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“Islamophobia from the likes of Boris Johnson must be punished”

“Islamophobia from the likes of Boris Johnson must be punished – and this is how to do it”, writes Dr Suriyah Bi in the Guardian.

How do we properly punish Islamophobes? As a lecturer in cultural geography at Oxford University, I have used my research skills to draw up an index of Islamophobia to help police, prosecutors, victims and analysts work out when to take legal action and how to map out the routes towards such action. Importantly, this is the first time an index to measure a hate crime has been proposed and it remains an open project. It is inspired by the way crimes such as domestic violence are processed, placing victim testimony and experience at the heart.

Published last week, this index of Islamophobia is accompanied by a pathways-to-prosecution form, which helps identify the laws breached and scores each hate crime on the basis of intensity, intention, impact and recklessness.

How might it work? Let’s look at some flagrant examples of Islamophobia, including Boris Johnson’s infamous comments on burqa-wearing Muslim women as “letterboxes”, the distribution of violence-inducing “Punish a Muslim Day” letters, a headscarf being torn from a Muslim woman, and being called Shamima Begum in the workplace.

The middle two of those would be crimes by any definition (incitement to violence and assault), and the final one is a verbal insult which should not be a crime but which would and should be considered unacceptable behaviour in any decent workplace.

The first one consisted of Boris Johnson making a less than reverential quip about the appearance of women wearing burkas in the process of defending their right to wear them.

When someone suffers from a fear of flying, the usual strategy to help them overcome it is to educate them about how planes work and how safe air travel is, combined with getting them to experience flight in a supportive and friendly environment, so that they can come to realise that their phobia is irrational.

Given that Dr Bi is a lecturer at Oxford, one would think that, as a Muslim herself and an educator at one of our most prominent universities, she would be ideally placed to advise and promote a similar strategy of education and familiarisation in order to dispel Islamophobia. However she appears to think that a strategy of punishment would be more effective.

I was going to stop there. Nice bit of snark, that. I could rely on the reader to supply the conclusion that the correlation between knowledge and fear of flying is negative while the correlation between knowledge and fear of Islam is positive because flying is actually safe while Islam is actually dangerous. But in the spirit of Chr…, er, “the holidays”, let’s look a little deeper.

Over this century, the ideology that has motivated the greatest quantity of massacres, persecution and other violence is, by far, Islam. It has not always been so. For most of my lifetime that place of dishonour was held by Communism. Before that there have been many other prime persecutors, including my own religion, Christianity. Islam has been in the top spot before; probably several times over the centuries. One can certainly argue, as I do, that some ideologies are more prone to this than others. Nazism is the most obvious example of an ideology that simply said “Evil, be thou my good”. The historian Robert Conquest was so great an enemy of Communism that he was called “Anti-Sovietchik No.1”, but even he described Nazism as worse than Communism, and asked to justify why, said, “I feel it in my gut.” If ever a Nazi showed mercy it was because he was tempted away from the tenets of his faith. At the other end of the spectrum, to get from the words and actions of Jesus (“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you”) to the horrors of anti-Jewish pogroms and the Inquisition took a great deal more twisting than it did to get from the words and actions of Mohammed to Muslims executing unbelievers and blasphemers. They were merely doing as Mohammed himself did. That said, there are Hadiths and Koranic verses that enjoin believers to tolerance and mercy. I do not doubt that there are millions of examples of people doing good and refraining from evil because their Muslim faith told them to. The time in my life when I knew most Muslims was when I was a teacher. Most of my pupils and some of my fellow-teachers were Muslims. My Muslim colleagues were great, and the Muslim kids were a little better behaved and nicer to teach than the non-Muslim ones, on average.

To get back to Dr Suriyah Bi, if she ever decided to try persuasion rather than punishment as a means to turn people away from Islamophobia, she would have something to work from. There are plenty of Muslims who you, dear reader whom I am guessing is not a fan of Islam, would like if you got to know them. Perhaps equally important, if more Islamophobes and Islamosceptics got to know more ordinary Muslims, and vice versa, the two groups of people would learn to see each other as less “group” and more “people”. There is something like a healthy state of society when Imran A and Frank B can have a spat via Nextdoor posts or office intranet in which their differing religious beliefs and skin colours do not matter one whit.

Get to know some of Those People so that They only irritate you in the same way that everyone else does! As a strategy to get people to rub along together – that metaphor again – it is as old as time. It may or may not bring about actual amity; the relationship will be different for each of the innumerable pairs of individuals who meet as colleagues or neighbours, but it certainly has a better record than compulsion.

So why doesn’t Dr Bi try something along those lines first, instead of the “pathways-to-prosecution form”? Because members of different racial or religious groups getting to know each other as individuals is the biggest threat to the power of the Woke. As I said in a post called “A Cambridge Education”:

For the Woke, that [lecturers fearing to give one-to-one tuition to minority students lest a careless word is perceived as a racial transgression] is not a bug but a feature. The last thing they want is for minority students to flourish at Cambridge or any other British university. Where would the cadre come from then? The plan is for minority students to emerge angry and embittered at the way their tutors and lecturers never seemed to quite trust them.

I had saved the following tweet by Dr Wanjiru Njoya a few days back and did not think of its applicability to this post until later:

63 comments to “Islamophobia from the likes of Boris Johnson must be punished”

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Could it not be said that Islamophobia is the most natural response to anyone who engages in any in-depth study of Islamic Doctrine?

  • James Strong

    The more any non-muslim learns about islam the more likely he is to come to loathe it.

    If you don’t yet loathe islam read the Koran ( in translation because when it was ‘revealed’ it came in Arabic and it is only that which is really the Koran)and the hadith ( authenticated sayings of mohammed.)

  • Fraser Orr

    In fairness there are lots of pretty loathsome things in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament but also in the New Testament. If you doubt this you might consider that a woman found not a virgin on her wedding night could be stoned to death on her father’s doorstep or consider the fate of the parsimonious Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 4.

    Religious people, Muslims included, are generally nicer people than average. The problem is not religion, it is when people take religion too seriously, when they actually do what their stupid books tell them to do. Fortunately most modern Christians are pretty watered down, going with a “be nice to each other” doctrine far more than a “kill all the Amalekites” doctrine. Fortunately the percentage of Muslims out to kill the infidel is not very large at all.

    Most of the Muslims I know, along with most of the “committed” Christians I know are very nice people who would be far more likely to help the needy that hurt the guilty. So hating someone because their are muslim is really not only stupid but not aligned with valid risk probabilities.

    Which of course isn’t to say that such stupidity should be criminal.

  • Steven R

    Part of immigration was the willingness to integrate and assimilate to cultural norms. But the days of that over. Now we’re supposed to bend over backwards to accomodate newcomers, lest we be called a bigot, which for some reason is the worst thing imaginable. And we’re supposed to allow the native populations to be simply replaced without putting up a fight.

    The future of Europe is Muslim and African, just like the future of the US is Hispanic. It’s too late to change it at this point.

    The Camp of the Saints was prophetic.

  • john in cheshire

    What is islamophobia?
    Is it someone who knows islam for what it is, a pagan death cult?

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    A Quibble

    Annanias and Sapphira swore an oath to God, to whom they professed to believe in enough to sell their property and give all the proceeds of the sale to to fund communal aid to widows and orphans, among other randomly selected and nominally worthy target populations.

    They broke that promise. Knowingly. Then knowingly lied to try and hide the fact.

    Still, Peter did not kill them. The community of Faith they joined did not kill them. The God they professed to be Faithful to killed them.

    I do not doubt Annanias and Sapphira were the only members of the early Church to break their promise to God. But they do seem to be the two who were made an example of, early on, and with justification.

    Had they not been so eager to curry favor with the Christian community by so specifying the percentage of the proceeds of the sale of their property in a public oath to God …

  • alfrim chgo

    Did not the word “index” have great meaning in the Spanish Inquisition?

  • Fraser Orr

    Fan of Slackwire Clowns
    Annanias and Sapphira swore an oath to God,

    So God killed them for telling a lie? I guess it is in line with the idea that we should brutally murder an innocent man for the crimes of other people, and, rather confusingly, call this an act of love. However,that is perhaps a little off topic. My point is that the problem is that most religions have some pretty horrendous ideas, it is just that decent people skip over those parts, and in fact their decency is almost proportional to their willingness to skip over those parts.

    There is plenty wrong with Islamic doctrine but I often like to offer church goers who believe their moral certainty coming from the Bible with this conundrum: three hundred years ago people in your church would have taken it as a given that black people were inferior to white people and subject to them by their nature and would have pointed to verses where it said so; two hundred years ago people (including the women) in your church would have taken it as a given that women were inferior to men and subject to them by their nature and would have pointed to verses where it said so; one hundred years ago people in your church would have said unmarried mothers were mortally sinful and would have pointed to verses in the bible to say so; today in many churches they’d say that gay people were evil in their nature and would have pointed to verses to say so. Fortunately those Bible teachings have been moderated by our collectively determined morality, and that is just as true of Muslims as of anyone else.

    It is no more fair to paint all civilized muslims with the brush of their whacko co-religionists as it is to paint all Christians with the slavery-loving, misogynistic, homophobic forebears of their religion.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    No Fraser, God punished them for breaking an oath, an oath they did not even have have to make.

    It matters when you make make an oath. Which is why humans should be careful about making oaths, to each other, and to God.

    A mastery of words, aligned with an insufficient understanding of when words matter most, allows one to think that what one says does not have to matter, does not ever have to matter. That our words and our promises will have no consequences, and when consequences happen, it is somehow an injustice, a violation of our rights and freedoms.

