Lose the Faith

By Brian Cook

Christianity has been much on the minds of American politicos. Since the November "moral values" massacre, both parties have frantically positioned themselves to siphon off portions of the (perceived) all-important Christian vote. On the Republican side, it's easy to see who's behind their threats to [RETURN TO ARTICLE]

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    Concerning spanking the author opined: “In other words, hit ‘em while they’re young and they’ll suffer your sermons all life long.”

    Reading stuff like this makes me smile. Obviously written by a naive but well intentioned fellow.

    I wonder what the differences in liberals and conservatives really are regarding child rearing? Is it like the old saying: “one is a liberal until one gets mugged and then becomes a conservative”?  Is there any truth to the thought that “a young conservative has no heart, an old liberal has no brain”?

    Has it really become true that conservatives are the ones advocating individual responsibility and liberals are attempting to demolish such harsh consequences and subject all of us to a nanny state (where we will be safe and secure (at least financially) but have less freedom to make our own decisions)? Similar to how the schools were “dumbed down” in order to preserve a false sense of high self esteem for all (thankfully where i live, students that do not do the work FAIL)?

    Just a thought, only a thought.

    Posted by FatherOf4 on May 24, 2005 at 7:25 AM

    I think “Father” makes an intersting point about corporal punishment. As I was writing this editorial, I actually got into a friendly, barroom argument about it with a young, single mother who practiced it on her rambunctious, five-year-old son. I could certainly see her point of view, and I thought about revising my argument accordingly, but, for aesthetic reasons, ultimately decided against it.

    I think our culture believes corporal punishment to be one of those “necessary evils,” a quick and easy way to end a particularly troublesome and vexing situation. It is a short cut, then, a way to bypass debate with a being that is defiantly resistant to (some might say, as yet intellectually incapable of) reason. Force is certainly the quickest way to defuse the situation in the short term, but in the long term, it may very well result in failures (of the imagination), not only in the child, but in the culture at large.

    Had I the wordcount, I would have loved to contrast Dobson’s words on the matter—which are really quite ugly, check them out in full at wikipedia.org—with the rhetoric of the 19th Century orator, Robert Ingersoll, who according to Thomas Edison, had “all the attributes of the perfect man.” (Mark Twain described one of Ingersoll’s speeches as “the supreme combination of words that was ever put together since the world began;” You can read about him at length in Susan Jacoby’s wonderful book, “Freethinkers.”) Ingersoll had this to say about corporal punishment:

    If any one of you ever expects to whip your children again, I want you to have a photograph taken of yourself when you are in the act, with your face red with vulgar anger, and the face of the little child, with eyes swimming in tears and the little chin dimpled with fear.

    I may be old-fashioned—-and I’m sure it’s been deconstucted by many an undergraduate—-but I still consider there to be some truth in Keats’ insight that “Beauty is truth, truth, beauty.” Compare Dobson and Ingersoll and, disregarding the efficiency of their advice, tell me who is more beautiful?

    Posted by Brian Cook on May 24, 2005 at 8:55 AM

    Father of 4 said:


    “. . . Is it like the old saying: “one is a liberal until one gets mugged and then becomes a conservative?’. . . ” 

    Only if it’s also true that getting mugged makes you a bigot.

    Posted by Lefty on May 24, 2005 at 9:33 AM

    Lefty,
      Are you equating being conservative with being a bigot?

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 24, 2005 at 9:49 AM

    While no one party can lay claim to having a completely homogeneous contingency, it is no secret to which party the Democratic defectors fled after LBJ’s Civil Rights Act was enacted.

    Posted by Margaret on May 24, 2005 at 10:48 AM

    What does being conservative have to do with being a bigot? (Or is this just a “throw away” comment, like “blacks are lazy” or Jews are “blue eyed devils” or whites are “all racists”?)

    Posted by Tom on May 24, 2005 at 11:05 AM

    Say what you want about Christianity - after all, many or most non-Christians in the US and Europe feel free to openly be disrespectful of it.

    BUT. I have yet to see rioting and DEATH because some fool may or may not have flushed a bible. Talk about backward morons! Killing people over a supposed insult to a BOOK. Makes our (Christian) kooks look positively sane. . .

    Posted by Mary on May 24, 2005 at 12:02 PM

    there is a tyranny imposed by the extremes of both sides of the political spectrum with regards to deviation of the accepted dogma of the moment.
    so, what is a bigot?  one thing is certain, the crackers driving around these parts, waving the Stars & Bars and half hoping to be able have a drag race Texas style aren’t putting Dennis Kucinich bumper stickers on the tailgates of their old Chevy’s.  you decide.

    —-troubled in the Heartland

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 24, 2005 at 12:16 PM

    So if you support Dennis Kucinich you automatically aren’t a bigot? Even if you feel free to ridicule others whose beliefs are differnt from your own (conservative Christians, for instance)?

    Finally a litmus test we can all understand.  :)

    Posted by sillyMe on May 24, 2005 at 12:26 PM

    Troubled,
      Huh?

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 24, 2005 at 12:28 PM

    no, it just means the likelihood that the driver of some Z71 you encounter on the highway, flying the Confederate flag with a set of red tinged chains hanging off the bumper, isn’t someone who supported the congressman from Cleveland.
    It’s this type of thing:  All woodpeckers are birds.  All birds aren’t necessarily peckers—-if you get my drift.

    —-troubled in the Heartland

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 24, 2005 at 12:40 PM

    Father of 4 presents, as republicans often do, a straw man he can easily knock down, but it’s a false choice. Republicans only advocate for individual responsibility when it applies to people who work for a living. They require no such thing from corporations that pollute the environment, avoid US taxes, embezzle their employess pensions, create enegy shortages they can profit from, or rip off the pentagon for billions. And liberals do not favor a nanny state as much as an econmomy that works for all, not just the lucky few.
    Also, while conservative does not a bigot make, it is fair to say that the republican party has opposed nearly all civil rights legislation passed in the last 40 years, and employs lots of tactics meant to appeal to racists and homophobes. Whether the republicans can still be called conservative is another matter.
    And Mary, our own General Meyers, as well as Afghanistans president Karzai have said that the rioting had little or nothing to do with Newsweek’s Koran story. 
    Finally, though I am a regular church go-er, I am embarrsed to self identify as “Christian” because of the despicable things that have been said and done by the likes of Robertson, Falwell, Dobson, and Randall Terry, to say nothing of our president and his supporters, which have given christianity a bad name indeed. I don’t want to be associated with these scum in any way. They are “christian” the way ketchup is a vegetable, and creationism is a science, that is to say, Not.

    Posted by Kenneth D. Brown on May 24, 2005 at 9:32 PM

    As regards our domestic condition, without the ‘nannying’ of the Civil Rights Act and similar legislation, too many places in this nation would still be chained to the nineteenth century.  I am not that old, but even I can recall a time when individuals of color would be ‘escorted’ elsewhere after ten o’clock at night—-we’re not talking Alabama, this happened in districts in, and around, Los Angeles, California.  It is easy to get sucked up into the harangues of Rockwell and company when one has limited knowledge of the conditions and behaviour that made such legislation necessary.  With crackers still dragging strange fruit behind pickup trucks in places such as Texas and Missouri, it might be suggested that we’ve not sufficiently enough progressed to abandon those statutes.

    Posted by 54th & Crenshaw on May 24, 2005 at 10:12 PM

    Were the christian right to adhere to authentic Christian values, much of this discussion would be unnecessary.
    Such is not the case, and that presents a dilemma to those of the christian right, for our present predicament really isn’t about religion. It is about money, conquest, power, and domination. Religion is merely a device to be exploited in that cause.
    As has been said before, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and like the other; or he will honor the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth).”—- Jesus Christ the Sermon on the mount

    I, for one, am proud to proclaim my Faith.

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 4:42 AM

    Troubled,
      Oh, I get it. “Rednecks” or “Crackers” *are* bigots and they don’t vote for Kucinich. Therefore, conservatives are bigots. Looooong stretch, with a post hoc fallacy, an unproven basis, etc., etc. Just the typical ‘people who don’t vote/act/think like me are inferior’ pitch.

      A lot like your take on Christianity. “Christian who do not vote/act/think like me are *real* Christians, they are slaves to greed/whatever”.

      I find the Left live in a more starkly black-and-white world than the Right.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 4:49 AM

    Stump—

    You are a sloppy reader. 
    Let me repeat—“it just means the likelihood that the driver of some Z71 you encounter on the highway, flying the Confederate flag with a set of red tinged chains hanging off the bumper, isn’t someone who supported the congressman from Cleveland.
    It’s this type of thing: All woodpeckers are birds. All birds aren’t necessarily peckers—-if you get my drift.” 
    Subsets do not necessarily constitute a whole set.  Nothing absolute about that.  However, how many Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers are likely to spot at the next Klan gathering in Harrison, Ark. 
    You convolute the take on Christianity, as well.  Pursuits in the interests of avarice, accumulation, and power are not consistent with the teachings of Christ—-Hence the quote from the Sermon on the Mount.  Should you care to investigate further, you might discover that similar teachings are to be found in the; Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita of the Hindus; the Tao Teh Ching of the Taoists; the Dhammapada of Buddha; yes, even in the Holy Qur’an.  Were the peoples of this world truly faithful to the tenets of their beliefs, we would all be living in harmony.
    Peace, my brother
    Troubled in the Heartland

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 5:37 AM

    Rick Stump,

    Not quite.  What I am saying is that there are the only two kinds of conservatives, the ignorant and the greedy (read: idiots and crooks). Bigotry would be one of the symptoms suffered by ignorant conservatives.

    As Ken Brown cogently observed, Father of 4’s ham-handed, imagined, strawman is a common, tiresome tactic employed by conservatives that I prefer to characterize as the “false premise.”  In order for a conservative to prevail in any political argument, he must first manufacture a false premise, a false reality in which his preposterous positions make sense only to those not able to recognize the pathetic tactic being employed and who are all to willing to be ignorant bigots.

    So, if what Father of 4 said is true, isn’t it also true that conservatives are popultated, in large part, by victims of violence who live in state of fear and hate?  Isn’t that what it takes for the common man to become a conservative?  LOL.

    Posted by Lefty on May 25, 2005 at 5:51 AM

    “O let us live in joy, in love amongst those who hate!  Among men who hate, let us live in love.

    O let us live in joy, in health amongst those who are ill!  Among men who are ill, let us live in health.

    O let us live in joy, in peace amongst those who struggle!  Among men who struggle, let us live in peace.

    O let us live in joy, although having nothing!  In joy let us live like spirits of light!

    Victory brings hate, because the defeated man is unhappy.  He who surrenders victory and defeat, this man finds joy.

    There is no fire like lust.  There is no evil like hate.  There is no pain like disharmony.  There is no joy like Nirvana.

    The hunger of passions is the greatest disease.  Disharmony is the greatest sorrow.  When you know this well, then you know that Nirvana is the greatest joy.

    Health is the greatest possession.  Contentment is the greatest treasure.  Confidence is the greatest friend.  Nirvana is the greatest joy.

    When a man knows the solitude of silence, and feels the joy of quietness, he is then free from fear and sin and he feels the joy of the Dhamma (path, way).

    It is a joy to see the noble and good, and to be with them makes one happy.  If I were able to never see fools, then one could be forever happy!

    He who has to walk with fools has a long journey of sorrow, because to be with a fool is as painful as to be with an enemy;
    but the joy of being with the wise is like the joy of being with a beloved kinsman.

    If you find a man who is constant, awake to the inner light, learned, long-suffering, endowed with devotion, a noble man—-follow this good and great man as the moon follows the path of the stars.”

    THE DHAMMAPADA #15 JOY

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 6:42 AM

    Lefty,
      Brilliant! Simply brilliant - “I am saying is that there are the only two kinds of conservatives, the ignorant and the greedy (read: idiots and crooks)”. Then - “Bigotry would be one of the symptoms suffered by ignorant conservatives”.

      Bigot - a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

    Prejudice - preconceived judgment or opinion; an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

    So, based on the definitions from good old Mirriam-Webster, Lefty and Troubled are prejudiced bigots. After all, Lefty is convinced that all conservatives are idiots and/or crooks. And Troubled can’t imagine that there are bigots who sit in art houses sneering at “ignorant rednecks”.

    Nah, that can’t be right; after all, conservatives (who only see the world in black and white, I hear) are evil, stupid, or sheep because they don’t think like you do. Right?
    Lefty, here’s a hint: maybe they disagree with you for legitimate reasons. Maybe, just maybe those ‘ignorant’ conservatives have sacrificed their own economic interests for what they perceive to be a greater moral purpose. After all, if a multi-millionaire Hollywood actor can offer to pay an extra $50,000 in taxes for ‘the greater good’, maybe a welder in Indianapolis can forgo a lower co-pay on his insurance for the same cause.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 6:43 AM

    A bigot - one who falsely divides the world into “us” and “them”, where “them” are evil and to be feared or hated. E.g., “there are the only two kinds of conservatives, the ignorant and the greedy (read: idiots and crooks)” provides a perfect example of bigotry. Thanks for the timely example Lefty! :)

    (Of course, in the “real world” there are honorable conservatives and liberals, honorable socialists and libertarians, etc. The problem that some (most?) have on both sides of the political spectrum is that they believe they have found “THE WAY”, and all others must be “idiots” or “crooks” or “anti-US” or something nefarious, or surely they would see the light. Typical black and white thinking by people who hold their beliefs very strongly, tantamont to religiously.)

    Posted by Tom on May 25, 2005 at 6:45 AM

    Troubled,
      So, now you can read minds? After all, you know “authentic” Christianity and judge the Right to be beyond its fold. How many did you survey to reach this broad generalization? Or do you just ‘know” the truth?

    After all, your position assumes that the Christian right is, to a man, greedy and covetuous. Quite a stretch, especially considering the voting habits of Catholic priests under a vow of poverty!

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 6:47 AM

    Stump—

    once again, you prove to be a sloppy reader.  let me repeat from above: “there is a tyranny imposed by the extremes of both sides of the political spectrum with regards to deviation of the accepted dogma of the moment.
    so, what is a bigot? “
    subsequent observations dealt with the political propensities of the extreme right.  certainly they are fuelled by such ‘essays’ as:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/epstein9.html
    Myths of Martin Luther King
    reminiscent of the 1960’s John Birch Society/American NAZI party attacks on Dr King

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/wilson7.html
    Book review of The Real Lincoln
    Justifying the succession of the Southern states
    Lincoln was the racist and the South’s struggle was solely for states rights and that it would have sought a non-violent eventual end to slavery within the context of a Libertarian confederation.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/wilson/wilson12.html

    The Yankee Problem In America

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/archives/fm/02-91.html
    The Economics of Martin Luther King

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo82.html

    An Abolitionist Defends the South

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north222.html
    Fundamentalism’s Bloody Homeland for Jews

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 6:58 AM

    Stump—

    again, subsets do not necessarily constitute a whole set.  for one supposedly so steeped in logic, you sure seem to have a lot of difficulty with that concept.

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 7:02 AM

    Stump—

    you never did answer this:
    “What do you think Lew is talking about in this quote:
    “[Clarence] Thomas calls the segregation of the Old South, where he grew up, ‘totalitarian.’ But that’s liberal nonsense. Whatever its faults, and it certainly had them, that system was far more localized, decent, and humane than the really totalitarian social engineering now wrecking the country.” “

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 7:06 AM

    Brian,

      Aren’t you glad you take the time to write a thoughtful piece on the evangelical question, only to see it fall under the avalanche of single-minded babble, utterly unrelated to the topic at hand?  Perhaps this reader comment site is a microcosm of why complex thought eludes both the left and right - it’s just not as viscerally gratifying.

