There has been an ongoing online ‘discussion’ between Trees, of AnomalousData fame and Anne Liebermann from Boker tov, Boulder! The humor I use here gets far darker when I comment on Trees blog. As an example, I present the following exchange:

[Preface: this is heavily edited and snipped for effect. I chose not to identify the cuts because there would have been more ellipses than words. Just go read the original]

Trees: Given a choice between living under Shar’ia law as Anne believes we will have to do (She thinks the liberals are going to hand the U.S. over to the mullahs), or living with the Torah or the Bible, or the Zohar (or, more likely, all three together) as the imposed religious law of the country…
… well, I imagine that beheading is faster and less painful than stoning or burning, but I’d probably just learn French and go help Canada defend it’s borders.

Anne: Help Canada defend its borders… from what?

Trees: The hostile theocracy on it’s southern border, of course. 🙂

Me: But wouldn’t they start with Mexico first?

Trees: Why would they start with Mexico? Global climate change models have the American grain belt shifting north into Canada by 2025. All the food will be in Canada

Me: Hadn’t thought of global climate change…excellent point that.

Anne wondered if we, the mouth-foaming liberal dregs, could really be serious. Trees gave her answer explaining a very small part of her belief system in a measured voice; clearly stating her case in what I found a nicely moderated tone. *golf-clap* My response got long enough, I thought I’d use my own damn bandwidth. So here’s my response Anne.

If there is anything I worry more about in the world, it is intolerance. I really don’t care whether it is religious, racial or political. My experience has been that in moving from culture to culture, the only way forward is to integrate, adapt and accept. It probably isn’t realistic to think most people could live that way, but I try. While I would consider myself to be a-religious as opposed to anti-religious. I would also argue that I am probably genetically missing the “God antenna;” the lack is in me, not the belief systems of others and therefore I am not in a position to judge; I can only learn.

Perhaps most troubling for me is the thought that any idea can be used to justify persecution. Race is a nice marker. Should the Latinos be driven out of the southwest America and didn’t those populations displace the original Indio populations? Were there cultures destroyed before the Indio settlement of Mesoamerica? Nationalism, often coached using the euphemism Patriotism in America, is another way to separate and divide the them from the us. And, increasingly, groups are using religion (what an innovation!) to divide and disrupt.

Anne, I live in Germany and notice you post often about topics and things happening in Germany. One of your recent posts was about a rabbi who hides his kippa under a baseball cap in Germany. This leaves me rather uneasy. Where you don’t understand the dark, gallows humor Trees and I use, I can’t imagine your understanding of the current German culture. Anti-Semitism isn’t rampant in Germany; intolerance is rampant in the world. I could point to the Paris riots this summer where the frustration of being marked outsider for whatever reason is enough to limit or destroy chances and that frustration boiled over. I could point to examples in Germany like the Rütli school [German] in a disadvantaged part of Berlin (Neuköln). The teachers sent an SOS because of the violence. German kids chose not to speak ‘proper’ German because the racial situation with about 35% immigrants (primarily eastern European) and 25% Turkish, was so dramatic, it was better to ‘pretend’ not to speak German. Thus the gutter linguafraca was adapted. Misunderstanding breeding intolerance breading ignorance. Bravo!

Anne, one of the questions you asked was “When was the last time a fundamentalist Christian blew him/herself up in order to murder a crowd of innocents?” Trees pointed out the bombings of abortion clinics, the bomb in the Olympic Park etc. The only difference between current the Judeo/Christian viewpoint and the Islamic practice is that the Judeo/Christians believe one should sacrifice one’s self at the front of an army and not as a sole individual; thus we have hero worship and posthumous Congressional Metal of Honor ceremonies. But don’t get me wrong I am not foolish enough to believe that Buddhists only immolation themselves in crossroads and that all Hindus would like peace on earth and good will to cows, but let’s stay in our cultures shall we? The dead opponents probably don’t appreciate the difference whether it was a suicide bombing or a suicide attack.

Anne, in your answer you wondered about my reference to American labor camps; the idea isn’t that far fetched. We are only 150 years from slavery; about 90 years from the passage of the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918; about 90 years from a president who re-segregated the White House and cursed what he called hyphenated Americans. We are only 60 years from the Japanese internment camps, 53 from McCarthy, 48 years have passed since My Lai. We are only 3 years from Abu Ghraib. The organised abuse of power is neither purely American nor is it foreign to US shores. It is something lurking around the periphery of any society – American, Western, human. If religions can use traditions reaching back centuries and millennia, am I so off-base by choosing behavioral characteristics seen not just through history but in recent decades?

Anne, if I, from this side of the Atlantic, were to use your knack for finding news snip-its, than yes, I could say the labor camps are being built. I would argue Guantanamo and Diego Garcia are only the cases that have leaked to the press. I don’t believe it is happening but I could probably make a case for it and convince some people. But after consideration, I guess you are probably right on one part, the camps would be for internment and not labor. We can’t have anyone taking jobs from the “good” and “righteous.”

Anne, today division is accepted and allowed. Separation is celebrated. It doesn’t matter whether you are locking the bad guys in or simply keeping them out using privileged schools and gated communities. Today having a hyphen is politically correct. African-American, Mexican-American, Jewish-American. We claim to celebrate integration while highlighting and exploiting the differences.

So Anne, I ask you, am I a foaming-at-the-mouth liberal? Is a liberal one who thinks peace not conversion is acceptance; someone who realises that there are too many people, good and bad, adept and disabled, advantaged and disadvantaged for true equality and that while life isn’t fair, one must treat each person fairly? Is a foaming-at-the-mouth liberal someone who wishes for peace but is pragmatic enough to have lost faith in that hope? Someone who thinks equality is best championed using words and not bulldozers, fairness best advanced in tone and tolerance and not in rhetoric and hostility?

If yes Anne, than I am a foaming-at-the-mouth liberal. But Anne, I would argue there is one thing I hope not to be – intolerant. Reading your writing, I get the feeling that you perceive the world as a place of injustice and intolerance and you react in kind.

Perhaps you might just forget the reactionism and just try the kindness.

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