Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Moose Is Loose in Texas

Why am I the only one who gets caught saying excessively blunt things about people on Left Behinds? Antid Oto gets away with it, but every single one of the people I viciously criticize seems to check his or her trackbacks. When is George Pataki going to chastise AO for being mean?

Most recently, this guy Kenny (click there for the rather long but entertaining exchange) caught me, Antid Oto, and Neda harshing on him (in a slightly histrionic comment, I called his site "scary," "backwards," and "hateful." Oopsie.). He went so far as to write a new post about our discussion a couple days ago.

I think what perturbed me and Neda at the time was this post, in which he wrote that "I've argued for a long time that what cripples Arabs most is their culture of hate." I replied that "you denounce hatred in a hateful way, making all sorts of anthropological judgements that run contrary to my experience with Arabs and that align rather too neatly with the distortions of American media bias." To which he replied, "I think perhaps when you say 'hateful way' you mean 'in a way that I detest' rather than 'in a way that bespeaks hatred on your part.'" No, not at all. I can tell when I'm in the company of someone who uses language precisely, and I meant that he wrote in a way bespeaking hatred. Perhaps it was a hatred derived from a lack of exposure to Arab culture, but in any case it wasn't very pretty. How would he feel if someone wrote "I have long argued that what has always hobbled Texas rednecks is their racism and stupidity, and the following article reinforces that preexisting belief." Actually, I guess that's pretty close to what Neda and I were saying in the comments. Heh. (for the record, I have good friends from Texas, I love Ann Richards and King of the Hill, and I even regularly wear a T-shirt that says "The Moose Is Loose in Texas.").

My big problem with evangelical Christians like Kenny is that they're always so damned nice and polite that it's hard to maintain any sense of indignation. However, I thought I'd put it at the top of LB, in case Antid Oto and Neda might want to reply. And Kenny, I'm going to reply to your last comment in the comments here, so please feel free to reply here.

10 Comments:

  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Oh, one more thing. The article Kenny originally cited as reinforcement of his preexisting opinions rather reminded me of this article. As Antid Oto wrote, "It makes my skin crawl. It would be like reading a Jewish writer getting paid to write stuff about how Jews really are conniving and money-hungry, and it's a serious problem for America. For a non-Jewish audience and non-Jewish editors."

     
  • At 4:37 PM, Blogger Ken Pierce said…

    >
    Actually, that's pretty much what Neda and I were saying in the comments. Heh.
    >

    [laughing] See, how am I supposed to maintain any indignation my own self against somebody willing to laugh at himself even before I get a chance to?

    All I can tell you is that insofar as I feel anything toward Palestinians caught in the cycle of hatred (obviously they are to a large degree abstractions for me and therefore my feelings are not engaged to the extent they are with Kazakh orphans), what I feel is pity, not hatred. I realize that most people would much prefer to be hated rather than pitied but I can't very well help that. If you imagine a person whose child is trapped in serious drug addiction, then I think you can see that the more you love the child the more desperately you want to cure the addition, and saying truthfully, "My kid is addicted to drugs and it's going to destroy him if he doesn't break the addiction," is hardly evidence that you hate him.

    And of course I suppose you realize that I know that there are many individual Palestinians who in fact are not caught up in that hatred, including those whom I am fortunate enough to know personally.

    As far as the "making the skin crawl" thing -- well, that rather presumes that her take is inaccurate, doesn't it? If she genuinely believes that what she says is true -- I realize you don't believe it is but there's no reason she couldn't honestly disagree with you -- then calling for reform is something she ought to be doing. I don't suppose you take at all kindly to it when some Bill O'Reilly wannabe says you're a traitor to your country and that you make his skin crawl, every time you point out some place where you think American society is seriously messed up. Saying you think somebody is mistaken is on rather a different level from saying you think they are a traitor to their people.

    (I realize I'm rather oversimplifying the topics of loyalty and patriotism but my comments are always too long as it is.)

     
  • At 5:01 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    First of all, Kenny, when I lumped you in with "such people" I think Solomon is too polite to, it really had absolutely nothing to do with you. I didn't even really read what you wrote. It was more about a whole series of discussions Solomon had been having in lots of other places with people who really were nuts, where he tried to be all polite and forbearing, and they got nutsier and nutsier.

    In real life, incidentally, Solomon is way more confrontational than me. Isn't that always the way? He's on a campaign now to get me to attend events and heckle.

    As to this:

    well, that rather presumes that her take is inaccurate, doesn't it? If she genuinely believes that what she says is true -- I realize you don't believe it is but there's no reason she couldn't honestly disagree with you -- then calling for reform is something she ought to be doing.

