January 19, 2015

"We are convinced that religion has no place in the political arena, that once religion injects itself into the political debate, the political debate becomes totalitarian."

Said Gerard Biard, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo, explaining the nature of the magazine's attacks on religion to Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" yesterday.

The transcript from yesterday's show is not available, and the NBC website, with 2 article on the interview — here and here — has only a few quotes — the one I transcribed above, but another one that uses the word "totalitarian":
The editor told Todd that "religion should not be a political argument." He said if religion enters the "political arena, it becomes a totalitarian argument. Secularism protects us against this, secularism guarantees democracy and assures peace. Secularism allows all believers and not-believers to live in peace and that is what we defend."
Chuck Todd looks strangely confused during the interview, and both articles at the NBC website have an "Editor's Note," calling out the French-to-English interpreter for mistranslating "liberté de conscience" as "freedom of religion" instead of "freedom of thought" or "freedom of conscience." And he shifted to the panel discussion on the show, Todd said that much of the interview was "left on the cutting room floor." So, we need not only the usual show transcript, but a transcript of the whole interview, in both English and French.

Biard was saying something that is objectionable to many Americans and contrary to our free speech values. If you think you might not agree with me, remember that today we are celebrating the birthday of The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., whose most famous speech ended:
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

                Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
Could that be translated or even mistranslated into secular language? That's what Biard wants people to do and insists must be done to avoid totalitarianism.

125 comments:

Bobber Fleck said...

The term for this is "psychological projection".

sinz52 said...

"Secularism protects us against this, secularism guarantees democracy and assures peace. "

Communist countries like the Soviet Union and Pol Pot's Cambodia were avowedly secular states--to the point of actively suppressing religion. But that policy didn't guarantee democracy at all.

Religion should not necessarily be kept out of politics. On the other hand, religious views should not depend on the power of the state to spread them and enforce them.

Ann Althouse said...

Biard also said "God must not be a political or public figure, but instead must be a private one."

Imagine the hugely public and political "I Have a Dream" speech with God censored out. How would it end? As it is now, there's an immense thrill at the end.

The name "God" appears 4 times in the speech. The first 3 are the phrase "all of God's children" and the 4th one is the thrilling finally line from the spiritual: " Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

I don't get that whole point. If religion should be kept out of political discussion, what was Hebdo doing with the Mohammed's pictures?

And as for the French and their freedom of conscience bullshit, screw them.

While 3mm people were marching for freedom of speech, press etc, the French police were arresting a couple dozen for violations of speech codes.

Fuck the French and the horse they rode in on.

John Henry

SMGalbraith said...

It's interesting to note that two of the three editors who were killed were behind a petition to get the National Front banned from French politics. The NF, that's Le Pen's party, is an ugly, nativist movement but wanting to ban it doesn't seem to be consistent with their free speech views.

Does this editor want religious figures to be banned from expressing their political views? What does he mean by saying they have "no place in the political arena"?

As we all know, the civil rights movement was essentially run out of the church basement. It was, after all, Reverend Martin Luther King and Reverend Ralph Albernathy.

Who is the totalitarian here?

Ann Althouse said...

The word "faith" appears many times in the "I Have a Dream" speech (which I'm concentrating on because it's so clearly in the political arena (obviously, the sermons are full of religion, but they are in what Biard would consider the private sphere).

MLK doesn't mention Jesus, but he does say:

"You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive."

Is "faith" there religious? It really blurs the line between politics and religion.

BarrySanders20 said...

Let's don't forget the Reverend Jesse Jacksonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

SMGalbraith said...

It's funny - revealingly funny - that we in America see religion as a check on the state's powers, as a independent civil institution where people can be safe from the reach of government, as an institution that can hold the government to a moral and ethical standard (Reverend King anyone?), and he sees it as an instrument of totalitarianism.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Maybe Steven Soderbergh could have cut the interview down to the editor-in-chief saying "We are against religion in the political arena because we are against religion."

tim in vermont said...

I am pretty sure that every ideology this side of small govt conservatism is totalitarian. And the left believe that small govt conservatism leads to a "corporatist" totalitarian state. This isn't going to end well. China is the model for the future, what it will be, not what we should strive for.

kcom said...

"and he sees it as an instrument of totalitarianism."

Perhaps because we never had a society ruled by a church. France did have that at one time. They still have a hangover apparently, even though it was a long time ago.

tim in vermont said...

"Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood"

It is not even a "pick any two" proposition. But I guess a nation that can accept the "mystery" of Catholicism can get some kind of meaning out of that nonsense.

Jamie Bee said...

There is a huge difference between the use of generic religious references in a public forum to express the longing of the human heart (a la Rev. King's speeches) and the express use of a specific religion to forward political goals (a la implementing sharia law based on the Qu'ran, or pushing for a ban on gay marriage based on references to the Bible). It seems from what you've posted that Monsieur Binard is arguing against the latter, and says nothing at all about the former.

As far as I know, Martin Luther King Jr never said "We need to promote civil rights or the Christian God will damn us all to hell". Imagine if he had!

Paco Wové said...

"two of the three editors who were killed were behind a petition to get the National Front banned from French politics."

The whole "liberté de conscience" thing doesn't really sound much like the American 1st amendment idea of free speech at all, does it. More like "freedom of speech as long as it isn't too different from what I'd say."

Michael K said...

France is different because of their history. The Revolution was against religion which the revolutionaries blamed for much of the problems they were complaining of. The Church did have a large hand in French affairs but most of it was over by 1789. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes sent the Industrial Revolution to England with the Huguenots.

As a result of the officially sanctioned persecution by the dragoons who were billeted upon prominent Huguenots, a large number of Protestants — estimates range from 210,000 to 900,000 — left France over the next two decades. They sought asylum in England, the United Provinces, Sweden, Switzerland, Brandenburg-Prussia, Denmark, Protestant states of the Holy Roman Empire, the Cape Colony in Africa, and North America.

France suffered although most of it came from the Revolution, itself, rather than the lack of industrial capacity. Napoleon finished off the French chances for economic success that were harmed by the Revolution.

rhhardin said...

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!


That was the only good part of the speech, which otherwise droned on and on.

Why are the Jews and Gentiles free at last? Because they are free of their racism.

Blacks have not caught that even today. They take it as more free stuff from whites.

Enslaving themselves to this day.

