Not Ready for Civilization

Not Ready for Civilization August 20, 2012

One of the entertaining phenomena on religious blogs is the pursuit of Manning’s Corollary to Godwin’s Law:

In any online conversation about an incident of violence perpetrated by adherents of Islamic fundamentalism, the conversation will inevitably devolve into claims that Christians commit the same type and degree of violent acts, regardless of how demonstrably false that is; further, the claim will be made that past historical violence involving Christians means that present-day Christians are morally incapable of denouncing current violence involving Muslims.

Look for practitioners to go into overdrive in order to explain away, not a mob of unlettered, but representative of the government of Pakistan jailing an 11 year girl with Down’s Syndrome for blasphemy against Mohammed. That doesn’t even count the 300 families fleeing for their lives.

Meanwhile in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is crucifying opponents.

Let the rationalizations begin.

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  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Your weakening my spine, man. I beg you.

    How will American Secularists top Egyptian Islamicists? Anything they can do, we can do better and all that.

    • The Egyptian Islamists seem to be beating the secularists at human reproduction.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        Thank you, Marcel. I needed cheering up.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    You’re also weakening my spelling maybe?

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Very true.

    Around here, we call it Progressive Denunciation of Chistendom Syndrome. Anything bad that any Christian anywhere ever did, is imputed to Christianity generally; anything bad that anyone anywhere ever did, is compared to something that is (nonsensically) imputed to Christianity generally, and usually to Catholicism specifically.

    And they will. not. get. off it. You can provide proof, documentation, facts, shoot down their arguments, and fifteen minutes later . . . it’s as if your previous encounter never happened. Christianity is simply the Worst Evil to Beset Mankind Since the Year Dot. Because we say so.

    These folks operate like Daleks from Dr. Who, or terminators from The Terminator. Unstoppable, not amenable to evidence or reason whatseover, and on a quest to search out and destroy. If they encounter an obstacle, they just back up a few inches and head off in another direction until the coast is clear, and then circle back to their original path.

    Quite something to behold.

    • Excellent observation. It’s a good indication that we are not dealing with a reasoned argument, so much, as a settled societal judgment expressed in a million little emotional rants.

      Human beings need the witness of other human beings in order to shore up their moral judgments. Many of these acts of witness are not arguments per se but merely emotional expressions of a gut reaction, a gut reaction that may or may not be right. (This is to the good: it would be a tad unrealistic to require Thomistic-level argumentation from anyone who wants to make any moral judgment.)

      What you have here, then, is a gut-level reaction by many if not most people in our society that is being expressed and explained by atheists as an atheistic insight. It may be truly evidence for atheism, or it might not be. The point is that our society finds those particular emotional acts of witness compelling enough to tolerate them (in a way that they will not tolerate arguments for, say, pedophilia, no matter how impassioned and “rational”). The question, then, is why our society tolerates – nay, encourages – so many essentially non-rational emotional witnesses. What is it that makes their rants compelling?

  • I’m reminded of Tavis Smiley a couple years ago. Interviewing an Islamic woman who was trying to call attention to the problems within Islam around the world, Smiley corrected her by stating that Christians were more violent than anyone. Every day Christians walk into post offices, they walk into schools, he blamed Christians for Columbine. That tends to be a common response.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      Yup. As if any perpetrator hailing from or living in a territory that once made up part of the Chrisitan patrimony, whether he or she is an ex-Christian, lapsed Christian, neo-Pagan, neo-Nazi, etc., may be described as a “Christian adherent.”

      From what I’ve observed, it would appear that, for the Stalinist elements of the Left, Christianity is the ultimate enemy, even more so than the bourgeoisie, capitalists, or the dread “reactionary elements”. I think that for Stalinists, Christianity represents a foe more formidable than these others combined.

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        P.S. It’s not for no reason at all that traditional Christians are beginning to be portrayed as “enemies of women”, “enemies of gays,” violent, terrorists, etc.

        Repeat a lie enough times, and some folks will begin to believe it. Repeat it even more than that, and even the folks you are lying about will come to believe it.

        How else to justify – when the time comes – silencing and liquidating the Church? As was attempted in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, as well as in Communist China, and its satellite countries?

