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December 31, 2004

Comments

Stan,

I'd attribute Arabs' inability to believe that their own kind could commit such an atrocity with a firm belief that such actions are nonMuslim...essentially dismantling your argument.

Stan, why do you think that the 89% are radical in any sense? You lost me here. It would seem that there is some level of disapproval of 9/11 and hence they want the blame lain on non-arabs, or want to believe that.

Edward,

And I'll essentially dismantle your argument by reminding you of their ability to accept Palestinian suicide bombers as martyrs.

While we're talking about Fred Phelps, here's what he supposedly had to say about the tsunami:

http://rawstory.rawprint.com/1204/westboro_tsunami_statement_1230.php

Link obtained from Eschaton; I have no idea whether this is genuine but it seems accurate enough to me.

I hasten to add, in case there was any doubt, that any link involving documents from Fred Phelps will be offensive and possibly not work-safe. Depends on your job, I'd bet.

Nice segue and use of parallelism, Stan, but you offered statistics to prove Muslims support the kind of terrorists who flew planes into our buildings, but that statistic is seemingly unrelated to your overarching point...connect the dots please.

It would seem that there is some level of disapproval of 9/11 and hence they want the blame lain on non-arabs, or want to believe that.

But then aren't they accusing us of creating a conspiracy to blame arabs for something they didn't do? Sounds radical to me.

Edward,

Hope this isn't too long of a quote:

"There was an opinion poll in a Kuwaiti paper," he started, "which showed that 69 percent of Kuwaitis, Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians think bin Laden is an Arab hero and an Islamic Jihad warrior. ... 65 percent claimed that attacking American targets was justified, because it [is implementation of the principle of] 'an eye for an eye,' and because the American slogan is 'Might is Right' ... 76 percent would be sorry if bin Laden were caught.

"You demand democracy and such things – here's democracy for you. This is [the opinion of] the people. Besides, I have a poll on the [Al-Jazeera] Internet site. Out of 3,942 people who responded, 82.7 percent saw bin Laden as a Jihad fighter, 8.8 percent as a terrorist, and 8.4 percent didn't know. This is an actual result about which there can be no argument. There is an Arab consensus from the Gulf to the [Atlantic] ocean. A real 82 percent – not like percentages in elections in Arab countries."

Also, Stan, if 70% of Americans believed Hussein was likely involved in 9/11 (despite any evidence of a connection), would that suggest to you that America was a nation of radicals?

Stan you conveniently left out that those statistics predate 9/11.

Also, Stan, if 70% of Americans believed Hussein was likely involved in 9/11 (despite any evidence of a connection)

A bit different. The "Don't know" option that for the poll I've post it is 0%. Was there a poll done in the form of Believe news reports that Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11 attacks?? Also, note that they have refused to believe that any arab have done this, not just some specific person.

By the way, is there a whiff of racism about this?

Wingnut Daily ... "There was an opinion poll in a Kuwaiti paper" ...

C'mon, Stan. Surely you can do better than that.

Also, note that they have refused to believe that any arab have done this, not just some specific person.

You're still arguing against yourself here. If average Arabs we're as radical as you're trying to paint them, then why would they not step up and own the 9/11 attacks?

praktike,

The quote is from the host of the program, the video of which is available on memri.org

But then aren't they accusing us of creating a conspiracy to blame arabs for something they didn't do? Sounds radical to me.

Perhaps they just think we have bad intelligence and made an honest mistake. Seriously, I'm not seeing this as a sign of radicalism, even if they believe in your conspiracy idea.

Edward,

If average Arabs we're as radical as you're trying to paint them, then why would they not step up and own the 9/11 attacks?

I am trying to portray them? I gave you poll #'s, did I not?

I am trying to portray them? I gave you poll #'s, did I not?

Those poll numbers don't tell a story on their own Stan...for all we know the reason they are as they are is because the governments of the respondents limit their access to outside press.

Edward,

And that changes what?