You could find religious support for the discovery, if you wanted.

Religion just poetizes it, except Islam, which as far as I can figure poetizes tribal warfare.

The serious criticism of religion isn't the message but the literalizers of the poetics. Then you get dogma, and punishments.

Bob Boyd said...

Today's Headline:
French Cartoonist Discovers Formula To Guarantee Peace And Democracy!

Tomorrow's Headline:
Muslim Cartoonists Unable To Replicate French Results

Tank said...

Is there any non-Islamic totalitarian state today? Any in the last 100 years?

SMGalbraith said...

The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law...."; it doesn't say that religious people cannot be involved in politics.

Congress cannot enact religious law but that doesn't mean religions cannot try to get them passed. It's like the saying, "God answer all prayers; but sometimes the answer is no." Religious people can ask for their religion to be legislated; but Congress must say no.

It's an uneasy relationship, of course; we want/need religions (I do) to serve as a check on the state but we also want them out of making the actual laws. Or at least away from using specific religious doctrines from being enacted.

Driving them out completely from the public arena, from the political sphere is far more dangerous in modern times than letting them have a voice.

Unlike Europe, we've never had the religious wars so our view of religion is quite different.

David said...

Totalitarianism is born of arrogance. God know there is enough of that going around, including at the offices of Hebdo.

When you say "God must" how are you going to enforce those orders?

rhhardin said...

Derbyshire is unalarmed by religion in politics, calling it ceremonial deism.

I'd call it recognizing that the poetics of the message is poetics.

Tank said...

Tank said...

Is there any non-Islamic totalitarian state today? Any in the last 100 years?


Oops, meant non-Islamic religious totalitarian ...

Dale Light said...

So he would ban religious speech in order to protect liberties? No wonder Todd was confused. Also, would his ban on religious opinion include a ban on the secular religion of Marxism?

Ann Althouse said...

"There is a huge difference between the use of generic religious references in a public forum to express the longing of the human heart (a la Rev. King's speeches) and the express use of a specific religion to forward political goals (a la implementing sharia law based on the Qu'ran, or pushing for a ban on gay marriage based on references to the Bible). It seems from what you've posted that Monsieur Binard is arguing against the latter, and says nothing at all about the former."

You're wrong.

He's arguing for purely secular speech in the political arena. Did you listen to the interview at the link? I assume you did not. Please do that, because Biard is very earnest and adamant about this. God does not belong in political speech. That is his point and he says it clearly and sharply and to the confusion of Chuck Todd.

Why would I write this post the way I did if he was only talking about avoiding sect preference and the separation of church and state? Those are American values.

carol said...

Liberals think negroes' religion is cute. Hallelujah! heh heh.

traditionalguy said...

The ideas are chasing their tail when a God that sets men free is brought into the discussion.

Gods have traditionally been rallying cries to lend cover for man's theft and murder gangs that morph into slavery based hierarchies. Raider of caravans Mohammed even crafted one of those for himself.

Ever seen an Absolute Monarch that did not control the State's Religion? Well, neither have the tribes of men everywhere. Loot is what men want. Not freedoms for the slaves!

Then some one finds scripture by Paul and reads words about the Christian God that says men are not slaves but beloved adopted sons of God. Then the world goes nuts trying to cover over and censor that revolutionary idea.

The French want their freedom. Ask Voltaire. The Puritans fleeing the restoration of Monarchy and Anglican Church Tyrrany in England wanted their freedom too. That is why Americans and French both started with and still have a mutual love for revolution and free speech.

Ann Althouse said...

The argument that Biard makes is one that some Americans make, but it is not mainstream in America, and few if any successful politicians say it.

Dale Light said...

Totalitarianism is born of moral certainty, a certainty that can be found in religion, but also in the secular faiths.

Eleanor said...

MLK was a religious figure, not a secular one. For him to use religious references in his speeches is to be expected, even if the purpose of the speech is political. If LBJ had made the same speech, I think today it might be a problem, but not at the time the speech was made. Mandatory school prayer wasn't banned until 1962. Public meetings still began with prayers in 1968. For the president to invoke religious imagery in a speech would not have upset many people. Today I think we're a little more aware of what being "separate" means. It sticks out like a sore thumb when a politician invokes God into his or her speech.

SMGalbraith said...

It's more than 200 years later yet the Framers showed they were smarter than us.

They got it right; free exercise AND no establishment. We need both.

It is American exceptionalism even if Bill Maher sneers at it. Even though he doesn't recognize that the Framers were unique and were on his side of this issue.

Sebastian said...

Pushed to this extreme, laïcité becomes its own form of totalitarianism.

On the other hand, God lends himself to political abuse.

Better to have a system that allows God to enter but not rule the public sphere.

YoungHegelian said...

I was involved in a discussion on something like this topic in another forum, and here's what I said:

"Reading the Giles Fraser article in the Guardian brought to mind the French philosophical movement of the 80's called The End of Morality/The End of Man. It was a movement built on the insights of French Postmodernism, mostly Derrida, and it thought that with the passing of Marxism's hold on the consciousness of French intellectual life, the last vestiges of Humanism & a humanistic ethics passed, too. They (French thinkers, and by extension, mankind) were now in a post-humanistic world, including a post-moral world. I bring this up because, while it is often remarked that France has become post-Christian & doesn't believe in the foundational "myths" of Christianity, what is not said is that France no longer believes in the philosophical ideologies that underlay the historical justifications for Laicite'. To believe that Reason guides human affairs, that there is a dispassionate Reason that can arbitrate among competing human interests, and that the State can embody this Reason are beliefs that now would get one laughed out of a French philosophy/sociology/political science department. Laicite' is now defined by the revelations it opposes, by the license it grants, and not by the moral duties it imposes on Man as Citizen of the Republic. France, and by extension Europe, thought that they could throw out God, and keep the Enlightenment. They did not see what was right in front of them --- that the Enlightenment philosophes invented more ways of bringing God into the picture than the Ancients ever dreamed of, and that faith in one was wrapped around the axle of faith in the other."

Back at ya, Biard!

tim in vermont said...

Totalitarianism is born of moral certainty, a certainty that can be found in religion, but also in the secular faiths.

Exactly. Since it is impossible to calculate the implications of any particular set of precepts for running a society, all ideological systems are faiths of one kind or another.

Mark Caplan said...

