Barack Obama, Scripture & Secular Humanism…

James:
In the following link (http://hankhanegraaff.blogspot.com/2008/08/barack-obamas-twisting-of-scriptures.html)
Hank Hanegraaff corrects Obama’s misguided understanding of scripture; among others that are served include: Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins.

JB:

What’s his take on McCain?  Just want to put in context since those are the two candidates?

James:

McCain wasn’t arogant enough to make such silly statements concerning the Creator of the universe or was smart enough to know his limitations (i.e. knowledge of scripture); take your pick (this is not to suggest that McCain has never said anything akin to the statements at hand, he may very well have) !

BTW, Obama is like a lot of so-called Christians who think they are allowed to harmonize the bible with thier sinful view of the world but don’t realize that Christianity is a narrow road (e.g. no difference in believing in Christ and believing in the Bible). It is hard to believe a man (like Obama) who states that he has put his trust and faith in an ogre (the biblical God) who “supports slavery” and is petty enough to call eating “shellfish” an abomination!

TA:

I agree with James in that I would be curious to see his take on McCain. To me he is a man who seems truly indifferent and phony on all things spiritual. I know we’re all sinners and all that, but what he did to his first wife was disgraceful. And he called his current wife a c**t publicly, in front of a reporter no less. I don’t know how y’all wives would take that, but rest assured I’d be single if I did that. McCain doesn’t speak about scripture because he has never been remotely interested in such matters. He only engages to the extent that he has to politically; i.e, pro-life, against gay marriage, etc. James E., I won’t pretend to be in the same universe as you in regards to Biblical knowledge, but I recall when I was doing my best to read scripture, it talked a lot about helping those less fortunate. Do the Republicans truly govern in accordance with scripture? And I do remember you telling me that all sins are equal, right? So assume I’m correct in assuming that the Republican party would not pass muster as a  scripture based party, then it seems obvious that it is a Christian person’s duty to vote for who he or she believes is most competent to govern this nation. In issues of war and peace, economics, and strategic planning on issues like energy and America’s antiquated infrastructure, would McCain/Palin or Obama / Biden do a better job. My choice is Obama / Biden. I feel he has the intellectual gravitas and brilliance rarely seen in a public servant, and coupled with Biden’s experience they make a hell of a team. We can’t afford to waste another 8 years being governed by folks that don’t think it’s all that important to do it effectively. I had the fortunate experience of going to China for a week this summer and let me tell you, America may be the most “powerful” nation in the world, but I can’t tell. Shanghai is more advanced than any city in America, period. It’s time for America to get back on it’s game.

James:

All sins are equal in that no matter which kind of sin you commit it is still a transgression against God’s will. However, sins do have certain weights attached to them in terms of seriousness. For example, in the Bible, homosexuality is dealt with by stoning due to the agregious nature of that particular sin; however, there are other sins do not require the immediate death of the transgressor. Therefore, all sins are not equal. There is actually a sin in the bible for which there is no forgiveness available either in this life or in the life to come (the ressurection).

I appreciate your comments about McCain if in fact they are true, however, your argument about the republican party not taking care of the “poor folks” is unfortunately without merit. Both administrations do an equally good and bad job in that arena depending upon where you want to shine the spotlight. I would actually argue that republicans do a better job but that is a converation for another email.

The biggest problem with injecting Christianity into the criteria is that the Democratic party in general is overtly an anti-God party. What I mean by this assertion is, despite the fact that God specifically states that he hates the homosexual lifestyle and the killing of millions of innocent babies, and the redefinition of the first institution he created (marriage) etc. the democratic party embraces these sins while at the same time trying to present themselves as “Christians.” Unfortunately for democrats that like to play Christian, most people understand that anyone who calls themself a christian but do not believe in God’s laws (regarding homosexuallity, murdering of the innocent, redefining marriage), is really lying. In scripture there is actually no distinction between believing in God and believing in his Word; the two are really the same thing.

RR:

I actually agree that both sides are pretty bad at taking care of any poor folks b/c their execution sucks.

