Good Sense on Goode

The Times-Dispatch this morning quite properly takes Virgil Goode to task for his bigoted comments about Islam in a staff editorial. Well done!

The only quibble here is with the RTD’s observation that, contrary to Goode’s paranoia, “Christianity’s status as the country’s dominant creed is not under siege.” This is (for the moment) correct, but even if it weren’t there’d be no excuse for Goode’s behavior.

This is an important point because, in the long term, I’m not so sure the RTD is right to suggest the religious “preferences” of the American populace will be predominantly “Christian” in the many generations to come. The long-term trend is towards increased religious diversity as well as growing numbers of skeptics, heretics, and other unorthodox views (as well as old-fashioned atheism), and everyone (most especially the Virgil Goodes of the world) is going to have to get used to that without resorting to immature outbursts of the kind seen this week.

Goode would do well to re-read (or I suspect, have a first read) of Locke’s “Letter Concerning Toleration.” As Locke so eloquently argued, religious belief that is coerced or imposed isn’t religious belief at all.

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Published in: on December 23, 2006 at 2:03 pm  Comments (4)  

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  1. “The only quibble here is with the RTD’s observation that, contrary to Goode’s paranoia, “Christianity’s status as the country’s dominant creed is not under siege.” This is (for the moment) correct, but even if it weren’t there’d be no excuse for Goode’s behavior.”

    I believe RT-Ds editors were (politely) caricaturizing the drum-beating maniacs who, like mischevious teens in high school, are pulling every fire alarm they can find. I’m not sure they’d excuse Goode’s remarks under any circumstance.

    But I do think that Todd Culbertson — soon to be Ed. Page Editor — is a little overbearing with relious overtones, otherwise. I have attempted to read his columns before…they were more like sermons.

    In fact, my New Year’s resolution is to always be certain to have 50-cents in my pocket, when coming across a Culbertson column. This way I am ready for the collection basket.

  2. Personally, I think the TD take on Goode’s remarks was a copout. It’s become all to common for people to disregard anothers view by spitting accusations of bigotry and intolerance instead of engaging and persuading. I owe my own increasing acidic demeanor to an excess of conversations with people who use this stunt to shut off debate. I used to be a pretty mild mannered guy.

    Islam must reform itself or there is going to be continued conflict. Ironically, Islam in practice (and practice is the only thing that matters) runs counter to just about every ideal we supposedly cherish…equality, free will…all that stuff. Yet the very people who can’t wait to have a round table discussion about how incredibly brave and vitally important they are to the continued progress of all humanity (journalists)are scared to death to point out the obvious for fear of ending up with a fatwa stabbed to their chest like Theo Van Gogh. So we pretend Islam is no different than Scientology and hope against common sense that they’ll grow out of it like Tom Cruise or Madonna eventually will.

    People are no longer dependent on a carefully metered flow of news anymore. We see whats happening in France. We see whats happening in Britain, even if the networks and papers avoid reporting on the riots, violence and threats from islamists. We see the conflict in India, Thailand, the Philipines, Somalia and Bosnia. We hear the words of Irans president. We know what CAIR really thinks of Shari’a laws place in America and their opinion of Jews because we have access to their own words.

    So piling on Virgil Goode might make you feel like you’ve done a noble thing but, in reality, all you’ve done is present yourself as someone who is afraid to confront and discuss what will be a very serious issue in coming years. You can either join the debate or sit on the sidelines shouting “LET’S NOT LISTEN”.

    A good place to start would be to apply the same level of scrutiny and judgementalism to the muslim community as we do to the christian community. To do otherwise renders your opinion worthless.

    Mr Goode speaks for a whole lot of people. Calling them names isn’t going to make them go away/

  3. Islam is incredibly diverse, just like Christianity. Broad-based generalizations are not helpful. I’m all for serious discussions of religion and believe it’s reasonable to ask people to give an account of why they believe what they believe. So are many Muslims.

    Some of them are involved with the interfaith journal I’m on the board of, CrossCurrents (www.crosscurrents.org). Check out this 2003 article by one of my colleagues, Eboo Patel, for an example http://www.crosscurrents.org/Patelsummer2003.htm

    What was offensive, and yes, bigoted, about Goode’s remarks was the notion that you cannot be a Muslim and a good American. Perhaps there are some Muslims in the U.S. who have the long-term goal of setting up a theocracy here, the same goal some Christian fundamentalists cherish. But a Muslim who works through the existing system and gets elected as a representative is clearly not someone aiming to set up a theocracy. Indeed, even if you’re deeply skeptical of the compatability of many strains of Islam with liberal democracy, then someone like Keith Ellison is precisely the sort of Muslim you should be trying to encourage and welcome.

    As to whether Mr. Goode speaks for a whole lot of people or not, that’s completely immaterial to evaluating the substance of his words. They aren’t going to go away, but minds and attitudes can change, and that’s what this is about.

    Speaking of not going away, neither are the millions of Muslims here in the United States, let alone the one billion worldwide.

  4. Yes, I especially like the way differing strains of Islam celebrate diversity. I imagine they’re celebrating diversity in Bagdhad right now. And Kashmir and Somalia and Turkey and Kurdistan and Afganistan and Saudi Arabia ..well…you get the point.

    I’m not ready to axcept Mr. Ellisons (aka Kieth Hakim, Kieth X Ellison, Kieth Ellison Muhammad) freshly minted image as a moderate. I’m deeply cynical of anyone who converts to Louis Farrakhans “Islam”. Anyone who will not admit that there is a viciously hateful racial attraction there isn’t to be taken seriously. His infatuation with glorifying cop killers also bothers me. This might enhance his chances for tenure but, I don’t think it’s a hobby suitable for a congressman.(I should say that my own father was a Henrico police officer who was shot 3 times in 1983 by a man named Jerome Abdul Mutee Muhammad Richardson. So I might be a bit biased.)

    Having said that, I don’t really care about his religion or what book he takes his oath on. I think all religion is voodoo bulls**t so, theatrics don’t impress me. Perhaps Mr. Ellison has matured and “grown”, though I seriously doubt it.

    As for Goode….my point is this…until the same level of contempt is directed at bigoted racial and religious minorities as was heaped on Mr. Goode, then there can be no serious discussion. It’s just simply idiotic for the media that was intimidated into self censorship over a silly cartoon keeps telling us that people like Goode are BAAAAD but, people who use threats and violence are just misunderstood. Actions speak louder than words. If Islam is such a peaceful religion and, if those muslims living here just want to get along, then why is everyone afraid to criticize them??? Christianity didn’t jump up one day and spontaneously reform itself. It took centuries of criticism and pressure.

    And another thing I worry about is the day when those fundementalist christians we all like to mock and ridicule finally figure out just how effective random violence, threats and intimidation can be when it comes to shutting up critics. We don’t need to hand them a working model.


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