Not All Bigots Are the Same

So I screwed up. In my last post, I said:

You see, Bible Believers is a Christian hate group which publishes all sorts of bigoted literature. I kind of want to show you the antisemitic filth this group publishes, but I can’t bring myself to link to any of it. This group of people Jeff Id defends are literal deniers, as in people who publish material denying the Holocaust happened.

It turns out I made a mistake. There is a group located out of Australia with the name Bible Believers that has been known for its bigotry, especially its antisemiticism. It has even had some odd legal issues due to posting literature on its website which denies the Holocaust.

I mistakenly thought this was the same group as a Bible Believers group that operates out of the United States and travels internationally. This group, headed by a man who goes by the name Israel Ruben, publishes all sorts of vile bigotry on its site as well.

Given the similar names, similar purposes and similar behaviors, I think it's understandable why a person might mistakenly think the two groups are one and the same. Still, it was wrong of me. I should have done more research into the matter before writing my last blog post. The sad truth is I didn't because I found reading all the propaganda and bigotry too disgusting. Because of that, I failed to do the proper research.

I wanted to post this to acknowledge my mistake, but since I had to spend time learning about the differences between these two groups, I thought it'd be worth having a discussion. So while I've already explained the overall mistake I made, I'll be highlighting a couple specific errors it caused me to make in my post as I discuss some broader issues.

The first thing to note is this discussion came about when the prominent skeptic blogger Jeff Id made a comment on a website discussing an incident which happened in Dearborn Michigan. To make a long story short, the American Bible Believers group attended an Arab International Festival there, yelled offensive remarks about Islam, carried signs which insulted the Islamic religion and carried a severed pig's head on a pole as they walked through the festival.

This provoked a variety of reactions, and over approximately 90 minutes, people attending the festival threw things at the Bible Believers group. This happened on a couple occasions, interrupted by various things like police officers coming by. However, police officers made no meaningful effort to stop this sort of violence from happening, and after a while, they kicked the Bible Believers group out of the festival due to the reaction they were receiving. The Bible Believers filed a lawsuit over this, claiming their First Amendment rights had been violated, and the courts eventually sided with them.

That is a short and simple version of what happened. As you can see, there is no single "good" or "bad" guy here. The Bible Believers went to an Arab International Festival and spouted bigotry with the intention of provoking people. That is legal. What they did was a protected form of expression under the First Amendment. It is also disgusting.

The people attending the festival who threw things at the Bible Believers broke the law. Other people at the festival discouraged violence. Some people actively pulled their children or friends away. One person even stood in front of the Bible Believers in the hope acting as a shield for them would prevent people from becoming violent. This shows what one might expect from any community or large group of people being subjected to vile bigotry like that coming from the Bible Believers - some people will react poorly to the provocation and want to break the law while many others will not. Some will even react admirably and try to discourage people from taking the bait. This means one should acknowledge there was goodness coming from this crowd, and the violence which happened was provoked. Even so, the violence was wrong.

Finally, the police could have done far more to stop the violence. In fact, it is likely there wouldn't have been any violence if the police had put even a minimal amount of effort into protecting the Bible Believers. It was wrong of them not to, and the courts were right to rule in favor of the Bible Believers in their lawsuit. Still, one can understand why police might not be inclined to jump to the defense of vile, bigotry-spewing hate groups. As wrong as it is, it is a human reaction.

So in all this, there is no single "good" or "bad" side. People are, of coures, free to side with one group or another based on whatever personal preferences they might have, but all sides did bad things. That's something anyone and everyone should be able to acknowledge. For some reason, Jeff Id cannot. In his original description of these events, he said:

There are plenty of muslims who act moderate and therefore see islam as good, but there are plenty of liberals who think what Obama has done to America is good too. I watched a video of a few guys with Jesus loves shirts be attacked physically and verbally by a crowd of hundreds of muslims in Dearborn Michigan. I was born in that area and much of my family grew up there. The influx of Muslims to that region has now almost fully displaced Christians and despite there being plenty of opportunities for the ‘peaceful’ muslims to speak out against intolerance, there was nothing but middle east style culture in evidence. Like the European no-go zones, the police refused to intervene.

No common sense moderate Muslims in sight. None of the outrage at how these Christians were being treated that you would expect from modern moderate muslims. I’m sure there was some outrage actually, but the religion as practiced doesn’t allow dissent and those who would speak out in that crowd would likely be punished.