I mean, let’s face it. Poor people can vote, but can’t really contribute to society as much by their very defintiion. They don’t have the $ to make an impact on others b/c people usually only respect guns or $, which most of the world has figured out one way or the other…

Really, it’s the lobbyists, left unchecked, that are the ones that take care of the rich folks.. although allow legislation to create and sanction loopholes & tax breaks definitely help their cause more than the “poor folks” cause, so I think the ideal democratic argument that the republicans “don’t care about the poor & are out for the rich” is probably based more upon the legislatory impact of focusing on the rich in an effort to reach the poor. (traditional trickle down econ theory). I think most people sitting at the end of a Thanksgiving dinner table would tell you that trickle-down economics may be a good idea on paper, but you usually end up finding most of the stuffing missing by the time it gets to you. 🙂

I was curious at the comment “the democratic party embraces these sins while at the same time trying to present themselves as ‘Christians'””. Namely, that this is internally consistent. The accepted democratic ideal is to associate personally but make decisions agnostically (specifically: in the absence of any religious influence). The challenge is to convince someone with strong religious conviction that doesn’t care about agnostic decision making (e.g. faith-based decision making in its place) that this is a GOOD idea, so I believe the complexity comes in with the extent that they have to be persuasive (politicians) but agnostic (“ideal”).

I can see where they might get clotheslined with some hypocrisy there. To someone making faith-based decisions, the logic of agnostics is going to fall short, so even the argument that “I’m personally Christian” would fall short of being a successful conversion, which is why I think most of the time they don’t really try TOO hard to make the case… It’s definitely a tough job for them either way, though… I wouldn’t want that job!

James:

I would argue that both sides have the “lobbyist” problem you refer to so I’m not sure if it is sensible to attribute this only to the republican party. Also, I’m not sure that I agree with you definition of the democratic ideal and must ask where you derived this definition. Even so, “secular humanism” (even according to the supreme court) is a religion, so I would argue that they have done a bad job at keeping to your “democratic ideal.”

RR:

Man, this is really making me think… I’m glad I don’t have to make these responses real-time, b/c I’m “out of shape” when it comes to this arguing thing… Let’s see if these make any sense to you.

In response to sentence one, I did not make the claim that lobbyists are only a problem of the republican party, but it appears you raised it as a claim. If you wish to refute this unspoken claim, you may, and I would heartily agree. 🙂 I think your intended argument would be, in terms of lobbyists, perhaps republican lobbyists are lobbying for better causes and being more successful in general than democratic lobbyists, as you insinuated in your response to Travis earlier. I suspect there are numerous examples and counterexamples that could be offered on both sides to explain success, failure, and compromising of either sides ideals, so I won’t approach the topic further. Usually in a traditional 2-sided debate, this is where either party would start lobbing numerous examples and expect them, like grenades, to deter or obliterate the other side. I just see it as a waste of time, really.

In response to sentence two, the democratic ideal I referred to (“…democratic ideal is to associate personally but make decisions agnostically…”) is frankly common knowledge. Furthermore, you were utilizing this same common knowledge by assumption in your argument, “[the] Democratic party in general is overtly an anti-God party.” So to the extent that it is common knowledge, at least common enough for you to agree to, and utilize it in argument against Democrats, I see no benefit in defining it and question why you would even ask for a definition… Anyhow. That only leaves me with 3 conclusions.

1) If you would like to take back that you didn’t intend that in your earlier message, that’s ok.

2) Otherwise, if you would like to disagree with yourself, then that would be even MORE interesting than refuting a claim I actually didn’t make, but agree to.

3) Finally, if 1 & 2 fail, I suspect you may have the urge at this point to “clarify” your message. That’s OK. Even McCain had to do that regarding his most recent analysis of the economy, so at least you’ll be in good company! 🙂

With respect to your comment on secular humanism, I would ask you to clarify your argument with a citation, but I decided to bring more out of the “argument” experience and actually do some research. What I found was that there are sites that claim the Supreme Court recognizes SH as a religion by way of a footnote in which it was bundled in by reference to including it in a category of likeness with non-God religions. Notwithstanding the court’s consistent denial of this explicilty and publically, people are free to read too far into this interpretation of a comment as they will. Even if you are willing to believe in and defend the “footnote fallacy”, you should be aware that in the case of the law, the last rule standing is the one that overrides predefined rules. (And, of course, thanks to Roe v. Wade, we are all painfully aware of this affect in our desire to overturn and/or not overturn it.) With that in mind, please read the following, which was established and explicitly identified in the BODY of a case (not as an indirect comment-by-footnote) and done so in 1994, not 1961… It also refers to their previous concurrence of this philosophy in another court case before 94 and after 61…

We reject this claim because neither the Supreme Court, nor this circuit, has ever held that evolutionism or secular humanism are “religions” for Establishment Clause purposes. Indeed, both the dictionary definition of religion(4) and the clear weight of the case law(5) are to the contrary.

