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February 20, 2002 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Ashcroft's Jihad. "Attorney General John D. Ashcroft yesterday cast the government's war on terrorism in religious terms, arguing that the campaign is rooted in faith in God and urging Christians, Jews and Muslims to unite in the effort." So as an agnostic, am I excused from the war?
posted by homunculus (66 comments total)

 
excuse me while i barf.
YURK! gack... BLETCH...
posted by quonsar at 11:04 AM on February 20, 2002


I hate that guy.
posted by Down10 at 11:06 AM on February 20, 2002


I was actually prepared to come in here saying that most political leaders talk about god, esp. when addressing religious people... but then I got a close look at some of the quotes in here.

"Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator..."
Not a lot of atheist terroists, tho', are there?

Worse:
"...a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God."
This is our attorney general? Holding "god's law" over the laws of man?

Not surprising, but sad, very very sad.
posted by malphigian at 11:08 AM on February 20, 2002


I find his religious rhetoric pretty unsettling. What part of "separation of church and state" does he not get?
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:09 AM on February 20, 2002


Where have I heard that before?
posted by fraying at 11:13 AM on February 20, 2002


Hey, I guess atheists can claim exemption from the draft (if the draft comes back).
posted by fleener at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2002


"...a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God."

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I loath Ashcroft, but lets at least be honest about where he gets his schtick. Its what he does with it that's the dangerous part.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:19 AM on February 20, 2002


I agree with Malphigian. Not surprising and yes, sad. However, doesn't he appear to be becoming more and more of a political liability for the administration? This guy is a dangerous freak: out annointing himself with Crisco, placing burqas over naked statues and worrying about calico cats. With all that going on, does his bigotry really come as a surprise?
posted by O Boingo at 11:21 AM on February 20, 2002


All I can say is that I support the values of secularism against those which come when religion is taken out of the realm of private belief and conscience and imposed (by Ashcroft, bin Laden, whoever) as social law.
posted by Rebis at 11:31 AM on February 20, 2002


what is the difference between bin laden and ashcroft, mullah omar and bush?

i'm just starting to think they are the same…
posted by trismegisto at 11:34 AM on February 20, 2002


Too bad he lost his senate race. It was just so easy to ignore him back then, when he was just another goofball.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:37 AM on February 20, 2002


trismegisto, I'm obviously not a big fan of Ashcroft, but to answer your question, for starters neither Bush nor Ashcroft deliberately murdered thousands of innocent civilians in one fell swoop. Call me nuts, but that's a pretty significant "difference."
posted by pardonyou? at 11:39 AM on February 20, 2002


i wouldn't think so pardonyou?… besides al-qaeda members, thousands of innocent people were also killed in afghanistan by us army.

i'm starting to get worried; which is the worst enemy of a fundamentalist (ashcroft, bin laden, sharon)?: someone who does not believe in his same god; so fleener, as atheists, we are the next main target
posted by trismegisto at 11:50 AM on February 20, 2002


so fleener, as atheists, we are the next main target

Oh shut up! He's a religious zealot, fine...he's fairly conservative, fine. Rampant bullshit comments like "he's out to get atheists next" are completely unnecessary. He's not attacking non-Christians; he's simply trying to preserve his view of America through Christianity. Don't like it? Fine. Don't vote for Bush in 2004; dig up corruption or abuse of powers information on Ashcroft. Enough with the ill-conceived, unintelligent comments.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2002


trismegisto: "besides al-qaeda members, thousands of innocent people were also killed in afghanistan by us army."

Whoa there, cowboy. Setting aside the whole "intent" issue for a moment, you got any support for that bombshell?
posted by pardonyou? at 11:55 AM on February 20, 2002


Perhaps not thousands, but, according to the front page of the Washington Post, hundreds.
posted by haqspan at 12:08 PM on February 20, 2002


Here's some support.

Here's some more, albeit anecdotal support:

I took a cab last week, here in L.A. The cab driver's name was Tahka. He is an Afghani man from Kabul. After some discussion, (I had to pry a bit for the details) he told me that thirty two members of his family were killed six weeks ago by a U.S. bomb. As he choked back the tears, he relayed the story of how his two uncles and their entire families were wiped out.

I tried to think of something to say. All I could come up with was "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that my people did this to you." He replied, "It's not the people. It's the governments. The people are fine. Governments, they do these things."

How many Tahkas are there in Afghanistan?
posted by Optamystic at 12:13 PM on February 20, 2002


optamystic, suffice it to say I'm not convinced by your link. And haqspan, I find hundreds and thousands to be a significant difference (and I'm skeptical on the hundreds -- even the Washington Post notes that figures tend to be hard to come by in Afghanistan and are most likely inflated).

