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May 05, 2005

blast from the past (one)

Don Herzog, Herzog: "A Christian Nation?": May 5, 2005

Edmund Burke, Speech on a Bill for the Relief of Protestant Dissenters, 3/17/1773:

The most horrid and cruel blow that can be offered to civil society is through atheism.  Do not promote diversity; when you have it, bear it; have as many sorts of religion as you find in your country; there is a reasonable worship in them all.  The others, the infidels, are outlaws of the constitution, not of this country, but of the human race.  They are never, never to be supported, never to be tolerated.  Under the systematic attacks of these people, I see some of the props of good government already begin to fall; I see propagated principles which will not leave to religion even a toleration.  I see myself sinking every day under the attacks of these wretched people.  How shall I arm myself against them?

Burke continues,

By uniting all those in affection, who are united in the belief of the great principles of the Godhead that made and sustains the world.  They who hold revelation give double assurance to their country.  Even the man who does not hold revelation, yet who wishes that it were proved to him, who observes a pious silence with regard to it, such a man, though not a Christian, is governed by religious principles.  Let him be tolerated in this country.  Let it be but a serious religion, natural or revealed, take what you can get.  Cherish, blow up the slightest spark:  one day it may be a pure and holy flame.  By this proceeding you form an alliance offensive and defensive against those great ministers of darkness in the world who are endeavoring to shake all the works of God established in order and beauty.

As you can see, Burke was pretty damned jittery before the French Revolution — and that revolution didn't exactly calm him down.  From his Thoughts on French Affairs, 12/1791:

Of all men, the most dangerous is a warm, hot-headed, zealous atheist.  This sort of man aims at dominion, and his means are the words he always has in his mouth, — "L'égalité naturelle des hommes, et la souveraineté du peuple."

There's a nutshell presentation of the view of the great conservative theorist.  Atheism is a threat to social order, and atheism gets wrapped up with dangerous talk of natural equality and popular sovereignty.  The great liberal John Locke took a similar view in his Letter concerning Toleration (first published in English in 1689):

those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God.

Locke thought atheists couldn't be counted on to be moral, keep their promises, and be upstanding members of society.  Why?  Because of his wacky theory of moral motivation.  Locke thought we maximize pleasure, and what keeps us in line on earth is the threat of divine punishment and the promise of heaven.

By Burke's day, though, liberals had made their peace with unbelief.  Here's Thomas Jefferson's Notes on Virginia from 1781-82:

it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Was Jefferson whistling in the dark, ignoring the grave hazards of atheism?  Nope.  Here's a French settler in America, writing low-key ethnography of the natives in 1782.  From J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer:

Let us suppose you and I to be travelling; we observe that in this house, to the right, lives a Catholic, who prays to God as he has been taught, and believes in transubstantiation; he works and raises wheat, he has a large family of children, all hale and robust; his belief, his prayers offend nobody.   About one mile farther on the same road, his next neighbour may be a good honest plodding German Lutheran, who addresses himself to the same God, the God of all, agreeably to the modes he has been educated in, and believes in consubstantiation; by so doing he scandalises nobody; he also works in his fields, embellishes the earth, clears swamps, etc.  What has the world to do with his Lutheran principles?  He persecutes nobody, and nobody persecutes him, he visits his neighbours, and his neighbours visit him.  Next to him lives a seceder, the most enthusiastic of all sectaries; his zeal is hot and fiery, but separated as he is from others of the same complexion, he has no congregation of his own to resort to, where he might cabal and mingle religious pride with worldly obstinacy.  He likewise raises good crops, his house is handsomely painted, his orchard is one of the fairest in the neighbourhood.  How does it concern the welfare of the country, or of the province at large, what this man's religious sentiments are, or really whether he has any at all?  He is a good farmer, he is a sober, peaceable, good citizen:  William Penn himself would not wish for more.  This is the visible character, the invisible one is only guessed at, and is nobody's business.