If you still wish to claim that secular humanism is respected as a religion by the supreme court, I simply ask for a citation. I would love to entertain one, as I would surely learn from it. Otherwise, I would recommend you (personally) should discontinue this claim as I know you would, since you are a person that demands proof and defensible logic from your positions.


And in this case, unfortunately, the supreme court rulings are not in any religious text, so faith-based backing for this argument will not hold, although I would respect it if did/could. 🙂

*pong*

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.
Source: Ecclesiastes (ch. IX, v. 10)

James:

First of all, let me start out by commending you for actually examining the response I sent out earlier and checking whether the statements I asserted are so. In the scriptures (Act 17:11), God commends the Bereans because instead of simply taking the Apostle Paul at his word they actually searched the scriptures to see if the things he told them had any factual basis. You are truly remarkable in that sense. Ok, moving right along:

The “lobbyist” comment, after re-examining your sentence, I agree was not aimed at republicans strictly. I naturally thought that your next thought in the same sentence regarding “legislatory [sic] impact of focusing on the rich” referred to the effects of lobbying.

As for the “democratic ideal” piece, at first I thought you were referring to the general definition of “democratic” and not the definition of the actual party know as “democratic,” an unintended equivocation on your part I guess. Anyway, point taken.

Lastly, you seem quite intent on demolishing the parenthetical comment made about the Supreme Court’s acknowledgment of Secular Humanism as a religion and less intent on actually verifying whether or not Secular Humanism resides in the semantic range of the word “religion”; incidentally, it does.

Now, despite all what you have “dug up” regarding the S.C. comment, the rules of language and writing compel us to accept that this acknowledgment was in fact made by the Supreme Court in Torcaso vs Watkins, 81 S.Ct. (albeit in the footnotes) which was all that my statement originally implied, nothing more.

I am quite aware that the Supreme Court has (on more than one occasion) supported diametrical assertions inconsistently over time. Nevertheless, history doesn’t allow the S.C. to change the historical record of that revealing utterance just because the S.C. expediently decides to adopt a contravening stance in defiance of precedent. In summary, if James asserts that the S.C. said the “affirmative” and RR asserts that the S.C. said the “negative”, both are correct (if both are in the record) despite the fact that today the Supreme Court may only espouse its most recent declaration as the official position. Certainly, you must agree that logic allows for this conclusion. If you still disagree, in my next response I will put the argument into categorical form to demonstrate that it is logically valid (keep in mind that arguments are only ever ascertained for validity; unlike a statement, an argument cannot have the characteristic of truth or falsehood.)

In actuality, however, the S.C. still to this day undeniably defines Secular Humanism as a religion “for free exercise” purposes (i.e. they are granted tax-exempt status and allowed to appeal to the religion of Secular Humanism as a conscientious objector) while out of the other side of their mouth, the S.C. asserts that Secular Humanism is not a religion that would violate the “establishment clause” (this way they don’t get kicked out of schools—BTW, look closely again at the quote you sent me in order to catch this slick addition.)

RR, now is a good time to look at the document I have attached in order to understand exactly what I’m trying to convey. What all this basically means is that (and as the attached document asserts) “when Secular Humanists want the benefits of a religion, they get them.” However, as a religion, they are not allowed to be scrutinized according to the ramifications of the establishment clause.

The document attached (http://vftonline.org/Patriarchy/definitions/humanism_religion.htm) firmly demonstrates that this S.C. admission was not merely “dictum” as many humanist sites (and consequently yourself) have suggested especially because the footnote is actually a reference referring to the “important 1957 case of Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia (101 U.S. App. D.C. 371) in its holding that Secular Humanism is a non-theistic religion within the meaning of the First Amendment.”

Also, I am not aware of any “footnote fallacy” within formal or informal logical fallacies so you may have to educate me with a reference. Either way, it is astounding that you can claim I’m “reading too far into” a piece of information that is ultimately part of the S.C. decision. I was not aware that the proper use of a footnote is to deemphasize content that is not meant to be taken seriously. Perhaps this conjured definition of a footnote should have found its way into a reference book of common usage (i.e. the dictionary, MLA). The most extreme designation you could validly assign to the footnote in question is a “digression” which still provides semantic warrant to consider it part of the Supreme Court decision.

Ultimately, I believe you need to do more research so that you truly understand what the S.C. meant by religion in the context of the establishment clause vs. religion in the context of free exercise. Only then you will have an appreciation for just how inconsistent the Supreme Court really is (at least on this issue.)

P.S. I’m actually more interested in how you feel about the second half of the verse you quoted from Ecclesiastes 9:10 considering your worldview (Hinduism)

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Democrats better on social issues?