In any event, if you really refuse to acknowledge that there's a fundamental difference between the deliberate attack on thousands of innocent civilians in the WTC and the accidental, albeit unfortunate, civilian deaths in Afghanistan, then you're just distorting reality to fit your preconceived beliefs.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:23 PM on February 20, 2002


pardonyou, please look at this.
posted by signal at 12:26 PM on February 20, 2002


BlueTrain: Don't like it? Fine. Don't vote for Bush in 2004

Sheesh! A majority of Americans didn't vote for him in 2000 in either the electoral or popular votes, and look where that got us...

Wulfgar!: I loath Ashcroft, but lets at least be honest about where he gets his schtick

Interesting point, but I still think there's a huge difference (looking at the far larger picture of what Ashcroft has said during his AG tenure, and before). One of my convictions about the Dec. of Ind. is that it takes great pains to avoid stating "Christian God" explicitly, foreshadowing the very first amendments guarantee of freedom of religion. "The laws of nature and of Nature's God" or "endowed by their Creator" (not 'our' God or even 'our' Creator, mind you, but each individual's 'Creator'), etc, are examples of Jefferson using the rhetorical device of appealing to a higher authority, but also trying hard to avoid suggesting the creation of a separate Christian state.

While some of the quotes by Ashcroft are vague in a "the Creator" way, others- such as this:
"Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends his son to die for you."
suggest an unsettlingly zealous man in what should be an intensely secular position. And that is what induces vomiting among many a patriotic American.
posted by hincandenza at 12:29 PM on February 20, 2002


Unfortunately, Bush and the other leaders of the United States have been mangling religion for quite awhile and extensively after September 11th.

Your own personal religious beliefs aside, if you know anything about Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, you would know that they do not support warmonging. This is not to say, though, that they shun all war or violence. But Ashcroft and Bush (or at least the people that write their speeches) are responsible for the way they portray religion and personal statements like this make me quite upset because it misrepresents these major religions. I think that our leaders need to pay a little bit more attention to what the fundamental people of all these religions really said about war and about power and leading people (and certainly should pay more attention to what they say in their speeches).

They would, I think, see that they do not have as much backing as they think. They would also see that the definitions between good and evil are not as applicable as they make it seem.
posted by rob at 12:30 PM on February 20, 2002


if you know anything about Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, you would know that they do not support warmonging

Well, the books don't. The people following along have certainly not exhibited that trait.
posted by owillis at 12:38 PM on February 20, 2002


signal, yeah, that's the same source discussed in Optamystic's link. Before you stake your life on that source though, consider that the methodology that guy used was to hunt down every report of civilian casualties (from whatever source), take the highest estimate, and add them all together. Add to that the fact that the guy has an axe to grind, and your grain of salt suddenly becomes a 50 pound bag.

The funny thing is that I'm not disagreeing that there have been numerous civilian casualties, and that each one is a tragedy. But not one respected source has come close to the 1,000+ figure (yeah, yeah, I know, "the mainstream media is in the Pentagon's pocket" ...)
posted by pardonyou? at 12:40 PM on February 20, 2002


Sheesh! A majority of Americans didn't vote for him in 2000 in either the electoral or popular votes, and look where that got us...

Should I even waste my breath and call you a troll? Oh, too late...
posted by BlueTrain at 12:45 PM on February 20, 2002


I am unclear on where the non-Abrahimic religions fit in all this. If Ashcroft is implying that only followers of the Abrahimic faiths are civilized, does that make our Hindu, Buddhist and Shinto allies in India and Japan uncivilized? Ashcroft also only refers to a singular diety, what about polytheists? It's all so confusing.
posted by homunculus at 12:47 PM on February 20, 2002


i think he meant god as a metaphor for the unknown :) like the mystery faiths!
posted by kliuless at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2002


Oh shut up! He's a religious zealot, fine...he's fairly conservative, fine. Rampant bullshit comments like "he's out to get atheists next" are completely unnecessary. He's not attacking non-Christians; he's simply trying to preserve his view of America through Christianity.

And when they came for the atheists, I didn't speak up, because I wasn't an atheist ...
posted by chuq at 1:03 PM on February 20, 2002


pardonyou?-

I have to back you on the "invalid numbers" argument...but have to ask, why is one hundred people killed in "unfortunate , necessary acts of war" different that the thousands killed in what some religious zealot on the "other side" (whatever that means) might consider an "unfortunate, necessary acts of war?"

