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Mockers of Religion

Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Woolsey-Eyed Democrats:

I write this on the birthday of my daughter who died while only 15 years of age. She would be 26 years old today.

Having just read your recent editorial in “Peace zanies,” I was most impressed by your comments on Cindy Sheehan. Apparently this woman strikes a nerve in you that demands substantial space in your writing. I am curious as to why this may be.

Perhaps you feel she threatens the war effort with the fact she lost a child and is asking questions that are too difficult (or too embarrassing) to answer. Perhaps you too have suffered the loss of one of your children and feel she is not handling her grief in a dignified manner. Maybe she is not showing enough pride in the fact her son gave the ultimate sacrifice for the Iraqi people’s freedom.

This is all speculation, so to avoid any further guessing on my part, I wonder if you could take a few moments to answer a question or two.

Keeping in mind how grateful the Iraqi people seem to be with their new found freedom from Saddam Hussein and the American occupation of their country, how many of your children’s lives would you sacrifice for democracy in the Middle East?

I have no idea how long you have spent in the service of your country, nor do I know how many men and women you know personally who have lost their lives, limbs or children in this gallant effort of our dear President. I just can not help but ask an educated and successful person like you to perhaps show a little sympathy for this women who dares to make us feel so uncomfortable by going public with her loss.

As the husband of a mother who has had her young child reach heaven first, I beg if you cannot find it in your heart to say something kind about this woman, perhaps it is you who needs to button up and quiet down.
Ben Phillips

Re: Patrick Hynes’s The Politics of Religious Mockery:

Patrick Hynes’s article, “The Politics of Religious Mockery,” is a typical example of the “Christians peaceful — Muslims violent” genre that has exploded since the start of the Cartoon Jihad. The thesis is a favorite one of conservative writers: Christians (and to a lesser extent Jews) suffer terrible mockery at the hands of secular liberals, but they respond with peaceful protests (letter writing campaigns, corporate boycotts, etc.), not with death threats, riots, and murder. See what better people we are?

The point of these articles is well-taken, of course. I would be the first person to agree that we are better people than the terrorists, the Taliban, and their supporters. But I think these articles entirely miss the bigger point, which is that while Westerners are busy congratulating themselves on what civilized, peaceful people we are, radical Islamists across the globe are spreading their propaganda, intimidating local populations, engaging in terrorist acts, and aggressively pursuing an agenda of political and cultural domination.

In the face of this barbarian onslaught, the Western nations, including the United States, seem largely unprepared to defend — as opposed to extol — our superior way of life. Instead, we describe Islam as a “religion of peace,” we criticize those who “offend” Muslims, we allow massive immigration into our countries of hostile populations, we change our own customs to accommodate Islamic beliefs, and we extend all of our freedoms and toleration to people who march in our very cities threatening “another 9/11” or declaring that anyone who criticizes Islam should be “massacred.”

I note that even Mr. Hynes felt it necessary in his article to object to the Muhammad cartoons as “in poor taste and needlessly provocative.” I strongly disagree. If there is any group in the world that “needs” to be subjected to harsh criticism, it is the radical Islamists. But Mr. Hynes’s words are quite telling. What we should not do, he says, is “provoke” them. And why not? He does not say, but the answer is clear: Because we are afraid of them, and we lack the courage to fight back. So if we do not provoke them, we might be able to avoid a confrontation. This strategy, while so obviously wrong and suicidal, is what happens when a person or a society becomes soft and cowardly. This has already happened to Europe, and I fear it is happening here.

I believe this is the real story behind the Cartoon Jihad. It has exposed the West as ultimately unwilling to defend its way of life against a frontal attack by the most barbaric elements in the world today. Perhaps this will change as the attacks grow even bolder and more deadly. All decent, freedom-loving people can only hope.
Steven M. Warshawsky
New York, New York

I believe that Patrick Hynes makes a fundamental error in today’s TAS offering, “The Politics of Religious Mockery.” The underlying assumption in Mr. Hynes’s piece that Western religions and Islam are in any way comparable is dangerously incomplete. To contrast the reactions to mockery of “believers” on either side of the spectrum is to grant the fundamentalist version Islam a spiritual status that it has not earned and does not deserve in the current millennium.