This is not a remotely fair or reasonable description of what happened. Portraying the Bible Believers, who had shouted out bigoted remarks and paraded a severed pig's head on a pole as merely "a few guys with Jesus loves shirts" is unacceptable. By his description, Jeff Id would have the reader believe all that happened is "a few guys with Jesus loves shirts" were walking in some area doing nothing noteworthy when hundreds of Muslims descended upon them and attacked for no reason.

That's obviously not what happened. Even if Jeff Id's description might be technically accurate, the impression it creates is completely misleading. Nobody reading what he wrote would have the slightest idea the Bible Believers had been shouting out bigoted remarks in order to provoke the crowd. Jeff Id effectively covered that up, pretending this group wasn't a vile hate group actively promoting bigotry. Naturally, that bothered me so I wrote a post. In it, I pointed out how misleading what Jeff Id had said was. I also said:

You see, the police did intervene. On multiple occasions, the police demanded the Bible Believers stop using a megaphone as it was considered too loud (especially with the racist slurs they were shouting, which Jeff Id failed to mention). And later, the police intervened further by kicking the Bible Believers out of the festival. Jeff Id somehow manages to ignore that, instead pretending “the police refused to intervene.” In reality the police did intervene, in a bad way. They likely responded that way because they didn’t like the Bible Believers, but as the courts have since ruled, they were in the wrong.

So to be fair to the racist Christians Jeff Id portrays as innocent victims, the police did treat them unfairly. As hateful and disgusting as their behavior was, it was a lawful form of expression protected by the First Amendment. The police were wrong in kicking them out to stop the escalation of violence rather than addressing the people who actually committed the violence.

As it turns out, the American Bible Believers group hasn't said (as far as I'm aware) anything racist. It publishes tons of bigotry against religious groups and homosexuals, but it seems to treat people of all races the same way. I was wrong to refer to its bigotry as racism and its slurs as racist. I don't know of a good word to replace that with for when the prejudice is against a religion rather than an ethnic group, but I should have found one.

This brings up something of another issue though. Jeff Id, and in fact the Bible Believers, say this attack was by Muslims. Jeff Id further states no Muslims spoke out against this violence (which is simply false, flying in the face of readily available and uncontested evidence). He also says things like:

I did not look up a group of bible thumpers crazy enough to carry god signs in a muslim neigborhood because they looked like morons.

The bible thumpers were crazy to go into an intolerant muslim community with signs and shirts

I want to take a moment to point out these events happened in a festival on public streets, not in a neighborhood or community. Jeff Id got a lot of basic details like these wrong, but what's more interesting is he calls these "a muslim neigborhood" and a "muslim community."

This was an Arab International Festival. Being an Arab doesn't make you a Muslim. In fact, attending the festival doesn't even make you an Arab, as many non-Arabs attended as well. That's not the point though. The point is Arabs are an ethnic group, describing people whose heritage is of a certain part of the world. Muslim is a religious group, describing people who adhere to the religious tenets of Islam. They're not the same thing.

You can be an Arab Christian. You can be an Arab Jew. You can be a African American Muslim. One's ethnic group doesn't have to determine one's religious group. And yet, people like Jeff Id seem to treat them as one and the same. They see people at an Arab festival whose skin color is all the same, and they label all of them Muslims. Then they express prejudice toward Muslims. Isn't that racist?

Think about it. Hating Arabs because of their ethnicity would be ethnic prejudice, or racism. Hating Muslims because of their religion would be religious prejudice. Normally the two wouldn't be the same. However, if a person, albeit incorrectly, associates all members of one ethnicity with a particular religion they are prejudiced against, then they are prejudiced against all members of that ethnicity. Even if that prejudice is based on a misunderstanding, isn't it still racism?

I'm not sure. I hadn't really thought about it before. It's probably not important, but it was something which added a bit of extra confusion when I was thinking on just what to call certain people.

In any event, due to disputes over the blog post I wrote, Jeff Id wrote a blog post of his own. In it, he quoted the whole comment I excerpted the portion on this incident from and said:

Definitely a strong comment, which I do believe is accurate. The evidence of the video however, caused Brandon Shollenberger to go off the deep end and post a blog using the video part of my comment only and left the rest of the context out. I’m rather pissed at him for his mischaracterizations and hadn’t realized just how far some people would go to defend evil behaviors but the internet never seems to have a lower bound.

I'm at a loss as to how anyone could think I defended "evil behaviors," but that's not really important. What's important is I had described the events which happened at Dearborn Michigan, as they had actually happened. I did so to highlight the vast discrepancy between what had actually happened and what Jeff Id had portrayed as having happened. I provided details which were readily verifiable, and I even provided links which documented what I said.