So much for Locke's fantasies about atheists as unreliable citizens.  So much for Burke's strident denunciations, too.  Many Europeans were terrified of the violent assaults on Christianity mounted by the French revolutionaries.  But Crèvecoeur's America is not the least bit anticlerical or antireligious.  The devout and the atheist make good neighbors and good citizens — as long as they agree to keep their beliefs about religion private.  Toleration here is selective blindness.  It hooks up with equality under the law:  the state ignores our religious attachments.  And it governs how we interact in one social setting after another.  Just for instance, I'm about to grade a mountain of torts exams.  I don't know and I don't care what my students think about religion.  That doesn't mean that religion doesn't matter.  It means it's irrelevant in the classroom.  So too when the University of Michigan, a public university, hired me, they paid no attention to my religious convictions at all.  And here I am, teaching political theory and law to those impressionable youth....

Champions of ours being a Christian nation seem to need some history lessons.  Maybe I'll provide some in the coming weeks, even if I do shrink from blood and gore.  Meanwhile, I am fiercely proud to count myself a loyal citizen of Crèvecoeur's America.  And I'm ashamed of any who would rally today to Burke's repulsively intolerant sentiments.  I'm astonished by their ignorance, their failure to grasp that the decision to treat religion as if it's private is the not-so-secret recipe for America's fabulous record of peaceful pluralism.  Ashamed, astonished, angry too, and no, not much consoled by those gracious enough to grant atheists like me uneasy standing as second-class citizens.

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» Symbol and Allegiances : Suspension of Critical Thought from Get Real
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» Hot-Headed, Zealous Athiests from Bearcastle Blog
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Tracked on Jun 2, 2005 11:58:13 PM

Comments

Posted by: Sans Serfs

Here are some facts:

[From Bill Moyer's PBS web-site]

--86% of Americans consider themselves religious

--Of that 86% that are religious the affiliations break down as following:

--Christian: 76.5%
--Judasim: 1.3%
--Islam: .5%
--Hindu: .4%
--New Age: .1%

So, of people who report an affiliation, about 88% are Christian.

Therefore, it's as accurate to say that the US is a Christian nation, as it is to say the US is an English speaking nation, which I think would be uncontroversial. According to the US Census, 18% of citizens speak a language other than English at home.

In a historical context, of course, the percentage of reported religious believers and Christians would have been higher.

What's the history lesson for? To prove that religious minorities exist in this country? - we all know that.

Posted by: Sans Serfs | May 5, 2005 8:30:10 AM


Posted by: Steve Horwitz

This Christopher Hitchens piece from today's WSJ seems relevant.

Posted by: Steve Horwitz | May 5, 2005 8:31:15 AM


Posted by: Steve Horwitz

Sorry Sans, but the use of "Christian Nation" is not, as I noted in the prior thread, the same as saying "a majority of Americans are Christian." The demographic point is true, of course, but it is, or at least should be, irrelevant for the making of policy. Some/many of those trying to tell us we are a "Christian nation" wish to use that as something we should aspire to - i.e., the demographics justify the making of laws that are based on the tenets of Christianity. It's the latter use of "Christian nation" that is the problem.

Posted by: Steve Horwitz | May 5, 2005 8:35:51 AM


Posted by: Sans Serfs

No argument there.

Posted by: Sans Serfs | May 5, 2005 8:53:27 AM


Posted by: Sans Serfs

However, I think if you started running around saying "The US is not an English speaking nation" you would find push back, and for good reason.

The rights of the minority do not include willing the majority out of existence!

Posted by: Sans Serfs | May 5, 2005 8:56:24 AM


Posted by: Don Herzog

Like Steve said. But that means, Sans Serfs, that your last is wrongheaded. I am not willing Christians out of existence. I have nothing against Christians. I have nothing against living in a country where the vast majority are Christians. To say that the government may not take a Christian identity, to say that public policy should not promote Christianity or be justified as Christian, is not to have anything at all against Christians.

Posted by: Don Herzog | May 5, 2005 9:10:14 AM


Posted by: Sans Serfs

OK - I agree with you. I think you can go too far in stating your position in a way that will antagonize les autres.

You may want to consider that there are vast swatches of this country where the average statisitics don't apply. There, it truly is a Christian nation.

