Posts Tagged “barack obama”

Cathedral of St. Mary Peoria IllinoisAmerica’s Roman Catholic bishops are furious at president Barack Obama, because his administration has exhibited what they view as impermissible insolence, and dares to prevent them from forcing the entire population — Catholic or not — from having to live according to their own religious doctrines. Their war against Obama has been going on for several weeks, without letup. Their latest tantrum, as reported by MSNBC, came in the form of Peoria bishop Daniel Jenky hurling a reductio ad Hitlerum at the president (WebCite cached article):

“Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room,” Jenky said. …

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care.”

“In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama, with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path,” he said.

I’ve blogged numerous times about the tendency of American pundits and officials to throw around the reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy. It goes without saying that it’s old, it’s juvenile, and it fucking needs to stop, fercryinoutloud. Can’t we just give the Nazi comparisons a rest, already?

Jenky and the rest of the bishops appear to predicate their reasoning on something like the following syllogism:

  1. I have religious freedom, and can believe whatever I wish to believe.
  2. One of my beliefs is that everyone is required to live according to my beliefs
  3. Anyone who gets in the way of me imposing my beliefs on others, therefore …
  4. … is thwarting my freedom of religion, which is impermissible.

I’ll open up my longstanding dare — which, to date, no one has shown the courage to accept — to America’s bishops. If you want to exert your “religious freedom” and force me to live according to Catholic doctrine … well, by all means, go right ahead. Give it your best shot, guys! Track me down, and then do whatever you feel you need to do, and make me live however you demand I live.

I don’t see why you wouldn’t do it, since you believe yourself entitled to, and have said as much. Why wouldn’t you put your words into action and coerce me to act like a devout Catholic, if you think it’s necessary?

Let’s face it, folks, the country’s R.C. bishops are a bunch of whining crybabies. Boo fucking hoo. The bishops should fucking grow up and act like the elderly adults they are.

P.S. In past blog posts, I’ve directly addressed — and refuted — the claim that Obama, his administration, the Democrats, or the American Left are Nazis. They are not. The Nazis said and did a lot of things that none of those guys have even imagined doing, much less attempted.

P.P.S. Contrary to what Jenky says, Stalin and Hitler were far from identical in their treatment of religion. The Soviets generally suppressed religion, it’s true, but the Third Reich’s policies were more subtle and manipulative; they commandeered the Reichskirche, or unified Protestant churches of Germany, and subverted it to serve them. They also disarmed the Catholic Church within Germany by signing the Reichskonkordat with the Vatican. Thus, Jenky lied when he said Stalin and Hitler treated religion the same. They absolutely did not, and this places Jenky in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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New Yorker cartoon cover w/ObamasHere’s yet another news item of the “water is wet” variety. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Republicans in the deep south remain convinced President Barack Obama is a Muslim (WebCite cached article):

fter years of battling false claims and viral emails alleging that he is a Muslim, President Obama hasn’t gotten far among Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi – about half still believe he is Muslim and about 1 in 4 believes his parents’ interracial marriage should have been illegal, a new poll shows. …

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Recalling his childhood, Obama has said his family did not go to church every week, but said his faith grew as he got older and that his Christian beliefs have guided his career in public service.

People retain this irrational belief — in spite of the fact that both Obama himself, and politicians of both parties, have all said that he’s a Christian — because of something known as the “backfire effect.” This is a psychological phenomenon in which people retain untrue notions despite having their falsehood demonstrated, and in fact, they become even more intractably attached to the incorrect belief. I’ve blogged on this effect before. None of the researchers who’ve noted this phenomenon have offered any explanation for how it happens. My guess is, it results from the emotional attachment people have to their irrational beliefs; when faced with compelling evidence they’re false, they simply retrench and continue to tell themselves it’s true, because they can’t handle the emotional pain that would follow from letting go of the (false) belief. They really and truly prefer to lie to themselves, and others, rather than just admit they were wrong.

It’s like when a child plugs his ears, clamps his or her eyes shut, and yammers, so that s/he doesn’t have to hear something s/he’d rather not have to hear. In other words … it’s childish. Yes, folks, this means the Republican party in the deep south is populated mainly by little children who need to fucking grow the hell up for once and get over it already.

As for the legality of interracial marriage, that was established decades ago, by the US Supreme Court, in its decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967). I suppose people can believe anything they want to about it, including that it should be illegal, but it is legal nevertheless and it will remain legal indefinitely, in spite of their belief. Mature adults would just accept that fact and move on with their lives … but the GOP in the deep south is far too juvenile to do that, apparently.

Hat tip: Lordrag at Pulling to the Left on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: New Yorker cover courtesy of scriptingnews, via Flickr.