Many atheists reflexively thank God for this or that, some even saying, "Thank God I'm an atheist!" So thanking the Almighty isn't necessarily a religious or devotional act.

Dan Hossley said...

I couldn't disagree more with your take on this. MLK's passage wasn't a demand to compel others to act in accordance with his religious beliefs which is the heart of the issue.

It would be a category mistake to think that a politicians reference to God in any way was a religious argument.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, religious leaders of all types, including the Pope, are arguing that speech that insults religion shouldn't be or cannot be allowed. No doubt these religious leaders want to be in charge of determining what constitutes insulting speech.

Our first amendment gets it right. The European (and Canadian) approach gets it wrong.

EMD said...

Perhaps because we never had a society ruled by a church. France did have that at one time. They still have a hangover apparently, even though it was a long time ago.

This. A country's history often dictates its future.

EMD said...

OT: I was wrong in the Down Syndrome thread a few days ago. The truth is the DS population overall is increasing. Mea culpa.

Jimmy said...

Ironically perhaps, when King said "Thank God Almighty, we are free at last" he was speaking of freedom from political oppression.

This country was founded by people who believed in natural law and God as the foundation for personal liberty, e.g., the Declaration of Independence asserting that it was time for the people "to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them."

To be "convinced that religion has no place in the political arena" is to call for Emerson's rejoinder that a "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Jamie Bee said...

I live outside the US and am unable to watch NBC's videos here, as they're blocked to non-US IP addresses. You had said that the transcripts were unavailable so I did not go looking for them. All that being said, I freely admit to taking my thoughts from your post and not from the video.

I will take you at your word that Biard said - or clearly meant - that even relatively generic references to God (as made by MLK) would be inappropriate in the public arena, but again, from the excerpts you posted, I just don't see it. I don't agree that permitting religious language in the public arena is the same as allowing religion itself into that arena, and it seems to me that you're conflating the two.

furious_a said...

even though it ended a long time ago.

Not all that remote. The Laicite laws separating Church and State (and nationalizing church properties) took effect in 1905. That's not so long European-memory-wise.

The French have a different frame of reference to religion in public life than do Americans. We don't have a Cardinal Richelieu, or a St. Bartholemew's Day in our history. We didn't have the "moral certitudes" injected into our public discourse or placed into law by Prelates *who were also ranking government officials*.

While I felt that Frenchman's pain, I also detected a little Robespierrian "moral certitude" in the superiority of French secularism.

Our founding experience with religion, OTOH, were with the Divine as the source of our unalienable rights. Which leaves room in the public space for those like Dr. King to remind us when we stray.

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't agree that permitting religious language in the public arena is the same as allowing religion itself into that arena, and it seems to me that you're conflating the two."

Thanks, Jaime. I guess the full transcript will be around eventually (though perhaps only edited and not in French).

To me, it's clear in the quotes I've given you that he's talking about the disqualification of religion as part of the expression within political debate.

I agree with you that there is a distinction that you are making, but I don't think it's where he draws the line. I'm saying this in part because I'm familiar with arguments against religious speech in politics. Maybe Biard could be pursued on these subjects (but it would require a better prepared interviewer than Chuck Todd).

tim in vermont said...

"God" is often used as a metaphor for the mysterious, chaotic, and deterministic aspects of the natural universe. I use it that way all the time. It would be weird to live in a society where certain metaphors are not allowed.

tim in vermont said...

I guess banning the n-word sets a precedent, however.

I won't write it, even though I am aware that I am 'free' to do so in a technical sense.

YoungHegelian said...

@furious_a,

While I felt that Frenchman's pain, I also detected a little Robespierrian "moral certitude" in the superiority of French secularism.

Just a little? How about an awful fucking lot of moral certitude?

There is in the coverage of the Charlie Hedbo massacre a tendency for the press, especially the American press, to see these guys as murdered Charles Schulz-es. No, these guys were arrogant, obnoxious, left wing bastards, and were beloved by the French because the French have a soft spot in their hearts for arrogant, obnoxious, left wing bastards.

I believe in the American, 1st Amendment idea of free speech, & certainly don't support Muslim terrorists offing people for cartoons. But, that Chuck Todd was surprised by what he encountered shows how little the media understand the CH phenomena. Memo to NBC --- these aren't pleasant people.

SMGalbraith said...

"Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now."

And: "I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

Someone needs to read those words to Mr. Biard. Perhaps copy of King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" as well.

Anonymous said...

Tim in Vermont wrote: "Since it is impossible to calculate the implications of any particular set of precepts for running a society, all ideological systems are faiths of one kind or another."
I agree wholeheartedly. Which supports that there are many to whom a progressive government is religion.
Sadly, for America, it is becoming invasive & powerful.

Quaestor said...

... we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual...

Not nearly inclusive enough, and King's words demand all differences to be homogenized into an acceptable, middling Protestant mush. What about the Hindus and the Buddhists, not to mention the Muslims?

What happens when the Protestant turns to the Jew and says, "Thank God Almighty, we're free at last! Too bad you're damned to Hell since you don't accept Christ as Lord."

And the Catholic turns to the Protestant and says, "You should talk, humph... you're just as damned as Abe over there (glad I'm not holding his hand) being outside the communion of Mother Church."

And the agnostic says, "You're all fucked. What you're claiming is unprovable nonsense."

And then the Protestant says, "The Bible is the inerrant Word of God, Mister Know-It-All Atheist."

And he Jew says, "Not entirely, It's the Torah that's the inerrant Word of God. That New Testament crap is just the ravings of a Jewish heretic."

And the Catholic says, "You're both wrong (and heretics, btw). The inerrant Word of God includes the teachings of the Church Fathers, which is why we know that Mary is the Queen of Heaven even though that's not found in any book of the Bible."

Then the agnostic says, "Look at you three, we've just entered the MLK millennium, and you're already at one another's throats over religious dogma! The only way we can really be free is if we keep that stuff out of political life."

And the Protestant says, "Well, there's one thing me, Abe, and Paddy over there can agree on, and it's that you are a blasphemous heathen. Let's et him boys!"

Althouse is WAY OFF BASE this time.

grackle said...

Biard was saying something that is objectionable to many Americans and contrary to our free speech values.

Perhaps Biard was placing too much relevance on the glaring example of Islam. True, Jihadism is a totalitarian social system masquerading as a religion, but the same cannot be said, with any credibility, of the other major religions.