Posted by: Sans Serfs | May 5, 2005 9:21:16 AM


Posted by: john t

Ah yes,Burke the intolerant,"I mean not tolerated popery,and open superstition,which as it extirpates all religions and civil supremacies,so itself should be extirpate". Wait,that's the sainted Milton,Areopagitica,defending freedom of the press. Back to Burke,sorry for the mistake. I guess I need history lessons from Scholar Don. I would have thought the good scholar,in the interest of academic impartiality and for the cause of holy tolerance,in mentioning Burke and the French Revolution would have tossed us ignoramus's the historical tidbit about the desecration of Notre Dame with the enthroning of a naked woman as goddess of reason. The tolerance mop really should flop both ways. We'll leave out the rape of nuns and murder of priests,if it wasn't good enough for Don it's not good enough for me. Poor Bigot Burke,among many other things he only spent a good part of eight years in the trial of Warren Hastings for a people far removed from England and whose plight for many Englishmen was as distant as India. How does that possibly compare with being a teacher in Michigan? Even a second class citizen-teacher? Even a second class polemicist-teacher?

Posted by: john t | May 5, 2005 9:21:42 AM


Posted by: Don Herzog

john t, this is not an overall scorecard on Burke; it is a reminder of his position on atheism.

In the post, in fact I tried to distinguish the violently anti-Christian secularism of the French revolutionaries from the peaceful tolerance of the American colonies. So yes, in your picturesque phrase, the tolerance mop really should flop both ways: a state that is publicly anti-religious is every bit as objectionable as a state that is publicly pro-religious.

Posted by: Don Herzog | May 5, 2005 9:31:01 AM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"irrelevant for the making of policy"

BS. To the extent we are a democracy, particularly a majoritarian democracy, it is inevitable that having 65% of the population --to the extent they are motivated to it--speak with one voice means they will have the whole say on the motivating issue. I suspect the near universal popular condemnation of SSM discussed in the other thread is an aspect of this.

Tell you what, let's get rid of majority democracy and try for universal supermajorities on every question of legislation. Sure the government won't do much--but that's an upside.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 9:31:55 AM


Posted by: andrew owens

Actually, there is quite a difference between the relationship of majority English speakers to our government English usage; as compared to majority Christianity and government use of Christianity. There is no Constitutional bar, that I can tell, to government established language standards (though I've not seen a LR article on this). There is, obviously, such a bar to established religion (little r, remember).

If we are speaking in social terms, no problem with "Christian nation." But if we speak in a civic context, that phrase is damaging and wrong.

All that said, I hesistate from fully embracing that legislative intent is without religious influence. It is not, nor should it be- as the men and women making up lawmaking bodies cannot strip themselves of that influence. Is it really better to dance around the issue, and give winks and nods--as public figures do today?

Posted by: andrew owens | May 5, 2005 9:43:41 AM


Posted by: Ted

George Will has a column similar to Hitchens' although more moderate in today's Washington Post:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/04/AR2005050402050.html
Sorry for my lack of HTML knowledge.

Posted by: Ted | May 5, 2005 10:02:34 AM


Posted by: noah

But Don you feel perfectly content to voice your opinion on public policy (such as same sex marriage) based on your indefensible belief system but object to Christians doing the same.

Posted by: noah | May 5, 2005 10:10:29 AM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

Noah, HE thinks it's defensible.

The thing is, the left is desprately attempting to prevent the fact that a broad majority of persons in this country are nominally Christian AND that a substantial majority of them have organized themselves in partisan political fashion from having the consequences that broad based organization deserves--by dint of every principle of democratic government which the left once claimed it championed. I certainly won't claim I'm happy about everything the religious right is doing, but I certainly won't attempt to weasel them out of their right to do attempt it and succeed when they deliver the votes.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 10:42:51 AM


Posted by: JeffS

Crèvecoeur's "tolerance" sounds unobjectionable, but it reveals a kind of live-and-let-live disregard for others that may be more responsible for today's culture wars than is Burke's lunacy. Because such "tolerance," more than fanaticism, is the death of dialogue. Not caring about what somebody deeply believes, as long as his house is well painted and his crops grow well, means -- in a deeper sense-- not caring about that person altogether, not taking the Other seriously as a person who stands for things. Think about people close to you, people you care about: would you just let it slide that they believe something different from you in matters religiously, politically or ideologically important to you? I doubt it.