My point is that statistics only tell you what they tell you...you tried to extrapolate on the ones you supplied to suggest they tell you Arabs are radical. The statistics don't say that. You concluded that. So it is YOU who is trying to portray them in a certain way, not the statistics.

So it is YOU who is trying to portray them in a certain way, not the statistics.

Polls/statistics lead to conclusions, do they not?

As for

they are as they are is because the governments of the respondents limit their access to outside press

No argument there.

Jadegold,

Here is some history for you from the top of the thread. You seem not to be aware of what you wrote.

Charles:There is no Christian denomination that supports these attacks.

Jade: This is simply untrue. Unfortunately, there are many so-called Christian denominations that actively support such terrorism and many more that tacitly condone it.

Smlook:I think you are talking about a sect not a denomination.

Jade: Nope. BTW, anti-abortion groups aren't the only examples of Christian extremism.

Slarti: Ah, so when you said "denomination", you actually didn't mean anything by it? Well, that pretty much eliminates all of my objections.

Jade: Nope, I stand by what I wrote.

A Denomination is an established religious group, which has usually been in existence for many years and has geographically widespread membership. It typically unites a group of individual congregations into a single administrative body. Denominations differ greatly in the sharing of power between individual congregations and the central authority.

A Sect is a small religious group that is an offshoot of an established religion or denomination. It holds most beliefs in common with its religion of origin, but has a number of novel concepts which differentiate them from that religion.

May I suggest http://www.dictionary.com

If you had agreed to sect no one would have contested that. It seems you really did mean sect. But, now you can't admit you were wrong.

"You're still arguing against yourself here. If average Arabs we're as radical as you're trying to paint them, then why would they not step up and own the 9/11 attacks?"

Because they don't want us to kill them. Not everyone is as stupid as the Taliban. But that doesn't mean that many of them might not want to kill us.

"When we fought the Cold War, it wasn't against an Ideology That Must Not Be Named, it was against communism."

This brings to my mind one of the problems here. Some of us were 'fighting' communism, and others of us were fighting Soviet expansion. When some act or other could be construed as both, it tended to work out a whole lot better -- both internally and in the execution -- than when only the latter. And dressing up the former as the latter, when they were not perfect equivalents, led to all manner of misadventure.

I guess you would say here that we have both a religious philosophy and a geopolitical strategy. I frankly don't care what people believe so long as they do not act to advance their beliefs by the use of force. Waging war against a religious faith is particularly frought with danger, especially by a country as non-plural and as generally intolerant of diversity as ours can be. Missionary zeal is not a pretty sight, and defining our struggle as one against heretics may have an all too predictable dehumanizing effect, as seems inevitable in crusades.

(I'm sure someone said 'kill 'em all, let God sort them out' before Simon de Montfort in his 13th century crusade in Southern France, but don't know of it).

The winning strategy here wrt AQ seems obvious enough: keep the pressure on SA to cut off funding for anyone who advocates violence, engage in what is essentially a law enforcement operation to catch all those who participated in the 9/11 attacks (and other attacks on our armed forces outside Iraq). Does it satisfy everyone's bloodlust? If not, I'm sorry. MY civilization does not requite that need for you.

When some act or other could be construed as both, it tended to work out a whole lot better -- both internally and in the execution -- than when only the FORMER.

Sorry.

It seems you really did mean sect. But, now you can't admit you were wrong.

Nope. I meant denomination. But thanks for the definitions which support my contention.

"Nope. I meant denomination."

Umm, okay. But you never told us which denomination you were talking about.

But you never told us which denomination you were talking about.

I thought I did; my apologies.

Falwell and Robertson head what kind of denominations? Pentecostal, evangelical? Many of the various hate groups (KKK, Aryan Nation, National Alliance, WCOTC, etc.) have Baptist and evangelical connections. I believe I did mention Mormon fundamentalism.

So far as I know, Falwell and Robertson don't head a denomination. They head a TV station.

So far as I know, Falwell and Robertson don't head a denomination.

You should do a little more research. Seriously. Both of 'em have pretty extensive denominations including colleges.