Also, I think we might draw a distinction between the participation of religious figures, such as MLK, in reform movements, and the total control of society bought at the end of a gun that is the goal of Jihadism.

Big Mike said...

I think people's moral code is formed by religion, and politics absent morality begins and ends with Machiavelli.

The Godfather said...

Mixing up the remarks of a French secularist with the rhetoric of Martin Luther King, Jr. is pointless. Sure, if M. Biard could make law in the US, he would bar such rhetoric, but he can't, so who cares?

And if MLK were reborn as a French advocate for the rights of some oppressed minority, he wouldn't use religious rhetoric because in secularist France it wouldn't be effective, so who cares?

Big whoop.

I am not a robot.

furious_a said...

"I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you."

Another frame of reference disconnect with the French: the Huegenots had to mostly flee France to find safety, American blacks had to find their Promised Land in place, with the story of Moses and the Israelites to sustain them.

tim maguire said...

The government has an obligation to be secular, to not take sides in religious debate. The individual citizen needs and has no such restraint. We are free to vote our consciences regardless of how religious our consciences are.

Quaestor said...

grackle wrote: Perhaps Biard was placing too much relevance on the glaring example of Islam. True, Jihadism is a totalitarian social system masquerading as a religion, but the same cannot be said, with any credibility, of the other major religions.

I think you're taking the normative of the last 100 years in the West and projecting backward. This last century has been the exception rather than the rule. Christianity was the social system of Europe for 12 centuries at least. All the ruling houses of Europe depended on Devine Right until comparatively recent times to justify their positions at the top of the tree.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth,“ he was being revolutionary. Today we see this as mere common sense.

n.n said...

Actually, a moral philosophy requires individuals capable of self-moderation and personal responsibility. Whereas Biard's alternative is legal authoritarian, which is also "religious" and requires submission to men and women.

Secularism does not guarantee democracy and democracy is not the goal as it is rule and order by a majority or consensus, or, in America, judge, psychiatrist, president, senator, protection racket, journolists, fraud, etc. that override democratic consensus when it becomes inconvenient to their special interests.

MLK's dream is mostly dead. Along with around 2 million children annually. His dream lives on in a progressively attenuated subset of survivors of secular rites conducted for the profits of money, sex, ego, and convenience; the state's compelling interest of taxable assets and reduced problem set; and the Party's compelling interest of securing capital and control through class divisions.

Anyway, the prerequisite for liberty is men and women capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. This is why liberty is restricted in the early years of human evolution. A child is not prepared mentally or physically to care for another human life, let alone their own. Today, the "innocence" of childhood has been extended 2 years, a decade, and indefinitely.

It's ironic that Hebdo, and presumably Biard, support the same strategy and tactics as their ideological counterparts, the French (or Islamic) terrorists. The attack on their office was a reflection of their own belief system. It must be unnerving for his Church's rites to be executed outside of a privacy veil; to endure public scrutiny of their motives and methods.

SMGalbraith said...

"The government has an obligation to be secular, to not take sides in religious debate. The individual citizen needs and has no such restraint. We are free to vote our consciences regardless of how religious our consciences are."

Exactly. But does Biard recognize this distinction?

He seems to be the one conflating the two.

As to King: If you read probably his most famous argument against Jim Crow, "A Letter from a Birmingham Jail", you can see him using both secular and religious reasons for opposing segregation. For example, he calls segregation "unjust, immoral and sinful."

And he uses political/secular and religious historic examples to support the civil right cause.

This, nearly as much as his rhetorical greatness, was his brilliance.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

The proper formulation of this issue is, "Mysticism has no place in the political arena."

Put that (correct) way, few would disagree.

Then, the secondary debate can be taken up: Is religion mysticism?

And the religionists will be very hard pressed indeed to show that it is not.

n.n said...

The problem is not religion or moral philosophy, but organization or blind deference to mortal men and women. This is why organized religion runs amuck. This is why organized atheism runs amuck.

Islam's problem is slightly different, but has the same origin as its ideological Marxist counterparts. They are universal "religions" and ideologies that are spread and sustained through coercion and illusions of "choice" suppressed by administration of select opiates.

n.n said...

SomeoneHasToSayIt:

That would exclude everyone who argues with affirmative statements about phenomenon in the universal or extra-universal domains, and outside of the very limited -- in time and space -- scientific domain. So, no Christians, Muslims, atheists, etc.

Who would remain?

Individual dignity is an article of faith or moral axiom, which is a contentious, unreconciled issue in left-wing ideologies for everyone other than an elite minority. Intrinsic value, while clearly contentious between conception and birth, is a near universal article of faith or moral axiom after birth, but is still prone to pro-choice or selective policies.

YoungHegelian said...

@SomeOneHasToSayIt,

Then, the secondary debate can be taken up: Is religion mysticism?

The question, for agnostic ethics, isn't what religion is.

The question is: What can moral philosophy ever be?

And that is a lot more difficult question to answer than simply critiquing the historical failings of the worlds' faiths.

buster said...

@ SomeoneHasToSayIt

Religious believers use "faith" not "mysticism". So the question is whether "faith" means the same as mysticism". I think you'd be hard put to show that it does.

traditionalguy said...

Man's attraction to
A relationship with creator God is common part of humanity. If I was. Raider and thief I would use it too.

Africans said the British missionaries would say to them to bow their heads and close their eyes and when they opened their eyes the Briyish King had stolen their land.

buster said...

I don't think Augustine or Acquinas or Luther or C.S. Lewis were mystics.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

n.n said...
SomeoneHasToSayIt:

That would exclude everyone who argues with affirmative statements about phenomenon in the universal or extra-universal domains, and outside of the very limited -- in time and space -- scientific domain.


Well, the time and space scientific domain merely comprises EVERYTHING THAT THERE IS, or can be, for Man.

So, no Christians, Muslims, atheists, etc. Who would remain?


Atheists remain, since they simply stick to time and space (see previous definition)

Individual dignity is an article of faith or moral axiom, which is a contentious, unreconciled issue in left-wing ideologies for everyone other than an elite minority.

It is a moral axiom that can easily be derived from the givens of existence, and the nature of homo sapiens consciousness.

Intrinsic value, while clearly contentious between conception and birth, is a near universal article of faith or moral axiom after birth, but is still prone to pro-choice or selective policies.