    That is not “decency”. We like to think it is, which is why your country has had to suffer through Tony Blair, David Cameron, Boris Johnson, and now Rishi Sunak, and why my country has had to suffer through Bill Clinton, the Bushes, Barack Obama, and now Joe Biden, and why the profoundly imperfect words of Donald Trump are the best we can get these days.

    I Pray that both of our countries learn to reject the Cheap Grace of mere “decency”. Even Christopher Hitchens acknowledged that importance of Faith to a healthy country.

  • Steven R

    Even Christopher Hitchens acknowledged that importance of Faith to a healthy country.

    That’s why I follow the words of Lemmy Kilmister, who said, “Believe in Rock & Roll; it’s the only religion that will never let you down.”

    Really, the whole minute and four seconds of this interview clip is worth watching.


  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Steven R

    All religions let us down.

    Religion can easily degenerate into being the flawed report of what sunlight is that the people who hang back in Plato’s Cave get.

    But if your Faith inspires you to be a faithful oath keeper to the people you make promises to, it has already been of benefit to you and the people around you.

    Clement Atlee seems to have been a faithful oath keeper, which is why he was a Prime Minister to be genuinely admired.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Fan of Slackwire Clowns
    No Fraser, God punished them for breaking an oath, an oath they did not even have have to make.

    OK, I’m not entirely sure I understand the distinction, but nonetheless do you think that death is an appropriate punishment for oath breaking? For example, should perjury be a capital offence? How about a doctor who breaks the Hippocratic oath by, for example, selling prescriptions? He should be punished, but do you think that the gallows should be his destination? What about cheating on your taxes? Should tax cheats be sent to the guillotine? Or adulterers or divorcees? Take ’em out back and shoot them?

    And of all oaths — A&S promised money to charity and gave considerably less than the promised. Not ideal, but hardly a capital offense.

  • Steven R

    Fan of Slackwire Clowns wrote: All religions let us down.

    I know. The sheer existence of Nickelback is proof of that.

    Fraser Orr,

    I think part of it is in olden days, a man’s word meant something. If an oath was taken or a promise made, it was a serious matter. Breaking an oath or a promise may very well have been a capital matter in some societies. Wars, vendettas, duels, and blood feuds have been started over broken promises. It may very well have been seen as God not doing the right thing had He let them get away with not doing what they said they would do. It just comes down to a context thing.

    By our standards, killing someone over a broken promise sounds stupid, but that’s also saying something about our society, where a word or a contract may or may not be followed and if it isn’t, what’s the repercussion? Honor and reputations are in short supply these days.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Yes, Fraser.

    That Death is on the menu when you lie too casually, and is always on the menu, should never be forgotten.

    It can be end of life death, or the death of anyone’s trust in you, the unwillingness of people to have anything to do with you, the slowness of people to help you. The last, especially, can lead to death without anyone actually wishing death upon you. They just wanted to steer clear of you.

    So yes, make your “yes” a “yes” and your “no” a “no” and let no one doubt your word.

    And don’t be such a damned Sophist.

    You are too intelligent to be merely clever with your words. Scott Adams can do that!

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Steven R:

    An iron-clad contract is one that includes in it definitions and costs of a breach of contract that both parties have agreed to.

    It assumes that the contract may be broken. Not that it will be broken, but that if it is it is not without cost. That both sides are aware of.

    An iron-clad contract may be the best that humans can achieve.

    Imagine if Shylock had thought to include the weight of the blood involved in his required pound of flesh. I have always thought that the play should end with his daughter sitting outside of her house eating pork every evening to prove she was a true Converso.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    There are two local politicians local to me, both now out of office.

    One promised to vote against a gay marriage bill to curry favor with the conservatives in his district. Then, when he was in a tight election (after redistricting) took money form a Gay rights group, and voted for the bill. The bill was a cinch to pass already, by the way.

    He was voted out of office.

    The other was asked by a Pro-Choice group for his help with a Pro-Choice bill. he told them he could not, because he was Catholic, and pro-life. I didn’t ask if he ever accepted money from them, but I doubt they donated to his campaigns, considering he would not help them.

    He was re-elected twice more after that happened, and got to retire from office.

    Integrity matters. Keeping your word matters.

  • bobby b

    If someone acts to kill concert-goers, or slit old womens’ throats on the subway, or bomb trains, I’m not that concerned with the fantastical historical writings that seem to drive them to do so . . .

    Except for whatever statistical advantage it gives me to predict who might be about to do such things.

    If I felt that I needed to avoid Christians in society because of some 2000-year-old fratricides, or anti-gay writings, I would do so, and I would laugh at Christians who claimed “discrimination.” Of course it’s discrimination.

    And if I felt that I needed to avoid Muslims in society because of some 1000-year-old ranting about how they ought to control everyone else, I would do so, and I would laugh at Muslims who claimed “discrimination.” Of course it’s discrimination.

    Don’t like it? Then work within your own group – your own chosen affinity group – to fix the statistical anomaly that makes your group a higher absolute risk to me.

    Your religious underpinnings mean squat to me. They are your problem. I will pay attention to statistics, thank you. And, at this point, I have a more supportable statistical basis to avoid Muslims qua Muslims than Christians qua Christians.

  • Fan of Dockside Clowns

    Bobby B:

    Westside Baptist is worth avoiding.

    They are more of annoyance than a threat, but an annoyance enough.

    There’s not that many of them, but like a lot of Low-Churchers got, (AJ Cronin wrote about it in The Green Years and Shannons Way) it is all mostly one family.

    I like knowing the worst my Faith offers up amounts primarily to Jim Bakker and Westboro Baptist. When we take off our shoes at the airport, it is because the TSA asked us to, not to light them up on the plane.

  • William O. B'Livion

    Fraser Orr

    @Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    No Fraser, God punished them for breaking an oath, an oath they did not even have have to make.

    OK, I’m not entirely sure I understand the distinction, but nonetheless do you think that death is an appropriate punishment for oath breaking?

    Science tells us what the world is. Religion is there to tell us how to live in it.

    In a world where people live on less than 1 US dollar a day, oaths *matter*. Today, not so much. If someone swears an oath today and breaks it we have lots of recourse, and you (probably) won’t die because of it, unless you do something stupid.

    But 2000 years ago? People lived *very* close to the bone, and someone walking away from their obligation to you could very well kill you.

    This was why they hung horse thieves in the old west. Not because horses were worth a man’s life, but because stealing a mans horse was tantamount to murder, and by killing a few egregious horse thieves you prevent a bunch more dead people.

    People differ on their belief in the old testament. Some say it’s a literal history, and that ever world is *how things actually happened*. Others believe that it’s more a set of morality tails, and that its truth is literal, but not historical.

    Breaking oaths *can* kill people, especially in the past. Thus it is to be stomped on hard.

  • Kirk

    You have to stop and analyze it all in perspective with the question of “Does it work?”

    And “How does this social mechanism actually function? Why do we have it? What purpose does it serve?”

    At the root of it, it’s all behavioral conditioning. You shoot and hang horse thieves when you encounter them so as to establish a general rule: Don’t steal a man’s horse. This is a social mechanism meant to influence behavior on the part of potential horse thieves. If they see a peer horse thief hung, then they have received feedback from their environment that stealing horses ain’t a good idea.

    There are those who are untrainable, who are beyond behavioral modification. These individuals must be culled from the population, by one means or another.

    In the end, however, it’s all about the underlying reasons for all these values and mores, that underlay all of our customs and beliefs. You can’t have people willy-nilly stealing horses, or a lot more people are going to suffer. So, it’s really a mercy to simply shoot the horse thief when you find him.

    This applies across a much broader swath of things than any of us would like to admit to ourselves. The so-called “Justice System” isn’t so much for justice; it has a real role in providing behavioral feedback and modification. You forget that at your peril. If the system does not modify the behavior of the criminal, then it is actually acting to modify the behavior of the criminal’s victims, and they will pay a lot more heed to that than the criminal class will. Which means that instead of the impartial justice of the system serving as a corrective, then the chaotic choices of the mob will. One way or another.

    It’s a lot like electricity. One way or another, it will ground out. What path it takes is up to you; you can be a competent social electrician, and make sure that the path it grounds to serves the general needs of society, or you can do what the average liberal idjit does, and just pay attention to the things that benefit the criminal class, who they have such vast and deep empathy for.

    Won’t last. The lightning bolt will ground, and it won’t be through the things you want it to. The patterns it will leave behind in society won’t be at all pretty.

    People think things are bad, right now. Wait until the general mass of the public no longer bothers involving “the authorities” in their affairs. Private “justice” is going to be a lot more retributive than redistributive.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – Mr Johnson was DEFENDING the right of women to dress up in this way.

    As for “Islamophobia” – the Guardian may once have been a liberal newspaper, although even in the 1930s it was covering up the murder of millions of people by the Marxist Soviet Union, but it is broadly a Marxist publication today, or at least has massive Marxist influence in what it publishes (which does not stop it getting millions from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others – i.e. the de facto alliance between the Marxists and the Corporate State) – using terms such as “Islamophobia” for an attack on Freedom of Speech is what one should expect from the Guardian – it is the old Herbert Marcuse trick of claiming that Freedom of Speech is “repressive tolerance” which “harms disadvantaged groups” (Barack Obama, who had Marxists on BOTH sides of his family, and was for many years involved in Marxist work himself, used the same tactic to undermine Freedom of Speech in American universities – misusing Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, to claim that political dissent “harmed” “disadvantaged groups” of students).