The problem with the 'Christian Nation' advocates, in other words, isn't only that they're theocrats, willing to impose their exclusive vision on this country's identity, but that they couldn't care less what you (or I) think of this. They feel no need to persuade their fellows (no, preaching to the converted on Fox isn't dialogue). If they did feel that need -- if they weren't so "tolerant" -- then we'd have a dialogue, and probably wouldn't be in this mess today. And secular libs are equally guilty: how often do they try to convince heartland "People of Faith" why they should be pro-choice or at least oppose the death penalty? No, they're tolerant, too, a euphamism for "to hell with you."

Posted by: JeffS | May 5, 2005 11:03:40 AM


Posted by: benny profane

I certainly won't attempt to weasel them out of their right to do attempt it and succeed when they deliver the votes.

SO you therefore don't have a problem as the fundie-enthusiasts take over school boards and begin outlawing the teaching of biology, as they are now doing all over the US. Or teaching history as per fundie-ness: with every US military action ever taken glorified.

Fundies ARE motivated by irrational beliefs, thus any rational person (including the non-fundie Christians) has reason to fear the consequences and to prevent their seizing of power.

Posted by: benny profane | May 5, 2005 11:08:33 AM


Posted by: Iconic Midwesterner

Is Burke's "zealous atheist" is same thing as the atheist that wants to be left alone and who leaves others alone? Probably not.

Burke never advocated the Inquisition. To imply otherwise is simply false.

Posted by: Iconic Midwesterner | May 5, 2005 11:17:41 AM


Posted by: pickabone

It might be a majority Christian population, but that does not make it a Christian nation. It's also a majority female population, but that doesn't make it a female nation.

Posted by: pickabone | May 5, 2005 11:25:35 AM


Posted by: Tad Brennan

Let me second Andrew Owen's suggestion that it might be interesting to have an L2R post on the govt establishment of the English Language.

I for one have often found some attraction in the idea--even in the idea of an Amendment to that effect (except that it probably falls under the de minimis rule for Amendments).

Posted by: Tad Brennan | May 5, 2005 11:44:21 AM


Posted by: Josh Jasper

pickabone: would that it were. A government dominated by women they way ours is by men would be an interesting change of pace.

Posted by: Josh Jasper | May 5, 2005 11:48:25 AM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

benny, I'll tolerate the "irrational" beliefs of "fundie's" a lot better than I do the "irrational" beliefs of leftists, as well as for now estimating that it is the irrational beliefs of leftists that are overwhelmingly more likely to result in my impoverishment or death, also the impoverishment or death of my 11m/o child, and or his children.

Leftists are both dumb and evil, by turns, and when societies have been taken under their care, they tend to kill tens of millions of people--where a really quite intolerant Christianity led to the development of the Enlightenment and classical liberalism--I could even handle the idea we need to go back to the square arrived at in 1776 and proceed from there, without the damn Jacobins and Rosseau, thank you.

Leftism delenda est.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 11:54:20 AM


Posted by: benny profane

If you think the jacobins were evil incarnate, perhaps centuries of the Bourbons, Louis XIV and lettres du cachet, torture chambers, aristo rights to yr wife and children etc. are more to yr taste.

Anyways the facile equation that leftism -equals stalinism--and that any one who professes something not in line with the GOP fundie right is therefore supporting stalinism-- is laugable if not obscene. (and please spare me the right wing joke-claim that nazis were leftist--one of the most ugly academic blasphemies recently uttered)

1776 was secular. Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Madison --obviously not perfect specimens of humanity--were secularist or at best deist or nominally Christian. Even the most toryish--Adams and Hamilton-- were not puritanical zealots nor even church goers. The enlightenment thinkers-- recall Voltaire?--were anti-clerical and anti-religious as well. Tho Locke, a Whig, did make a few somewhat theological remarks, given his attacks on enthusiasm, the Church and the "divine right" I think he was leaning mroe towards secularism.

Posted by: benny profane | May 5, 2005 12:09:39 PM


Posted by: AChillea

Don: The devout and the atheist make good neighbors and good citizens — as long as they agree to keep their beliefs about religion private.

So, what you're saying is, 'Don't ask, don't tell?'

Posted by: AChillea | May 5, 2005 12:41:30 PM


Posted by: Tad Brennan

Tom P.

"Leftism delenda est".

Ah come on--spare a few of us lefties, anyhow, won't you? It's true that I am by turns evil and dumb, but in the future I promise to be dumb!

