The Economist Evaluates: Obama on Christianity’s history of Violence ,Charlie Hebdo and the limits of ‘Free Speech’, and The Self-Pity of Jonathan Chait , a comment by Political Observer

E.W. is author of the rambling essay titled Anxious Sensitivity under the rubric of Political Correctness, in which she/he engages in an evaluation of events, opinions, comments, that share a perceived common theme, expressed in that rubric and title. Here  is the ‘offending’ passage in the President’s address that has provoked the rhetorical animus of Christian Apologists:

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

If this recitation of historical fact makes Christian apologists ‘uncomfortable’, they are uncomfortable with the facts of their own history, or simply, in their response to this historical precis, confronting their own spiritual/historical hubris?

After all ‘Faith’ is the triumph of ‘revelation’ over fact, the empirical: Kierkegaard’s Knight of Faith in Fear and Trembling experiences the ‘absurdity’ of faith as it’s proof: Soren reveled in and rebuked the Hegelian dialectic in equal measure i.e. he embraced the inherent schizophrenia of the Christian Mystery!

Here is what the Christian Apologist’s ignore, because it is politically inconvenient to their agenda, in President’s address:

So this is not unique to one group or one religion.  There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.  In today’s world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance. But God compels us to try.  And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe.

And, first, we should start with some basic humility.  I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right and that God speaks only to us, and doesn’t speak to others, that God only cares about us and doesn’t care about others, that somehow we alone are in possession of the truth.

Our job is not to ask that God respond to our notion of truth — our job is to be true to Him, His word, and His commandments.  And we should assume humbly that we’re confused and don’t always know what we’re doing and we’re staggering and stumbling towards Him, and have some humility in that process.  And that means we have to speak up against those who would misuse His name to justify oppression, or violence, or hatred with that fierce certainty.  No God condones terror.  No grievance justifies the taking of innocent lives, or the oppression of those who are weaker or fewer in number.

And so, as people of faith, we are summoned to push back against those who try to distort our religion — any religion — for their own nihilistic ends.  And here at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom — freedom of religion — the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination.

On the question of Charlie Hebdo: it is a publication of a politically exploitable Islamophobia as a function of a retrograde Colonial apologetics, and about the complete failure at integrating the immigrants from colonies into French civic life, the 2005 riots in the banlieues being utterly indicative. Holding the Prophet up to unrelenting ridicule was/is a cowardly attack on the whole of that population. Hebdo’s main target was the Prophet and by implication the entire immigrant community.

And on the question of Charlie Hebdo’s proffered relation to the Enlightenment, one need only read Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary to see the various rhetorical modes of irony as practiced by the paradigmatic figure of the French Enlightenment. Even in his scandalous, even vulgar La Pucelle d’Orléans took place within the evolving Deist tradition.

On the question of Jonathan Chait’s New York Magazine self-serving revival of Mr. Dinesh D’Souza thesis, presented in Illiberal Education, see Glenn Greenwald’s essay that provides a readable, enlightened  criticism of Mr. Chait’s exercise in self-justification. Not to speak of his un-becombing self-pity, heavily garnished with the kind of horror stories that made Mr. D’Souza’s potboiler a best seller.  Be forewarned, Mr. Chait’s essay is the purest form of hysteria mongering, and as such requires your patience and forbearance.

Political Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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1 Response to The Economist Evaluates: Obama on Christianity’s history of Violence ,Charlie Hebdo and the limits of ‘Free Speech’, and The Self-Pity of Jonathan Chait , a comment by Political Observer

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