Thursday, October 09, 2014

There Is Nothing Quite So Bracing

Vanity_Fair

As watching this pillock using the late Christopher Hitchens as a vehicle to lecture us po' dumb ol' Liberal Fifth Columnists on Islamofascism and the Middle East.
...
The totalism of Islam is as dangerous as any other totalism – and liberals better understand that about it.

Yes, it is vital to make distinctions between the various ways in which Islam is practised across the world – which reveals some potential for reform, in the way that Christianity and Judaism have reformed and examined themselves over the past century. But the resilient absence of a collective understanding that religious violence simply is not worth it – the realization that most Christians came to after the Thirty Years War or, as Hitch has it, definitively after the First World War – is a real problem.
Yes, the bloody scythe of Islamic totalitarianism slashing across the Middle East is a threat so malevolent it is rumored Mr. Sullivan briefly considered cutting short his Burning Man vacation in order to muse about it from behind a keyboard...

...just before getting back to the job of pounding out column after column reviling Barack Obama as the second coming of Dick Cheney for daring to suggest that there may be something the United States might be able to do beyond doing absolutely nothing whatsoever to mitigate the disaster of a monster we helped create.

Mind you, I think staying the hell out of it ("Our Mess, But Not Our Fight") is the least awful of all the terrible alternatives available: I just don't happen to believe that everyone who thinks slightly otherwise is automatically a puppet dancing to Halliburton's and Raytheon's tune.

But leaving that Assad for a moment, let us have a look at this here timeline which'n our expatriate British cousins have done rote down for us:
...that religious violence simply is not worth it – the realization that most Christians came to after the Thirty Years War or, as Hitch has it, definitively after the First World War...
Well that is certainly going to come as amazing news to the both the Protestants and Catholics of my ancestral home who, last time I checked, were killing each other pretty good right up through the 1990s:


Also Mr. Hitchens' flat-footed assertion (in the video) that there are no Christians left anywhere on Earth who still maintain that the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God reveals either a basic ignorance of the here-and-now professed belief of hundreds of millions of Fundamentalist Christians so staggering that it blows a minivan-sized hole in the credibility of anything else he has to say on the subject of faith, or a crass willingness to simply lie in public in order to score a debating point so flagrant that it blows a minivan-sized hole in the credibility of anything else he has to say on the subject of faith.

But leaving that Assad for a moment as well, let's talk about the toxicity of an aggressive, expansionist, totalizing faith.  One that tortures scripture to justify its brutal methods.  One that uses institutionalized terrorism to expropriate the wealth of those it subjugated and to maintain economic and political control over vast swaths of territory.  One that uses threats of terror backed up by frequent public executions to enforce its will.

Now I could be talking about these assholes:


But I could just as easily be talking about these assholes --



-- who were marching out and proud in our nation's capital long after both the Thirty Years' War and World War One were over.

Who could rightfully claim an ancient heritage -- a White Supremacist Christian heritage -- that they could trace all the way back to before the founding of the Republic.

Who, over the years, publicly lynched thousands of our fellow Americans who stood up to them...while much of the rest of the country dealt with these atrocities by looking the other way.

Who operated their terrorist training camps and death squads with the tacit (and often open) approval of local elected officials.

Whose murderous, Bible-based ideology has proved to be incredibly durable, surviving one massive military and legislative defeat after another by splintering, mutating and coming back in a different guise, again and again.

Whose hateful, Bible-based mythology has remained enduringly popular with vast numbers of angry, ignorant losers who desperately need someone to tell them that they are, in fact, blessed and highly favored by God and suffer here in the material world because of the trickery and betrayal of various heretics and godless scumbags like you and me.

It's weird that when discussing the history of religious terrorism, people constantly skip right over the fact that Slavery and White Supremacy in America were not merely economic and cultural institutions, by relied on explicit, religious claims for legitimacy.  From Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens' "Corner-Stone Speech":
...
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so even amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well, that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics. Their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds, we should, ultimately, succeed, and that he and his associates, in this crusade against our institutions, would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics and mechanics, I admitted; but told him that it was he, and those acting with him, who were warring against a principle. They were attempting to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.
...

It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws. This stone which was rejected by the first builders “is become the chief of the corner” the real “corner-stone” in our new edifice.
...
We have made enormous strides in the days since the Klan ruled the South, but let's not kid ourselves; since the end of the Civil War, in this country most of our domestic terrorists and their fellow travelers died in their beds, of old age, having passed their diseased fairy tales along to the next generation like hemophilia.  So before we get too righteous about how clean and orderly our modern Christianity has become, I think it would be worth meditating on the question of how much the murderous ghosts of our American ISIS are still with us.

And how deeply the modern Republican Party and Conservative movement still depend for their vitality on relentlessly conjuring those ghosts.

11 comments:

CM said...

//Also Mr. Hitchens' flat-footed assertion (in the video) that there are no Christians left anywhere on Earth who still maintain that the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God reveals either a basic ignorance of the here-and-now professed belief of hundreds of millions of Fundamentalist Christians so staggering that it blows a minivan-sized hole in the credibility of anything else he has to say on the subject of faith, or a crass willingness to simply lie in public in order to score a debating point so flagrant that it blows a minivan-sized hole in the credibility of anything else he has to say on the subject of faith.//

Absolutely marvelous.

casimir said...

