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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Feeding the hate

(updated below)

I happened across this Dennis Prager column through a link on Andrew Sullivan's blog. In a nutshell, Prager is outraged that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, is requesting that he swear his oath of office on a Koran rather than the Christian Bible.

Seems like a perfectly reasonable request, but Prager disagrees: "He should not be allowed to do so — not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization."

It just gets worse from there, and isn't really worth responding to. A simple reading of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is enough to render it absurd:
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Case closed: I'd say that being required to swear on a Bible to the exclusion of all other books counts as a religious test.

I then got to reading the comments, just to find out what people were saying about such a stupid column. Most of you probably haven't spent much time in the comment sections of conservatives blogs and don't know how bad it gets. Here's a nice sampling of some common views on a member of the Muslim faith being elected to Congress. Each paragraph is from a different person:
Congratulations Minnesota. You sent a filthy animal to congress, and now look whats going on. Did he state during his campaign that, if elected, he would take his oath on the murdering handbook instead of the bible? If so, the people who voted this America hating dog in to office, are themselves America hating dogs!

***

Muslims are not to be trusted. A quick look across the pond to Europe shows that they refuse assimilate and actively seek to make the country that they infest like the one they left!...I think that the nicest thing that we could do for muslims in America, especially in light of the poor six imams on US Airways, is to return them to the Land of Allah ASAP. Preferably before Christmas would be a nice present

***

the lunatics in Minnesota will be pleased that their Muslim representative will take his oath of office on a book that teaches Muslims to revere their Prophet who enjoyed kiddy sex and promoted sexual slavery...May the people of Minnesota who voted for the Muslim lose what they don't deserve to have. And may the rest of us live in liberty.

***

While I do not expect he will, I would not be surprised to see Mr. Ellison push for the Islamicization of this country. By himself he won't be able to impose Sharia law, but he might get some terrorist groups off of watch lists and the like.

***

The abhorrent ideology that is Mohammedanism is a plainly false religion, but falsity doesn't keep Mormons out of Congress, so we have no choice but to permit him to serve. But what committee assignments will the party in power permit this dissembler? We'll see.

***

How can any American, including Mr. Ellison, think that using the Koran in any form or fashion within our halls of government is acceptable. The words contained in this book call for the death of America as a nation and of all American infidels. Is it not just plain, common horse sense? Have we lost our ability to see our enemies, hear our enemies, and acknowledge that they are dead serious. Using the Koran in this way is just another chip out of America and I bet islamic radicals everywhere are cheering us on, to our own self destruction.

***

The people who elected this Muslim to congress should be ashamed, and likely will be.

***

The election of Mr Ellison is only the latest proof of our desire for national suicide. Minnesota 5th district is about as far along the left you can get without running into a picture of Lenin...Let Ellison swear upon his koran, which calls for the death of all of us "pigs and monkeys" Let you gas-filled liberals cheer him on. Swim in the delights of diversity, till you drown. We'll bury you, alongside the army of the religion of peace. You'll be the first to go, because you will not defend yourselves,indeed you think the islamofacists are correct.

***

Ellison is a typical low-life hatemonger who has found protection under a 'religion' so he can spew his hate and violitile words under the cloak of 'religion'.

***

That Minnesota should be the first state to elect an avowed enemy to our way of life is no surprise at all. It must be driving voters in Massachusetts crazy that didn't win that run-off.

***

Referring to my subject of "Golden Girls" - I seem to recall that Rose, the really stupid one, came from Minnesota, and openly reflected the stupidity of the average Minnesotan. The writers of the show must have known something, even back then.
This sort of thing is not uncommon; some blogs are almost entirely dedicated to hating Islam and Muslims in general. (Google "little green footballs" for a taste — I won't link there.)

I'm pretty nearly a free speech absolutist, so I would never dispute people's right to say these things. But what I'd like to know is in what way this kind of talk, which reaches millions of people every day through right-wing blogs and conservative talk radio, is functionally different than the Nazi propaganda used to demonize Jews in the lead-up to the Holocaust. Propaganda willingly distributed by the German media, for which people were tried as war criminals.

Gordon, you're the Nazi expert. What do you think?


UPDATE

Wow. I don't know whether to feel foolish for taking a guy like Prager as a reliable source or outraged that someone would gin up a controversy like this out of nothing. How about both?
But Prager's column is based on one other glaring error: the swearing-in ceremony for the House of Representatives never includes a religious book. The Office of the House Clerk confirmed to ThinkProgress that the swearing-in ceremony consists only of the Members raising their right hands and swearing to uphold the Constitution. The Clerk spokesperson said neither the Christian Bible, nor any other religious text, had ever been used in an official capacity during the ceremony. (Occassionally, Members pose for symbolic photo-ops with their hand on a Bible.)