But still, Jeff Id stood by his depiction. In fact, he had continued and still continues to stand by his portrayal, not changing a single word of it. Earlier in response to me pointing out problems with his portrayal, Jeff Id said:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnJBW49afzg

You can see they did not use megaphones as they were not allowed. Your claim is false. You can also see them being stoned and the back of their shirt says Jesus saves. Not a bad description of what happened

(As a quick aside, this megaphone issue is an incredibly trivial, but rather fascinating one. I had made a remark about the police telling the Bible Believers they needed to stop using their megapohne. Jeff Id said that was a false claim. However, the video he posted a link to shows, just a minute in, a police officer telling the grouop they need to stop using the megaphone. Despite me pointing that out, he has continued to insist I'm wrong about the megaphone issue again and again. Anyway, moving on.)

According to Jeff Id, because these men were wearing "Jesus saves" shirts and had stones thrown at him, his portrayal was "[n]ot a bad description of what happened." He keeps saying things like this, as though a statement being technically true makes it a fair description of what happened. He also resorted to a defense of:

I expected some rational commentary on what is wrong with a temporary halt to importing muslim extremism. Instead I found he removed everything relevent to the comment I made, pulled the wrong video apparently from a different year and made a bunch of ranting claims while calling me names.

I believe Brandon grabbed the video from a different year as I stated before. I’m not sure because the video I linked is very long. I didn’t see any pigs heads, I did not see megaphones because the cop banned them at the beginning of the video and the crazy bible thumper tried to argue and I did not see less than a couple hundred muslims.

I didn’t see the part where they said the prophet wanted to molest their children. Are you on the right video?

But the video he linked to is a heavily edited video created for propaganda purposes. Any sensible person would realize not seeing something in the video doesn't mean much. Here is the video Jeff Id watched:

Here is the original, uncut version:

Both versions are readily available on the internet. You can easily find both with a simple internet search. Anyone remotely interested in what happened could choose to watch the unedited version. But instead, Jeff Id watched only the version edited for propaganda purposes. Even after being told it was propaganda dishonestly edited, Jeff Id went back and watched it again to check for facts rather than looking for the unedited version.

So here's what I'm getting at. The Australian Bible Believers group is a hate group for bigots who hate Jews and deny the Holocaust. They're different from the American Bible Believers group who hate Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, Hindus, gays and probably plenty of other groups. One of the big differences is the American Bible Believers group does this thing they call "street preaching," like what they did in this incident.

The bigotry of that is obvious. The bigotry of publishing literature which says Jews are an inferior race is obvious. But what about what Jeff Id does? Jeff Id posted an incredibly misleading depiction of what happened in this incident, portraying the bigoted Bible Believers group as innocent victims of a Muslim mob that acted without provocation. When confronted with clear evidence showing his portrayal was false, he repeatedly defended it as accurate and fair.

Is that bigoted? I don't know. What about when he intentionally depends only upon what he's been informed is a propaganda film when real evidence is readily available? Is that bigoted, with his hatred for Muslims causing him to refuse to look at the evidence? Does that explain why he refused to admit simple and obvious mistakes he made that exaggerated the supposed misdeeds of the (people he labels) Muslims in this incident?

I don't know. Jeff Id is very different from the American Bible Believers. I'd like to believe that indicates he's not a bigot. Unfortunately, I've spent quite a bit of time today looking at the various hate literature these different groups publish. While it's largely fried my mind (hence why this post isn't structured, and is likely more rambly/stream of thought than normal), it's also showed me not all bigots are the same.

Some bigots can appear perfectly rational even as they say horrendous thinsg. Others sound like raving lunatics even when they say things you agree with. There doesn't appear to be any single key indicator. But in Jeff Id's case, it seems everything he does is biased to make Muslims look worse, even if that means massively downplaying the bigotry of vile hate groups like the Bible Believers.

And honestly, it doesn't matter which Bible Believers we're talking about. While I was wrong to say Jeff Id defended the antisemitic group which denies the Holocaust, he would have. As his behavior shows, he didn't care what anyone did to provoke reactions from the Muslims. He didn't even care how the Muslims actually reacted to that provocation.

He just liked that he had a "story" he could use to confirm Muslims are... whatever he thinks they are. That he had to ignore evidence contradicting his story and cover up the actions of vile bigots involved to get it didn't matter to him. Because he is that bigoted.

Or at least, that's how it seems. Maybe I'm wrong. By the twentieth screed I read about how gay people are terrorists or god knows what else, I think my mind stopped working.

