Letters to the Editor

Actions vs. ideology

July 17, 2010

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To the editor:

I thank Bruce Springsteen for honoring me with a rebuttal (Journal-World, July 12), which naturally I take issue with.

Springsteen and Krauthammer support forceful actions targeting “violent Islamists.” I am reminded of McCarthyite attacks on “communists,” except that communist had a precise definition, namely membership in CPUSA (which by the way was perfectly legal). Not that McCarthy cared about precision or fairness.

Evidently, neither does Springsteen. To narrow the target group he proposes a list of descriptors for “Islamism” that, if you substitute “Old Testament” for “Sharia,” perfectly fits radical right Christians. The descriptors boil down to antimodernism, which Sharia already covers. International polls show a majority of Muslims express support for Sharia, so we would still have an impossibly large target group of a half billion conservative but mostly law-abiding Muslims.

“Violent” is a weasel word when applied to ideologies. Shariaism and most other ideologies support some violence (e.g. self defense and police arrest) and oppose other violence (e.g. genocide and attacks on the faithful). The only fair and effective way to control violence is to target particular violent plots and actions, not violent ideologies in general (which by the way are perfectly legal. First Amendment, anyone?)

Springsteen also has the gall to imply I am somehow impugning moderate Muslims by opposing bigoted attacks on conservative Muslims.

However Springsteen has half of a point: We do need to vigorously defend our values by attacking overly violent ideologies — but only through rational speech and fair law enforcement.

Comments

mr_right_wing 5 years ago

http://www.examiner.com/x-12574-Buffalo-Spirituality-Examiner~y2010m7d12-Muslim-cleric-put-American-cartoonist-on-hit-list

If we had a "Draw Jesus Day" would the one who came up with the idea have to fear for their life? When the National Endowment for the Arts sponsored a crucifix in a bottle of urine as "art" (1980s) did that man have to go info hiding? What do you suppose would happen to him would he have put the koran in that bottle of urine?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

This is the xenophobe's fall back argument on the superiority of their culture.

But what would the situation be if it had been Christian countries who'd been the targets of Arab/Islamic wars of conquest and other imperial actions over the last few centuries? If there were occupying Afghan or Iraqi armies in Kansas, would there be Christian suicide bombers attacking the occupiers? Would competing Christian sects be killing each other?

I'd say the US and the West in general are only a full economic collapse away from being just as violent against each other, and anyone they see as heretically different, as al Qaeda is.

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

Still playing the Blame America First card, I see.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

I've bet you've got all those (there must be at least a half dozen of them) snappy cliches on a rolodex so that you're never at a loss while being a man of few words.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

You're clearly the one that needs a history lesson.

History is replete with examples of one civilization achieving ascendancy over others, and brutally exploiting it. The Muslims/Arabs were such an ascendant civilization from the 8th thru 15th centuries, succeeded by the Spanish in the Western Mediterranean, and in the Eastern Mediterranean by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which lasted clear into the 20th century. The examples of brutality of all of these civilizations are plentiful.

For well over a century, it's been the US, Britain and other European countries who have been brutally ascendant, and we're still at it. Why is it hard for you to understand why that pisses people off in those countries, or that when people are really pissed off, they act out in what may be irrational and counterproductive ways? (Some countries even go so far as fabricate intelligence about WMD to justify full-out invasion and occupation.)

"If centuries of repression is somehow a justification for terrorism,"

I have nowhere, ever, tried to justify terrorism. I merely try to explain what causes it.

"then why aren't there more terrorists from the native peoples from the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, sub-Saharan Africa just to name a few places."

Are you suggesting that there has never been any terrorism in any of these regions, or that the native populations have just complacently accepted the brutality, murder and theft of land and resources to which they have been subjected?

While I can accept that certain aspects of muslim culture can reinforce the murderous tendencies of certain people within it, the same is true of the superstitious cults of other civilizations-- and nowhere is that more true than right here in the good old US of A.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

So if it's strictly "Islam" that causes terrorism, then why isn't every Muslim strapping a bomb to their back?

Liberty275 5 years ago

Stalin's cult killed 20,000,000.

Jimo 5 years ago

"If we had a "Draw Jesus Day" would the one who came up with the idea have to fear for their life?"

