they've been reasonably friendly toward the west.

And a lot of the hostility has/had to do with a series of coup attempts and other meddling from the CIA during the past half century or so.

For some strange reason, foreigners don't like when we do that. Must be a cultural thing.

But the only even vague equivalency I can draw in modern Judeo/Christian society is those who murder doctors and blow up the clinics where abortions are performed in the name of (their) God.

I suggested a somewhat more compelling (IMO) equivalency a couple of threads back, xanax: the treatment of LGBT people in the staunchly Christian English-speaking Caribbean, and especially in Jamaica. Cf. here, here, and here.

You'll notice from those links that the Bible is very explicitly invoked as a justification for mob violence and murder perpetrated against LGBTs, just as the Qur'an is invoked in many Muslim-dominated countries (including the budding Jeffersonian democracy known as post-GWB Iraq).

As I argued on that earlier thread, it's a difference of degree, not one of kind.

Xanax,

Simply appropros of you mentioning Daniel Pearl (and nothing else, meaning, I'm not suggesting this snippet is directed at you), but the Cordoba Imam, Rauf, actually spoke at Daniel Pearl's funeral.

See here.

It turns out that Imam Rauf was invited to and spoke movingly at Daniel Pearl's memorial service.

Among his remarks, he declared himself a metaphorical Jew as well.

Sean Hannity suggested the other night that Rauf should be expelled from the country.

Hannity declared himself a literal Taliban.

I read through all your links Uncle Kvetch and, repressive as Jamaican law and society are to members of the LGBT community (and with all due acknowledgment that the repression is rooted in religion), other than noting one instance where a crowd reportedly chanted "That's what you get for sin" following one heinous killing, I see no explicit invocations of a single passage from the Bible to support these horrific actions. Unlike the specific teachings from the Qu'ran of what is and is not permissible within the religion and the specific punishment (e.g. stoning, beheading, etc.) for each blasphemy or Infidel-ity.

Perhaps I'm just missing it. If it's important to you, I'd be glad to see which Biblical invocations you're referring to. Reading through all your links, it seems the laws in Jamaica have to change, followed by police protection for legal activity, and the violence against members of the LGBT community should decline dramatically. On the other hand, may just wishful thinking; because wrt "it's a difference of degree, not one of kind" I think you're just right.

"But the only even vague equivalency I can draw in modern Judeo/Christian society is those who murder doctors and blow up the clinics where abortions are performed in the name of (their) God."

Why should people care about this search for exact or vague equivalencies? I think what people do is that they look for a particular style of atrocity or wrongdoing practiced by the outgroup (Muslims in this case) and then they say "But we don't do that or nobody else does that" and this is supposed to prove the unique evil of that group.

I'm a Christian--still am--and one thing I dislike about Islamophobia is that I then feel obligated to point out the forms of evil you find justified in Christianity. Typically it's self-righteousness, followed by support for some war that will rid the world of evil, next accompanied by atrocities. I know many evangelical Christians in the 80's were supporting vicious killers because they were anti-communist and some today line up with the most fanatical rightwing Israelis. This is a different sort of phenomenon from stoning women for adultery--it's more like support for terrorism. So some Christians have that in common with some Muslims.

What people outside and inside a particular religious tradition should be doing is supporting those within that tradition who work in favor of women's rights or human rights in general or who denounce terror (in its various forms), rather than rating one tradition vs. another. Those of you who think religion is all nonsense can still do this to some degree, while also reserving your right to criticize religion in general.

At a certain point, Muslims in America are just going to say "screw it". Or, at least, some number of them are.

I know I sure as hell would. It's hard to say exactly what a Muslim in the US would have to do to satisfy everybody that he or she wasn't secretly plotting harm to the rest of us.

I mean, if Rauf doesn't have the required credentials, who the hell does?

McKinney gave us his requirements, unfortunately Rauf doesn't meet them, because he won't unequivocally condemn Hamas for their resistance to Israel.

Not picking on McK here, just pointing out that even a guy like Rauf is not going to pass muster with lots of Americans. Even reasonable ones, like McK.

So the Muslim community is screwed, until such time as some other population gets nominated to be the Scary Evil People.