UPDATE II

It seems like a few people have gotten the wrong impression about this, so I just wanted to clear it up. I didn't go around to a bunch of blogs searching for inflammatory quotes about Muslims. I just compiled a list of some of the more extreme examples (and there were many more) as I read through the comments of Prager's column.

These quotes aren't from bloggers, they're from commenters. They're not from some random KKK hate site, they're from one of the most-visited conservative sites on the Web, and and you can find countless other comments just like them on most other mainstream conservative blogs.

25 Comments:

Blogger Chance-86 said...

Buck, Buck, Buck.
As usual, you take an example from some extremist site and build your case on it. I could grab an extreme liberal site and pull out some equally horrific statements from your tree-hugging friends.

But beyond that.

A couple of issues at hand. First off, a lot of this issue will depend on your interpretative views of the constitution. Do you believe in the letter of the law or the intent of the law? Most people believe in the intent of the law, until they can't persuade someone of their point. Then, they find an obscure law and read it to the letter. The separation of church and state was never meant to keep the church out of the state, it was meant to keep the state out of the church. Read any number of comments from our founding fathers, right down to the prayers that they prayed as they began the sessions. The two should be able to coincide without interferance from the other. The problem is that a couple of idiots who couldn't win their argument on 'the intent of the law,' started screaming 'the letter of the law,' and won out over both logic and majority.
The question then, is what determines "religion"? We can take the letter of the law as quoted in your blog and that is fine. But that 'letter' can't give him the right to use the Koran. Rather, it removes OUR right to use the Bible. Since the country is moving more and more towards the national acceptance (or demand) of atheism as the only scientific and logical conclusion, I suppose that there is no stopping it...despite that fact that a huge majority of our population considers itself Christian, not atheist. But that rant is for a different time.

My Mountain-Dew inspired rant this morning is in strong defense of the people who are fearful of a Muslim in any political office. Now, I believe strongly in the Democratic process and, therefore, stand by his right to hold the office to which he was elected. But really, have you ever spent time looking at what Muslim's really believe? The Muslim faith has declared a holy jihad (war) against the infidels of the world (their definition of infidel is anyone of differing faith). They are commanded by the Koran to kill infidels, thus ensuring them a place in 'heaven.' I, personally, would have had a tough time voting for someone who believes that my death is what his religion not only wants, but commands him to act upon...for someone who holds to a faith that cheered when the twin towers fell, as many, MANY American Muslims did...for someone who believes that the greatest command from their 'god' is to murder me. Yeah, this guy would have my vote...?
I have a problem with any religion that teaches hatred, racism, and murder. Can you imagineCharles Stanley commanding that all protestants should kill non-protestants, or the Pope declaring that all Catholics should murder non-Catholics? Oh yeah, that's already happened. It was called the dark ages...is that really what we want again? Do we really want to put people who believe this way in places of power in our country?
Keep this shit up and people will be praying for the return of someone like Bush.

Blogger Matthew said...

"this kind of talk, which reaches millions of people every day through right-wing blogs"

No one reads right-wing blogs except left-wing bloggers. They are the only ones that read left-wing blogs too.

This is getting a little extreme and no longer based in reality. Yes, every single one of those posts was terrible, but a few nutjobs does not a consensus, or a trend make.

Blogger Gordon the Gnome said...

There are always people on the fringes who make bold, harsh statements regarding any given topic, and that includes a good deal of hate speech (a term I hate, but that’s a discussion for another time).

What made the Nazis particularly notable regarding hate speech was that A) the extremist position spread to the mainstream (i.e. more than around 10% of the population); B) the extremist position then spread to the majority (at least 50% of the population); C) people were driven to voluntarily act on this position, physically and legally; and D) it was the government that was pushing the whole thing.

While most of the comments posted here are brutal, they don’t really meet any of those criteria—though you may argue that we’re already at point A. So to see if we’re on a “slippery slope” towards B, C and D, let’s evaluate where America is on the spectrum.

Imagine a representative sampling of 100 Americans with an expressed opinion on Muslims lined up in order of how much they love/hate them, with those at the front of the line wanting all Muslims dead and those at the back believing all Muslims are agents of peace and enlightenment.

So for Buck, Chance and Matthew (plus all you kids reading at home), let me ask you this:

1. What do you think guy #10 in this line thinks? (He’s the 10th most anti-Muslim guy, representative of the most anti-Muslim edge of the mainstream.) Do you think he supports most or all of the comments you’ve posted here?

