Some reach out, some lash out

It’s Opening Day, so let me use that as an excuse to link to one of the most remarkable posts I’ve ever read on a baseball blog.

Rany Jazayerli is a Kansas City Royals fan, which speaks well of him as a person. To be a Royals fan requires character, sincerity, humility, fidelity, commitment, courage and hope. Royals fans, like Cubs fans, are implicitly trustworthy and I wish Rany the best on Opening Day — especially when his Royals play the Yankees.

But my favorite post at Rany on the Royals had nothing to do with baseball. It was, instead, about Abd el-Kader and the Massacre of Damascus.

“Christians, come with me! I am Abd el-Kader, son of Muhi al-Din, the Algerian. Trust me. I will protect you.”

True story. Inspiring story of an inspiring life.

* * * * * * * * *

Church sues to defend its exception from the Americans with Disabilities Act

This particular lawsuit has to do with the firing of a teacher at a sectarian private school who got sick. I’m not clear on whether the church’s legal claim here of a “ministerial exception” is technically correct, legally. It’s generally pretty crummy behavior, though, and regardless of the legal merits of its argument, the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Mich., ought to be ashamed of itself for being the kind of jerks who would fire a teacher because she got sick.

Parents who pay thousands of dollars to send their children to this school probably do so because they want their children to learn good Christian values. But the values Hosanna-Tabor is teaching, apparently, include kicking sick people while they’re down.

My general theory on Christian churches seeking exceptions to the ADA is this: Give them the right to deny access to the disabled, but deny them the right to sue when somebody tries to correct for that by cutting a hole in the roof.

* * * * * * * * *

Newt Gingrich recently warned a Texas megachurch congregation of the grim threat facing christianamurka:

“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

This makes no sense politically or theologically or grammatically. “A secular atheist country … dominated by radical Islamists” is the kind of hilarious oxymoron you get when an unprincipled panderer like Gingrich speaks to an audience he doesn’t quite understand and just blindly gropes about for whatever buzzwords he thinks they might like.

But Matt Yglesias thinks you can make sense of Gingrich’s nonsense if you realize that — for him and for his audience at this Texas megachurch — the words “Americans” or “Christians” are neither national nor religious categories, but tribal ones. This tribal view allows for only two categories: Us (straight white gentile Americans) and Not-Us (everyone else). Everyone in the Not-Us category, you have to understand, is identical and interchangeable.

As Matt says, “This is how it gets to be the case that overturning marriage equality in Iowa is somehow a blow against the threat of creeping sharia.”

* * * * * * * * *

Dwight Ozard used to say that the agenda of the evangelical Christian religious right seemed to be “making America safe for Mormons.”

Amanda Marcotte thinks that very point may have something to do with “Why Mormons are hated” by evangelicals:

Mormons, like evangelicals, recruit.  Evangelicals and Mormons are in direct competition for the same resources. And what’s really threatening is that Mormons are kind of better at being evangelical Christians than evangelical Christians could ever be. Or at least, that’s the perception. Evangelical Christians are desperate to put forward a nuclear-family-everything-is-so-great-we-have-10-kids-and-none-are-gay image, but the public facade on that is always slipping.

* * * * * * * * *

Mormons, Muslims, “secular atheists” and Newt Gingrich all come under fire in the latest ALARM!!1! e-mail from Brannon Howse and his gaggle of dishonest, delusional, toxic control freaks at Worldview Weekend. Also targeted by Howse et. al. as demonic, baby-killing apostates: Glenn Beck, Pentecostals, Catholics, Charles Colson, Alvin Toffler and C.S. Lewis.

Howse’s M.O. is just a more extreme version of what Fox News practices in a more sophisticated way. The goal is to cast doubt on all other sources of information, making one’s followers wholly dependent on you by isolating them from — and punishing them for — any contact with any other voices, relationships or arbiters.