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Santorum smiles while recounting a story about his fatherI’ve blogged many times already about the tendency of propagandists and ideologues to use the fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum — or comparisons to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime — in their so-called arguments. People just can’t seem to stop using it, no matter how invalid it may be. I can understand its appeal; it’s a raw, emotionally-compelling talking-point that’s sure to trigger outrage in an audience. What makes it fallacious is that the comparison is never apt; whatever is being compared to the Nazis, usually has little in common with them.

The Washington Post relates the latest example of this, from the mouth of the furiously Christofascist presidential candidate Rick Santorum (WebCite cached article):

In a speech at a megachurch here Sunday night, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) used some of his direst imagery yet to describe what’s at stake in this year’s presidential election, drawing an extended World War II analogy that seemed to suggest that the United States faces a threat that is on par with what the world faced in the 1940s. …

[Santorum said,] “Your country needs you. It’s not as clear a challenge. Obviously, World War II was pretty obvious. At some point, they knew. But remember, the Greatest Generation, for a year and a half, sat on the sidelines while Europe was under darkness, where our closest ally, Britain, was being bombed and leveled, while Japan was spreading its cancer all throughout Southeast Asia. America sat from 1940, when France fell, to December of ’41, and did almost nothing.

“Why? Because we’re a hopeful people. We think, ‘Well, you know, he’ll get better. You know, he’s a nice guy. I mean, it won’t be near as bad as what we think. This’ll be okay.’ Oh yeah, maybe he’s not the best guy, and after a while, you found out things about this guy over in Europe, and he’s not so good of a guy after all. But you know what? Why do we need to be involved? We’ll just take care of our own problems. Just get our families off to work and our kids off to school, and we’ll be okay.”

Santorum does not state explicitly who the cognate of “this guy over in Europe” is in his analogy, but clearly, he’s implying it’s president Barack Obama. The problem here is that Obama has not so much as come close to doing even one thing that Hitler or the Third Reich did, as I’ve already blogged; I’ll repeat some of those details here:

  1. Among the first things Hitler and his Nazi party did, once he became Chancellor in January 1933, was to outlaw other political parties, beginning with the Communists, then the Social Democrats, then the (Weimar) Democrats, the People’s party, the Centrists etc., eventually banning all parties other than their own. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even begun to make any moves along the lines of abolishing any other political parties.
  2. Hitler and the Nazis nationalized the country, dismissing the elected governments of Germany’s various states, and appointing Nazi operatives to run them. To my knowledge, neither Obama nor the Democrats have absconded with any of the 50 state governments; their elected governors and legislators remain in place.
  3. Prior to their seizure of power, Hitler and the Nazis had a freecorps or militia working for them, the Sturmabteilung (aka the S.A., Brownshirts, or storm troopers), who intimidated the Nazis’ opponents and rivals in the years leading to Hitler’s appointment, and which became their privately-run enforcement arm afterward (eventually spawning the dreaded Schutzstaffel, aka the S.S.). I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have any such militia, at the moment.
  4. Hitler and the Nazis also took control of higher education in Germany, installing loyal Nazis to run the universities and expelling many professors (particularly Jewish) they deemed harmful to the regime or to Nazi ideology. But I haven’t heard that Obama or the Democrats have changed the management or faculty of any university or college.
  5. The Nazis also abolished all labor unions, forcing workers to join, instead, a nationalized agency, known as the German Labor Front (aka the D.A.F.) which essentially placed Germans at the whim of their employers. Not one union, on the other hand, has been outlawed since Obama took office … that I’m aware of, anyway.
  6. The people in charge of organizations that the Nazis abolished — such as rival political parties, the trade unions, etc. — were exiled and/or placed in concentration camps. These imprisonments numbered in the thousands, in the early years of the Nazi regime. I’m not aware that Obama or the Democrats have even come close to doing anything like this.

Put bluntly, it’s not correct to imply that someone is a Nazi, if s/he’s never done the things that the Nazis did.

As I’ve also remarked previously, the Left has thrown ad Hitlerums at the Right in the past, especially during the G.W. Bush administration. They were wrong to have done so, because the Bush administration didn’t do any of the above things, either. Still, that the Left used this tactic against them in the past, is why the Right feels entitled to use it, now. Unfortunately for them, though, this is two wrongs make a right thinking, and is fallacious. If it’s wrong to use ad Hitlerums, then it’s always wrong to do so … period.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Santorum would do this, though. As I’ve noted, he’s done this in the past. I can only assume he considers this a valid tactic, and that he’ll continue using it in the future. The really sad part of it, though, is that it will no doubt work for him. The sorts of people that Santorum is trying to reach already think Obama is a Nazi and are going to enjoy hearing him say it. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: IowaPolitics.Com, via Flickr.