Where is the line crossed? WHat is the magic number for you? Does this mean people who only kill 1 or 2 people should be maybe given probation? Public service? When is it serious enough to be considered a crime?

distorting reality indeed.
posted by das_2099 at 1:03 PM on February 20, 2002


This is not a conflict based in religion. It is a conflict between good and evil. And as President Bush has reminded us, we know that God is not neutral between the two.

Good thing God is on our side making sure no planes and buildings full of innocent Christians are killed ... oh, wait, I guess He must've slept in on 9/11
posted by plaino at 1:19 PM on February 20, 2002


The last six weeks or so there has been more and more "sheesh, get over it" - ism here at MeFi. I have been doing the simple click on the user name to see how long the poster has been reading and posting. It seems that a number of the "sheesh, get over it" - ists have only been around MeFi for 8 or 10 weeks.

Now we've all heard about "viral marketing" and grassroots marketing. Is there any organization out there with the time, money, and motivation to push the "sheesh, get over it" agenda? What would be accomplished by making dissidents shut up? What would motivate a person that clearly has a blase attitude toward the war on terror to post? If they were really complacent about the administration's course of action why would they be bitching?

It makes no sense to me. The last thing someone who's happy about the status qou does is search out someone to disagree with. Seems strange. Anyone notice anything else like this? Anyone else going crazy with me?
posted by chris0495 at 1:20 PM on February 20, 2002


das_2099, I'm not combining the "numbers" argument and the "intent" argument. The numbers aren't terribly meaningful to me outside of the tendency of people to distort them (upwards and downwards) to try to support their own arguments. But I don't find one number "acceptable" and one number "unacceptable." Like I said above, every death in this whole debacle is a tragedy.

Now, if you're asking me whether I believe there's an important difference between intentional and accidental killing, damn right I do.

And these numbers can't really be debated in a vacuum -- the intent of the U.S. campaign is to avoid the number of deaths that would result if we did nothing. While those numbers would be admittedly hard to calculate, that doesn't mean they shouldn't be part of the equation (unless, of course, you believe that Al Qaeda was "done" with their terrorism and was going to pack up their bags and go home). Pure hypothetical:
- Option 1 (America does nothing): 3,000 WTC/Pentagon deaths + 12,000 future deaths from Al Qaeda terrorism + 0 Afghan deaths=15,000 total deaths

- Option 2 (course chosen): 3,000 WTC/Pentagon deaths + 0 future deaths from Al Qaeda terrorism + 1,000 Afghan deaths=4,000 total deaths
Which is morally preferable? (And don't jump on me for the numbers -- obviously I don't know what would have happened under option 1, but neither do you).
posted by pardonyou? at 1:24 PM on February 20, 2002


Signal: the figures given by that prof have pretty much been shown to be innacurate. The lastest numbers that I have seen suggest close to a thousand civilian deaths (it, non-combatants). Now this is not a happy figure. On the other hand, it remains understandable in a time of warfare and bombing, esp. when in a number of instances the enemy forces hide close to civilian places. The alternative?
As for the cab driver: I have long held that anecdotes with such figures are questionable. I have seen Afghanistans anouncing that though many of them have been killed or injuredit got rid of the Taliban and that needed doing and thus they accepted their losses. But then of course these are not the people that died, I note cynically.
posted by Postroad at 1:34 PM on February 20, 2002


Hey chris0495, I have no intent on hijacking this thread, and I would hope that you feel the same way, but do you have any specific comments/posters to go along with your theory?
posted by BlueTrain at 1:34 PM on February 20, 2002


What part of "separation of church and state" does he not get?

Pointer, please, to the section of the Constitution that says employees of the federal government are not covered by the First Amendment?

This guy is a dangerous freak: out annointing himself with Crisco...

Anointing himself with Crisco brand OIL. He didn't strip naked and rub himself down with Crisco SHORTENING. Not that anointing has anything to do with rolling around in oil anyway; it's nothing more than dipping your thumb in a tiny bowl of oil and rubbing the sign of the cross on someone's forehead.

Oil is used for many rituals in all sorts of mainstream Christian faiths. To think this is at all odd is to display a rather amazing ignorance of religion, or to be intentionally distorting the facts in order to make a political foe look bad.

(Oh, by the way, from the same autobiography in which Ashcroft admitted the oil thing: "It is against my religion to impose religion on people.")

placing burqas over naked statues...