TA:
I agree with JB in that I would be curious to see his take on McCain. To me he is a man who seems truly indifferent and phony on all things spiritual. I know we’re all sinners and all that, but what he did to his first wife was disgraceful. And he called his current wife a c**t publicly, in front of a reporter no less. I don’t know how y’all wives would take that, but rest assured I’d be single if I did that. McCain doesn’t speak about scripture because he has never been remotely interested in such matters. He only engages to the extent that he has to politically; i.e, pro-life, against gay marriage, etc. James E., I won’t pretend to be in the same universe as you in regards to Biblical knowledge, but I recall when I was doing my best to read scripture, it talked a lot about helping those less fortunate. Do the Republicans truly govern in accordance with scripture? And I do remember you telling me that all sins are equal, right? So assume I’m correct in assuming that the Republican party would not pass muster as a  scripture based party, then it seems obvious that it is a Christian person’s duty to vote for who he or she believes is most competent to govern this nation. In issues of war and peace, economics, and strategic planning on issues like energy and America’s antiquated infrastructure, would McCain/Palin or Obama / Biden do a better job. My choice is Obama / Biden. I feel he has the intellectual gravitas and brilliance rarely seen in a public servant, and coupled with Biden’s experience they make a hell of a team. We can’t afford to waste another 8 years being governed by folks that don’t think it’s all that important to do it effectively. I had the fortunate experience of going to China for a week this summer and let me tell you, America may be the most “powerful” nation in the world, but I can’t tell. Shanghai is more advanced than any city in America, period. It’s time for America to get back on it’s game.

James:
All sins are equal in that no matter which kind of sin you commit it is still a transgression against God’s will. However, sins do have certain weights attached to them in terms of seriousness. For example, in the Bible, homosexuality is dealt with by stoning due to the agregious nature of that particular sin; however, there are other sins do not require the immediate death of the transgressor. Therefore, all sins are not equal. There is actually a sin in the bible for which there is no forgiveness available either in this life or in the life to come (the ressurection).
I appreciate your comments about McCain if in fact they are true, however, your argument about the republican party not taking care of the “poor folks” is unfortunately without merit. Both administrations do an equally good and bad job in that arena depending upon where you want to shine the spotlight. I would actually argue that republicans do a better job but that is a converation for another email. The biggest problem with injecting Christianity into the criteria is that the Democratic party in general is overtly an anti-God party. What I mean by this assertion is, despite the fact that God specifically states that he hates the homosexual lifestyle and the killing of millions of innocent babies, and the redefinition of the first institution he created (marriage) etc. the democratic party embraces these sins while at the same time trying to present themselves as “Christians.” Unfortunately for democrats that like to play Christian, most people understand that anyone who calls themself a christian but do not believe in God’s laws (regarding homosexuallity, murdering of the innocent, redefining marriage), is really lying. In scripture there is actually no distinction between believing in God and believing in his Word; the two are really the same thing.

TA:
OK, so I defer to your Biblical knowledge that indeed sins are weighted as evidenced by their punishments. I only asserted that they were equal because I recall you telling me just that but perhaps my memory is inaccurate. In the matter of gays being allowed to marry and keeping abortion legal, I readily admit, from my limited understanding of the Bible, the Democrats are more out of tune that the Republicans are rhetorically. That being said, can a woman have an abortion or not after 8 years of the most conservative administration in this nation’s history? The answer is of course yes. Even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, I hope all of the people who have been voting Republican all these years based on this understand that abortions will continue legally in this country, at least for those that can afford a bus ticket. Roe v. Wade only deals with the federal “right” to have an abortion. States will still have the final say in it’s legality within it’s borders. Take a look at a US map and you can quickly come to the conclusion that at least half of the states will remain abortion legal. For those women who reside in a state where it’s not, they just catch a bus or plane to one where it is. So in essence, the overturning of Roe v. Wade will only affect those in abject poverty. To truly “ban” abortion, America will need a constitutional amendment. So if pro-life voters really want to save unborn children,they should concentrate their efforts in getting a constitutional amendment passed, which is not contingent on whose President by the way. You can in good faith vote for the more capable executive and pursue the right to life in earnest.
As far as you assertion that “..your argument about the republican party not taking care of the “poor folks” is unfortunately without merit” , you’re so wrong I don’t know where to begin. Suffice it to say that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. The Republican party, at least since Reagan, has been for deregulation and lower taxes for the wealthy, while simultaneously being against programs and policies that fall under the category of “social safety net”. Whether it be welfare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment benefits, maternity leave, Head Start, after school programs, you name it, the Republicans have been openly opposed to them. Meanwhile they have been for deregulation of energy markets (hence Enron) and of the financial sector (hence the current Wall St meltdown). I cannot remember the name of the law that was passed at this moment, but much of what is happening in the markets right now can be traced back to 1999 and the law that Phil Gramm (“we’re a nation of whiners” guy and top McCain financial advisor) shepherded through congress.  In essence it created the framework for which investment banks could package suspect financial holdings ( like subprime mortgages) and sell them as securities. I can follow this email if you’d like with more evidence to dispute your assertion that the Republicans do better for the less
fortunate. I only ask that you define by what metric we’re measuring. I typically judge this by tax burden as it relates to income, employment security and wage growth, savings, education, and aid for the indigent. I can prove all of these with relative ease. Let me know.

