Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Jay Nordlinger nails it

March 18th, 2010 by Vader

On the difficulty of making peace in the Middle East.

We all know that the Palestinian territories — or whatever expression you prefer — are divided in two: The extremists, Hamas, control the Gaza Strip; the moderates, Fatah, control the West Bank. But what do you say to moderates’ naming a square in a town outside Ramallah after a terrorist? A mass-murdering terrorist?

They have just named the square for Dalal Mughrabi, a woman who led a team committing atrocities in 1978. Their atrocities are summed up in the name “Coastal Road Massacre.” I will quote from a column about this matter:

On a Saturday in March 1978, the squad of Palestinian terrorists led by Mughrabi entered Israel by boat from Lebanon and made their way to the main road between Haifa and Tel Aviv. . . . By day’s end, they had murdered 38 innocent men, women and children.

The first person Mughrabi and her gang of terrorists encountered was Gale Rubin, an American photojournalist taking photos of birds near the beach. They killed her and continued on their deadly path.

They then hijacked a bus full of happy families returning from a Saturday excursion. On their way to Tel Aviv, the terrorists shot at passing cars and killed more innocent people.

The terrorists tied all the men’s hands to the bus seats. When Israeli security forces stopped the bus, the terrorists ran out while throwing hand grenades into the bus, setting it on fire. The men inside were burned alive.

And so on. If you can bear to read this column in full, go here. And can you bear this? It was written by three Israelis whose children were killed by a terrorist in 2003.

Question: How can you make peace with people who celebrate those who kill you? How? I am very patient with the Israelis: They are in a difficult position, to put it as mildly as possible.

I think of the Sbarro attack in 2001. Do you remember that one? A terrorist blew up a Sbarro’s restaurant in Jerusalem, killing 15. Okay, you say: Every society has its extremists, its murderers. But what do you do with this? At An-Najah University in Nablus, they created an exhibition celebrating this massacre. It was a diorama of sorts — a mock-up — showing the restaurant. The walls were drenched in blood, and body parts were strewn all over, along with pizza slices. Palestinian students — the best and brightest in that society — filed by reverently. It was like a religious rite.

How do you make peace with such people? Maybe you do. But can you grant it is hard?

When Israelis commit atrocities, Israeli authorities imprison them, and the society at large reviles them. When a Palestinian commits atrocities — the authorities may well name a square after her. And those authorities are not only Hamas: They are the “moderates” of Fatah, the moderates of the West Bank — the people you can do business with.

I say again, it is not easy, not easy at all.

I doubt we have any town squares in the United States named after Curtis LeMay. But it’s a big country, so you never know. I can almost imagine some small conservative town doing it just to stick their collective thumb in the eye of the liberal establishment. I’m even more confident we don’t have any town squares named after William Calley. Heck, we squirm over the memory of the Japanese-American internment, even though the internees suffered a mortality and morbidity rate not significantly greater than the population at large.

Apparently the Palestinians are less easily embarrassed than us. To borrow an observation from earlier in Nordlinger’s column.

Comments (3)
Filed under: Birkenhead Drill | Tags: ,
March 18th, 2010 09:50:32

Bruce Nielson
March 18, 2010

It struck me one day. Anti-Mormons (those that outrightly hate Mormons) are a vast minority of Christians.

Indeed, even those that are soft bigoted against Mormons (i.e. not necessarily rabid hate groups like anti-Mormons) only form about 30% of Evangelical Christians and probably a smaller percentage of non-Evangelical Christians.

So why do they wield so much power within those groups? Why?

Now that I was asking the right question, the answer was obvious. Because the other two thirds of non-LDS Christians that aren’t directly bigoted against Mormons are supportive of the 1/3 that are bigoted. They might enjoy a good anti-Mormon lecture even if they don’t take it all seriously, or they might buy the occaisional book. They share in the bigotry in this sense.

Imagine what would happen if even one member of every Church went to their minister and said “I will not be attending here any more if you continue to say dishonest and misrepresentative things about Mormons. You can honestly evaluate their theology and compare it to ours, but you will no longer lie about it and keep me attending your Church.”

The bigotry against Mormosn would end over night.All it would take is 1 person from each church. What does that work out to be? Maybe 1% of Christians.

The fact that misrepresentation of Mormons continues is an indictment of Christians in general that they don’t even have this 1% within themselves. (A fact not lost on liberal atheists concerning Evangelical Christian prejudice against other groups.)

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to apply this to the post.

March 18, 2010

I have repeatedly heard cautions within my Jedi Quorum against misrepresentations of other religions. These are along the lines “We believe this. As I understand it, Catholics believe that. I caution you that I am not Catholic and, though I am trying to represent their beliefs in good faith, I am willing to be corrected if one of you has a better good faith understanding of Catholicism. With that qualifier … what are the practical implications of this difference in belief?”

Sometimes the answer is “Not so much.” Sometimes we see some fairly significant consequences of a difference in belief. Very often we find that their belief is understandable and logically consistent even if we disagree sharply with it. And we often find some common ground.

I would find little occasion to use the label “anti-Mormon” if this was the common practice in other faiths. And maybe, in some, it is. They don’t make all the noise, unfortunately.

Bruce Nielson
March 18, 2010

Vader, your experience mirrors my own.

The truth is, that 50 or so years ago, Mormons were as big of religious bigots as all other religions. I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but the LDS Church made a conscious decision to no longer be bigoted towards other religions and systemically drive it out.

As you might expect, it’s only with moderate success as people are people.

But I want to compare this to Evangelical Christians in particular that systematically hold anti-Mormon (or anti-whoever) classes that are strongly encouraged by their ministers and are also known to be factually wrong on many particulars.

The problem I’m complaining about isn’t that Mormons aren’t bigots and Evangelicals (or others) are. The problem I’m complaining about is that the LDS church systematically discourages religious bigotry and Evangelicals systemically encourage it and still do to this day.

I am not against people openly explaining why they feel their doctrines are better than someone else’s. In fact, I encourage that. I am against misrepresentation and lack of nuance that reflects reality. I am against the damage that is done to a person when their beliefs are mocked or made to look stupid in a false way because the end result is to make the person falsely look stupid.

(I have mixed feelings over when this is done and it’s the truth. I feel the truth must be the final arbiter in such a situation, but I feel nuance and context would be required to allow that truth — even if stupid — to at least be viewed as the believer believes it.)

It is misrepresentation that bothers me so much. That is why I’m so strongly against other Christian religions referring to Mormons as “non-Christian” unless they explain how their definition of Christian differs from the commonly used one so that people don’t become confused as to our real beliefs.

I am completely okay with them calling us non-Christians if they are careful in that nuance first. Something like “Well, Mormons believe in Jesus but doctrinally, we believe a better definition for ‘Christian’ is [fill in the blank.]” works perfectly for me. No misrepresentations, but you can still judge Mormons to your hearts content.

Better yet, just call us heretics. No objection there at all. Call us “those that don’t realize they worship Satan.” Call us whatever you like so long as you don’t misrepresent us and I’m fine with it.

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