False. The story first got traction when Beverly Lumpkin wrote a cheeky little column on ABCNEWS.com about the new curtain, putting the "rumors" about Ashcroft's supposed "drape the boobies" order at the top of the article. Those that bothered to read to the end of her piece (apparantly not very many people) discovered the true story: The DoJ had been routinely renting curtains for using during big press conferences. An aide decided to finally just buy one and save some money in the long run. And those with master's degrees in the politics of demonization saw an opportunity and ran with it. (Where did this particular attack start? See below.)

(BTW, if the breasts had anything to do with the aide's decision to purchase a curtain at all (and there's no sign that it did), it was far more likely that she was simply sick of media cameramen so often snarkily framing their shots so that the breasts were always shown right above Ashcroft's head ... something that somehow manages to happen often during when the AG is a Republican (again, see Lumpkin's article: "No one in the Great Hall that day could ever forget the spectacle of the still photographers writhing on the floor, flat on their backs, in order to grab the shot of Meese holding up the porn report with Minnie Lou's breast over his shoulder."), but hardly ever happens at all when the AG is a Democrat like Janet Reno.)

and worrying about calico cats.

Almost certainly complete and utter bovine excrement, and at best 100% unsubstantiated. The claim comes from an article financial writer Andrew Tobias posted on his web site way back on November 20. The article was actually about Ashcroft's attempt to override Oregon's assisted-suicide law (something I didn't particularly think he should have been messing with myself), but Tobias used his first paragraph to put out two claims about Ashcroft designed to make it appear as if the only reason Ashcroft could possibly have wanted to interfere with that law was that he's an ultra-Christian nutcase. What two claims did he make? That Ashcroft considers calico cats to be signs of the devil, and that Ashcroft likes bare-breasted statues to be covered up. Tobias offers up no proof whatsoever to back up either of these claims; he just says it happened, so it did. One of his readers even called him on this little question, and Tobias was forced to admit he has no proof at all; he responded by saying, essentially, "Two people told me this - whose names I cannot possibly reveal, of course - and I had a column in Time magazine once so that proves I'm a reputable guy ... but it's true that both stories could very well be complete crap."

So how did both complete crap allegations manage to filter out so quickly? Simple: In addition to being a financial writer, Tobias is also the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. He has a vested personal and professional interest in hurting the Bush Administration as much as possible. Planting little embarrassing, yet unprovable, tidbits like these is a perfect way to accomplish that. And he played the sympathetic media (and the network of liberal websites/blogs) like a violin.

Oh, by the way, if anyone can provide a pointer to an article showing that members of the Assemblies of God, or any Christians faith, supposedly consider calico cats to be Satan's housepets, I'd love to see it.
posted by aaron at 1:41 PM on February 20, 2002


maybe he's a sleepwalker? :)

"They feast on your fears... and it's dinner time!"
posted by kliuless at 1:51 PM on February 20, 2002


Atheists should be happy with the way Ashcroft and Bush are cynically using the name of God to back their political agenda; every time they do, faith and religion get a bit more debased.

Though not a believer, I recognize that faith has provided the impetus for a lot of positive progressive social change, as well as a lot of evil (prohibition not being the least of it. OW!), but it can only harm religion to be tied to this or that particular political agenda.

That said, it would not make me unhappy if the good Lord sent a messenger to beat John Ashcroft about the head and shoulders with a big rubber dildo.
posted by Ty Webb at 2:07 PM on February 20, 2002


Ironic, I just posted an entry last night on this.
Without some type of tenacious claim that human behaviour really matters and that people all over the world should subscribe to at least a minimal set of universal ethics (do not confuse this with minimal religion) we have no real basis for morally evaluating or responding to evil. [source]
You people are freaking out at the claim that the roots of religion (at least dogma) are the basis for USA's response to 9/11. This is hyprocrisy, claiming the right to morally respond to terrorism, while (I assume from past discussions) you don't even believe in any sort of universal ethic.
posted by aaronshaf at 2:08 PM on February 20, 2002


It's interesting to note that some insults, which make people like Ashcroft look pretty decent and reasonable by comparison, can also be very useful in making the opposition look bad. Maybe that's the point?

Howabout a Christian article on how we'll all be smited if Israel's current borders ever change, instead of one on cats? I too fail to see any great significance in a public official's personal attitudes towards calico cats. This is the kind of topic people home in on when they're short on content but feel the urge to keep honking.

I wish Mr. Ashcroft were able to set a tone more like his boss, who seems very sincere and comfortable inviting little kids to the White House to discuss how Ramadan and Allah are an important part of their lives. I can imagine myself sitting down with Mr. Bush and having a good talk about the Buddhist perspective on things, but I can't say the same for Mr. Ashcroft.

One wonders where those of us who feel kinship with athiests, agnostics, and non-Abrahamic religions fit in to the "war on terrorism." Harambee - pull together! Earth bless all species!

