Hate Speech and Its Consequences

Michelle Malkin is on the warpath, literally, because YouTube is pulling what she calls “anti-jihad” videos from its servers.

She presents one such video, of which she is clearly proud, on her site. I say it’s not so much “anti-jihad” as “anti-Muslim.” The point of the video is to present Muslims as murderous, violent people who must be “stopped.” As I watched I noticed a photo in which a protester held up a sign calling for the beheading of anyone who insults the Prophet. At least the jihadists are upfront about their intentions. Malkin fervently stirs up hate and fear and says jihadists must be “stopped,” but doesn’t follow through with explicit proposals for how to do the “stopping.” The clear implication of the video is “kill them before they kill us,” but Malkin lacks the intellectual honesty to say that and will, I assume, deny that’s what she meant.

That’s why I say the video is not “anti-jihad.” More accurately, it is “counter-jihad,” albeit with the punches (or beheadings, if you will) pulled. An “anti-jihad” video would be one that proposes peaceful and rational solutions.

As the Buddha said, hate is never appeased by hate, but by metta (loving kindness; Dhammapada 1:3). Jesus had an opinion on this matter also:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. [Matthew 5:43-48, King James Version]

Is that not clear? Is there some other passage in the Gospels where Jesus threw in qualifiers (e.g., Thou mayest make hateful videos and post them on YouTube) that I’ve missed?

Awhile back Malkin threw a fit over alleged insults to Christianity. At least she’s speaking out for a religion other than her own, since she clearly isn’t a Christian herself. But let’s go on …

[Update: Right-wing columnist Jeff Jacoby says Jesus was wrong.]

Malkin also alleges that YouTube is being inconsistent with its standards, because videos posted by Islamic jihadists are allowed to remain. I’m going to take her word on that, as I’m not terribly interested in spending the next several hours checking out the content of YouTube. I’m all in favor of consistency in applying standards. However, “they get to do it, so why can’t we do it too?” is not a compelling moral argument.

Sharing of web content — text, music, photographs, or videos — brings up a number of issues touching on intellectual property, fair use, copyrights, and free access to information. I don’t want to get into most of those now, except to say that lots of people have some fuzzy notions about “rights” and “fairness.” As of this morning YouTube is, still, a privately owned company, I believe. It may be aquired by Google soon, which would make it part of a publicly owned company. What it isn’t is a public utility. That means nobody has a right to post whatever they want on YouTube. The owners are perfectly within their rights to restrict content to that which works well with their business model and doesn’t get them into legal trouble.

I feel the same way about blog comments. This blog is my property, I pay for the bandwidth, and I get to decide what stays and what goes. To anyone who gets pissed because I delete their comment, I say: Get your own blog. I am under no obligation to disseminate “information” that I believe is false or opinions with which I do not agree.

Which is pretty much what Tbogg says to Michelle:

Now Michelle could post her videos at her own site or at Hot Air but doing so indicates a lack lack of revolutionary zeal, not to mention that the cost of bandwidth would come out of her own mom pants pocket…. so I won’t mention it. This might cause the Great Leap Forward to become a mere Stumble on the Sidewalk-Crack Forward and those revolutions take way too long and then the proletariat masses get bored and they wander back inside to watch Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and wonder if they could afford one of those refrigerators that has the TV in the door because that would be really cool and besides, if you want money for people with minds that hate, all I can tell is brother you have to wait.


Offensive speech was one of the issues discussed at the Clinton Global Initiatives conference, such as in this panel discussion. The discussion was interesting but not entirely satisfactory. For example, at one point Farheed Zakaria asked why protests in the Muslim world about speech — for example, over the Danish cartoons and recent comments by the Pope — so often turn violent, even murderous. Queen Rania of Jordan responded by calling for “more interreligious and intercultural dialogue between all of us,” which is nice, but it doesn’t answer the question. However, in another part of the same discussion she described how violence begets violence —

I would like to say for example, like two months ago, before the war in Lebanon began. Here’s Lebanon, which is made up of a group of people that are peace-loving. They are very moderate and open and modern by nature. They are the natural allies to the global community. Then this war took place. And innocent civilians were seeing, on a daily basis, bodies of babies being put into plastic bags. The vital infrastructure was destroyed. A quarter of the population was displaced. And I can say that over the course of two months, the Arab public became much more radicalized. Because they saw this injustice. They saw this grief. And even the moderates, what we thought was a moderate majority started to shrink, and you can see this shrinking taking place. And the extreme voices came out as the victorious ones. And you could see that the voice of moderation, the voices that called for peace and diplomacy and engagement, they are losing currency. They are being marginalized.