Do these denominations have a name? Honestly, I don't need you to do lots of research for me, just tell me the name of the denomination you believe they run. I the state of California runs a university system and I wouldn't call them a denomination.

Charles Bird, Seb, Slarti et al

The comparison between attacks on abortion clinics and terrorist attacks is not apt. There is no Christian denomination that supports these attacks. The same cannot be said for Wahhabis and terrorism.

Well, yes, and also no. There are plenty of firebrand preachers wandering around the arse-end of the south who don't think it's murder if you're doing it for Jesus, but you're right, these are pretty marginal characters. But then, wasn't that my point in the first place? Because Christianity is a mainstream, accepted religion whose practitioners have a stake in society not crumbling around their ears, all but the most extreme do not call out for their flock to actively work to disassemble it with bombs.

But that it was ever thus, or that there is something about Christianity which makes it somehow a safer and more humane religion, is definitely not the case. Its violent excess has simply been kept, mostly, safe in extremism and rhetoric by giving people a stake in not bombing the banks. Christ's unholy alliance with Mammon ensures that the pressing need to keep bread on the table and the mortgage paid keeps any desire to evangelise through the medium of acid to a minimum; the almost exclusive domain of bored, stupid young people with no financial commitments.

Having spent much time among Christians of varying tenors myself, I can say that most of them are quite harmless, even if some of them say odious things. There is more than one Rev. Phelps, and if you're a homosexual in Alabama, well, you learn to cope. But it is not the Christianity that keeps them harmless; mostly it's the fact that they're not the kinds of people who'd throw bombs that keeps them harmless. The same is true of the Muslims I've met. Most people of any religion really don't want to kill huge swathes of other people personally. The widespread endorsement of "kill all the Americans" in Wahabbisim is as dangerous as "kill all the Muslims" rhetoric within fundamentalist Christianity -- for most people, it's simply words, simply scapegoating an "other" because they're ill-educated peasants. And the same is true of the Muslims.

The arguments being made against my point appear to be that we cannot marginalise Radical Imams like we have marginalised the radical Christian Ranters, because the radical Christians are marginal, but that's entirely the point. There is nothing inherent in Christianity which makes it a wonderful religion. Remember all those Catholic Priests who fucked little children and then got the Vatican to cover it up? As Sebastian and all the people who are apparently arguing with me are so keen to point out, we have given Robertson and Falwell and Phelps all the rope they want -- freedom of speech, ears of the president, their own tv channels -- and they have very effectively hung themselves. The excerable types who don't appear on TV and who do, amongst their congregations of thirty inbred rednecks, support gay bashing and abortion-clinic bombing, are even more marginalised and reviled by mainstream society. Those psychopaths who bomb abortion clinics are the kind we will always have with us, the vicious bastards who can't control themselves and just need a glimmering of an excuse to go nuts. There's always a certain percentage of a society who'll just kill and steal regardless of rationale, and wingnut Christianity gives them the rationale they need to indulge their psychopathic fantasies. That we have effectively reduced the religion of the Inquisition and the Crusades to this, that it's now safe to admit to being Jewish near a Catholic priest, is a great victory.

Why, then, should we assume that another small-minded petty religion run by freaks and bastards cannot be effectively nullified and marginalised in the same way? I already said that, for the most part, this is what we have managed to do with Islamic populations in Europe. The problems are greater than those with the native Christian Wingnut populations, but we do not have full-on street-fighting, we have tiny slivers of the population going off and engaging in violent acts. I compared abortion clinic bombings in America to Anti-Semitic or Anti-Western bombings in Europe not because the former is not marginal, but because it is, and the numbers are very broadly the same. If abortion clinic bombings in America are marginal, than Islamic terrorism in Europe is also marginal. The rhetoric may be comparable or not, but its translation into freaks wandering off with fertiliser bombs is broadly comparable. They're both problems, and they're both managable.

And, if you don't mind me asking, what's the alternative to giving them all the rope they want? Are we to say to the Wahabbis "no, you cannot have a mosque in our country?" I'm sorry, but I don't quite see how that's supposed to fix any problems. If we can, via government intervention, stifle the support from Saudi Arabia I am sure that will have some benefit, but crazy people will often support their own religions.