James:
I must admit that your presentation, style and arguments albeit spurious demonstrate a sincere effort to convince and for that I am somewhat impressed. Nevertheless, I think it unwise to reduce the “culture of life” tirelessly promoted by the Republicans (as a whole) to rhetoric. I also think it unwise to suggest that a federal ban on abortions would not affect individual states. This is tantamount to saying that a federal ban on gay marriage would not affect the States responsibility to enforce it. Either of the above assertions is of course without merit. Even a cursory understanding of federal law (the Article VI Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution barrs state laws that contradicts either the Constitution or federal law) suggests that they are efficacious for all states therein. Therefore and unless I am mistaken, this means that federal law supersedes any contradicting state law. For example, even though approximately 15 states still have laws on the books that would ban abortion throughout pregnancy, the Roe v. Wade federal decision prevents these state bans’ enforcement.
In spite of the fact that you misstated the effects of a federal ban, I think you still miss the point about voting Pro-life. It’s about a culture change and not a law change. Laws are like a pendulum, as the culture shifts in one direction so do the laws. Of course, you can’t change the culture overnight as the deterioration to our current state did not occur overnight. As America ‘s Christian foundation and respect for biblical authority eroded so did the culture. We must vote for someone who is more likely to restore a respect for biblical authority and hence honor the biblical mandate that murdering an unborn human is wrong primarily because man is made in the image of God (Genesis 9:6)
As for my comment about both parties and their support or lack there-of for the poor, we must keep in mind that simply living in America affords the dweller with more privileges and means to pursue happiness and health than most citizens of the world outside of the US. Furthermore, the US is the greatest philanthropist nation of all time and statistics show that people of faith (which tend to be republicans more that democrats) are the most generous when it comes to giving. However, regarding the entitlement programs to which you refer (i.e. welfare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment benefits) I would argue that these programs (at least the way they are currently administered) are a curse to poor people and instead of liberating poverty, actually encourage it. Most of the world empirically understands the biblical admonition that a person who does not work doesn’t deserve to eat, except for the US of course which believes in forcibly nourishing derelicts to their own detriment. Entitlement programs do not deter irresponsible behavior but rather encourage it.

TA:
Yes James, I’m afraid you are mistaken. Federal law does indeed trump state law, but the Feds are limited as to what sort of laws that they can enact, let alone enforce. Think for a minute about medicinal marijuana in state like California which directly contradicts not only federal law, but entire federal agencies like the DEA. Your point, “For example, even though approximately 15 states still have laws on the books that would ban abortion throughout pregnancy, the Roe v. Wade federal decision prevents these state bans’ enforcement”, is confusing branches of government. Roe v Wade is not a “federal decision” in a legislative sense. A Supreme Court decision is a unique situation. The Supreme Court cannot make law, they can only determine an existing laws’ constitutionality. In Roe v Wade, they determined it unconstitutional for states to ban abortion. So there are no such 15 states “with bans on abortion” because they are unenforceable at this moment. By “still on the books”, I’m unclear as to what you mean. However, once Roe v Wade is overturned, these laws to which you refer would again be legal in those 15 states. In the other 35 states abortion would still be legal as I said before. There will never, ever be a “federal law” against abortion. Again, to end legal abortion altogether you will have to pass a constitutional amendment – good luck with that. It’s also worth noting that abortions tend to go down as education and employment opportunities increase. Hence the Clinton administration statistically did better that did Bush in reducing abortions.
As for “..we must keep in mind that simply living in America affords the dweller with more privileges…”, what exactly is your point, your metric, or your evidence? Maybe this is unquestionably true when compared to  a lot of African countries, but how about Europe? And even so, Democrats govern America as well as Republicans and both we be responsible for this American advantage to which you refer. As for “…statistics show that people of faith (which tend to be republicans more that democrats) are the most generous when it comes to giving …”, I dispute your facts. In a nations that is 80% Christian and roughly a few million more registered Democrats, your math doesn’t add up. Also, I bet the folks in the Peace Corps and such agencies would argue with your premise as well, being decidedly left wing. Your statement “Most of the world empirically understands the biblical admonition that a person who does not work doesn’t deserve to eat, except for the US of course which believes in forcibly nourishing derelicts to their own retriment.”, is completely nonsensical. Most governments who do not provide some sort of social aid to their indigent do so because financially it is not possible or they are themselves corrupt. Please name me one Christian nation, who in they sake adherence to scripture, opts to not help the poor with welfare. Just one will do. As for social programs being the cause of perpetuating the very ills they are enacted to help alleviate, I would argue that greed amongst the haves to be more a culprit than social welfare. Take the current collapse of investment banking. Many ordinary folks will spend years and years recovering from the maneuvering of a small, elite sector of our society. And just how does Social Security “nourish derelicts” ?
Your grasp of political and economic matters pales in comparison to you knowledge of scripture. I say this not as an insult, but as a challenge to you to apply as much diligence to fact and context in secular arguments as you do to matters of faith.