Seriously, isn't this sort of eliminationist rhetoric a bit too much here? I mean, for me a bottom line is that we are all Americans here, and we need to muddle through this time in our history without losing that sense of common purpose.

Oh, and as for Stick/ya hozna/Benny Profane: I hope no reader here takes him as representative of the Left. I simply have *no* idea what this guy's planet of origin is.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | May 5, 2005 1:05:15 PM


Posted by: benny profane

Tad O'Brennan: instead of yr typical chi chi ad hom why not address a point? Jefferson would not likely sided with what has become the democrats; nor would he have sided with the fundie GOP. Complexity is the order of the day and sentimental unionist liberals who think supporting gay rights and multiculturalism is the end all and be all of the left are as mistaken as rightists. The fundamentalists are perhaps right to attack some aspects of pop culture and hedonism, yet that does not legitimize theocracy.

You are no spokesman for any viewpoint or platform either. There are no viewpoints or ideologies really, but claims, more or less valid about specific events and processes. But logic--not to say natural science, or technology-- is not often entertained by either fundie or the chi chi left.

Posted by: benny profane | May 5, 2005 1:22:21 PM


Posted by: Bret

Tad Brennan wrotes: "Oh, and as for Stick/ya hozna/Benny Profane: I hope no reader here takes him as representative of the Left."

The point would be to never take any one individual's viewpoint as representative of any group?

Personally, I find stuck/ya hoser/been profane's posts entertaining and s/he adds to the diversity of the group here at Left2Right. Diversity's good, right? Besides, if it wasn't for him/her, I'd be the biggest wiseass here - not a position I particularly covet.

Posted by: Bret | May 5, 2005 1:36:30 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"If you think the jacobins were evil incarnate, perhaps centuries of the Bourbons, Louis XIV and lettres du cachet, torture chambers, aristo rights to yr wife and children etc. are more to yr taste."

If you can help it, don't be an idiot.

"Anyways the facile equation that leftism -equals stalinism--and that any one who professes something not in line with the GOP fundie right is therefore supporting stalinism-- is laugable if not obscene. (and please spare me the right wing joke-claim that nazis were leftist--one of the most ugly academic blasphemies recently uttered)"

Actually, as long you were blond and pink, the Nazis wanted very much to take care of you cradle to grave--that sound leftist to me. Neither were the Soviets lacking in the racism department. The two were much of a muchness, in my view.

"1776 was secular. Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Madison --obviously not perfect specimens of humanity--were secularist or at best deist or nominally Christian. Even the most toryish--Adams and Hamilton-- were not puritanical zealots nor even church goers. The enlightenment thinkers-- recall Voltaire?--were anti-clerical and anti-religious as well. Tho Locke, a Whig, did make a few somewhat theological remarks, given his attacks on enthusiasm, the Church and the "divine right" I think he was leaning mroe towards secularism."

1776 was not especialy secular. Many and varied were the appeals to heaven falling from the lips of the living and the dying, for life and liberty. You are a fool, claiming the founding fathers were not largely persons of christian faith. Some were Deists, some were agnostic or atheist--most were Christians. This is not to say they were puritanical zealots, but most were Christian, and most more than nominally Christian. It fell to the murderous fools leading the French Revolution to actually attempt to destroy religion--that worked out so well for them, didn't it? The American Revolution was the one that worked^TM.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 1:40:52 PM


Posted by: Bret

Don Herzog, are you saying that "[c]hampions of ours being a Christian nation" are the same as those "who would rally today to Burke's repulsively intolerant sentiments"?

I'm all for history lessons. I'd find them all the more enlightening if you describe what the alternate universe would have looked like without Christianity. Also, don't forget those parts of history where Christianity and religion were brushed aside (Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, etc.). I'm looking forward to it.

Posted by: Bret | May 5, 2005 1:47:23 PM


Posted by: tony

Yes, the majority of Americans are Christian. And the majority of Americans don't believe in the theory of evolution. So what? These facts are related: that a majority believes something does not mean that it is right, that it is good, or that it is a suitable basis for public policy. The majority, regardless of their affiliation, generally lacks the judgment and knowledge required to make a country work.