            Rocco of The Judean People’s Front

    Posted by rocco on May 25, 2005 at 7:17 AM

    Part of the problem here is that a lot of people don’t understand the definition of “conservative.” Many of those now in power in Washington, along with the far right zealots who support them, are far, far from being conservatives. Many of those in all three branches of government are radicals with corporate interests. They have utilized the paranoia of much of the Christian right to support their agenda, while the religious promoters use the neo-cons to spread the “True Word” and erase the line of separation between church and state. In fact, a true conservative believes in maintaining the status quo, is rather more a “middle of the road” kind of person than an extremist, and has a strong desire to, um, conserve! Conservatism includes fiscal responsibility, environmental maintenance, and government moderation such as lack of judicial activism.

    I am a lifelong liberal and proud to be one. The Microsoft Word (Microsoft - that bastion of liberal thought) dictionary defines “liberal” as “tolerant,” “progressive,” “generous,” and a whole list of other equally glowing terms. Being a conservative does not mean being a bigot, but being a radical often does. Those who state that their god is a true god and others are idols, who believe that homosexuals are deviants, who promote the idea of a theological nation with Christianity as its ideal, and who find that the greatest uniter is a common enemy are bigots. The notion that poor people are poor because they deserve to be - maybe god didn’t like them as much - or that the only way to make a better country is through survival of the economically fittest may not be an indicator of bigotry, but it surely leads to the rich getting richer and the poor and unfortunate being oppressed. Labels are not a good choice for discussion, and name-calling and nastiness are among the factors that prevent us from finding out what those among us who disagree with us truly believe. (It’s really hard not to do that. I had to go back through my text and remove words like “wingnuts” from my discussion. Not good.)

    Finally, anyone who has read George Lakoff’s informative book “Moral Politics” (as opposed to the somewhat repetitive and shallow “Don’t Think of an Elephant”) will get a picture of what liberals really believe about child rearing, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with a “nanny state” and everything to do with finding intelligent, compassionate, and nurturing alternatives to physical punishment. My father - also a liberal and strong disciplinarian - used to say, “If you have to hit your kids, you aren’t smarter than they are and you shouldn’t have them.” Corporal punishment is a quick fix that, in the long run backfires almost every time. It risks engendering a multitude of negative responses that are likely to be carried into adulthood. The current anti-government attitude (that somehow avoids being seen as non-patriotic) among the so-called conservatives-but-really-radicals may well be a result of resentment of authority begun in childhood.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 7:18 AM

    Rocco—

    “Blessed are the cheesemakers”

    Posted by silly walker on May 25, 2005 at 7:41 AM

    I agree with the comment that this discussion has deteriorated into something other than a response to the thoughtful and well-written article that instigated it.

    Being a non-Christian in Christian America has given me a different perspective from moderate, well-meaning, and even liberal Christians. I am somewhat offended at the current trend of ongoing attempts to bring religion into the discussion of politics. I greatly admire Jim Wallis and certainly respect his point of view. However, I do not agree with it. I believe that it is time to remove religion from the discussion and bring in science, economics, historical accuracy, social justice, and a certain amount of pragmatism. There can be, in fact, morality without religious overtones. There is sprituality without religiosity. America has traditionally not only supported freedom of religion, but also freedom from religion. Anyone who doubts that should read some of Thomas Jefferson’s writings or those of Mark Twain and many other great Americans.

    Although I have little connection to or need for a concrete concept of a higher power or certainty of what happens after death, I do not denigrate religious faith or any kind of spirituality. I believe in the existence of many, many powers that cannot be, or have not been, perceived by our senses. However, I don’t want to be subjected to what should be a very personal relationship of an individual with his or her god, his or her spiritual fullfillment. Bringing religion into the public arena somehow cheapens it. And it does seem that the more extreme the beliefs (far-right Christianity, fundamentalist Muslims), the more pressing it seems to those who believe them to force everyone else to comply. Perhaps it makes it easier to continue to adhere to the strictures of inherently illogical or unlikely dogma if everyone believes the same thing.

    It has been said that the difference between believers and non-believers is that the non-believer doesn’t care what you believe. This is true for me insofar as what they believe does not trample on my individual freedoms.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 7:43 AM

    LeeAnn certainly has a point: “Many of those now in power in Washington, along with the far right zealots who support them, are far, far from being conservatives.”

    Remember, a child of privilege, GW never even bothered to visit Europe before becoming president. He was a virtual isolationist. I doubt anyone could have credibly seen GW engaging in wars to spread democracy prior to 911 (i am not putting a value judgement on whether any of this is good or bad, just establishing where we were in early 2001). Such a policy is far from conservative! It may become the greatest thing the US ever did (far exceeding the Marshall Plan) or it may lead to the eventual downfall of the US superpower (gonna happen sometime, sooner or later), time will tell. But definitely NOT conservative. . .

    GW has become one of the most radical presidents in US history. Personally, i hope it all works out and believe that it may (there is lots of reason for optimism AND lots of reason for pessimism as well). From my point of view, once the dice have been rolled, all one can do is hope for the best.

    Posted by IAgree on May 25, 2005 at 7:51 AM

    Margaret wrote,

    “While no one party can lay claim to having a completely homogeneous contingency, it is no secret to which party the Democratic defectors fled after LBJ’s Civil Rights Act was enacted”

    And just what party would that be?

    Posted by Natalie on May 25, 2005 at 7:54 AM

    Would anyone here besides me see the irony of allowing abortion but criminalizing spanking?

    LeeAnn’s father opined: “If you have to hit your kids, you aren’t smarter than they are and you shouldn’t have them.” Is it not true that by the time you spank your kids, you have ALREADY had them? Is this meant to advocate very late term abortion, say for 13 year olds? :)

    BTW, at least statistically, parents are NOT “smarter” then their children. They do have more education and experience typically, however.

    Do others here distinguish such subtleties as striking a child in anger versus spanking a child dispassionately for disciplinary purposes? Or is all spanking just violence and child abuse?

    “We must all think for ourselves.”

    “Yes, we must all think for ourselves!’

    Posted by FatherOf4 on May 25, 2005 at 8:06 AM

    “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.
    It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric ?
    Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”—- from George Washington’s Farewell Address

    Posted by Laslo Toth on May 25, 2005 at 8:32 AM

    OK. Abortion was not the theme of my comments. Bringing abortion into the discussion about corporal punishment is not productive or pertinent. I believe that abortion is the removal of a few cells at the very least and an undeveloped fetus at the most, so, fatherof4, we will never agree on this point.

    Obviously (or perhaps not so obviously to those who think in literal absolutes), my father’s comments were figurative and rhetorical, even glib. He did not promote executing children - quite the opposite.

    Nitpicking at the use of the word “smarter” as opposed to “having more education and experience” is a red herring that adds nothing to the discussion. Again this seems obvious to the not-so-literally-minded and beside the point.

    This kind of non-responsive response is exactly the type of thing I was talking about when I said that nastiness and name-calling interfere with understanding and communication (yeah - these were not my EXACT words, just implied, so find a way to pick that apart, too).

    It is most unfortunate that by the time parents begin spanking their kids they already have them. My father’s comment was meant to that effect. Not that the children should have been aborted or that they should be taken away, but that it is most unfortunate that parents that can’t find a better way to deal with discipline chose to have children.

    And yes, spanking is pretty much just child abuse and violence. It teaches children that might makes right, creates resentment, and has nothing to do with teaching children about consequences which are totally different from punishment.

    Parents who believe that corporal punishment is the right way to deal with children generally believe in a “strict father” type of family values system. Those who believe in nurturing, finding fitting consequences for behavior, and disciplining through mutual respect believe in an equalitarian type of family vaues system. It’s not a difference in values and no values or discipline and no discipline.

    I have two grown sons, both very productive, moral, and responsible members of society. I can’t say I never spanked them, but I always, always, always thought in retrospect that there was a better way. And it was seldom then and would be never now. I guess more experience and education continue throughout one’s life if one is lucky.

    Are we perhaps a little defensive in our response to those who think corporal punishment is not such a great thing?

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 8:36 AM

    “Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ? “—-more from Washington’s Farewell

    Posted by Laslo Toth on May 25, 2005 at 8:43 AM

    Natalie,

    In a word, the GOP.  It is a documented fact that thousands defected from the Southern Democrats in protest of the Civil Rights Act, and that they became Republicans.  Not opinion here, fact.

    That being said, it would be ridiculous to state that Republicans are by-and-large bigots.  I think bigotry has little to do with party affiliation.  And, that being said, I think that the political actions of the Bush Administration toward the poor, veterans, ill and elderly are as bigoted as one can get.  His budget for ‘06 greatly harms the groups mentioned above, as if they don’t matter, aren’t as important as the corporations he lavishes favor on.  The Bush Administration is clearly bigoted against the “have-nots”.

    LeeAnn was on the money when she stated that there are few real Conservatives in Washington DC anymore.  I think we saw 7 of them stand up to the President the other day.  Let’s pray this is the beginning of GWB/Darth Cheney’s end.

    Posted by Margaret on May 25, 2005 at 9:04 AM

    Laslo, I did not mean to imply that the founders of our country were divorced from religion.  However, the references to a specific religion including Christianity, although they may exist, are very few and far between. There is no reference to Christianity in Washington’s address.

    Compare Washington’s address with some of the anti-state-sponsored and organized religion in Jefferson’s writings.

    I’m not quite sure what point your posting is supposed to make. Yes, some of the founders of the country believed in religious inclusion, particularly the idea that there is a higher power and morality from which we should not turn. But no where is it indicated that we should have a theocracy. There are just too many divergent points of view in religion, and Washington’s references to religion and a higher power are too generic to use them to promote Christianity as the rule of law.

    Note that out of all the 10 commandments, only a very few have anything to do with our laws. Should we make it a crime to not believe in the Jewish god? Or to not honor your parents? Or should it be a crime to create art? Afer all the commandments dictate that no images of anything in heaven or earth should be formed. Hm. Maybe this is a matter of interpretation, in which case, that makes my case even better.

    Perhaps I am taking your post the wrong way, and you are not attempting to use Washington’s words as a way of justifying the joining of church and state. We are on our way down the proverbial “slippery slope” and will crash if we are not careful.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 9:38 AM

    To Mary concerning her comment that she has yet to see rioting and death because someone flushed a Bible down the toilet:

    Christianity has caused a multitude of deaths for centuries. The crusades destroyed much of the middle east civilization.

    In addition, perhaps you don’t remember the giant bruhaha over the artwork entitled “Piss Christ” a few years ago or the outrage among our Christian politicians that almost ended the funding of art in this country. Imagine if something of the nature of the flushing of the Koran had occurred at the hands of Muslims concerning the Bible.

    The Koran incident is surely not what caused the riots, but the uncalculable damage done by US policy in the middle east and our unjustified invasion of Iraq.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 9:52 AM

    LeeAnn,
      No, the Crusades did *not* ‘destroy much of Middle East civilization’. The key locations of Muslim civilization at that time were Spain and Iraq/Iran. While communications were disrupted by the conquest of the Levant, that is about it. And it glosses over the fact that the Crusades were an attempt to *re* capture a fraction of the territory conquered by Islamic armies. The Dark Ages in Europe were not brought about by the collapse of the Roman Empire alone, but equally by the loss of the resource- and knowledge- rich Christian territories of Spain, North Africa, and the Near East by Muslims.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 10:01 AM

    LeeAnn - your examples are well noted.  Christianity (or more accurately, a perversion of Christianity) in the middle ages did encourage killing. It kind of reminds me of how **mainstream** Islam is today. .  .(who knows, perhaps in a few centuries we will be the barbarians and they will be the civilized?)

    Anyway, i am unaware of any mainstream Christian organization that encourages killing today (again in stark contrast to Islam). The closest thing that comes to mind are the nuts that kill abortion doctors. But these nuts are very far from the mainstream (you know, hate the sin but love the sinner, etc).

    Have a fun day!

    Posted by Mary on May 25, 2005 at 10:05 AM

    LeeAnn,
      We seem to have a cognitive problem. There is a *VAST* difference between “My goodness! Government money allocated for art is being spent on performance pieces that are arguable not-art and inarguably offensive to many. Maybe we should end government subsidies of art. After all, that money could be spent on (welfare/tax cuts/etc.)” and “A book was ruined! Let’s burn down buildings and kill people! Oh, and ask millions of others to do the same!”
      To make a relevant comparison, this is the difference between saying to your 16 year old son “So, you scratched the car. Maybe I shouldn’t let you borrow mine anymore and make you get your own” and “You scratched the car, huh? [Punch in the mouth]”.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 10:07 AM

    Mary,
      Which Christian group ‘encouraged killing’ in the Middle Ages?

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 10:10 AM

    One more time:

    Rick, the riots were NOT NOT NOT NOT NOT caused by the flushing of the Koran down a toilet or the report thereof. They were caused because over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed by US forces including children and old people, because Iraq has been turned into a giant mess without sanitation or clean water and likely to remain so for a long time, because children are starving, because prisoners at several different sites have been tortured, humiliated, and killed by the US military and mercenaries, because our country has been meddling in Middle Eastern affairs for longer than most Americans can imagine. The flushing of the Koran was a small incident in view of all of this, but perhaps the final straw.

    After 9/11, one would think there might be some compassion for other countries that we have invaded and damaged. We lost 3,000 people on 9/11 - a terrible tragedy - but our overreaction, and to a country that was totally uninvolved in it brings the sarcasm of “A book was ruined! Let’s burn down buildings and kill people! Oh, and ask millions of others to do the same!” comment into the distinct realm of hypcrisy.

    I have heard too many people who consider themselves to be conservative Christians talk about how we need to “bomb Iraq into oblivion” and how it’s “too bad that some civilians died, but most of them deserved it anyway” to think that there is no mindset among Christians to recommend killing. They just want other people to do it for them. I think we call these types “chicenhawks.”

    And as for mainstream Christian organizations not recommending killing, I think killing abortion doctors counts. In addition, America has killed innumerable human beings to promote its corporate agenda. “Free market” is not quite a religion, but it’s coming close. We must be very careful about casting the first stone when we criticize what other nations and religions do or believe.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 10:29 AM

    I admit that I don’t know a great deal about the history of the crusades and need to brush up on it. My understanding comes from numerous articles I have read on the subject, and not from history books.

    I’m prompted to find out more, so thanks, Rick for the push.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 10:30 AM

    Oh - and the Christian group that encouraged killing in the middle ages was the Catholic church. And of that I am quite certain. Not only of Muslims, but of witches and a wide variety of non-believers. The Inquisition is not a myth.

    Posted by LeeAnn Gallucci on May 25, 2005 at 10:47 AM

    LeeAnn,
      OK - if you don’t want to discuss the Koran, let’s diss beauty pageants. Remember the Miss World pageant where a commentator said “Mohammed himself would have been proud to marry a beautiful, educated woman like this?” and the results were 5 days of rioting and no less than 300 dead? Nigeria was the place, Muslims were the rioters, and the Christian minority were largely their targets. Over a throw-away comment like that.

      Or how about the lethal riots about a tunnel in Jerusalem? Remember that? An archaeological gem, this subterranean tunnel from Herod’s time was a site for tourism for years (as matter of fact, I read about it in National Geographic in 1995). There was only one end open, though, because of the fear of Muslim violence. after the first peace accords were signed, though, the Israelis opened the other end so tourist might go to the Arab end and, maybe, buy something. The result? 15 dead Isarealis in the week of rioting following the opening of a door.

      It is far too easy to continue.

      More importantly, where were the lethal riots when Saddam gassed a village of Muslim Kurds? Or for any of the millions of people tortured, raped, and killed in Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc? Where are the fatwahs against the men who behead aid workers who feed those hungry Irawi kids? The calls for Jihad against the ‘insurgents’ who target Iraqi schools, Iraqi mosques, and Iraqi people?

      Nowhere, that’s where. Outrage is saved for America, not for other Muslims, right? Right.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 12:21 PM

    LeeAnn,
      I can recommend some history books and primary sources - you need ‘em.

      The Catholic Church instituted the Pax Christi in the Middle ages, forbidding war and violence on the sabbath. Within 400 years this extended from Friday to Wednesday, allowing fighting only in Thursday.