    Cynthia Tucker is saying, in so many words, that black men have their problems because they really are shiftless and indolent. You're damn straight I presume that to be inaccurate. Do you really expect me to entertain the notion that's something about which it's possible to have a legitimate disagreement? Do you really believe it is something about which it's possible to have legitimate disagreement? No, to me trying to legitimize racist stereotypes is just wrong. Worse, racist white people will use Tucker's article to validate their bigotry, and she knows it. It's the reason why she can sell such a giant turd in the first place.

    Now, Bill O'Reilly. I don't give a shit if I make Bill O'Reilly's skin crawl. In fact, if I ever did I would consider it a HUGE feather in my cap. (Or a huge falafel in my loins.) But "traitor" implies a very specific threat. We jail traitors. Sometimes we even execute them.

     
  • At 5:02 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ok, now I'll (longwindedly) reply to a couple points you made in the comments yesterday.

    First, when I accused you of committing the fallacy of hypostasization, I was teasing you, because I had indeed read your blog and know that it's your personal hobbyhorse, the way that begging the question is mine (which is why I was mildly outraged (for the record, since we're having communication problems, that's a deliberate oxymoron) when you accused me of begging the question). That's why I wrote "look it up" and put a winking emoticon.

    However, I think that you actually did commit the fallacy, whereas I did not question-beg. Heh.

    You kept attributing to "you guys" points that I or Neda made individually, in a way that made the argument of "us guys" sound more inconsistent and question-begging than it actually was. Neda was the only one who made a real critique (that you seemed to ignore the logical inconsistencies of your argument, probably because of religious convictions -- I suspect she was using your post as an example of a general trend, but I'll let her speak for herself). The closest she came to question-begging was calling certain opinions "disturbing," but I think she only said that as in "some of these opinions are especially worthy of attention." Her critique could just as easily work without the word 'disturbing.' But when you attribute to her all my extra emotional adjectives it makes her sound hysterical and illogical, which she is not.

    Anyhow, enough of the pedantic stuff. This all started because you were kind enough to reply to my question about Left Behinders. Along those lines, I'm curious about the following point you made (in reaction to this throwaway joke: "Too bad there's no historical documentation of this 'Jesus' character, or we could really get to the bottom of this.").

    You wrote:

    I returned to Christianity from agnosticism precisely because of the quality of the historical documentation, which was something that as a young agnostic I didn't know enough to pay attention to. Whatever standard you're using to set the bar for what constitutes "historical documentation" is a standard that would (if consistently applied) rule out most of what we think we know about people of the ancient world. For example, nobody doubts that the elder Pliny died at Pompeii, despite the comparative paucity of documentation of that event. The difference between the critical apparatus when one is reading, say, Suetonius or Xenephon, and the critical apparatus in the New Testament, is staggering, and the comparison is very much not in favor of Xenephon. You can, if you want, argue that the accuracy of the historical documentation is suspect because it was written by partisans / contains accounts of miracles; but that is quite a different thing from saying that there is no documentation at all.

    If I had been speaking seriously instead of cracking a joke, I indeed would have said that 1) I don't know much about this and 2) From what I gather, the historical documentation is deeply suspect and partisan.

    For the record, prior to the past year or so I was proudly ignorant of early Christian history, but I've been playing a bit of catchup (i.e., some Google searches, a couple PBS documentaries, and skimming the recent Harold Bloom Jesus book).

    My understanding is that the historical documentation was thoroughly altered and corrupted by later church leaders, and that there is almost no independent historical documentation of the life of Jesus.

    Shoot, in the 20 minutes I've been drinking coffee and writing this reply, you've already replied to my first comment.

     
  • At 5:04 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    By the way, other than George Pataki (who totally had it coming) and Ed Towns (ditto), who have I ever been mean to? You can slide that pat of butter right on into my mouth; I'll keep it safe for ya.

     
  • At 5:08 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Antid Oto, I think Kenny was referring to the Darwish article rather than the Cynthia Tucker turd. The Darwish piece was a lot more measured than the Tucker, but I thought there were some parallels, especially in the way it would be used by people hostile to Arabs.

     
  • At 5:25 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    who have i ever been mean to??

    It's true that you reserve your worst rancor for "the people" (as in "people are fucking stupid").

     
  • At 7:05 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Come on. You're taking that out of context. I was only talking about people who believe in ESP, haunted houses, ghosts, telepathy, channeling, or witches. It's not my fault that that turns out to be 75% of the public.

     
  • At 7:47 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Oh, I get it with the Darwish/Tucker thing. My bad.

     
  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Ah, talked with Neda last night, and she hasn't had time to respond, but one of her points was that Kenny's argument that "the problem with Arabs is that they're full of hate" starts with a deeply wrongheaded assumption, namely that talking about "a people" in such generalized terms, attributing individual emotions to them, is at at valid.

    In fact, it seems like another infraction of the fallacy of hypostasization... Tut tut...

     

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