Fox does this by systematically slandering every respected and reliable source of information, truth and fact. This is a necessary part of their project. You can’t present a convincing alternative to reality for people who have access to other, more credible arbiters of reality. So Fox attacks all such arbiters of reality: journalists, the media, NASA, the CBO, the CDC, the NIH, think tanks, foundations, academia, universities, science as a whole, logic, reason, conscience, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

The tactic is identical to that practiced for centuries by abusive husbands. Isolate to create enforced dependence and control.

  • Anonymous

    “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

    Maybe the idea is that the majority of people in the US will be “secular atheists”, but the government itself will be run by “radical Islamists”, kind of like the Manchus in China? Either that, or the actual, physical land that comprises the US will somehow convert to secular atheism while all the humans convert to radical Islam.

  • Dan Audy

    Given the fact that Evangelical communities forcefully reject any fact dissenting from their worldview as ‘biased and false’ and isolate themselves from outside information and relationships is there any way to reach out to them? I know with abused spouses they will often reach out to friends whom they were forced to break contact with once they are pushed beyond the breaking point. Should we just attempt to be good friends and hope that they someday come looking for aid once they are pushed beyond their toleration despite the lies and isolation misleading them?

  • chris the cynic

    The article on Abd el-Kader was very moving.

    Can we have that be made into a movie instead of Atlas Shrugged?

  • Anonymous

    “Maybe the idea is that the majority of people in the US will be “secular atheists”, but the government itself will be run by “radical Islamists”, kind of like the Manchus in China?”

    I ran the quote by my very conservative coworker the other day and he said the opposite – it’s the state that’s going to be “devoutly atheistic” while the population becomes (numerically/culturally) dominated by radical Islamists. You know, like in Europe.

    But I’ll suggest the Manchu thing to him tomorrow and see if he bites.

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    I wonder sometimes about how these conservatives think that radical Islam is somehow going to magically convert 98% of the population (the non-Islamic population of the US, given the most generous estimates) to Islam. Or even a large fraction of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1428470021 Jonathan Hendry

    ” “A secular atheist country … dominated by radical Islamists” is the kind of hilarious oxymoron you get when an unprincipled panderer like Gingrich speaks to an audience he doesn’t quite understand and just blindly gropes about for whatever buzzwords he thinks they might like.”

    I dunno.

    Consider the people who act like this is a Christian country dominated by secular atheists. Their mythology is that there’s a Christian “moral majority”, reigned over by a minority of secular atheist elitists.

    I suppose the idea is that the Christian “moral majority” will die out, the secular atheists will take their place as the majority, and radical islamists will become the dominant minority that controls the institutions of society.

    There’s a certain kooky logic to it, if you accept the crazy premise that Christians are presently under the thumb of secular atheists.

  • Persephone

    I live near Kansas City, and we go to Royals games not because we are fans of the Royals, but because we are fans of watching a baseball game in a nice stadium with a hot dog and a cup of Boulevard beer. We happen to wear Royals hats and shirts because they were given to us at the very same venue.

    I wonder how many other people at the stadium are doing the same thing.

  • Mark Z.

    You’re overthinking this. The simpler explanation is that Newt thinks Islam is a form of atheism.

  • Kevin Alexander

    I hadn’t heard the story of Abd el-Kader before. People like him make me almost believe but then the mob makes me not.
    Still, we get to hear about him which might not have happened if there had been Fox News in the 19th century.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    Or doesn’t care about the differences.

    I suspect that if I believed in a limited God at all… by which I mean, a God that had certain attributes and names and preferred rituals and practices and so on, and not others, such that a human could in principle be correct or incorrect about those things… and if I further believed that I was, in fact, correct about those things and other people were incorrect… it would seem fairly natural to me that the important distinction was between the folks who got it right (my co-religionists) and the folks who got it wrong (everyone else).

    The idea that it mattered whether the folks who got it wrong were Muslims or Buddhists or Christians or atheists or Zoroastrians or Klingons would probably seem pretty bizarre, in that case.

    Come to that, most of my Jewish friends don’t understand the difference between Methodists and Baptists.