      The Inquisition was not a myth - but it also has almost nothing to do with pop cultural concepts of what it was.

      The Inquisition had no authority over non-Catholics. None. Nada. Didn’t care about them. At all. It only existed (and still exists) to examine *Catholics* and those who claim to be Catholics. Period.While it may make comments on the world, the Quaesitoris cared only for Catholics.

      And here is something that even some of the Wicca books admit - the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition proclaimed that belief in witchcraft is superstition - in other words, the Inquisition made witch trials (which were almost always secular trials, not religious) *illegal* in the territory it had jurisdiction over. During the witch-burning panic that swept Protestant France in the late 1600’s people fled to Spain where the Inquisition would *protect* them from accusations of witchcraft.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 12:27 PM

    Stumpy,

    The more you write, the more of an ignorant, bigoted, conservative hypocrite you prove yourself to be.  Once again, your consrvative argument is based on a false premise, to wit, your definition of bigot.

    big·ot Listen: [ bgt ] n. One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.

    So, the gravamen of bigotry is partiality.  Your argument instantly fails.  However, assuming, arguendo, that your definition is correct, you criticise liberals for doing what you are most guilty of, bigotry against both liberals and those you characterise as muggers.  You are a hypocrite.

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  - Abraham Lincoln

    Posted by Lefty on May 25, 2005 at 12:50 PM

    The Catholic Church created the Congregation of the Holy office to seek out and punish heretics.  It is sometimes called the Holy office.
    From the time of Emperor Constantine (306-337), the teachings of the Catholic Church were regarded as the foundation of law and order.  Hence heresy was considered an offence against the state as well as against the Church.  For several centuries, Constantine and the rulers who followed him tried to stamp out all forms of heresy.
      In the 1100’s and 1200’s, certain groups existed whose views did not correspond to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.  Chief among these were the Albigenses and Waldenses.  The Church regarded their activities as dangerous.  A tribunal to suppress heresy was founded in 1229, under the special direction of the Dominican order.  Later the Inquisition was established as a general court with tremendous powers.
      The Inquisition operated chiefly in Spain, Portugal, and part of Italy. Ferdinand and Isabella made it the state tribunal.  They used it as a weapon against the Jews.  The Inquisition tried many crimes that would now be tried in the civil courts.  It was not abolished until 1834. 

    Stump is as sloppy a historian as he is a reader.

    Posted by trouble in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 1:05 PM

    Lefty,
      Ah, the sweet balm of being enlightened. Not.

      Lefty, the definitions I posted were cut and pasted from the Websters online dictionary, the first I found. and you will note that most definitions of bigot focus on their prejudice against a person, group, etc. You know, like ‘all conservatives are fools, etc.’ - like you think.

      Note, as well, that I have until this post neer used the term mug, mugged, or muggers - you have confused me with someone else, pal. Way to go.

      And let me just say that your attempt to deny being a bigot by claiming that being partial to your own ‘group’ is more more important than the ‘intolerence of others’. Face, it Lefty - you have admitted you are prejudiced against conservatives, this prejudice makes you a bigot. You can deny it with an “I’m rubber, you’re glue” chant, or you can own up to it and move on.

    Posted by Rick Stump on May 25, 2005 at 1:08 PM

    If one’s religion consists of one’s beliefs and values, then how can it ever be left out of politics? Whether it is aknowledged or not, every political argument is backed by a value system and belief, whether that belief is Judaism, Christianity or Atheism, etc… Religion can be omitted from the dialogue but all human beings have beliefs, whatever they may be, that guide their decisions, whether apparent or not. So what I’m saying is this: leaving religion out of politics is useless, it can’t happen. For better or for worse it will always be there.

    Posted by Ryan Conover on May 25, 2005 at 1:43 PM

    Ryan,

    could not agree more

    —-troubled in the Heartland

    Posted by troubled in the Heartland on May 25, 2005 at 1:46 PM

    Stumpy,

    C’mon.  You came to the defense of Mr. Father of 4 and adopted his false premise as your own.  As for bigotry, what’s the matter, you can dish it out but you can’t take it?  You’re a hypocrite.

    And, you are a historical revisionist.  Let me provide you with some guidance from some, much wiser than you or I, who lived in a time closer to the majority of the crimes against humanity committed by Christians, in the name of Christ.

    “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.” -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

    “As I understand the Christian religion, it was, and is, a revelation. But how has it happened that millions of fables, tales, legaends, has been blended with both Jewish and Chiistian revelation that have made them the most bloody religion that ever existed.” -John Adams in a letter to F.A. Van der Kamp, Dec. 27, 1816

    “I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved—the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!” -John Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson

    “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” -Thomas Jefferson letter to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

    “Creeds have been the bane of the Christian church ... made of Christendom a slaughter-house.” - Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waterhouse, Jun. 26, 1822

    “Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death, and religious wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from the impious thing called religion. and this mostrous belief that God has spoken to man?” - Thomas Paine

    Stumpy, your hands are too unclean to be heard to complain about the religious barbarism of others.  But then, you are an established hypocrite.

    Posted by Lefty on May 25, 2005 at 2:08 PM

    IMHO, it is getting quite counter productive, as well as boring, to see every article followed by reader comments which quickly devolve into name calling and have little or nothing to do with the article that preceded them. If we were all in a room together we would never dare speak like this to each other without coming to blows, but because we can remain anonymous and safely distant some of us fail to exersize common decency. Pretty discouraging. Please try to ignore, rather than jump in the muck with, those that intentionally provoke. Like talk show hosts, they need to provoke in order to prevent us from addressing the issues and thereby limit our progress.

    Posted by Kenneth D. Brown on May 25, 2005 at 4:15 PM

    Ken,

    If you were talking about me, sorry, I did engage in name calling.  But, I think I had an worthwhile point to make as well.  I wasn’t just name calling for the sake of name calling.  I genuinely believe that the names I used were appropriate and true.

    If you were talking about Stumpy, again, sorry, I will not allow his kind (hypocritical conservatives) to attack liberalism (in form or substance) without retaliating against him.

    If you were talking about both of us, you will probably just have to ingore both of us.

    Posted by Lefty on May 25, 2005 at 7:01 PM

    I meant generally, we should try to raise the bar, unilaterally even. Some on the other side are reachable and open to new information, many are not and never will be, and no amount of dialogue will have any effect, so why play on their level? They can’t argue by themselves, only snipe, but when we engage them they win because they sidetrack us, use up time and oxygen in what, for us, is a futile exersize.
    I see this tactic employed often on the talk shows, and even on occasion in arguments with my wife. I always lose those because she keeps changing the subject. Finally I get tired. Or I lose my temper and she seems like the reasonable one. Amazing. Of course, we make up, and make love. The republicans are doing something similar to the country but, to borrow one of their phrases, it’s more like date-rape.

    Posted by Kenneth D. Brown on May 25, 2005 at 8:12 PM

    Back to the subject at hand, as a member of an Episcopalian congregation, I could recomend the many essays or books written by Bishop John Shelby Spong for those interested in an intellectual, historical, and realistic look at scripture, the message of Christ, and how they are used for good and ill by our modern day Elmer Gantrys. Were Christ to come back today, it would be Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, Terry, and their ilk clamoring for his death.

    Posted by Kenneth D. Brown on May 25, 2005 at 8:30 PM

    Margaret,

    I’m confused as to why “thousands” of segregationist southern Democrats would consider the GOP a suitable landing spot for their party loyalty.  After all, the GOP had just voted in significantly higher percentages than did the Democrats in both the house and senate for passage of the 1964 civil rights act, and their leader in the senate had made a passionate high profile appeal for its passage.  Not a single Republican participated in the filibuster of the act.  Historically, the Republican party had been responsible for the passage of virtually all civil rights legislation, while the Democrat party opposed it almost lockstep, at least up until 1964, and even then it was not exactly a party wide pet issue.

    The people in congress lobbying for the racist point of view of all these supposed switchers were all Democrats, and remained Democrats, except of course for Strom Thurmond.  Why in the world would racists switch to the GOP, of all places? 

    I would assume that if there was a massive realignment in party loyalty, it would be reflected at least a little bit in that of the people’s representatives.  Why is it that of all the people signing the Southern Manifesto in 1956 (all Democrats, BTW), none ever changed party to Republican, even well past 1964?  Why is it that of all the Democrats that voted against the CRA of 1964, none changed parties to the GOP, except of course for Thurmond? 

    Why is that of the 10 Democrats that voted against confirmation of the liberal black Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court in 1968, none ever changed party affiliation to the GOP?  Why is it that only one Republican (Strom Thurmond), voted against him?  Where’s this realignment to the GOP based on race that you’re claiming?  Unrepentant Dixiecrats were never welcome in the GOP.  The Democrats unapologetically welcomed them back within their ranks time and time again.

    Yes, it is ridiculous to state that Republicans are by-and-large bigots.  The historical record paints Democrats vastly more guilty of such.  The furthest thing from my mind upon switching to the GOP was race.  But upon learning of its superiority on the issue, I feel even more at home.

    http://www.calpatriot.org/february03/erasing.html

    http://tinyurl.com/e4xnf

    Posted by Natalie on May 26, 2005 at 8:32 AM

    Natalie,
    The 1964 GOP Presidential Candidate, Barry M. Goldwater did vote against the 1964 Civil Rights
    Act because he thought the two sections on so-called “public accomodations” and “fair employment” were gross violations of individual
    rights. Strom Thurmond, one of the signers of
    the 1956 Southern Manifesto, did switch to the
    GOP that fall. That many Republicans lack the
    guts to oppose so-called civil rights and patently
    mediocre appointments like Marshall is not an
    indictment of the opponents of the civil rights
    movement but of the GOP’s basic cowardice.
    They huff and puff and in the end nothing ever
    changes, the whole New Deal-Great Society structure stays intact while some people debate
    how many Dixiecrats became Repubs.
    Frankly, a great many did which is the main reason
    Repubs control the FedGov.
    The solid Demo south has become the solid Repub
    south.
    The northern liberal Democratic Party has always been the main pusher for so-called civil rights
    aided in the past by the Rockefeller Repubs,
    who in 1964 were liberals and made up half of the GOP in the Senate.
    Dirksen was bought off by LBJ on that bill.
    Now the current idiot GOP Prez actually stated,
    “When people hurt, government’s got to move.”
    Maybe you could do something better than be a
    GOP cheerleaders for bad old liberal causes.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on May 26, 2005 at 10:56 AM

    I can’t believe it, I agree with Jack Barnes!

    Natalie,

    You have got to be kidding!  What the Bush Administration has done to push the poor further down the ladder to self-sufficiency is the biggest racism I’ve seen since the Civil Rights movement.  Here’s a nice link of what those who have been given the capital to run “faith-based initiatives” think of the Prez’s ridiculous budget:


    http://www.ncccusa.org/news/15.03.05budgetrally.html

    Racial diversity within the Republican party organizations across the South even as late as 1991 was noticeable by its near absence. Consistently, less than 5% of Republican county executive committee members were African-Americans, and black representation among the more important GOP county chairs was even smaller, reaching zero in five states including Mississippi (table 1). As the national and many state GOP parties desperate sought to attract more black support, a likely explanation for the dearth of African-American Republicans was the conservative image of the GOP. While Democratic parties in each southern state had significant liberal, moderate, and conservative wings, thereby accommodating everyone including liberals (such as many African-Americans), the only real diversity within the southern Republican parties was over just how conservative the party should be. Typically, about 40% of southern Republican party organization members regarded themselves as “very conservative” while 40% saw themselves as only “somewhat conservative.” Liberals and moderates generally comprised only one-fifth of the party membership (table 2; Hadley and Bowman, 1995).”

    In reading this article, you can see that, although the Democrats had been the greater party of offense before 1965, their work to build an inclusive party far surpassed the attempts of the GOP.

    “For Micklethwait and Wooldridge, the pendulum that swung leftward in the sixties would inevitably swing to the right. “All it took was for the Democratic Party to lurch to the left for the sleeping giant of conservatism to be awakened.” Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society “turned into a gigantic exercise in overreach.” With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, white southerners began their slow but steady march toward the Republican Party. The Republican presidential candidate that year, Senator Barry Goldwater, one of only eight Republican senators to have voted against that measure, lost the presidential election but sowed seeds of the right-wing revolution.” - Robert Reich

    So, if I were you, Natalie, I would worry about “feeling comfortable” in a party that build consensus through lies and deception, brakes the backs of the poor and lines the pockets of the wealthy.  Not a very flattering picture of you.

    Posted by Margaret on May 26, 2005 at 1:20 PM

    Jack,

    You appear to be a knowledgeable sort with some insight into matters.  I’ve seen this posted around and have been wondering about it. 
    No one else seems willing to follow-up. Since we find ourselves on the subject, maybe, as a presumed Libertarian, you could explain what is going on with this:
    “[Clarence] Thomas calls the segregation of the Old South, where he grew up, ‘totalitarian.’ But that’s liberal nonsense. Whatever its faults, and it certainly had them, that system was far more localized, decent, and humane than the really totalitarian social engineering now wrecking the country.”—-Lew Rockwell

    Many thanks,
    Lazlo Toth

    Posted by Lazlo Toth on May 26, 2005 at 8:57 PM

    To respond to a tangential point raised upthread, one major reason why stories of Quran desecration led to riots is because Muslims don’t just regard it as a holy book, but as the actual words of the Almighty, God’s direct transmission of His Thoughts to Mohammed through an angelic channel. They accept the holiness of the Bible, but the Quran is in a class by itself for a believer. You’re not even supposed to handle it (nor the Bible) unless your hands are clean, and you’d never as a Muslim allow it to, say, be placed on the floor, nor even to be taken into a bathroom, much less be placed into a toilet. They take it REAL serious, even if most Muslims wouldn’t riot over it.

    Posted by Kuya on May 26, 2005 at 11:29 PM

    Lazlo, thanks for your comments.
    I disagree with Lew Rockwell on the particular
    issue that you brought up.
    It seems to me that slavery by its very nature
    has to be totalitarian. Now Rockwell has been
    properly promoting a revisionist work on Lincoln
    titled The Real Lincoln by Professor Thomas DiLorenzo of Loyola College in Maryland and
    it totally shreds Lincoln’s rationale for the
    Civil War, which had to do with Federal power,
    not slavery. Lincoln was a literal dictator
    during the War. So you can make the case for
    southern secession since the states came together
    to join the union, not vice-versa and you can make
    this while totally opposing slavery or the subsequent post-reconstruction state segregation.
    Now some knuckleheads on some of these forums
    apparently believe that if you recommend a site
    that you are thus endorsing everything on that
    site. Hardly the case.
    I disagree with Lew about abortion, open immigration and a few other issues too but
    still find much good anti-war and anti-state
    articles on his site.
    Maybe Lew’s puzzling comment that you cited has
    something to do with the much more advanced of
    modern technology where Big Brother can be everywhere. Sort of like factory farming, it
    has grown much more brutal to the creatures that
    it kills because of the inhumane utilitarian
    ethos governing that, see a recent cover in The
    American Conservative by Matthew Scully.
    But again slavery is indefensible.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on May 27, 2005 at 9:20 AM

    “More than obligation, moderation, ordered liberty, or any of the other lofty ideals we hold, what should attune conservatives to all the problems of animal cruelty—-and especially to the modern factory farm—-is our worldly state.  The great virtue of conservatism is that it begins with a realistic assessment of human motivations.  We know man as he is, not only the rational creature but also, as Socrates told us, the rationalizing creature, with a knack for finding an angle, an excuse, and a euphemism.  Whether it is the pornographer who thinks himself a free-speech champion or the abortionist who looks in the mirror and sees a reproductive health-care provider, conservatives are familiar with the type.
      So we should not be all that surprised when told that these very same capacities are often at work in things that people do to animals—-and all the more so in our $125 billion a year livestock industry.  THE HUMAN MIND, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE IS MONEY TO BE HAD, CAN MANUFACTURE GRAND EXCUSES FOR THE EXPLOITATION OF OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. (emphasis by Toth)  How much easier it is for people to excuse the wrongs done to lowly animals.”