Can't say as I agree there. Collectivists don't seem to value the individual all that much.

tim in vermont said...

The proper formulation of this issue is, "Mysticism has no place in the political arena."

You mean like a mystical belief in the absolute authority of science?

I think you are on very slippery ground here. I notice you don't provide any definition of "mystical."

tim in vermont said...

It is a moral axiom that can easily be derived from the givens of existence, and the nature of homo sapiens consciousness.

Grasshopper. You have no idea of what the words you write mean.

Paul Zrimsek said...

It is a moral axiom that can easily be derived from the givens of existence, and the nature of homo sapiens consciousness.

David Hume, call your office.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

SomeoneHasToSayIt:

The scientific domain does not encompass all of time and space. With our limited skill and knowledge, it does not even encompass all of planet Earth. Consider the constraints imposed by the scientific method. It is deductive. It requires observation. It requires reproduction. Human perception, natural and technologically enhanced, is strictly limited in both time and space. Much of what passes for "science" in the modern era is based on a the gross simplification or blind faith of a uniformitarian principle.

The concept of individual dignity is axiomatic or an article of faith. This characterization does not establish its origin. However, both are derived. Even collectivists in their worst violation of human rights (e.g. abortion, pogroms) did not murder and marginalize everyone. Well, not uniformly in time and space.

That said, we cannot even reach a consensus that human life is, at minimum, a physical process that begins with conception and ends with a natural, accidental, or premeditated (e.g. abortion) death. So, no, neither collectivists nor libertarians accept intrinsic value as an axiomatic truth.

jr565 said...

Govt can neither compel NOR PROHIBIT religious exercise. This idea that there is a separation of the state FROM religion is a misreading of 1st amendment. Separation of state was meant as a way to protect minorities religious freedom, not prevent any exercise of religious views In public. The secularists simply have it wrong.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

tim in vermont said...
It is a moral axiom that can easily be derived from the givens of existence, and the nature of homo sapiens consciousness.

Grasshopper. You have no idea of what the words you write mean.


Read the collected works of Ayn Rand. Until you do, YOU have no idea of what my words mean.

tim in vermont said...

@Paul Zrimsek

Dead on link. I wonder if SomeoneHasToSayit will even read it.

tim in vermont said...

YOU have no idea of what my words mean.

That is some deep defense of your thinking there. I see you can defend your system of thought against attack on all sides, Ayn Rand's authority notwithstanding.

tim in vermont said...

@n.n.

His faith in the province of science is touching. It is as if he has no idea that nobody has any real idea, at this time, what goes on beneath the level of Quantum Mechanics, or what happened prior to the Big Bang, nor is there anyway to scale up the few instances of rock solid scientific knowledge we do have to anything that resembles an aspect of human nature in any way that is not so assumption laden and observer biased as to lose any connection with the term 'science.'

jr565 said...

He said if religion enters the "political arena, it becomes a totalitarian argument. Secularism protects us against this, secularism guarantees democracy and assures peace. Secularism allows all believers and not-believers to live in peace"

secularism doesn't gueatantee anything.and certainly does not ensure peace. If religious folks are forced to live under the yolk of secularism it's no less compulsion. In fact the restriction of any aspect of religion is what is totalitarian.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...


Y'all talk among yourselves now.

I see that it's pearls before swine on this thread.

tim in vermont said...

Objectivism is a faith. I accept that there is no God, and I understand that one of the implications of that fact is that there is no guarantee that the universe is penetrable by human reason. Human reason evolved to outsmart wildebeests, shelter mates and progeny, and get mates in the first place.

Even if every one of us was a smart as Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein, it would remain so.

tim in vermont said...

I see that it's pearls before swine on this thread.

I guess you weren't here to discuss ideas then, but to tell us the straight facts about the true nature of existence.

Ha ha ha!

tim in vermont said...

You can't even define "mysticism" for us.

YoungHegelian said...

I see that it's pearls before swine on this thread.

Is that reason that you think the world hasn't bowed down before the mighty philosophical wisdom of Ayn Rand? That it's just pearls before swine?

The reason folks don't go apeshit over Objectivism is because it's poorly done philosophy, for many of the reasons pointed out here, and more. And, besides, even in the case of authors who produced, by universal assent, really well-done philosophy, there is no agreement on even the most basic of issues. Sadly, this seems to be the human condition.

sydney said...

Amazing that a Frenchman would think that. Don't they teach French history in their schools? Their most totalitarian state occurred when they pretty much outlawed religion at the end of the eighteenth century.

Marc Puckett said...

Thank you, Althouse, for pointing out to Jamie Bell and others that what Gerard Biard is supposed to have said is in fact exactly what he, and the other proponents of laïcité à la française, mean: God has no place in public political life. And that proposition is intended to be quite expansive in its application, and the atheists (well, les partisans de la laïcité ) are thé ones who get to decide what it means and in which circumstances it applies.

And French Catholics would like Chartres and Nôtre Dame back, too, thanks very much.

Achilles said...

Secular tyrants have killed how many millions of people? More than religious tyrants have in the last 2 centuries...

Marc Puckett said...

I meant Jamie Bee supra; sorry. Fr Thierry-Dominique Humbrecht OP (yes, yes, cue the chorus of those who haven't yet shaken off their memories of the Roman Inquisition) in Le Figaro today entitled his op-ed, 'laïcité has crowned herself the pope, la papesse of all religions'.

D.E. Cloutier said...

New book coming soon:

"One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America"

Nonfiction book by Kevin M. Kruse

Publication Date: April 14, 2015

Description from Perseus Books Group:

"We're often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation. But in 'One Nation Under God,' historian Kevin M. Kruse reveals that the idea of 'Christian America' is an invention — and a relatively recent one at that.

"As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR's New Deal. Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal as a program of 'pagan statism' that perverted the central principle of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the individual. Their campaign for 'freedom under God' culminated in the election of their close ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

"But this apparent triumph had an ironic twist. In Eisenhower's hands, a religious movement born in opposition to the government was transformed into one that fused faith and the federal government as never before. During the 1950s, Eisenhower revolutionized the role of religion in American political culture, inventing new traditions from inaugural prayers to the National Prayer Breakfast. Meanwhile, Congress added the phrase 'under God' to the Pledge of Allegiance and made 'In God We Trust' the country's first official motto. With private groups joining in, church membership soared to an all-time high of 69%. For the first time, Americans began to think of their country as an officially Christian nation.