Islam has morphed into a fascist political ideology masquerading as a religion. While most of the trappings of religion are present in today’s Islam, such as clergy, houses of worship, prayer, a central deity/prophet, a written set of principles and so forth, other aspects common in Islamic thought suggest that politics is more at its core. What genuine religion advocates murder, subjugation, conquest and total control of both its adherents and its opponents alike? What God would have his name chanted as masked men behead bound infidels or dance in the streets when others with whom they disagree suffer? These outrages are more identifiable with Man’s quest for political superiority and have been played out numerous times in history. Thankfully, those who have tried to exercise power in this fashion have been stopped eventually. Aside from the Crusades, religious overtones were sometimes invoked by secular, would-be tyrants, but never has a religion itself played the would-be tyrant.

I harbor the hope that a significant number of Muslims worldwide would prefer to practice the spiritual portion of their religion in peace, if not harmony, with the West. However, the cognitive dissonance created by the willfully naive Western view that the fundamentalist/political form of Islam really is a religion and not a sham vehicle for world domination renders that harmony unlikely in the near term. Unless and until the West is willing to admit and act upon the threat posed by political Islam, all the respect, tolerance and forbearance due a legitimate spiritual point of view is wasted and maybe even suicidal.

“…many on the left can’t see the distinctions between peaceful Christian political activism and lunatic Islamist rioting and jihadism.”

Patrick Hynes gives the left the benefit of doubt that they really do not deserve. In fact, the left’s attack on “peaceful Christian political activism,” as well as numerous other “enemies” of the left, is a conscious and fully informed demonstration of an ancient political fact: every demagogue needs his Jew.

Please, please, though it should not be necessary to so state, for the record, I am not drawing an equivalence between the travails of “peaceful Christian political activism” or other “enemies” of the American left with the Third Reich’s implementation of the Endlosung upon European Jewry.

But the fundamental technique of (1) not offering a substantive solution, but rather (2) blaming a readily identifiable individual or group of individuals for whatever failures or disappointments or even opportunities for envy life occasions is the same. The “Christian Right” is damned by the left for determining the result of the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush, as if the dedication of organized labor, abortion rights groups, every manner of racial, ethnic or sexual victims group to secure the election of John Kerry was a priori laudable. If President Bush is not the focus of the hatred, it would be Dick Cheney. Or Don Rumsfeld. Or Halliburton. Or Wal-Mart. Or big oil. Or when the Democrats still controlled 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it was Newt Gingrich.

The old playbook has not changed. Focus the anger, the disappointments, the envy, on the “enemy,” and for an amazing fraction of the American electorate, you’ve got their vote.
Frank Natoli
Newton, New Jersey

Re: Christopher Orlet’s Fear and Cowering in the Press:

The actions of the MSM, attacking those they know will not fight back and cowering before those who do, define them as bullies. So much for their posturing as fearless defenders of free speech. Bullies will prostrate themselves to bigger bullies who threaten them. Free people deserve better than a cowardly press. The blogs win another one.
Geoff Bowden
Battle Creek, Michigan

Why not? You KNOW why not. With all the Bush = Hitler claptrap, everybody knows that the reason you can say that is exactly BECAUSE Bush ISN’T Hitler. The Gestapo was NOT known for its sense of humor. But Theo Van Gogh is a different matter. If somebody walks up to you on the street and slits your throat because of something you published, it can ruin your whole day!

Which brings up a thought… can we expect to see a Theo Van Gogh award this year at the Oscars for the director who most exposed the excesses of Islam in the past year? Don’t hold your breath. Protesting the fascist chill emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or saying in London how repelled you are at the sight of an American flag is as courageous as Hollywood is going to get.