    —-Matthew Scully FEAR FACTORIES American Conservative Vol.4, No.10

    Posted by Lazlo Toth on May 27, 2005 at 10:03 AM

    Lazlo,
    Glad you looked it up, hope everyone reads the
    full eight page article, also his book Dominion book is very good. Buchanan also excerpted from that in The American Conservative when it came out
    two years ago.
    I’m not a vegetarian yet but Scully’s writings
    are very powerful and are food for thought.
    (No pun intended.)

    Posted by Jack Barnes on May 27, 2005 at 2:49 PM

    Didn’t have to look it up, I have already read it.
    You and I appear to disagree on the nature of “the inhumane utilitarian ethos governing that…”.  I take it you are making an anti-state /big brother argument.  We might only agree only if you are suggesting that Big Brother is named George and presently brandishes the signature of John W Snow on his lower left side. 
    Is not the statement “THE HUMAN MIND, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE IS MONEY TO BE HAD, CAN MANUFACTURE GRAND EXCUSES FOR THE EXPLOITATION OF OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.” meaningful to you?
    Scully seems more critical of unbridled capitalism as anything else.  In the absence of some sort of state over-sight, what would you suggest to contain the beast in the case of the monolithic live stock industry?
    —-Toth

    Posted by Laslo Toth on May 27, 2005 at 3:11 PM

    One view on the rise of the religious right in the US is that it is impossible to grasp without also understanding the sudden turn to neo-liberal economics and the onset of corportate globalization. The Republican Party and its corporate constituency were clearly unable to woe poor, white, southern voters with a message of neo-liberal economics that was clearly against their interest.  So, in time honored fashion, religion suddenly became an instrument of political power brokering for a new agenda that has little to do with the interests of the poor or even faith itself.  Millions of impoverished, frightened, angry, and poorly educated Americans rushed to vote for a party and a candidate in 1980 that told them that the decline of America was due to failed liberal policies and views and only a return to faith could restore our greatness.  After 25 years of mostly Republican rule we have two undeclared, pre-emptive wars, 45 million people who lack health insurence, a declining national median income, a $7 trillion national debt, a nearly $700 billion current account deficit, massive poverty and crime, a correctional system with over 6 million prisoners and parolees, and massive, unprecedented, job losses.  One could say Lord help us!!! What is more appropriate is to say that once again people were manipulated by hypocritical religious zealots for purposes having nothing to do with the national welfare!

    Posted by steve on May 29, 2005 at 1:22 PM

    Well put, Steve.  I think the phrase “impoverished, frightened, angry, and poorly educated Americans” fairly well describes the majority of the GOP constituency.  The rest would be Northeast bluebloods and Texas Oil Millionaires and such.  I find it simpler to boil it down to “the ignorant and the greedy.”

    Hey, could be the title for the next prime time soap opera.

    Posted by Lefty on May 31, 2005 at 4:22 AM

    I have always though of religion in general as a “discourse model” or a way of conditioning secular thinking.  If one has ever wondered why strict adherents to the three great religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all given over to fundamentalism, extreme conservatism, radical intolerance, or even, violence, one has only to look at both the message and structure of these faiths.  In the first place, all are based on arrogant and egoistic narratives that are highly particularist and sectarian in the self-serving creation of good guys and bad guys.  This contrasts sharply with religions like Zen Buddhism that are shorn or any historic particularism and are based on truely universal principles such as harmony and balance.  The big three further develop absolutist doctrines of abstractified good and evil utterly disentangled from the material conditions of society and its development.  Such notions of good and evil decontextualize and essentialize morality outside the material reality of social relations, power inequality, class, and social conditions in a vague, transcendental, amorphous, manichean struggle of good vs evil.  These religions are filled with transcendental mystifications that absurdly link people, events, places, and things across vast spans of time in ways that are impervious to changing material reality and human subjectivity as if a vicarious connection between biblical times and the present is more determining of current events than the actual, relevant material reality and conditions.  Examples of this thinking are obsession with and abuse of biblical prophesy in explaining everything, fallacious perceptions based on dualism and historical ignorance such as the idea that Jews and Muslims have fought althroughout history when in fact they were great friends becoming enemies only with the advent of 20th century Zionism, and the self-serving and vicious villification of people based on past events divorced from modernity e.g. the Jews being held responsible for the death of Jesus.  Such religious modelling of modern though gives rise to intolerance, patterns of conspiricy mongering, and overall low levels of analytical ability.  As one would expect, religion is no guide to the real understanding of our modern world.

    Posted by steve on May 31, 2005 at 4:43 AM

    Steve,

    I would respectfully disagree with your statement regarding religion being “no guide to the real understanding of our modern world”.  I find my faith and its history provides great and accurate insights into the motivations behind the actions occuring around me, both bad and good.  I understand that you don’t see that for yourself, but you see the world through a different set of spectacles, so to speak.  I am fine with that, each must find their own way.  But I just found that one statement a little broad.

    Secondly, I am not an economist, so could you please explain what you mean by neo-liberal economics.  I am stunned that the GOP would enter into any action that contained the dreaded “L” word in it, and not like that TV show.  Thanks.

    Posted by Margaret on May 31, 2005 at 8:23 AM

    Margaret,
     
      I know that it is to broad a statement to assert that religion can’t be a guide of a lens, so to speak, for understanding modern problems.  I only meant that traditional western religion has a kind of cognitive structure, that is, since it tends to be the first experience people have in their lives being taught about the human condition it tends to pattern the way people think and make sense of the world.  The three big religiions-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-often tend to structure thought in one-dimensional, myopic terms through egoistic, self-serving narratives that seem to say “hurray for us too bad for them” and go on to dehumanize the “other” in simplistic terms.  The bible is full of explainations and depictions of reality that hinge on conspiricies, the transcendental influence of single individuals abstracted from any realistic social context, gross generalizations about “human nature”, and good old prejudice.  Much of what is in the bible including original sin legitimates harmful ideas like guilt by association. There are many instances in the bible where all are made impure by the actions of a few and are thus justly punished. People are taught cynicism in that humanity and hence its endeavors are evil and not to trust one another. They are taught to feel discouraged with politics and the idea of social change, e.g. Jesus’s admonition “my Kingdom is not of this world” and that hope for change is futile focus only on heaven. Jesus’s assertion that “the poor are always with us” is also a good example.  Religion also stresses rigid absolutes in place of reason.  It is thus that I seek more modern and humane paradigms.  With respect to “neo-liberalism” it is used to refer to “classical” economic theory stemming from thinkers like Adam Smith and Milton Freidman currently which stress free market solutions to social problems minimizing state intrusion of any kind.

    Posted by steve on May 31, 2005 at 9:56 AM

    Laslo,
    In the case cited by Scully I do support governmental intervention solely because of
    the staggering brutality involved, much in the
    same spirit I’d support govermental intervention
    to stop a human killer or sadist.
    I’m not too impressed with that quote from Adam
    Smith because you can make the argument that most
    atrocities are rationalized by the altruistic ethic of protecting people from themselves or
    saving someone with someone’s else money and
    property. Very few of the grandscale governmental
    atrocities were done by advocates of laissez-faire
    capitalism but au contraire by advocates of statism, collectivism, etc.
    If you think the problem of Big Brother is George
    Bush then you are not grasping principles. The
    problem is in the nature of state power.
    Government is not eloquence, it is not reason,
    it is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful
    master, as George Washington put it.
    Margaret, neoliberalism in economic terms has long
    meant an advocate of more free market capitalism
    than New Dealism.  In Europe the term liberal has
    long more corresponded to libertarian over here.
    I have to agree with Steve about religion, it started as an earlier, primitive form of philosophy but since the time of Ancient Athens
    has played a negative role. Reason and supernaturalism are diametrical opposites.
    They are mutually exclusive ways of understanding
    the world. And that Armaggedon nutstuff that Bush
    and you endorse is precisely what is leading to
    disaster in the Middle East. The Democrats are
    just as bad as Bush, Pelosi was recently quoted
    at an AIPAC dinner proclaiming that the Palestinian issue had nothing to do with the Middle East conflict ! What an imbecile ! Even W is not THAT stupid.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on May 31, 2005 at 10:06 AM

    It seems as though Margarate is nice enough not to believe in armageddon.  As far as Palosi’s comment about the Palestinians goes it seems to be more foolish attempts to woo the Jewish community by Democrats.  As a Jew I really have to say that if anything Zionism has always historically dovetailed with anti-semitism.  Zionism was originally Christian and considered a fulfillment of biblical prophesy.  The Jews, following the Babylonian Talmud, rejected the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state by modern man as a form of blasphemy; a blatant usurpation of G-d’s will by man.  Zionism not only gave the anti-Jewish powers of Europe a chance to expell the Jews to Palestine in the late Victorian epoch, it also was a way to break up Jewish support for revolutionary and workers movements in Russia and throughout Europe while eliminating unwanted economic competition from a freshly emancipated people by sending them to colonize the lands of others.  Forced colonization was a time-honored practice of getting rid of inconvienent populations on the continent and the Jews were no exception!  Finally, even by 1945 most of the 400,000 to 450,000 Jewish displaced persons in British and US allied zones wanted to come to the western engliish-speaking countries but were denied except for a small token.  Most were forced to go to Palestine against their will and, according to recent Israeli research, segregated and de-humanizingly herded into training camps under US military control in Europe and force to undergo training by the Irgun then shipped out to fight in Palestine.  No Zionists ever objected.  It is time for Zionism to recognized for the divisive form of colonialism it is having caused both Jews and Arabs needless suffering in the service of western imperialism!  The US fears most the democratization of the Middle East for than US hegemony and its military agenda would never survive.  The ongoing wasteful conflict has served only to justify a bigger US military presence to guard the oil fields and to use Israel as it alway has to crush Arab nationalism and democratic struggle under foot.  An independent state can not resolve the Jewish question. Only peace, democracy, and global equality and tolerance can accomplish that task!

    Posted by steve on May 31, 2005 at 11:02 AM

    Steve, I largely agree with your comments and have
    always supported one democratic, secular state.
    Alfred Lilienthal’s What Price Israel ? and The
    Zionist Connection document your comments here.
    Margaret does believe in Armageddon, she’s been
    quite explicit on that point in other forums
    and she is a Christian (Baptist) Zionist who is
    quite anti-Arab and pretty innocent of the actual
    history of the Middle East. Her progressivism,
    like so many other Democrats, stops short of the
    Middle East.
    I think in most of the modern world there is no
    longer a Jewish Question and the general issue
    of anti-semitism or anti-Jewish views (since Arabs
    are semites) has been fading and if it wasn’t for
    the state of Israel may have largely vanished by
    now. I also think the creation of Israel has been
    a major factor in spurring the unfortunate resurgence of Islam in its more fundamentalist
    forms in the Middle East. Then of course the
    neocons prey on the ignorance of these Christian
    zealot nuts, largely in the south, who actually
    believe this biblical lunacy. That is why you have
    people like DeLay, who would otherwise be anti-semitic, posturing as great friends of the Likud
    view of Israel.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on May 31, 2005 at 1:30 PM

    Jack—

    George….  Jack W Snow signature to lower left…  the reference was to the dollar bill.  Get it?
    Jack, the quote was from Skully’s article.  His general argument within the article you recommender was more or less summed up by that very quote.
    Anyway, glad to see you back on these boards spewing your vitriol.  Did it bring joy to heart to learn that over the weekend the Klan was back at it in Durham and Chi-Town?
    They’re making their case for state’s rights and the unfairness of Lincoln’s instigation of the civil war.

    Posted by Laslo Toth on May 31, 2005 at 3:47 PM

    I agree with your observation that people like DeLay and other ultra-rightwing fundamentalists are essentially anti-Jewish simply by virtue of their narrow and fanatical religious beliefs.  Their support for Israel is sick given it is their cynical way of bringing about the apocalyptic destruction of the very Jews that are preserving Zion for Christian inheretance in the endtimes-Jews who are only there because of genocidal Christian persecution in the first place!  People like this see Jews not as a normal, secular, and modern community which evolved through the ages like everyone else-that is in simple human terms- but rather as one-dimensional stick figures from their twisted biblical interpretation. These fanatics think modern Jews possess some mystical, transcendental linkage to events in a distant place from over 2000 years ago.  Nothing else, not even an event like the Holocaust, is relevant to them!  Some take their myopic views so far as to openly refer to Israel as a Christian country!  This is only one reason why I feel that wholly religious patterns of thought are inherently arrogant and necessarily stigmatize and de-humanize the “other” as a modus operandi.  The needless, contemporary suffering is clear for all to see!

    Posted by steve on May 31, 2005 at 4:11 PM

    steve—

    in what way are different from Jack?
    i mean, different in fact or otherwise?  do you guys hang out at the same bars and stuff, and do things like shoot ‘blow-jobs’, ‘kamikazes’, or whatever-it-is-that-the-happening-guys-do are doing these days?

    Posted by Sil E Walker on May 31, 2005 at 5:08 PM

    Ryan Conover,there’s a difference between voting according to your convictions(be they shaped by your religious beliefs or not),and having your government officially sanctioning one religion over another.What if it’s not your religion?How would feel about that?The constitution specifically seperates church and state for a reason.And a good reason at that.

    Posted by mike on May 31, 2005 at 8:29 PM

    In response to Sil E. Walker, no Jack and I don’t hang out or even know each other although I think I recognize the name Jack Barnes as one of a published author of articles in progressive, topical journals on political issues (Jack, please confirm or deny if this is correct!) All I am really saying is that everyone has the right to his or her own faith but, as with all rights, religious rights stop where someone elses begin!  That means no one has the right to exclusively invest the state with their own religious beliefs, force their beliefs on others, or stigmatize others in fact or in doctrine for not accepting a particular faith or any faith. They also have no right to harm, or endorse harming, anyone in the name of religion.  9/11 shows us the horror of religious hate!

    Posted by steve on Jun 1, 2005 at 4:51 AM

    Steve, you are correct. And also agree with your
    views on church-state separation.
    Laslo, your comments make no sense to me so let’s
    move on. I understand the Scully quote, which I
    thought originally came from Adam Smith.
    The other ref makes no sense.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 1, 2005 at 8:07 AM

    Mary says “Say what you want about Christianity - after all, many or most non-Christians in the US and Europe feel free to openly be disrespectful of it.

    BUT. I have yet to see rioting and DEATH because some fool may or may not have flushed a bible. Talk about backward morons! Killing people over a supposed insult to a BOOK. Makes our (Christian) kooks look positively sane. . .”

    Mary Mary Mary how ignorant can you be?  Have you not studied history?  It is full of you ignorant Christians killing each other over a few sentences in your mythology.  This is why people with a clue question Christianity because you people have no logic or common sense.  You believe in mythology to be history, you believe virgin births, death and resurrection, Noah’s Ark and people floating to heaven.  You have been killing each other for millennia over your book. Get it yet?  I didn’t think so.

    Posted by Patrick on Jun 2, 2005 at 10:32 AM

    You are right, Patrick. Christianity is a bloody
    Jewish cult and has caused no end of harm.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 2, 2005 at 11:42 AM

    Yet the Jews cannot be responsible for such harm, much of which was directed at the Jews themselves, having rejected the call to embrace Christian beliefs.  I also find interested how all these right-wing fundamentalist churches send money to and lobby on behalf of Israel, undercut and ignore (and even red-bait) the large and growing Jewish peace movement, and encourage all manner of reactionary settlement and violence toward Arabs on religious grounds.  They do this knowing cynically that Jews both inside and outside Israel will ultimately have to answer personally for the harm done in the Middle East whether or not it was essentially all Christian financed, encouraged, and supported. This is the most disgusting part of all. Such is modern organized religion!