    What is more serious is that organisations that are supposed to be fighting the Marxists sometimes follow the same Frankfurt School Marxist “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” agenda, “Islamophobia” and all, hopefully without understanding what it is. Such organisations that follow this Frankfurt School stuff without knowing what it is (the “Equality Act” of 2010 and so on) include the Conservative Party – I have personal experience of this. By the way – there is no doubt that some legislation in the United Kingdom was influenced by Marxists – for example the Home Office had academic Marxist advisers as far back as the 1970s.

    The effort to “medicalise dissent” (for example present opposition to Islam as a “phobia”) has to be rejected root-and-branch – as does the whole Frankfurt School Marxist “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” agenda – but, for example, Big Business (the Corporations – funded by fiat money and Credit Bubble banking) are not fighting this agenda – they are pushing it. The unholy alliance between Central Bank supported Big Business, the Corporate State, and the Frankfurt School (DEI) Marxists, is destroying the West. Herbert Marcuse, and the rest, may be smiling – as they burn in Hell.

    “Why do the Marxists like Islam?” – they do NOT like Islam, at some point they aim to destroy it. However, presently they regard it as a useful ally against the (dying?) West – and the forces of Islam do not like the Marxists either (in an Islamic Law country there would be no place for the “Guardian” and its writers would be killed – for their atheism, and for their advocacy of various sexual practices), but they also see utility in an alliance against the West. The alliance between the Marxists and the forces of Islam is tactical – once we are dead, they will turn on each other. In the Middle East, for example in Syria, Marxists and Islamists already do kill each other.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “It remains an open project “.

    With lots of juicy funding, no doubt.

    I suppose this person counts as a “hate huckster”, as in race huckster.

  • Paul Marks

    Race-ism-Huckster-ism is no small thing – after end of the First World War many German Marxists became dissatisfied with industrial workers, most of these industrial workers had NOT risen in Marxist Revolution. And so Marxists, German and non German (such as the Italian Gramsci) spent years trying to work out WHY most workers had risen in Marxist Revolution – what cultural reasons led to this “failure” and if changing the culture (the great aim of many modern Marxists from the 1920s and 1930s – but they made little progress till the 1960s).

    It become clear to them that changing the culture (destroying the family, corrupting the churches, and so on) would not be enough – they needed to stop relying on factory workers and miners and so on to build the totalitarian society they (the “intellectuals”) craved.

    Other groups were needed – women via feminism, homosexuals, and (most importantly in the United States) RACIAL and ethnic (Islam is not a race or an ethnicity – many Muslims are paler than I am) groups.

    Yes the “Racial Hucksters” are out to personally profit – and they do personally profit, but they also have a cause – they really do,

    And this cause is the destruction of the West – that “noble aim” (noble in their eyes) justifies, to them it justifies, everything they do – including looting, burning and murder.

    That is the heart of BLM – and other Marxist groups.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Fan of Slackwire Clowns
    It can be end of life death, or the death of anyone’s trust in you, the unwillingness of people to have anything to do with you,

    Wow, you mix those things so casually as if breaking someone’s trust is somehow similar to breaking someone’s neck.

    You are too intelligent to be merely clever with your words.

    You think this is about being “Clever with words”? It is a very small step from “God is justified in killing them for oath breaking” to “God’s ministers are justified in killing them for oath breaking”, and then you have the Inquisition. Surprised? Of course, because nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

    Maybe you think that is ridiculous, but it was the reality of life for most of the past two thousand years in Europe. The only difference is that today we don’t live by a Christian morality in the west, but by a secular enlightenment morality. Christians like to pretend it isn’t so but it evidently is even for them, for they skip over or blur the parts of the Bible that don’t correspond to this new secular morality. One need only ask a Christian about how to deal with homosexuals and you see a form of shiftiness that was not at all present in their Christian grandfathers.

    So this is very relevant to the topic at hand. My point is that Christianity is only different from Islam in the sense that it has been civilized by secular enlightenment. And Islam has the disadvantage that there are still some medieval Islamic countries feeding their purer form of unadulterated religion that some in the west pick up, a disadvantage that Christianity doesn’t have.

    Most Muslims are just as anodyne in their religion as most Christians are, and they are consequently pretty decent people generally speaking. It is why I have often thought that the Church of England is the pinnacle of Western Christianity’s achievement. Lovely and kind to each other and not taking the whole religion or Bible thing too seriously.

  • Fraser Orr

    @William O. B’Livion
    In a world where people live on less than 1 US dollar a day, oaths *matter*.

    Well I think oaths matter today too. But consider far and away the most common form of oath breaking in the Western world. At least 50% of marriages end in divorce, and of those that don’t probably 80% involve some form of adultery. That is definitely a form of oath breaking that causes a great deal of pain and hurt. But is death an appropriate punishment? What Ananias and Saphira did — promising to give a lot to charity but giving less — seems hardly large in comparison to that. One does have a right to dispose of one’s assets however one wants.

    Yet it is only in highly religious countries that people are judicially killed for adultery. (To cite one line from Yes Minister — In the Arab world women are stoned when they commit adultery whereas in the west women commit adultery when they are stoned. 😉) It is a small step indeed from “God is justified in killing them for oath breaking” to “God’s ministers are”, and surely that is not a place we want to return too. Europe had that for a long time and thank God they don’t any more.

  • bobby b

    You can lie to your wife, or to your government, but what do you expect when you lie to Cthulhu? Warm fuzzies? 😉

  • No Fraser, God punished them for breaking an oath, an oath they did not even have have to make. It matters when you make make an oath. Which is why humans should be careful about making oaths, to each other, and to God.

    Indeed an example of the disastrous effects of a non-divine oath is the introduction of The Führer Oath after the death of Paul Hindenburg in 1934. Not only was this seen as a further consolidation of power around Hitler, but it also removed independent freedom of action from the High Command, making military interventions by the High Command against the Nazi regime much more difficult.

    Additional nod to Godwin’s Law is required.

  • Tom Carver

    I thought Boris Johnson’s notorious ‘burka article’ actually made an eloquent, liberal defence of people’s right to wear whatever they want (allowing, at the same time, other people’s right to criticise).
    But then, as Prime Minister, he forced the whole country to wear masks like bank robbers, which I thought was rather illiberal.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    John Galt:

    While I was in yesterday’s Hot Debate with Fraser Orr, I was binging on A Spy Among Friends with Damien Lewis and Guy Pearce and Anna Maxwell Martin.

    The mini-series and the debate merged like a Venn diagram of Entitled Academics and Guardian contributors.

    Have you seen it?

    I don’t know how accurately Guy Pearce is playing Kim Philby, but if he was, Philby must have been one of those people you want to hang out with even though you almost certainly know he is stabbing you in the back at every opportunity.

    In the end, only the Russian could punish Philby for his crimes, with their too complete knowledge of who and what he was, and their resulting and brutal indifference and contempt for him and his friends. They let him drink himself to death because, after all cheap vodka was plentiful in Russia then, and now.

    And Philby chose that death. He was too “intelligent” not to.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    A little reflection from those constantly bleating about ‘Islamophobia’ would be welcome. Consider:

    Why aren’t there pious outcries about Sikhophobia?
    Why aren’t there pious outcries about Hinduphobia?
    Why aren’t there pious outcries about Wiccaphobia?
    Why aren’t there pious outcries about Buddhaphobia?
    Why aren’t there pious outcries about Zoroasatriaphobia?
    Why aren’t there pious outcries about Bahaiphobia?

    Could it be they are unnecessary because adherents of these religions are not alienating the masses by bringing violence to our societies with the aim of earning their seventy-two virgins in paradise by slitting our throats, squashing us under big trucks, or blasting our children into hamburger meat at pop concerts? Is there, just maybe, a slight possibility that this difference in approach accounts for the way the religion is perceived?

  • While I was in yesterday’s Hot Debate with Fraser Orr, I was binging on A Spy Among Friends with Damien Lewis and Guy Pearce and Anna Maxwell Martin.

    The mini-series and the debate merged like a Venn diagram of Entitled Academics and Guardian contributors.

    Have you seen it?

    Sorry, I gave up watching the boob tube in 2008, so unless it is something that is pumped up by the boxed TV sellers on eBay and Amazon, I’m going to miss it.

  • I often like to offer church goers who believe their moral certainty coming from the Bible with this conundrum: three hundred years ago people in your church would have taken it as a given that black people were inferior to white people (Fraser Orr, December 9, 2022 at 11:06 pm)

    There’s no conundrum here – just an argument the woke deploy against Christianity in the third century before the present, and/or against its historically-overlapping phenomena of free enterprise in the third century before the present, and/or against western culture at that time, etc.

    Evangelical William Wilberforce found his arguments in the bible. Dr Johnson said it was wrong to treat Negroes as slaves (Johnson was a more unqualified Christian, and a more zealous churchman, than his biographer Boswell, who details Johnston’s anti-slavery views but then argues that his otherwise-admired friend had here made “a mistake due to prejudice”, and adds a few pages on his own part attempting to defend slavery.) Adam Smith taught that blacks in the Americas were not inferior to the whites who owned them. Contrasting with them, there were also people back then, churchgoers, deists, atheists and others, who indeed took it as given that the differing state of civilisation of black and white states of the time had a racial, not cultural, cause.

    It is not merely consistent with, but pretty-well demanded by, Christian doctrine that all who profess it, with the sole exception of Christ, are sinners, so examples of its being preached and/or practised imperfectly make no conundrum but are to be expected. In the past, when a church hierarchy could be a route to power, as in the present, when wokeness is a route to power, you must expect to see people who profess a fashionable doctrine with publicity but without sincerity.