So, if you want to strengthen the moderates, we have to see ― people have to see the dividends of moderation. They have to see the dividends of peace. And now, they are not seeing them. So again, I just want to say that if we want to gain the moderates, if we want to increase ― it’s almost percentages, you know. The percentage of extremists to moderates. If you want to increase and strengthen your moderate block, then people have to really feel an important difference in their lives. They have to see justice. They have to see ― and as I said, an honest engagement and an interest in their cause.

As I explained in this post, at the CGI conference several speakers said we shouldn’t be talking about a war on terrorism, but about a war on extremism. And fighting extremism with military aggression is a bit like using heavy machinery to re-arrange a china shop. The china may indeed be re-arranged, but the end results may still be unsatisfactory.

Further, you can’t reduce extremism with counter-extremism, but with moderation. That’s why we as a society need to discourage extremism in our own midst, just as we wish moderate Muslims would speak out more forcefully about extremism in their backyards. I’m not calling for censorship. I’m just saying, one private citizen to another: The counter-jihadist videos are not helping any of us.

I mean, what is the point? As I say, Malkin doesn’t provide strategies for dealing with Muslim hate and anger; she’s just interested in stirring up hate and anger against Muslims. Does she think people need to be warned about Islamic terrorism? Are we not, in fact, perpetually and robustly being warned about Islamic terrorism?

As an eyewitness to the collapse of the WTC towers, and as someone who spends time in New York City and its public transportation and other infrastructures (likewise my children and friends), believe me, I don’t need to be warned about the dangers of terrorism. I am genuinely worried about train and subway bombings, à la Madrid and London. I worry that eventually we’ll be plagued by suicide bombers in our major cities.

There’s free speech, and there’s irresponsible speech — yelling fire in a crowded theater, and all that.

It seems to me that the video Ms. Malkin is so proud of serves no other function than to fan the flames of hate. If she presented information that is not already very public, or provided some kind of strategy for dealing with Islamic jihadism, that would be different. But she doesn’t. The video is nothing but hate speech, IMO.

Back during the Danish cartoon flap I mused over whether American news outlets were right not to republish the cartoons. Malkin was heading up a crusade to get those cartoons re-published all over America, saying that not publishing the cartoons was giving in to terrorists. I said in the earlier post that solidarity with the free speech of Danish newspapers was certainly a compelling stand.

But then I looked at the cartoons, and for the most part they were crude and hateful and conveyed no other message than Muslims are bad. They were not cartoons most American news editors would choose to publish without the controversy. And it’s not like the cartoons were hidden, as they were all over the web. So what do you call it if newspapers allowed themselves to be bullied by righties into publishing something they didn’t want to publish? Is coercion ever acceptable?

One of the commenters wrote, “Sorry, but I can’t see how cultural sensitivity and respect (which are good) should EVER trump a fundamental value in our own culture.” I respect that. On the other hand, the fact is that news media self-censor themselves all the time for the sake of cultural sensitivity. Racist, sexist, anti-semitic, and other bigoted expression once common in the American press are pretty scarce now. This self-censorship is inspired mostly by marketing — publishers don’t want to drive away readers by offending them. Ah, the magic of free markets

Freedom of speech is a fundamental value in the West. Yet it has never been absolute, even here in the Land of the Free. The German Opera of Berlin was slammed recently for canceling a production of Mozart’s Idomeneo in which Jesus, Mohammed, and the Buddha are decapitated, a scene not in the original opera. Police had warned the opera company management that the production might incite violence. As a matter of principle I think the production should have been performed, even though (as an opera buff) most artistic revisionism of standard repertoire annoys me. Just get the best singers you can get and put them in pretty costumes and perform the damnfool opera, I say.