    Posted by steve on Jun 2, 2005 at 12:28 PM

    All valid points. But too many US Jews do mindlessly support Israel because they are
    focussed on always thinking of Jews as victims.
    So it’s a fight on more than one front.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 2, 2005 at 2:55 PM

    Yes, you’re right. To them Israel is a survival issue. Peace is more of a guarantee of survival that war.  People don’t get it.

    Posted by steve on Jun 2, 2005 at 5:52 PM

    We agree. Thanks for making your good points.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 3, 2005 at 12:31 PM

    While I would agree with the “red-baiting” statement, one thing really amuses me when you all discuss Christianity.  The teachings of Jesus Christ are “christianity”, and Jesus was a non-violent rebel against the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Romans in his day.  He was anti-empire, anti-violence, pro-tolerance (he didn’t tolerate hypocrits, however).  The Pharisees and Sadducees subverted the Hebrew texts to create a situation very much like the large, organized megachurches of today.  Exclusive, intolerant, unforgiving and blind.

    He would surely have a field day here today, hyprocrits a-plenty!

    Finally, one thing you all never consider is the possibility that you’re wrong and Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and the Bible is correct.  I know you can’t let your ego go there, because that would mean you are not the absolute architect of your own destiny.  My best friend is an aetheist, and we discuss religion a lot.  Have been for 30 years.  She’s still my best friend, but she can’t believe because of that one point.

    Time will tell, but I think you will definitely get the shorter end of the stick if Jesus wasn’t a liar.  I guess I could regret not have been more licentious and greedy in this life, oh well.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 3, 2005 at 3:46 PM

    Mrgaret, let me chew over your thoughts and maybe
    respond later. I’m tired and I don’t want to make a flip response.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 3, 2005 at 4:14 PM

    Even if Jesus is the Messiah, how can we trust the New Testiment and the way in which the Gospels were written by Greek writers 200 years later.  Many religious scholars, historians, and even Christian seminarians themselves have seriously allowed for the possiblity of self-serving, erronious claims given that for the 200 or so years before the writing of the New Testiment the political situation in the Middle East was one of great internal war and tension between Greeks, Jews, Romans, and possibly others who were the object of conversion attempts by both new Christians and Jews.  The Jews were still struggling to remain in their ancient home against Romans and others who hated them.  In all likelihood, the Greeks who wrote the New Testiment understood the political power of the Romans and what they could do to end the suffering and persecution of the Christians in Roman times and thus promote Christianity if these Greek Scholars flattered Rome by absolving them of the brutal murder of Jesus and blamed the Jews who everyone hated anyhow and who both Greeks and Romans wanted expelled from Palestine!  In all likelihood the few Jews who witnessed the Crucifiction were horrified but to afraid to intervene against the Roman soldiers.  The claim that Pilate gave the crowd a choice about it means little since we really don’t know who was in the crowd and how representitive they were of Jewish opinion anyhow.  We know over 30% of all Jews of that day were already in the diaspora in places like, Elaphantine south along the Egyptian Nile, Babylon, Yemen, and even Ethiopia.  The remainder probably lived all over Israel and were scarcely aware of the events on Calvary Hill. Even the significant number who lived in Jerusalem were mostly oblivious to events, as were many future Christians, and quite aloof from what was occuring.  The majority of the Gospels of Jesus that are in the Vatican probably DON’T mention any Jewish culpability.  Even of the four Gospels that are cannon only one or two really focus on the Jews at all! The focus on Jewish culpability for what was really G-d’s will according to Christian belief, is seemingly misplaced at best.  At worst it is a lie based on ancient opportunistic politics that has been used for over two millenia for cruel and murderous hatred.  Why is Christianity the ONLY religion to bear hatred against another group (one which forms the basis of the Christian faith no less) as if it were required by doctrine and as a matter of faith.  Anti-semitism is so much an inextricable part of Christian identity and belief that no amount of teaching and secularization of society can ever reverse it!  The extreme Christian ferver in US society today is quite dangerous for the Jewish community many of whose members naively believe expressed support for Israel on the part of Christians means acceptance of Jews per se! The Catholic Church in Vatican II in 1965 absolved the Jews as a group for the Crucification and made hatred of Jews on this basis docrinally wrongful!  Yet it hardly stops millions of devout Catholics, among them Mel Gibson who claims to accept any pronouncement that is “straight from The Chair” as Cannon, from hating and blaming Jews for all manner of wrongs including the Crucifiction of Jesus.  It seems the Jews are historically the bad guys for many Christians who cannot be diabused of their quite unChristian hatred!

    Posted by steve on Jun 4, 2005 at 4:29 AM

    Steve,

    I can see you put a lot of thought into your post, so I want to be honest in my response.

    First, you are incorrect that Greeks wrote the New Testament 300 years after Christ.  It was completely written by 92-95 A.D. in Aramaic.  The Greeks, being the first civilization outside of Rome to start turning in a big way to Jesus, then translated the Aramaic text to Greek.  Much of the Dead Sea Scrolls substantiate the orginal texts, as well as Joseph of Arimathea’s extremely famous historical journals.

    Not to mention that many archeological finds since the 1800’s have verified Biblical accounts.  The Rock City of Petra is one such example, and there are many, many more.

    As a Christian, we are told that we are to defend the Jews, as they are God’s chosen people.  We are admonished to protect them so that “all will go well with us”.  Those who harm them or disparage them do not understand the teachings of the Bible, Old or New Testament.

    Hitler was certainly NO Christian.  Just because I may say I’m Chinese, either I am really Chinese or I am not.  It doesn’t mean it’s true just because I claim it’s my “label”.

    Yes, much, much harm has been done in Christ’s name, just as has been done in Mohammed’s name.  Extremists exist in every religion, and I’m a little sick of people who don’t understand the teachings and life of Christ looking at the people who smear his name and aren’t real Christians at all.  I understand how a non-believer can have great anger over that.

    But the bottom line is this, I look to Jesus Christ to guide and teach me, not my “brothers and sisters”.  Man will always disappoint you, but Jesus is always loving and consistent.  So don’t look at what people do, look at Jesus himself.  I do understand with so many stupid wanker Christians out there, this is a challenge.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 4, 2005 at 5:45 PM

    Margaret,

        First of all I said 200 years (twice!) not 300, but not being the trained biblical scholar I’ll readily accept your claim that the entire New Testiment was written in Aramaic by 95A.D. and translated entirely faithfully into Greek only later with absolutely NO erronious ommissions or comissions (a leap of faith if ever there was one). You claim that the Gospels of Jesus were fully confirmed by other writtings discovered from the period of early Christianity including but limited to the Dead Sea Scrolls but did not address the possibility of other more numerous Gospels containing other more contradictory claims to what might be accepted as cannon in the accepted New Testiment.  I fully accept that there are many bad representitives of Christianity as there are of all faiths and doctrines of various kinds.  What is troubling to me is that MOST Christians do not see the Jews as you do.  The Jew is always seen as evil!  I’ve been hearing anti-semitism from all manner of “good Christian” like I’ve never heard growing up in Chicago!  There is a Pentacostal guy from eastern Kentucky where I work who continually wants to convert me.  His attitude is that the Jews are cursed and evil and need to be made acceptible human beings through conversion to Christianity (and to Pentacostalism no less!) The guy who heads the prison ministries at his Church has written a book called “He’s my G-d Too!”  What does this mean!? Is he insinuating that the Jews are trying to monopolize Yaweh!? Does he resent the Jews on this account? Does he see them as a threst? Jews really don’t care about anybody elses religious beliefs and don’t begrudge or deny any ones right to think what they want!  This can scarcely be said for others!  The world is suffering enormously in no small part because of historic anti-semitism and its having lead to the modern state of Israel which causes needless suffering both Jews and Arabs.  This was brought about purely by Christian hatred of Jews!

    Posted by steve on Jun 5, 2005 at 10:04 AM

    Steve,

    I completely understand what you’re saying about doofuses within Christianity that just don’t “get it” about people of other faiths.  May I please recommend picking up Jim Wallis’ “God’s Politics-What the Right Gets Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get”.  This is a true picture of the teachings of Christ and a real eye-opener for Rightwing Christians who think they’re following Christ’s precepts.

    Only one correction—Christians did not start the trouble between the Jews and the Muslims.  That began with the birth of Ishmael to Abraham and the Egyptian slave, Hagar.  After he had Issac with his wife, Sarah, the trouble began.  It is well detailed in the book of Genesis. I am not certain, but I believe this took place about 2,500 years before the birth of Christ.  In fact, the Muslims drove the Jews out of their homeland in about 640 A.D.  The Romans had previously displaced them around 70 A.D., but the Romans were pagans, not Christians as they worshipped a multitude of dieties, such as Bacchus and Venus.  So, in fact, Christianity didn’t enter into a real foray against Judaism until the Crusades.

    Unfortunately, we are now involved in a new Crusades.  If you didn’t notice, though, this time we are defending the Jews (Israel) and attacked the Muslims (the Middle East).

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 5, 2005 at 3:27 PM

    Margaret,

      I much appreciate your Progressive and non-prejudicial Christian outlook. I have heard of Jim Wallis and his magzine Sojourners.  I also know much of Orbis publishers and liberation theology.  I knew progressive Christians when I was a student at UW-Madison and spent a year 1980-81 in a progressive Christian household headed by a “Christian Marxist” who studied the New Testiment along with the Frankfurt School and Post-Modernism.  There were liberation theologians from the Catholic and Presbatyrian faiths in Madison which were active in the anti-war movement and movement end US intervention in El Salvador and support Nicaragua.  Many left to go to Nicaragua to pick coffee on the new campesino cooperatives and report on the social progress of the revolution.  Needless to say they hated Reagan and the religious new right’s attempts back then to conflate Christianity with the US Republican right. I must disagree with some of your points.  The muslims who entered Jerusalem in 680AD actually defended the Jews against the Byzantine Christians who killed thousands of Jews.  The Muslims expelled the Byzantines but spared the Jews who they saw as fellow monotheistic people of the Book and thus friends not foes. Muslims also came to see Christians per se as non-enemies whom they would not try to convert having already become monotheists and whose prophets, like those of the Jews, occupy an important place in the Koran.  Occasional violence between Christians and Muslims broke out less on religious grounds than based on the fact that they had historically constituted rival political empires.  Muslim/Jewish relation were historically excellent after the stabilization of the Muslim empire.  Medieval Spain is a good example and contrasts sharply with the expulsion and inquisition of 1492 not to mention the Church inspired pogrom in Spain of 1381.  As a secularist I must insist that Muslim/Jewish relations first took a negative turn in 1908 when an influential group of Palestinian notables undersigned a plea to the Turkish Sultan to halt European Jewish immigration to Palestine which was seen as menacing and politically ambitious and thus no longer deserving of Koran mandated Muslim hospitality.  What they were beginning to see, as you hinted at, was the start of a Jewish colonial project, historically connected to a general western colonial project, which would be the permanent and brutal unmaking of the Palestinian Arab nation.

    Posted by steve on Jun 6, 2005 at 5:04 AM

    Margaret, Steve,
      Although Margaret has the rough time correct (the Gospels were done no later than 100 AD), they were originally written in Greek, not Aramaic. Although some non-canonnical pseudo-gospels were in Aramaic, they were late arrivals (post 170 AD) and were never accepted as canon.
      The Dead Sea Scrolls were written well before the time of Christ and, thus, cannot speak to the accuracy of the Gospels; they have, however, shown that the Old Testament books we have today are amazingly true to the versions found about 100-20 BCE.
      Lastly, when Margaret speaks of the historical works that mirror the accounts of the Gospels, I believe she is referring to the Jewish historian known as Josephus, not Joseph of Arimathea.

      The gospels that were ‘rejected’ were rejected for good reasons - they were written *much* later; they came from splinter sects and hewed to the splinter sect’s narrow interpretation of theology; they altered something core to the knowledge called Tradition. The Nag Hammadi ‘Gospel of Thomas’, for example, shows a very gnostic interpretation of the universe and insists that when women become perfect, they do so by becoming men - hardly in line with the teachings gleaned from the Sayings of Jesus (a very early Christian work) or the Didache (also an extremely early Christian work).

    Posted by Rick Stump on Jun 6, 2005 at 8:16 AM

    Rick,

    You are right, I meant Josephus.  Sometimes the brain moves ahead of the typing fingers and stupid things come out.

    I am a little confused about the Aramaic, though.  Mark was in Aramaic, but I think that Koinea (sp?) is considered a Greek dialect.  So, I guess you are right there, in that it is a Greek dialect and not the language they spoke at the time, Aramaic.

    While we may not agree politically, I’m glad to see you being well-versed in Scripture.  I would like to challenge you to read Jim Wallis’ book, “God’s Politics”.  Other than his misinterpretation of the Book of Revelation (he is in the school that sees it as symbolic or else an allegory for the Roman occupation of Palestine—I take the literal view), it is very insightful as to the bastardization of Jesus’ teachings by the current Right wing power structure, and the utter failure of the Left to “get” that Jesus is God.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 6, 2005 at 9:18 AM

    Margaret, the Arabs did not drive the Jews out in
    640 AD because they had long since ceased to be
    a numerical majority in Palestine many hundreds
    of years earlier. The Arabs converted the native,
    mostly nonJewish inhabitants of Palestine but they
    never drove anyone out. The two ancient Jewish kingdoms lasted less than two hundred years total.
    The whole Chosen People is not only as absurd and
    ludicrous as the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth,
    the idea of carpenter Christ (if he really lived)
    being the son of god, etc., it has really helped
    promote anti-semitism and so-called Christian
    Zionists are the worst. They are much more reactionary and intolerant than many Jews.
    As far “verification” of the ancient Arabian legends misknown as the “holy” hebrew bible,
    get real ! Some things are going to be true,
    many more are not.
    Jesus was violent as hell too, willing to smote
    whole peoples for trivial reasons. That phony PC
    image of the gentle, almost swishing JC is contradicted by the utter violence and pornography
    of the unholy bible.
    Margaret, as long as you parrot this recycled
    Christian Ultra-Right Zionist crap, you are
    working for Bush !

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 6, 2005 at 1:20 PM

    Ah, Jack, again you show your ignorance.

    Jesus only had one episode that could be called violent, and that was the clearing of the temple.  If you understood why he did so, and that he hurt no one in doing so, you could never make your ill-informed statement.

    I would never, in any way, work for Bush.  I work for Jesus Christ.  I am mad as heck at the smearing of Jesus’ name by Bush and Co., and I work to defend what is good and right and holy about him.

    Yes, the Arabs did drive the groups of Jews that remained out of the Middle East.  You are incorrect.  Yes, they had been largely dispersed previously by the Romans, but the final ouster was the the new Muslims. 

    I knows hundreds of kind, giving, patient, generous Christians.  Sorry that you have to live in such a world of hatred and anger.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 6, 2005 at 4:35 PM

    I really wish that Margaret and Jack would cease fighting. They are probably close politically but not on religious beliefs.  For the left to have an utter revulsion at ALL religious belief is counter-productive! There are Jews, Christians, and Muslims that are excellent tactical allies on a good many political matters ranging peace issues, the environment, global justice, civil liberties, and lots more!  Most religions believe that to conflate their faith with a secular political figure in a way that creates mass moral compulsion to support that leader is an abuse and blasphemous!  Yet this is done everywhere throughout history with religion as a power broker for secular ideas and causes.  There is a vast difference between this, however, and self-interpreting one’s religious beliefs and applying them in all aspects of one’s life including politics.  Though I don’t do this myself I am aware it is done all the time and don’t let it phase me.  I would like my assertion addressed about the historically positive relationship between Arabs/Muslims and Jews from the beginning degenerating only with 20th Zionism.  I truely believe that Christians get this part of history wrong both because of a Manichean tendency to see eternal conflict between dual forces and because they have a skewed vision of Middle East history.  The Muslims defended the Jews in the 7th Century in Jerusalem for the most part and again during the Crusades!  Christian/Jewish relations eased after WWII and, of course, the West supported the State of Israel as a geo-strategic ally.  By 1958, Eisenhauer released National Security Decision Directive 5801 which declared that a militarily strong and stable Israel is essential to US interests in the region.  1958 saw the outbreak of the first Lebanese Civil War, the collapse of Nasserism in Jordan, the end of the Suez Crisis, and, of course, a military coup against the royal family in Iraq which brought to power nationalist officers who opposed western imperialism.  Clearly, Christian motivation towards Israel began with the cold war with biblical prophesy as an afterthought.  Christian Zionism is a quite powerful historic force and one which was stronger than Jewish Zionism until the 11th hour.  We must recall that Jews resisted the idea of emmigration to Palestine under the worst circumstances and was accepted only when there was no choice.  Israelis still stream west!  Soon Israel will be Jewish in name only!  There are probably as many guest workers there today as actual Jews!  This should have been expected!  Christians don’t get it, modern Jews are primarily a secular ethnic group.  They are a religious group secondly and only by conscious choice.