23 comments

  1. I wonder if there actually might be a connection between the two "Bible Believers" groups. The Oz one really looks like an international spawn of something stemming from followers of a US charismatic fruitcake from the 1950's, well-known at the time, called William Branham.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_M._Branham

    The "other fruitcakes" page at the Oz site http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/sites.htm leads you to something it calls " Bible Believers' Kentucky", which resolves to this: http://www.biblebelievers.biz/

    Much of the content is the same, and you can see all the references to Branham on both. Point: the Oz group looks to me like it stems from the US, not home grown.

    The wikipedia article on Branham has references to unsurprising fragmentation of the movement after his death, with various fringe splinter groups living on. It may be that Ruben Israel's "Bible Believers" do have some connection or some shared origin with the other "Bible Believers" groups connected with the Oz and Kentucky websites.

    Not that it matters very much.

    I think that none of them should be confused with http://www.biblebelievers.com which seems pretty respectable, if not geriatric, by comparison. I can't imagine these people getting out of their recliners to go harass a Muslim festival. Their explain-the-Jews page, unpromisingly labelled "The Jew", seems creepy rather than virulent, and their explain-the-Muslims page is quite restrained. I get the impression that most of content was generated in about 1965. (They are very much NOT on board with the idea of Christian Rock'n'Roll.)

  2. Brandon

    Doing some further research on this (the last couple of days I have been away and posting from a poor connection) I came across this;

    http://www.creators.com/opinion/ray-hanania/extremist-groups-ground-detroit-s-arab-festival.html

    Several things surprised me. First and foremost are we actually talking about a festival that has been cancelled the last couple of years and certainly didn't take place in 2015?

    http://www.creators.com/opinion/ray-hanania/extremist-groups-ground-detroit-s-arab-festival.html

    Secondly, the size, some 300,000 attendees. Thirdly that America has 7 million muslims as I have seen the figure of 2 million used I believe. America has seemed much better than Europe at integration generally, as over here groups are encouraged to create parallel societies which is all very well when small, but causes friction when they become sizeable. Is integration still working over there?

    Trump is often seen over here as a figure of fun and there was incredulity about his comments about banning muslim immigration. However it seems that rather than lead the hatred he is merely reflecting it, if the reports about the cancellation of this festival several years ago can be relied on. so anyway, are we all getting overheated over something that hasn't even taken place for several years?

    tonyb

  3. Several things surprised me. First and foremost are we actually talking about a festival that has been cancelled the last couple of years and certainly didn’t take place in 2015?

    Trump is often seen over here as a figure of fun and there was incredulity about his comments about banning muslim immigration. However it seems that rather than lead the hatred he is merely reflecting it, if the reports about the cancellation of this festival several years ago can be relied on. so anyway, are we all getting overheated over something that hasn’t even taken place for several years?

    The only reason this festival came up as a discussion is because Jeff Id used the event in 2012, to state that the behavior of the "muslim" attendees was nothing but middle east style culture in evidence. In other words, muslims are predisposed to violent behavior so the phobia he was expressing in his comments, was justified.

    When Brandon pointed to the reasons for the reaction of the some of the people in the crowd, Jeff simply waved his hand and said I didn't see it so it didn't happen. From there, Jeff continued to insist that the Bible Believers were staging a peaceful protest while hundreds of muslims were physically and verbally attacking them with stones and water bottles, which was untrue. Despite the easily available evidence to the contrary, Jeff refused to acknowledge that the Bible Believers instigated the entire episode ( or the second time in two years ).

    Had Jeff simply acknowledged from the beginning that there was more to the story than he had led everyone to believe, the entire discussion probably would have petered out with less than half the number posts. Whether the event was canceled or not is irrelevant to why it was up for discussion, except maybe to illustrate how the bigots managed to put a stop to an otherwise peaceful annual event.

    That's it. That's all.

  4. Brandon,

    You'd think from the previous blog that there is some vast difference between being a racist or a bigot, an anti semite or anti muslim.

    Promoting hatred against a group of people based on race, religion or sexual preference is hatred. What difference does it make if these bigots weren't targeting a race but a religion instead. What difference does it make if they weren't anti semite but instead anti muslim. When you're traveling to events carrying signs that say "Homo sex is a threat to national security" or "Muhammad is liar, murderer, child molesting pervert" does there really need to be a distinction.

    Maybe they've been so busy hating homosexuals and muslims, they haven't gotten around to hating jews or blacks or hispanics. Maybe their schedule is so full they haven't had time to deny the Holocaust. Who cares, they're messengers of hate, the message is largely irrelevant.