So they'll leave, or they'll withdraw into their own communities, or they'll just be pissed off and maybe bitter.

It's just stupid.

None of the people involved with Cordoba had anything to do with 9/11.

C'mon, Russell; Rauf doesn't have the credentials with some folks ("the rubes") because Obama's a Muslim. Heck, everybody knows that.

But agree with you in some ways, Russell, that the Muslim community is screwed, for both your reasons and for this: Take the Qu'ran literally, and you've got big problems with lots of people. Don't take it literally, and you've got big problems with lots of other people.

Caught between Iraq and a Haj place.

At a certain point, Muslims in America are just going to say "screw it". Or, at least, some number of them are.

They're not the only ones.

Everyone in my household except me is Jewish, and I'm pretty much honorary at this point. If those outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence that I mentioned upthread ever do come to pass, I am going to start seriously looking at other countries. I love my country, but I'm not going to sit around waiting for them to work their way down the list of disfavored minorities.

Could I just say that, in America at this time, take the Bible literally, and you've got big problems with lots of people. Don't take it literally, and you've got big problems with lots of other people.

I mean, GOP candidates have to apologize and insist that they take the Bible as the literal word of God. Every word. Jonah in the whale, Methuselah, the whole shebang.

See here.

What people outside and inside a particular religious tradition should be doing is supporting those within that tradition who work in favor of women's rights or human rights in general or who denounce terror (in its various forms), rather than rating one tradition vs. another. Those of you who think religion is all nonsense can still do this to some degree, while also reserving your right to criticize religion in general.

As one of those who is not religious and who fears religion (not the same as thinking it's 'all nonsense', btw!), I find nothing to disagree with here, Donald J. And I hasten to add that the reason I singled out Christianity was because the largest group of Islamophobes in the West identifies as Christian. Implicit in that phobia is a comparison between religions. If they insist on comparing religions - and they certainly do - it's not hard to make the argument that problems are more fundamental in Christianity as compared to the other two. Which is not to say every Christian is so flawed. What I mean is: Christian phobics (bigots) should be careful what they wish for.

So they'll leave, or they'll withdraw into their own communities, or they'll just be pissed off and maybe bitter.

True confessions:

I thought about this too. From my own vantage point, I am pissed off and bitter in some ways (at the same time, taking the long view, I'm amazed at the progress we've made in my lifetime; but I don't want to go off on that tangent).

But even though I think now and then that we may be getting close to a situation that would make me consider leaving the US, I don't want it to come to that. ("Situation" in the broadest sense, not just in relation to gay rights/marriage. Sarah Palin running the country, for instance.)

This is my home. It was the consciously chosen home of some of my ancestors four hundred years ago, it was again chosen by my nearer ancestors a hundred years ago, and I love pretty much every inch that I've ever seen of those purple mountain majesties, fruited plains, redwood forests, and New York islands. (To mix up my musical sources.)

It would break my heart to leave, and it would take either being thrown out, or my sexuality criminalized, or a transformation so profound that it wasn't recognizable as America any more to get me to do it.

When I went through this thought train about Muslims -- "I wouldn't blame them if they got so fed up they decided to leave" -- my next thought was: that in itself is a measure of the extent to which I myself haven't yet absorbed, deep in my gut, the fact that they are American too, that there are Muslims all over America, many of whom have been here for generations.

I'm not imputing this failure to you, Russell, just saying that it took me up short to find myself thinking about Muslims as if they might be more ready to leave than I am. Why should they be? As I was saying a couple of days ago, they're no less American than the rest of us.

I need to get out of Maine more. (Sigh.)

I read through all your links Uncle Kvetch and, repressive as Jamaican law and society are to members of the LGBT community (and with all due acknowledgment that the repression is rooted in religion), other than noting one instance where a crowd reportedly chanted "That's what you get for sin" following one heinous killing, I see no explicit invocations of a single passage from the Bible to support these horrific actions.

Without wishing to belabor the point, xanax, the first link includes this:

Ministers here regularly condemn homosexuality as a mortal sin, citing the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s destruction of these cities because of the immoral behavior of their gay inhabitants. They also frequently quote verse 20:13 of Leviticus, which declares: "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death."