    “It is no unusual thing to find a vicious persecutor a perfect unbeliever of his own creed.” (Edmund Burke)

    One must disentangle these routine phenomena from what a given doctrine actually says and how it actually influences its more-genuine believers before you can make a secular comparison between Christianity and Islam or Wokeness or … .

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    John Galt:

    Does this help?


    Just the book is available on Amazon right now.

    Some viewers have called is slow and confusing. I’ve seen slower, more confusing. I’ve sat through 2 hours that felt like three.

  • Steven R

    There may have been those that used religion as an excuse for slavery, just as there were those that used the same Bible to condemn it. Either way, slavery has existed since one tribe won the first war against their neighbors.

    When William and his Frenchified-Vikings invaded England in 1066, a full 10% of the English population were chattel slaves. Some were criminals, some were debtors with no way to pay what they owed, but most were just sad sacks taken in raids against the Welsh, Scottish, and Irish. Of course, the flip side of that was the English taken by their Welsh, Scottish, and Irish neighbors who raided, not to mention the Scandinavians who would take slaves and either use and abuse them or sell them in slave markets in the Middle East. It was their new Norman nobility (try saying that three times fast!) who put an end to it. It took about 50 years, but chattel slavery was ended by the time Henry I issued his law regarding it. It may have been because of some moral objection (slavery did not exist in Normandy and William I was noted as invading Wales and liberating English captives there), but it seems more likely that they simply figured out it was cheaper to have free men work the land. Slaves have to be housed, clothed, and fed at the owner’s expense, but sharecropper tenet farmers have to pay their own way, pay rent on the land, and give up part of their crop to the landowners. In time that morphed into serfdom.

    Fast forward 600 years and Europe has essentially unlimited people and limited land. North America has essentially unlimited land and limited people to work it. Since the English colonists didn’t want any filthy Germans or Poles or whatever, the answer was Africans. (That doesn’t include when the English and French were capturing each other in frontier raids and then selling them to landholders in the Caribbean to work on plantations).

    It was a disgusting business in 1066 0r 1766, but history is replete with people being horrible to one another and then finding a way to justify it, whether using religion, economics, revenge, history, or some other idea. It’s just part of the human condition I’m sorry to say

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    Evangelical William Wilberforce found his arguments in the bible.

    Far be it from me to question a great man like Wilberforce, but I think he would have found it hard to find such arguments since they really aren’t readily there without twisting the text into a pretzel. I think it is not true to say that the Bible is pro slavery, but it certainly isn’t anti slavery, in fact I think it would be fair to describe it is mildly pro slavery. This is evidenced through out, such as the famous passage in Ephesians exhorting slaves to obey their masters, of the plain fact that many men considered holy were slave owners. Abraham for example had a child by his slave Hagar. Slaves were released during the jubilee, but this is surely the exception that proves the rule — namely that they weren’t released other times, and were, at other times, legitimately held. Nowhere do we find an exhortation to free all slaves everywhere, or a diatribe on the evils of owning another human being. Which is of course what we would expect in such a book since it reflected the morality of the time.

    The point about Wilberforce was not that he showed the true Christian faith by demanding the freedom of the slaves, but rather it was surprising, it was out of character, it is out of doctrine of the time for him to make such a demand. One may say, probably without much justification, that true Christian, true divine doctrine was always antislavery just that the doctrine as set out by sinful man did not recognize it. But that merely begs the question.

    I’m afraid that the truth is that Wilberforce was a good Christian man who was influenced by the secular enlightenment doctrine he was surrounded with and projected it onto the Bible doctrine. And then with a passionate religious zeal (and from what I read in the historical record, the patience of Job) he brought about a fabulous change.

    In many respects it is both his bravery in the face of implacable opposition from Christian ministers and of course the considerable economic interests at play, that make him such a towering figure, that, of course, along with the many, many people whose lives were liberated and saved by his indefatigable work.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    “You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. This commandment is in the Old Testament, and Jesus emphasized it as one of the most important Commandments of all. And I do not know of any similar idea in the Koran. Muslims take note that Mohammed did not object to slavery when he saw it, as he would have in the marketplaces, so it is okay to own slaves. So Islam has always been pro-slavery. Therefore the Enlightenment could only have occurred in Christian countries, with the doctrine of separation of powers (rending unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, etc.)

  • Steven R

    “It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West; but righteous is he who believeth in Allah and the Last Day and the angels and the Scripture and the prophets; and giveth wealth, for love of Him, to kinsfolk and to orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and to those who ask, and to set slaves free; and observeth proper worship and payeth the poor-due. And those who keep their treaty when they make one, and the patient in tribulation and adversity and time of stress. Such are they who are sincere. Such are the God-fearing.”
    -Surah 2:177

    So it is expressly said that righteous Muslims set free their slaves. Of course, the very next passage says if someone kills one of your slaves, kill one of theirs in retaliation, but that’s neither here nor there. As far as I can tell, the Bible never says “don’t own human beings” or “set them free” but the rather famous “slaves, obey your masters” (Ephesians 6:5) is but one of many passages about slavery.

    In any event, I think it just comes down to ancient peoples doing horrible things to each other and their religious texts reflecting those practices and modern peoples using ancient religious texts to justify doing horrible things to each other.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Slavery and early-Christianity

    These ideas and habits of life the Apostles brought into the new society which so rapidly grew up as the effect of their preaching. As this society included, from the first, faithful of all conditions — rich and poor, slaves and freemen — the Apostles were obliged to utter their beliefs as to the social inequalities which so profoundly divided the Roman world. “For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27-28; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13). From this principle St. Paul draws no political conclusions. It was not his wish, as it was not in his power, to realize Christian equality either by force or by revolt. Such revolutions are not effected of a sudden. Christianity accepts society as it is, influencing it for its transformation through, and only through, individual souls. What it demands in the first place from masters and from slaves is, to live as brethren — commanding with equity, without threatening, remembering that God is the master of all – obeying with fear, but without servile flattery, in simplicity of heart, as they would obey Christ(cf. Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:22-4; 4:1).

    One fact which, in the Church, relieved the condition of the slave was the absence among Christians of the ancient scorn of labour (Cicero, “De off.”, I, xlii; “Pro Flacco”, xviii; “pro domo”, xxxiii; Suetonius, “Claudius, xxii; Seneca, “De beneficiis”, xviii; Valerius Maximus, V, ii, 10). Converts to the new religion knew that Jesus had been a carpenter; they saw St. Paul exercise the occupation of a tentmaker (Acts 18:3; 1 Corinthians 4:12). “Neither did we eat any man’s bread”, said the Apostle, “for nothing, but in labour and in toil we worked night and day, lest we should be chargeable to any of you” (2 Thessalonians 3:8; cf. Acts 20:33, 34). Such an example, given at a time when those who laboured were accounted “the dregs of the city”, and those who did not labour lived on the public bounty, constituted a very efficacious form of preaching. A new sentiment was thereby introduced into the Roman world, while at the same time a formal discipline was being established in the Church. It would have none of those who made a parade of their leisurely curiosity in the Greek and Roman cities (2 Thessalonians 3:11). It declared that those who do not labour do not deserve to be fed (ibid., 10). AChristian was not permitted to live without an occupation (Didache, xii).

    The Church made no account of the social condition of the faithful. Bond and free received the same sacraments. Clerics of servile origin were numerous (St. Jerome, Ep. lxxxii). The very Chair of St. Peter was occupied by men who had been slaves — Pius in the second century, Callistus in the third. So complete — one might almost say, so levelling — was this Christian equality that St. Paul (1 Timothy 6:2), and, later, St. Ignatius (Polyc., iv), are obliged to admonish the slave and the handmaid not to contemn their masters, “believers like them and sharing in the same benefits”.

    In Roman law, neither legitimate marriage, nor regular paternity, nor even impediment to the most unnatural unions had existed for the slave (Digest, XXXVIII, viii, i, (sect) 2; X, 10, (sect) 5). That slaves often endeavoured to override this abominable position is touchingly proved by innumerable mortuary inscriptions; but the name of uxor, which the slave woman takes in these inscriptions, is very precarious, for no law protects her honour, and with her there is no adultery (Digest, XLVIII, v, 6; Cod. Justin., IX, ix, 23). In the Church the marriage of slaves is a sacrament; it possesses”the solidity” of one (St. Basil, Ep. cxcix, 42). The Apostolic Constitutions impose upon the master the duty of making his slave contract “a legitimate marriage” (III, iv; VIII, xxxii). St. John Chrysostom declares that slaves have the marital power over their wives and the paternal over their children (“In Ep. ad Ephes.”, Hom. xxii, 2).

    In the Christian cemeteries there is no difference between the tombs of slaves and those of the free. The inscriptions on pagan sepulchres — whether the columbarium common to all the servants of one household, or the burial plot of a funerary collegium of slaves or freedmen, or isolated tombs — always indicate the servile condition.

    The Church made the enfranchisement of the slave an act of disinterested charity. Pagan masters usually sold him his liberty for his market value, on receipt of his painfully amassed savings (Cicero, “Philipp. VIII”, xi; Seneca “Ep. lxxx”); true Christians gave it to him as an alms. Sometimes the Church redeemed slaves out of its common resources (St. Ignatius, “Polyc.”, 4; Apos. Const., IV, iii). Heroic Christians are known to have sold themselves into slavery to deliver slaves (St. Clement, “Cor.”, 4; “Vita S. Joannis Eleemosynarii” in Acts SS., Jan., II, p. 506).