  5. The festival will occupy...and brings in more than 300,000 participants each year, according to American Arab Chamber of Commerce estimates.

    300,000 participants over the course of the weekend and yet only a handful of youths reacted to the Bible Believers hate propaganda. That sounds pretty restrained to me.

  6. Szilard, that is interesting. I bet a truly interested individual could track down the origins of the Australian group and see if there is a connection to the American one. I'm not going to even try though. It's my hope i never have to look at the websites of any of these groups again. I'm still disgusted at the things I read when reading up for this post.

    MichaelS:

    Promoting hatred against a group of people based on race, religion or sexual preference is hatred. What difference does it make if these bigots weren’t targeting a race but a religion instead. What difference does it make if they weren’t anti semite but instead anti muslim. When you’re traveling to events carrying signs that say “Homo sex is a threat to national security” or “Muhammad is liar, murderer, child molesting pervert” does there really need to be a distinction.

    Sadly, yes. It seems certain people are okay with the hatred groups like this spew, as long as it is against particular groups.

  7. tonyb, your comments are getting more and more disturbing. You say:

    Several things surprised me. First and foremost are we actually talking about a festival that has been cancelled the last couple of years and certainly didn’t take place in 2015?

    Yes, this is true. The tradition of having an Arab International Festival in Dearborn Michigan, which has been carried out for 17 years, was shut down by the bigoted propaganda you've shown no problem with on this site. The hate group Jeff Id defended successfully canceled this festival hundreds of thousands of people attended to encourage peace and understanding with the Arab world.

    However it seems that rather than lead the hatred he is merely reflecting it, if the reports about the cancellation of this festival several years ago can be relied on. so anyway, are we all getting overheated over something that hasn’t even taken place for several years?

    Are you an idiot? That's a serious question. At this point, your comments have reached a level where if you're not a complete imbecile, I have to think your just a bigot willing to support and defend anything as long as it is anti-Muslim.

    Jeff Id promoted bigoted propaganda as proof of what Muslim culture was. That propaganda involved an incident at this Arab International Festival. What Jeff Id said was incredibly untrue, and it unfairly insulted all people of the Muslim faith. That is why there were discussions. The fact the festival was canceled following the bigots Jeff Id defended attending the festival creating this propaganda does not, in any way, suggest "we are all getting overheated over something that hasn't even taken place for several years." Other than Jeff Id, nobody is getting overheated over anything except the bigotry he's been promoting.

    You have, not once, condemned Jeff Id's actions or acknowledged his depiction of events was massively untrue. You have, however, watched the propaganda video and said you don't get why I'm saying anything. You've furthered said you think I've apologized regarding the video, which was completely false. You're now downplaying this entire saga as being unimportant because the festival was canceled in response to the very propaganda you've relied upon. I don't like calling people bigots, especially not ones I've had many discussions with, but... you sir, are acting like a bigot.

    Any fairminded or sensible person when confronted with vile bigotry supported by blatant untruths should, at a minimum, not say things to support that bigotry.

  8. Are you an idiot? That’s a serious question. At this point, your comments have reached a level where if you’re not a complete imbecile, I have to think your just a bigot willing to support and defend anything as long as it is anti-Muslim.

    You said exactly what I have been thinking for the past 24 hours but was hesitant to post because I've read hundreds of comments from Tony over the past few years and found him to be one of the most balanced and fair-minded people in the climate debate. I still do, but it's as if on this subject, he's deliberately ignoring everything that's been posted to this point and developed tunnel vision.

  9. Brandon

    You said

    'Yes, this is true. The tradition of having an Arab International Festival in Dearborn Michigan, which has been carried out for 17 years, was shut down by the bigoted propaganda you’ve shown no problem with on this site. The hate group Jeff Id defended successfully cancelled this festival hundreds of thousands of people attended to encourage peace and understanding with the Arab world. '

    No problem with? Of course I condemn the actions of the silly Christian group and the deeplu unpleasant bigoted reactions shown to the festival. It is a pity it had to be cancelled after so many years as it seemed a worthwhile and interesting event. I have been to the middle East a dozen times and enjoy many aspects of muslim culture.

    "However it seems that rather than lead the hatred he is merely reflecting it, if the reports about the cancellation of this festival several years ago can be relied on. so anyway, are we all getting overheated over something that hasn’t even taken place for several years?"