There is another possibility. They may actually respect Christians more than Moslems. Respect, that is, not like or admire. It could be that they believe that the followers of Mohammed are so inferior that they can’t stand any criticism, so the liberals take on Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” of protecting them from offense and insult and the such like. Sort of the same way they treat women as feeble and protect them from hearing naughty words or seeing offensive pictures.
Troy Harmon
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Muslims find everything offensive. I find the mainstream media’s betrayal of their mission to be offensive. Whose side do you suppose the U.S. press will respect?
David Govett
Davis, California

The reaction by Islam to these cartoons is simply the old saying, “The Truth Hurts,” and should be an eye-opener for the rest of the world. Most of these people are NUTS.
Elaine Kyle

Re: Robert M. Goldberg’s Hillary Health Care Redux:

“Not to worry. Mrs. Clinton’s Plan B is universal health care made more efficient with medical information technology and paying doctors and hospitals more to do better jobs.”

I just have to say poppycock! IT can make the same mistakes as paper records and a hell of a lot faster too. I see it everyday as I am in the IT business. What matters more about health is the continuity of observable care. I totally avoid the HMO’s for the reason of the revolving door practices of that industry. I have seen the same doctor for ten years once, maybe twice, a year. He can see changes in me just by external observation that some stranger would not. That single fact has avoided a lot of grief.

Till the politicos understand that nuance then all the computers in the world are for naught.
John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

I was refreshed to read Robert Goldberg’s article exposing Hillary’s finger prints on some of the more negative trends in our health care delivery system. The knock-out punch will come when The American Spectator reveals the Clinton’s involvement in the Arkansas blood scandal, documented in Kelly Duda’s award winning new movie, Factor 8.

When the truth is finally known by the American people, her ability to continue to destroy the best health care system in the world will end.
Duxbury, Massachusetts

Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of all time, (and I’m not sure it will ever be solved) is what in God’s name did America do so wrong that the good Lord would curse this nation with Hillary Clinton. Honestly folks, every time she opens her trap, the effect on me personally is comparable to running fingernails up and down a chalk board over and over again. Is there a more transparent and shallow politician, indeed, person, on the face of this planet? In my opinion, I think not. God help us if this hysterical, angry, hyperventilating, screeching, phony ever gets into the White House.
Jim L.
East Sandwich, Massachusetts

“Mrs. Clinton cannot be trusted to be truthful on health care.” I think the word truthful applied to either Clinton is an oxymoron.
Elaine Kyle

Re: Paul Chesser’s New Leader — How About a New Direction?:

Fine article. Republicans need to be taken to the wood shed. But I don’t believe the majority of Americans want to take them there. I think Americans are pretty well represented. Unfortunately, I don’t think our forefathers would approve of what America has become. The road back to real America will be long, unless we are jolted back to our senses. During WWII, tires were rationed along with just about everything else. Not since WWII has the stay-a- home Joe had to go without, because we were at war.

If the Republican Party were to return to real values of our forefathers, they couldn’t get elected. Values like those are not in demand any more. Are you going to get government employees represented by large labor unions to vote for an honest days pay for an honest days work? Are you going to get welfare recipients to vote for capitalism? Are you going to get Americans to pay a little more for an American made product? Are you going to get the anti-gunners to vote for a politician that takes a strong stance on the 2nd Amendment? Can you find enough Americans to vote for education by the states by placing them in competition for education excellence? Can you find enough Americans to elect hanging judges? Can you find enough Americans to support any aspect of what conservatism should be today? Are we going to put women back into the home to take care of the children when they get out of school? Are we going to take women out of combat? Can you get women to get out of politics because God says they don’t have authority over man?

If the Republican Party is to return to sanity, we need to find enough sane Americans to elect them. Sanity means a lot of things that a lot of people don’t want. Americans want socialism, abortion, welfare and a host of other ills that our forefathers were against.