In America people are free to be fundamentalist dunderheads or not. Their choice in that matter may leave them disappointed (or un-elected). But it'll almost never get them beheaded or stoned to death.

On the other hand, one never knows what plays the nutbags will steal from the opposing team...


And johnnybutter, frankly, ALL bigots should be careful what they wish for.

The Thirty Years War: 1618-1648

Belligerents: Every country in Europe west of Russia.

Casualties: 15-30% of the total German population. (In same areas, as much as 65%.)

Destruction: Over one third of all German towns.

Cause: The to-the-death struggle between two incompatible ideologies: Catholicism and Protestantism.

I wonder where all the Albigensians went ?

I wonder why the Mormons had to leave Nauvoo?

It's hard to say exactly what a Muslim in the US would have to do to satisfy everybody that he or she wasn't secretly plotting harm to the rest of us.

My German-speaking great-grandparents faced more-or-less this same problem in SE Iowa around 1912. They gave up speaking German with their children or in public, abandoned all visible German folkways, switched from Lutheran to a more nondescript Protestant church, and never talked about their heritage. Apparently it was enough.

Equivalent measures were insufficient to keep nisei and sansei Americans out of Manzanar a generation later.

With one exception, I'm staying in this country to fight.

I hope to live to see external enemies like Osama Bin Laden and a few other murderous al Qaeda operatives delivered to the U.S. feet first, on ice, or alive for trial.

I hope to live to force the deportation of internal anti-American enemies like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey and the rest of the usual suspects -- I'll give them the choice about the disposition of their feet. It's the least I can do for the poor mothers of these Mussolini wannabes.

Sarah Death Palin may stay in Alaska, even as we cut off all Federal funding to those ingrates and recover what they've cost us through the years by selling the entire joint back to Russia. She can "see" Putin when he visits his Wasilla dacha.

Perhaps they can swing a deal to let Lukoil drill every square inch of the place. She'll look great on Russian television for the occasional chatty demagoguery and vodka-drenched wolf shoot-em-up.

Tweets out of her will be treated as foreign provocation by the U.S. Government.

The exception to my staying is if the healthcare insurance situation does not improve in this country and/or my health deteriorates (it's just dandy now). Then, the tree of liberty and I will look into France for an affordable blood transfusion.

But even then I'll leave my silhouette behind for target practice by the dead-eyes over at Redshite, since they're too cowardly to take on the real item.

The GOP choice to foment bigotry in order to win has come about because their reliance (since Reagan) on clever marketing slogans as a substitute for substance totally failed them in 2008.

Thanks Uncle Kvetch... I looked again and missed it again (lengthy Wiki!) but I'm sure it's in there somewhere. And it's every bit as disgusting as you claimed.

Church sanctioned bigots and asshats everywhere you turn.

First, using bigotry for electoral gain is an acceptable practice. See, also, The Southern Strategy and Gay Marriage.

Ah, but only pointing that fact out is truly racist.

reliance (since Reagan) on clever marketing slogans as a substitute for substance

Secret Peace Plan
With new! ingredient: honor.
(TM) RM Nixon, marca registrada 1972

Equivalent measures were insufficient to keep nisei and sansei Americans out of Manzanar a generation later.

We clearly didn't want it enough...

From Balloon Juice: the murderous right-wing hate machine stalks another victim:

"This may be the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. Wingnuts are now going after the jury in the Blago trial. They’re speculating that this woman was the holdout and that the fix was in:

Juror # 106, a black female believed to be in her 60s, is a retired state public health director who has ties to the Chicago Urban League. She has handed out campaign literature for a relative who ran for public office. She listens to National Public Radio and liberal talk radio shows.

Much is being made by the deep thinkers that she is black AND listens to NPR. The local FOX affiliate and the bloggers have now published her name and are trashing her husband by name, as well."

"If they insist on comparing religions - and they certainly do - it's not hard to make the argument that problems are more fundamental in Christianity as compared to the other two. Which is not to say every Christian is so flawed. What I mean is: Christian phobics (bigots) should be careful what they wish for."

I agree with that. I've had that sort of discussion with a good friend who (to my intense disgust) is an Islamophobe and has been since 9/11 (if not before). We can't talk about the subject anymore, because I can't find it in myself to be polite about it if it comes up again.