        • We Christians, Catholics in particular, who have long had relative freedom and peace in the West, forget that Christianity is the Enemy of every other philosophical system of belief of unbelief simply because our fight is not with people but with ‘principalities and powers’ of darkness. We’re part of an ongoing grudge match that dates back to the Garden of Eden (before really but that’s when humanity got involved). A war which was won through the Cross but continues because Christ desires that every person end up on the winning side and not perish but have eternal life.

  • Kirt Higdon

    I do think there is a problem when atrocities by Moslems are used to justify atrocities against Moslems such as are committed almost daily in the war on terror to the approval of many American Christians. Most Moslems never hear about Christian objections to the war against them even as Christians rarely hear of Moslem objections against persecution of Christians. On the subject of Pakistan, I’d recommend Anatol Lieven’s book Pakistan: A Hard Country. The strangeness of modern Pakistan exceeds the Arabian Nights. There’s even one Moslem cult there which has proclaimed Pope John-Paul II a saint, beating the Catholic Church to the canonization. With respect to the Egyptian crucifixions, I’m skeptical. The blog entry says they are “all the rage”, implying a frequent occurrence, but cites not even one specific example which could be checked out against news stories. I have not run across any such news stories and it would appear that President Morsi has his hands full trying to surpress militant Moslem factions which are in armed rebellion against his government in the Sinai.

    • You seem to be a subscriber to the above mentioned Manning’s Corollary to Godwin’s Law, American Style that is.

      • That’s not what he said at all. He drew no conclusions from past actions of Christians; didn’t even cite them. Kirt Higdon condemned “atrocities”, by Christians against Muslims, happening right now, that are being justified because they are reactions to “atrocities” committed by Muslims against Christians. If you want to refute him, demonstrate that the current actions of Christian (or traditionally Christian) countries are, in fact, just, while the current actions of Muslims are unjust.

        • The point is, we couldn’t say ‘look, Muslims are doing something bad’ without having ‘oh yeah, look how bad American Christians are.’ Of course, like Tavis Smiley says, we’re out there killing blowing up schools, it’s horrible. But there are still times when others – like even Muslims – do something wrong and it might even be worth looking at. Being a child of my age, I’m fine with the whole Americans and Christians are out there daily, butchering, slaughtering, raping, pillaging. It’s a very, very common narrative. I just break ranks by saying that once in a while, on those rarest of moments, it’s OK to say other peoples in other places and culture might once in a while do bad things too…and leave it at that.

          • All right. I see that. It does get tiresome.

            • Sagrav

              Those of us on the secular left do fully acknowledge that atrocities committed by Muslim communities are awful and unjustifiable. Genital mutilation, honor killing, suicide bombings, kidnappings, and torture are just some of the crimes committed by Muslim radicals in the name of Islam. These are all obviously bad things, and I really doubt you are going to find many liberals who actually believe these things to be morally good or neutral.

              The complaint that I (and many other secular people) usually make is that too often conservative Christians are quick to harp on Muslim atrocities to the exclusion of atrocities committed by other cultures around the world. I also find it offensive when I hear American Christians argue that things like waterboarding, invading nations that never attacked our country (hello Iraq), and extraordinary rendition (ie: CIA Kidnappings) are somehow justified because someone else somewhere is committing even worse crimes. That’s like saying that it is ok to be a thief because at least it is not as bad as being a murderer. Wrong remains wrong, and America loses its moral high ground when it commits wrongful acts. This is true even if it is at war with totally despicable people.

              • Amen to this. It’s why Mark so often gets out of temper with “faithful”, “conservative”, “orthodox” Christians in the US.

              • Blog Goliard

                No, we’re not perfect…or even, sometimes, very good. Same thing was true during the Cold War…and this was daily used by the moral-equivalence crowd to energetically minimize and wave away the Soviet Union’s sins by magnifying our own. Such were the perverse passions of the “anti-anti-Communist” crowd.

                I see the same thing going on here.

                The Soviet Union was vastly more evil than the West, it was an imperative to forcefully oppose it, it was important to regularly make this case, and those who were the most dedicated to obscuring the fact tended to be the ones who were the most wicked and/or deluded. (This last point I include, not because I have a window into anyone’s souls, but because of subsequent revelations such as the Venona decryptions.)

                Likewise, the Islamists are vastly more evil than the West, it is an imperative to forcefully oppose them, and it is important to regularly make this case. (Though, of course this does not excuse any of our own side’s sins…the real ones, that is, not the imagined and distorted ones of which many anti-anti-Islamists are so fond.)