James:
You need to familiarize yourself with the concept of “staw man arguments.” Well, perhaps you are already familiar with this fallacy as you have erected them all over the place and seem content setting fire to them and watching their demolishment meanwhile my real arguments remain untouched.
Try to find (in my original response) where I assert any of your following straw men. If you can’t then perhaps you should ask yourself why you feel the need to so feverishly demolish them.

  1. the Feds are not limited as to what sort of laws that they can enact and enforce.
  2. there are 15 states “with bans on abortion” that are enforceable at this moment.
  3. Republicans alone govern America as such are solely responsible for the American advantage (of privilege etc.)
  4. there are Christian nations, who in adherence to scripture, opt to not help the poor with welfare.
  5. Most governments who do not provide some sort of social aid to their indigent do NOT do so because financially it is not possible or they are themselves corrupt.

Another logical fallacy you commit is to assume a necessary correlation between an administrations educational policies and the overall number of abortions, as if lack of education and employment opportunity are the primary reasons for for abortions.

I could list more but why try?

When you use illogical arguments to communicate a prudent audience is compelled to discount your points.

TA:
Perhaps you should do some further reading on what exactly constitutes a straw man argument as well as Ad hominem, Appeal to authority, Appeal to emotion, Appeal to motive, and all Red Herrings for that matter.
Exactly which of your positions have I misrepresented or exaggerated? Here is the evidence you reuquest:

1. You said – “I also think it unwise to suggest that a federal ban on abortions would not affect individual states.” So my explanation of the limits of federal law were a direct retort to this mythical federal law you reference.

2. You said – “For example, even though approximately 15 states still have laws on the books that would ban abortion throughout pregnancy, the Roe v. Wade federal decision prevents these state bans’ enforcement.” I was clarifying your reference to the “federal decision” and attributing it properly to the Supreme Court and not any law per se.

3. You said – “As for my comment about both parties and their support or lack there-of for the poor, we must keep in mind that simply living in America affords the dweller with more privileges and means to pursue happiness and health than most citizens of the world outside of the US.” In the context of our discussion of political parties and their effectiveness in aiding those less fortunate, you present this sentence. So either it’s just filler or in goes to your point of Republican superiority in matters of governance. I also qualified my retort with “…what exactly is your point…”, as it was not clear to me what you were attempting to assert.

4. You said – “Most of the world empirically understands the biblical admonition that a person who does not work doesn’t deserve to eat, except for the US of course which believes in forcibly nourishing derelicts to their own detriment.” If you were not talking about governments then you must be talking about the general populations of the world which would make sense unless you too believe in “forcibly nourishing derelicts”. We you used “US” I assume we are talking about governments. Assuming that’s correct and “Most of the world empirically understands the biblical admonition …” with the exception of the “US”, then show me proof. Unless of course you mean to say that “Most of the world empirically understands the biblical admonition …” but chooses not to do anything to act on that understanding.

5. Please reword because it doesn’t make sense. Two negatives form a positive and I find it hard to follow.

It’s funny that you really heavily on fallacy as a persuasive technique and even quote others, namely Ann Coulter, to debunk arguments you claim are fallacious. (Guess which fallacy I just used in the last sentence).

James:
The technique (“of [relying] heavily on fallacy”) loses it’s persuasiveness when the opponent doesn’t commit any.

