God Nazis

Two stories being linked to on the Right Blogosphere:

Tricia Bishop writes for the Chicago Sun that retailers have already surrendered in the Christmas Wars.

Christmas is back at Wal-Mart – not that it really ever left.

After testing out a generic, yet all-inclusive, “happy holidays” theme last year, the nation’s largest retailer announced this month that Christmas will dominate its seasonal marketing in the U.S.

“We’ve learned our lesson,” said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Marisa Bluestone. “This year, we’re not afraid to say, ‘Merry Christmas.'”

Neither are Walgreens, Target, Macy’s, Kmart and Kohl’s, among others. In interviews this week, spokesmen from those major retailers said that their stores acknowledge the Christmas holiday, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s backlash led by conservative Christian groups. …

… “Clearly, retailers have learned that they can still be inclusive of all religions while wishing their customers a ‘merry Christmas,'” she said.

Sure, they have.

Some said Wal-Mart might actually be asking for trouble with its new policy. Employees were encouraged to mix it up this year and toss out a “Happy Hanukkah” and “Kwanzaa” among their “Season’s Greetings,” or maybe even a “Feliz Navidad” if the mood strikes.

Wal-Mart workers are supposed to “use their best judgment” to figure out what’s appropriate for whom, spokeswoman Bluestone said.

“How can they tell? They’re going to look at people and [guess]?” asked Amna Kirmani, a professor of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

At the Wal-Mart on Port Covington Drive this week, aisles were stocked with Christmas items and their generic, wintry counterparts – such as decorative snowmen and sleds – but nary a menorah to be found. A manager said the store doesn’t stock many Hanukkah items, and what it had this year was already purchased.

This rightie blogger is glad Wal-Mart has “seen the light,” but I’m not persuaded that all the God Nazis will be appeased. When people want to take offense, they nearly always find something that offends them.

The other story is from Australia, where Scholastic Australia has killed publication of a book because it might offend Muslims.

A LEADING children’s publisher has dumped a novel because of political sensitivity over Islamic issues.

Scholastic Australia pulled the plug on the Army of the Pure after booksellers and librarians said they would not stock the adventure thriller for younger readers because the “baddie” was a Muslim terrorist

You need to read the whole story for the context in which this decision was made, but it is a shame, when people allow themselves to be intimidated into self-censorship.

The arbiters of righteousness at Little Green Footballs are outraged. (Linking to LGF violates Mahablog policy; I trust you can find the post if you really want to.)

The Australian branch of a multinational publisher of children’s books has canceled their publication of an adventure thriller by an award-winning novelist—because the bad guys are Islamic terrorists: Islamic fears kill off children’s thriller. (Hat tip: Andrew Bolt.)

But get a load of what they are willing to publish.

The article describes a couple of other books, recently published in Australia, that allegedly make excuses for Islamic terrorism. However, the article doesn’t say that Scholastic Australia published those books. I checked Scholastic Australia’s web site and couldn’t find them; I suspect another publisher brought them out.

Once again: Righties can’t read.

But the moral is, intimidation by Muslims is bad; intimidation by Christians is good.

One more example of God Nazis — I don’t have time this morning to do this subject justice, but I call your attention to this article by Deepak Chopra at Huffington Post. I agree with Chopra’s basic premise — that religion and science are not mutually exclusive — but then he goes off on some mushy New Age tangent about consciousness that destroys his own premise. (I added a comment to the article, but my comment hasn’t been published yet. It may show up later today.) Chopra has established himself as some kind of spirituality guide, but after reading this I question if he has ever gone beneath the surface himself. For another take on spirituality and consciousness, try this.

However, I am not calling Chopra a God Nazi. I may disagree with him, but he’s not marching around trying to intimidate people into thinking the way he does. Some of the commenters, on the other hand, want to stamp out Chopra. Some put him in the same box as James Dobson; hardly. In this case, the militant atheists are the God Nazis.

Update: Glenn Greenwald points to righties who are upset by the word Christianist but who themselves use the word Islamist.

16 thoughts on “God Nazis

  1. “I don’t have time this morning to do this subject justice.”

    I like to see justice done to all subjects and, therefore, urge you to put this subject on your to-do-justice list. I agree that Chopra is no God Nazi. However, I’ve long felt that his writings could be classified as the spiritual equivalent of “Fun With Dick and Jane” and “My Weekly Reader.” A good place to start, but a bad place to stop.

    Please continue to express your thoughts on this topic, when you have the time and the inclination.

  2. Let’s not forget the Capitalism Nazis, like the board of WalMart, who’s theological underpinnings are ‘what sells most’, no matter who requires appeasing to achieve that. If their focus groups say they can sell more by reaching out to Stalinists who are also meth-snorting volcano dancers, they’ll be quick to oblige.

    I’m still waiting for Christ to be restored to Christianity, not used to restore ka-ching to an advertising jingle.

