Friday, October 12, 2007

Props to Ann Coulter for Being Honest About "Inferior Religions"

Even though Ann Coulter has just denigrated another group of people whom she knows nothing about, it wasn't enough for her to land a spot on my shit-list this week. Her comment that Christians just "want to see Jews perfected" by believing in Jesus, (making New York nice and republican) is certainly as ignorant as it is offensive. Besides that its ridiculous. Give me a New York Jew over a fundamentalist Christian any day (I rather like the idea of playing chess and talking Torah, wed just have to stay away from the topic of divestment). But while offensive its hardly shocking or even surprising. That is, after all, what many Christians believe and not just out of bigotry or antisemitism. It says as much in the New Testament...

"But Jesus has now obtained
a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one...In speaking of ‘a new covenant’, he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear" (Hebrews 8.6-13).

If that’s not convincing enough consider Hebrews 10.1

"Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the true form of these realities,
it can never...make perfect those who approach."

So what Ann Coulter said was entirely accurate from the standpoint of the New Testament--the Jews are imperfect because of their inferior worship. Perhaps that’s why the conservative commentator could not bring himself to criticize her comments...instead asking if any Jewish or Christian theologians were consulted when evaluating her claim. Where Coulter and her defender were mistaken was in the audacious statement that there is no reason to be offended. I wonder how Coulter would feel if a Muslim, who believes their scriptures to be superior, would have told her that she was of an inferior faith and needed to be perfected. That is, after all, what the Qur'an claims…

The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth…Allah’s curse be on them:
how they are deluded away from the Truth” (Surah 9:30-31).

If I was in the room when someone said that to Coulter I would duck for cover (she probably owns a gun). Of course it’s offensive! Because its demeaning and arbitrary. If you are basing your judgments on faith and scriptural authority how can you possibly demonstrate your view to be superior to someone else who justifies their claims on
the exact same principle? That is the real problem with what she said-- "our ways are superior to your ways, not because we live better lives, or are more compassionate, or can claim better evidence for our beliefs. Nope, just because we believe we are superior to you." Coulter will never need to study Jewish history and culture. Shell never need to know the insights learned from exile or the impact of the diaspora on western civilization . She doesn't have to tackle the Talmud or learn how the tradition was transformed with the birth of rabbinical Judaism. She needn't fuss about contributions made by Jewish thinkers like Spinoza to the European Enlightenment. She takes her religious superiority on faith. And that kind of faith is only a short step away from intolerance. But it is so very un-PC to criticize faith, isn't it? Though every morally concerned person should recognize that faith can be and has been an enduring source of intolerance; by saying so you might come across as intolerant yourself. Wouldn't it be better for everyone to just agree that we shouldn't have to support our beliefs with anything as tedious as reason or evidence ? Of course we'll have to all play nice and agree not to talk publicly about how we really feel about one another, (or about what our scriptures really say about one another). But our silence will give us that trendy feel good illusion of tolerance without all that messy business of confronting its epistemic roots. Thats why I give props to Ann Coulter for being honest. At the very least she doesn’t hide what many good religious folks are really thinking…and she gives us all a great reminder that tolerance and humility--are not necessitated by faith, and are too precious to rest on that flimsy a foundation. And to those who insist it cannot really be faith, only fundamentalism or extremism, at the heart of the problem--I invite you to look at eastern religions. Because there is hardly a religious spectacle as disappointing as Buddhist monks who dedicate their lives to such noble qualities as compassion and detachment from ego--childishly engaged in bitter disputes over who's is the superior lineage. Or take Hinduism, arguably the most pluralistic and philosophically tolerant of religions--and yet the creator of one of the most socially repressive societies as well. Despicable attitudes towards women and the poor could only have survived the courageous work of Hindu reformers because they are legitimized by the doctrines of karma, rebirth, and caste. And before you think I'm naive, lets not forget those Communists who silenced anyone who would criticize the dogmas of dialectical materialism; anyone who challenged the fragile certainty of their conviction that the predetermined course of history was leading them to utopia. Even atheistic philosophies can lead to murderous intolerance when they become incapable of rational self-criticism. In all its guises, we must challenge the irrational superiority believers claim for themselves by faith. Which is why I can’t feel too sorry for any orthodox Jews offended by Coulter…not if they think they are “chosen ...out of all the peoples on earth to be [God's] people, his treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7.6).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

shes stupid