If you were a Christian in the 8th century, you'd probably be beaten, whipped, your eyes gouged out and then (if you weren't already) be killed. The iconoclasts weren't really nice Christians (not that their opponents were either).

Of course, over the vast history of Christianity, you'd be killed for much less too. On a regular, predicable basis. Heck, just this year we've had some of the biggest names in rightwing Christianism working with their affiliates in Uganda to put gays - and those who speak favorably of gays and even those who don't report gays - to death. All openly, vigorously endorsed by a variety of Christian preachers, priests and other officials.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

beatrice 5 years ago

Mr.Right Wing, you speak out of ignorance when you claim the NEA "sponsored" an artist (Andres Serrano) who put a crucifix in a bottle of urine to make a photograph. The truth is that the NEA partially supported an art organization's award. That award went to Serrano. Not exactly the same thing as "sponsoring" the artist, now is it? It would be like saying the U.S. government "sponsors" killing civilians, because sometimes when the military drops bombs civilians get killed. But why let facts get in the way of a good story, right?

Just curious, have you ever seen Serrano's photograph? It is quite beautiful as an image by itself, and you wouldn't know it was urine were it not for the title. It is relating to the fetish of the body within Christianity over the centuries. It is from his body, thus its use (should you be in the slightest bit interested in why he photographed what he did) -- take a look if you dare! http://www.usc.edu/schools/annenberg/asc/projects/comm544/library/images/502bg.jpg

And yes, Serrano has recieved several death threats. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/08/16/arts/artist-who-outraged-congress-lives-amid-christian-symbols.html

However, the main thing is that you are mentioning the actions of the Muslim extremists and equating them with Muslims in general. Since Dr. Tiller was killed by someone claiming to be a Christian, does this mean all Christians should be considered as suspect of be gun-toting murderers? Are all Christians like those who threatened Serrano's life? Of course not, and this is true of Muslims as well.

Extremists give everyone in a group a bad name -- murderers among the religious, adulterers among politicians, pedophiles among priests, etc ... This isn't to say that groups shouldn't do what they can to denounce and hopefully stop the radicals among them, but the radicals shouldn't be used as the examples that define the groups either.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years ago

Serrano's $15,000 taxpayer-funded award from the NEA is the real affront to decency.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ

Would you like to retract the first paragraph of your statement?

beatrice 5 years ago

Um, no. The first paragraph is correct, but your reading of Wiki is off.

From your Wiki citation: "The piece was a winner of the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition,[1] which is sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts,..."

The award was given by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. The NEA did not give the award. They gave a portion of the funds (not the full $15k) prior to the giving of the award. They gave some money to the SCCA, then the SCCA gave the award to Serrano. The NEA did not select the winner, thus the NEA did NOT sponsor Serrano, as you wrongfully claimed the first time around, they sponsored the SCAA. So why would I want to retract my statement claiming exactly this the first time around? Again, you are really letting your idea of the facts get in the way of the real facts.

Disagree with the award given by the SCCA, fine, but don't try to claim it was the NEA supporting Serrano. The NEA supported the SCCA.

Again, I think the photograph is beautiful. You went to the Wiki site -- what did you think? Was it as shocking and terrible as you thought it would be? Just on the aesthetics of the image, what did you think?

mr_right_wing 5 years ago

Answer my question then beatrice....what would most likely happen to someone who put a koran in a bottle of urine?

Crucifix vs. Koran....which are you honestly more likely to live through?

beatrice 5 years ago

Both could lead to death threats, and it is impossible to say which would lead to actual death most often.

A crucifix is an image assoiciated with Christianity, while the Koran is the word of God for Muslims. A better comparison would be a Bible or Koran. The end result of threats and actual death would likely depend on where you were in the world at the time. In America, I'd imagine you would be safer offending supporters of the Koran. It is just a matter of numbers, and you can't tell me there aren't Christian extremists willing to kill for their beliefs.

However, you forget that Serrano's intent, as he has stated several times, was not to offend. His idea, as I understand it, are that if the body is the temple, then what is of the body is godly -- the urine, as it was used in the production of the photograph, was for personal and aesthetic purposes.