2. What do you think guy #50 thinks? (He’s the “average” American in regards to his views on Muslims.)

3. What do you think guy #90 thinks? (He’s among the most pro-Muslim members of the mainstream.)

I don’t have any data to support any of this, but my guess is that guy #10 doesn’t agree with even half. In other words, the blogs and posts cited here are representative of only the most extreme individuals, who always come off as nutbags on either side.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chance- typically I very much agree with everything that you write, which is why I was so disappointed to read your latest comment. Frankly it's absurd to say that ALL Muslims believe in jihad and that ALL muslims want to kill infidels. I myself, a Christian American am marrying a Muslim Sudanese man on New Year's Eve. He is neither a murderer nor a believer in jihad. I believe that sadly, you have fallen victim to the idea that AMERICAN news and its perspectives are the right ones. The news was once unbiased and neutral. Not the case today. In case you were wondering, the five pillars of the Islamic faith -Shahada, the profession of faith in the uniqueness of Allah and the centrality of Mohammed as his prophet · Salat, formal worship or prayer · Zakat, the giving of alms for the poor, assessed on all adult Muslims as 2.5% of capital assets once a year · Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim should undertake at least once in their lifetime· Sawm, fasting during Ramadan. To quote Islam for Today: "In a world swayed by misunderstanding of cultural differences, Islam and its adherents often are stereotyped and caricatured, branded with the violent or sexist image of a small minority of zealots. In reality, Islam is no better characterized by acts of Middle Eastern terrorists, for example, than is Christianity by acts of Northern Ireland's terrorists." The funny thing is alot of the fundamental Christians are the exact opposite of what Christ laid out for his followers. To accept all people without judgement and to have brotherly love for all. Yet, in today's world, we have Christians who are attempting to control social laws of this country and force their beliefs upon all for the good of all of us. Frankly, I feel that as a Christian this behavior is the most un-Christian thing possible. The bottom line is Chance, that the news is focusing on the Islamic Fundamentalists who are wreaking havoc and they are not giving any perspective on the peaceful, natural philanthropists that the MAJORITY of Muslims actually are. Freedom of religion is something we want only when it encompasses our own views. I don't want ANYONE to force anything upon me, however if a Muslim prays during the day or wants to swear on his religious book of choice it is not OUR place as citizens of this country to stop him or her. All I ask is that our priority is to be open minded and to not try to make our laws apply in ways they were not meant to.

Blogger Chance-86 said...

I have serious issues with the fact that the Koran teaches that murdering an infidel is not only acceptable, but admirable. I fail to understand why anyone would want to use that as a guide for their life. But, in fairness, let me say that I feel the same way about the 'Christian' Old Testament. Christianity has evolved beyond that. Although, admittedly, it has not been very many years. As little as 400 years ago, it was still a capital offense to read the Bible in English. This Christian oppression of the common man is a large part of what caused the exodus to the New World, and brought about the adoption of the separation of church and state that we enjoy (even if we argue about the application there-of) today.
Unfortunately, some of the major facets of Ismlamic teachings have NOT moved beyond that. Many, MANY, Clerics and Imem are still teaching the 'fundamentals' of terror and hatred against our country. And though the American form of this religion may not hold to the extreme fundamentals, that changes greatly once you leave this country. There are still entire countries that consider it a mortal (death-penalty) sin to convert to Christianity. It's hard for me to welcome that kind of closed-mindedness with open-arms. I watched in small-town USA (small town = <5,000 people) while a "non-fundamental," American-born Muslim danced and cheered in the middle of a parking lot when tower 2 fell. Even many 'non-fundamentalists' believe that judgement from heaven should reign down on our country...and many would welcome it. That saddens me. If I'm not mistaken, the Muslim faith is the fastest growing "denomonation" in our country. This is why people are leary of accepting a Muslim into government. And perhaps I am not as willing to see a different point of view as I should be, but: I fear for the future of our country if a religion that has a huge faction praying for our destruction, comes into any real power. The influence is disheartening to many people.
Now, if I offended you or yours, I am truly sorry. Undoubtendly, many Americans are still looking at Muslims through glasses tainted by emotions tied to 9/11. Is that fair? No. Is it avoidable? No. And I realize the unfortunate nature of it. But as only true Christianity can combat those who do damage in the false name of Christianity, only those Muslims who choose to show the world love and forgiveness can change the minds of those who have only experienced Muslims who prefer condemnation and terror. Unfortunately, many have never seen it.
If there were a PR person for Main-stream Muslimism (I think I'll register that as a trademark), he would tell the main-stream believers to take a very public stand against the violence that is associated with the Muslim faith, and to take a stand against those Clerics and Imam that teach violence, murder, and terror. Again, in my own experience (admittedly), I have found that those who say they do not believe in the violence, murder, and terror will not distance themselves and take a stand against it. To my simple mind, it makes me wonder how far away from it they truly are.

When I walked away from my lifelong association with the fundamental christian faith, I could not take a stand and turn my back on them. I could not do it because, though I disagreed with their particular application, I still believed in their message.
The message of the Koran scares me, so those who hold to it scare me. Perhaps that is an ignorant and baseless fear, but all I have to base my judgement on is what I have seen.