It's great seeing the little statues of Lady Liberty starting to pop up in a Hindu household, at the hair salon, at a Pagan invocation, on cards at the drugstores, and realizing that the old-fashioned Greek gods are still taking a hand at guiding our affairs. Ashcroft is right, that the campaign against terrorism is rooted in God, just a little inaccurate, as Lady Liberty is actually a Goddess.
posted by sheauga at 2:17 PM on February 20, 2002


Ashcroft is right, that the campaign against terrorism is rooted in God, just a little inaccurate, as Lady Liberty is actually a Goddess. I assume this goes for... agnostics, and non-Abrahamic religions.

Whoa, sounds like the only alternative to moral absolutism (with mystical implications) is idolization of one's country, or at least of... personal sentiments.
posted by aaronshaf at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2002


bluetrain - Hey chris0495, I have no intent on hijacking this thread, and I would hope that you feel the same way, but do you have any specific comments/posters to go along with your theory?

Too late, it already got highjacked by those who want to argue about death tolls, and Ashcroft's pushing us into war (which was spoken right at the starting of the thread. Ashcroft isn't the Secretary of Defense, he's the AG).

owillis - Well, the books don't.

Though this isn't a time for textual debate, I strongly disagree, especially as regards the Covenents progression towards Christianity. Love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, and all that, you know.

hincandenza, apologies if I was too brief, and thereby unclear. I meant no disrespect to the Declaration of Independence, or its author, by my comment. What I meant was that there are many here who wish to portray Ashcroft as a religious wacko from the deep end, but I believe that his agenda's are rooted in sumptuary customs and beliefs that found our nation. This isn't about whether Ashcroft wants to war against terrorists, it about how he implies our laws here, in this country, should be interpreted.

It seems to me that most people here discussing Ashcroft wish to focus on two things, our personal religious feelings about the external war on terrorism, and his interpretation of religious "right". When I read the linked article, what struck me was his interpretation of what America is all about. He harkens to the very sentiments raised in the Declaration of Independance in a way that interprets our duty to follow the secular path as supported by the religious one. That's the danger, to me. If we begin to interpret the Jeffersonian expressed rights as good beyond the secular sense, then anything we do that supports the foundations of our free country, also supports God, not vice-versa as many here on Mefi would see it. That's a subtle difference, but a damned important one, because it underpins our continued support as nationalist and thereby, godly. He's not trying to impose religion, but rather impose a foundation for nationalism. Even more dangerous in my opinion.

It isn't the athiests that need fear, its pacifist religious types who don't support the continued war on terror. At that point, in Ashcroft's view, they are traitors to their country. If you do what your country wants, then you are supporting God, as opposed to you must support God to support your country. If you argue against God, but support your country, then your still doing God's will. If you argue against your country then ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:24 PM on February 20, 2002


Whoa, this makes three posts in ten minutes for me.

Wulfgar, Ashcroft isn't imposing a foundation for nationalism for atheists, agnostics, etc.. Us Theists, however, we have a different agenda in supporting the country, and this agenga's purpose goes way beyond idolization of the country and personal interests. Ashcroft knows this. Nationalism, inasmuch as it agrees with the character of God, is our means of serving God, whereas for you, it is some means of humanitarian pragmaticism, or means of carrying out personal sentiments (and those sentiments, I stress being merely sentiments).

The interesting part comes in when you ask yourself, whether your foundation for nationalism be pragmaticism, humanitarianism, or Theism, what the underlining issue is. If the Consistution doesn't serve as the end-reference for our national motives, and I certainly don't think it was or it ever will be, what is our reference? What should aaronshaf's foundation for nationalism be, if any?
posted by aaronshaf at 2:39 PM on February 20, 2002


I have no theory, just questions. I didn't point any particular post or poster out. Maybe no one has noticed this. Maybe it's coincidental that happy and satisfied customers of our government have joined a bunch of blogs in the last couple of months with, it seems, the express purpose of saying "sheesh, get over it" to anyone that questions, gasp, the motivations of our government and its agents. It's probable that these people are just expressing their opinion. Is it possible that it's anything else?

Wulfgar! gets to the point. Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists. The problem for me is not wanting to be with either one. Given the choice between elephant shit and hippopotamus shit, which would you eat?
posted by chris0495 at 2:40 PM on February 20, 2002


A Google search on ashcroft+calico+cat is interesting--lots of calico cat anecdote retellings, none of which seem to point back to an authoritative source. Some just link to each other.