    And I don’t draw much of a distinction between folks who think 2+2=73 and people who think 2+2=green, though I’ll admit that in principle there’s a distinction to be drawn.

  • http://lonesomenumber1.livejournal.com/ Chris

    Those of you who haven’t heard of el-Kader might not have heard of Elkader, Iowa, either:

    http://news.pacificnews.org/news/view_article.html?article_id=de9c019b9f19396567aacb016fe09d03

  • Uncle Max

    Or makes up his speeches as a form of Madlib, just a bunch of buzz words with random verbs in there. Or maybe it’s an in-joke, like the old lawyers game where lawyer 1 challenges lawyer 2 to work spaghetti bolognese and the polyphonic motets of Lassus into his summing up in a drunk driving case.

    Inter-changeable Newt Wife 3 (or is it 4) – OK so this time you have to get them to agree that the takeover of secular atheism and radical Islam is going to happen at the same time
    Newt – Easy! I got them to accept me as a supporter of The Family.

  • Anonymous

    Dominated because we still rely on foreign oil?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know, Dave. I’m pretty confident that lots of people believe incorrect things about the supernatural, but I still think it’s worthwhile to make distinctions. To use your example, if billions of people believed that “2+2 = 73″ and billions of others believed that “2+2 = green”, and they often loudly disagreed with each other and the members of one group occasionally tried to harm members of the other group, I’d like to think that I’d at least be generally aware of the differences between the two groups and have a basic understanding of why they think those things.

    I couldn’t tell you the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist off the top of my head, but I think it’s clear that that’s a relatively minor distinction in the big scheme of things (I’ve known many of both and there seems to be a whole lot of overlap). I’d understand if someone who grew up in China couldn’t distinguish between Judaism and Christianity (for all I know that’s a terrible example – I’m just trying to say that what amounts to a “minor distinction” is culturally relative). But anyway, even not understanding the distinction between Methodists and Baptists, I do understand that they are in fact different, and I’d never use a phrase like “these Baptists and their Methodism”.

    I don’t care if most Americans can’t tell Sunni from Shia; using the two interchangeably is still silly. It’s not so much that the content of the disagreement between two groups is important, it’s that the existence of the disagreement is often important.

  • Lori

    Parents who pay thousands of dollars to send their children to this school probably do so because they want their children to learn good Christian values. But the values Hosanna-Tabor is teaching, apparently, include kicking sick people while they’re down.

    I have a lot of questions about the case (my constant complaint about news—they never tell you what you really want to know). Even without fully understanding the particulars though I feel like this is an excellent illustration of why advocates of relying on private charity are just wrong. No matter how high minded a group supposedly is, there’s no guarantee that they’ll behave well and take care of people properly because ultimately they perceive doing so as optional.

  • Matri

    *sighs* It’s depressing. It’s now kinda impossible to think the world is going anywhere except into the sewage tank.

    The “Republicans/Conservatives” (I remember a time when not-too-long ago it WASN’T interchangeable, now there is no difference at all) are stepping up the bullshitting. The megalomania has hit an all-time high and is still climbing, and every single passenger on that train wreck keeps pushing for more.

    Yes, I said “megalomania”. Just like the tyrants & dictators these people insist should be bombed into oblivion. Just like the tyrants & dictators who, they insist, are only drunk on power. Who, they insist, continually stomp on their responsibility to the people they claim to serve. The tyrants & dictators who, they insist, only abuse the power they receive to benefit only themselves while stomping on the faces of every citizen below them.

    And yet these “Republicans” have proven time & again that they only care for the power, and none of the responsibility. The crave the power, demand it, lust for it, while the responsibility repulses them, to be shoved aside and swept under the rug and forgotten. And so, hundreds of millions of Americans insist these “Republicans” be given powers, to continue what they do. They demand it. They give them carte blanch.

    I want to believe otherwise. I want to believe that there is still some good. But, like the “Republicans” caring for its citizens, I cannot. And just like them, I find I am unable to.