But it’s also realistic to assume that few if any opera companies in the U.S. would have scheduled that production at all. That’s because grand opera is so expensive to produce that opera companies cannot support themselves with ticket sales. This is true even of Big Shot companies like New York’s Metropolitan Opera, which consistently sells out performances even though the tickets ain’t cheap. The Met draws more than 800,000 attendees every season, their web site says. Yet the Met seems to be in perpetual telethon mode; I get solicited for donations at least once a month. In fact, this report says the Met gets more of its funds from “contributions and bequests” than from the box office.

I don’t know about the Met, but most opera companies in the U.S. depend in part on government grants to stay afloat. If you care to study it, here’s a financial statement from the Los Angeles Opera Company, for example.

That’s why I doubt any opera company in America would even consider mounting the Idomeneo production that was bounced in Berlin. Beheading Jesus might piss off too many contributors, corporate and private. Forget about selling ads in the program. And as for government grants — the wingnuts still get worked up about the photograph “Piss Christ” that was exhibited in bleeping 1987. They’ve been on a rampage to reduce or eliminate public funding of the arts since, in spite of the fact that public funding underwrites preservation and exhibition of traditional sacred art and objects (including Bibles) and uncounted performances of Handel’s Messiah.

Take also reactions to the Terrence McNally play, “Corpus Christi,” which depicts Christ and the Apostles as gay men living in Texas. These include death threats against actors and arson threats against theaters. What’s not documented are the number of theater companies that might like to produce the play but wouldn’t dare touch it with a ten-foot pool.

I’m rambling on longer than I intended to. My general point is that we’re real good at pointing out the logs in others’ eyes when we’re not so quick to notice the logs in our own (Matthew 7:1-5, sorta). And, really, nobody needs counter-jihadist videos on YouTube.

Update: Reuters reports:

Danish state TV on Friday aired amateur video footage showing young members of the anti-immigrant Danish Peoples’ party engaged in a competition to draw humiliating cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

The video images have surfaced little more than a year after a Danish paper published cartoons of the Prophet that sparked violent protests worldwide.

The images, filmed by artist Martin Rosengaard Knudsen who posed as a member of the party for several months to document attitudes among young members, show a number of young people drinking, singing and drawing cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.

The faces of the young people were blurred in most of the footage. One cartoon appeared to depict the Prophet Mohammad as a camel, urinating and drinking beer. The competition took place in early August, according to Danish media.

Another cartoon strip aired in the partly masked footage on state TV seemed to show the prophet Mohammad surrounded by beer bottles and included an image of an explosion.

The news story is titled “Danish TV shows cartoons mocking Prophet Mohammad,” but it appears Danish TV was not mocking the Prophet but presenting a news story about young people mocking the Prophet, which is somewhat different.

Some of the children on the blosophere — by which I mean some rightie bloggers — have embraced the cartoons as their newest cause célèbre and are posting as many bits and pieces of the broadcast as they can get their virtual hands on. This is done in the same spirit of concerned interest that you find in any gang of eight-year-olds with a purloined Hustler magazine.

Somebody, please call their parents …

27 thoughts on “Hate Speech and Its Consequences

  1. Michelle Malkin is a festering postule on the anus of humanity! What she say’s is not important to the rest of us. It willl matter only to the 23% of those who will follow a strong leader (from John Dean’s book).
    Nuff said….
    Can I understand why they cancelled the Opera? Yes.
    However, when you deny art, you deny LIFE!
    What if Mozart felt there were too many notse?
    What if Monet did’t like dot’s?
    What if Joyce didn’t want to write run-on sentences?
    What if Capra decided that Mr. Smith didn’t have to go to Washington?
    I’m not sure what I would do either. But, I might take the chance…
    I, at least think, I think I would would try…

  2. Back during the Danish cartoon flap I mused over whether American news outlets were right not to republish the cartoons.

    I mused whether or not we were going to have to go aviking again and show these bitches what terror really means.