BTW, anon, best of luck on your new life. I hope that you find all the joy and happiness in the world.

Blogger Buck B. said...

I'm with the last commenter, Chance. I know you like to be contrarian, but you might want to think twice about whipping off a half-assed comments in the early hours of the morning. It's embarrassing.

Please, please, please stop generalizing about a religion that has well over a billion adherents. I find it difficult to believe that there are more fundamentalist, West-hating Muslims than there are Muslim-hating, fundamentalist Christians. There are tens of millions of evangelical Christians who would LOVE to both wage a holy war against Islam and execute or imprison every homosexual in America.

If anything, religion itself is the problem — you can twist scripture to support any fucked-up position you like. The welcoming Roman Catholicism I grew up with in Chicago has about as much in common with the Southern Baptists as the peaceful Islam practiced in most of the world does with Al Queda.

Militant, fundamentalist Islam is a problem the world needs to deal with. It's awful, and really does need to be wiped from the face of the Earth. But that is a problem with the people who twist a great religion to suit their purposes, not with the religion itself. If they didn't have Islam to work with, they'd be twisting some other ideology to their ends. Hate is as old as our race, and no particular belief system has a monopoly on it.


As for your, Matthew and Gordon's other comments...

I don't think you really grasp how prevalent these view are. Townhall.com is not some fringe site — it's one of the main conservative bastions on the Web. Right-wing heavyweights like Bill Bennett, Michael Medved and Bill Buckley all have columns there. And you can go to virtually any conservative blog anywhere on the Web and find comments like these. It's part of the right's normal discourse these days.

The real problem is not the blogs, however, but conservative talk radio. Radio show host Michael Savage, who constantly rails against the evils of Islam, "draws eight to ten million listeners per week, making his show the third most widely heard broadcast in the United States," according to Wikipedia. The top two are, of course, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, also not exactly friends to the Muslim community and both of whom get over 13 million listeners per week. These are bad, bad men.

I think you're kidding yourself, Gordon. I don't have any more basis for my figures than you do, but knowing the history of racism in this country, I would guess that these views are held by a lot more than 10 percent of the population. Probably closer to 20-25 percent, with a least another 10 percent agreeing with them to some degree. People are always looking for someone to hate, and Muslims and gays are just about the only groups that it's still socially acceptable to demonize.

Knowing you hold the same dim view of humanity that I do (and with your knowledge of the history of anti-semitism), I'm pretty surprised you're willing to give Americans the benefit of the doubt on this. I'm sure as hell not.

Blogger Gordon the Gnome said...

Before I forget, I just wanted to comment on the original topic of the post. I don’t mind Ellison swearing in on a Koran, and anyone who says he should just use the Bible is missing the point of the book in the swearing in process. When you swear on something you hold dear, that means you’re taking it extra seriously... so we should be glad he's volunteering the Koran, it means he actually takes the process seriously. My wish is that everyone would swear in on the Declaration of Independence, but I guess it’s not to be.

Ok, a few things. First, Buck, nice move with the stats on conservative radio audiences, but you gotta take into account that measuring “listeners” isn’t the same as measuring the number of people who listen to the show. In reality, saying that “13 million people listen to Rush each week” is most likely a set of two million people who listen to the show five days a week each (say, on their morning drive), plus another three million who tune in and out maybe once a week. Sounds like semantics, but we should not give the impression that there are 13 million Americans who love Rush enough to listen to him every week. I don’t give him that much credit. That being said, I stand by my belief that positions this extreme specifically regarding Islam are still limited to less than 10% of the population. (Gotta remember that a lot of Rush listeners just like his positions on economics or gun control or abortion, and some listeners outright loath him.)

Alright ,onto real discussion. Yes, it does suck that a billion Muslims are now represented in the media by the handful who murder people and scream “death to the infidels, death to America” while burning things in effigy. The reality is that Islam is just a strange, foreign, unfamiliar lifestyle to most Americans, and everyday news of death and destruction just reinforce their discomfort. And it’s just too convenient to blame the media for being one-sided or blame average Americans for being xenophobic. It’s troubling to see so many headlines associating one group with bombings, shootings, torture, hijacking and burning, particularly when there’s no news of grand charity, productivity or innovation to balance it out. Even when you omit all that, you’re still left with women in shrouds, automatic weapons firing in the air and palaces being built in areas of extreme poverty. The average American who doesn’t know any Muslims (in other words, the average American) doesn’t see much in Islam that he likes.

So yes, Chance had it right in at least one regard: if we are to believe that mainstream Muslims are peaceful and moderate, I would like to see a public relations campaign from a significant moderate voice in the Muslim world, one that carries some real authority and weight.

I don’t believe Muslims are bad. I do believe we’re long overdue for good Muslims to start playing a bigger role on a local and global stage—and I think Congressman Ellison is a great place to start.