From Wikipedia:

A rabbinic tradition, described in the Mishnah, postulates that the sin of Sodom was related to property: Sodomites believed that "what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours" (Abot), which is interpreted as a lack of compassion.

The Talmud and the book of Jasher also recount two incidents of a young girl (one involved Lot's daughter Paltith) who gave some bread to a poor man who had entered the city. When the townspeople discovered their acts of kindness, they burned Paltith and smeared the other girl's body with honey and hung her from the city wall until she was eaten by bees. (Sanhedrin 109a)

That is, the problem with Sodom and Gomorroah has nothing to do with homosexuality. The true evil is that they were Randians.

The fundamentalist conversation is interesting, but I don't know if it's necessarily the right way to approach the problems of religion. One of the biggest scourges of christianity is anti-semitism, yet that's something that became part of the culture of christianity without being part of the actual religious doctrine.
There's more to the practitioner of a religion than merely their view on religious texts. In that sense, I don't know how much one expects to learn about western muslims simply through how people in Sudan act.
No one does that with Christianity. I don't look at Santa Muerte cults, read a few bible verses and expect to learn anything about Episcopalians in Jersey.

There are some pretty nasty 'Christian' groups in Africa, The Lord's Resistance Army being just the most notorious not to forget Uganda's Kill-the-gays law or the literal witch hunts. The latter are originally independent of Christianity but are now fomented by some Christian groups with ties to the US (cf. Sarah Palin's preacher who boasted to have been active in the trade).
In parts of Eastern Europe Christian Churches (Roman catholic* and orthodox) increasingly go back to the old ways including violence or threat thereof.
---
Back to the original topic: For Osama bin Laden the whole Ground Zero Mosque thing is actually two infidel squirrels with one stoning. He can present the US as enemies of Islam and can gloat over the defeat of a modern/liberal Muslim project that otherwise could be a powerful antidote against his brand of fanatic religious ideology.

*not necessarily sanctioned by the Vatican. Parts of the Polish church consider the current pope to be a stinking liberal (and it does not help that he is German too).

"This differs from Judaism and Christianity only in that there are few remaining pockets where fundamentalism is practiced with such strictness."

Precisely, but the point is it DOES so differ, and that's not a minor difference. It's a freaking big difference.

The problem with Islam isn't that it's different in principle from other religions. The problem is that it's more "religiony" than other religions, it's flaws are the flaws of religion itself, but writ large. Perhaps there are doctrinal differences which caused this, maybe it's an historical accident, but it's still the case.

Perhaps some day Islam will evolve into the sort of denatured, semi-harmless religion that Christianity and Judaism have become in most places. Looking at the nature of most societies where Islam is the majority religion does not suggest that day has arrived.

So, if we're not at war with Islam, we're certainly at war with a major element of it.

Personally I get the impression that several brands of Christianity are more moving back to the old ways than religion in general becoming more harmless. And looking at India Hinduism has its own growing problems with violent extremists too. There may be a peak secularism closer by than one could wish for.

One of the biggest scourges of christianity is anti-semitism, yet that's something that became part of the culture of christianity without being part of the actual religious doctrine.

But how you deal with un-believers and unbelief itself is a central, and quite salient part of Christian doctrine, and it's even more rigid than in Islam or Judaism. There is no Christian analogue to Cordoba until the Bill of Rights for a reason (and this whole discussion is prompted by Christian (mostly) attempts to undermine said Rights). I'd argue that the Christian zealots are simply taking their doctrines more seriously than do more moderate Christians. I wish they wouldn't! My sympathies are with good and humane people like Donald J., of which there are many many.

The Christians who point to rigidity and barbarity in the Koran need to read their Bible, most especially including the New Testament, and commentary from Luther, Aquinas, et. al. very carefully before they start pointing fingers - it DOES matter what those doctrines are. Otherwise, their way lies Religious War, which is not only INSANE in itself, but it also happens to be a war Christians could very well lose, from a doctrinal perspective.

It will depend which side can persuade the Hindus to throw in their lot with them ;-)

if we're not at war with Islam, we're certainly at war with a major element of it.

How major? Of ~1.6 billion Muslims in the world, how many of them do you imagine we're at war with, and why?