  3. To me, Michelle Malkin is a complete turn-off. There is nothing of value or beauty that emanates from her being. She is repulsive to my spirit. I can respect hate speech when it’s delivered honestly, but when it’s masked in a cutesy fashion of innocence, it’s really sickening. I wish for Michelle Malkin a nasty intractable yeast infection.. How’s that for honesty?… 🙂

    To Michelle I’ll pass along the wisdom of an old sage…” One of these days your lips are going to get worn out, and you’ll have a brand new asshole”

  4. There’s a lot of great points here to discuss, but I want to focus on a side issue you brought up near the beginning, one that is rather common on leftie sites, and one that has been bothering me for some time. For better or worse, your posting is going to serve as a lightening rod for a few other similar postings I’ve seen on other sites:

    Awhile back Malkin threw a fit over alleged insults to Christianity. At least she’s speaking out for a religion other than her own, since she clearly isn’t a Christian herself.

    Lefties have a habit of claiming that because X advocates Y, they’re really not Christians. For example, I’ve seen this applied to this big time megachurch TV pastor out of San Antonio (his name escapes me) whose pulpit/set is decorated with frightening diagrams of the apocalpse, and his exhortations are on this topic. The guy preaches to thousands inside his church and to millions via cable TV, and yet lefties claim he’s not really a Christian. It’s a pointless distinction in my opinion, given the man’s effect on the public – his listeners most certainly think he’s a Christian, and I’m certain he thinks so too.

    I would say that nobody owns Christianity. If enough people twist Jesus’ teachings into thinking that Jesus meant nuke your enemies, then that is what Chrisianity has come to mean. Jesus has been interpreted differently throughout the centuries – the Crusades are a medieval version of nuke-your-enemies, for example. This is beautifully laid out in Jesus Through the Centuries” by Jaroslav Pelikan.

    But more to the point: A helluva lot of people believe in the nuke-your-enemies Christianity of Malkin and her kind. These people, for whatever reasons, are not willing or able to accept what they would regard as the radical teachings of Jesus toward dealing with enemies. They are able to accept other, less demanding teachings, even though they may or may not be great at living them out. And I would argue that regardless of the teachings they accept or reject, the overriding point is that they are trying to follow Christ, in their own way, to the best of their ability. They certainly think of themselves as Christians.

    I say this as someone who has spent a lot of time inside these churches, before they became so extremely radicalized by the current political situation. It simply doesn’t clarify the situation to say that someone as hideous as Malkin isn’t a Christian. She might think she is, and so do millions of others of her bent.

    I tend to think of it in terms of spiritual maturity instead. The immature, like children, see the world in stark black and white. The immature are convinced that they are the guys wearing the white hats. They project everything they can’t own inside themselves onto the black hats (or turbans in this case). They, like all of us, are doing the best they can.

    There are phases of spiritual maturity, this is laid out in a difficult book by James Fowler, Stages of Faith. I would argue that the intensifying showdown encouraged by Christianity’s enthusiasts in our country versus those of Islam is going to do a lot toward growing people out of their immaturity, if it doesn’t take all of us down with them.

    It’s easy, and understandable for people on the outside to look at nuke-your-enemy Christians and to think that they’re really not Christians, but I don’t think that’s particularly true or useful.

    [/end rant]

  5. It’s bad enough that Bush’s declaration of war on terror satisfies what terrorists want – revenge, renown, reaction – we have the likes of M. Malkin, an “ordinary” American also satisfying what they want.

    We could hope that once the Bush administration is in the dust bin of history, the American people could represent themselves to the world as a decent, tolerant, intelligent populace. But as long as Ms. Malkin and her ilk spout their death-dealing rhetoric, the government we choose will be beside the point.

  6. moonbat — I have always been religious, and spent the first 25 or so years of my life wrestling with Christianity. By this I mean trying to reconcile the teachings of Jesus with the organized religion called Christianity. Eventually I gave up.

    I make a distinction between religion as a tribal identity and religion as, you know, religion. One is actually the opposite of the other. Malkin may consider herself to be a Christian, but she clearly has never taken on the challenge of practicing Christianity as a spiritual path. Thus, she is no Christian. She’s a Christianist.

    And I say that distinction is both true AND useful. Organized Christianity would be doing itself a favor if it could make that distinction.