I think America is about to get jolted. Like a dog coming to the end of his chain. If the chain doesn’t break, we may be a better Nation cause of it. Personally, I think the chain is old and rusty and won’t hold. Dog is too fat and has gained too much momentum. Our military is fighting in the sand, and I don’t think the average American gives a damn. No more than ‘Nam, or Korea or any other hell hole our military has been forced to go. New cars come out every year. Supermarkets are full of food. Movie houses are full. Hollywood pumps out broken mountain movies. Arenas are full. Life goes on. It is up to Americans to reform the Republican Party, in the voting booth.

Asking politicians to police themselves, is like asking Jimmy Carter to sit down and shut up. At least Republicans, as they are, have some new ideas. Just imagine what they could do if they were to return to some sanity. And there were enough real Americans to elect them.

I don’t think the Republican Party can change unless the change is one back to what our forefathers intended for us in the first place. That change would be a lot of work. That change would have to include Christianity. Along with the principles that come with it. I would like to see those changes. I would like my Grandson have the same optimism I had when I was young. Like the world was yours and you could go do many things exciting. Like shooting woodchucks. Chopping firewood. Sawing a log. Fishing. Boating. This all requires a permit or license nowadays. From a highly centralized government full of career politicians driven by un-godly principles. Politicians need to go home and tell their people that they have over stayed their welcome, and it is time for the people to send some new farmers to Washington. Thank you for your article.
Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

Re: Wolf Terner’s letter (under “A New Song of Roland”) in Reader Mail’s Flagstaff Bob and Steven Usdin’s Zealots Then, Zealots Now:

In many respects Wolf’s comments are correct in regards to the way “Christianity” played out throughout history. But the reason for that then and now is largely due to direct disobedience of the “church” individually and collectively to “study to show thyself approved.” By the end of the third century A.D., the knowledge of the Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) were beginning to be restricted to the leaders, who often disseminated knowledge as it best benefited their rule, rather than teaching the entire Word. This led to the persecution of the Jews and other minority groups. Many of the “heretics” persecuted throughout the Middle Ages were attacked because they possessed copies of the Scriptures in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, taught their followers to read them for themselves, and finally were friendly to the Jews.

Why were they friends to the Jews? Because the New Testament, if read in its entirety, teaches that the Jews were set aside for a season, but were still the apple of God’s eye, and that anyone who attacked them (even while the Jews were in unbelief about their messiah’s appearance), would be under the Judgment of Christ. Those “churches” that restricted learning of the Scriptures to a few, replaced the Biblical teaching with “traditions” that upheld their positions of power above the ignorant masses. The Protestant Reformation began because the Augustinian monk Martin Luther was assigned by his local leader to prepare a teaching on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. This required him to spend countless hours reading not only Romans, but other scriptural passages as well, most of which he had never heard in the liturgy and sermons of the church.

Today, most “Christians” worldwide are Christian in name only, just as they were throughout history. Most have never read the New or Old Testaments, and have only heard the very small percentage the Scriptures used in the liturgy, “bible stories” told in Sunday school, or the few scriptures that may be quoted in a sermon. Growing up in what is now a liberal denomination, it was extremely rare to hear more than ten verses (or even more than five) mentioned in a 90-minute sermon. Some denominations, especially in other countries, still forbid the members to read the scriptures for themselves. Sadly, many who have access to the Bible are too lazy to bother reading it, to learn for themselves what it says rather than having to rely on someone else who may “edit” the Scriptures or their context to support their political views.

Most people say it is too hard to read or takes too long. I find that funny, as I have read it through many times since I was eight years old and had been given my own Bible in Sunday school (hey, I like to read). When I was young there were sections I skipped (I was not interested in the poetical sections), now these are the sections that I often take an entire year to study and comprehend.