    Many enfranchised all the slaves they had. In pagan antiquity wholesale enfranchisements are frequent, but they never include all the owner’s slaves, [and] they are always by testamentary disposition [WHEN THEY WERE DEAD] — that is when the owner cannot be impoverished by his own bounty, (Justinian, “Inst.”, I, vii; “Cod. Just.”, VII, iii, 1). Only Christians enfranchised all their slaves in the owner’s lifetime, thus effectually despoiling themselves a considerable part of their fortune (see Allard, “Les esclaves chrétiens”, 4th ed., p. 338). At the beginning of the fifth century, a Roman millionaire, St. Melania, gratuitously granted liberty to so many thousand of slaves that her biographer declares himself unable to give their exact number (Vita S. Melaniae, xxxiv). Palladius mentions eight thousand slaves freed (Hist. Lausiaca, cxix), which, taking the average price of a slave as about $100, would represent a value of $800,000 [1913 dollars].

    […] Christianity did not attack slavery directly; but it acted as though slavery did not exist. By inspiring the best of its children with this heroic charity, examples of which have been given above, it remotely prepared the way for the abolition of slavery. To reproach the Church of the first ages with not having condemned slavery in principle, and with having toleratedit in fact, is to blame it for not having let loose a frightful revolution, in which, perhaps, all civilization would have perished with Roman society. But to say, with Ciccotti (Il tramonto della schiavitù, Fr. tr., 1910, pp. 18, 20), that primitive Christianity had not even “an embryonic vision” of a society in which there should be no slavery, to say that the Fathers of the Church did not feel “the horror of slavery”, is to display either strange ignorance or singular unfairness.

  • Fred Z

    Who killed more people this century, Muslims or adherents of the Covid Vax & Mask religion?

    Keep your focus on the real religious killers and remember that religion takes many forms. The Enviro religionists are gearing up for the largest mass murder the human race has ever known.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Aw geez, Fred Z, why’d you have to throw that hornet’s nest into the debate?

    We’ll be here till Christmas, maybe New Year’s day, and no time to bake cookies and put up decorations.

  • Steven R

    It shouldn’t matter what a politician believes on a personal level. If one is racist, so what? It should only matter what one does in office. So long as everyone is treated equally and fairly and the organs of state aren’t used to single out preferential treatment or deny services based on race, it makes no difference.

    Elizabeth I said she didn’t want windows into mens’ souls, just that they be good Englishmen. Results mattered more than motivations to her. Fast forward five centuries and how someone feels matters more than what the do.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Fan of Slackwire Clowns
    I want to be careful not to get too far from the OP, but it seems to me your comment here is a strawman. The original point is that the lamentation about the Quran allowing or advocating terrible things, while true must surely be countered with the fact that the Bible also allows and advocates terrible things, including slavery.

    To say that some early Christians didn’t practice slavery, or freed their slaves or treated them equally is as entirely orthogonal to this point as it is to say “My friend Imran isn’t at all in favor or blowing himself up in a theater full of teenage girls.” The question is about what the book says, not what people do. Most Muslims do not do the terrible things advocated in the Quran just as most Christians don’t stone their daughters to death if they don’t maintain their chastity.

    Moreover, irrespective of your comments it is very evident from history that Christians were deeply involved in the slave trade and many were owners of slaves, so even your defense doesn’t hold up. (Please don’t tell me about Scotsmen and porridge here.)

    Christianity’s ugly morality has been civilized and blurred over by modern secular, enlightenment morality just as Islam’s has. And we can surely all be thankful for that.

    So, back to the OP, Islamophobia is entirely unfair since the vast majority of Muslims don’t be do or intend to do the terrible things the Quran advocates just and the vast majority of Christians don’t do or intend to do the terrible things the Bible advocates. So fearing a person simply because they are Muslim is both illogical and as unfair as it is to do so to a Christian. To think Muslims pose a particular danger based on the teaching of the Quran would demand that you do the same with regards to that guy wearing a Jesus fish.

    The fact that a small number of Muslims do terrible things is no more justification for fearing or profiling them than the fact that some teenage white boys shoot up schools is justification for fearing or profiling teenage white boys.

  • Steven R (December 11, 2022 at 5:27 pm), in the world of today, I would distrust a politician who had not been called a racist by the PC – and/or various other *ists or *phobes.

    I would also take it for granted that almost everyone was corrupted by woke propaganda to the point of being absurdly over-sensitive to their claims of ‘racism’, absurdly over-ready to suspect it in a remark, even as we imagine ourselves resistant to their indoctrination.

    Only after that was fully allowed for (but definitely, after that was fully allowed for) would I recall Burke’s warning:

    “Never separate the merits of any measure from the character of the men who are concerned in it.”

    and check whether, for example, the so-called ‘racist’ guy was called Adolf and had a silly toothbrush moustache. The leaders of wokeness use ideology to justify their power, but some of their dupes are an object lesson in the fact that the political world is circular. Unlike them, I never quite forget the need to avoid being so far gone you’re coming back.

  • Most Muslims do not do the terrible things advocated in the Quran just as most Christians don’t stone their daughters to death if they don’t maintain their chastity. (Fraser Orr, December 11, 2022 at 7:43 pm)

    I believe Fraser Orr is correct when he says that such terrible things are indeed advocated in the Koran by Mohammed – though the seeming ignorance of the corresponding facts about Christianity did give me slight pause.

    A would-be-stoning Christian would need to be incredibly ignorant of the clear statements of Jesus during the incident of the woman whom Christ saved from men who would have stoned her. (Some managed to be, of course.)

    You can reform a religion back to its founder, but not away from its founder. So, while all religions experience being used by some as a means to power and/or an excuse to express their own prejudices, it does kind of matter whether the founder was known for (among other things) demanding mere sexual morality be a matter of legal crime and punishment, or was instead known for opposing that.

  • bobby b

    “Islamophobia is entirely unfair since the vast majority of Muslims don’t be do or intend to do the terrible things the Quran advocates”

    I do not walk in some parts of Minneapolis at night – I do not go to stores in that area – even though the majority of people there are good people.

    Unfair? Perhaps. But I will continue with this practice. Statistics do not work individually, but do in general. On my side of the equation, “general” is what counts.

  • My prior post reminded me of the only living-memory Christian-locale stoning story I know. When I was in Oxford, I was friends with a Greek student. Many decades before, her (English-national) course tutor, when a student herself, had stayed on a Greek island (one that, my friend told me, was known for being somewhat old-fashioned even by Greek standards of that time) back in the early 1950s, where she had met, fallen in love with and married a Greek man of the island.

    The marriage nearly developed a hitch. The grandmother of the man she was marrying was disgusted that this ‘shameless’ foreign woman had ‘seduced’ a man of the island away from his natural destiny of marrying a woman of the island, or at least a Greek woman. She therefore put on her stoning apron (all the women of her age on the island owned such a garment: an apron with a large front pocket in which the wearer placed the stones prior to use), filled it with suitable stones, and set out to punish the ‘immoral English slut’.

    (You will note the partial influence of Christianity over the centuries even in this backward location. It was now women who stoned women, not men as it had been 2 millenia before.)

    Horrified younger relatives mobilised to interrupt these proceedings, and even relatives of her own age felt that, although their English soon-to-be-inlaw might be improperly forward in her sexual manners by their generation’s standards, stoning her was taking things too far. Grandmother was prevented from casting her first stone – albeit by methods slightly more vigorous than the moral suasion of Jesus.

    My Greek friend assured me that even in the early 1950s, this kind of thing was only to be met with on a small and remote island of that kind.

    Readers may be tempted to think, as I was some decades ago when I heard this, that the physically-vigorous 1950s grandmother must have been going gaga mentally. FWIW, my friend’s tutor and that tutor’s husband regarded it as not that but more a last fragment of the past surviving into the then present, and my friend, from her knowledge of the locale and its past, agreed.

  • Fred Z

    Fan of Slackwire Clowns: Because I’m more concerned about the risk of dying from starvation accelerated hypothermia in a cold and dark room than the risk of being being attacked by a crazed Muslim.

    I can evade the wrath of the Muslims by converting or even pretending to do so. They only want to kill me for not submitting.

    The Greeniards want me dead because they think I’m cluttering the place up, and so is my entire family. There is no evading them, no bargaining or reasoning with them. I and my family are their Jews, and they want us in their final solution.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Well, Fred Z, the good news is those Whingey Student Greenies who have been gluing themselves to the pavement (or was it to the Great Works of art, or both?) are alarmed by the though THE END OF THE WORLD IS COMING!

    So, they will have to be confined and put on Suicide Watch … until the Earth is wholly healed.

    That will be one less delay in your commute.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Has Fraser Orr responded to me?

    Has he said anything cogent or not filled with hatred?

    I wish him the Happiest Holidays his madness allows him.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    A would-be-stoning Christian would need to be incredibly ignorant of the clear statements of Jesus during the incident of the woman whom Christ saved from men who would have stoned her. (Some managed to be, of course.)

    Now Niall you are forcing me to reveal my misspent youth, when I spent many hours studying textual criticism. The passage you refer to here, called the pericope of the adulteress in such lofty academic circles, is widely recognized not to be part of the original text of John, in fact you’ll find a footnote to that effect in nearly every modern Bible (it is John 8:1ff if memory serves me correct.)

    Which isn’t at all meant to be a smug dismissal of your point and certainly not a hateful rant as I am strangely being accused of my by initial interlocutor, but rather more an FYI. I hope I can address your more substantive point.

    Specifically you address the founder, but surely God is the founder, and his character is rather revealed in the Old Testament in a rather terrifying way. And as to Jesus, in the New Testament he may be portrayed as the suffering servant, but his future is one of all conquering, all vanquishing warrior. So perhaps we can get lost in dispensationalism, but let’s not. Let’s instead recognize that many Christians look to the Old Testament for their inspiration when it is convenient, picking the parts that are useful to their points and skipping the embarrassing bits, and so are no better off in that regards than Muslims.