Blogger Chance-86 said...

I knew when I made the original post that it would not be well received. In fact, I left it on my computer screen for almost an hour before I elected to post it. I did it for a couple of essential reasons: First, I would be willing to bet that the viewpoint that I expressed is held by far more than Gordo's 10%. I'm betting that it is even beyond your 25%. I'm not saying that this 25%+ would ever act upon this prejudice. I am just saying that the apprehension and lack of trust exists within them.

Secondly, because I consider myself pretty average. Irrational fears and all. My post was my raw, unaltered emotion on the subject. I tried not to lump all Muslims together, although I certainly see how my comments could be taken that way.

And thirdly, because I have read the Koran. Much like the Old Testament, I found much of the Koran to be very vicious. I will concede to the fact that interpretation is a huge part of any religion, which is why I called for those who believe differently than the "terrorists" to take a public stand. Hundreds of Millions of Muslims standing up and condemning the terrorists and their teaching would have made a huge statement to the world and the US after 9/11. I only heard a few muffled murmurs, which only leads the "Common" conservative to believe that the majority of Muslims were NOT outraged by the terrorist attacks. If they are nearly a billion strong, and the terrorists are in the vast minority, then why is it so outlandish to expect a huge display of outrage? Even if they are in the slight minority, doesn't that still add up to about 500,000,000 strong?

As for half-assed comments, how can you say that to me when you accused the "common" conservative of the kind of ridiculous quotes imported from the other blogs? Most of these comments are written by people who reduce themselves and their argument to name calling ("filthy animal," "Rose Nylan"). WTF? You took your point of view on the subject and then tried to substantiate it by quoting extremist conservatives' points of view and call them "Common views." Then I give my viewpoint, and you accuse me of doing exactly what you did. That disappoints me. What disappoints me more is that you choose to make a personal attack on me and then (I have no doubt) you toss in my sexuality to your argument and try to equate the two. That's low, uncalled for, and not even a valid point. You over-generalize again by saying that there are tens of millions of evangelicals who would like to wage 'holy' war against Islam and imprison homosexuals. I know many evangelicals, and I can't think of a single one who would like to do bodily harm to a Muslim in the name of Christianity. And the few who might? Well, Christianity as a whole is smart enough to stand against them publically when it happens. Some dumb ass blows up an abortion clinic in the name of Christ and there is IMMEDIATE response from every major christian denomination.
The difference, as I see it, is that 'extremist' christians would like to see the conversion of a Muslim, or of a Homosexual rather than to want judgement to come to them.

Blogger Brian said...

I think I probably agree with Gordon on this, but some food for thought...

A University of Minnesota study a little while ago revealed some of the following related to American sentiment toward Muslims:

-When asked to identify a group that "does not at all agree with my vision of American society," 26.3% said Muslims (ranked #2 behind atheists)

-When presented with the following statement: "I would disapprove if my child wanted to marry a member of this group," Muslims again came in second to atheists at 33.5%.

Those numbers are higher than I would like, but then again, I don't think we're on a path toward cleansing the nation of atheists--apparently the most openly despised minority in the country--so why would I think it of Muslims?

Blogger Buck B. said...

I just talked to Gordon about this, and he admitted his analysis of the talk radio numbers is wrong. The 13.5 million listeners listed for Limbaugh means that 13.5 separate people listened to him at some point during the week.

That's a lot of people.

Here's a list of the Neilsen "Cume ratings" for talk radio and a description what the ratings mean.

Blogger Buck B. said...

Hey, hey, sorry Chance. No need to take offense — I only called your comment half-assed because you referred to it as a "Mountain-Dew inspired rant," and I brought up homosexuality not to score any personal points but because, as I said, it and Islam are just about the only two groups you can still get away with publicly pillorying.

Although it looks like should add atheists to that list, too.

Blogger Billy Joe Mills said...

How does this language close the case at all? "but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

All that language means is that the Gov't cannot require someone to be a certain religion in order to hold public office, that one of the qualifications (just as age is a qualification) will not be religion. This language doesn't preclude compelling someone to take an oath under the Bible, since taking an oath on the Bible is a sign of trust and credibility to society, not to the person. And when someone takes an oath, it does not force them to adopt a particular religion, which if it did, would violate that Constitutional language.

Blogger Buck B. said...

"Hey, Ellison, come get sworn in. Here, put your hand on this Bible."

"But I don't believe in the Bible. I don't want to swear on it. Let me use this other book that means more to me."

"No, you can't do that. If you're not going to swear on the major religious text of the Christian faith, you can't be a Congressman."

In what way is that not a religous test?

Blogger Gordon the Gnome said...

Yep, I was wrong on the stats. Looked it up and everything. Damn, I hate being wrong to Buck. It's the worst. Good thing it so rarely happens...