    Whoa there. You are misinterpreting or taking things completely out of context. My comment about Trump merely relates that I thought this problem he had with muslims was a new thing and the furore at the festival was a direct result of him sowing hatred, perhaps exacerbated by the Paris massacres. So by getting 'overheated' all I meant was that the 'evidence' presented was, it turns out, several years old (i.e not current and related to Trumps comments) and as it turns out, misleading, not that it wasn't serious or disturbing.

    Of course I condemn the tenor of the reaction, it was highly unpleasant, but I have never at any point said 'you don’t get why I’m saying anything' at least in the context you seem to be suggesting. Context is everything. Of course I get why you're saying something.

    You are reacting to a bigoted comment based on a misleading video about an event that unfortunately had to be cancelled several years ago because of the extreme reactions generated by a group that seems less Christian and more the successors to the Klu Klax Klan. Is that a correct analogy?

    you said;

    ' You’re now downplaying this entire saga as being unimportant because the festival was canceled in response to the very propaganda you’ve relied upon.'

    Downplaying? Unimportant? Please don't take my words out of context or create a meaning to them that wasn't meant by parsing my sentences. Having now (through looking at numerous difficult to read and sometimes disturbing individual posts on two sites over several days) seen the context, understood the time scales, recognised the purposes of the festival, it is clear the Christian group and their supporters were way out of line and exhibited extreme bigotry. I condemn this unreservedly. Is that clear enough?

    There is a separate discussion about mass migration to Europe and the ability of (some) highly conservative and religiously devout muslims to fit into modern western society, as that is a discussion being held at this moment in western Europe at all levels, including belatedly by Angela Merkel who has just condemned multiculturalism. However, in the context of an emotion filled video that has generated so much smoke and light this isn't the time or place to have it.

    tonyb

  10. Tony -

    ==> "...and enjoy many aspects of muslim culture."

    Do you consider the Lord's Resistance Army to be part of christian culture?

  11. tonyb, I'm afraid you don't get to say this:

    No problem with? Of course I condemn the actions of the silly Christian group and the deeplu unpleasant bigoted reactions shown to the festival. It is a pity it had to be cancelled after so many years as it seemed a worthwhile and interesting event. I have been to the middle East a dozen times and enjoy many aspects of muslim culture.

    And have people accept it. You haven't done a single thing to condemn the actions of the bigots at this festival despite writing over a dozen comments on these posts. Instead, you seemed to downplayed and minimized their actions. You don't get to do that then say, "Of course I condemn" their actions like it is obvious you do. It isn't. By everything you've done so far, you've indicated you don't condemn them. If you truly do condemn them, you should act in a manner indicating such rather than one suggesting the exact opposite.

    Whoa there. You are misinterpreting or taking things completely out of context. My comment about Trump merely relates that I thought this problem he had with muslims was a new thing and the furore at the festival was a direct result of him sowing hatred, perhaps exacerbated by the Paris massacres. So by getting ‘overheated’ all I meant was that the ‘evidence’ presented was, it turns out, several years old (i.e not current and related to Trumps comments) and as it turns out, misleading, not that it wasn’t serious or disturbing.

    You thought the furore at the festival was a result of him sowing hatred...? What in the world gave you that idea? Nobody did anything to remotely suggest that. Your comment makes absolutely no sense because it wasn't responding to anything that was ever said. No wonder I misunderstood it. It was completely nonsensical. You're claiming things nobody ever said are misleading.

    Of course I condemn the tenor of the reaction, it was highly unpleasant, but I have never at any point said ‘you don’t get why I’m saying anything’ at least in the context you seem to be suggesting. Context is everything. Of course I get why you’re saying something.

    Your exact words were:

    Just watched the video jeff posted at 5 .34

    It was a near riot. The police behaved very badly.so many young kids pouring out so much hate and the adults werent much better.i dont understand what point you are making if that is the video jeff originally commented on.

    So I guess I should have said you don't get "anything I'm saying" not "why I'm saying anything." Regardless, the point is I demonstrated Jeff Id clearly misrepresented what happened at the festival in a way which covered up the bigoted actions of this group. During the discussion, I pointed out the video he was using was a dishonestly edited propaganda piece which was completely untrustworthy. You responded by watching the video and saying you didn't understand what point I am making.

    So you watched what had already been clearly identified as bigoted propaganda rather than look at readily available, unbiased evidence. And based on your viewing of this bigoted propaganda, you said you didn't get what piont I was making, even though it was completely obvious the point I was making is that Jeff Id had completely misrepresented the situation by pretending the bigots were innocent victims who had done nothing to provoke the situation. And in case it wasn't obvious, you had the point explained to you in response to your comment... to which you chose to say nothing.