  7. moonbat,
    I’m no great Christian believer, but…
    I’ve tried to lead my life so that I don’t intentionally hurt anyone That’s my guiding light.
    Other people let their light be guided by people they feel are superior. They give up their right’s to other’s.
    These are the people we must fear. These are the people we must get a hold of and try to direct.
    These are the people strapping on dynamite vest’s. These are the people putting explosives into truck’s and driving them to Oklahoma.
    These are true believer’s who will believe in anything they are told.

    Me? I”m still looking…

  8. Right Maha, and good comment c u n d gulag.
    I had an interresting conversation to day with a shop keeper who deals with imported curios, mostly from Indonesia and the far East.
    He is planning a buying trip to Indonesia and Myanmar (previously known as Burma). I asked him how travel was to that part of the world these days, since I haven’t been over there since the 80’s.
    He said the Indonesians are as friendly and hospitable as ever, but he avoids the major resorts “just in case”.But he loves going there, and the people are really, really special.It is indescribable unless you have experienced it. Indonesia is a Muslim country, but the percentage of radicals who want to cause trouble is low. Most people anywhere in the world want to provide for their families and do not have time to persue Jihadist bullshit.
    In recent weeks, many people have sent me hateful stuff about Muslims. In central Fl, we have a considerable Muslim population, but a large number of the Muslims are from Guyana and the Balkan countries (refugees from the Balkan war). We also have a significant number of professionals, Doctors and engineers, from Pakistan.I don’t see why anyone would want to cause these people any grief because of their religion, unless (and here’s MY conspiracy theory) someone or some group is trying to insite hate against ALL Muslims.
    There is little doubt that Muslims the world over are agitated, but keep in mind that three Muslim countries are in ruins, Palistine is hell on earth, and recent information tells that Bush was ready to attack Saudi Arabia and Pakistan after 9/11. Syria and Iran appear to be in the “cross hairs”.And the hateful retoric from the west keeps on unabated thanks to goof balls like Malkin.
    I heard Aga Kahn on NPR last week, he said the current problem in the world is not so much religion, as it is a melding of Religion and politics, and a war between politicians.I’m inclined to agree.
    My 84 year old mother has 2 sets of friends, a Catholic couple and a Muslim couple from Guyana. The Catholic couple has been ripping her off for years, not big stuff, but pilfering things from her fridge, “borrowing ” tools and nor returning them, etc. The Muslim couple check on her daily, bring her food, and get on my case for not visiting her more. I’m not saying this is typical behavior of Catholics and Muslims, just pointing out that people of any faith can be good or not so good.
    I just wish people would quit picking on Muslims for being Muslim, it’s not good and certainly not fair.
    As far as Malkin or any of those other hate mongers passing themselves off as Christians, I think Maha nailed it, they are radicals who pretend to be Christians. The Amish have shown true Christian values by forgiving the family of the psycho who murdered and shot their children.Even thought the lead a very unconventional lifestyle, at least they practice what they preach.
    Hagee, on the other hand is a dangerous cult leader.

  9. “I am under no obligation to disseminate “information” that I believe is false or opinions with which I do not agree.”

    I have been watching that; a few times I have been deleted, I suspect for being off-topic rather than disagreeable, but more times my comments have been tolerated – even though I know my comments include opinions, with which you do NOT completely agree. I hope others have noted the tolerence and respect for different opinions. I will try to stay on topic.

    Since I graduated from a Catholic High School, and no longer consider myself “Christian”, I will wade into this discussion.

    Christianity as a personal philosophy rather than the doctrine of an organized religion is simply “being like Christ”. I can have the utmost respect for a Christian of any denomination who sincerely makes that his spiritual goal. I frequently irritate so-called Christians by asking about 2 aspects of the gospel.

    When – please any ONE example – did Christ force his teachings or beliefs on ANYONE who was not interested? As I read the gospels, throngs of people collected to hear him speak -even if they had to go out to the desert. So what are you doing at my door with a bunch of religious tracts and trick questions about my salvation? How DARE you try to codify YOUR doctrine into law that you force down MY throat! How totally un-Christ-like!

    Second example – and this will case appoplexy in most Christaians – When did Christ EVER advocate violence? The Jews were oppressed by Rome in the most vile manner, and Christ never took up – or adocated war or violence against that tyrany. Quite the opposite – the night of his abduction – before crucifixion -he healed a Roman Centurion; a zealos apostle sliced off an ear.