    It depresses me.

  • Tehanu

    Want more depressing news? The “pastor” in Florida who burned the Koran now says that we should “retaliate” against the Afghans who, retaliating against the Koran burning, broke into a UN compound and murdered a bunch of people today. Yep, way to love your enemies and do good to those who harm you.

  • Matri

    According to a spokesperson, they weren’t actually targeting the UN. They were just looking for some “Them” to attack.

    And the reaction of that so-called “pastor” has been lampooned by Shakespeare, the Montague-Capulet feud. The one who starts it will never admit to it, instead blaming the other.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Isn’t this kind of like what we have now? The country is pretty secular by design, but ruled by a bizarre radical version of Christianity.

  • Matri

    but ruled by a bizarre radical version of Christianity.

    Not quite there yet, but they’re trying their best. You bet’cha.

  • PJ Evans

    I read that the clerics in that area had been driven around yesterday, telling everyone about the burning of copies of the Koran (claiming hundreds or thousands had been burned).

  • Amaryllis

    As for Newt Gingrich, much as I hate to have to claim him, he’s calling himself a Catholic these days. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a Catholic calling anyone else’s religion “un-American.” Have these people no sense of history?


    The very idea of “Elkader, Iowa” makes me smile.

    The “Republicans/Conservatives” (I remember a time when not-too-long ago it WASN’T interchangeable, now there is no difference at all)

    Yeah, where’s Mac Mathias when we need him? Hell, I’d settle for going back to a time when Republican leaders weren’t, weren’t…I don’t know what to call them –willfully stupid, maybe– but I don’t like it.

  • Matri

    Yup, their version of “Fox News” Talking Heads riled up the crowd, pointed them in a direction, then sat back & watched.

    Just like Fox News.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @Redwood Rhiandra

    I wonder sometimes about how these conservatives think that radical Islam is somehow going to magically convert 98% of the population (the non-Islamic population of the US, given the most generous estimates) to Islam. Or even a large fraction of that.

    I’m really amused by the idea that all the materialistic self-absorbed women who won’t humbly accept their natural role in society and families will hear what radical political Islam has to offer and say “I’m so up for that”!

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    @Redwood Rhiandra

    I wonder sometimes about how these conservatives think that radical Islam is somehow going to magically convert 98% of the population (the non-Islamic population of the US, given the most generous estimates) to Islam. Or even a large fraction of that.

    I’m really amused by the idea that all the materialistic self-absorbed women who won’t humbly accept their natural role in society and families will hear what radical political Islam has to offer and say “I’m so up for that”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Want less depressing — in fact, positively hopeful news? The Koch brothers paid for a scientist to run studies and try to debunk climate change and the republican congresscritters called for him to testify in a hearing. His results confirm that the climate is warming. I really have to say this guy deserves some respect — he was skeptical but was willing to let the data convince him, and refused to lie or equivocate when called by the powers that be, even though he had every incentive to do otherwise.
    “Eppur si muove!” (Yes, I know Galileo never actually said it. It’s still a great line.)

    Maybe we can actually get the republicans to realize that climate change is happening, so we should focus on cutting off our financial support for the terrorist-supporting Islamist states that provide large amounts of our oil. I believe I recall reading that we could completely eliminate all U.S. oil imports from the middle east if our average MPG for all U.S. vehicles increased by 5 MPG, although I’ve been able to locate a [citation needed].

  • http://mistharm.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    On the one hand, that is wonderful. I hope he wins over at least a few more skeptics on the matter.

    On the other hand… barring a radical shift, I don’t think this will mean anything to most Republicans. With a handful of exceptions the party has been utterly consumed by “Fuck you, I’ve got mine”; and it seems like for a lot of them, that Fuck You applies to future generations just as surely as it does to anyone alive today.

    Maybe I’m wrong – maybe they really are just that dense… but I don’t think so. When someone is capable of ignoring so much evidence, and has a clear profit motive… it suggests that the person in question actually knows they’re full of shit, they’re just lying for profit.