  3. Maha,
    The problem with Chopra is that he misrepresents science. Badly. PZ Myers does of great job of pointing this out. (Pharyngula) Nobody relaly cares if Deepak believes his own “spiritual”tuff, whatever it may be. But he makes claims about what scientists say and think that are unsupportable.
    I have also found that any atheist who dares point out that there is no evdence to support the claims of most of these “gurus”, is automatically classified as “militant”. Skepticism is the default position for us. That alone offends some people, who wouldn’t hesitate to demand evidence if dealing with someone who was going to hanlde your money. but when it comes to “spiritual” matters, us militant atheist folks had better shut up.
    One thing you can say about Chopra, he doesn’t seem to do much peer reviewed research, but he’s a great salesman.
    Happy Holidays,

  4. I can’t get past the word religion. No matter how innocuously it’s presented, it still conveys to me a sense of external cosmic consciousness and with that comes moral absolutes and purpose. My experience is that live in a detached and uncaring universe. But that’s just me… Bush thinks it’s hard being a president?..He should try being a swami for a week.

  5. Griff: Right; Chopra misrepresents science, and PZ Myers (whom I have met; he’s a lovely fellow) likewise misrepresents religion, and to much the same degree. If I had to chose one over the other I’d take PZ’s version of the world, but there’s no reason to have to choose one over the other.

    I have also found that any atheist who dares point out that there is no evdence to support the claims of most of these “gurus”, is automatically classified as “militant”.

    Oh, please. Last summer I wrote a long post about why religion and science do not necessarily oppose each other. They seem that way because people (including most religious people) have a limited and narrow view of what religion is, and in Chopra’s case he has a limited and narrow view of both religion and science. So you end up with ignorant people arguing in ignorance that the other guy is ignorant.

    If religion doesn’t interest you that’s fine with me, and if you want to tell prosyltizers to go bleep themselves that’s fine with me, too. But when you become antagonistic to all religion, you are no better than the prosyltizers.

  6. I’ve long felt that his writings could be classified as the spiritual equivalent of “Fun With Dick and Jane” and “My Weekly Reader.”

    Awhile back I undertook traditional Zen study under a roshi recognized as a legitimate dharma heir of a Japanese lineage. It was intense. I gave it up because it was just too much to attempt while I was raising two kids, but I have always intended to go back. Soon, I think. You’re right; in comparison Chopra and the rest of the New Age “gurus” seem a joke.

  7. Oh My God!

    Little Green Footballers upset that a publisher does not publlish a particular book. What planet are these fools from? Not to mention all the books, movies, comics, documentaries, plays, and speeches that have not been published, distributed, advertised, approved, syndicated, or otherwise allowed to see the light of day because they had a liberal slant or were unflattering to the powers that be. Mention one of these untold works on Little Green Footballs and you know what will happen? ………Nothing…………

  8. Maha,
    Thanks for the feedback. We agree on much.
    I am in fact antagonistic to claims without evidence. If that makes me “no better than the prosylitizers, so be it. I generally say nothing about religion, a practice I’ll now resume.
    It’s interesting you studied zen. I took a mindfulness training course, much of it based on techniques from Buddhism, at the VA hospital here. It was rigorous, and I think meditation of this sort does change you. I think it does so in ways more profound and interesting than the traditional monotheistic religions. I maintain a meditation practice, but subscribe to no Buddhist beliefs about reincarnation, karma, etc.
    Good luck in your future practice.

  9. Oh please, not the Christmas wars again. With all the poop hitting the wall in Iraq and Palestine we’re worried about “Merry Christmas”?
    I know what you mean, Swami. If Bush thinks he has it rough, he can follow me around for a week, then look at my meager check at the end of the week.I deal with more assholes in one week than any proctologist looks at in a normal year.
    As for Deepak, he makes a butt load of money with his new age feel good stick, but he also makes a lot of people happy, and at least gives them a change from the angry big daddy god.. Long live Chopra.Go curry….

  10. I am in fact antagonistic to claims without evidence. If that makes me “no better than the prosylitizers, so be it.

    Real spirituality isn’t about “claims without evidence.” Just believing in fantastic things is not spirituality. Religious “beliefs” are for people who don’t have the inclination and discipline for true mysticism. It’s like training wheels for people who can’t get the hang of riding a bicycle.

    but subscribe to no Buddhist beliefs about reincarnation, karma, etc.

    In a sense, neither do Buddhists, or at least, not in what you probably think those words mean. Shunyata is key. If you haven’t perceived shunyata, then “reincarnation” and “karma” are silly. And “believing” in karma and reincarnation are pointless. The realization of shunyata changes everything; it’s the Mother of All Paradigm Shifts. It’s like that picture that’s either a vase or two people facing each other, depending on how you look at it. One minute you can only see the vase but not the faces, and the next minute you see both, plain as day, and they were both there all the time. No beliefs required.

  11. I heard a group discussion recently by a bunch of pols (not the rapture bunch) whose primary fear was that the whole world would very soon be Muslimized (my word.) Surprisingly, terrorism was NOT so much to be dreaded as the impending death of Christianity as the world went Muslim. If that view is as wide-spread as the people in the discussion group seemed to indicate, are we really engaged in religious wars? If so, we’re in deep kaka.

  12. “Glenn Beck Program”: Muslims author prevented from speaking at Brown
    Host Glenn Beck interviews Nonie Darwish, author of “Now They Call Me Infidel.” Darwish had been scheduled to speak at Brown, but her appearance was canceled due to concerns that her lecture would be too controversial.

    America is no longer as free as it was prior to 9/11.

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