Glad to see you guys all tearing it up and then making nice. I just think we've all learned a little something about making sweeping generalizations... particularly considering the three most vocal conserbative contributors to this blog include an immigrant, a gay man and a woman marrying a Muslim. Gotta love this country!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad about the last 2 bloggings. Wish I would've said something yesterday.

A couple things

Chance, While I don't agree with everything you say, I think that your display (with at least some thought behind it) is exactly what Gordon/Buck's statistics show.
I do have to take up for Chance over a couple of points. Godron already addressed one, and that is that Muslims who are mainstream need to stand up and be noticed as non-supportive of the violence. And he begs a good question about why there has been so little worldwide press about Muslims, as a whole, showing outrage for the acts done in the name of Allah. Especially if these acts of terror are only done and supported by so few.
The second point is a continuation of the whole stereotype/prejudice/racism issue from the other day.
For those who whole-heartedly disagreed with Chance: Let's take the Muslim out of the picture and replace it. Buck, what if you were looking at the newly elected senators and found out that one of them was a White, Fundamental Baptist Preacher straight out of the Texas Southern Baptist Convention. Wouldn't you automatically make assumptions about his political leanings based on his religion? Of course you would. You would assume that he is pro-life, etc. You assume that because that is what his brand of religion teaches.
All of us are guilty of judging people based on their religion, their cultural upbringing, etc.
Chance, I'm not going to crucify you, but I would ask you to take just one step back and look closer. I have noticed that, as Buck said, you seem to take a point-counterpoint approach to this blog. Be careful not to paint yourself into a corner. You're smarter than that.

Anonymous tet said...

OK, while I agree with the use of the swearing-in on a bible as a religious test, there's really a simple way to determine this:

There are several Christian sects that forbid members making oaths, especially on a bible, lest they commit false witness inadvertently.

Have any of them ever been elected to Congress? If so, how were they inducted into the halls?

If those individuals were still required to use the Bible, then the new representative from Minnesota may not have a case.

However, since such individuals are allowed, in courts of law, to not use the bible and to "solemnly affirm" their testimony, I'd be willing to bet that there's Congressional precident for not using the Bible.

Now, as far as what people believe goes--people have an inalienable right to like, dislike, mistrust or just downright despise anybody for any reason that they see fit. We're born with this, being human beings. I'm not saying I agree, or that it is moral, I'm just saying everyone can do it.

Where the problem lies is when people try to put these "feelings" into the force of law. Without the force of law behind it, segregation would have been ended in American generations earlier than it was.

Tom

Anonymous Josh R said...

Tom - my best guess is they can basically swear they'll be real honest and not cheat, lie, or generally act like members of congress :)

It's not really the not wanting to swear on a bible that's setting these lulu's off, it's wanting to be sworn in on a Koran...I wonder if there happens to be one conveniently around the House of Reps...my guess is there will be soon.

I did think this post was a little silly. Not attributing all the really crazy ass posts weakens it even more, if these were a bunch of mainstream conservatives it would really be a hell of a statement. All this really shows is that there are a few really crazy fuckers out there, and that isn't all that big of a surprise.

Blogs are pretty clearly getting much more widespread, but I think Buck is a little out of his mind sometime with his claims that bloggers were responsible for the democratic victory (when it's clearly the GOP just going way too fucking far in a whole lot of directions). Matt is mostly right, but its probably more accurate to say that few undecideds read blogs - and those undecideds, are the ones who decide who wins and loses (well...them and the cronies who draw the maps)

Anonymous Josh R said...

Gordon - I agree w/ your intuition on the 100 person test.

Billy/Buck - If you want an interesting question about constitutional theory, ask yourself what parts of the constitution can't be amended. Only 2 parts really seem like they couldn't be (or have been) amended. 1) the stuff about holding off for a certain amount of time on the slavery issues; and 2) not depriving any state of their representation in the Senate w/ out their consent.

2 random questions: 1) could you 2 step the senate representation. Say you think Virginia is being ridiculous for insisting on being called a "commonwealth" and you wanted to say, ok virginia, fuck you guys, you only get 1 senator. could you 2 step it, say amend the constitution 1 time and just get rid of the shit about states having to consent or adding something that says (except for the commonwealth of virginia, or anyfuckinbody else who wants to be called a commonwealth) then going back and amending it again to get rid of it.

what about the religious test for office language? i think it basically says "no religious test shall EVER ..." does that shall ever imply it's unamendable??

if you really want to have some fun w/ it, ask yourself what happens if they amend soemthing unamendable anyway - what the fuck does the supreme court do? aren't they suppose to deal w/ the constitution as it's drafted at the time a case comes before them? Don't they have to accept pretty much any amendment so long as the process is propper?

What if the legislature and executive "certify" an amendment even though the process wasn't followed properly...then can the court bust it up?

Just some fun con law thoughts to get you through the day.

