The best thing about progressive tolerance is that great popping sound it makes when you stick a pin in it. Robert says that “to condemn an entire race based solely on the actions of a small percentage of that race” is inhuman. He goes on to make other observations. Condemn an entire race? Inhuman? Mein Kampf? Jackass? My sainted mother to the sound of swelling violins?
So Robert takes umbrage that I called him a progressive (because he writes like one), and the offense was because he had never called himself that. The term, which I still think is accurate, was not intended as a slur or a pejorative reference. It simply points to a position with which I disagree. We can also disagree over whether he is in fact a de facto progressive. He certainly doesn’t want to be called one, and I will certainly endeavor to keep this in mind.
In the meantime, he feels free to identify me as a Nazi racist jackass, though I have not identified myself in these terms, at least to my recollection. If the rule is that we can only identify others in the terms by which they identify themselves, then I am left wondering at this inconsistent application of the rules. But if we intend to live by these rules, I am game and all for it. If Robert will let me know how he wants to be referenced, I will do so. And I would like him to call me a sage.
On another front, Jack asks if I acknowledge the possibility that one bad apple does not need to spoil the whole barrel. Of course I do. And of course it is ludicrous to condemn all Englishmen because of Jack the Ripper, etc. In the same way it is wrong to condemn all Germans because of the Nazis. At the same time, it was important for us to recognize that an important civil/religious/social/political movement was occurring in Germany in the rise of the Nazi party to power. If every one of Churchill’s condemnations of the Nazis had been greeted with howls of PC protest — “he is trying to marginalize the entire German race!” etc. — the war would not have gone as well as it did. If western progressives (and Robert, along for the ride) insist on pretending that their little cosmopolitan world (in which imams at the National Cathedral sound a lot like Unitarians in turbans) represents what is actually going on in East Timor, the Sudan, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, they are simply showing their deep and abiding provincialism.
To use Jack’s illustration, I can look at an IRA bombing without condemning all Irishmen. But at the same time, if I were charged with trying to find the perpetrators of such a bombing, I would start by looking at Irishmen. I don’t want to be unreasonable here, but can someone out there follow the argument? It would be poor time management to try to solve a Belfast bombing by looking at Peruvians. If we started with the Irishmen, we are not maintaining that all Irishmen are bad, or even that all Peruvians are good.
But Robert, with an eye on the central point, asked for the profile for the disenfranchised militia types. I don’t really know — but here’s a shot. I would have no objection if a fellow were profiled at an airport or federal building because of his camo gear, coonskin hat, combat boots, one tooth, and a fairly large Budweiser balcony peeping out underneath his “Lynch Janet Reno” T-shirt.
With regard to Jack’s point, of course it is a logical possibility that a Christian sinning is doing so because of his Christianity, or because of his particular form of it. Sin in a congregation can be a failure to live up to the standards of the group (old-fashioned hypocrisy). But (because there are whacked-out cults) there are also instances when sin is because of obedience to the standards of the group. In a fallen world, people get sick. When they do, some of them congregate in hospitals for treatment. Some of them congregate less hygienic places where all they do is infect one another.
To go back to the rotten apple analogy, it is true that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole barrel. But this does not make a barrel full of bad apples a logical impossibility. So the question is whether or not there is such a thing as religious pathology. I know that we agree there is. The respectable way to refer to one form of it is “fundamentalist Islam.” We agree in principle. What I have broached is the question of whether or not the Muslim fundamentalists are more consistent or inconsistent with the Koran than their more moderate brethren. In a world where every two days someone is blowing himself up (along with others) in the name of Allah, I think it is a fair question.
And, once it gets to a certain level, it will stop being asked. In 1943, nobody in America was asking whether or not the Hitlerites were the true representatives of true Nazism. Whether they were or not, they were the ones we had to fight.
“Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.