The wingnuts we will always have with us. As much as we might want to, it doesn't do us any good to crack down on them for just being wingnuts.

Sorry, just realised I said "fuck" in that last post, which is against the posting rules here. Feel free to asterisk it out, those with editing capabilities.

Um. I'm assuming "bastard" is OK, also.

I don't think that Islamic terrorists and Christians fundamentalists are equivalent when it comes to violent behavior. But I also don't think Christian extremism is marginalized in our current political climate and I think Christian extremists are in position politically to do more harm to basic democratic values and institutions than Islamic terrorist.
For example the Justice Dept. just issued protocols for the treatment of rape victims. No language is included about offering birthcontrol or the morning after pill. When questioned about this the spokes person said that "the current political climate" made birth control "too much of a hot potato".
Another example: Sen Santorum, possible Rep. candidate for Pres., says that there is no "right to privacy " under the 10th Amendment and that he wants to see the Griswold decision overturned.
Another example: how did the Republicans turn out their base to to get their votes in? They appealed to anti-gay feeling by putting anti-gay referendums on the ballot and by using church registries and voter lists to send out anit-gay literature.
Separation of church and state is fundamental to a democracy. It is also a concept that is significantly under attack by both the leadership and the rank and file of the Rep. party. The right of individuals to manage their own personal affairs as they see fit is so widely accepted that it is taken for granted--but not by a US Senator.
Terrorism form outside is a danger in the physical sense, but baring dirty bombs, even that danger is less than the danger of getting hit by a drunk driver. The threat to our democracy is internal from our own extremists how don't need to blow things up because they are being quite successful through the conventional political process.

McDuff,

Maybe you could supply us with a list of the plenty of preachers running around the south who believe its okay to kill in the name of Jesus.

Jade,

You are truly out of your element here. Turn on the lights. You still can't name a single denomination that supports anything you claim.

But, I will make it easier on you. How 'bout just some quotes from Robertson where he supports killing abortion doctors or innocent muslims?

Maybe you could supply us with a list of the plenty of preachers running around the south who believe its okay to kill in the name of Jesus.

If you're genuinely interested in this sort of thing, smlook, head on over to Orcinus and check out some of Dave Neiwert's archives on the rise of radical right-wing groups within the US. They are... extensive, to say the least.

There is nothing inherent in Christianity which makes it a wonderful religion.

Perhaps. Or perhaps not. There is a long history in Christianity of violence to advance the faith. There is also a long history of Christianity providing a civilizing influence. Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs and believers. The anti-slavery movement was led by Christians. The civil rights movement was led by Christians, in particular the Reverend Dr. MLK. In the last 100 years or so, the faith has continued to reform itself. By today's standards, Christians are a generally peaceful lot, with the nutballs stuck way at the margins.

The same cannot be said for present day Islam, not when terrorists are blowing themselves up and beheading civilians, all the while chanting "Allahu Akhbar". Not when one of the most extreme denominations is intertwined with the House of Saud and generously financed by Saudi citizens.

Jadegold is not embracing reality in his attempt to equate Christian fundamentalism with Islamic fundamentalism. There are dangerous radicals in both faiths, but the difference lies in the percentages and quantities of Muslims who are aligned with and support terrorist acts, violent jihad and extremist beliefs. The proof is in the pudding. Genocide is conducted today in Darfur by Islamic Arabs, so far murdering 50,000± fellow Muslims but who happen to be the wrong skin color. Suicide bombings are perpetrated by radicalized Muslims. Beheadings are done by terrorists such as Zarqawi and by the Saudi government.

You know, I've always thought that religions (when they become state religions) have a blow up around the 1000 year mark. Christianity-Constantine becomes Christian around 300 CE, the first Bible translation, 1380, Buddhism-1000 years after introduction to Japan (c. 1500) Onin no ran and sengoku jidai, 1000 years after introduction to Tibet, Tibetan king Lang Darma assasinated (c 842) and the Tibetan empire collapses (it stretched to Beijing and Iran at its height. If history is a guide, we are in for a rough 300 years...