      • Marthe Lépine

        I’m not sure, Dave G. I read that blog, then tried to clarify its source, and it is not that easy to find… Everything on the Internet, even in blogs, is not necessarily true just because it is in “print”. I, too, would like to see a link to some outside confirmation.

        • The other is verified and is being carried in multiple news outlets in any event. But the point is, that reaction. The thought that we just can’t say, ‘Gee, that not-American Christian country has people doing bad things in it’ without coming right back with ‘oh yeah, Muslims may slaughter their thousands (no doubt, because of the US getting in there and screwing things up), but have you considered the tens of thousands slaughtered by us?’

    • Blog Goliard

      “…atrocities against Moslems such as are committed almost daily in the war on terror to the approval of many American Christians.”

      Atrocities against Muslims in the “war on terror” tend to be committed by accident, and widely disclaimed and punished by the non-Muslim side when they come to light.

      Atrocities against Christians in the war on terror tend to be committed on purpose, and celebrated by the Muslim side when they come to light.

      Eliding these two things is a key component of the phenomenon described by Manning’s Corollary.

      • Kirt Higdon

        Atrocities against Moslems by the serial killer Obama are committed deliberately and widely justified. There have even been leaks to the press to make the point of how hands-on Obama is in the selection of targets even if these are teenage American citizens not convicted of any crime and their teenage friends. And the worse punishment Obama is likely to receive in this world is not being re-elected, but even that is not a sure thing.

        • Rosemarie


          Yet Obama is not killing them in the name of Christianity as part of a “holy war.” Though he’s technically a Christian by his own admission (howbeit and liberal and probably nominal one), I’d hardly characterize the Peace Prize winner’s actions as “Christian” atrocities against Muslims.

          • Kirt Higdon

            I doubt that the distinction between being killed by nominal Christians as part of a crusade for democracy and human rights as contrasted to being killed by fervent Christians as part of a holy war is going to make much difference to the relatives and friends of the Moslem deceased. The Moslems are going to figure that Christians are what they do – a not unreasonable position.

            • Rosemarie


              True, yet one would hope that non-Muslim Westerners, at least, would be able to differentiate between violence in the name of Christianity and violence from a secular Western state like the US.

              • Kirt Higdon

                So what is the big differentiation? That violence is not as bad if done in the name of Christianity? That it is worse? That it’s OK to blame all Moslems for violence done in the name of Islam, but not to blame all Christians for violence done in the name of Christianity? Just to speak from my own personal experience, I’ve known a number of Moslems in my life and all of them treated me with courtesy and respect, some were good friends, and none ever threatened me or treated me violently. The only people who have ever threatened me or (in rare cases) actually done violence to me have been fellow Christians, although none of them did it in the name of Christianity.

                • Rosemarie


                  The differentiation is the topic of this post – Manning’s Corollary to Godwin’s Law. What I’m saying is that Westerners who accuse Christianity of being “just as violent” should know better than to blame secular-inspired violence committed by professing Christians on Christianity itself. I thought that was clear.

                  • Kirt Higdon

                    I’m not blaming secular inspired violence committed by Christians on Christianity itself. For that matter, I don’t blame religiously inspired violence committed by Christians on Christianity itself. I also don’t blame violence committed by Moslems, whether secularly or religiously inspired, on Islam itself.

                    • Rosemarie


                      Yet many Westerners apparently do blame Christianity, as others have pointed out on this thread.

    • Michael

      Thank you for stating some skepticism is in order. The only sourcing I have seen on this story goes back to Pamela Geller of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy and some guy at the AEI. They are hardly objective sources for such a fantastic claim. In these days of video phones and internet I expect that if people were being crucified we would actually be seeing it.

      • Rosemarie


        This article:

        links to a few Arabic news sites that it says mention the crucifixions. The problem is the news sites are entirely in Arabic. So if anyone here can read Arabic that would be helpful toward confirming or refuting the claim.

        • Kirt Higdon

          I clicked on the “graphic video” link of the article, only to discover that it involved a beheading, not a crucifixion, and allegedly took place in Tunisia, not Egypt. As for the video, it appeared to me that the victim was either heavily drugged or already dead as there was not the least change of facial expression or movement as his head was being sawed off. It was also impossible to say where it took place, since it was a close-up with no identifying background. I agree it would be helpful to have someone who understands Arabic.

  • Tommy Jeff

    Killing the 11 year old with down’s syndrome because she blasphemed Muhammad is a convenient way to get rid of someone who is inconvenient.