    Where do you get ‘soldiers of Christ’? (a Catholic term) How do you justify war under Christianity?

    The above 2 examples probably won’t bring about a citation of Christ taking a whip to the money-changers. If it does, you might commend the person for their recall. The ONLY example of Christ imposing his will with anger and violence on another is in the Temple; the corruption within the sacred walls of the temple was the ONLY thing that justified the use of force.

    I do beleive in capital punishment in some circumstances & the use of war under some circumstances (though not as we are in Iraq) and I find my beliefs can’t be reconciled as Christain. I won’t twist my understanding of Christianity – which took a lot of years after Catholic School to attain – to fit my personal convictions – which I won’t abandon either. So I can’t call myself a Christian.

  10. Erinyes,
    I see your point!
    If there is a God, there are many path’s to reaching H:im/Her/It.
    Who cares which way you do it, as long as it is wih consentual adult’s.
    Each culture, religion and faith have thier own unique path to the “Supreme Being.”
    We are all traveler’s on the same path. Should I hate you because you drive a Honda? A Chevy? A Ford?
    How stupid is that?
    How stupid is the hatred that is caused by religion?

    I’ve always said that I believe in a God – I JUST DON’T BELEIVE IN RELIGION!!!.
    God is good!
    Religion is bad. Ii’s a brand – like Coke, or Pepsi. You suck if you don’t drink what I do 🙂
    Nuff said…

  11. The Heretik,
    I agree.
    Not a bad idea for a foreign policy either, I venture…
    Only one problem – it’s way too.. way too…How can I say? It’s just, just way too “Christian!”

    What do you think? Will it happen in our lifetime (I’m 48 – and fading fast…)?
    Cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze…

    Only love can counter what this evil Administration has done!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. This post catches me as I’ve been thinking about the Columbia students who interrupted the Minuteman Jim Gilchrist when the young Republicans imported him to up the hate ante at that university. Sure seemed to me like the right thing to do at an appearance of this dangerous inciter of violence — but on the other hand, as the ACLU says, “the remedy for hate speech is more speech.” Hmm.

    Then I think about John Yoo, the lawyer who opines that a President is really a king, and who teaches at the law school at UC Berkeley. What is wrong with the students there who let him get away with masquerading as an intellectual authority when he’s clearly a dangerous whore for the powerful? How does he manage to appear in public? But then again, should I respect his right to speak?

    When are these people doing the equivalent of shouting fire in an enclosed space, giving me a moral need, if not legal license, to interrupt?

    I think these are real questions, much related to your post.

  13. Thankyou for this post maha. It’s so appropriate on many fronts, but here are only two:

    1. Malkin complaining about censorship – she has as much right to have her hate videos aired as the next guy. Just because the site may not agree with her is no reason why her video should be excluded. After all Michelle, you (or your pal ALLAHpundit – how ironic is that name) didn’t ban commenters from those with RESPECTFULLY differing views from your new site within the first three days, did you?

    2. Queen Rania of Jordan. She points out that those who use violence do so at their own peril. They (in this case the Israelis-with US backing) have created radicals where once they did not exist. You might say that moderates use extreme methods to create extremists that were once moderates.

    Sound familiar Mr. Bush? Sound familiar Michelle?

  14. janinsanfran,

    I ain’t no lawer, here, but I’ll try…

    I can’t speak for Yoo, nor Yoo for me.
    Yoo ain’t me. And me ain’t Yoo!!!

    And Yoo is wrong…

    Just ’cause Yoo say’s it’s so, don’t mean it’s so…

    Shrub likes Yoo’s idea’s, is all. The “UNITARIAN” ones.

    You (not Yoo) and I had better watch out!

    BTW: F@(K YOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    (Not you) 🙂

  15. the Columbia students who interrupted the Minuteman Jim Gilchrist when the young Republicans imported him

    It would have been better if the Columbia students had left Gilchrist alone but staged some kind of counter-demonstration, including pro-racial diversity speakers, on another part of campus. When people take it on themselves to stop someone else from speaking it sets a bad precedent. Do unto others, etc.