White Privilege?

MN:
Although I hope this doesn’t offend anyone I believe that I’m sending it to people who will understand the message of this…it really is something to think about. Hope you are all fending well during our nation’s ‘Adjustment’ period. -MN

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Sep 13, 2008 By Tim Wise

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or
who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of
it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen, like
Bristol Palin, and everyone is quick to insist that your life and
that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a
right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has
challenges,"; even as black and Latino families with similar
"challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological
and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck,
"like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone

messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about
how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a
responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather
than as a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in
six years like Sarah Palin did, (one of which she basically failed
out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a
community college), and no one questions your intelligence or
commitment to achievement; whereas a person of color who did this
would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only
got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town
smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a
state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of
the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be
president, and people don't fall on themselves with laughter;
while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and
constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words
"under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good
enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not
be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all,
the pledge was written in the late 1800's and the "under God" part
wasn't added until the 1950's; while believing that reading accused
criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution,
which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it)
is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make
people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member
of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from
the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions
your patriotism or that of your family; while if you're black and
your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be
home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately
think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers
and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right
of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an
end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough;
but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and
18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class
she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women, who don't

even agree with you on any substantive issue, to vote for you and
your running mate anyway because all of a sudden your presence on
the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women and
made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support

your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power
or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism; while
being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line
political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years

whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely
criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an
explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring
Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in
speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's
punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still
think you're just a good church-going Christian; but if you're
black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin
Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks
are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the
history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an
extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked
by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking
you such a "trick question,"; while being black and merely refusing
to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means
you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual
and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has
anything at all to do with your fitness for president; while being
black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it
a "light" burden.And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could
possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with
George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is
skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and
the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because
white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know,
it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of
the same, which is very concrete and certain.
White privilege is, in short, the problem.

JB:

Just another perspective

James:

A most absurd and biased invective; unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this from contemporary liberal thought. Perhaps the author of this rant should read Acts 17:26 and then blame God for “white priviledge.”

JB:
Acts 17:26 (King James Version)

26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Yes, God made one race — “of one blood all nations of men.”  Unfortunately, the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.  I think the context of the email is not to justify white privilege but to point to potential examples.  Is all this white privilege or is it economic privilege or is it gender privilege or is it brown hair privilege or etc?  Unfortunately, race is an easy mark for division and this election is more about noise versus substance.

James:
I honestly feel sorry for anyone who thinks this email points to examples of white privilege. When did we lose our sense of balance. The book of Proverbs 18:17 says: ” The first to present his case seems right, till another comes foward and questions him.” Are we questioning the validity of the arguments that this author presents or simply noding our head in ignorance with the masses?

RR:
In the interests of remaining as neutral as possible in a response, I am loathe to bring this up, but I must admit that there is a great deal of irony in indicating the author’s message is biased & invective, and then recommending that the author pursue reading in a religious text, knowing that many religious texts are intended to be biased (specifically, self-supporting biased) and invective (denunciating those that are not in the “in” group).

Also, I think all people have the responsibility to read a message and sort out the content from the delivery. If you’re just offended by the delivery, you should at least be able to respect the citations of actual thought chains & quotes, which if you follow below are generally grounded in exact, precise examples.

For example, you could argue whether you believe the lack of value of community leaders (lets take one of my favorites, Mahatma Gandhi, for example — who was entirely non-supported by the government and did all of his work “grass-roots”) is really something that needs to be touted as a weakness of character. I thank God every day for community leaders. I fully expect them to rise to the occasion to defend the rights of the underprivileged. After all, that’s what half of the non-profit organizations like the one I volunteer at are based on. Community response to governmental indifference, or worse some times, governmental oppression. I think we can all agree that some of the best faces of humanity are exposed when passion, not simple authority or privilege of role, drive a person to help out their fellow man.

In this light, I quote the Declaration of Independence (the surest word of the true founding fathers), in their recognition and encouragement of community leadership to ensure that the authority of the government shall not impede the rights of the people & to set in place the authority and responsibility to encourage, defend and pursue a change through “grass roots” efforts, by the people, to correct wrongs issued by the state…

when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them [all men]… it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So if you want to refute the validity of the arguments, I suggest you take up arguments with the content, not the styling. I think that would be a fun excercise, actually, where we could all learn a little.