(Disclaimer--I dislike the idea of Ashcroft as AG as much as anyone...)


posted by gimonca at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2002


none of the above. but how do you express none of the aboveness?
posted by kliuless at 2:51 PM on February 20, 2002


aaron: Almost certainly complete and utter bovine excrement, and at best 100% unsubstantiated.

hmm, reading arron's whole post sort of reminded me of how much play the media gave to the "al gore invented the internet" fake story.

lazy, lazy, lazy reporting is at falt here in both cases. someone makes up a story once and reporters repeat it over and over without bothering to check if it is true or not.

And he played the sympathetic media (and the network of liberal websites/blogs) like a violin.
ha, ha, ha...lazy media is more like it.

i will stop with the off topic stuff now..sorry!
posted by saralovering at 2:55 PM on February 20, 2002


What should aaronshaf's foundation for nationalism be, if any?

Aaronshaf, I have to ask, why, if your first duty be to God, should you feel nationalist at all?

Also, please don't attribute the things I say about Ashcroft to my agreement with them. That just makes me feel dirty.

*off to take a very hot shower*

Okay, I must express this. Yes, the Constitution is my end-reference for my nationalist spirit. It is the guide by which I choose to live in this country, that and no other. If John Ashcroft wishes to tell me that by my expressing that, I support God, then perhaps he needs to reread the document. I give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's. John Ashcroft will never be able to interpret which is which for me.

Wulfgar! gets to the point. Either you're with us or you're with the terrorists. The problem for me is not wanting to be with either one.

But are you with God, or not? That's the question Ashcroft would force an answer to. It is possible to be with us, and not with God, but John would interpret that as being with God anyway, as long as you're not with the terrorists, i.e. anti-US.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:55 PM on February 20, 2002


Of course. God/USA vs. Terrorists/Evil is the way ashcroft and much of the Bush Administration puts it to us. Really, it's more like God/US Government(which is bought and paid for)/military/industrial complex vs. God/Terrorists/Islamic extremists. Obviously, to me at least, the US side is less reprehensible. But if you put a thief and a murderer in the same room, the presence of the murderer does not wash away the wrongs of the thief.

The point I'm ineloquently trying to make is that neither side is truly with god. Neither side acts according to the principles of their respective faith. and, get this, each side has followers that think their leaders have their best interests in mind. I do not think that the Bush administration as a whole is any more religious, or god-fearing if you prefer, than it was before 9/11. God is invoked to help people fall in line. God is used to intimidate or alienate.

How many people do you know that do not believe in a Christian God? How many of those people express their views in large groups or even in small ones? How many of them remain silent?
posted by chris0495 at 3:19 PM on February 20, 2002


Postroad the figures given by that prof have pretty much been shown to be innacurate. The lastest numbers that I have seen suggest close to a thousand civilian deaths

links, sources?
posted by signal at 3:53 PM on February 20, 2002


So, Ashcroft was speaking to The National Religious Broadcasters' annual meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville. The NRB just accepted their group's president's resignation on Saturday. Apparently comments made to a MN newspaper didn't sit well with other members.

Maybe it was this quote;

"But what's probably more disturbing to me is that evangelicals are identified politically more than theologically. We get associated with the far Christian right and marginalized. To me the important thing is to keep the focus on what's important to us spiritually.

We're all entitled to our political views and evangelicals tend to gravitate toward more conservative politics, but sometimes in taking our stands we've allowed ourselves to be typecast and the effectiveness spiritually has been diminished."

...that got him fired.

BTW, links via Romenesko's Media News.
posted by dglynn at 4:05 PM on February 20, 2002


Neither side acts according to the principles of their respective faith.

The point is that the US doesn't have a respective faith. Ashcroft is trying to build one out of thin air. This isn't about us v.s. them. It's just about us.

Sorry if that sounds like I'm trying to harsh on you, chris0495, but I'm just trying to get across that Ashcroft is using smoke and mirrors to create an "us" against them attitude. Forget the "them". This is all about "US". The US is invoked to help us fall in line with God. Atheists can be ignored, as long as they don't stand against wiretaps and house to house searches. Then, they are evil because they don't support us, and hence, don't support God. If you don't support religion and God, you're not evil, just misguided. If you don't support America, by bowing to its whims, then you are evil (anti-god). God isn't being invoked as a coercive power here, America is. This is logically so much more wrong. If God then USA does not equal if USA then God. Its more the case of If not USA then NOT God and that does = EVIL. Cancelling the negations gives exactly:

If God then USA.