Bird:
"with the nutballs stuck way at the margins."

Not as far away as I'd like... Anarch is right about looking at Ornicus to see a contrary viewpoint to Charles. Is it analogous to Wahhabism? No, I don't think so. Wahhabism is attractive and effective for different reasons than the Christian extremists. Bird makes a good point about numbers, however. As for percentages of Christians, the majority are NOT extremist weirdos, regardless of what Ralph Reed wants us to believe. Their leadership, however, has an unjustified amount of influence in Washington. This, I believe, is because the radical Muslims and radical "nutballs" share one common element -- they are influenced and lied to by hucksters and conmen.

Before the hooks come out, let me state for the record -- "All peaceful religion is wonderful and we are all beautiful snowflakes."

Well, as someone who lived in the South their whole life, I would say my experience shows they are few and far between. "Plenty" is just inaccurate.

My definition of "plenty" would be atleast 10 well known Christian Leaders in each Southern state. My defiition of well known would be that they have a T.V. show and over 10,000 followers.

Now, if he had said there are some extremists who hold such and such opinion I would not have replied at all. There are extremists everywhere who hold crazy positions. Alot of them seem to be at ObWi, which I think is why it was necessary to have another Conservative poster to the site.

There are extremists everywhere who hold crazy positions. Alot of them seem to be at ObWi...

Oh please.

JFTR, while I'd argue against an equivalency of contemporary Christian and Islam extremism, I certainly wouldn't accuse Islam itself of being somehow more essentially encouraging of violent intolerance than Christianity. As LJ pointed out, Islam is a much younger religion, and anyway it's very difficult to separate religion from culture and history -- it's not hard (for me, anyway) to imagine an alternate universe where Islam is modernized and emphasizes its more peaceful, contemplative, individual-salvation strains while Christianity continues to embrace the idea of sword-point conversion and such. The texts and traditions of both religions have ample material to support a wide variety of interpretations.

my experience shows they are few and far between

This is an interesting point. I would argue that it is the interaction between poverty/hopelessness and extremist feelings that lie unremarked in a well-functioning society that causes the problem. As Dutchmarbel noted earlier, what distinguishes the current concern with extremism is that many of the adherents are, to all appearences, "well-integrated and well-educated young people" (I am expanding her claim from the Van Gogh assassination so she may disagree, but people like Atta and the Saudi med student suicide bomber in Mosul serve as examples) This is what Hegel pointed out in his invocation of the 'slave morality' in which suffering and persecution provide a power inversion. People who are not very satisfied with the state of the world today, even though outwardly normal (Tim McVeigh, Terry Nichols, John Allen Mohammed, stretching back to people like Charles Whitman are examples from our society) I recommend this article by Mary Eberstadt to begin to see the outlines of the problem for our society.

smlook

Well, actually sir I am not going to name names and make big long lists of preachers I've met with crazy views in the south, because that's a violation of their privacy. I'm not saying they're not all there is -- in fact, I think the entire point of the last two posts was: "they have been marginalised" -- but they exist, they're real, and they often don't run websites like godhatesamerica.com, they just read 'em. They run the whole range from people who'll turn a blind eye to gay bashing to unreformed racists and Klansmen, right over to damn good folks who think Fred Phelps is a piece of filth but who've got a few crazy ideas about Arabs -- not that many of the ones with the real crazy ideas have ever met an Arab face to face, maybe met some Indian feller once possibly few years back but that's about the limits of cosmopolitanism, but then ignorance certainly enhances stereotypes, don't it?

Charles Bird

Have you ever heard of Omagh? You should check it out some time, if you want to see what Christians are capable of doing to each other in the name of their religion in this day and age.