Blogger Buck B. said...

Josh,

1.) The examples are not proof that all people on the right are crazy Muslim haters; they are examples of the kind of comments that are posted by thousands of people every day on right-wing blogs. We're NOT talking about a few random nuts, but a fair percentage of these blogs' readership.

That readership is not insignificant. Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs (two of the more hateful blogs) each get around 135,000 visitors a day, which is comparable to the circulation of a decent-sized newspaper.

It's safe to assume that for every person who comments, there are many, many more who agree but do not say anything; anyone who runs a blog knows how few readers actually take the time to comment. Why do you assume these commenters are not "mainstream conservatives"? Who gets to decide that? The easiest way to allow these people's views to flourish and take hold is to dismiss them as "a few really crazy fuckers."


2.) Why did you choose to ignore the part about conservative talk radio? The hosts and callers of these shows routinely bash Muslims. As I said earlier, we're talking about audiences in the 10-13 million range.


3.) Let me ask you a question I asked Gordon. What percentage of Americans do you think hold blatantly racist views about blacks? 15 percent? 20? 25? Certainly way more than 10 percent.

Now, can you honestly tell me you think there are people who hate blacks but think Muslims are just great? Muslims who are often just as dark-skinned but have the distinction of both not being Christians and being the ones who attacked us on 9/11.

I stand by my 25 percent. If anything, I think that's a low estimate.

Anonymous Joshie said...

Buck -

There are also questions of degree at play. Blatantly racist...what exactly does that mean?

For sure there are some crackers out there who tend to think the black guy on the job wouldnt be there were it not for affirmative action. That's a little different from wanting to go lynching.

Muslims experience a totally different kind of racism. Pre 9/11 was a different world for Muslim's in America. This breed of racism is entirely based on fear.

While some racists hate pretty much everyone else, my guess is that there are more of a few who have a low degree of fear about Muslims but dont really have a low degree of racism w/ blacks. You ever get on an airplane and look a few more times over by the young Muslim guy 2 rows ahead of you on the other side of the isle?

I could see 25% or higher if you're talking about a very low level of racism. I think if you ask Gordon what percent of middle age white men would be real upset if their daughters came home dating a black guy, you'd get to that range pretty easily. Still, the kind of comments you were posting are a little closer to calling for going lynchin'

I don't find it particularly useful to read a collection of the most extreme shit you were able to find on the net, I don't doubt the ability of bloggers to be extremists, the medium rewards the brashest voices - not the most original. It's hard to say how many of the litany of blogs you quote are blogs getting a lot of hits. Harder still to tell if they are "mainstream" on other issues. I dont think Buck would do this, but it also might make some readers think he was just makin' shit up - it only takes a second to attribute it. Maybe you think you'll marginally increase their traffic if you do it...then not attributing it might be justified.

I agree w/ Matt that pretty much the only people who read hardcore right wing and hardcore left wing blogs are people who have made their mind up long long ago.

Blogger Buck B. said...

Blatantly racist = longs for the days before the civil rights movement. It's what the Republicans' entire Southern Strategy is built on. Cue legendary Republican strategist Lee Atwater:

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say 'nigger'—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."



I think you mistook what I was doing in the post, Josh. I didn't go around to a bunch of blogs searching for inflammatory quotes about Muslims. I just compiled a list of some of the more extreme examples (and there were many more) as I read through the comments of Prager's column. (Which I did indeed link to in my post.) These quotes aren't from bloggers, they're from commenters, and you can find dozens like this on any given conservative blog.

You can choose to believe that this doesn't mean anything other than there are a lot of crazy people reading conservative blogs. I think that's rather unrealistic. The conservative movement has allowed a lot of hateful racists into their "big tent."

This is a very dangerous attitude to adopt: "I agree w/ Matt that pretty much the only people who read hardcore right wing and hardcore left wing blogs are people who have made their mind up long long ago."

What does that matter? Most people who listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Bill O'Reilly have also made up their mind a long time ago. Does that mean we should stop paying attention to what they're saying? Should we let them get away with outright lying and hate speech? That their audiences are less likely to question what they say is all the more reason to keep an eye on them.

Anonymous tet said...

You've got to be careful in saying that something should be done about the kinds of things that Rush and Bill talk about.

Remember, the thing that the First Amendment was *specifically* protecting was political speech. If you start thinking that this freedom can be *selectively granted*, you end up in the same boat with Newt--I'm sure you don't want to be there right now:

http://tinyurl.com/y5syqb

[I always liked Abbie Hoffman's remark that Freedom of Speech guarantee's one's right to yell "Theatre" in a crowded fire.]

It's funny that you talk about someone longing for the days prior to the Civil Rights Movement. You know, in the last 25 years, I haven't ever run into someone that actually did that. I'm pretty sure that since the median age in America is 36 years old that very, very few people at this time even know what America was really LIKE in the 1950s.

