Walberg: We’re All Slaves!

Rep. Tim Walberg, one of the more extreme members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan, was one of the many wingnuts at the Watchmen on the Wall conference. In his talk, he quoted the Bible to show that Americans are “slaves” to all the stuff he doesn’t like.

The Michigan Republican told the story of the Israelites who returned to Jerusalem where they “read from the book of the law of the LORD” and collectively confessed their sins. Walberg quoted from the book of Nehemiah: “Behold, we are slaves today, and as to the land that you gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold we are slaves in it.”

“Does that bring to mind any other great nation in your frame of reference?” he asked.

“Just to jog your thoughts about that possible other nation that this could be a reference to: Slaves to materialism. Slaves to violence. Slaves to pornography. Slaves to debt. Slaves to sexual perversion. Slaves to gluttony. Slaves to drugs and drunkenness. Slaves to pleasure. Slaves to recreation. Slaves to sports. Slaves to selfishness. Slaves to laziness. Slaves to humanism. Slaves to government.”

I don’t think he knows what slavery is. The Bible says a lot of things about it, all of them positive. Maybe he should read more verses than this.

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  • Pen

    Well to be fair to him Ed, he means ‘slave’ as in ‘slave to passion’.* ‘In the power of’ a person or force. The early translators of the Bible into English used the word in both senses, but most often the ‘slave to passion’ kind. I wonder if it is the same word in the original text.

    * Though perhaps he isn’t smart enough to know what the words he’s using mean??

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    He missed “Slaves to stupid Religious Dogma”

  • brucegee1962

    No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. The Bible is clearly against slavery when it’s being used against YOU. It’s only when you do it to other people that it’s cool.

  • lofgren

    This falls into the same category as Ed’s continuous griping about people referring to knowing something in the heart because the heart organ doesn’t think independently. Metaphorical language, how the fuck does that work?

  • Kevin Kehres

    And in other news, the government reports teen pregnancy is down 10% in the US.

    Of course, it’s still way higher than in European countries where there isn’t this weird anti-logical obsession about contraception.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    I don’t think he knows what slavery is. The Bible says a lot of things about it, all of them positive.

    Indeed. This youtube clip (‘The King of Kings’ Speech’ by NonStampCollector ) explains what it says :


    and perhaps the most plausible explanation of how & why such epic FAIL could happen.

    Well, ok, maybe not quite *the* most plausible reason!

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Also all those uses of slaves and reflecting on how to apply them metaphorically to modern America (liek you could also do for most countries, most of the time probably?) and yet he’s missed the obvious slavery issue in US history?

    Y’know the one that involved actual slavery – and a civil war fought to keep slaves? (In ultimate distillate. Other factors did apply too I know.)

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    (Now why did I use ‘actual’ there when ‘literal would’ve been so much more apt? the one that involved literal slavery.) Sigh.

  • Henrietta Swan

    lofgren, I think you’re missing the point.

    Obviously, when someone says they know something “in the heart”, they are speaking metaphorically. Ed knows this. We all know this.

    What I think Ed is criticizing is the meaning of the metaphor. The one who speaks that metaphor is saying that they believe something to be true without, or even in spite of, actual evidence. It’s a shallow attempt to sound poetic about they fact that the speaker acknowledges not being able to make an objective argument.

    For example, let’s paraphrase a typical wingnut. “Homosexuality is wrong, I know it in my heart.” “Evolution is false, I know it in my heart.”

    Being unable to form a cogent argument to support their belief, they lazily back it up by saying that they know it’s true “in their heart”.

    We all know it’s a metaphor. But it deserves to be criticized as shallow and meaningless. Same in this case. Excusing his rhetoric as simply being metaphorical ignores the very substance of the nonsense Walberg is spouting.

  • dingojack

    Rate of all crimes down by 44.44%+ since 1991 (in terms of crimes per capita)*. Slaves to (FOX News’ breathless, sensationalist, pruriently voyeuristic bullshit depiction of) violence? Yep, sure sounds like the demographic you’re rimming there Representative Walbanger.



    * lowest in over 45 years!

  • dingojack
  • D. C. Sessions

    I wonder if it is the same word in the original text.

    I checked. The original Authorized Version is exactly the same.

  • lofgren

    Obviously, when someone says they know something “in the heart”, they are speaking metaphorically. Ed knows this. We all know this.

    Then why does Ed waste his effort constructing a strawman version of the argument by taking the words literally, and then attack that instead of the actual point being made? Every. Single. Time. If he knows that the heart is being invoked metaphorically, that just makes this habit worse, because that means that he is deliberately misrepresenting his subject rather than just having difficulty with metaphorical language. One is ignorance. The other is malice.

    But it deserves to be criticized as shallow and meaningless.

    By the same token, Ed deserves to be criticized for dumbly pretending that he doesn’t understand it is a metaphor instead of saying what he actually means. Let’s paraphrase Ed’s comment here:

    “I don’t think he knows what slavery is.”

    “This statement is not accurate according to the primary dictionary definition of slavery!”