    But I’m a cynical bastard at times; especially where conservatives are involved.

    /Eeyore
    ——

    Nevertheless, it is good news. Whether anyone listens or not, having the extra proof cannot hurt anything, at least.

  • The_L

    I hereby nominate Newt “She’s 40, so let’s exchange her for two 20′s” Gingrich for this year’s official April Fool. He’s earned it in spades.

  • muteKi

    I believe I recall reading that we could completely eliminate all U.S. oil imports from the middle east if our average MPG for all U.S. vehicles increased by 5 MPG, although I’ve been able to locate a [citation needed].

    Well, I would assume that wherever you read that from is working under the assumption that demand would remain more-or-less constant. However, if, due to the fact that it would make driving cheaper for people since they won’t need to buy as much gas, it’s possible that demand might end up rising if the cost of a fill-up doesn’t, in which case the assumption wouldn’t necessarily be valid anyway. (Someone else around here mentioned this first in another thread, but I forget who it was.)

    That’s assuming that the math that they’d have done to make that calculation is correct in the first place, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Or makes up his speeches as a form of Madlib, just a bunch of buzz words with random verbs in there.

    I initially misread “Madlib” as “Muad’Dib,” and was momentarily very confused.

  • muteKi

    Newt Gingrich. He cares about families so much, he has three!

  • Caravelle

    I’ve just read the post on Abd el-Kader, that is truly an amazing and inspiring story. Astonishingly, I never learnt about him in French history class. To be fair I didn’t pay that much attention in history class… But I’m pretty sure I don’t need to be fair here. This makes me angry.

    (results of a google.fr search for “el-Kader” and school curriculum :
    - 2 results referring to Algerian schoolbooks
    - Some forum post titled “Napoleon taken out of school curriculum”, saying “…No doubt Napoleon will be replaced in history schoolbooks by Abd el-Kader, that should please…”
    - Some kind of school help site that mentions him
    - A pdf about teaching colonialism with the quote “the school curricula recognize in particular the positive role of the French presence overseas, North Africa among others…”
    - some book
    - …

    Still think I needed to be fair ?)

    (interesting bit on reading the pdf : They analyse a schoolbook’s treatment of Algeria. On page one : a picture of the taking of Abd el-Kader’s stronghold, and a text by Tocqueville condemning colonialisation. On the second page, a text by Alphonse Daudet praising colonialisation, and a short biography of Abd el-Kader. Hmm, notice who doesn’t get a say here ? It’s not like no Algerian could read or write about their own experiences.
    And then there’s this question : “Colonisation can be defended, it can be condemned. Illustrate both aspects of this statement with three examples for each”. Ye gods.)

    Okaaay so that was me lashing out, sorry to be off-topic…

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    Hey, to riff off another guy referring to Bachmann, you or I are probably better qualified to be God-Emperor of Dune than Gingrich is to be President.

  • Rikalous

    Concerning the Us vs. Not-us divide, someone on FSTDT has found people on the internet linking Hitler and/or Nazism with 1.) gay people 2.) Muslims and 3.) African immigrants to Europe (not all at once, mind you. Yet). At this point, statements like Gingrich’s don’t faze me anymore.

    Oh, and Caravelle? The post about The Missiological Case for Hell involved a discussion of billboard advertising and nobody objected. You don’t need to worry about being off-topic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    That’s a good point — the Rebound effect, they call it. People with Priuses drive up to twice as much as people with less fuel-efficient cars.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    You don’t need to worry about being off-topic.

    If anything, you may need to apologize when dragging the thread back to a discussion of Fred’s original post after people have posted three pages worth of Harry Potter and Dr Who deconstruction.

  • Renniejoy

    The sad thing, IMO, is that the only thing that can break people out of the abusive cycle of gaslighting is alternate stories of their experiences from those who are not the abusers. Where can these stories come from and how can more people hear them?