    Posted by steve on Jun 7, 2005 at 5:27 AM

    Margaret, that is not true, in fact up to the
    establishment of the state of Israel Jews
    had been living in large numbers in Iraq, Yemen,
    Morocco and smaller numbers in Eygpt, Algeria,
    Lebanon and Syria. If you have any documentation
    then let’s see it. When the Islamic faith conquered Palestine the Jews were left unharmed
    and no one was forced to leave.
    Steve’s history is true.
    There are MANY VIOLENT episodes in the Old Testament.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 7, 2005 at 9:24 AM

    Steve,

    Jack Barnes and I absolutely disagree on Politics.  He is a Libertarian, I am a progressive Democrat.  I whole-heartedly disagree with the Libertarian doctrines.

    Also, the Jew were indeed kept safe in the first 50 years under the protected non-Muslim laws in Islam.  The Romans had pretty well emptied the place in 73 AD.  After that fifty years, the Caliph Omar began imposing very stringent laws contrary to Jewish law, which the Jews could not follow.  The Moslems also began imposing outrageous taxes and levies on most agricultural goods which the Jews were unable to pay.  When the Jews became agitated and became vocal, they were met with resistance and doubled-taxes.  They then left, not through military action, but because they were unable to continue their worship and lifestyle according to the Torah and were unable to pay the unreasonable taxes.

    Yes, there was much violence in the Old Testament.  If you will notice, other than when the Jews were disobedient to God, they always won.

    By the way, Moslems held early Christians (after their invasion of Palestine) as slaves.  This was acceptable and widely practiced for centuries.

    Yes, we can all work together and we should.  I have never said we shouldn’t.  But I get sick of the anti-Semitism.  There are many orthodox jews, who are Jews first.  Yes, Israel is now more a secular society that a religious one, but that has been the case repeatedly, in a on-again, off-again way, throughout their history.  They always pull back to God, eventually, and they will again return to a more pious existense in the future.  This doesn’t mean I support their neocon tendencies, i.e.-settlements, Sharon, but as a nation, they have every right to exist.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 7, 2005 at 9:42 AM

    What about the right of Palestine to exist which
    was obliterated by the creation of the state of
    Israel ? Anti-semites like Margaret ignore the
    settler colonialist and racist origins of Zionism
    with a false Judeophilia that encourages the worst
    extremists in Israel. If every group which had
    been dispossessed 2,000 years used violent force
    to reclaim “their” territory we would have total
    international anarchy. The US has funded at least
    one quarter of a trillion dollars to Israel since
    1948 even though Israel is by the far the leading
    superpower in the whole region and has never shown
    any desire for peace, see Noam Chomsky’s The Fateful Triangle: The US, Israel and The Palestinians as well as Alfred M. Lilienthal’s
    The Zionist Connection. The reason the Democrats
    are so wimpish on the Iraq war is precisely because the Zionist AIPAC money funds them.
    It doesn’t matter whether you agree with libertarian views, you need to start dealing
    in a more intellectually honest way on the Middle
    East issue instead of inane biblical nonsense
    and the silly My best friends are Jews line.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 7, 2005 at 11:40 AM

    That’s a bunch of cock-n-bull, JB.  Israel did not force the Arabs to leave in the first place in 1948.  They were told to leave by their leaders, who knew of the invastion by Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.  Against even those odds, Israel defeated the Arab nations that sought to destroy them.

    Later, when involved in war, they did deport suspected terrorists.  We do the same thing when we have groups we fear, such as Japanese.  Lock em up or send em away.

    Besides, there was no Nation of Palestine before 1948.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 7, 2005 at 1:48 PM

    A total lie, Margaret. See Erskine Childers 1958
    UK Spectator essay The Other Exodus, the BBC monitored all Arab broadcasts and there were never
    any such orders by Arab governments or leaders
    for the Palestinian Arabs to leave. That hoary
    myth has even been discredited by Israeli historians like Avi Schlaim and Benny Morris as
    well as Alfred Lilienthal’s What Price Israel ?
    (Regnery, 1952).
    There was a Palestinian people living thousands of years before 1948 who were Arabs living in Palestine just as there was an Irish people for thousands of years before there was first created an Irish State in 1921. By your logic, there was no Irish nation until 1921 ! The whole idea of the nation-state is a late 19th century invention, there was no united Germany until the 1880s so by your logic there was no German nation until then !
    As for the salient little fact that Israel had
    a well trained terrorist militia of 60,000 under
    arms compared to 20,000 total for ALL six Arab
    “armies” makes mincemeat of your little Israel
    theme. Stalin made Israel possible by having his Czech satellite state supply arms to the Zionist
    paramilitaries. And the ARAB NATIONS ONLY “INVADED” PALESTINE TO STOP THE FORCED EXPULSION OF PALESTINIAN ARABS THAT THE ZIONISTS
    HAD BEEN CARRYING OUT SINCE LATE 1947.
    Try to read and learn something rather than recite discredited bullshit that would get you flunked out of any doctorate program within Israel
    itself.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 7, 2005 at 2:34 PM

    One of the books that ignorant people like Margaret use is Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial,
    it was first exposed in In These Times in September, 1984 by Norman Finkelstein, I contacted
    Jim Weinstein at the time by phone and ordered
    50 copies. All of the Israeli propaganda myths
    that Margaret mindlessly parrots were heavily
    promoted in the Peters and as Chomsky told me
    she was probably assisted by the Mossad since it
    is impossible for any single human being to do
    so much lying.Stay away from the Democratic Party,
    they are run by racist Zionists and are no different in basic policy than the GOP, all
    the neocons were coldwar liberal Dems who got
    their start working for vermin like Hubert Humphrey and Henry Jackson and Pat Moynihan.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 7, 2005 at 3:02 PM

    Go to Alexander Cockburn’s leftist Counterpunch
    website, wherein he exposes phonies like Nancy
    Pelosi and Air America every day.
    counterpunch.org and he also has a print edition.
    He agrees that there is no scum worse and more
    sanctimoniously hypocritical than a liberal
    Democratic Party hack scum.
    See Cockburn’s The Politics of Anti-Semitism
    wherein he demonstrates how racist Zionist
    liberals use the holocaust to lie about Israel’s
    own racism and fascism. I think the US public is
    starting to see through these phonies.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 7, 2005 at 3:07 PM

    The Jews were there first.

    Also, this is working out exactly the way God said it would.  In the “end times”, people would turn on Israel and support anyone who would destroy them.  Thank you for clarifying that Satan is your father.  You are a good servant to the Father of Lies, as you twist everything to suit your purposes.  You are truly a pathetic, bitter and lost individual.

    Have a nice day!

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 7, 2005 at 4:01 PM

    I would like to introduce into the debate on the origins of the Israel/Palestine conflict a point which even the left itself neglects.  It is often pointed out that the Palestinians were never consulted by the scheming western powers about the establishment of the Jewish state and that this is consistent with the entire history of western secrecy and unilateralism in the Middle East since WWI.  If this is the case (Sykes/Picot is a clear precedent for non-transparent duplicity against the Arab residents of the region) than it must be acknowledged that the Jews for the most part were also not consulted on whether or not the establishment of a sovereign state in Palestine was the desirable solution to the age old “Jewish Question”.  Writers like Lenny Brenner and others point out the Zionist orientation of anti-semitic states, movements, and leaders who throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries cultivated small groups of Zionist Jews against the majority of Jews who remained impervious to their appeals preferring instead to pursue, assimilation, socialist or revolutionary politics (the Bund of Russia and Poland), isolated religious isolationism in the Russian empire, or outmigration to the English-speaking West.  The initial motivation of the anti-semitic Zionists were many, to break up the European Left, to have a ready place to dump unwanted Jews, to reduce political instability in Europe brought on by the anti-semitic reactions to Jewish emancipation and assimilation in Europe, and, finally, to establish a western foothold in the strategically valueable Levant.  This latter was the lasting motivation and one which merged well with contemporary agenda.  As European violence against Jews escalated, first with Russian pogroms 1881-23 and later the Nazi Holocaust, ever larger numbers of Jews were persuaded to leave Europe though with only a minority showing any interest in Palestine. The Jews had always prefered the west. Of the more than 5 million Jews who had avoided the Nazis and earlier violent oppression in the Russian empire through migration between 1881 and 1945, only 500,000 ended up in Palestine and many of these were German, Austrian, and other central European Jews who were forced to emigrate to survive at the very last minute with the doors closed elsewhere. As I’ve previously stated, many military age Jewish males in the post WWII Displaced Persons’ camps were forcibly relocated to training camps in US occupied Germany by the US military and the Irgun to be trained and sent to fight in Palestine.  The picture that seems to be emerging from over a century of modern Zionist history is one of western colonialism which has more to do with great power imperialist ambition than the Jews.  Simply put, modern Israel has allowed the US/UK to unilaterally force its will on the Arab East through Israel’s military strength in order to have undisputed political control of the region and its valuable resources.  The crushing of Palestinian nationalism and the weakening and subjugation of frontline Arab powers has been instrumental in the objective of reducing unified Arab reisitence to intrusion.  The current balance of forces in the Middle East has shown this strategy to have succeeded.  The next step in to globalize all the economies of the region through US corporate led integration of the export-based sectors of several nations including Palestine. There will thus emerge a pliant transnationalized Arab bourgeousie linked to globalization as there previously emerged a pliant political constituency in the Arab world for the US led “peace process” ie eschewing nationalist resistence to Zionist occupation.  The undoing of this strategy will be the dire poverty it ultimately imposes on the entire Middle East once such economic suffering leds to politcal struggle.

    Posted by steve on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:03 AM

    Margaret, again you are wrong. The ancient Hebrews
    were only ONE of MANY tribes inhabiting present
    day Israel/Palestine.
    Of course, by your logic, you should vacate your
    residence and business in favor of the Indians.
    Margaret, you are a prime example of the absolute evil of religion and the utter insanity of a belief in “god.” How you can rely on ghosts
    and miracles and believe that we can take our
    values from a bareassed, halfbaked tribe that
    lived over 2,000 years ago is beyond me !
    Most Jews are NOT descended from the ancient Hebrews but from the Khazars in central Russia/Asia. See Arthur Koestler’s The Thirteenth
    Tribe for details.
    So much for god’s chosen people, itself a racist
    myth that has harmed Jews.
    By the way, you show your true cockroach christian
    soul by showering insults instead of arguments
    and then wishing me a nice day ! Go fvck yourself.
    Atheists are more honest.
    Steve, thanks again for posting real historical
    facts, many of which are readily available in the
    books that I recommended above by Lilienthal and
    Chomsky, among several others.
    None of this will through the deadbrain of Maggie
    but it will enlighten many others here.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 8, 2005 at 7:41 AM

    Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, Hitites,
    Chaldeans, Babylonians are among the ancient tribes that inhabited present day Palestine/Israel. I’m sure I’ve left out some
    others.
    They existed at the same time and in roughly the
    same numbers as the ancient Hebrews, who themselves were nothing special.
    As Nietzsche put it, Christianity is the Jews
    revenge upon the Gentiles. It started as a Jewish
    cult and ended up as the greatest persecutor of
    Jews, especially perpetrated by anti-semitic racists like Margaret. Is your last name Bullard ?
    Maybe it should be Bullcrap.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 8, 2005 at 7:48 AM

    Mr. Barnes,

    Geography is fickle like that.  Yes all those “-ite” tribes you listed lived at some point in the geophysical region currently refered to as Israel/Palestine.  The problem is that they lived there either before the Israelites ever arrived or else in a territory that was not part of ancient Israel.  The only thing close to another tribe that was living in the same time and place as the Israelites was the Samaritans who were merely an ethnic subset of the Hebrew population. 

    In regards to the tribes you listed, Abraham, the father of the Jews, was technically Chaldean.  As a matter of fact as he was born in Ur, the capital of Chaldea.  The Babylonians and the Assyrians were from Iraq and Syria respectively and while both conquered and enslaved Israel neither had any interest in the land and took the Israelites as slaves back to their native countries.  Canaanites and Philistines both were in Israel before the Israelites but if you’re familiar with the story of David and Goliath or the song “Joshuah Fit the Battle of Jericho” you’ll remember that the Israelites never even tried diplomatic relations with either. 

    OK, now that fact-checking is out of the way I move on to my point.  I’m not saying we should give Israel to the Jews and force out the Palestinians because the Israelites were there first.  They actually weren’t.  Christians and Jews believe that Ishmael the son of Abraham by his wife’s servant became the father of the Arabic tribes Palestinians were descended from.  You can’t get earlier than Abraham.  No, I’m not saying that modern Israelis have some birthright to the land either.  What I’m saying is that in terms of geopolitics might does make right.  They won it in an officially declared war, a treaty was signed to that effect, and Modern Israel aside from any historical connections is officially recognized by the UN.  If the south had won the Civil War they’d have been a country.  Or do I live in England right now?  Mexico?

    Posted by MissBunni on Jun 8, 2005 at 10:59 AM

    Let’s get to your last paragraph first.
    The Arab states never made a treaty with Israel,
    a truce was signed, quite a different matter.
    They “invaded” Palestine to stop the forcible
    dispossession of the Palestinian Arabs that had
    been going since late 1947. Not to drive the Jews
    to the sea.
    Israel was only recognized by the UN WITH THE PROVISO THAT SHE TAKE BACK THE 750,000 ARAB REFUGEES WHO FLED OR WERE FORCED OUT DURING
    THE FIGHTING.
    Since Israel has never done so, her very legtimacy
    is at question.
    Your earlier history seems more true although I’d
    give the caveat that this area might have been
    considered part of one region way back then.
    It seems a more modern thing to divide contigous
    areas up into nation-states or simply tribal nations.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 8, 2005 at 12:08 PM

    The Bible is probably not the very best historical source since, unlike currently written histories, it is filled with hyperbole, exaggeration, metaphor, and poetic license to make a point. In other words one shouldn’t take everything in the Bible literally because, as the old saying goes, “It ain’t necessarily so!”  There are archaologists and antiquities scholars like George E. Mendenhall who specialize in the history of the city of Jerusalem as well as a whole school which has credibly emerged around him claiming that the story of Joshua is nonsense as told in the Old Testament. Logic and archaeological research has suggested that more realistically the Hebrews gradually filtered into Palestine from Egypt slowing displacing or assimilating many of the Caananites and their culture overtime with some intermittant violent episodes of conflict along the period of about a couple of hundred or so years after 1000B.C.  The notion that a single, dramatic, episode of violence accomplished all of this in a solitary human wave attack is unfounded and mere hyperbole.  It is also not supported by the most contemporary and accepted archaeological research.  As for the post-70A.D. Jewish population of Palestine by all accounts, including that of John Wilkinson, the director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (1979-84), and other respected archaeologists, there remained a significant number of Jews in Palestine after the Roman expulsion.  Up until the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135A.D. against Rome where many Jews committed suicide at Massada, Jews remained 65% of a total population of about 2,000,000 of ancient Israel.  Another anti-Roman rebellion under Rabbi Akiva in the early 3rd Century further reduced the Palestinian Jewish population from one-third to one-fifth. By the time of the Muslim conquest in 638A.D. the Jews were about 9% of the Palestinian population.  Wilkinson uses the work of Israeli archaeologist Michael Avi-Yonah as a source for his claims.  These claims are remarkable since Wilkinson is ambivalent towards Zionism at best and uses the work of Avi-Yonah to substantiate claims that the Jewish presence in Palestine became culturally and historically irrelevant by the time of the Muslim invasion!  My point here is neither to dispute nor support evidence for the Zionist case which I think is weak. The point is to show that literal interpretation of the Bible or any sacred text written millenia ago is not warrented given more scientific historical evidence.  Literal Biblical interpretations of history when used to justify current political agenda are not only ill advised but quite dangerous.