    Yeah, that just makes you look stupid. Being unable to form a reasonable criticism of the points being made, you fall back on criticizing their language for not being 100% literal.

    If Ed wants to criticize people for being shallow and illogical, he should do so. Pretending to be even more shallow and illogical, and frankly portraying himself as too dumb or autistic to understand that words and phrases have multiple possible meanings, in order to score cheap rhetorical points is not a cogent criticism of illogic or shallowness.

    I’m not missing the point, it’s just a stupid point to make. It’s not that different from evolution denialism really. It’s

  • lofgren

    It’s metaphor denialism, I meant to say.

  • StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ ^ lofgren : Literally?

  • Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Slaves to humanism.

    Fairly sure this is an oxymoron.

  • dingojack

    Was Rep. Walbanger , literally, thinking of Slave to the Rhythm.?

    :) Dingo

  • comfychair

    A member of the U.S. House of Representatives quotes a bible passage about the Jews being in literal slavery, then says “See? That’s just like us today when we go to the mall and buy stuff we don’t need!”

    …and Ed is the silly one here? What the fuck.

  • raven

    Rep. Tim Walberg is a slave!!!

    A slave to primitive superstition.

    A slave to the Dark Side

    A slave to hyperbole.

    Well, he is a fundie xian. They are all slaves to ignorance, hate, lies, and hypocrisy.

  • dugglebogey

    Damn this slavery to sports that has besieged me! If I could only get released by this bind of indentured servitude I have to the Washington Redskins, I could truly be free!

  • A Masked Avenger

    I have to admit, this one makes me go, “Meh.” Yes, his mention of “perversion” is dog-whistle homophobia. But apart from that, he’s preaching a sermon that could as easily be preached from any side of the aisle, or right here on FTB. Any one of us might post a comment like, “We’re such slaves to the latest fad that we must have the new iPhone, oblivious to the fact that (almost) literal slave-labor produced them.” The metaphor is embedded in our language and culture, although we don’t use it as much anymore apart from clichés like “slave of fashion.”

    He’s also, ironically, referencing his Bible correctly. Romans, for example, talks at some length about being slaves of “sin” or “appetites” or “the flesh,” in precisely the sense that he is using it. There’s also a famous saying about “serving two masters (God and money),” which uses the language of slavery in the same metaphorical sense.

    On the other hand, he’s getting Nehemiah completely wrong. The bit about “slaves in our own land” is a reference to the relative impoverishment of the Jews around Jerusalem, and the fact that they were under foreign rule. They meant it not quite literally, but certainly not in the metaphorical sense of the New Testament. If he wanted to turn Nehemiah into a bit of political bloviation, he should talk about the economy, unemployment, etc., and then suggest that the poor are “slaves in their own land” because we’ve lost sight of [glittering generality here].

  • dingojack

    I once had pendant with a glittering generality on it. It worked nicely in my amateur hypnotism act, and at night it doubled as a far-out disco ball! Win-Win!

    Oh, sorry Masked Avenger were you saying something?


  • smrnda

    I would like to ask this guy what freedom would look like to him. What’s freedom from materialism look like? Early Christian ascetics were living on top of columns in the desert to be free from materialism. Is this what we should be aiming for? Freedom from government – is he really arguing for anarchy?

    Plenty of these don’t even add up. Slaves to laziness AND materialism? I thought people worked to make $ to buy stuff. So, if we fix the laziness issue we get more materialism – is he suggesting we all need to work harder for less money because that is ‘freedom?’ In that case, (hard work for less and less) comes pretty close to actually being what slavery was.

  • Pen

    @ DC Sessions – I meant the original original, you know, the one in Hebrew. Or did I miss the joke?

  • comfychair

    Surely the corporate sponsors get a little twitchy when one of these guys starts preaching against materialism.

  • busterggi

    As long as he considers himself a slave biblically perhaps he should be beaten to near death as the bible says is alright as long as life support keeps his carcass going for more than 48 hours.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I was a slave to Sports. Both Huey Lewis and The News should be ashamed.

  • caseloweraz

    Slaves to a quest for anti-constitutional legislation. Slaves to irrational bigotry. Slaves to counterproductive sex education. Slaves to a hypocritical moral code. Slaves to a false sense of victimization.

    Jesus Slaves!

    To be fair, I do not mean to say this applies to all Christians — only to a vociferous misguided subset.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Pen, most fundies consider the King James (Authorized) version to be directly inspired and even more accurate than the one that the damned Jews have been handing down.

  • dingojack

    Modus – yes but is Robert Palmer responsible for your addiction to love?



    Oh yeah, I went there! Eighties baby!!

  • Akira MacKenzie

    Slaves to recreation.

    Considering how little vacation time the average American worker gets and how little they use it compared to other Western countries, it scary to think this Bible-beating asshole believes the overworked are having too much fun.

  • http://famousatheists.net/atheist-quotes/ Atheist Quotes

    Tim Walberg forgot to mention some people are slaves to religion.

  • Randomfactor

    They have a similar misconception as to the word “worship,” which they accuse atheists of doing all the time, generally self-directed worship.

    I do not think it means what they think it means.