Y'see, I know a fair few Muslims. Not a lot, admittedly, but enough. Ain't any of them ever chopped some guy's head off. A lot of them are doctors, or students. Quite a few businessmen, as well. It's entirely likely that they're all hiding their AK-47s under the seat whenever I walk in the room, but it's equally likely that all the Catholics in here have Semtex in their sandwiches 'cause they're waiting for a chance to strike another blow against the Proddys.

What's more likely than both those things, though, is that comparing the extremes of one religion to the mainstream moderation of another and calling that a conclusion is intellectually dishonest now, has always been intellectually dishonest, and will always be so.

You want to talk about mainstream Islam, you talk about all of it. You talk about Egypt and Turkey and Lebanon. You talk about the Islamic populations of Great Britain and America and, yes, remember Greece? How many Wahabbis did you say were in that population? And how many bombings and beheadings last year?

Islam is in a bad place right now. I don't subscribe to the view that it's in its "Dark Ages," although some places like Iran and Saudi Arabia are trying to put it there. Right now, I'd rather live in the liberal democratic states of England and America than in the Islamic theocracies of the Middle East, despite my white ass being quite capable of earning some silly money in Saudi Arabia. That's simple common sense. But you don't get to talk to anyone who watched Christians blow up their town and say that the competition is between Martin Luther King and Osama bin Laden. There are a lot of Christians right here, right now, still alive, who are so far removed from Rev King that if I weren't a Bible scholar I'd struggle to know how they could even fit in the same religion. 'Course, 'cause I am it's because I know that you can prove whatever the hell you like out of that book, just like you can with the Koran. You want to say that the story of Soddom and Gomorrah means God Hates Fags, you can surely read it that way. I prefer to use it as an illustration of God being a lying manipulative murdering bastard, but the beauty is, ain't nobody able to prove me wrong, just as I can't prove it's not a carte blanche to go out and tie some gay guy to a fencepost and beat the life out of him.

If you can reform Christianity, and we've surely managed to do that, even if we still sometimes slip, you can sure as hell reform Islam. I mean, you don't even have to look at the millions of Muslims living under western democratic rule who are holding down steady jobs and hardly murdering anyone with a cry of Allah Akhbar, sometimes not committing terrorist acts for weeks at a time while they practice dentistry. Even the Islamic governments of the world are changing. The EU waved a big economic carrot in front of Turkey and, lo and behold, they started to change their society. Ain't finished yet, but you just give it ten years. I seem to recall it took Christianity an awfully long time to neutralise all that crap with the Inquisitition, and they were hanging witches in Salem, Massachussets a hell of a long time later.

Now, the thing is, I'm not accusing anyone here who loves Jesus but ain't ever lynched a black man or hung a teenage girl for being a witch or planted a semtex bomb on a bus of being a murderer. I'd appreciate it if you could extend the same courtesy to the 99.9+% of all Muslims who've never cut anyone's head off. It's only good manners.

There are extremists everywhere who hold crazy positions. Alot of them seem to be at ObWi,
Well, ain't you just the prettiest thing! When people on the other side of the argument start spouting stuff like that, it's normally time for me to start hiding under your bed and leaping out to scare you at night. That way, you get the boogyman you want and I get to have a right good laugh when you piss yourself.

I'd also like to note that your definition of plenty does not match with mine, because I think that even one is plenty enough for me, and I've sure as hell met more than that. Course, seems obvious you've got different standards than I have, and that's just too bad, ain't it? I'm afraid you'll just have to get over the sad fact that what you'd call "plenty" I'd call "monstrously excessive and a surefire sign that the American experiment had utterly failed." 100K followers of a denomination that preached murder from the pulpit in each Southern state? Dude, maybe if you'd seceded you'd have your version of plenty, but that ain't the America I know.

McDuff
Let it go. It's too easy to end up in an anti-South diatribe and I'm from Picayune, Mississippi. For a blog with what I consider more appropriate Christian values, check out The Village Gate (formerly The Right Christians)

"Even the truly odious 'Rev.' Phelps does not support bombings, though he does nasty things like showing up at AIDS-victim's funerals and suggests that they were justly punished by God. As disgusting and sick as that is, it represents pretty much the bottom of the barrel in US Christianity--and is nowhere near the imams who publically push terrorism and celebrate events like the 9-11 attacks."