    • Kirt Higdon

      Did you even read the article? She wasn’t killed. The Paki police rescued her from a murderous mob. Pakistan’s “Harmony Minister”, apparently a Catholic, is trying to protect her and get the law under which she is to be prosecuted surpressed. Not saying there aren’t some very bad people in Pakistan, but there are also many good ones. Since Pakistan is about 98% Moslem, Moslems include almost all the good, bad, and in-between people there. Yesterday 17 people were killed in Pakistan by just one US drone strike. Don’t you suppose that might cause some anger against Christians? Of course, the Obomber regime claims all the dead were “militants”. That term means pretty much anybody in Pakistan who doesn’t like Americans, which is pretty much everybody in Pakistan.

  • Blog Goliard

    This accurately describes much of the conversation. The one big thing I see being left out by Manning’s Corollary is the relentless use of the No True Scotsman fallacy:

    “Oh, the person who did that? He’s not a real Muslim. The people who say that? They’re not really real Muslims.”

    • Ted Seeber

      A huge part of that is due to Islam being as fractured among theological sects as Protestant Christianity is.

      What is it about not having a centralized living authority that causes dogma to fragment like that?

      • Not having a centralized authority. Though in all fairness, in the actual real world, there’s not much difference. It’s not like ‘wow, 1 billion Catholics agree on everything the Church teaches.’ What’s strange to me is how many different takes there are on Catholic teaching when there is a central living authority.

        • That’s because the purpose of the magisterium is not to ensure complete, pan-ecclesial, doctrinal identity.

          • A good thing, too.

          • Joan P

            Aren’t we, as Catholics, supposed to have unity of belief? The Church is not schizophrenic. It is the job of the Magisterium to ensure that we are all on the same page doctrinally. On an individual level, the Church can only propose, not impose or force us to believe the Truths of Christ, or to live our lives in accordance with Church teaching, but it has every right to correct any errors of those who are within the Church and speak these errors publicly.

    • Will

      It works both ways. I will be told that people who (like my cousin the dervish) are not hot to Kill All Infidels aren’t “real” Moslems, or that I am not a “real” Christian because I do not fit the baiter’s stereotype of narrowmindedrightwingfundy.

  • Ted Seeber

    Ok, this is off on a weird tangent, and many will suddenly consider me an empty headed liberal because of it, but I’m going to attack your title rather than your article.

    I think that Catholicism has a big blind spot in our definition of the word “Civilization”, and our concept of the meta-culture. I agree with that definition, but it produces a blind spot none the less; one that hides entire cultures, some far more successful than any the experiments of Catholicism have ever produced, behind a bit of a veil of bigotry against practices viewed as “primitive”.

    Some of that bigotry is indeed well founded- It took a branch of Islamic Theology to give us terrorism inspired by hope rather than by depression, the theology of the Aztecs that drove them to conquer surrounding tribes to provide more and more human victims for their insatiable gods demanding human sacrifice, or the downright scary theology of cannibalism that insists the eater will gain the abilities of his victim. But some of it isn’t- like the United States and Canada laws that for 100 years forbade the practice of Potlatch dinners among the tribes of the Pacific Northwest, merely because the spirit of generosity shown in that replacement for war went against the competition of capitalism.

    So to say a population is “Not Ready for Civilization” is often to ignore the fact that they’ve already been practicing civilization for thousands of years before ever meeting any Christian culture. Their ways may be strange, they might not fit neatly into our little box we call Catholic Civilization or the Church that was once called Civilization’s Builder and Protector. But to claim they have no civil spirit at all, and they’re not ready, is to deny the fact that for them, even the things we deplore are a vital and necessary part of their civic ideas.

    • Hezekiah Garrett

      Thanks, Ted.

      In order to earn the epithet ‘civilised’ all we Cherokee had to do was abandon our traditional forms of government in favour of some experimental theory being tried out by Western Revolutionaries of the time, take up heavy drinking, and begin to mistreat and demean our women.

      I’m so used to Mark’s title, it just ghosts on by.

  • I, for one, am so grateful to God for having given me life, allowed me to be born into a Catholic family, and filled me with such faith that at age 65, I am able to “walk the walk”, not just “talk the talk”. Granted I am a human being who sins on a daily basis, but I know God loves me and I try to show that Love no matter who you are, where you are from, or what you believe.