"During this moment, virtually all Americans — across the religious and political spectrum — believed that their country was 'one nation under God.' But as Americans moved from broad generalities to the details of issues such as school prayer, cracks began to appear. Religious leaders rejected this 'lowest common denomination' public religion, leaving conservative political activists to champion it alone. In Richard Nixon's hands, a politics that conflated piety and patriotism became sole property of the right.

"Provocative and authoritative, 'One Nation Under God' reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics to this day."

Link:

http://search.perseusbooksgroup.com/book/hardcover/one-nation-under-god/9780465049493

YoungHegelian said...

Fr Thierry-Dominique Humbrecht OP (yes, yes, cue the chorus of those who haven't yet shaken off their memories of the Roman Inquisition)

Marc, buddy, you're slippin'. The Dominicans didn't have anything to do with a Roman Inquisition. They wuz all about the Spanish Inquisition!

(And thank you for reminding me that, yes, the French state expropriated Church property in the 1905 law.)

YoungHegelian said...

@D.E

Have you just never read any history of the 13 original colonies?

You know, Puritans, Dissenters-from Puritanism, Quakers, Catholics, Anglicans --- those people?

First & Second Great Awakening?

The book you posted looks to be the religious equivalent of Michael Bellesilles' Arming America, and we know how that turned out.

D.E. Cloutier said...

To: Young Hegelian

I read a lot of history. But I don't limit my reading to stuff I agree with.

D.E. Cloutier said...

P.S.

To Young Hegelian

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Marc Puckett said...

YoungHegelian, Sometimes Wikipedia gets it right.

"Typically, the pope appointed one cardinal to preside over meetings of the Congregation [of the Holy Office]. Though often referred to in historical literature as Grand Inquisitors, the role was substantially different from the formally appointed Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. There were usually ten other cardinals who were members of the Congregation, as well as a prelate and two assistants all chosen from the Dominican Order."

The Dominicans served as, in today's terms, the staff. Which isn't to say that Dominicans weren't employed in the Spanish Inquisition, as you point out; they were.

The Godfather said...

@D.E. Cloutier: Thanks for the heads-up about the silly book. I'll be sure to avoid it.

I am not a robot.

tim in vermont said...

How Corporate America Invented Christian America"

Is there no end to the evil that corporations do?

Sounds like a ready cooked set of talking points convincing to the already convinced. He worked "corporations" quickly into the title to make sure that his intended audience understood it was the "right kind of book."

Whodathunk that a nation of sincerely believing Christians were fundamentally secular until "corporations" came along and herded them off to Sunday school?

tim in vermont said...

But I don't limit my reading to stuff I agree with.

Somehow, and I know I can't prove it, I doubt that.

richard mcenroe said...

One's defense of Charles Hebdo need not lead so far as an embrace of their particular idolatry, but only to the knowledge that the mindset that would silence them would silence us as well, given a chance.

Or, for talk like a pirate day:

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. Nothing more and nothing less.

tim in vermont said...

One things corporations are good at doing is giving expression to the wants and needs of a given population.

Mais entendu, question begging is an essential task of a good propagandist.

richard mcenroe said...

"One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America"

Well, gosh, it sure was swell of them to build all those churches and synagogues and even date a bunch of them back to the 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centuries for us...

grackle said...

Christianity was the social system of Europe for 12 centuries at least. All the ruling houses of Europe depended on Devine Right until comparatively recent times to justify their positions at the top of the tree.

I wouldn't dispute that Christianity over time has played a major role in shaping Western social values. But even at its most powerful zenith it has never exerted the total control over of all aspects of life that sharia demands.

It's also true that nobility over the ages has claimed 'divine right' as one of the justifications for their station in the local class system. Europe and the West are not unique in that. But it was used by them to bypass religious authority. Delve into the history of the concept – the Western version seems to have originated with Henry VIII – 5 centuries ago. He was the guy who confiscated all church property and money and set himself up as the head of a new religion, the Church of England.

Speaking of Henry VIII: Hypothetically, I think I would rather be a subject of Henry VIII than to live under sharia. Certainly I would have more individual freedom.

Readers, do any of us think that the Saudi ruling family would EVER confiscate the property and money of the Wahabis? I'll tell you why they don't: because it would mean the end of the Saudi ruling family. They would be destroyed. No Henry VIII-type solution is possible for them.

D.E. Cloutier said...

Tim in Vermont: "Somehow, and I know I can't prove it, I doubt that."

Obviously, you don't read my blog, Jungle Trader.

I operate in many different cultures. I am successful. I am pragmatic. Whatever works best is fine with me.

Marc Puckett said...

And, YoungHegelian, I did see that Giles Fraser article; are you among the commenters at the G.? The poor man cannot escape his enlightened prejudices, going on about the "beleaguered, economically fragile" Muslims in France, even as he tries to make a point about how close to violent activism too many of them are. He has a history of seeing convenient-to-his-Guardianista-faith 'Islamophobia'.

Mark said...

Faith was not simply a part of MLK's life or a part of the civil rights strategy. It was his life. It was what animated his life, what kept him going day after day in the face of numerous challenges and hardships, including opposition from all quarters, death threats, bombings of his home, other violence inflicted against him, and on and on.

He was the real deal, he was not a fraud like "Reverend" Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, but was a true to life minister of God.

MLK, 27 August 1967 --

before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher. . . .

You know, a lot of people are forgetting God. They haven’t done it theoretically, as others have done through their theories—postulated through the God-is-dead theology—but a lot of people just get involved in other things. . . . So many people have come to feel that on their own efforts they can bring in a new world, but they’ve forgotten to think about the fact that the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. And so they end up going over and over again without God.

But I tell you this morning, my friends, there’s no way to get rid of him. And all of our new knowledge will not diminish God’s being one iota. Neither the microcosmic compass of the atom nor the vast interstellar ranges of interstellar space can make God irrelevant for living in a universe, where stellar distance must be measured in light years, where stars are five hundred million million miles from the earth, where heavenly bodies travel at incredible speeds. Modern man still has to cry out with the Psalmist, "When I behold the heavens, the work of thy hands and all that thou hast created; what is man, that thou is mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou hast remembered him?"