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Rick Santorum CPAC FL 2011Religious Rightists tend to view all of Christianity as being their Christianity … whichever version of it they belong to … and see no difference between its many varieties. What’s worse, they sometimes extend this even further, and view all religions has being their particular version of their particular religion (i.e. Christianity). In other words, they tend to ignore differences between denominations and sects, and even between religions. All things religious are, therefore, conflated within their minds.

This tendency leads them into all sorts of nonsensical territories. One of which is the all-too-common statement, “S/he isn’t a Christian because s/he doesn’t believe X,” where “X” is some theological point that person holds to, but which other Christians might disagree on.

As CNN reports, the ferocious Religious Rightist and GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently used this type of reasoning to attack the incumbent president (WebCite cached article):

Rick Santorum drew applause from Ohio tea party voters – but perhaps raised some eyebrows, too – when he suggested Saturday that President Barack Obama leads based on a theology different from that in the Bible.

It left some wondering whether he was implying that Obama subscribes to a religion other than Christianity. …

“It’s not about your job. It’s about some phony ideal, some phony theology,” Santorum said. “Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology. But no less a theology.”

Santorum is wrong on several counts. The most obvious of these is that lots of Christians have lots of different “theologies,” but each is no less of a Christian than the rest. And he must know this; after all, there are thousands of different Christian denominations in the world. More specifically, as a Catholic, Santorum must be aware that his Church has different “theology” than Protestant churches, which among other things refuse to acknowledge the Pope’s primacy and reject transubstantiation. Yet, I cannot imagine him complaining about the “different theology” of other Religious Rightists who happen to be Protestant.

Second, the many different theologies which the many Christian denominations hold, are all widely viewed as originating in the same Christian Bible. He can’t very well claim that Obama’s “theology” — whatever it is — can’t be based on the Bible, merely because it’s different from his own. History shows that devoted and sincere Christians can and do disagree on what their Bible tells them. Again, no Christian theology is appreciably less Christian or less scriptural than any other. They simply happen not to be identical.

Third, Santorum’s desire to conflate governance and theology directly contradicts the teachings of the founder of his own religion. Jesus Christ was very clear on the matter; three of the four evangelists report that he said the following:

  • Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God, the things that are God’s. (Mt 22:21b)
  • Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s. (Mk 12:17b)
  • Render therefore to Caesar the things, that are Caesar’s: and to God the things that are God’s. (Lk 20:25b)

Jesus was very clearly apolitical and unconcerned with statecraft. He viewed government as being part of the physical realm and therefore of no importance; his preaching was about, instead, the spiritual realm, or the Kingdom of God. Santorum need only concern himself with this one lone theological point. No other “theology” ought to cross the mind — or the lips — of a dutiful Christian politician who claims to obey the words of his own Bible.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Militant Christianist, Texas governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry has released a commercial for his failing campaign. In an effort to get the media talking about him again after he flamed out in recent debates, he’s decided to wade into Christian-persecution territory, and as CNN reports, is making the bullshit claim that current President Barack Obama is at war with religion (WebCite cached article):

Rick Perry says that if he’s elected president, he’ll end what he calls President Barack Obama’s “war on religion.”

Perry makes the comments in a new TV commercial that’s sure to create controversy. …

In an interview Wednesday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Perry said he stood by the ad.

“The administration is clearly sending messages to people of faith, and organizations of faith, that we’re not going to support you with federal dollars,” Perry said. “I’m very comfortable with that ad, for one thing. My faith is a part of me, and the values I learned in my Christian upbringing will affect my governing.”

You see, Christofascists like Perry have a strange definition of “persecution.” The president failing to obey the strictures of their metaphysics — you see — is an “attack” on them, and a “war” on their religion. To fail to obey them, is the virtual equivalent of a physical attack on their persons, and is also equivalent to an effort to abolish their faith.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth … but in his raging paranoia, Rickie-boy doesn’t understand that.

Here, Rickie. Let me help you out. A true “war on religion” would include any of the following:

  • Churches being shuttered
  • Bibles removed from homes
  • Religious art being confiscated
  • Clergy being jailed
  • Crucifixes and crosses being seized
  • Arresting people for praying
  • And so on; you get the idea.

President Obama is doing none of these things — not one of them! — and will never do so. For you to talk as though he is, Rickie-boy, is the worst sort of lie. It’s flatly untrue and it’s ridiculous for you to say it.