  16. I think its interesting that the very people who show disdain for “fundamentalist Christians” and their literal interpretations of scripture, bolster their arguments against them by pointing to things like …..the literal words of scripture. Hmmmm. Which is it? You can use literal translation of scripture where it says what you want it to say (ie..pacifistic words of Jesus)? And ignore when it demonstrates a very angry God that will inflict capital punishment for picking up sticks on the Sabbath?

    Obviously theres a paradox presented by symbolic scripture. You cant stop an attack by some thug trying to kill you or a loved one, and embrace the “love thine enemy” position at the same time. Likewise, you cant be so filled with hatred toward an enemy that you are consumed by it and forget to show mercy and compassion when your foot is on that enemies throat.
    When secular observers say “These arent real Christians”..They are employing the very black and white world with no shades of grey they accuse the “fundy” of employing. They agree with the “love thy enemy” Jesus but cast aside the “dont judge” Jesus?

    You dont have to be an adherent to a 2000 year old religious tradition to be narrow minded. You only have to have a narrow mind.

  17. I think its interesting that the very people who show disdain for “fundamentalist Christians” and their literal interpretations of scripture, bolster their arguments against them by pointing to things like …..the literal words of scripture. Hmmmm. Which is it?

    Fundies’ alleged “literal interpetation” of scripture, which amounts to picking and choosing what fits their prejudices, is not the fundamental (cough) problem. Fundamentalism is a social-cultural movement that infests religion and corrupts it, like cancer. In many ways the fundamentalist movements in all the world’s major religions — particularly that of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam — are the same disease. They only seem different because the host religions they feed on are different.

    I realize that the Christian version of fundamentalism supposedly began with a theological movement in the early 20th century, but I think it’s more accurate to say that the social movement that took the name “fundamentalism” isn’t really about those theological ideas.

    There’s a good explanation of the disease of fundamentalism here. For a more in-depth analysis, I recommend Karen Armstrong’s book The Battle for God.

    BTW, it’s because I respect Christianity and the teachings of Jesus that I speak out against fundamentalism.

    Update; One more thing —

    When secular observers say “These arent real Christians”..They are employing the very black and white world with no shades of grey they accuse the “fundy” of employing.

    You only see it that way because “Christian” to you is a value judgment. However, I am more dispassionate about it all, as I am no Christian, either, although neither am I “secularist.” I was raised Christian but converted to Buddhism years ago.

    I am just saying that Malkin is no Christian. My cat is not a dog; my refrigerator is not a vacuum cleaner. It’s just a statement of fact. Catty, yes, but fact nonetheless.

  18. “.. hate is never appeased by hate, but by metta (loving kindness…”

    It may not be appeased by hate but it can certainly forestall it.

    How do you square your sentiments with WW2? Were the bombs dropped on Germany manifestations of loving kindness?

    You make so much sense and so often but such bland offerings as “hate is never appeased by hate…” are really useless and meaningless.

  19. How do you square your sentiments with WW2?

    Sir, your thinking is mushy. The Third Reich wasn’t a threat to us because they “hated” us. Their emotions were beside the point. It was ideology and greed for power than made them dangerous. The U.S. had to defend itself.

    Self-defense is OK in Buddhism. Back in the day Zen monks really did develop and practice martial arts, you know. But you can defend yourself from someone without hating him. Again, emotions are beside the point. If you have to defend yourself, then defend yourself. And then let go of defending yourself (Zennies are big on not clinging).

    By showing loving kindness to Germans after the war, via the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift, the U.S. turned an enemy into an ally. Compare that with punitive attitudes toward Germany after World War I, which had a lot to do with causing World War II.

    Useless and meaningless, you say? I don’t think so.

  20. Maha, seems like you conveniently left yourself out of the list of people who are even possible of fundamentalist attitudes. Its Christians, Muslim, Jews…..But you, the all wise and immune to cultural and social conditioning One? Must feel special thinking you dont have prejudices that could lead to infestation and corruption.

    You see something as impossible to define as “what is a Christian”, and see it as easy to define as a vacuum cleaner or refrigerator? Nothing fundamental or rigid about your attitude.

    So youre a Buddhist huh? I’ve known a few enlightened Buddhist. I just never met one that would suggest that about themselves.

