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Letters to the Editor

Not persuaded

January 24, 2008

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To the editor:

My letter attacking Cal Thomas' fanatical bias against Muslims stirred up considerable right-wing annoyance. Unlike his Internet counterparts, Stu Nowlin (Public Forum, Jan. 18) uses relatively temperate language, tries to address what I actually said and has the courage to sign his name. However his arguments don't persuade.

¢ He asks whether "Pope Benedict XVI's claim that jihad is the essence of Islam make[s] him a bigot?" I can't judge Benedict's inner character, but many Western commentators said Benedict's statement, in context, was bigoted on its face. For example, Benedict equated "jihad" (literally, "struggle") with "violence," which many Muslims deny.

¢ Nowlin gives a potted history of Muslim violence as evidence of - of what? Christianity has a comparably violent history and founding text, but Nowlin apparently believes Islam is violent in essence. That's bigoted on its face; there are many perfectly peaceable Muslims living in Lawrence.

¢ He accuses me of intolerance and "prohibitions on a free press" because I dared criticize the Journal-World's editorial judgment. He should get a grip.

¢ He argues there are no moderate Muslims with power to make peace with Israel. That's a tricky piece of propaganda, since any group making war automatically appears immoderate. Yet warlike Egypt made lasting peace with Israel.

¢ Nowlin thinks it's name-calling to call Thomas a propagandist. That hinges on whether you view "propagandist" as an empty slur or an empirical category of performance.

David Burress,

Lawrence

Comments

TheYetiSpeaks 6 years, 11 months ago

I find it humorous when Christians trumpet the violent religions of the world, when Christianity itself has spawned much more bloodshed over the span of time, including a little thing we know as the Holocaust. If you say Hitler was crazy and not a true representation of the way a Christian is supposed to be, then I say Osama Bin Laden is crazy and is not a true representation of the way a Muslim is supposed to be.

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

I read Cal Thomas every day, as I do the other columnists in the LJW. In my opinion Cal Thomas is simply writing what sells (he wouldn't have a column otherwise), and right now fear is what sells. The current party line is that we should be afraid rather than vigilent, and he writes to that. Many radio and TV talkshow hosts do the same.

Each time I read something from a fear monger I think of what FDR said in his first inaugural address,

 "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." (http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057)

David Burress's comments above show exactly what goes on in these forums. Faceless entities anonymously attack and cast dispersions on people saying anything contrary to their beliefs and opinions (I'm right and you're wrong, no matter what). Further, when people wish to discuss subjects it often becomes a matter of who can shout first and the loudest.

Go read both letters. The comments were not made anonymously in this forum, but rather were printed in the paper. Burress, 15 Jan: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jan... Nowlin 18 Jan: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/jan...

This is a dialogue, rather than a shouting match, unlike what often occurs online. Especially when people post anonymously and throw stones from the shadows.


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

Mohammd Atta used relatively temperate language to hijack a plane? I doubt it.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 11 months ago

I AM somebody. I am Anonymouse, founder of Anonymouse Anonymous and I am an Anonymousyholic. I used to think that being anonymous was a fantastic trip. It got me high but it couldn't get enough. Eventually, I started waking up in the morning, putting on my ninja suit and breaking into the public library to get on line and cause trouble. I eventually was arrested. I lost my home to pay lawyer fees. I lost my wife, because she didn't recognize me without my toupe' and fat suit, and made up the name on our wedding license. My mom hasn't spoken to me in years, since they won't speak to me unless I use my real name and voice. They do still think that Adam Sandler is so incompetent that he keeps forgetting to take their wrong number off of his speed dial. At least I get to hear their voices. Oh...Ha Ha...Shorry!~) I'm Mishta Wrong Numba Man...Callin the WRONG numbah! There I go again... My life is one big LIE!~)

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

JJE007 (Anonymous) writes: "I AM somebody. I am Anonymouse ..."


You have me at a loss as I don't understand how your comment adds to the discussion. Please elucidate.


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Corey Williams 6 years, 11 months ago

Please please please don't be THE Ralph Reed. I agree with what you said way too much.

I don't pay attention to reviews online anymore. All those reviews for things that people write...like on amazon. The only way people write in about something they just bought is if they really like it, really hate it, or have nothing else better to do. Kind of like some of the posters on these boards.

Is it wrong to ask for any civil discussion anymore?

temperance 6 years, 11 months ago

RR: "Faceless entities anonymously attack and cast dispersions . . ." That's a little rich coming from an anonymous commenter . . . even though I probably agree with you substantively (and thanks for Burress & Nowlin links). I'm not convinced that the posting-board format inevitably degrades our public discussion whereas dueling letters-to-the-editor is somehow more civilized. It's not the format per se, it's the people (anonymous or otherwise) who inhabit it. And r_t, the "looney [sic] left" doesn't have a monopoly on "frothy" discourse; the largest right-wing blogs (Free Republic, Little Green Footballs, Ace of Spades I could go on and on) are full of the off-the-charts conspiracy theories, name-calling etc. Incivility is a people problem I don't think it's unique to any political faction.

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

temperance (Anonymous) writes: "RR: 'Faceless entities anonymously attack and cast dispersions :' That's a little rich coming from an anonymous commenter :"


Actually, you're the one who's posting anonymously. Go look again. So, my comment still stands.


"I'm not convinced that the posting-board format inevitably degrades our public discussion ... It's not the format per se, it's the people (anonymous or otherwise) who inhabit it. ... Incivility is a people problem I don't think it's unique to any political faction."


I agree. I contend this board allows people to throw stones and not be accountable for what they say. There are several on both ends of the spectrum who hide behind anonymity. I don't.

The anonymous postings seem to spiral down into a morass of 'I'm right and you're wrong, because I can yell the loudest.' This IS a people problem and makes discussion of almost any subject nearly impossible.


rt (anonymous) wrote about the far left.


Wikipedia says the same thing about the far right. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_right Here's a link to the far left article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_left

What you wrote is a two-edged sword. It cuts both ways.


mancityfooty (Corey Williams) writes: "Please please please don't be THE Ralph Reed. I agree with what you said way too much."


Corey, that depends one who you think "THE" Ralph Reed is.


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

temperance 6 years, 11 months ago

Ralph: "Actually, you're the one who's posting anonymously."

I know. I'm defending anonymous posting. Having commenters register their real names probably would lead to a more civil discussion, but I've seen plenty of nastiness with "real people." The great thing about anonymity is that the argument or discussion rests on the quality of the arguments themselves instead of the authority of the person uttering them. I have no idea if scene_booster is a 16 year-old girl or a 50 year-old research scientist, but I know that s/he is relentlessly on-point with refutations, counter-examples, and external sources, so I pay attention. Likewise, I've come to expect something off-the-charts racist from dollypawpaw, and it wouldn't matter if I knew who s/he was in real life. And I can see obvious reasons why both of them wouldn't be too thrilled about the rest of us knowing where they live, where they work, etc.

I don't mean to belabor the issue and, again, I'm agreeing with you on the political points. I'm simply defending my status as a proud "Pseudonym American!" http://jonswift.blogspot.com/2007/11/pseudonym-americans-fight-back.html

Frederic Gutknecht IV 6 years, 11 months ago

Ralph Reed RalphReed (Ralph Reed) says: JJE007 writes: "I AM somebody. I am Anonymouse :"


You have me at a loss as I don't understand how your comment adds to the discussion. Please elucidate.

You've GOT to be joking!~) No? Oh, then it must have been me.

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