Btw, http://uggabugga.blogspot.com/2010/08/mega-confusing-who-is-on-which-side-at.html>here is the link to how the rel.RWers shot themselves in the foot in hindsight by making it more difficult to prevent the erection* of edifices for religious purposes on private property.

*pun noticed but not originally intended

There may be a peak secularism closer by than one could wish for.

Wish I didn't, but I've got to agree with Hartmut here, Brett. If this were the 1950s or '60s, your argument would be more persuasive. Would that Judaism and Christianity were trending in the 'de-natured and harmless' direction, but it's pretty clear to me that the trend is more likely in the other direction, particularly in the US, in Israel, in various countries in Africa and Latin America. And besides, as has been cited upthread, you can point to very large Muslim societies in which Islam is largely a pacific influence (e.g. Indonesia).

I don't see Western Europe having a giant religious revival - at least I hope not. But elsewhere? As an erratically wise person once said, when people are uneasy and full of fear, they tend to cling more closely to their religion...or something like that.

The problem with Islam isn't that it's different in principle from other religions.

How so?

The problem is that it's more "religiony" than other religions, it's flaws are the flaws of religion itself, but writ large.

What does "religiony" mean?

if we're not at war with Islam, we're certainly at war with a major element of it.

What slarti said. How major is that element, and how would you describe it?

Perhaps some day Islam will evolve into the sort of denatured, semi-harmless religion that Christianity and Judaism have become in most places.

This seems to contradict your earlier point on "religiony" and "different in principle." You seem to suggest that each of these religions has similar problems when fundamentalism holds sway, but that they are capable of evolving.

that in itself is a measure of the extent to which I myself haven't yet absorbed, deep in my gut, the fact that they are American too, that there are Muslims all over America, many of whom have been here for generations.

I hear what you're saying here.

I guess what I had in mind were people who haven't been here for generations, who maybe have been here for ten years, or five, or one, and who maybe have other places they could go if they so chose.

Montreal, or British Columbia, or London. We're not the only western democracy with a market economy and basic civil rights on the block, if that's what folks are looking for when they emigrate.

If it was me, and people hassled me enough, I'd look around.

Miss USA's family moved from NYC to Dearborn because they were sick of being harrassed and threatened.

I work with a number of Muslim folks. They're smart, savvy, heads-up, hard-working, technically adept people.

I'm not sure we want to be telling people like that they're welcome as long as they make sure to not be visibly Muslim.

I'm not sure we want to be telling anybody that, whether they work in IT, own a store, manage a business, or drive a cab.

But that sure as hell is the message we're sending.

A billion and a half Muslims in the world. How many members of Al Qaeda? A thousand?

Other than them, the only Muslims shooting at us are folks who want us the hell out of their backyard.

Muslims in this country can, and should, assume that they are vulnerable to being hassled, in small ways and large ways, until further notice.

The really sad thing in all of this, to me, is that we are losing a once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove creeps like Bin Laden wrong.

If we can't be better than he says we are, it's time for a wake-up call.

In medieval Europe, when the Catholic Church was the only game in town, it developed certain habits of thought and rhetoric based on the belief that their being the only game in town was the right and natural order of things. What changed after the Reformation was that for a couple of centuries there were other games, but it was still the case that in whatever town you were, there was only one game, and players of other games were severely disadvantaged or actively persecuted.

The US is where religions like Catholicism come to learn how not to be the only game in town. Catholic bishops in the US realized early on that they were never going to be a numerical majority, but that it didn't matter as long as there was no established church to drive them out. This conflicted with the totalizing rhetoric still emerging from the Vatican, but like field agents in many other professions throughout history, they figured out what worked and hoped the home office wouldn't find out too much. (When the home office did find out, they announced that "Americanism" was a heresy.)

The Cordoba Initiative seems to me very much like an effort by some Muslims to figure out how to play their game when they're not the only game in town. (And they have the advantage that they can't be called to Mecca or Qum to acccount for themselves and, perhaps, have a quick look at the instruments of torture.) The smart thing would be to encourage them in that effort. The really stupid thing would be to squash it, thus sending the message that the only way they can play their game at all is to make it the only one in town.

"How major is that element, and how would you describe it?"