Honestly, I sometimes wonder how a democracy can hold together when it is implemented by such a massively deluded populace. (The answer is that we have a representative democracy, which tempers the insanity of the masses.) Small-C christianity is all fine and dandy, but it isn't just a belief system - it's also an extra-governmental mechanism of social control. The fear of social contagion that accompanies drug use or "international communism" would be better directed at this phenomenon, if it weren't already too late. In its worst manifestations, Christianity has more in common with a communicable mental disorder than it does with a belief system.

As a secular foreigner in this country, it's like living through the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The pod people - uh, I mean the evangelical Christians - are downright creepy. I guess there is no alternative but to accept their rule as the majority, but when you've got a substantial fraction of the population believing literally that nothing much matters because they'll soon be snatched up in the Rapture, it's hard to see how good policy can result from it.

Call me a fatalist. I see the US as going straight to hell in a handbasket, and by virtue of their nearly-unlimited power, it's the Christians that are taking us there.

Posted by: tony | May 5, 2005 1:48:18 PM


Posted by: Tad Brennan

You know, my one soft spot for Stick/etc. is the joke "Tad O'Brennan", which goes back to an earlier thread in which I offered my Irish Catholic ancestry against anyone who thought I know nothing about religious discrimination (no one ever took me up on the "know nothing" pun, but that's life).

I have to say I still get a chuckle from the leprechaun image.

And, no, I'm no spokesman, and yeah, diversity's good.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | May 5, 2005 1:48:53 PM


Posted by: 818

No, Texas Tom , yr the fool if you think either TJ or his pal Paine or Franklin or even Washington were biblethumpers. And tho many on the right don't care to hear it, TJ, the skeptic and classical Republican (back when the word meant something tangible) was the primary intellectual instigator--a bust of Voltaire prominently displayed on his library shelves in his neo-classical Monticello.

Posted by: 818 | May 5, 2005 1:54:08 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"Ah come on--spare a few of us lefties, anyhow, won't you? It's true that I am by turns evil and dumb, but in the future I promise to be dumb!"

You may be a "leftist-lite", and our society may for now be organized around principles consonant with that description, but I suspect neither you nor society will remain in such a sorry state. Either, in attempt to fulfill unfillabel promises, it will move towards leftism-heavy--at best the doldrums of dour Norway or the spicy foment of Venezuela, or worse the Company town model, but governemnt is the company. Leftism cannot meet its obligations because it is based on a less than optimal model of human nature. Libertarianism has a better but still flawed model--there's a reason why recognizably libertarian societies are virtually absent from the historical record.

And in any case, I did write leftism not leftists--I am serious that the memes of leftism must be extinguished, they are too lethal to be tolerated in civilized society indefinitely.

"without losing that sense of common purpose"

We may by accident of history have some purposes in common. I can see very clearly whose means to those few common ends are headed for the ash heap of history.

"Stick/ya hozna/Benny Profane" If we are all from the same planet, they are from your continent and they are the bug-eyed monsters.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:00:03 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"(no one ever took me up on the "know nothing" pun, but that's life)."

I missed that one, sorry. Sounds subtly side splitting once it's pointed out.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:02:08 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"No, Texas Tom , yr the fool if you think either TJ or his pal Paine or Franklin or even Washington were biblethumpers." If you think I have ever claimed they are bible thumpers, you need to read again. If you have poor reading comprehension skills, don't waste your effort.

^Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:04:07 PM


Posted by: pickabone

Google Challenge! Identify the speaker of the following quote:

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith."

Posted by: pickabone | May 5, 2005 2:06:31 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"Call me a fatalist. I see the US as going straight to hell in a handbasket, and by virtue of their nearly-unlimited power, it's the Christians that are taking us there."

I'll call you abjectly unperceptive instead. Socialism in all its least aspects is taking us to hell in a handbasket, in concert with entirely unconstitutional over-centralization of political power--overcentralization largely begun by the Democrat Wilson, built on hugely by Democrat FDR, and grossly embellished by Democrat Johnson, tolerated by Reagan in return for the means to force a close to the Cold War, and ultimately adopted by triangulation by Bush II so he can cut the Dems off at the knees.