God is still around. One day, you’re going to need him. The problems of life will begin to overwhelm you; disappointments will begin to beat upon the door of your life like a tidal wave. And if you don’t have a deep and patient faith, you aren’t going to be able to make it. I know this from my own experience. . . .

Don’t be a fool. Recognize your dependence on God. As the days become dark and the nights become dreary, realize that there is a God who rules above.

And so I’m not worried about tomorrow. I get weary every now and then. The future looks difficult and dim, but I’m not worried about it ultimately because I have faith in God. . . . Living every day under the threat of death, I feel discouraged sometimes. Living every day under extensive criticisms, even from Negroes, I feel discouraged sometimes. Yes, sometimes I feel discouraged and feel my work’s in vain. But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.

bbkingfish said...

It would be hard to imagine a more fatuous suggestion than idea that MLK's speech would need to be translated into secular language.

Please enlighten us, Professor. What is there about either the language or content of the speech that is other than secular. And, by all means, dig as deep as you like in the OED!

tim in vermont said...

Do you do a lot of question begging over at "Jungle Trader" the way Kevin M. Kruse does?

Marc Puckett said...

Jamie Bee, at 1056, I have been wondering, since I read your comment, if you would explain what you mean by 'conflating permitting religious language and religion itself in the public arena', as if in the US there is some great immutable rule in law that distinguishes faith and the language that it's articulated in?

D.E. Cloutier said...

To Tim in Vermont

I was an objective newspaperman many years ago. I like man-bites-dog stories.

In the comment sections of other blogs, I occasionally like to bang the cage to watch the monkeys jump up and down.

Mark said...

And, no. MLK wanted NOTHING to do with a movement that did not include Jesus Christ.

Why? Because he was a religious extremist who wanted to impose his faith on people? No.

Because he understood who and what Jesus Christ is and what Christianity is all about. Namely, love. Love one another. Even love your oppressors and pray for your persecutors. Don't go chop off their heads like the Islamists or Biard's heroes of the French Revolution, whose ocean of blood rivals that of modern Islamists. Rather, love your enemies. Love them so much that you seek their redemption and salvation. Love them so much that you seek not to destroy them, but to soften their hearts.

A civil rights movement without Christ, however, would have been just another series of bloody riots and civil wars of retaliation and retribution.

Let it not be said though that Christianity is a faith of exclusivity. It is not. It is a faith of universality, which seeks the good in all that there is in others, including, for example, Hindus. More specifically, Gandhi. Throughout history, Christianity has looked for the good in the surrounding culture and appropriated it -- Greek and Roman philosophy being one early example, and Gandhi's example of non-violence being another.

But let MLK explain himself (from his autobiography) --

From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the movement. This guiding principle has since been referred to variously as nonviolent resistance, noncooperation, and passive resistance. But in the first days of the protest none of these expressions was mentioned; the phrase most often heard was "Christian love." It was the Sermon on the Mount, rather than a doctrine of passive resistance, that initially inspired the Negroes of Montgomery to dignified social action. It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love.

As the days unfolded, however, the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi began to exert its influence. I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom. . . .

Nonviolent resistance had emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating ideal. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and motivation while Gandhi furnished the method.

YoungHegelian said...

I read a lot of history. But I don't limit my reading to stuff I agree with.

Do you read histories that tell you that Belgium invaded Germany in WWI, you know, so you can be open minded?

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Sorry -

Here's the link to MLK's autobiography.

YoungHegelian said...

@Marc Puckett,

are you among the commenters at the G

Oh, Lord, no! Those newspaper comment sections are the comment section equivalent of the World Wrestling Federation, except often without the redeeming presence of scantily clad lasses holding signs.

No, Prof. Althouse's forum, even on its bad days, is a veritable Platonic agora compared to those madhouses.

tim in vermont said...

In the comment sections of other blogs, I occasionally like to bang the cage to watch the monkeys jump up and down.

Yeah, OK.

Michael K said...

"I wouldn't dispute that Christianity over time has played a major role in shaping Western social values. But even at its most powerful zenith it has never exerted the total control over of all aspects of life that sharia demands. "

The French Revolution was the first that tried to control what men thought. The Soviets were the first to be successful. Mao added some details.

The Muslims pretty much left the dhimmis alone as long as they obeyed. Now, that's not enough. My understanding is that much of Sharia is Arab culture and not in the Quran. I've read parts but it is deadly dull.

grackle said...

The French Revolution was the first that tried to control what men thought. The Soviets were the first to be successful. Mao added some details.

Efforts to control thought, except for the limited control that propaganda exerts, has never been long successful. All the examples cited above failed to control thought, only managing to control most behavior and only for limited periods of time.

The Muslims pretty much left the dhimmis alone as long as they obeyed.

The Moslem Empire, the longest lasting empire of all empires(from Muhammad's time up to the early 1900's) left some of their subjugated populations relatively unscathed, their religions intact and with a modicum of freedom so they could exact a tax for their treasury from them. The dead contribute no money and the money has to come from somewhere. But there were some rules of behavior, fairly strict compared to contemporary Western social mores. For example, if Muhammad was satirized, it would have surely meant death for the satirist – dhimmi or not.

Now, that's not enough. My understanding is that much of Sharia is Arab culture and not in the Quran. I've read parts but it is deadly dull.

Actually, no. The commentor evidently did not get to the relevant parts of the Quran. According to wiki:

There are two primary sources of sharia law: the precepts set forth in the Quranic verses (ayahs), and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah.

http://tinyurl.com/e5zpz

Milwaukie guy said...

Oh, god, an interesting post but I'm just getting back from work in the PST. So, I'm going to jump in without reading all the way to the bottom.

tim in vermont said...

"God" is often used as a metaphor for the mysterious, chaotic, and deterministic aspects of the natural universe. I use it that way all the time. It would be weird to live in a society where certain metaphors are not allowed.

I am a Presbyterian atheist, which colors all my views of religion, from papists to jihadis. The only true church is the Church of Scotland and the only saint is St. Andrew. If there is a god, he's Presbyterian, the first democratic religion.

Okay, but the other day a contractor I was trying to get out to give me a sewer bid had to keep putting things off. His wife had to go to the hospital and it was quite serious. Besides telling him to fit me in when he could, I said I would pray for his wife.