In other words, a rose is a rose even if it’s tone is a little angry and irritable. 🙂

cheers,

-rr

James:
Actually, there is no irony at all. The reality of presuppositionalism (which I happen to espouse) suggests that everyone comes to the table with biases; it’s really a matter of whether or not your bias is defensible. Neutral ground does not exist because both sides have presuppositions—Christians start with the authority of the Word of God and others start with the authority of human reasoning. If I as a Christian agree to “leave the Bible out of it,” then I am starting with someone else’s presuppositions and will not be effective. Instead I choose to start with the “ultimate argument” using the authority of the Word of God as my axiom.

As far as the author’s message is concerned, he is overtly biased against John McCain and Sarah Palin and unfortunately the bias is not defensible. The content conveyed in Mr Wise’s hyperbolic lamentations have almost nothing to do with being “white” and privileged. For example, Mr. Wise states:

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in
six years like Sarah Palin did, (one of which she basically failed
out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a
community college), and no one questions your intelligence or
commitment to achievement; whereas a person of color who did this
would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only
got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

Even if one were to stipulate that Mrs Palin’s academic history is accurately stated above, this argument is still at best an anachronism that seeks to conjure an illegitimate reaction. In the first place, the academic plight described above doesn’t necessarily depict a lack of intelligence or commitment to achievement. Furthermore, there is no reason to suspect that the quip about affirmative action would be the majority view especially in this age of relative racial harmony and enlightenment. Obviously further objections to this farce could be multiplied.

In another blunder of an argument, Mr. Wise asserts:

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words
"under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good
enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not
be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all,
the pledge was written in the late 1800's and the "under God" part
wasn't added until the 1950's;


Rather than pen my own response to Mr. Wise on this point, I’m simply inserting Ann Coulter’s response as she has done an excellent job neatly disposing of this fallacious argument. I see neither a way, nor a reason to try to improve on her findings.

Liberals have indignantly claimed that Palin thinks the founding fathers wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, which is Olbmermannic in the sense that (a) if it were true, it’s trivial, and (b) it’s not true.

Their claim is based on a questionnaire Palin filled out when she was running for governor of Alaska in 2006, which asked the candidates if they were “offended by the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.” Palin answered: “Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me, and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.”

As anyone can see, Palin was not suggesting that the founding fathers “wrote” the Pledge of Allegiance: She said the founding fathers believed this was a country “under God.” Which, um, it is.

For the benefit of MSNBC viewers who aren’t watching it as a joke, the whole point of the Declaration of Independence was to lay out the founders’ breathtaking new argument that rights came not from the king, but from God or, as the Declaration said, “Nature’s God,” the “Creator.”

That summer, in 1776, Gen. George Washington — a charter member of the founding fathers — rallied his troops, saying: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves. … The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of the army.”

So Washington not only used the phrase “under God,” but gave us one of the earliest known references to the rights of the “unborn.” That’s right! George Washington was a “pro-life extremist,” just like Sarah Palin.

There is no disputing that a nation “under God” was “good enough” for the founding fathers, exactly as Palin said.

As I have hopefully demonstrated the silly nature of the particular arguments above I must contend that the "exact, precise examples" you suggest I should respect are simply more of the same vacuous argumentation. This BTW includes both content and delivery.

Since the author does not delve into the arena of "community leadership" or the Declaration of Independence, I will reserve comment on those topics for now.

TA:
Quoting Ann Coulter  to debunk fallacy has to be a unique class of irony. For the record I disagree with Ms Coulter’s interpretation of Palin’s answer to the questionnaire. But then again I disagree with the McCain campaign’s assertion that when he spoke his mind and said that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong”, he meant what he said. Not the revised “he was talking about the workers” nonsense. We live in a nation in which political discourse exists as if it is derived from completely different realities. Without objective fact, we’re just taking in circles. I’m an ardent supporter of Obama, but I know when he tried to revise his comment that “they’ll try to scare you because I don’t look like the folks on our money”, he was maneuvering politically because he was obviously talking about race, and that’s not a politically advantageous thing to do. Having faith in God is one thing, having faith in your political leadership is insane. So you can support McCain and Palin as it is your right to do so. But please don’t echo their talking points, that’s for the non thinking sort. You can like Palin because she has some qualities you think are admirable, but please don’t try to contend that she is any more intellectual or thoughtful than she is.

James:
And yet more of the same!

Your implied premise that Ann Coulter is a committer of fallacies and thus is an unsuitable person to use in debunking Mr. Wise’s fallacy (this is the most obvious reason for the irony you suggest) is an abusive ad hominem fallacy. Obviously the validity of her argument (that I quoted) has nothing to do with how many fallacies you feel she may have committed in the past, present, or future.