    You're telling us that wasn't due to any sort of bigotry. If so, you watched obvious propaganda that had already been identified as propaganda without realizing it was propaganda. You then failed to understand an incredibly obvious point. I'll take your word that is true. There is a reason I asked if you were an idiot rather than just assuming you were a bigot.

  12. Brandon

    That last comment is not worthy of you.

    This was a long thread Over several days with many people shouting and a lot of ' he said, they said'.

    I was out and about so was not sitting around eagerly waiting for every new comment to be posted, then exhaustively examining it. Because trump had been mentioned I thought ( obviously mistakenly) that this was partially related to his recent comments and to a recent event that jeff Then posted a video to at 5 .34 which i watched. This appeared to show many people attacking a Christian group.

    Gradually the full story behind it was revealed, or had perHaps been revealed earlier, but I had not seen it, or had not put it into context. I did not read every single comment as there seemed to be a lot of repitition and I was not in a position to do more than dip in and out of both your blog and jeffs.

    It is sometimes impossible to understand every nuance, or read every statement or couch replies in ways that can't be misunderstood to an evolving story that takes place over many hours or even days.

    The whole thing was most unpleasant and bigoted.

    Tonyb

  13. tonyb, that's complete BS. Jumping to the conclusion the incident was caused by Donald Trump's actions when nobody anywhere said or suggested anything of the sort is unjustifiable. Pointing out lots of people said lots of things does nothing to excuse coming to believe things nobody said.

    This is particularly true when all the context and information you could have needed was included in the post you were commenting on. You say you didn't have time to read every comment, but all you had to do was read the post.

    Or you could have not read anything at all. The conclusion you came to wasn't based on anything anyone said. It doesn't take time to not conclude things are true without any basis.

    You reached a ridiculous conclusion not connected to anything anyone had said. Your attempts to excuse this are pathetic. You can say my last comment wasn't worthy of me, but quite frankly, you aren't worthy of it. I should be criticizing you far more harshly than I have.

  14. Tony -

    Maybe you missed my question. Do you consider the Lord's Resistance Army to be a part of Christian culture?

  15. Brandon

    My device doesn't support you tube so didn't read jeffs linked comment.

    It is not until well into your second article that you mention there is an uncut version of the video as well as the one jeff posted early on.

    You had already asked us to do homework by reading a previous post and reference to the blackboard but don't you thnk the whole context, and your key point about bigotry would have been better supported if you had actually linked to these two videos in your first article? How was I supposed to know there were two versions? I had never heard of the bible group or of the Arab festival and this additional context is rather fundamental to understanding and then agreeing with the thrust of your argument.

    I think that this sort of debate is best held over two hours at a lecture theatre where all the context can be put over! rather than over three days at two blogs with numerous repetitive comments and misunderstandings.

    However, we are where we are so I apologise for getting hold of the wrong end of the stick and not paymg close enough attention, but don't you think it would have helped the clarity of your position if you had pointed out there were two sticks in the first place?

    Tonyb

  16. Joshua -

    What counts as "Religion-X Culture", though? It's not a very hard-edged thing. If I see myself as part of Religion-X there are always going to be a bunch of other groups whose claims to also be part of it I will reject. But from the outside, what basis do I have for accepting some such claims & rejecting others?

    At one extreme, I think there is a valid position where you just say that Religion-X encompasses anybody who self-describes as being part of Religion-X. From the outside, what basis does one have for differentiating the theological validity of different claims?

    I think the most you can do from the outside is classify groups into "mainstream", :fringe" and so on, on the basis of comparisons between the beliefs and actions of different groups and the size of the resulting similarity sets. This is time dependent, obviously. If you look across time, you'll probably find that mainstream "Christian culture" now has very little in common with what it was a few hundred years ago - what was mainstream becomes fringe & vice versa. Etc etc.

    So on this kind of view, the LRA is "fringe", but I don't think there is a valid basis to say they are "not Christian" unless one is speaking from the inside, as a Christian from a different group, from a doctrinaire position.

    Is ISIS also "fringe", in the same sense? Surely. Is as "fringe-y" as the LRA? I'm no expert, but I doubt it. For example, the links to wahabbism seem clear enough. Wahabbism itself isn't dead-center mainstream, but it's also not totally way-out fringe. Even if most of the wahabbist world rejects ISIS, I think the links are enough to bring ISIS a bit closer to the "mainstream" than something like the LRA - if only a bit.