Here comes the "avowed" word again.

If Muslims in America look Japanese, it's time for internment camps.

If they have German last names like mine, all of them are beyond suspicion, except for me, because I am an avowed supporter of letting the Cordoba project go forward.

If avowed Islamists like Osama Bin Laden are shooting at Russians, we're good to go. When they use left-over American surface to air missiles to shoot me in the as*, then we have trouble because why was I an a*s?

If an Irishman/Scotsman blows up a Federal Building in the Iheartthehomeland with a cracker accomplice, begin distributing drawings of a third avowedly swarthy individual.

How major is the element?

Tell me the date of the election, and I'll tell you how major.

How major is the element?

We have a half-black President with a funny name.

That's how major.

I hope this straightens things out.


Thanks JT.

Russell:

I guess what I had in mind were people who haven't been here for generations, who maybe have been here for ten years, or five, or one, and who maybe have other places they could go if they so chose.

Montreal, or British Columbia, or London. We're not the only western democracy with a market economy and basic civil rights on the block, if that's what folks are looking for when they emigrate.

If it was me, and people hassled me enough, I'd look around.

Yes, and this makes me see that when I was writing, I was thinking more of an earlier era.

When my ancestors came in 1900+, they weren't going back to Italy, nor was there anywhere else to go if they didn't like it here. So they put up with being called lazy dagos, and worked to become American. They never stopped being Catholic, though. Many of my cousins, 3 or 4 generations on, are still Catholic.

But it's different now -- I notice that again and again when I meet recent immigrants. They keep in touch with relatives and friends back "home," they visit back and forth, they keep given names instead of anglicizing them. My relatives anglicized their and their children's names, and none of them ever went back to Italy, even just for visits or vacations. If nothing else, they didn't have the money.

They had cut their ties. Lots of people don't cut their ties in the same way these days.

And, as you (Russell) point out, there are also more options now in terms of other places to go if it gets too sh*tty here.

So yes, maybe newer immigrants are a little less planted than immigrants were 100 years ago, and maybe it's not confined to Muslims.

Another interesting thing that makes me realize, though: we're talking about "Muslims." When I was a kid, it was all about ethnicity, even though religion was a huge factor in people's prejudices. Is lumping immigrants as different as Somalis, Indonesians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Moroccans, etc., under an umbrella term any different from referring to Venezuelans, Columbians, Mexicans, Costa Ricans, etc. etc. as "Latino" or "Hispanic"?

Did we ever talk about "Catholic" immigrants as a monolith instead of about Italians and Irish and etc.?

I don't know the answer.

A few days ago the Daily Dish published http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/08/dissent-of-the-day-4.html>a comment about how 47% of Muslim Americans identify as Muslim first and American second. Patrick Appel responded by pointing out that the same poll showed that 42% of Christian Americans identify as Christian first and American second. Heh.

Did we ever talk about "Catholic" immigrants as a monolith instead of about Italians and Irish and etc.?

Probably not since the 1870s. Before that, definitely.

Under the heading of "same concept, different context":

Two families I know recently left the US for Canada. Another may follow sometime soon.

Not due to being hassled for ethnic or religious reasons, all folks in question are white bread Europeans of one sort or another.

But because (in one case) the US is just getting increasingly nutty and there was an opportunity to move for work, and (in the other case) it's just easier to live there due to availability of health care and other services (that couple has a small child, both parents are self-employed).

Someone in both couples (and in the third) was born in CA, so it was as simple as saying "Time to go home!".

There are other places to be.

Muslims are not all Afghan Taliban hillbillies, or spittle-flinging jihadi berserkers. Quite a lot of them are people we'd like to have around.

Why should they put up with crap from the likes of Geller, or Palin, or Gingrich? Why should they put up with crap from anybody?

They can take their chemistry PhD's, or their IT experience, or their medical research, or their entrepreneurial drive, or just their willingness to work, pay taxes, and contribute to society, and go somewhere else.

They have options.

Just to top it all off, Rauf is currently on a 15 day trip to Arab Muslim nations in the Persian Gulf area.

The State Department sent him, to speak about his experience as a Muslim in America.

It's the fourth time he's done this.