    Posted by steve on Jun 8, 2005 at 2:26 PM

    Mr. Barnes,
    You’re right in that I did mean to say truce, although Jordan and Egypt both have treaties with Israel.  I think those qualify as Arab states yes?  I’m somewhat confused, however with your statement about the motivation behind the 1947 war.  I don’t care why the Palestinians attacked.  Admittedly the UN Partition Resolution had inequalities, but I’d hardly consider declaring the previously allocated Jewish territories a unified nation a forcible deposition of rightful rulers.  But even if I give you the point my original statement still stands.  Who attacked whom and why is irrelevant in civil war.  If the secessionists win, they become a new country period.  The secessionists won the war and therefore are a valid and sovreign nation in every sense of the word. 

    You’re right about Israel’s recognition depending on their compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, but you forget Israel did comply with most of its demands.

    I just read that particular resolution and the only requirements not currently met are Palestine’s not challenging reinstated 1947 borders, and the requirement for “a just settlement of the refugee problem.”  It was the Palestinians who rejected the UNRPR’s resettlement plans because they recognised Israeli territories as sovreign.  Israel on the other hand was one of the original members of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.  Israel cooperates with the UNRWA, the UN organ whose sole mandate is to reach “just settlement.”  Israel’s cooperation and Palestine’s non-cooperation is why Israel is recognized and Palestine isn’t.

    Posted by MissBunni on Jun 8, 2005 at 2:57 PM

    missbunni,

    You are correct.  The territory won under Arab siege by Israel is righfully theirs.  In fact, if you check out numerous sites online, they only confirm that Islamic forces were always the initial aggressors in the major Israeli/Arab conflicts. 

    http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/history/A0856668.html

    I’ve mentioned before REPEATEDLY that the Israeli’s do need to change their tack and stop treating the Palestinians like animals.  But, once again, missbunni, you are correct in stating that the Palestinians did not exist in pre-christian “israel”. 

    Additionally, Steve, I would challenge you to go into a large Christian book store and read some of the books on biblical archeology.  In fact, there are more biblical statements proven than negated, if you would really look into it.

    I would agree that I do not take the creation account to mean actual “days” or even millinea.  The bible says a “day is as a thousand years to God”, but I think perhaps “million” would be better inserted.  Nonetheless, if you were to ever study biblical prophecy and see that 90% of biblical prophecies have already been correctly and fully fulfilled, I would say that to “justify current political agenda” by ignoring it is really quite dangerous.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 8, 2005 at 3:29 PM

    Ah, now, we get down to your real agenda, bunny.
    THE PALESTINIANS NEVER ATTACKED, THEY WERE THE
    ONES BEING ATTACKED IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. THE
    ARAB STATES ATTACKED AFTER ISRAEL’S UNILATERAL
    DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ON MAY 15, 1948.
    242 came TWENTY YEARS LATER IN 1967.
    The UN resolution recognizing Israel did state
    it was based on Israeli recognition of the full
    right of the Palestinians to return without any
    hindrance. The Palestinians did not block this,
    Israel did contrary to your mendacious assertions.
    The UN does recognize Palestine and has consistently recognized the Palestinian people
    ever since 1947 and has recognized the PLO since
    1973. UNWRR never claimed Israel’s borders were
    sovereign nor HAS ISRAEL EVER ACKNOWLEDGED ITS
    BORDERS AS BEN-GURION MADE CLEAR AT THAT TIME.
    They were wanting to grab the West Bank and East
    Jerusalem even then ! Not to mention their current
    illegal occupation of parts of Syria and for many
    years Lebanon until they were thrown out.
    You are wrong on international law too, the victor
    has no rights to dispossess the native population
    and/or incorporate their territories as even the
    US and the UN Charter note.
    Jordan and Eygpt did not have treaties with Israel
    after the 48 war as you falsely stated.
    Israel has never cooperated with the UN refugess
    commissions and is in violation of hundreds of
    UN resolutions. If you tried to submit the arrant
    nonsense you have posted here for a Ph.D in ISRAEL
    you would be flunked out. Period.
    Though compared to Margaret, you are an Einstein.
    Israel attacked Eygpt in 1956 in collusion with
    the UK and France, Margaret Moron. Israel attacked
    first in 1967 and in 1947-48. The only time the
    Arabs attacked first was in 1973 for the limited
    aims of getting Sinai and the Golan Heights back.
    Israel initiated wars in Lebanon in 1978, 1982
    and 1996.
    Vey few Biblical nonprophecies have ever been fulfilled. That is a big lie of the Radical
    Christian Right.
    Steve, thanks again. The Unholy bible is just
    a huge pile of genocidal and pornographic crap.
    And ripped off from Arabian legends to boot.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 8, 2005 at 4:11 PM

    You are a fool.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:12 PM

    By the way, I raised my daughter well, didn’t I, Jack.  Bunni is smarter than you.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:13 PM

    and she’s a born-again Christian.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 8, 2005 at 6:14 PM

    I thought all the truly open minded Jesus freaks were into Urantia; the book, published in Chicago since about 1950, that was originally “channeled” in the 1930s directly from the mansion worlds in response to what was being viewed as latter day perversions of the true message of Christ. Apparently, God felt that Christians had misguidedly created a religion about Christ instead of a religion OF Christ and so commissioned a Urantia (Earth) task force to see to it that a new disciple’s guide to the super-universes be written    

    Right up front they tell you that the revelation part of the Bible is a bunch of nonsense and that it was dreamed up by ardent disciples after Christ’s death as a means of maintaining the flock, as it were. A revelation in itself, but particularly interesting is the book’s history of earth which at the time of publication didn’t correspond to dates already established by the scientific community and it was only after the error in carbon dating had been resolved years later, that the book was proven to be correct.

    Urantia is a fascinating wonder of perfect syntax and complexity that any progressive church might venture into as a means of opening the minds of a staid congregation, though one of the tenets of the book is that no church shall be constructed for the purpose of the book and that word of the book should not be advertized so that individuals may find it on their own - although there are informal groups scattered about the country.

    I mention it here only because I am concerned that doomsday weapons are falling into the hands of religious followers that possess what is fundamentally a superstitious nature and can be easily led (misled) into oblivion; i.e., a Jonestown of epic proportion.

    Posted by Tim Christopher on Jun 8, 2005 at 8:04 PM

    Margaret,

      You really didn’t address my points in the above entry.  I was not talking about Biblical prophesy or about converting one perception of time into another for historical purposes.  I merely was arguing against literal interpretation of the Bible by citing Biblical and antiquities scholars themselves!  I first noted that there was still an appreciative number of Jews in Palestine by the time of the Muslim conquest although the Byzantines and Romans killed and exiled over 90% of their original population over a period of centuries.  The Muslims actually secured the surviving remnant and gave them a stable base of existance for centuries.  After 1948, most of these “Sephardim and Mizrachim” didn’t want to emigrate to Israel as it was much better in the Islamic world. Whatever political trouble these prosperous communities experienced after 1948 was due to a (mistaken) backlash against Zionism in these countries on the part of Muslims!  As far as the story of Joshua is concerned, it simply flies in the face of common sense.  How could the rag-tag band of Hebrew tribes expel thousands of armed and stable Jebusites and Canaanites all at once?!  Did they have F16 fighter jets and Abrams Tanks from the USA to confer upon them “full specrum dominance? Most likely this was a drawn out project with the Hebrews being equally influenced by the cultures they adapted and conquered. The story of Joshua probably doesn’t deviated much from other similar types of events from that time in history.

    Posted by steve on Jun 9, 2005 at 7:21 AM

    Gee, Margaret, that was an impressive rebuttal !
    Apparently you have to recruit your kids to make
    your arguments !
    Bunny is smarter than you. I’ll give her that.
    Unfortunately she doesn’t have her facts totally
    correct on the Middle East.
    Are the rest of your kids writing here under various pseudonyms ? I thought that might be
    the case even before your admission of maternity
    here. Who’s the Dad ?
    Tim, thanks for the fascinating history.
    Steve, again thanks for your contribution but
    do not expect any rational response from Margaret.
    She’s an ultra-right religious nut in Dummycrat
    clothing, the worst of both the left and the right. Because of Israel’s proportional rep
    system they have an influence in the Knesset
    way out of line with their numbers.
    One of the GOOD things about Israel is they are
    largely atheists. Less than a third are practicing
    Judaism, only the Orthodox branch is allowed in
    Israel and Margaret would be forced to sit in
    the back pews.
    Hey, those Israelis aren’t all bad…..........

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 9, 2005 at 8:12 AM

    Steve,

    Here are a few sites that give some very interesting facts about Biblical accuracy, especially in regard to archeology.  If nothing else, look at the last link with regard to the Book of Daniel.  Even is you don’t believe the Bible, it is quite interesting.


    http://www.100prophecies.org/

    http://www.bprc.org/topics/fulfill.html

    http://www.biblicaldefense.org/Research_Center/Apologetics/Historical_Apologetics/old_testament_reliability.htm

    This link also substantiates my statements about the Jews being, in a non-violent fashion, forced to leave the Holy Land in 717 A.D. under Caliph Omar.  There are many links to substantiate that, and the fact that Moslems held Christians as slaves for many years.

    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Cyprus/8815/chrono.html

    This link addresses the fall of Jericho:

    http://www.newcreationstudies.org/NewCreation/proof.htm#externalconsiderations


    All this being said, Steve, I respect your right not to believe.  But, likewise, you must respect my right to believe.  If I was as blind as some would like to paint me on this site, I wouldn’t be here at all—I would be out campaigning for the GOP.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 9, 2005 at 10:02 AM

    “He who is last shall be first, and he who is first shall be last.”  I will glad to sit in the last row, please.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 9, 2005 at 10:08 AM

    And the meek shall inherit the earth.
    Yeah, right. Was that the mythical JC
    or Nick Lenin ?
    These sites you refer to are run by fundamentalist
    crackpots, not historians.
    The only Book of Daniel worth reading was written
    by Doctorow. Like 90% of Jews, he’s an atheist.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 9, 2005 at 10:12 AM

    Margaret,

      I went to some of the sites you emailed.  I read through the one on the history on anti-semitism and found it interesting.  It could be the Jews were expelled or otherwise force to leave Jerusalem at the very height of the Islamic conquest.  It is perhaps the case that early Islam was intolerant but as the empire and various Caliphates stabilized they became more accepting of Jews and Christians.  All during the Christian Crusades in the Holy Land the Christian Armies massacred Jews and Muslims in the holy City of Jerusalem.  The Muslims defended the Jews. The timeline of the history of anti-semitism is mostly filled with instances of Christian violence toward Jews!  Some, but very little, anti-Jewish violence by Muslims appears!  One of my many problems with Zionism and a Jewish state is that it does much harm to Arabs while doing very little good for Jews.  I lived in Israel for over three years (7/92 to 9/95).  These were three of the best and most peaceful years before the slow decline of this society beginning with the assassination of Rabin.  Relations between Israelis and Palestinians worsened every year until the final outbreak of the second Intifada.  This is due largely but not solely to the unfettered and unceasing expansion of Israelis into Palestinian land with the objective of creating a sprawling pattern of settlements that in effect breaks up the West Bank into three main isolated cantons or bantustans under what Israeli peace activist Jeff Halper calls “a matrix of control.” No viable Palestinian state could possibly emerge and PA chief M. Abbas is reduced to the political manager of a dispossessed labor reserve which will be overtaken by foreign investors mostly from the Arab East and Israel interested in building garment assembly, consumer electronics, beverage, and food processing facilities in low-wage, free-trade export zones which will come to dominate the West Bank economy.  The world Bank and USAID are already busy funding the core infrastructure for these projects!  Many Israelis have already lost jobs to factories which have moved to Jordan, Egypt, and the West Bank.  This is one reason the poor Sephardim were so anti-Rabin.  He and Clinton were big on the Middle East/North Africa Free Trade Area and the globalization of the entire region through the linking of the regional economies under Israeli auspices.  Four summit meetings were held to establish MENAFTA after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1995.  Now it will come about piecemeal under Bush & Co. The only guarantee of these efforts is more violence. Some Christians, Jews, and even Muslims will benefit but most will suffer and only Jews will take the fall for it all.

    Posted by steve on Jun 9, 2005 at 11:22 AM

    With all due respect, Steve, I believe that 99%
    of the anti-semitism here is directed against
    Arabs, not Jews and the US media support of Israel
    and decades long demonization of Arabs is 99%
    responsible for this anti-semitism.
    Real free trade does require government managed
    trade treaties like NAFTA, ad nauseum. You simply
    repeal the trade barriers. And you don’t need a
    huge WTO bureaucracy to do it either.
    Rabin was assassinated Israel is a very racist
    and violent country.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 9, 2005 at 1:15 PM

    Jack,

      I was refering to the historic anti-semitism beginning in 70A.D. until WWII in Europe and the Muslim world featured in a scholarly assembled timeline in a website provided by Margaret in one of her postings.  Obviously, Arabs and Muslims face more hate crimes and hateful defamation in post-9/11 America and even in Europe. The Jewish communities shouldn’t smugly sit by in relief because we are our brothers keeper and we can all be victims. By the time they came for me there was no one left to speak up. . .etc!  As far as free trade in the Middle East goes I was only trying to establish that the 1993 Oslo Agreement and the DoP was a diplomatic effect of globalization.  Israeli capitalism, based as it once was on a Keynesian warfare state began to stagnate along with profits so Oslo was used to open markets previously closed to Israel because of its lawlessness and encourage Foreign Direct investment from abroad by “privatizing less profitable government holdings faster than you can say Charles Darwin” (a quote from Chiam Ramon-the LABOR PARTY Chief of the Histatrut or gov’t holding company).  Taxation and capital controls were also relaxed.  According to the Bank of Israel, the total stock of FDI in Israel by 2003 was about $21 billion—about one-fifth of gross fixed capital formation and over 15% of GDP!  This is unprecedented for Israel.  Israeli trade is also a huge proportion of her $120 billion GDP-all this is amazing for a once autarchic economy.  The point is that peace was a ruse for globalization.  The profits are rolling in even as most Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike, are getting poorer.  One in four Israelis lives at or below the poverty line!  Palestinian poverty and unemployment is well beyond description and won’t be helped by sweatshops owned by foreigners.  The “peace process” was a cover for greater control of the Palestinian labor pool and for US/Israeli hegemony in general!

    Posted by steve on Jun 9, 2005 at 5:33 PM

    Steve, without crossing every “i” and dotting
    every “t” on a surface reading your comments seem
    reasonable. This current globalization is nothing
    like Adam Smith’s idea of free people and free markets with no boundaries as to trade or migration. It is more of a liberal world government idea of managed trade for the political
    pullpeddlers.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 10, 2005 at 9:14 AM

    Steve,

    Thank you for the thoughtful response.  I am glad you enjoyed some of my links.

    I agree that Bush Co. is shredding the Oslo Accord.  But does that really surpise us?