    My beef is not with Christians or Muslims, who have been largely civilized by secular, enlightenment morality, and are almost all lovely, productive and intelligent people. Rather my beef is with the horrible texts on which they base their professed beliefs, and my point here is that Christians who vilify the Quran should probably look a bit closer at their texts before they are too certain in their condemnation

    I am reminded of the very pericope of the adulteress you mention. As Christians pick up rocks to cast at the Quran, perhaps they might well consider “he whose book is without sin should cast the first stone.”

  • Zack

    Note: I tried to edit a block quote error in previous message and some spelling mistakes, but it timed me out and now I can’t edit my original post – can a moderator fix or delete the original/duplicate post – sorry for the inconvenience. [Edit by NS: As requested, I have deleted the previous comment.]

    My beef is not with Christians or Muslims, who have been largely civilized by secular, enlightenment morality…Rather my beef is with the horrible texts on which they base their professed beliefs, and my point here is that Christians who vilify the Quran should probably look a bit closer at their texts before they are too certain in their condemnation

    And I would say that you should actually study the Bible (and Christian History) in depth, as the shallow understanding you are expressing here is leading you to condemn wat you do not understand.

    First, I think it’s worth pointing out while yes, there is a lot of violence in the Old Testament, and even reference in Jewish law, this does not mean it’s approved. In this discussion you have made a big deal of the Bible’s approval of slavery, but have ignore Paul’s Epistle to Philemon were he instructs Philemon on the treatment of a slave One′simus telling him

    that you might have him back for ever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

    IE Christians are to treat their slaves not as property but as brothers.

    And this isn’t a radical departure from the OT, but a natural development from it. Slavery in the Old Testament was governed by laws which made it a more humane institution than slavery in the surrounding Pagan cultures (or even the supposedly enlightened post renaissance Europe, when slavery made a comeback) . First, slavery in ancient Israel was voluntary. The poor sold themselves into slavery (Lev. 25:35, 47). Kidnapping was not only banned, it was punishable by death (Ex. 21:16; Dt. 24:7). Second, slavery was temporary. The slave could be released through the payment of a relative or even by making a personal payment (Lev. 25:48-49). If no payment was made, slaves were released after their sixth year of service (Ex. 21:2; Dt. 15:12). Third, slaves were treated humanely: given a day of rest (Ex. 20:10), released from masters who caused physical injury (Ex. 21:26-27), and runaway slaves were given safe harbor (Dt. 23:15-16). These OT laws make the chattel slavery common in the Pagan world and turn it (effectively, if not in name) into what we would today call indentured servitude.

    What I think you fail to realize that purpose of the laws and commandments in the OT are not to establish and ideal situation on Earth but to manage an evil situation in society. One of the key themes of the Bible, (OT and NT) is that man is imperfect and cannot achieve perfection on his own, but should turn to God in repentance and accept his grace, which is what we need to become better more virtuous people – so that a new heart is created with in us (too many old testament verses to quote/reference them all, but if you want one I like psalm 51).

    I suspect you’re reject this, but most of the improvements you credit the ‘enlightenment’ for were actually the result of Christianity. Lets start by looking the subject that started this, slavery. Slavery has existed in every culture and society through out human history, and it was only Christendom that slavery slowly died out. By the 6th and 7th Christians were forbidden to engage in the slave trade in much of France and Italy (notable exception being Venice for mercantile reasons) and in 873 Pope John VIII declared the emancipation of all Christians slaves in Christendom. This took longer in areas were there were large pagan populations – the slave trade wasn’t abolished in the British Isles, the German or Slavic lands until the 12th or 13th centuries. By this point slavery was all but abolished in most of Europe – and it was done under the auspice of Christianity.

    Slavery persisted in the Iberian Peninsula (the only place in Europe at that time with a large and powerful Pagan culture along side Christian ones) until after the Reconquista was complete, but it was these powers that were the most active European slave trade in the America’s(despite the Pope Eugene and Pope Paul III issuing bulls in the early 1500’s against the slavery in their colonies in the Canary Islands and the America’s). Of course, the Protestant Dutch, Belgians and British weren’t Catholic and wouldn’t let a Papal Bull stop them from setting up profitable plantations (it didn’t stop the Portuguese or Spanish).

    You will claim that it was ‘enlightenment values’ emphasizing humanities natural rights, and the brotherhood of man – but you don’t ask were that value came from. It wasn’t from logic or reason, as various Greek and Roman philosophers – some of the smartest thinkers in history – never argued that. They accepted slavery as natural and normal. No, the Christian thinkers of Late Antiquity and the Medieval Europe that first articulated these principals. When Lord Mansfield said in the somerset Case:

    The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England

    he may as well have been quoting Pope Gregory the Great

    Since our Redeemer, the Maker of every creature, was pleased mercifully to assume human flesh in order to break the chain of slavery in which we were held captive, and restore us to our pristine liberty, it is right that men, whom nature from the beginning produced free, and whom the law of nations has subjected to the yoke of slavery, should be restored by the benefit of manumission to the liberty in which they were born.

    – he (and the Protestants who lead the Abolitionist movement in England and America) we certainly appealing to a millennia old Christian tradition.

    And it’s not just slavery – see this video detailing how the OT addresses the treatment of female captives. Many anti-theists have tried to argue that the Bible supports sex slavery, but a look at the context of the quotes they are mining show the opposite.

    The fact of the matter is that the rise in Christianity has been one of the best things to happen to mankind. It saw the end of human sacrifice and decline (if not total abandonment) of abortion that was rife in the pagan Europe, the decline of superstition and witch hunts (see the Council of Paderborn which declared belief in magic and witchcraft as a superstition and said that witch-hunters that caused the death of accused witches should themselves be executed), the founding of the first universities, or the fact that the church taught against torture (Pope Nicholas I, letters to the Bulgars, or the 4th Latrean Council) amongst other things. And what has happened as Christianity has retreated? An increase in superstitious belief in witchcraft and the occult, an increase in abortion, the growth in murderous totalitarian athiest regimes (from the Terror of the French Revolution, to murderous Communist Regimes, all the result of ‘enlightenment’ philosophies), or the growth in destructive large scale war, and industrial slaughter – a lot of bad has come along with our ‘advancement’.

    Look, I’m not saying that Christendom was perfect and faultless (nothing human ever is), or that the ‘enlightenment’ was a total disaster – far from it. I’m just saying the view you have put forward in this thread (and other threads were this has come up when I’ve lurked in the comments) is simplistic and shallow to the point of being wrong.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Thank you, Zack, for being more thorough than I am patient enough to be.

    I assume that if it the sun is visible in the sky I don’t have to say that it is not nighttime, except under obviously unique circumstances.

    I prefer to use my time trying to figure out how to add walnuts to a recipe for cranberry bread without turning it into a fruitcake (when I have already, of necessity, swapped out the orange zest and orange juice for lemon zest and lemon juice).

  • The passage you refer to here, called the pericope of the adulteress in such lofty academic circles, is widely recognized not to be part of the original text of John. (Fraser Orr, December 12, 2022 at 1:46 am)

    I’m a bit surprised you raise this, firstly because of its irrelevance to the immediate point under discussion that led to it, and secondly because if it meant anything then it would appear to tell against your argument.

    1) As regards the less off-topic point of relevancy, obviously the incident is in the final text and distinctively Johannine in style. So when you claimed that the reason

    most Christians don’t stone their daughters to death if they don’t maintain their chastity (Fraser Orr, December 11, 2022 at 7:43 pm)

    was because they had become more civilised than their religion, not because they were civilised by it, after which I replied that any would-be-stoning Christian father would need to be incredibly ignorant of that strong no-stoning message not to be acting against their formal beliefs (and any daughter incredibly ignorant of the opportunities it gave her to object not to think of them), then I do not see how your point could have relevance because it would be only very very little less unlikely for a stoning father to know of that textual issue’s existence, let alone use it to claim the right to stone-on-a-technicality, as one might put it.

    2) More off-topic, but relevant to my surprise you raised it, is that if one claimed it meant anything non-trivial then it would seem to undermine your case. Annotated bible write-ups I’m familiar with accept it happened while noting the point you mention. But suppose for the sake of argument, we reject the conventional explanations of this. Suppose we instead reject the idea that this incident is in the bible because John witnessed it i.e. because it happened. We then seem to dismiss explanations that attribute some conventional-sexual-mores feelings or politenesses to the very first Christian writers of it, and instead replace them with the idea that early Christians were so against stoning that they fabricated a tale to condemn it. That does not seem helpful to your contention that christian fathers were civilised out of stoning errant daughters not by Christianity but in spite of it. (We’re well off topic now. If you want to drop this particular issue, agreeing to disagree, OK by me. Of course, if you want more debate on it, be my guest. The issue has its innate interest, but none with respect to this thread AFAICS.)

    Which isn’t at all meant to be a smug dismissal of your point and certainly not a hateful rant as I am strangely being accused of my by initial interlocutor, but rather more an FYI.