I'm an atheist. But there is no better word to convey my concern and good thoughts towards him than to say that I'm praying for them. It's a metaphor and it reflects, as I read it described recently, our Judeo-Hellenic-Christian heritage.

I support the religious's right to the public square, just as I want for the freethinker. I do not value my world view as an atheist over those who are religious.

Except, what's up with Jihad and Untouchables, bitches?

buwaya puti said...

Anti-clericalism has been a powerful element in European politics for a very long time. There is no real parallel to US political history, its no wonder there was an inability to communicate.
Europeans don't understand the US concept of religion and vice versa. The background is that different.

buwaya puti said...

There are four sources of Muslim practice - the Koran, the Hadith's (dozens of volumes of sayings and testimony of the prophet, much of which overrides the Koran), the Sunnah, a collection of ancient Arab traditions relevant to living in Muhammad's footsteps, and lastly the body of legal precedent in the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence, where the above sources have long since been chewed up, ambiguities and inconsistencies resolved, and interpreted to provide canned answers to most questions.
A proper Islamic library (saw one once) for a qadi (religious judge) can be pretty impressive.
The thing is, Islamic religio-legal deliberation is much more like textual analysis than the philosophical Christian approach. If it is written, if what is written is deemed to be the relevant text, then it is what it is. No further reasoning required.

TheCrankyProfessor said...

French Laicism is REALLY different from American freedom of religion + separation of church and state. Really - read about it.

Marc Puckett said...

YoungHegelian at 5:04, One goes to Guido Fawkes's site for the scantily clad girls along with vitriol and gas. :-) But they've recently gone Disqus and the number of such photographic distractions has greatly declined.

Phil 3:14 said...

I operate in many different cultures. I am successful. I am pragmatic. Whatever works best is fine with me.

Sorry DE but I really thought you were going to end that with:

I am Laslo

traditionalguy said...

French Calvinists, called Huuenots by their detractors, had difficult lives among Catholic assassins that required the same strong faith as that an American Calvinist Martin Luther King learned from his family.

That border between the Netherlands and France, called the Flemish area, was the origin of both the French Lawyer, John Calvin, and also of a Hugenot refugee named DeLano. And one of his proud Calvinist descendants used the full French Hugenot middle name when he served as President of the United States.Franklin DeLano Roosevelt.

D.E. Cloutier said...

Phil 3.14: "Sorry DE but I really thought you were going to end that with: I am Laslo."

Now that's funny.

furious_a said...

the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when...

Roger Williams could not be reached for comment.

Rusty said...

DE said. "Corporate America "


Define "Corporate America".

Because it sounds like one of those amorphous all encompassing descriptors that people use to obfuscate their intended purpose.
Corporate America is who?

Alex said...

Communism is a religion. Can we ban it from the political debate please?

Bryan C said...

"Communist countries like the Soviet Union and Pol Pot's Cambodia were avowedly secular states--to the point of actively suppressing religion. But that policy didn't guarantee democracy at all."

I think the problem is when people confuse "secularism" with "atheism".

True secularism is a philosophical mindset that acknowledges religion and government are co-equal and independent spheres of authority: secular, and sacred.

Government's domain is the secular. Folks can practice whatever religious beliefs they want and can argue or vote for policies based on those beliefs. But you can't argue that the belief is itself a justification for the policy. Or vice versa. A constant state of dynamic tension.

The USSR was atheistic. Atheism isn't "don't know/don't care" - that's properly agnosticism. Atheism describes a religious belief system based on the premise that gods do not exist. It's explicitly in opposition to theism and generally also to the other traditional non-theistic religions. Which is fine, so long as everyone's being honest. But a government explicitly based on atheism is not secular, it's just a religious atheocracy.

Michael McNeil said...

The Moslem Empire, the longest lasting empire of all empires (from Muhammad's time up to the early 1900's)

No, it wasn't — Ancient Rome was the longest lasting state (empire) in history — i.e., to wit, from the foundation of the Roman Republic, traditionally occurring in 509 B.C., to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 A.D. gives a grand total of 1,963 years. (Note that the so-called “Holy Roman Empire” — declared by Charlemagne in 800 A.D., refounded as a German empire (less France) by Otto I in 962, and ultimately abolished by Napoleon [!] in 1806 — is properly [IMHO] not included in that computation, because the Holy Roman Empire (after a gap of centuries since the fall of Rome [the state] in the West) was neither culturally, constitutionally, nor as a matter of historical continuity, “Roman” — and thus fundamentally deserved the appellation no more than Mussolini's [much later] supposed revival of the Roman Empire did — which is to say, not at all.)

Compare that great historical span of time — 1,963 years that the real Roman empire/state persisted — with the historical duration of the “Moslem Empire.” Accepting the traditional date of 622 A.D. for the founding of the Islamic Era, counting up until the abolition of the Caliphate by Kemal Ataturk in 1924, gives a total duration of 1,302 years — which itself is only about two-thirds of the “lifespan” of Rome.

Even that may be granting the supposed Muslim Empire too much consideration though, because similar objections can be made to including the Ottoman Caliphate in our calculations as earlier were levied against the Holy Roman Empire in this regard. Which is to say, the Ottoman Empire, though Muslim, culturally was Islamified Central Asian Turkish in origin and not at all Arab (the Ottoman state did not even include any Arabs to speak of for a great many years), and furthermore had little or no historical continuity vis-à-vis earlier (Arab) dynasties of Islamic caliphate.

…left some of their subjugated populations relatively unscathed, their religions intact and with a modicum of freedom so they could exact a tax for their treasury from them.

I am sure that Muslim beneficiaries of the dhimmi tax appreciated, and probably had a good laugh every now and then over, how the captive dhimmis helped finance the Muslim armies that then went out to conquer even more Christian and Jewish not to speak of Buddhist and Hindu subjects for them to abuse and tax.

Something fairly similar is happening today, where e.g. ISIS or Boko Haram captures foreign hostages, threatens them with savagery, obtains hundreds of millions of dollars in ransoms to save their lives and obtain their release, and then goes out and captures even more territory, people, and hostages — and so the Islamic bandwagon (they hope) continues to pick up steam. It's an old story….

Michael McNeil said...

Erratum: Of course that should be 1,961 years for the duration of the historic Roman state. Stupidly added rather than subtracted 1 to accommodate the lack of a year 0 in the traditional Western calendar.