Sometimes it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Hogan -- yes, okay. So then I wonder: did the immigrants pre-1870 who were Catholic think of themselves first as Catholic rather than...whatever ethnicity they were?

When I was a kid, all "my people" (big extended family, Italian Catholic parish) called themselves/ourselves "Italian." The whole town talked about people in terms of ethnic origin and not in terms of religion; religion was taken for granted as much as being American was taken for granted, it was along ethnic lines that the divisions were constantly being named.

In terms of daily casual unreflective conversation, it was taken so much for granted that we were all American that no one ever thought it was worth mentioning; it was stated often that we were "Italian"; and underneath that it was taken for granted that as "Italians" we were Catholic, as much as that Finns were Lutheran, etc.

So now I wonder: how does all that play out for Muslims now? Both in how they define themselves and how public discourse defines them (the latter of which I think is evolving in upsetting ways).

"Patrick Appel responded by pointing out that the same poll showed that 42% of Christian Americans identify as Christian first and American second. "

I'm surprised it's that low. It's really basic Christian doctrine that God comes before everything else.

Of course, it could be that the 58 percent are simply more honest about how they really see things and in practice it's not so much America vs. God as materialism vs. God, with materialism coming out ahead for many or most of us no matter what we like to think about ourselves.

The same ought to be true of Muslims, I imagine.

Anyway, such polls don't tell you much unless you understand what set of beliefs the 42 percent hold and how they act on it. William Lloyd Garrison burned a copy of the Constitution on the grounds that since it allowed slavery, it was a pact with the devil. And for a long time mainstream historians treated abolitionists as fanatics--they get a somewhat better press since the civil rights era.

"Just to top it all off, Rauf is currently on a 15-day trip to Arab-Muslim nations in the Persian Gulf area."

The State Department sent him ..."

Which makes him an avowed follower of Allah AND an avowed commie.

What day does he return to the States?

Does he land in New York?

Are the producers at FOXNews gearing up for his arrival?

Will Hannity call for the plane to be turned back and effectively ban Rauf from the country, darkly citing national security concerns?

Will a bevy of the fascist FOX blondes track his flight from its "unknown origins in the Muslim World" (a map of the world behind her with a graphic following the flight path as it comes closer to Ground Zero and the crawl beneath an unending torrent of Death Palin tweets refudiating the very notion of manned flight itself as an Islamic Wright Brother conspiracy) and ask alarming questions with heavily mascaraed and unblinking zombie eyes ----"Why are we letting a Muslim and his 'entourage'
commandeer an international flight headed straight for Ground Zero .... a Muslim cleric who has suspicious ties deep within the State Department where Alger Hiss worked.?"

Will Glenn Beck, a piece a chalk in one hand and a pointer in the other, draw dozens of connecting lines on a blackboard, all converging on one name O ama, the "s" scribbled to look vaguely like "b", as he breaks down in convulsions of tearless sobs, shrieking "It's happening again, good people, for the love of Godalmighty!!")?

Will mobs of howling Tea Party types (tracked by FOX cameras adorned by Tea Party stickers and banners) show up at Kennedy Airport to greet the Imam with their grring dogs and every third fat guy among them stuffing uncooked pork chops in their gobs to illustrate the upside of civilization?

Another interesting thing that makes me realize, though: we're talking about "Muslims." When I was a kid, it was all about ethnicity, even though religion was a huge factor in people's prejudices. Is lumping immigrants as different as Somalis, Indonesians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Moroccans, etc., under an umbrella term any different from referring to Venezuelans, Columbians, Mexicans, Costa Ricans, etc. etc. as "Latino" or "Hispanic"?

Did we ever talk about "Catholic" immigrants as a monolith instead of about Italians and Irish and etc.?

Some people did, yes. But more to the point, I think the only reason we're talking about the possibility of "Muslims" possibly emigrating is because that is the category of person who is under attack here. If instead the animus was entirely about not wanting Egyptians or Saudis here, we would be talking about Egyptians or Saudis doing so.

In other words, we're not engaging in the same kind of "en bloc" generalization. Republicans are the ones attacking everyone who fits into a very broad demographic group--we are speculating as to how those attacked might respond to that.

did the immigrants pre-1870 who were Catholic think of themselves first as Catholic rather than...whatever ethnicity they were?