    I get annoyed by political leaders continually saying that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. I understand that the intent is often to say that ISIS is far-fringe and not representative of the vast majority of Muslims. But ISIS obviously is Muslim, in the sense that they self-describe as Muslim, and they are not as far-fringe as something like the LRA (which is certainly "Christian", in the same sense). ISIS is certainly representative of some materially large number of people who self-describe as Muslims, and the nothing-to-do-with-Islam commentary can seem disingenuous and/or inept.

  17. Tony -

    This is my point:

    Joshua –

    What counts as “Religion-X Culture”, though?

    And I'm sorry to hear about your family member's death, but your family member's death is completely irrelevant to my point.

  18. Slizard -

    I think the most you can do from the outside is classify groups into “mainstream”, :fringe” and so on, on the basis of comparisons between the beliefs and actions of different groups and the size of the resulting similarity sets.

    I agree to some extent, with the caveat that such distinctions are bound to be largely subjective, and often driven by ideological biases. The importance of controlling for those biases can't be understated, IMO - because often the underlying doctrine as stated by "fringe" and "mainstream" are quite similar.

    Which is why I think the a competing approach also needs to be weighed in balance, that that individuals should be judged on their actions rather than affiliation (guilt-by-association) with a group identity that is, often, largely arbitrarily (I mean subjectively) determined.

    What is a "Muslim" culture. Is the it "mainstream" culture of an American Muslim (say an architect, doctor, or scientist)? Is the "Christian" culture that of an American YEC who thinks that homosexuality is sinful or, like Ben Carson, who has a great deal of Christian support, thinks that Darwin's theoretical work was influenced by the devil?

    This is time dependent, obviously.

    Yes, I think that is obvious, but it is also largely ignored.

    Is ISIS also “fringe”, in the same sense? Surely. Is as “fringe-y” as the LRA? I’m no expert, but I doubt it. For example, the links to wahabbism seem clear enough. Wahabbism itself isn’t dead-center mainstream, but it’s also not totally way-out fringe. Even if most of the wahabbist world rejects ISIS, I think the links are enough to bring ISIS a bit closer to the “mainstream” than something like the LRA – if only a bit.

    I recognize the logic of what you're going for here, but I don't accept the full implications of the argument. I certainly know many Muslims who don't recognize any greater similarity in how they apply Islamic doctrine in their lives with how ISIS members apply Islamic doctrine in theirs, as compared to how many American Christians would apply Christian doctrine in their lives compared to the LRA's. And what about comparing someone like Jim Wallis as compared to Frank Gaffney, are they more or less alike as compared to Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Fareed Zakaria relative to al-Baghdadi?

    I think that we are less well-served by this kind of moral equivocation as compared to recognizing that there is damage to be done from facile comparisons, particularly when we consider the strategic objectives of fighting ISIS when there are some 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.

    I get annoyed by political leaders continually saying that ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. I understand that the intent is often to say that ISIS is far-fringe and not representative of the vast majority of Muslims. But ISIS obviously is Muslim, in the sense that they self-describe as Muslim, and they are not as far-fringe as something like the LRA (which is certainly “Christian”, in the same sense). ISIS is certainly representative of some materially large number of people who self-describe as Muslims, and the nothing-to-do-with-Islam commentary can seem disingenuous and/or inept.

    ...and the nothing-to-do-with-Islam commentary can seem disingenuous and/or inept.

    Perhaps. But consider what Malcolm Nance has to say about that. Google him, and see what he says about death cult versus religious group. Consider what he says about the importance of using that frame as compared to the one that you seem to think is more useful.

    Basically, I think that the notion of a "Muslim culture" or a "Christian culture" is pretty meaningless. An interesting contrast is a "Jewish culture," which as a Jew has much more meaning to me, although it has virtually nothing to do with religion

  19. tony -

    Allow me to correct for my poor reading.

    I'm sorry to hear about the family of your co-worker. But the death of your co-worker's family is irrelevant to my point.

  20. So Tony - what is the "Muslim culture."

    What are it's characteristics? Does the "Muslim Culture" include all Muslims who live in, say, Jordan and Iran and Indonesia, and India, the U.S., Russia, Canada, Syrian, Scandinavia, etc.? Do you exclude the Muslims who live in some of those countries? Do you exclude certain individuals in all of those countries?

    How do you account for the cultural differences in an American or Candadian or Iranian Muslim as compared to a Syrian Muslim, or all they all just part of the Muslim culture?

    You used the expression, tony. I'm asking what it means. After you give me the meaning, can you compare it to how you'd describe the "Christian culture?"

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