Too damn bad Goldwater didn't get in with huge coat-tails. Damn lying flower girl ad.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:09:47 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

pickabone, Hitler said that--but recall he didn't mean it, not vis a vis Christianity. The Nazi's were all about blood and soil paganism, inventing a mythology as required. No Christian he.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:20:30 PM


Posted by: 818


That old chestnut, i.e. the Founding Fathers were not/were Xtian is really sort of boring and trite and begs the question of what does it really matter either way. There are no rational grounds for religious belief. Tony's well-written and compelling post above states the issue effectively. The fundamentalist Christians are pod people--sentimental irrationalists if not seditionists. That's not to say there's not plenty of other zombie-like irrationalists around, be they secular, jewish, muslim or otherwise. But the Xtian pod people--dixie protestants for the most part--are those most likely to interfere with my liberty and indeed with my livelihood, and to do great damage to the secular principles of the Constitution.

Posted by: 818 | May 5, 2005 2:26:49 PM


Posted by: RSA

"Locke thought we maximize pleasure, and what keeps us in line on earth is the threat of divine punishment and the promise of heaven."

I think that this sentiment is not even controversial for most religious (Christian, at least) Americans. It might explain why atheists are so unfavorably viewed in the U.S. today. In the most recent Pew Forum survey I've seen (http://pewforum.org/docs/print.php?DocID=30), atheists have a 34/52 favorable/unfavorable rating, compared with 50/33 for "non-religious people", 47/31 for Muslims, and 70/10 for Protestants (Catholics and Jews are about this same level.) Peter Beinart commented on this in a TRB column shortly after 9/11, that even given a spike in public sentiment against Muslims after 9/11, atheists were still viewed significantly less favorably. (Is this a relevant comparison? Well, if you're going to solicit generalizations about people based solely on religious affiliation. . .) Maybe when the Cold War fades from memory this will change, but somehow I doubt it.

Posted by: RSA | May 5, 2005 2:30:14 PM


Posted by: Tad Brennan

Tom--

"Sounds subtly side splitting once it's pointed out."

It's a sad but true rule of comedy that nothing can be subtle and side-splitting at once. I thought it was worth a wry chuckle, no more.

"No Christian he." i.e. Hitler. And can we also agree, "no rationalist he"? A lot of that "blood and soil paganism" was also actively anti-rational, too. Reason was for Jews; the true German had a wisdom of the heart, etc. etc. Fascism often has this disdain for reason, as well as for science that is not producing weapons right now.

I can agree that *some* of the original Communist program displays the excesses of rationalism divorced from enough empirical input (though by the time we get to Uncle Joe's horror-show there's little enough Lenin, much less any Kropotkin, Bakhunin, or Fabianism). But I just can't see blaming Nazism on rationalism, anymore than on Christianity.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | May 5, 2005 2:30:58 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"There are no rational grounds for religious belief."

The short reply is "SO!?" The longer one is, so far in history, the leftist, atheist scocietes have been the most self and outwardly destructive ones found in human history--I think both in absolute and relative terms. Why are you a fan?

In short, if it's crazy but works--it ain't crazy.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:31:47 PM


Posted by: pickabone

LOL. "He didn't mean it." That's your argument? I'm sure, if you didn't know that one off the top of your head, your google search pointed you around to a bunch of sites with a whole lot of Hitler invoking religion, Christianity, and his own personal Catholicism in Mein Kampf and elsewhere. Are you saying he didn't mean any of it, in all those sources and all those different ways? Lets say, for sake of argument, that he didn't mean it. What about his followers? Did they think he meant it? Or was it all on the wink-wink?

I'm not saying the man was an exemplar of Christianity, but there was nothing secular or atheistic about him. To say there was is purely slanderous.

Posted by: pickabone | May 5, 2005 2:49:09 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"Sounds subtly side splitting once it's pointed out."

Perhaps I have an overabundance of self-control, it quietly cracked me up ;^)

"Fascism often has this disdain for reason"

Yet even facism has less disdain for reason than overt leftism. Facism at least nominally leaves capitalists in charge of capital--as long as all the proceeeds the state requires are forked over, pronto. Mostly like Lenin's New Economic Policy.