    I heard about that long ago. (Much rubbish is advanced under the guise of textual criticism but also many perfectly legitimate points worthy of discussion.) It was perfectly legitimate to mention it – no ‘hate-filled rant’. As regards what slackwire was – I guess – talking about, the stuff slackwire called ‘hateful rant’ I would call incorrect or misinterpreted (as, no doubt you would call stuff in my replies 🙂 ). Although I can understand slackwire’s impatience – you will recall my pointed analogy to the argument style of the woke much earlier in the thread – I don’t think ‘hateful rant’ is fair to you (or helpful to the discussion). I share Zack’s puzzlement that you appear so reluctant to note the strong overlap between the decline of slavery and the development of Christianity. Zack’s “simplistic and shallow to the point of being wrong” is a bit harsher than my style in this thread (I think), but it has its analogy to my ‘reminiscent of the woke arguing style’ criticism. I hope this spells everything out clearly. IMNSHO, this blog has benefitted from information and thoughts you’ve posted from time to time. I recall your being sent four ballots – and only voting one – in the recent election, even as you felt the absurdity of being an honest voter in Pritzker’s Chicago-dominated Illinois. And of course I believe my own opinions benefit from the challenge of debate.

  • Thank you, Zack, for being more thorough than I am patient enough to be. (Fan of Slackwire Clowns, December 12, 2022 at 11:01 am)

    As the old poem on the bible proverb has it:

    Patience is a virtue,
    Catch it if you can;
    Seldom found in woman,
    Never in a man.

    Prejudice does not all run one way. 🙂

    Zack, I also noted the work you’d put in. I’ve written about this before, but usually from the Elizabethan and later AngloSphere PoV. As you may well know, Mansfield was echoing a 1570s ruling of Elizabethan judges.

  • Fraser Orr

    First one general comment, I’m happy to discuss this more, but I’m getting a little uncomfortable that this isn’t the right forum for discussing such matters, hermeneutics is not part of the remit of this blog. I have tried to stay focused on the actual OP and my original point, but it is drifting off into “there be dragons” territory.

    there is a lot of violence in the Old Testament, and even reference in Jewish law, this does not mean it’s approved.

    I suggest you consider why Saul lost his job as king. It was because he wasn’t sufficiently violent. You can read the disgusting story in First Samuel 15. So God not only demanded the murdering of babies, but failure to execute this genocide was a firing offence apparently. Such stories are replete.

    IE Christians are to treat their slaves not as property but as brothers.

    I’m afraid that this says exactly the opposite of what you think it does. It tells Timothy to treat Philemon not as a slave but as a brother. This is an excellent example of the exception proving the rule (as I mentioned previously regarding the jubilee). That Timothy had to be so instructed indicates that this was NOT the normal practice. If you walk into a room with ten sinks and one has a sign saying “Potable water”, it tells you that the others aren’t reliably potable, and if you say “treat this specific slave as a brother” it tells us that we can’t expect other slaves to be so treated.

    Slavery in the Old Testament was governed by laws which made it a more humane institution than slavery in the surrounding Pagan cultures

    Is it your claim that God could not have banned slavery at least among his own “select” people? I mean he can ban eating pork or picking up firewood on the Sabbath, but not enslaving people? That seems a shocking claim. Is God less powerful than Abraham Lincoln or William Wilberforce? The rest of your comment is an interesting examination of history (some of the things you mentioned I didn’t know, and when I get a bit of time I’ll probably try to read about them.) But they are all rather irrelevant to the point. As I said my beef is not with the Christians themselves but with their book. Many Christians have done many wonderful things, as is also true of many Muslims — after all, we would not even have had the enlightenment were it not for Muslim scholars.

    This idea that the Quran is terrible and the Bible is angelic doesn’t hold up. As I said: “Let he whose book is without sin cast the first stone.” And this, if I may round back to the OP, is the point.

    We hear that Islamophobia is justified because the Quran says this or that terrible thing. But the same indictment can be made to justify Chirstian-o-phobia based on some of the horrible things their book says. However, this is silly because the vast majority of Muslims, like the vast majority of Christians may profess belief in their book but in reality only believe and practice the bits that agree with a morality imposed by secular enlightenment values and ignore the nasty bits. I mean do I really need to set you Christians on edge by asking about whether homosexuals are worthy of death, or how common is disease inspired by evil spirits or whether you are in favor of burning witches? I mean do I need to go on with some of the batshit crazy stuff in there? You are all modern sophisticated people who will surely eschew such nonsense in your Bible. And thank god that that is true. In a sense it is a praise of both Muslims and Christians that they have the good sense to do this, and those who don’t are truly scary people.

    I’ll try to get back to @Naill a bit later today if I can find the time since I think he says some interesting things — as he usually does.

  • Paul Marks

    Frasor Orr – Christianity was founded by Jesus, Islam was founded by Muhammed.

    If you believe that the lives (the deeds – the behaviour) of Jesus and Muhammed were similar, or what they taught was similar – you are mistaken Sir.

    As for many Muslims not following the example (the life – the deeds) of Muhammed and the verses he claimed had been revealed to him from God, Muhammed had an answer for that.

    Muhammed taught that those who claimed to be Muslims, but did not follow his personal example and the versus he claimed to be composed by God, were “hypocrites” and he ordered that they be killed.

    Remember the laws that Muhammed laid down, he claimed to be from God (Allah) – and that, therefore, these laws can not be changed by any Earthly authority.

    There has also been some discussion of slavery – Jesus neither owned or traded in slaves, you can look up Muhammed’s life in relation to slaves (and the laws that Muhammed stated Allah had laid down concerning slaves) for yourself Sir.

    I am not sure whether it is legal, in the United Kingdom, to type out what I have just typed – it would not be legal, in the United Kingdom, to say these things out loud in a public place. However, what I have typed is the truth. Such Prime Ministers as Gladstone and Winston Churchill also wrote such things – but this country had much more freedom of speech back then.

    If anyone wants to know what Jesus taught – they should read the Gospels. Reading the rest of the New Testament would also be helpful – although there are different points of view expressed in the New Testament – for example the tension between the Epistle of James (justification by faith and works – which led to Dr Martin Luther calling the Epistle of James an “Epistle of Straw”) and the teaching of Paul (which seems a bit nearer justification by faith alone).

    If anyone wants to know what Muhammed taught they should read the Koran (unlike the Bible – the Koran is one work, not lots of different works written by different people over centuries, indeed Dr Martin Luther took books out of the Bible, and most people do not even seem to know this), and the Hadiths (the sayings of Muhammed – but remembering that there are three classifications of reliability concerning the Hadiths) and the life of Muhammed.

    Reading the classic commentaries on these Islamic scriptures would also, of course, be helpful.

    Lastly Fraser Orr on your claims about the beliefs of Jews – reading the Talmud might be of help to you Sir (although you may have already done so Sir). Many scholars of the Common Law of England (Christians – not Jews) suggested reading the Talmud – to sharpen ones legal thinking.

    Muhammed himself could not read the Talmud or read the Jewish Torah either – but he did notice a Jewish habit that he condemned.

    This was using one’s hand to cover certain passages of the Torah – in case one accidently read them out loud and some ignorant people (who had not read the Talmud). say, stoned someone to death.

    Muhammed condemned this practice of covering up parts of the Torah with one’s hand (when reading aloud) – when his followers, the Muslims, called upon Jews to “raise your hand” it was not a request for surrender (Jewish communities were not to be tolerated in Arabia), it was an attack upon the Jewish practice of putting one’s hand over certain parts of scripture when reading aloud.

    To be fair to Muhammed, it should be noted that he did not exterminate the Jews – some were taken into slavery, and it is pointed out (to this day) that this act of relative kindness cost Muhammed very dearly, he was poisoned by a Jewish woman (in retaliation for his killing of her family, and her own enslavement), and suffered years of great suffering before he died, due to ill health brought on by his being poisoned.

  • Paul Marks

    Still short version.

    No Mr Alexander Johnson was not an “Islamophobe” (“Islamophobe” like “Islamophobia” is a nonsense word – it is trying to “medicalise dissent” as a “phobia”).

    And, no, people should not be punished for publicly attacking Islam, or Christianity, or Judaism.

    Some attacks on Christianity and Judaism are based on ignorance – but I defend the right of people to launch ignorant attacks on both Judaism and Christianity.

    After all, in Islamic law, only the Islamic texts in Classical Arabic have any value – translations are legally worthless. And I can not read Arabic – so, as far as all the Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence (both Sunni and Shia) are concerned, I am ignorant myself.

  • Zack

    Thank you for lead Niall, I actually did not know that. I’m an American and so my knowledge of English jurisprudence is not as deep as it could be I will have to look into that more, which should prove interesting.

    Also, upon rereading my comment, it appears I came off much more sternly then I had intented, and if I had offended Fraser or anyone else, please accept my apologies.

    but it is drifting off into “there be dragons” territory.

    Fair Enough, I’m going to reply and then I will leave this subject in this thread be.

    I suggest you consider why Saul lost his job as king. It was because he wasn’t sufficiently violent. You can read the disgusting story in First Samuel 15. So God not only demanded the murdering of babies, but failure to execute this genocide was a firing offence apparently. Such stories are replete.

    this actually a good example of what I was critiquing in my original post – you are taking a simple reading of the quote and ignoring the larger cultural context. The Bible is not the Quran, Christians do not claim it was received as a literal transcription from God. We believe it was inspired by God, but written by men who have certan cultural context and baggage (and this is were things like Sacred Tradition, and (if you are Catholic) the Magisterial Authority of the Church come in, but that’s way far afield for now).

    We have to remember that the Old Testament was written in the first millennia BC, and is Near Eastern and not Western in style. One of the defining traits of all of the writings that survive from that time and place is what is often called hagiographic hyperbole. If you look at Egyptian or Hittite or Assyrian inscryptions, you’ll often see how they claimed to have ‘utterly destroyed’ and their enemies in battle and ‘wiped them off the so that not one soldier survived’ (in the case of one Pharoah, these marvelous victories famously happen closer and closer to home until the enemy sues for peace at the gates of one of the major Egyptian cities).