Neverthless, I expect the Rickster will get a lot of traction out of this. The Religious Right in the US more or less believes exactly as he does … i.e. that refusing to obey their beliefs is the same as trying to utterly destroy them. Rickie-boy’s lies about Obama place him force me to list Perry as a member of my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

Photo credit: Based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

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Marion 'Pat' Robertson, via MediaiteIt’s been a while since I blogged about famed Christianist Marion “Pat” Robertson. I’d thought perhaps he’d mellowed with age, but it turns out that’s not the case. He’s still the same boorish idiot we’ve always known him to be. Right Wing Watch and the Huffington Post recently reported on his most recent remarks about President Obama during an appearance on the 700 Club (WebCite cached article):

Televangelist Pat Robertson revived conspiratorial talk about President Obama’s childhood Thursday, claiming that he was driven by some sort of Muslim inclination because of his upbringing in Indonesia. …

“They say he’s going back to the place that he spent his childhood, he spent four years in Indonesia, I don’t know if he was trained in a madrassa, one of those Muslim schools, but nevertheless that is his inclination,” Robertson claimed, during a discussion about Obama attending the ASEAN conference in Indonesia.

These claims about the religious nature of his schools have been debunked. In fact, according to a New York Times report [cached], one school he attended was Roman Catholic, while the other was a prestigious and wealthy primary school founded by Dutch colonialists. Obama has also frequently repeated that he is a Christian who attends church.

Here’s a Youtube video of Robertson’s remarks:

Note how clever Robertson is with this. He admits he doesn’t really know the circumstances of Obama’s youth in Indonesia, but blathers on about it anyway; and he says merely that Obama has a Muslim “inclination,” an indefinite enough word that no one can call him out on it, while his target audience (which presumably thinks Obama is a Muslim) will hear it as “Obama is a Muslim,” thus confirming — in their minds — what they already believed. Yet Robertson will be able to say, and with literal truth, that he never said “Obama is a Muslim.”

P.S. I don’t normally use ideological machines like Huff or RWW as sources; but in this case the Youtube video above substantiates what’s reported.

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Mediaite.

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a flickr christmas cardIt’s that time of year again, folks. The time when the Religious Right gets its knickers twisted into knots over their delusion that Christmas either has been, or soon will be, outlawed in the U.S. This “war on Christmas” trope is usually good for about a dozen blog posts each year, and likely will continue to be … because the R.R. is so predictably outraged over this manufactured controversy.

The Aledo (IL) Times Record reports that Congressman Joe Walsh has proffered what he calls the “Save Christmas Act” in an effort to “defend” his supposedly-beleaguered holiday (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, Congressman Joe Walsh (IL-8) introduced the ‘Save Christmas Act’ to permanently end the Obama Administration’s new tax on Christmas trees. This tax was established to fund yet another unnecessary government board, the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. This is clearly the most ridiculous in a long list of new taxes and regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

Walsh stated: “The sheer audacity of a tax on Christmas trees is ridiculous. Are we going to start taxing Halloween candy and pumpkins or turkey and apple pie? Are we going to tax the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too? Are we going to tax hotdogs and hamburgers and American flags for the Fourth of July?

There are actually several problems with this. Yes, the proposal to levy a 15¢ fee per tree sold on sellers of live Christmas trees was a genuine one. And it was announced by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recently. However, as Snopes makes clear (cached), it is not a “tax.” Rather, it’s a cooperative program — first requested by the Christmas-tree-growing industry, I might add! — intended to promote the sale of live Christmas trees.

Of course, these little facts didn’t get in the way of the Right-wing flaring up with sanctimonious outrage. In light of this shitstorm, the White House quickly put the kibosh on this idea … even though those who raged and railed against it were angry for all the wrong reasons. If the Right-wing fury over this supposed “Christmas tree tax” was predictable, so too was the Obama administration’s eagerness to cave into it.

But beyond the problem of the Right’s outrage over this being counter-factual, is that even the scenario they were telling themselves was in play — i.e. that Obama and his evil cohorts were taxing Christmas trees in order to hinder the celebration of Christmas by Christians around the country — makes absolutely no sense! A 15¢ tax is nowhere near enough to put a dent into sales of Christmas trees, which normally cost upwards of $20; and it wouldn’t have been limited just to real trees, artificial ones would have been “taxed” too.

Time to get over yourselves, Christians, and grow the fuck up. Not everything is intended to abolish your religion and/or its trappings. Really. Moreover, if you guys are really fans of the private sector and want to help industry, you’d have supported this 15¢-per-tree fee, because it was the Christmas tree industry itself that originally came up with it!

P.S. There’s almost nothing truly or genuinely “Christian” about Christmas trees, as I explain in my page on the myths about Christmas that the R.R. clings to so irrationally.

Photo credit: julian.

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