Phelps celebrating the 9/11 attack (usual warning applies). Whether this is a deranged idea of a publicity stunt or just deranged, I don't know.

Of course, it could have just been a semantic mixup.

I posted a similar link at 2:55pm rilkefan. Any idea whether they're genuine or not?

Guessing stunt while waiting for David Neiwert to comment. But until I see that Phelps has some following and maintains it after this, I don't much care either way. I think I'm a bit more centrist on this issue than the left voices here, while feeling skeptical about the value of religion generally and about its estimated explanatory power.

There are dangerous radicals in both faiths, but the difference lies in the percentages and quantities of Muslims who are aligned with and support terrorist acts, violent jihad and extremist beliefs. The proof is in the pudding. Genocide is conducted today in Darfur by Islamic Arabs, so far murdering 50,000± fellow Muslims but who happen to be the wrong skin color.

Isn't Dafur more economicly powered than religiously? The droughts in the '80s, nomads moving into farming land to feed their livestock from their harvests?

And about the support of exteem violence: Northern Ireland has allready been brought up. Many good Christians had no problem supporting their side of the conflict.

The blurb you linked to states that Phelps' church is composed mostly of relatives, rilkefan. Of course, he might have a truly huge family.

Liberal Japonicus

My point here is not to get into an anti-south diatribe - hell, for a start you've got as much chance of running into a similar kind of wackiness in Montana or Ohio as you have in Mississippi, and for seconds I've spent more time in Alabama and Mississippi than I have in any of the heathen blue states (I have, for example, never been to California) and when I talk about "the America I know," it's in no small part comprised of people I met in the south, and not just Kerry voters either. Folks down south can be stubborn as mules (not that this is always a bad thing) and have some crazy ideas about people they ain't never met, but so can folks from Oldham and Slough and the weather's nicer in Mississippi.

But the point I was responding to was simple: these folk exist, and the fact that they are marginal and nearly inconsequential doesn't negate my point, it supports it. People who oppose the "give 'em enough rope" strategy have to prove, not that Islamic theocracies are worse than Christian Democracies (of course they are, but if you were to compare them to historic Christian Theocracies, I think the Muslims win, actually. Close call, though), but that there is something inherent to Islam which makes even hardline Muslims iredeemable by the simple mechanisms of liberal democracy, which have worked so well in castrating Christianity and turning its more hateful choice of actions into mere rhetoric.

As for your suggestion of The Right Christians, thank you but I already got them bookmarked, as well as Fred Clarke over at Slacktivist. An irreligious blasphemer I may be, but I remain a liberal, in the true sense of the word, through and through ;)

Slacktivist r0x. That is all.

No wait: everyone has to read his ongoing exegesis of the Left Behind series. That is all.

Hey McDuff,
Just trying out my new year's resolution. The 'accuse the South of being backward' ploy is problematic on a number of levels and I wanted to call you on it before it was too late. I would point to the (sadly unsuccessful) efforts in Alabama to revise the tax system in line with truly Christian precepts as an example to follow.

Greetings,
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that I have produced a
‎letter entitled "An Open Letter From a Saudi Wahabi To Members of
‎the 109th U.S. Congress", which has been approved by some Saudi
‎senior scholar and thinkers.‎
My purpose in doing so is to open an avenue of communication and
‎dialogue that will bring about greater understanding between our
‎nations and peoples.‎
I, feel that dialogue is the best way for us to approach the weighty
‎problems facing our world today. I believe that violence will not
bring ‎about any positive results for the world, and we are committed
to the ‎fact that it is our collective responsibility to come up with
and ‎implement solutions that will bring about a better world for all
of our ‎children.‎
In light of this, I invite you to read the attached letter and I would
also ‎appreciate if you could respond to it. ‎
Through our collective efforts, we hope to bring about a better, more
‎equitable relationship between our nations and our peoples in the
‎shade of peace, justice and understanding.‎

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