Saturday, February 04, 2006

The American Taliban And Matters of Degree

B. Preston of the JunkYardBlog questions the left’s antipathy towards the religious right by (correctly, if irrelevantly) arguing that they aren’t as bad as Muslim extremists:

HERE’S SOMETHING I’D LIKE SOME LEFTIST TO ANSWER: Christians get rapped by the left for protesting anything, anytime, anywhere. But we don’t go on societal campaigns of violence, bombing newspapers or anything of the sort that the Muslim world is doing in reaction to the Danish cartoons.

But here’s the thing. I may not like what Tom Toles did with this cartoon. I pretty much loathe all of Ted Rall’s garbage. I thing The Da Vinci Code is anti-Christian nonsense on stilts. But you don’t see me or any other Christian threatening anyone’s life over any of it. We point it out, we may explain why we don’t like it, we may even write to the newspaper that ran the offending cartoon, whatever. But we don’t go into a spasm of violence and threats across our entire civilization.

There’s a huge difference in how Christians typically react versus how the Muslims are acting now. Not to mention that on any given day in Pakistan Muslims will bomb a Christian church, but you don’t hear of Christians doing the same thing to Muslim mosquese in the West. But leftists conveniently never see this very huge and extremely obvious difference. They fail to see the nuance, if you will. They miss it consistently, every time.

We see the difference. The problem is that it is often one of nuance. The differences are merely one of degree. While Preston denies the religious right’s practice of censorship, he ignores their attempts to prevent the teaching of biology, geology, or cosmology when it conflicts with their religious views. We’ve seen their recent attempts at censorship at PBS. While definitely less violent than Muslim terrorists, the religious right is practicing a form of violence when they use the powers of the state to impose their religious views on others. It is also a slippery slope when separation of church and state is ignored as we risk far greater restrictions of individual liberty if current positions of the religious right are allowed to continue. The religious right isn’t even free of outright violence, such as with their attacks on abortion providers.

Preston practices the common tactic on the right of creating straw men to attack rather than responding to what liberals are actually saying. Preston states, “THE REASON I ASK is that lefties may or may not realize it, but by lumping Christians in with the worst traits of Islamists, they’re smearing about 2 billion people unfairly.” He ignores the fact that many on the left are Christians, and that the criticism of the religious right is directed at a small minority of Christians.

Preston concludes his post with similar poor logic and lack of toleration of opposing viewpoints:

If you can’t see the difference between Franklin Graham and Mullah Omar, the problem isn’t with Graham. The problem is with you. You’re either unintentionally or willfully blind. Either way, because of that very obvious blindness and an apparent unwillingness to correct it, you forfeit the right to be taken seriously. So you won’t be.

It is not that liberals don’t see that there are differences between Franklin Graham and Mullah Omar, but that right wingers don’t see the unfortunate similarities. For example, it is Franklin Graham who said “The God of Islam is not the same God of the Christian or the Judeo-Christian faith. It is a different God, and I believe a very evil and a very wicked religion.”

Liberals not only distinguish between the majority of Christians and the religious right, but also acknowledge the differences between Muslim extremists and the majority of Muslims, recognizing that most Muslims see their religion as being opposed to violence as practiced by terrorists. Lumping all members of a religion together in this manner makes perpetual war far more likely, and we have seen the consequences of such blind hatred based upon religion.


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