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Monday, November 5, 2007

Here I Go Again Opening a Can of Worms

First the disclaimer for anyone prone to jumping to conclusions and extrapolating: I am not trying to extol or excoriate any faith. I am trying to make a specific point, that is it.
Background: Ann Coulter made some remarks that were typical of Ann Coulter. Here is the transcript--
Slash-and-burn columnist Ann Coulter shocked a cable TV talk-show audience Monday when she declared that Jews need to be "perfected" by becoming Christians, and that America would be better off if everyone were Christian.
Coulter made the remarkable statements during an often heated appearance to promote her new book on advertising guru Donny Deutsch's CNBC show "The Big Idea."
In response to a question from Deutsch asking Coulter if "it would be better if we were all Christian," the controversial columnist responded: "Yes."
"We should all be Christian?" Deutsch repeated.
"Yes," Coulter responded, asking Deutsch, who is Jewish, if he would like to "come to church with me."
Deutsch, pressing Coulter further, asked, "We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians?" She responded: "Yeah."
Coulter deflected Deutsch's assertion that her comments were anti-Semitic, matter-of-factly telling the show's obviously upset host, "That is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews."
The commentary:
OK, I am not directly commenting on the remarks of Coulter. I am commenting here on the reaction to Coulter. Particularly that of Michael Savage. I am not a Michael Savage fan but I have never thought ill of him either. I just figured that he was another talk show host, interchangeable with any other one. Then I heard him going off on callers over the Ann Coulter thing. Several people called in to defend Coulter. They argued that her remarks reflect the Christian belief that Christ fulfilled the prophecies of the old testament and thus from the Christian perspective Judaism is obsolete. I am paraphrasing but that was the main point the callers made. Savage just exploded, shouted them down. Insulted them and called them "gutter dragging anti-Semites", "bigots"and many other vile names.
Now this is what I find interesting about the whole exchange. There seems to be a strange trend in modern discourse where no one understands what it means to believe. If someone believes, truly believes that god A is the only god. Then there cannot be any possibility within there belief for god B. Therefore, if another person believes in god B, the believer in god A has to (in accordance with his own belief) believe that the believer in god B is wrong. There is no way around it. To sanction the belief in god B is to invalidate the belief in god A. This is not bigotry, it is simply belief. The believer in god A can respect the believer in god B and accept their right to believe in god B but they cannot accept belief in god B as valid.
In the scenario above, if Coulter believes that Christ is the messiah of the Old Testament then she is completely correct within her belief to think that all Jews who reject him as messiah are wrong and hope for their conversion. To think otherwise would be contrary to her own belief and thus invalidate her belief.
Savages remarks and accusations were far more bigoted than Coulter's. One man who called in said that Coulter was hoping that the Jews would be "completed" by conversion. Savage started shouting that he was saying that Jews were only 1/3 or a 1/5 complete spiritual beings because they were not Christians. This is absurd. If a Christian takes his faith seriously then he has to believe that anyone who isn't a Christian is incomplete, is wrong. The same goes for any other religious system. Believing that someone is wrong is not bigotry.
I don't expect any better of people than this miserable failure to think and debate. It would be nice however if the people with the public forums would stop and think before they react. If you follow Savage's logic its wrong to believe anything that is exclusionary of what anyone else believes. Therefore you have to believe everything, but since beliefs are mutually exclusive you must believe in nothing. You cannot believe in nothing, even pure science leaves gaps that must be filled in with conjecture and the scientist has faith in his conjectures.
It all comes back to the fact that no one seems to understand what it means to believe, to respect and to tolerate.

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About Me

I am a husband and a father of two. I work as a network administrator. I am interested in religion and philosophy, though mostly from an external perspective.