Again, I ask you, is not the photograph itself lovely? We aren't talking about a crucifix sticking out of a toilet or anything like that. You have seen it. Just looking at the image itself - what do you think of it? Not how he achieved the final image, but the image itself - what do you think?

Or is it that no matter what appealing qualities of the finished image, can you just not get past how it was produced? Just curious at this point.

mr_right_wing 5 years ago

This does brings up an interesting question in my mind:

If you are suicidal, which would get you killed faster... A. The koran in a jar of pigs blood B. The koran in a jar of pig urine C. Combine A & B.

1029 5 years ago

Clearly, the only way to settle this debate is with a fight. Maybe the LJ-W could set something up in South Park or something? Throw in some vendors, maybe a band or two, and it could be a great community event.

mr_right_wing 5 years ago

Speaking of another "South Park" they mock Christianity on a regular basis...and what do they face? Some small protests, a letter writing campaign....threats to boycott advertisers? Do they get death threats? Possibly.... Of these two items, which do you suppose had the potential to generate more violence?

But even put the idea out that a likeness of muhammad is going to appear in an episode and (just once...not regularly) death is a real possibility.

If you folks truly don't see a difference between those two there is noting I can do to fix your voluntary blindness.

Boston_Corbett 5 years ago

We really aren't that far away from being like Europe in 1925. And, no that is not a Godwin call.

We may have fancy cell phones, cable TV with 100 channels, astronauts, antibiotics, and the internet. But we haven't learned so much about religion, civil discourse, or civic engagement.

mr_right_wing 5 years ago

This is an honest question...not sarcastic or pointed. I have no idea what the answer is and I'm frankly kinda curious.

Can Salman Rushdie move freely about without fear these days? Is there still a price on his head for "The Satanic Verses"?

Alfred_W 5 years ago

Can George Tiller mover freely about without fear these days? Oh, wait....

1957 5 years ago

You are missing the point of Muslim extremist.

The history of Islam is one of violent conquest. Many of the Muslim countries in the Middle East were formally Christian lands that became Christian via evangelism and became Muslim at the point of the sword. There is nothing new historically about what is going on in the world. Just review what happened to the Byzantine Empire. You can tour beautiful formerly Christian churches that were converted to Mosques in Turkey. Only through military victories in the Pyrenees and in Austria prevented Europe from becoming Muslim.

When Muslims act in a violent manner to spread their faith they are within their religious tenets.

When Christians, Jews and Buddhist act violently they are outside of their faith.

When so called “Christians” burnt people at the stake or attacked people in “The name of God” they are/were clearly at odds with the founder of their faith.

Does that mean all Muslims are violent? No of course not but it does mean that we need to be vigilant against those who are.

Your political orientation is clouding your understanding of what is going on in the world.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

OK, I'm convinced. We need to kill us some muslims cause they are all a bunch murderin' jackals (well not all of them, but close enough.) Yee Haw!! This is gonna be some good Christian fun. It'll be a crusade, just like the good ole days.

1957 5 years ago

This is a complete mischaracterization of what I wrote. Did you even read it? I in fact clearly stated to kill is not a Christian virtue.

But your reply is high on sarcasm and mockery which always makes you feel superior without having to engage the argument rationally.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

What you wrote is complete BS.

Christians, and Christian countries, have historically been no better than Muslims in using their superstitions as justification for mass slaughter and theft, often against their own people.

And that's exactly what you're attempting to do right now.

1957 5 years ago

"What you wrote is complete BS."

OK now I'm convinced, how wrong could I have been? Thank you for you insight.

One more time and try and keep up. You are correct that countries that have Christian traditions have been every bit as bad as Muslims in their mass slaughter and death. You and I could come up with many examples.

That was not the point of my post.

When countries that claim to be Christian act in that manner they are not following the teachings of Christ. Many leaders of these countries indeed turn religion into a supersition that they can use to their own selfish ideas.

That does not mean they are Christians or follow Christian doctrine. Do you even know what Christian doctrine is? If you do you know that "mass slaughter and theft, often against their own people" is not part of it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

There are as many Christian Doctrines as there are Muslim Doctrines. Just because you want to ascribe your particular Muslim Doctrine, however you arrived at it, to all Muslims, doesn't mean any of them actually adhere to it.

Bottom line, they're both superstitious cults that have often led to tragic results.