  21. Maha, seems like you conveniently left yourself out of the list of people who are even possible of fundamentalist attitudes. Its Christians, Muslim, Jews…..But you, the all wise and immune to cultural and social conditioning One?

    Did I not say ALL the world’s major religions? I did. However, the monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) are particularly susceptible for the simple reason that generally they are more dogmatic — more based on adherence to belief and dogma — than other religions. The Karen Armstrong book I cited focuses only on those, although the web page on fundamentalism I linked to also lists Hinduism as a religion infested by fundamentalism.

    Buddhism is non-dogmatic,meaning that belief is less important than practice, which makes it less susceptible to fundamentalist theology. In some cases (e.g., Zen, which essentially teaches that all beliefs are crap) Buddhism is even anti-dogmatic. Even so, some sects have grown dogmas over the years, and some sects have taken on some of the characteristics of fundamentalism described on the “Faith and Fundamentalism” page, but I’m not aware of any sects that have become totally fundamentalist.

    There are a number of other religions I also didn’t include, such as Baha’i, Jain, Shinto, Zoroastrianism (which I discuss here), Confucianism (which one might argue has always been fundamentalist by nature) and Taoism. I consider Sikhism to be a sect of Islam, but the Sikhs are unlikely to be fundies.

    I don’t see that “what is a Christian?” is an impossible question. A Christian is one who follows the teachings of Jesus. Those teachings can be interpreted a lot of different ways, of course. But people who label themselves Christian but aren’t even making a token effort to follow the teachings of Jesus are not, IMO, Christians in a religious sense. You could argue they are “Christian” in a kind of loose cultural sense, I suppose.

    I see that you are a hateful person and determined to hate me. If you have any other comments I suggest you chill awhile before posting them.

  22. Maha –

    You wrote a good article, but your responses put you in the running for a Pulitzer Prize (when they start giving those out for blogging) RightOn!

  23. What is a Jew?
    What is a Christian?
    What is a Muslim?
    I’m about to lay out the dumbest analogy in the history of humanity. Here goes:
    If you’re a believer in any one, you are a believer in all. All believe in the same God. The SAME God…
    A Jew is someone who follows the Old Testament. Abraham, etc… “Abraham is described as a patriarch blessed by God (Genesis 17:5). (From Wikipedia).
    A Christian is someone who believes in the teaching of Christ, a Prophet who was born a Jew. Those teachings accept, not except, the Old Testament and Abraham. (Christ had no army, so “An Army of/in Christ” is not something that Jesus would be the head of).
    Muhammad was another Prophet of the Abrahamic tribe. His path to his God, Allah, also accepted the two prior Abrahamic religions and their teachings.
    Oversimplification? Yes! But, what is the argument?
    Ford developed the mass production of car’s = Abraham.
    General Motors and Chevy punched the old Model-T up = Jesus.
    Buick came along and changed a lot of the way things were done in Detroit = Muhammad.
    Let’s say we’re all trying to get to God = Graceland.
    All are nice cars.
    All will get you where you want to go – Graceland.
    All have different “owner manual’s.”

    Is this what we’re arguing and killing each other? Over these manuals?
    “You don’t change the oil that way on the way to Graceland! You do it THIS WAY!!! Or else I’ll kill you, you son of a jackal!!!!!!!!”

    ME? I drive a polytheistic car, a Saturn (he was the God of fertility and agriculture). I kind of like reaping and sowing….

    Maha, maybe next time we can tackle the Easter Religions – Honda, Toyota and Suburu 🙂

    Looking for God is OK folk’s, just don’t make fun of other people’s owners manuals.

    ‘Nuff said…

    Have a nice weekend, all!!!

  24. Falwell and his ilk promote religious wars, disguised as God’s word, to give life to their fund raising strategies – or to sell books. Putting them in that light, they become nothing more than flim-flam artists, certainly not Christian theologians or evangelicals. At the same time their “religious” faith at its ugliest is a rottenness of certitude, which makes them extremely obnoxious flim-flam artists.

  25. I have a question for c u n d gulag. Did you write your doctoral thesis in Comparative Religions, Theology, or Automotive Engineering? In any case, an enlightened bit of reasoning.

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