    Look at the Book of Joshua and some early examples in Judges – we see multiple times that the Israelites ‘utterly destroyed’ the Ammorites and Cannanites but in the next chapter or later books we see that the Cannanites are still around in the same area (often the same cities that were “made utter heaps for ever”). Clearly there is hagiographic hyperbole going on here.

    Concerning Saul specifically, the book of Samuel makes it clear that he has a track record of disobeying God, and the final straw in this situation is that he takes a ton of plunder and war booty when he was commanded not too (and honestly, I the scene were Samuel calls him on it could pass for a modern comedy sketch without much reworking. I think it’s one of the underrated scenes in the Bible).

    Anyway if you are interested in developing a deeper understanding the Bible and the context in which it is written, and thus understand Christianity, I think you need to do more study. Youtube Channel Inspiring Philosophy has a few video’s that work as a good introduction to this subject. If you want a more detailed and deeper overview then I recommend the Lord of Spirits podcast.

    I’m afraid that this says exactly the opposite of what you think it does. It tells Timothy to treat Philemon not as a slave but as a brother. This is an excellent example of the exception proving the rule…..and if you say “treat this specific slave as a brother” it tells us that we can’t expect other slaves to be so treated.

    It shows that the rule in the Roman world is to treat slaves like chattel, and that Christians are called to be the exception treat them like brothers. This is supported as every time slavery is mentioned in the NT it is done in a way that emphasizes their basic equality(such as “whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit”). The only statement in the NT that is even close to being neutral on the subject is in Colosian 3 were Paul tells slaves to obey their masters and masters to treat teir slaves justly. When reading the Bible, do you really conclude not that Christians should consider slaves like their brothers in Christ and love them and treat them accordingly, but that Christians should think slavery was OK, and that Christians could treat slaves as chattel just like the Romans did? Sorry, but if that’s how you read the Bible, then I must say your methodology is severely deficient.

    Is it your claim that God could not have banned slavery at least among his own “select” people? I mean he can ban eating pork or picking up firewood on the Sabbath, but not enslaving people? That seems a shocking claim.

    to quote Jesus

    And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.

    And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    I’m claiming that God takes people from where they are and works to make them better and more moral. At the time of the Exodus the Israelites worshiped false Gods, sacrificing their own children by burning them alive. You can’t take somem one who was an invalid their entire life and can now walk and then demand they run a marathon. You need to build them up and strengthen them first.

    Look at how the Israelites at the time of the Exodus – they engaged in slavery, sold their own daughters to pagan temples to be ‘sacred’ prostitutes, broke vows and covenants – they time and turned away from God and did the abominable. Yet, God remained loyal, disciplined and taught them and by the time of Christ they were a much more moral people then they once were (again not perfect, far from it. But better). Then Christianity came and took those moral improvements of the Jewish people, and brought them to the Gentiles and transformed Europe.

    You know the tree by it’s fruit. That’s why I brought up the history of the end of slavery in my previous post. These things didn’t happen in the Islamic lands, or India or China or the Pagan America’s – they happened in Christendom. You say that you don’t have a problem with Christians, but with the Bible – well it’s the values of the Bible and the teachings and traditions of the Church which are rooted in the Bible that produced the spiritual fruit that made the West great.

    Now ponder this – all the madness that we see going on in the West today from the rise in irrational totalitarian movements, the cultural marxist trans bullies, the eco-doomerism, etc. – it all coincides with the west turning it’s back on Christianity and the Bible.

    I understand that correlation is not causation, but the fact remains that the West had such a marked improvement when it took the Bible and Christianity seriously, and is going mad when it stopped taking them seriously. It may not be 6 sigma proof positive about what way the causation flows, but I do consider it strong proof that maybe there is something to this whole Christianity thing.

    OK, sermon over, you may go in peace 😛

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Niall, Zack:

    Bravo, Zack, a Sermon and an Exegesis in one, and both good.

    Niall, would you prefer to call what you wrote a Sermon, an Exegesis, or both. Bravo as well.

    I feel the need to apologize for my lack of skill as an Apologist, and for the pun I just dropped.

    I needed time away today. The wifi router in Mom’s apartment, upon which we four adult children depend on to keep three nanny cams going to keep on an eye on Mom for some reason had the power cord for a printer plugged into it, and is on the fritz. If I cannot fix the thing tomorrow, there’s a store not far where the internet provider will be able to provide a new router for free.

    Then I had to get home and make Chicken Noodle Soup from scratch (the ingredients prepped in advance)

    I got into this because I have an unofficial motto: Promises made must be kept. and in over my head because I find it easier to be accurate and honest than pleasant sometimes.

    I kind of hijacked the feed, but it was informative, I hope?

    My name “2HandForgedArtillery” comes from meeting a group of historical recreationists specializing in the English Civil War. They commemorated the Battle of Monmouth (at which a relative of George Washington commanded the Royalists) in Wales in 1997, using muskets and cannons (including a multi-barreled piece that took an hour to reload), swords, and clothes they had main themselves. The picture of them is on the wall above this PC.

  • Fraser Orr

    Also, upon rereading my comment, it appears I came off much more sternly then I had intented, and if I had offended Fraser or anyone else, please accept my apologies.

    Not at all. I found what you wrote interesting, my only complaint would be that it was a bit of a strawman.

    The Bible is not the Quran, Christians do not claim it was received as a literal transcription from God.

    This comment made me smile a little. It reminded me of that saying “life is like a box of chocolates”. As an atheist I’m pretty simple to debate, you probably know what I believe before we start, but when it comes to Christians it is a bit like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. So many people with such widely diverse viewpoints claim the moniker Christian. There are LOTS of Christians who think that the Bible was dictated by God. They even reference the Bible to demonstrate it with that lovely word theopneustos, God breathed. I also find it curious how often Christians speak with such absolute certainty as to what Christians believe, when there is an amazingly large variation in doctrine from one Church to the next.

    It reminded me of the late and lamented Hitchens from whom I think the box of Chocolates line came from (well after Tom Hanks anyways.)

    Wrapping up, however, I still think that death for not being entirely forthright about ones charitable giving seems a bit harsh.

    Nonetheless, I’m going to give victory in this debate to the Christians on a TKO. They certainly win on loquaciousness, rhetorical ingenuity and zeal if not correctness. I, on the other hand, will recognize that I should eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow I will die. So I will thank you and Naill for a fun and interesting debate and wish you all a Merry Christmas.

  • So I will thank you and Niall for a fun and interesting debate and wish you all a Merry Christmas.

    Likewise, and a happy new year, to you, Zack, Slackwire, Paul, Bobby, Kirk, Fred, Tom, Zerren, Nicholas, Johnathan, Stephen, William, James (both) and John – and to Natalie, who can add this to her many experiences of the thread of her post drifting away from the main OP point. I appreciate the good humour from all with which this is wrapping up.

    I also find it curious how often Christians speak with such absolute certainty as to what Christians believe

    I wonder if even libertarians are wise to deploy this argument.

    – On the one hand, I think libertarians can sometimes be – as C.S.Lewis put it of Christians – poor at distinguishing the various meanings of ‘my’ in ‘my beliefs’.

    – On the other hand, we do assert some key core beliefs. We believe in free speech even for our cancel-culturing enemies (and so also believe we are, for that reason amongst others, better than them – much as Christians may compare themselves with advantage to Muslims). Does anyone remember commenter Nullius-in-Verba, who claimed to be as much or more libertarian than any of us while extending an ‘unless it causes harm’ free-speech exemption until it covered the mere hypothetical possibility of what cancel-culture now calls ‘stochastic terrorism’ – after which some loquacious and zealous criticism, not least from me, eventually (i’m guessing) caused NiV to take that brand of libertarianism elsewhere (a pity in a way – I found the effort of reviewing Nullian arguments enlightening, though rarely accepting of them, plus NiV could be quite free-speech-supporting when the subject was not one that touched a nerve)? And even core beliefs land you in defining edge cases; see for example, our debate about public order enforcement during ceremonials related to the Queen’s funeral.

    I think those of us here who are Christian typically assimilate ‘free speech even for enemies’ to the more demanding Christian rule – or use it as a substitute. I find the idea of enduring unfair remarks by my enemies a very acceptable and sufficient alternative to putting up with seventy times seven punches on the cheek – or even one. The ‘zeal’ that Fraser sees in me may, like Trump’s loudness in the face of the woke, owe more to temperament than to pure high-minded principle. If you’ve read to this point, you surely realise the ‘loquaciousness’ certainly does. 🙂

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I admit that I had not known about that Surah before, and it does seem like a general order, which can be applied to anyone. How come Muslims seem more likely to own slaves, and to support the slave-trade? Must there be a source of slaves so that Muslims can set them free?
    As to the morality of having slaves, what were the alternatives? Quite a few people would have been soldiers on a losing battle. Do you release them, and risk them refighting you, or do you kill them, or turn them into slaves?

  • TDK

    Get to know some of Those People so that They only irritate you in the same way that everyone else does! As a strategy to get people to rub along together – that metaphor again – it is as old as time.

    I don’t disagree that this is probably the best approach but…

    The problem is that there are countless examples of people living side by side for decades in comparative peace and then suddenly there is division, rape and death. One only has to think of India, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, etc etc for examples.

    Saxons, Viking and Britons lived together for hundreds of years and apart from DNA evidence it’s hard to distinguish. However there is still a legacy of the difference between Normans and the English in language, last names, property, etc. It just goes to show that short term living side by side is not sufficient.