[I do, since I'm old enough. When I was a boy, it was against the law for a black person to be in my hometown after dark, and this law extended to several small cities in the 20k range in the county. Did I live in Mississippi? Hell no--I lived in North Central Illinois.]

Anything that you guys may call racism is two or three orders of magnitude less than what it was REALLY like--you honestly have no idea what real racism is.

Let me define it once more:

Racism is the belief in consistent differences in the races and the prejudgment from that that one is superior to another.

Anything else is propaganda.

Being upset with someone else's religion or feeling that your beliefs are superior is NOT racism. It may not be rational, it may not be right, but racism it's not.

And, as far as the plane thing goes, generally if someone looks to be a young Saudi male on a plane I try to sit close to them so that if they attempt to hijack the plane, I can take them out fast. I don't insult them, annoy them or rifle through their luggage. If it was a bunch of Poles on 9/11, I would do the same for someone with a name similar to mine.

This is not racism, this is common sense--one learns from the earlier experiences of others and history in general. It's a survival trait that the politically correct do not share.

Tom

Anonymous Posh said...

Buck - Atwater was being an operative not a blatant racist. He was seizing on the racism in others - was he a manipulative prick? Sure. Lets see if Gordon gets this reference "The School where Rove Learned his tactics...Atwater was the principal."

Also, those who would use that horrible Nword, while obviously somewhat racist, aren't yet, by virtue of merely using that word occasionally, as over the top as the comments you posted. Particularly in the days Atwater was talking about, he said "you use to be able to say..." Tom's post is again fairly useful

I admit I just sorta half ass skimmed your blog entry. Sorry for missing how you assembled the quotes - I didn't have much time.

Anonymous P. Pirx said...

So much has been said so, that I'll limit myself to few short comments.

1) Buck, "I find it difficult to believe that..." is not an argument. I hope you understand this.

2) Talk about "twisting a great religion to suit their purposes..." is just empty blather. A religion means what its adherents believe it means, no more and no less. There is no objective way to determine what "the true meaning of religion X is" and no stone tablets where said true meaning is written down (some religions claim that such stone tablets exist but I've never seen one producing the evidence). So it all boils to what the believers view as 'true" and when there are differences among the believers, the outcome is not necessarily determined by a "democratic" process. A small but committed and coherent minority can and often does trump over a discoherent majority. Worth remembering that when the Communists took over Russia in 1917, the actual membership of the party amounted to something like 0.1% of the population. Now, while I fully agree that Muslim extremists are by no means the majority of the Muslim community, I'm afraid that they amount to way more than 0.1% and the silence of the "peace loving majority" is deafening.

3) I would suggest to pick a world map and start marking all the places where currently there is an armed conflict (or a significant measure of unrest involving ethnic/religious groups) going on you'll find that Muslims are prominent in most of them. So, either it is an indication of the whole world blatantly picking on the poor Muslims, or... draw your conclusions.

4) I'm getting sick of the phrase "irrational fears" in this context. When somebody has been mugged, being vary from this point on is not an expresion of "irrational fear" but of a perfectly rational one. In this situation sticking the adjective "irrational" on to dismiss the fears is just following the precepts of a well known expert on propaganda who wrote that "if you keep repating same sets of words together, people will get to believe that they go together, whether this is true or not". In the interest of civility I'll leave said expert's name out.

Blogger J-Flash said...

I've been missing so much, but as others have noted, a lot has been said. I'll add only a few things.

-- In my job, I spend a lot of time talking to a lot of people. And I think that Buck's examples are extreme. But I think that Mero may have downplayed the anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. I think Chance's "Mountain Dew-inspired rant" is a fair example of roughly 30 percent of the country: both the inherent fear and the self-confidence about "what Muslims really believe."

-- I'm with Buck 100 percent on the swearing-in issue, were it an issue. I remain amused that Prager was so dumb-assedly wrong.

-- I grant Pirx that there's a psychological basis for fear via his mugging example. But that fear is entirely irrational. It's based not in reason, but rather experiential terror. For example, following Pirx's implied logic -- fear of all Muslims is not just predictable but justifiable because of Sept. 11, 2001 and other events -- I should be able to get away with saying that I'm afraid of all white people because three angry fucks in Plymouth, Mass., tried to set a Doberman on me. (Long story)

-- Lastly, having returned recently from Beirut and having spent some time with Hezbollah while there I find Pirx's comments about pinpointing conflicts on a world map to be snide and flippant. For example, the current tension in Lebanon has very little to do with Muslim extremism and much more to do with domestic politics. I would argue much of the same about most conflicts the world over. To lump them together under a broad banner of religion-gone-awry because religious groups happen to be involved is simplistic and unfair. Following that logic I could make unfair arguments that Christians and white people are horrible due to atrocities of the past.

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Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.