People say that the Bible is contradictory — read it through a few times, and most of the supposed contradictions disappear. When I was younger, the “Higher Criticisms” were still being held up as reasons why the Bible was false. Now few people know what the “Higher Criticisms” were, because each and every one (from no Israel in Palestine, to how could all the people in the world view an event in Jerusalem) have been answered, several in just the past 15 years. But their damage was done, so while the “Higher Criticisms” are no longer quoted as reason why the Bible is false, the “conclusion” that the Bible was “proved” to be false is still touted.

I am going to stop now. I tend to ramble.

Re: Ralph R. Reiland’s A Pattern of Blindness:

I have to come to President Bush’s defense here. I have listened to the old farts of days gone by take the opportunity to bash Bush at a funeral. That, at the very least, is poor manners. Carter should have his mouth washed out with soap. We are at war. Bush has not only the right, but the responsibility to seek out any information he can on our enemies. Unfortunately, even if he has information of dire consequences, he has to convince Americans that it is what it is. With the party of no new ideas dogging his trail, that is a lot of work. It took Pearl Harbor to convince the U.S. that it needed to go to war. 9/11 is just such a call. A call to go against any nation that harbors terrorists.

As for WMD, Americans are blind. There has been enough evidence to convince a blind jury. What more do you need?

As for New Orleans. Too many promises have been made to restore it. I got flooded out of my house once. I didn’t get a stinking cent from any government. I live on dry land now. River can’t get me unless it takes out over half of New Hampshire. The mayor of New Orleans and the governor were responsible for the safety of their citizens. They dropped the ball. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to do what is the states’ responsibility. Unless of course you want a highly centralized overbearing government, and defenseless citizens minus guns. Living below sea level is asinine. Especially, if you expect someone else to power the pumps. New Orleans is a pure example of what happens when Democrats run the show for a long time, and the federal government dumps tons of money into a corrupt system of wealth redistribution. Compassion is the responsibility of the Church and your next door neighbor. The responsibility of the federal government is to uphold the Constitution and the powers assigned to the fed. And to leave the states to their own business.
Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

Re: Jay D. Homnick’s A Tale of Two Cartoons:

The problem with the MSM is that they are more aligned with totalitarian thinking than they are with freedom. The reason they are not publishing is that they agree with the sentiment of muzzling speech they find offensive with the MSM as the judge, jury, and executioner.

Don’t be fooled by the MSM’s lack of action as simply leftist cowardliness. They believe they are also fighting a holy war against the unholy Bush. Any support they can lend to the enemies of their enemy, they will give.

The problem is, the MSM is playing Russia to Islam’s Nazi Germany. It’s only a matter of time.
Mackay Rippey

Mr. Homnick missed a few points in his essay. First, he forgot to mention that meditative pious Christians don’t bomb innocent civilians in Fallujah with napalm. Wish we had a meditative pious Christian in the White House instead of George Bush.

Secondly, Mr. Homnick forgot to mention that the Washington Post was commenting on Donald Rumsfeld — not on our wonderful troops. Rumsfeld is the one that is sending them to their deaths for a lie. The troops are only being honorable. It’s a good thing that somebody is being honorable. Rumsfeld is certainly not.
Jane Stillwater
Berkeley, California

Re: Jed Babbin’s substitute hosting for Laura Ingraham yesterday:

Today, on Laura Ingraham’s show you continually called the 2002 event at University of Minnesota for Paul Wellstone a “funeral.” It wasn’t a funeral, it was a memorial tribute. There’s a difference that should be noted. The funeral for the Wellstone family was private.

With that in mind, I don’t think you can compare it to the Coretta Scott King funeral. The Wellstone event drew 20,000 people who had been through a sad, wrenching week. If a few got out of hand, give them a break.
Rick Lundstrom
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jed Babbin replies:
Whether there was a body present or otherwise, the Wellstone services were no place for politics, and — as I said in my blog yesterday — were only the first step on the libs’ fashion trail. First Wellstone, now King. Next, whomever it is may well be the subject of a “funeral” for which tickets are sold at $5,000 a seat. There’s no slack to be cut for these guys. At least not here.

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