"as well as for science that is not producing weapons right now"

When did Facism see a period of time when it didn't need weapons produced right now? Like the Sovs (Lysenko) showing off their hairy lady weightlifters, moon rovers, and Vanusian landers, had a "containment strategy" period been seen in the history of the 3rd Riech (heaven forfend they were that successful) then they'd've competed scientifically as best they were able.

"But I just can't see blaming Nazism on rationalism, anymore than on Christianity." When did I blame Nazism on rationalism? For that matter, from what I can tell, the leftists aren't rationalists--they just presume they are.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:49:59 PM


Posted by: 818

Ja, Tomski, those renowned Christian theist-monarchies and aristocracies--European, Russian, British--nothing but peace, liberty, and "family values" there. Read some ancien regime history--continental, british whatever--to realize what a grand life the peasants and non-aristos had. In many senses the republicans are bringing the US back to that feudal sort of society.

Posted by: 818 | May 5, 2005 2:50:35 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

"That's your argument?"

Yep. He didn't mean it, he was lying through his teeth. You can no more say Hitler was a Christian or approved of Christianity than Attila the Hun did.

A lot of his followers thought it was critically true that water was melted ice and that there was hole in the ice caps into a hollow earth. Yeah, wink-wink.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 2:54:06 PM


Posted by: Tad Brennan

Tom--

"When did I blame Nazism on rationalism?"

Yup--sorry, my fault for confusing you with Noah P from other thread, who wrote:

"But I am very dubious about the rationalist enterprise. The big problem is that those guys tend to come up with crazy shit like Naziism and Communism"

Posted by: Tad Brennan | May 5, 2005 2:59:56 PM


Posted by: 818

Yet even facism [sic] has less disdain for reason than overt leftism. Facism [sic] at least nominally leaves capitalists in charge of capital--as long as all the proceeeds the state requires are forked over, pronto. Mostly like Lenin's New Economic Policy.

Ah so since fascism has elements of capitalism (which is of course applied Christianity) then it's preferable to "leftism." Yes, Jesus hisself blesses Wall Street and the NASDAQ. And when Silicon Valley companies downsize or fold following a decision from a good christian billionaire like Ellison or Gates, those unemployed engineers and technicians reap the benefits of more Christian capitalism in action.

Posted by: 818 | May 5, 2005 3:04:19 PM


Posted by: Tom Perkins

818, I can't imagine what you think you are bringing to my attentions that I am not aware of. Except for the briefly flickering period of the American Revolution, growing more dim until it guttered out under Wilson and then was thrown into the chamber pot by FDR, no fraction of humanity has ever known even the prospect of a government that was suited to human nature as it is AND was even slightly interested in the preservation of individual liberties as the paramount goal of governemnt. It was one of those monarchies you so pointlessly decry which led towards 1776. Leftism goes from Bastille to the guillotine--to Katyne, to Dachau, to the Gulag Archipelegoe, to Cambodia, to Mao, to Guzman and the Shining Path--that and a Socialist Insecurity system I'd love to see nothing back from if it means my son doesn't have to pay the payroll taxes to let me retire on--that's what your "rationalists" have wrought, you bleep bleep thieves.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Posted by: Tom Perkins | May 5, 2005 3:27:09 PM


Posted by: Don Herzog

With characteristic understatement, Tom Perkins writes,

Leftists are both dumb and evil, by turns....

Leftism delenda est.

Tom, I don't much care if you think I'm dumb. I do care if you think I'm evil. And I really care if you think I ought to be destroyed. I'm outside the range of reasonable disagreement in this country? Well, you later acknowledge that the likes of me shouldn't be killed. It's the

memes of leftism

that have to go. But how? Am I going to be sentenced to a re-education camp?

Meanwhile, Bret asks:

Don Herzog, are you saying that "[c]hampions of ours being a Christian nation" are the same as those "who would rally today to Burke's repulsively intolerant sentiments"?

Nope. There is some overlap, and I don't know how much. I'm more concerned about the ways in which champions of "a Christian nation" are giving cover to deeply intolerant actors.


Posted by: Don Herzog | May 5, 2005 3:27:35 PM


Posted by: Tad Brennan

818--

No, no--he was complaining about *facism*, you know, discrimination on the basis of faces. Terrible stuff. And it is certainly *not* facially neutral.

Posted by: Tad Brennan | May 5, 2005 3:28:36 PM


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