Posts Tagged “left”

crying baby leoOne of the things I go into at length, in my page on scriptures that Christians love to ignore, is Jesus’ injunction against his followers judging others. He was very clear and specific on the matter, yet Christians have, historically, refused to obey this explicit instruction. Christianity’s history is a long chronicle of Christians judging other Christians … and non-Christians … adversely, and often coming to blows over it. It’s not as though they aren’t aware of this teaching; what they’ve done is to rationalize it away so as to grant themselves license to judge, even though they’ve been ordered not to.

An example of precisely this sort of rationale was offered by the AFA’s Bryan Fischer. He objects to people he calls “secular fundamentalists” and “Leftists” using this injunction against dutiful Christianists like himself (WebCite cached article):

Leftists think it’s [i.e. Matthew 7:1] their trump card. Anytime a social conservative expresses criticism of, say homosexual behavior, the secular fundamentalist throws the “judge not” card on the table, declares game over, and smugly dares his vanquished opponent to breathe another word.

Here’s the problem. A leftist cannot use that argument without condemning himself.

If judging other people is wrong, then, to personalize it, he has no moral right to judge me, which is exactly what he is doing by condemning me for criticizing deviant sexual behavior.

His whole argument is predicated on his mindless conviction that passing moral judgments on other people is, well, immoral. But then he is guilty of the very thing of which he charges me.

Fischer even conjures up a laughable, imagined dialog with his own personal version of a “Leftist” in support of his contention.

His problem is, his entire argument is predicated on a straw man. He assumes that “secular fundamentalists” (aka “Leftists”) are under the same injunction that he is. The problem: They very well might not be! Jesus’ order to his followers not to judge others, by definition does not include non-Christians, who increasingly make up a larger proportion of America’s ideological Left (or what Fischer refers to as “secular fundamentalists,” whatever that might mean).

I concede that any Christians within the ideological Left would, of course, be subject to the same injunction Fischer and all of his fiercely Rightist co-religionists are. But given that Fischer is complaining about “secular fundamentalists” and equating them with “the Left,” he’s referring to a larger group than just liberal Christian believers, a group that would have to include non-Christians. Some of Fischer’s critics to whom he’s responding are not subject to Jesus’ injunction against judging others, and are allowed to judge him negatively — and simultaneously inform him that he’s violating Jesus’ teachings.

Fischer didn’t use it, but some Christians cite another scripture passage as an evasion:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

This passage is an admission that it’s sometimes necessary for Christians to correct each other. However, it clearly contradicts what Jesus said on the subject. And it’s not a “clarification” of what Jesus taught, because it’s not worded that way. No part of 2 Timothy says anything along the lines of, “Jesus did teach us not to judge one another, but sometimes you need to admonish and correct others, and when you do, Scripture will help you do it.” It’s not in there … at all. But even if 2 Timothy did say that, we’d still end up with Jesus on the one hand teaching one thing, and the author of 2 Timothy (which, in spite of Christian tradition, was not written by Paul), who says another.

At any rate, if Fischer, or any other Christian, objects to being told s/he isn’t supposed to judge anyone else, too bad. It’s their religion, they picked it, and that’s what it teaches. If they don’t like it, they either need to alter their religion and its scripture so it teaches something else, or leave the religion and find another. This problem is entirely between Christians and their God.

Photo credit: storyvillegirl, via Flickr.

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Watergate Complex from TR BridgePlease pardon another slightly off-topic post.

Over the years I’ve had correspondents accuse me of being a committed Leftist. It’s true I’m no fan of the Religious Right, but that hardly makes me part of the ideological Left, or a cog in the machine of the Democratic Party. For the record, I despise ideology in all its forms. Every single last one of them, wherever they are, and whoever belongs to them. All ideologies are arbitrary collections of notions, cherry-picked to work to the personal advantage of those who advance them, and detrimental to everyone else and to society as a whole.

If any of you really feel the need to label my political affiliation, I suppose the best one I could come up with, is “Cynicalist.” Basically I don’t trust any politician as far as I can throw him or her. It doesn’t matter what party he or she belongs to — I do not believe any of them! None are trustworthy, because — as Lord Acton once stated so truthfully — power corrupts. Even if an official isn’t corrupt before s/he is elected, s/he will become corrupted once in office. It’s inevitable, and as unavoidable as death and taxes.