    This truly is the most noteworthy case of violent sibling rivalry in history (Issac vs. Ishmael).  While I personally don’t believe it will ever be resolved, we must try for peace and equanimity for both parties to save every innocent life that can be saved.  I am glad Mr. Abbas is now at the helm, however tentatively.  I wish Mr. Sharon would quit trying to sneak land in and behave himself.

    While I know you don’t believe in biblical prophecy, I do find it interesting that at Armeggedon America is not represented.  Only Europe/Russia, China/Asia and the Middle East.  It will be interesting to see how the different world powers meld as time goes on.  I think you’re quite bright to realize that no matter how the cookie crumbles, the Jews will be the ones to “take the fall”.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 10, 2005 at 9:37 AM

    Wait a minute, why would “the Jews” be the ones
    to take the fall if they are “God’s Chosen People”
    ?
    Is that how “god” treats his favorites ?
    Maggie, you might not approve of Dr. Abbas’ 1970
    Ph.D thesis done at Moscow University.
    He argued at great length with impressive documentation the case for holocaust revisionism.
    He’s a much more intelligent fellow than that
    leftist thug Arafat, I agree.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 10, 2005 at 10:09 AM

    Jack, what exactly is the Libertarian/CATO Institute line of the genocide committed during WWII? Do they accept holocaust revisionism? I need to know because I feel both Arafat and Abbas are idiots and would gladly live in a secular, democratic Israel/Palestine ruled by Mustafa Barghouti who is leading a new movemenet for such an entity called “the initiative” which also calls for a decisive end to all violence, settlement building, sectarianism, and the occupation in general. I’m sure one such as Barghouti realizes what few do and that is the Arab/Israeli conflict isn’t really about Arabs and Jews.  He sure realizes, unlike Abbas who represents a more refined version of the thuggish, biggoted, reactionary, swaggering-macho nationalism of Arafat and Fatah that the Jews suffered enormously under European tutelege and that same kind of big-power tutalege practiced by the US is now using a “Jewish” state to subjugate Arabs in the interest of imperialist control of the Middle East and its resources. Israel is more colonialist than Jewish; connected to the long trajectory of UK settler colonialism in Ireland and North America than any Jewish Biblical heritage (Zionism is actually considered blasphemous in the Talmud!)  By essentializing ethnicity you only become the flipside of your oppressor.  Any doubts? Look at Zionism!

    Posted by steve on Jun 11, 2005 at 4:21 AM

    Steve, there is no CATO or uniform libertarian
    line on anything except limited government and
    the superiority of laissez-faire capitalism.
    Where in the Talmud is zionism mentioned ?

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 13, 2005 at 8:58 AM

    Jack,

        Zionism isn’t actually mentioned in the Talmud.  It is written, however, that human beings must never arrogate to themselves the perogatives of G-d who alone may bring the Messiah and hence the new Jewish State. Until such time those Jews desiring to live in the Holy Land must subject themselves to the civil authority of those who G-d has placed in charge until the Moshiach arrives.  In this case it is the Palestinian Arabs.  The Nature Carte, an ultra-orthodox group of highly religious Jews live and study in Jerusalem and refuse any contact with the institutions of the Israeli Government. They hate secular Jews and believe their state is an arrogant sin against G-d. They continue to keep an advisor to the PLO on the Central Committee of the Palestine National Council of the PLO who has membership in that organization as an observer with no decision making power.  Some would say they are so far right they’re left! In any case their attitudes and behaviour towards Israel is based on religious interpretation of the Talmud.  Many diaspora religious orthodox I’ve spoken to also believe this interpretation to be the correct one.

    Posted by steve on Jun 13, 2005 at 12:26 PM

    Neturei Karta. Have read some of their stuff
    before. Agree in a perverse way a little bit
    with them but my anti-Zionism rests on more
    secular grounds.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 13, 2005 at 3:22 PM

    Well obviously! First of all you’re not Jewish. I only pointed it out in order to illustrate the manner in which Zionism IS a fully secular contrivance culled from European Nationalism and in no way authentically derived or emerging from the logic of Jewish history or culture.  It was only the thorough secularization and assimilation of German and Austrian Jews which them to begin to see their own history in Christian terms and accept Zionism after having become so detached from their own cognitive sense of identity.  Even their own patriotic songs are based on popular European romantic melodies (HaTikvah, the national anthem is culled from the symphonic poem “The Moldau” by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana and the famous Yerushaliem shel Zehav, celebrating the 1967 conquest and unification of Jerusalem, is a well known Basque folk melody.) The eastern European Jews the overwhelming majority by over 90%, had no such European model of nationalism (Russian pan-slavism was about as backward and alien to them as could be and hardly a universalizable substitute for other, less patronizing forms!)and were more oriented toward revolutionary socialism which is why “Labor Zionism HAD to be used to co-opt them away from their role in constructing a model for Lenin. (It is know that the Jewish Workers Bund, founded in 1897 in Vilna, was a model for Lenin and that the Jewish workers were the Russian Empire’s first working class though they became marginalized by WWI era foreign financed heavy industry.) This evoked fear in the established order!  Thus Zionism became imposed by a Christian world on the Jews, slowly and somewhat imperceptibly, for imperialist and reactionary motives having almost nothing to do with Jewish culture or history.

    Posted by steve on Jun 14, 2005 at 3:47 AM

    Steve, you might be right.
    My very good, longtime friend, Alfred Lilienthal,
    wrote The Zionist Connection and went into at
    great length the differences between Judaism
    and Zionism. At 92 he’s still hanging in there.
    But many Jews and the whole Jewish Establishment
    in the USA would strongly disagree with you.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 14, 2005 at 8:41 AM

    Jack,

      That is because at some point or another the political phenomenon of “religious Zionism” came to rescue and legitimate a movement that had very few adherents.  The British Historian, Eric Hobsbawm, did say one interesting thing that you might applaud, Jack, “nationalism is about getting history wrong!”  History is all about man’s reinvention of the past to justify the present.  It’s also about twisting long-standing institutions, beliefs, etc. to serve immediate agenda.  This is why I reject the essentialism of the right as nonsense and argue that there is no permanent nature to anything including history or people.  I argue for a kind of ontological primacy; existance is its own meaning!  Each historic epoch is wholly new and revolutionary with its own morals, mores, conceptions, and constructs.  I guess I’m as influenced by post-modernism and Foucault as by Marx and dialectics.

    Posted by steve on Jun 14, 2005 at 9:54 AM

    Steve,
    We really do have a major philosophical disagreement as illustrated beautifully by
    you’re remarks on essentialism.
    People do have a specific nature as do all
    members of the animal world as well as all
    raw materials. PoMo’s disbelief in objective
    reality is unbelievable and frankly, I was hoping
    that after Alan Sokal’s expose, we’d heard the
    last of PoMo.
    As regards history, one thing is absolutely
    true, something happened. Granted the epistemological difficulties of discovering
    what happened, it still is not the case that all
    versions are equal. Some have to be truer
    than others.
    I frankly do not understand the Left aversion
    to nature or reality itself.
    Is this some cosmological egalitarianism ?
    Egalitarianism As A Revolt Against Nature
    by the late Prof. Murray N. Rothbard might
    be worth checking for you as an alternative
    viewpoint.
    I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be revisionist
    history because it can the case that a new theory
    and/or new evidence can better explain history
    than the old prevailing one. Everything is contextual in this as all other areas.
    But it does not mean that events didn’t happen
    and that is an absolute fact though the interpretation of said events may vary and may
    also be refined over time.
    As an atheist I do believe in the primacy of existence over consciousness but I do not understand a claim that existence has its own
    meaning. We give it meaning. No one else does,
    other animals or raw nature.
    Nor does it mean that all mores, all explanations,
    all codes of values are equal.
    Nor is each epoch WHOLELY new, we have a real
    past, whether we acknowledge it or not and we
    do not have to reinvent everything a new.
    Kind of an arrogant Columbus Complex (pace
    Sorokin) in that idea.
    I appreciate your candor and your intellectual
    depth.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 14, 2005 at 11:22 AM

    Jack,

      Each new reinvention of the past does contain much of the old element reworked and intensified to fit new agenda and needs.  Consciousness and sensibilites change as well. The primacy of Hegelian Human Subjectivity is what tends to move history rather than an unchanging and amorpphous essence which has an “objective” life of its own beyond human agency.  There is no inexorable objective essence to history evolving by accretion in any one direction. Progress is NOT inevitable.  History is revolutionary as is science—one paradigm and/or epoch overthrowing the previous entirely.  It is certainly true that man gives meaning to all things through CONSCIOUSNESS but existance is often the product of the haphazard immanency of soclal life and the interests, sudden changes, and newly emerging power relations contained therein not an inexorable essential tendency toward certain predisposed outcomes.

    Posted by steve on Jun 14, 2005 at 1:00 PM

    Steve,

    All entities have certain characterisitics that
    essential to that entity’s nature qua entity.
    I understand that consciousness evolved out of
    matter since the opposite thesis would be
    absurd, “god.”
    Certain basic elements of what makes us human,
    just to stick to our species, have never changed.
    At least not in billions of years, our bodily
    characteristics, our consciousness as such (not
    new materials that we learn over time but the basic operation of our consciousness to the
    extent we understand it)and our methods of perception have not changed, so not all reality
    is social.
    You’ve swallowed Kuhn’s nihilistic paradigm theory
    too much, 95% of Newton was not overthrown by Einstein. And so on and so on. Science does build upon the past. Philosophy is more problematic since the questions that bothered the Greeks still engage us, at least the non-physical science questions. Actions and ideas do have consequences and there are a number of them in which we can predict the outcome given the past results.
    Reality does a specific structure to some extent,
    Hegel notwithstanding.
    We do agree that progress is not inevitable and
    neither is decline. That legacy of Victorian
    Spencer-Darwinism-Marxism has long been exploded
    and good riddance. But I never claimed there was
    an inexorable amorphous existence which has a life
    of its own outside of human agency. That was more
    a traditional Marxian claim exploded by Popper
    in The Open Society and Its Enemies.
    Hegel’s a large subject so my remarks are of necessity preliminary.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 14, 2005 at 1:45 PM

    Jack,

      Marx never believed in anything having a life of its own. He was dialectical not essentialist, there is a huge difference. Human agency was paramount and involved consciousness.  Also, transformation was brought about through conscious struggle and was necessarily revolutionary.  History is guided by dialectics connected to agency and interests which always change.  There is no continual ESSENTIAL unchanging transcendental thread that guides human action of agency which allows us to ahistorically define humanity and the history we create (though not always necessarily in the way we want)

    Posted by steve on Jun 14, 2005 at 3:00 PM

    Steve, if you mean that we as humans do not
    have an essence, a specific nature, I couldn’t
    disagree more. Human agency, like everything else
    in nature, is limited and it cannot transcend our
    basic essential nature. That stuff about being
    a poet in the am, a hunter in the pm, a Goethe
    in the evening, is pernicious nonsense because
    some choices rule out others and the attempts
    to make a New Communist Man under Stalin, Mao,
    Pol Pot, Castro were distrous failures because they violated the essential nature of man.
    Maybe “essential” here is redundant, they violated
    the nature of man.
    If you mean something else by “essentialism”
    then tell me what it is.
    Maybe I’m not getting it.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 14, 2005 at 3:09 PM

    Misspelled “disastrous” above. Sorry/

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 14, 2005 at 3:59 PM

    Jack,

      By essentialism I mean many things including human nature.  Plato was the first philosophical essentialist with his ideal-types model whereby there exists an essential ideal of everything of which material reality is but an imperfect earthly representation.  Here he seems to not lnly pave the way for all future transcendental essentialism but set up a framework for his appearance and reality dichotomy.  The shadows on the cave analogy is also an allegorical representation of this thought.  Obviously I dont approve and think that existance has its very own meaning in the immediate set of relationships in which it finds itself. It is defined by those relationships mediated by human agency and human consciousness not by a transcendental essence that supposedly invests itself in all things inexplicably.

    Posted by steve on Jun 14, 2005 at 5:40 PM

    I agree with you about Plato, my essentialism
    is more Aristotelian. More another time.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 15, 2005 at 8:06 AM

    With each post, he spins further down the vortex of insanity.

    Posted by Margaret on Jun 15, 2005 at 3:29 PM

    I understand that debates in philosophy and philosophy of science are way over your head, Maggie BJ, but would you kindly refrain from entering debates where you have no contribution to make.

    Posted by Jack Barnes on Jun 16, 2005 at 6:50 AM

    ...“The Republican Party and its corporate constituency were clearly unable to woe poor, white, southern voters with a message of neo-liberal economics that was clearly against their interest.  So, in time honored fashion, religion suddenly became an instrument of political power brokering for a new agenda that has little to do with the interests of the poor or even faith itself.  Millions of impoverished, frightened, angry, and poorly educated Americans rushed to vote for a party and a candidate in 1980 that told them that the decline of America was due to failed liberal policies and views and only a return to faith could restore our greatness”...

    Steve, AGAIN you hit the nail on the head!  I think you must be about the most astute poster on all these ITT forums.

    The Repugs, some of ‘em, may LURVE Rand/Neoconservatism/Neoliberalism (some small differences but they all sing off the same hymn sheet), eg. Alan Greenspan does!!

    But HOW could they sell that to poor, working-class voters in the rural Mid-West and in the South, where people like that KNEW, well they didn’t exactly need a diagram, they were receiving object lessons EVERY day… that all these (right-wing) “intellectuals” in high places didn’t give a fig for ‘em??

    ANSWER: THEY COULDN’T!!  NO POLITICIAN COULD.  Libertarianism, if it were tried on a consistent (Randian) platform, would be a dead duck, if it isn’t already.

    So, the only thing to do was to displace the lesser-educated poor’s hatred onto the “liberal, latte-drinking intellectuals” (instead of the neocons!)

    And sell conservative ideology to them through the medium of religion.

    That’s the way it’s always worked, throughout history.

    There’s no OTHER way in which to persuade a class TO vote against its own interests… Oh, except for racism.  That helps the Right, too.

    But yeah, this is why the Marxists have always inveighed against religion… Because they’re sick of poor people getting hung up on it and hoodwinked by wolves in sheep’s clothing, no doubt.

    A wolf in wolf’s clothing like Ayn Rand or Leo Strauss could never have the same appeal.

    Posted by Liz on Jun 19, 2005 at 10:13 PM

    Lazlo Toth - another unlikely Jack Barnes alias!!

    Clarence Thomas spouting “liberal nonsense” - yeah, right!

    The Segregationist system of the South being decent and humane… Where DO you all come from, from under which rocks DO y’all crawl out??

    The “y’all” being paramount.  REALLY all these “Libertarians” and sundry other trash are Southerners, “states-rightsers”, which means racists, believers in the inferiority of blacks (which we KNOW you do, Jack - doesn’t matter that you think there might be one or two exceptions!)...

    All SORTS of Southern white trash…

    Name me ONE “Libertarian” who is a black!!  And don’t quote those uncle Toms who write for the Repugnant Party.  We all know about those.

    Posted by Liz on Jun 19, 2005 at 10:22 PM

    And funnily enough, a lot of right-wingers in modern history have managed to ally themselves with side issues like vegetarianism as well… I don’t know WHY, but there it is…

    Adolf Hitler the teetotal vegetarian/vegan, anyone??

    Posted by Liz on Jun 19, 2005 at 10:25 PM

    “Neo-liberal” means “liberal” as in laissez-FAIRE, Margaret.  (Rhymes with “We don’t CARE!”

    Just thought I’d tell you that, if Steve hasn’t, or has made a big complicated thing of it.

    I know, I know, it took ME quite a while to get that “neo-liberal” thing round my head, and to realize that it was behind Thatcherism and Reaganomics and all the other junk I hate.  Calling it “liberalism”...

    But I managed to get my head round the differences between neo-liberalism and liberalism liberalism, while I was still in my twenties!!  (And to realize some of the economics history rationale.)

    Blame Adam Smith and Thomas Malthus.

    Posted by Liz on Jun 19, 2005 at 10:33 PM
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