Do you see the danger in that? If you believe spiritually at all, you must support the government's policies. Am I getting across here?
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:07 PM on February 20, 2002


How many people do you know that do not believe in a Christian God? How many of those people express their views in large groups or even in small ones? How many of them remain silent?

chris0495, how about 3/4 of the Metafilter community.

God is invoked to help people fall in line.
What other source of ultimate authority and accountability is there? Would you rather statuatory law and the human emotions and intellect behind law be invoked?

God is used to intimidate or alienate.
I don't think Ashcroft, or most others who invoke God as a source of moral authority for the 9/11 response, are alienating religion from religion, or the people therein. Those who have no sensibility or conscious are. I mean, come on, if you don't think 9/11 is wrong, you have a perverted conscious, and the fact that we can appeal to standard of the "perverted" and o.k. conscious... implies some sort of external ethical system that certainly goes beyond human emotions.
posted by aaronshaf at 4:09 PM on February 20, 2002


*Those who have no sensibility or conscious are being aliented.
posted by aaronshaf at 4:12 PM on February 20, 2002


I find the concept that the ultimate source of morality is an invisible superhero who lives in the sky scary.
Morality comes from your humanity and the recognition of that same humanity in others. Anything else is a cop out.
posted by signal at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2002


What other source of ultimate authority and accountability is there?

What gives a theist the right to presuppose for the rest of us what "ultimate authority" is? I see aaronshaf, that you like to skirt yourself around the issue covered many a time here on MeFi, that you and Ashcroft (and anyone else of you who'd like to be included), pretend that your religious presuppositions are meant to be swallowed whole and not debated.

You pose fallacious evidence that your world-view is superior merely by dint of you believing in such:

implies some sort of external ethical system that certainly goes beyond human emotions.

Fact is, regardless of its empirical veracity or not, your religious beliefs begin and end within you. Begin and end within John Ashcroft. Begin and end within Osama bin Laden. Please don't take the whole world down with you, with proclamations such as:

Nationalism, inasmuch as it agrees with the character of God, is our means of serving God, whereas for you, it is some means of humanitarian pragmaticism, or means of carrying out personal sentiments (and those sentiments, I stress being merely sentiments).

You have no ethical right to subscribe me or anyone else to your just-so story of what you think us non-theists believe. Keep it in church and out of the public square. That is if you actually care about this country and true freedom for its citizens.
posted by crasspastor at 4:29 PM on February 20, 2002


links, sources?

Here's one, from rc3.org. Going to Daypop and running a weblog-only search on "Herold" will pull up many more, almost all of which are far tougher on Prof. Herold than RC3.
posted by aaron at 4:31 PM on February 20, 2002


Wulfgar! I only took Logic I in college but, yes, I do see how dangerous it is to put forward the if God then America argument. That is precisely the problem. It's easier to criticize America than God. So push God to the front. That way, even if people disagree with the way the administration is waging the war, they wont say anything for fear of being marginalized as "godless."

aaronshaf: The acts commited on 9/11 are so atrocious that I do not see the need to invoke God, God's law, or any other source of "moral authority" to condemn them. Clearly, the terrorists are assholes and they should be found and kept from doing any more harm. Most people believe they should be killed when found. I'd rather they be tortured for 3,000 days before they're killed.

As far as being alienated: I doubt that anyone without sensibility or conscious feels much of anything.

As far as a source for moral authority, there is no source. I'd suggest studying Aristotle's Ethics and Plato's Republic as far as how we should treat each other and how one should go about living in a society.
posted by chris0495 at 4:34 PM on February 20, 2002


also there's all the lives that have been saved by deposing the taliban, which numbers in the millions :) if not billions!

chris0495: How many people do you know that do not believe in a Christian God? How many of those people express their views in large groups or even in small ones? How many of them remain silent?

i imagine a lot! deafening silence :)
posted by kliuless at 4:40 PM on February 20, 2002


I find the concept that the ultimate source of morality is an invisible superhero who lives in the sky scary.

Ya know, I prolly oughta post this to MetaTalk instead, but I, for one, am fucking tired of the ignorant postulates of the religiously uninformed slamming into discussion that has merit. If you think that the majority of the world just follows the comic adventures of an invisible superhero who lives in the sky, fine. By posting that ham-handed view in this discussion about the ramifications of a national figure who believes beyond your shallow interpretation of spirituality, all you're doing is slamming words to hear your own crap. signal, you've offered absolutely no support for your position, nor tied it in the least in the discussion of the topic. Seeing that, your comment was nothing but your own ego, urging to be free. Take it elsewhere, 'cause it's long been discussed that that isn't helpful or welcome here.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:41 PM on February 20, 2002


Keep it in church and out of the public square.