It was probably situational (and probably still is). When Irish Protestants were dealing with people of Anglo-Saxon extraction, they would think of themselves as Irish; when they were burning Catholic churches (Philadelphia, 1834), they would think of themselves as Protestants (or Orangemen, or whatever).

Among early Italian immigrants, apparently it was more usual to think of yourself as Neapolitan or Sicilian or Tuscan rather than as Italian. "Italian" was how everyone else thought of you, and gradually it became easier to adapt to that than to keep giving lessons on pre-Risorgimento Italian political geography. (And by the second generation that kind of local identification didn't mean too much anyway.) It was an ethnicity before it was a nationality. (The same was probably true of "Germans"; they were Saxons or Bavarians or Rhinelanders, and only became "German" after they arrived here.)

If they have German last names like mine, all of them are beyond suspicion, except for me, because I am an avowed supporter of letting the Cordoba project go forward.

Fred Kaplan wins the internet.

Franklin Graham, the product of rancid errant
spooge released in an otherwise touching paroxysm of fine Christian lovemaking (Jesus Christ Almighty, mother!), but on a night when his everlastingly regretful mother counted the monthly rhythm calendar wrong on her fingers, has declared that President Barack Hussein Obama "carries the
seed of Islam" in him, it having passed from his father into the son.

I'm going to be singing "Carmina Burana" for the rest of day.

I heard Graham the Lessor speak at the memorial service for the victims of the Columbine High School massacre, which occurred about two miles from my house at the time and he took the opportunity to blame all of us in the audience and the country who had fallen away from Christ Almighty for the killings.

Strident Amens rippled through the crowd as we secular types went home to meditate and I guess the righteous headed for the shooting range to try out those TEC-9s that had been in the news all week.

When Irish Protestants were dealing with people of Anglo-Saxon extraction, they would think of themselves as Irish; when they were burning Catholic churches (Philadelphia, 1834), they would think of themselves as Protestants (or Orangemen, or whatever).

Those individuals (typically ethnically Scottish but sometimes English or Welsh) changed from "Irish" to "Scotch-Irish" (or Ulster Scots or Scots Irish) once ethnically-Irish (religiously Catholic) immigrants arrived after the Irish famine of the 1840s. (Here's Wikipedia's take on Scotch-Irish terminology.)

The problem is that it's more "religiony" than other religions

Just as the problem with blacks is that they're more "racey" than other races, and the problem with Hispanics is that they're more "immigranty" than other immigrants.

CORRECTIONS:

Fred Clark, not Fred Kaplan.

Philadelphia riots were 1844, not 1834.

Hogan regrets the errors. He doesn't know what came over him.

when they were burning Catholic churches (Philadelphia, 1834), they would think of themselves as Protestants (or Orangemen, or whatever).

Mostly OT: A bit more than a decade ago, a then-girlfriend of a good friend of mine was working at McGillin's Olde Ale House (reportedly Philadelphia's oldest continuously operating tavern). On St. Patrick's Day, she went to work wearing an orange shirt, completely innocently and unaware of the symbolism. She was fired on the spot. It dumbfounded and upset her at the time, but it's funny now that some time has passed - life immitating sitcom, I guess.

"Fred Hogan wins the internet"

I extend my sincere condolences to the good folks and friends in McKinney, Texas.

"She was fired on the spot."

What, no beheadings?

hsh: Yeah, they don't do irony at McGillin's. You could probably get away with that at Fergie's, but only just, if they knew you pretty well.

I wonder if the offense was wearing the shirt, or not knowing why she shouldn't.

The strength of this nation is rooted in its respect for all religions, or none, and it is for its refusal to honor one religion over others.
I don't remember the orgin of this quote but it is my favorite.

"The Republican party and much...of the larger conservative movement...is far less concern for crafting effective counterterrorism policy and preserving national security than advertised."

Well, their strategy for dealing with terrorism isn't so much to prevent terrorist attacks as to make people feel better after the attacks. "Shock and Awe" was impressive. Even the journalists on "Washington Week in Review" couldn't help gushing over the wonderful visuals from Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech. Why bother to prevent terrorist attacks when you have Republicans to take the sting out of them?


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