Totalizing violence justified by a convenient fairy tale is one way the existential terror inherent in the human condition can take a person who's susceptible to it (fear of the other, hate of the other, nihilism). The fairy tale it chooses (Islam, Christianity, um..., something on the left, maybe nuns pouring blood on missiles?) is a superficial matter of circumstance. But Mr Sullivan doesn't simply fail to recognize that Christopathy is equivalent to ISIS (in its aspiration, not necessarily the form of its realization), he fails to recognize that it has been the 50-year project of his party to cultivate this pathology in the susceptible as its core political strategy.

Anonymous said...

Religion is a cancer. It's not the centrists we really need to take out, it's the moderate religious who give cover to the murders true religious.

Until we deal with moderate Christians, bitching about centrists and both siders is an utter waste of time.

Thankfully, saying your Christian is starting to become a stigma with real social and economic consequences in the better parts of this country to live. But until those mother fuckers are living under bridges and treated as insane bigots by the vast majority of our citizens, there is no way to actually combat conservatism.

The moderates are a bigger problem than the fundies.

Horace Boothroyd III said...

@Anon 7:40 - that you, fishtroller01?
.
Anyway, as much as you would like to murder every last progressive Christian - if only because you believe they would not fight back so you could get away with it - such a step would only deprive you of the ally who has been responsible for EVERY SINGLE FUCKING PROGRESSIVE VICTORY IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES without doing a thing to hurt your true enemies in the ranks of the right wing Christers.

What? You thought the atheists were the driving force behind Civil Rights and Abolition and safe and legal abortions? Don't be daft! Don't act like a mentally defective gerbil: the progressive atheists could have their convention in an oversized telephone booth. Don't get me wrong, I love them dearly, but poll after poll has shown that they are 0.5 to 2 percent of the population - about the same number as the Jews or the Mormons. That makes them a useful part of the Democratic coalition, but BY THEMSELVES they could not elect the reanimated corpse of Tricky Dick to the post of dog catcher. Like it or not, you people need us a lot more than we need you.
/
So stop with your toxic yammering, settle down, and join us in making the world a better place.

Robt said...

I think Mathew 6;5 quotes Jesus professing the art of prayer in private.
Not in the Mega Synagogues. There are plenty of people of different faiths that really turn the other cheek, live and let live as a motto.
There are the zealots, snake oil salesmen, snake handlers, The kill them all in the name of their God (excuse for their own hatred). Not to forget the Pat Robertson fleecing of the wallet and purse for salvation.
I can assure many of you, they aren't ignorant and violent.
They found a way to stay in tradition of the indoctrination they have not been able to shake or find there are good reasons for them to stay with it the best they can.

I just want to say,
I just received orders to ship out in December to the front lines of the War on Christmas.
I will find the enemy of Christmas, defeat them, have them brought before me,
for reckoning.
In the name of my glorious Prince of Peace.

IHitchens, Robertson nor any others are not the final authority on this.

I do agree with some old dead guy that scripted and endowed the notion that this Government shall not make law endorsing religion.
How brilliant was this man in that time in history and those that heeded this idea.?

CM said...

//Don't get me wrong, I love them dearly, but poll after poll has shown that they are 0.5 to 2 percent of the population//

Well, 2% call themselves atheists. 16% call themselves non-religious as per this wiki link.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism


Non-religious is just different way of calling yourself an atheist. So we are really 18% of the population. That is sizable. In a population that large you are bound to find a few sociopathic xenophobic hucksters like Chris Hitchens and Sam Harris. But mostly they are decent people strongly commited to the liberal cause.

And the wiki page also links to surveys that find atheist population to be growing and religiosity to be declining.

But I agree with you Anonymous @ 7:40 is just a troll.




CM said...

//I do agree with some old dead guy that scripted and endowed the notion that this Government shall not make law endorsing religion.
How brilliant was this man in that time in history and those that heeded this idea.?//

What a great idea! But a lot has changed since then. Seems Europe and the US has swapped places when it comes to religion in politics.

Ema Nymton said...

.

Another fine essay.

You know you'll never get into the club.

Ema Nymton
~@:o?
.

Jason Salvo said...

The KKK has not left our midst, they just turned in the bedsheet for a tri-cornered hat.

Robt said...

As recently reported, the GOP is endorsing a "openly gay candidate" in California. A repub candidate that is twisting himself into closeted pretzels.

The numbers have been out there on the dwindling loyal conservative bases that exploit these issues. How the GOP is going to have to changed their conservative principles to expand the conservative voters. In the mean time we see them applying voter suppression, Gerrymandering, Poll taxes. So desperately so that it required the conservative SCOTUS to expose themselves as judicial partisan activists.
It is becoming more blatant as the GOP bases dwingle.
On the question,
What does the Pat Robertsons, the Hagees, the Palins, the Christian right do in the face of the GOP supporting publically an openly gay man that represents all the horrors of gay marriage?

I mean this is not like the right being able to deny The Idaho airport toe tapper in the face of "Caught". That Larry Craig was not gay because he was married to a woman for a fig leaf.

Should Liberals make political hype of this GOP Godless (to quote Ann Coulter) sinful public act of embracing the Gay Life style?

I mean for sniveling out loud,
Why in Christian nation is not the GOP ,the Christian right not demanding this republican candidate go to mandatory gay conversion therapy where he can be beaten into a straight man as a requirement to run as a republican in the name of the John Birch Society and their God?

OBS said...

But leaving that Assad for a moment

Hah!