    I think Fred does a wonderful job of telling *truer* stories…

  • ako

    My general theory on Christian churches seeking exceptions to the ADA is this: Give them the right to deny access to the disabled, but deny them the right to sue when somebody tries to correct for that by cutting a hole in the roof.

    I’ve always had complicated feelings about that particular story.

    I have a disability, and my experience with religious people trying to heal me has been nothing but bad. People treating me like my life is hopelessly tragic and empty, people promising healing in a “This will mean you owe God faith!” way, people trying to use me as a prop to prove something about their religion, people wanting to touch me in ways I wasn’t really comfortable with (you’d think “Do not go up to a random stranger on the street and ask if you can massage their legs!” would be a standard social rule, but apparently it doesn’t apply to disabled people), people trying to get money out of me, and people coming up with long speculative claims about my ‘sins’. And I never went looking for this stuff. This is just what’s been pushed at me by strangers. So my first reaction to miracle healing stories is to cringe.

    But this one at least featured the idea that what a paralyzed person wants most in the world wouldn’t necessarily be healing, but could be something else. Granted, it’s Jesus forgiving his sins, which doesn’t appeal much to me personally, but it’s also a story with Jesus recognizing that the cure isn’t the be-all and end-all of what you could do for a disabled person.

    …and then healing the guy anyway, to prove a point to the audience about how powerful he was. I’d be pretty pissed off about that, but then again, I’ve got modern levels of accessibility and medical care, not first century A.D. levels.

    So yeah, an interestingly complicated story, which makes me think.

    I’m really amused by the idea that all the materialistic self-absorbed women who won’t humbly accept their natural role in society and families will hear what radical political Islam has to offer and say “I’m so up for that”!

    “If you’re not with me, then you’re against me” mentality. If you’re not with them on obedience to their idea of what constitutes a good little Christian woman, with skirts down to the ground (and a trend towards head coverings in the more extreme churches, ironically enough), marry young, and spending your life at home doing housework and producing vast quantities of babies, then in their minds you’re against God and Christianity. And if you’re not with them on “Islam is an evil rampaging force out to destroy America, and all Muslims should be treated with suspicion, at best!” then in their minds you’re against their efforts to protect women from theocrats forcing them to stay home, marry at an early age, and cover up from head to toe. The whole “I am not going to consider an entire religion my enemy, but I am going to oppose the subset that involves a bunch of men claiming divine authority to micromanage my life!” way of thinking doesn’t occur to them.

  • Kevin Alexander

    I just want to say thank you for that post. You expressed very well something that I haven’t been able to.
    The problem isn’t religion, it’s the prehuman behaviour that people exhibit and then use religion as a justification.

  • Bruce in South Florida

    As Cersei Lannister says in the promos for “A Game of Thrones”, “Anyone who is not us is an enemy.” And yes, she’s the “Bad Guy” or at least one of them

  • Anonymous

    A lot of them think that Muslims will take over through a combination of immigration and having lots of children. Considering that there are groups of evangelical Christians who do have as many children as possible with the intention of taking over, it’s not surprising that they would suspect Muslims of doing the same thing. There’s also a subtle element of racism, and the people who fear Islamic takeover also tend to do a lot of hand-wringing about the white “population crisis”, or just concern trolling that so many good white Christian women are deciding to delay having children and deciding to have fewer overall.

  • Anonymous

    I’m really amused by the idea that all the materialistic self-absorbed women who won’t humbly accept their natural role in society and families will hear what radical political Islam has to offer and say “I’m so up for that”!

    The extreme conservatives believe that the only thing we love more than being materialistic and self-absorbed is being PC. They think that we will go along with whatever the Muslims tell us, lest we risk offending them or something. They think that being PC is just some ritualistic fad that has no substance behind it, so they just can’t fathom that we can be respectful of other cultures while still criticizing extremely rigid patriarchal gender roles. Plus, they tend to believe that women are just so silly and inane that we’ll follow wherever we’re led as long as they promise us candy or whatever.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Brad! I didn’t know you read Slacktivist, but I am actually utterly unsurprised. :)


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