Liberty275 5 years ago

Christians, and Christian countries, have historically been no better than Muslims in using their superstitions as justification for mass slaughter

Jim Jones being the most recent example I can think of.

1957 5 years ago

This is a complete mischaracterization of what I wrote. Did you even read it? I in fact clearly stated to kill is not a Christian virtue.

But your reply is high on sarcasm and mockery which always makes you feel superior without having to engage the argument rationally.

beatrice 5 years ago

Wow. Now that is some selective reading of history.

So the Crusades ... that was just evangelism. Got it.

Manifest Destiny to justify the slaughter of millions of American Indians? How exactly are the Muslims to blame for this again?

I'm not saying that Muslims are perfect and Christians are terrible. I'm saying both have their share of horrible treatment of others, which was justified under the name of God. To suggest otherwise is simply incorrect.

Abdu Omar 5 years ago

No it didn't. That is a false idea. Islam spread because it was logical and relevant for all ages. While Christians were still fighting over unity vs trinity, Islam was born to tell them the true direction. People in North Africa and east welcomed the word of Islam and became Muslim peacefully. However, others, mostly Christian and or Pagans, began to fight the Muslims because the word about Jesus was that he was a prophet, not God or a son of God.

beatrice 5 years ago

Right Wing, it appears you are making an argument that "their" fanatics are somehow more dangerous than "our" fanatics. Sorry, but fanatics are fanatics. Extremists of either religion are capable of killing those they disagree with. Don't you agree?

Perhaps, what we need to fight is religion itself. That seems to be the thing that gets people all fired up to kill others in the first place.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Of course, what none of our good Christian soldiers here would dare acknowledge is that for at least a century or more, Christians have been killing Muslims at a much higher rate than vice-versa, and not even the terrorist attacks of the last 50 years or so has narrowed that gap by very much.

yourworstnightmare 5 years ago

Bingo, Beatrice.

Religion is the real enemy here. People will hate and kill for many reasons, but religion seems to be one of the best justifiers of hate and killing in the history of mankind, whether christian, mohammedan, hindu, or buddhist.

So, I support the fight against islam in that it is a fight against religion.

1957 5 years ago

More people were killed in the 20th century by secular philosophies such as fascism and communism than all the religious wars combined of past centuries.

Watch out what you wish for.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

They weren't philosophies, they were cults, and very similar to the religious cults that preceded them.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

Let's see, figure out what was in the heads of Christians who murdered Pequots by driving them into a swamp and lighting the swamp on fire and killing 600 of them in 1637. Figure out what was in the heads of Pennsylvania militiamen in March 1782 who bound and gagged 94 Moravian Christian Munsee, Delaware, Shawnee, and Nanticoke converts and beat them to death as they were singing Christian hymns. Let's also figure out what was in the head of Methodist pastor and Colorado militiaman John Chivington as his soldiers massacred Cheyenne and Arapaho people under a white flag of truce at Sand Creek in 1864 and rode into Denver with babies speared on bayonets (Yes, this is documented and it did happen). I work with Munsee descendants six generations removed from the carnage at Gnadenhutten in 1782. Religion is such an excuse for bigotry and violence that I sometimes find myself listening to "God Hates Us All" by Slayer for clarity. history and thoughts of censored history abound censored by those who want hollow forgiveness and constant denial and prayer.

mr_right_wing 5 years ago

One big difference I'm sure someone will try and argue....

The majority of Christians do not have a problem with the Jewish people; especially since Jesus was a Jew Himself.

Pretty much 90% of radical/fundamentalist muslims don't only have objections to the Jewish (God's own chosen) people, but violently insist they have no right to exist. (An opinion they admittedly do share with a significant number of Arabs.)

Abdu Omar 5 years ago

The denial of their right to exist has nothing to do with religion but the fact that they took Palestinian land from both Muslims and Christians. The Jews aren't chosen because they are such wonderful people, but because, as history bears out, they never followed God's rules and God's will, so they were "chosen" to receive guidance from God through many prophets. Still they haven't learned.

jafs 5 years ago

Well, Catholics have been notoriously anti-Semitic for years, despite Jesus' Jewishness.

And, believing that Israel doesn't have the right to occupy Arab lands if a little different than believing Jewish people don't have the right to exist.

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