It's unrealistic to think that people won't bring their religious beliefs to bear upon their political activities. I have no problem with the fact that Ashcroft is a fundamentalist Christian, as long as he doesn't selectively enforce laws on a religious basis. I am uncomfortable with his and Bush's constant references to God, for reasons I stated above: it cheapens religion to be pimped out by politicians. A wiser statesperson in a secular democracy such as the U.S. would be a bit more circumspect about such references.

That is if you actually care about this country and true freedom for its citizens.

That's just unnecessary bullshit.
posted by Ty Webb at 5:25 PM on February 20, 2002


the network of liberal websites/blogs

There's not just a liberal media conspiracy but a liberal blog conspiracy too? How come I didn't get the memo.

Anyhow, if anyone doesn't think that Johnny Ashcroft doesn't let his extreme religious beliefs guide him - you're fooling yourself. Ashcroft had already begun to meet with "family" groups in preparation for a crackdown on porn but 9.11 happened. Never mind that whole freedom of speech stuff.
posted by owillis at 5:32 PM on February 20, 2002


Unnecessary as in:

Invoking god whilst simultaneously speaking on behalf of all Americans insofar what it means to be on the right side of this war?

Sorry. Hardly unncecessary bullshit at all that I'd write what I'd write. If the persistent clarion calls from Bush and his administration that what this war is about is "protecting freedom" are any indication, we're witnessing a bifurcation of the meaning of the word "freedom". So I suppose I'll rephrase:

That is if you actually care about this country and true (in the classical sense of the word) freedom for its citizens.

Who's free under Ashrcroftian ideals? Indeed, who is free under the thumb of a theocracy? If one gave a shit about freedom at all, the last thing uttered from one's lips would be the words which Ashcroft continues to publically assert. It's his brand of freedom in an envisioned paternalistic theocracy and it has no place in a democracy --at least in a democracy where enough of its denizens still give a shit otherwise.
posted by crasspastor at 5:53 PM on February 20, 2002


It's unrealistic to think that people won't bring their religious beliefs to bear upon their political activities.
Just one more reason I am better than everyone.
posted by thirteen at 6:34 PM on February 20, 2002


- Ashcroft is right, that the campaign against terrorism is rooted in God, just a little inaccurate, as Lady Liberty is actually a Goddess.
- Whoa, sounds like the only alternative to moral absolutism (with mystical implications) is idolization of one's country, or at least of... personal sentiments.


The point here is that there's no telling exactly how others see the world. You may be feeling smothered by fundamentalist DC politicians, while at the same time, someone else looks around, see a little green goddess with a torch popping up everywhere, and grins. "Magic is afoot! Here's Lady Liberty, coming forth to remind us that we can always invoke our right to freedom, and alter or abolish despotic governmental structures."

I find it highly amusing that even in a time full of fundamentalist fervor like Mr. Ashcroft's, Lady Liberty, Thor, and Quetzalcoatl are written off as non-religious, "mythological figures." Are you sure about that?

(PS Some may feel that provoking Mr. Ashcroft to go postal by devising ever more horrendous insults is a great strategy for getting him out of office, but I think he'll have to go sooner or later based on his own actions. His generation didn't hear things like "Hare Krishna / My Sweet Lord" on the radio as a kid, and it shows. He keeps coming out with reactionary-sounding rhetoric that's badly out of touch with the realities of modern life, even here in the conservative Midwest.)
posted by sheauga at 7:36 PM on February 20, 2002


There's not just a liberal media conspiracy but a liberal blog conspiracy too? How come I didn't get the memo.

I said "the network of liberal websites/blogs", i.e. the sites gimonca referring to in his (her?) post above, not "the network of websites and blogs, all of which are liberal." Huge difference.
posted by aaron at 7:39 PM on February 20, 2002


God is invoked to help people fall in line.

What other source of ultimate authority and accountability is there? Would you rather statuatory law and the human emotions and intellect behind law be invoked?


Yes! How can I sign up for that?
posted by bingo at 1:26 AM on February 21, 2002


Going back to the Calico issue (if anyone still cares a day later), I just happened to be reading Maureen Dowd's NYT column from 2-17, in which she stated:

"And, of course, there is that wacky story going around about how John Ashcroft wants calico cats shooed out of his sight because they're signs of the devil.

So you can imagine how alarmed the attorney general must have been when he saw the copycat calico kitten on front pages on Friday. It must have evoked Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" — a nightmarish vision of zombie calico clones creeping, limping and hissing down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Justice Department."

Funny, no?
posted by pardonyou? at 7:33 AM on February 21, 2002


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