How do I know this? If simple economics doesn’t make it clear, then examples from history should. And I can think of no better example of it — one that happened, as chance would have it, during my formative years — than the Watergate scandal. This was not really just a single scandal; it was a complex, multi-pronged affair, orchestrated by a lengthy cast of characters, all of whom were up to various forms of wrongdoing … some of them independent of each other. The entire convoluted debacle included burglary, espionage, extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice, campaign-finance hijinks, and more. It dragged on for years, and was extensive and significant enough to force Richard Nixon to resign as President … even though only about 4½ months into the scandal, he managed to be re-elected to his second term, and hung in until August of ’74.

The list of slippery characters whose names were trotted out each night on the evening news, almost every night as the scandal slowly unfolded, reached laughable proportions by the time Congressional hearings were held. The 18½ minute gap in the Oval Office tapes became legendary, and the words “not to the best of my recollection” — oft-spoken by White House staffers — a catch-phrase of the era. The whole thing, in fact, was almost surreal.

As the Watergate scandal was swirling around them, the Nixon White House — and while it still existed in 1972, his re-election committee — contrived other scandals in the lives and careers of other politicians. Nixon operative Donald Segretti famously referred to these dirty tricks as “ratfucking,” and he engaged in this practice with relish. For instance, he forged the so-called “Canuck letter” which ended the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ed Muskie of Maine. Since then, “ratfucking” has become a cottage industry in American politics, and has even gone beyond political campaigns; it’s now being done by bloggers and pundits (WebCite cached article).

So, how does one know a politician or pundit is lying? Whenever his/her lips are moving. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m neither a Rightist nor a Leftist, but rather, a Cynicalist.

Update: As luck would have it, no sooner did I post this story, than the National Archives released the Pentagon Papers (WebCite cached article). The leak of this document to the New York Times in 1971 ended up being a precursor to the Watergate debacle. The Nixon White House — which had had nothing directly to do with creating this document, it had been finished just prior to Nixon taking office in 1969 — nevertheless (in its paranoia) launched a concerted effort to find the leaker (RAND Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg). Once they’d found out who he was, they further worked to harass and discredit him, by any means they could find. Quite unbelievably, this campaign included a break-in at the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, as they sought desperately to find whatever they could to use against him. This particular operation, which had been approved by White House staffer John Ehrlichman, had been orchestrated by E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy — the two men who would soon after also burglarize the DNC offices in the Watergate complex, and touch off the much-larger scandal.

Photo credit: dbking.

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AuschwitzThe overuse of the reductio ad Hitlerum, or appeals to Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, is a trend I’ve remarked on many times so far — and likely will have to again. Over the last couple of months, Fox News has become a particular outlet for this sort of fallacious antic, having been used by (probable) paranoid schizophrenic Glenn Beck and his boss, Roger Ailes. The Washington Post reports that a group of rabbis have called out these screaming, bellicose crybabies on their use of this childish tactic, ironically using Fox News’ “sister publication” to do so (WebCite cached article):

A coalition of rabbis wants Fox News chief Roger Ailes and conservative host Glenn Beck to cut out all their talk about Nazis and the Holocaust, and it’s making its views known in an unusual place.

The rabbis have called on Fox News’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, to sanction his two famous employees via a full-page ad in Thursday’s editions of the Wall Street Journal – one of many other media properties controlled by Murdoch’s News Corp. …

The rabbis were prompted by Beck’s three-part program [cached] in November about liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Beck described as a “Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps” during World War II.

My skepticism caused me to wonder why the rabbis waited a couple of months to take out their ad, but the Post explained its timing:

Thursday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day [cached], an observance established by the United Nations in 2005.

For the record — and as I posted earlier — I do not think Beckie-boy or his boss are anti-Semites. They are, rather, furious with the Left, and so juvenile that they think they’re entitled to stoop to any kind of rhetoric — no matter how fallacious or vile it may be — to discredit the Left. Their anger and immaturity are so overwhelming that they just can’t help but act like tiny little children.

Can’t we all put away the tired, worn tactic of the reductio ad Hitlerum? Isn’t it time for a little more maturity and a little less caterwauling?

Photo credit: féileacán.

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