dobson and the american taliban

The Daily Kos has an interesting piece this morning comparing American and Islamic fundamentalists, and contrasting the views commonly held by American progressives. Check it out if you get a chance. It’s worth it… Here’s an excerpt:

Al Qaida/Taliban: One and the same
American Taliban: One and the same
Liberals: Separation of church and state

Al Qaida/Taliban: Religious indoctrination. Run by clergy.
American Taliban: School prayer. Religious indoctrination (creationism and “intelligent design”). Private religious school system.
Liberals: Leave religious teachings to parents and sunday school.

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  1. Shanster
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice that kos says that religious teachings should be left to Parents and Sunday school. How about when those teachings differ from the liberal view? Actually, I know the answer, then a different viewpoint is hatethink. The liberal views which are being pushed on our children are a better example of religious indoctrination than prayer in school.

    I’m not asking to bring back organized prayer in school, so don’t bother going there. I don’t need some beaurocrat telling me when or how I am supposed to pray.

  2. Teddy Glass
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    What are these “liberal views” that are being pushed on our kids? Give us an example? Evolutionary biology? The teaching of the French language? The fact that it’s not taught that homosexuals are evil?

  3. Tony Buttons
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    My public school was too liberal. They didn’t advocate stoning gay people to death.

  4. Posted July 5, 2005 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    In regards to Shanster,
    Most liberals would not care what religious beliefs parents want to teach their kids;; so long as they do it on their own time. Teach them that evolution is wrong, I don’t care, just don’t do it in a public school that everybody has to go to.

  5. Posted July 5, 2005 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    You can teach your kids any sort of fiction you like in Sunday school.

    You can teach them that the moon is made of cheese and that dinosaurs bones were buried by the devil. You can teach them that the earth is flat and that Poland is an island in the Black Sea.

    I think kos is saying it’s fine to misinform your own children (loco parentis) but please refrain from misinforming anyone else’s.

  6. shanster
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Glass-The liberal views that I’m talking about are as follows, but you already know them. I’d prefer to keep this honest, not full of rhetoric, but the last 4 comments actually couldn’t do that (not that they were trying).

    1. That it is not acceptable for a person to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong (even if that belief is not legislated in any way (see Dominionism)). We were told at our public university that our opinion, in and of itself, was invalid. It was not Christians doing the indoctrination, but secularists.

    2. To Teddy and C.b.- The theory of Evolution, as you know, is a theory. I am not at all opposed to teaching microevolution, which is an observable fact, not a theory. Would it be acceptable to you in any way, if a Biology teacher presented the theory that a Creator created the universe, as opposed to a spontaneous random collision/implosion/whatever between particles that just existed? I doubt that it could be done respectfully, but it would be fair to minority who don’t accept the first theory.

    3. Sex ed. Leave it to the parents completely.

    I think those are the biggest 3 Teddy. What say you?

  7. Andy C.
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Shouldn’t “hate-think” be hyphenated? It’s a good buzz word. Where did you pick it up?

  8. chris
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    You know Shanster, I was going to attempt a rebuttal to your argument. But then, you stated that you don’t believe in evolution. In some ways I would agree with you there, as you obviously are not a product of it.

    Here is the irony. I used to be a regular church attending christian but ever since the fundamentals have hijacked christianity I have stopped. Maybe fundamentalism is the work of the devil.

  9. mark
    Posted July 5, 2005 at 11:08 pm | Permalink


    1. I don’t, at least in theory, have an objection to people holding the idea that homosexuality is evil, as long as they don’t act on those beliefs and in any way restrict the rights of gays and lesbians. (That includes taking sexual orientation into consideration when hiring.) Unfortunately, the two (thought and action) are very closely tied together. I’m not sure of the solution, but perhaps there’s a middle ground that could be agreed to in which it’s taught in school that all people, regardless of race, sexual preference, etc enjoy equal rights. If that were the case, and if homosexuality were brought up in that context only (and not in the context of sex ed), would you agree that it has it’s place?

    2. Everything is a theory. Gravity, as I understand it, is a theory. We can’t not teach things that are theories. What we could do, however, is augment the teaching of evolution with materials on the various creation myths held by the people of the United States (and thus the world), of which there are many. My objection would be to teaching only one such version.

    3. Evidence has shown that sex ed has helped to keep down the numbers of unwanted pregnancy, and helped kids to report acts of predatory sexual behavior by adults. As that’s the case, I don’t think that I’d support taking it out of the public schools. I would, however, consider the addition of materials relating to abstinance, morality, etc. Again, it’s a matter of how these things are addressed, but I can’t help but think that an agreement could be reached in which both values and realities of modern life are taken into account.

  10. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Evolution is actually a historical fact, shown by the fossil record. The theory is natural selection, which is one way of explaining the fact of evolution. There have been others (orthogenesis, for example).

    If you prefer to think that evolution is directed by some gaseous vertebrate, floating in the sky somewhere, I will disagree with you; but will defend your right to believe that. I will even buy you a beer so that you can believe it in greater comfort.

    I’m not sure it belongs in the school, though; not without better evidence.

  11. Posted July 6, 2005 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    In regards to Shanster,
    Evolution is the leading scientific theory about our origins. “Intelligent design,” or whatever they call it now, is not a scientific theory and should not be taught in a science classroom in a public school.

    I put it a different way: teaching intelligent design in a public school science classroom is like me going into your kids’ sunday school classroom and teaching evolutionary biology.

  12. Shanster
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Hey! This is a pretty good exchange.

    1. I can agree with you. As much as I disagree with Homosexuality, I don’t hate those who practice it. For example, I hate gambling, but I don’t hate gamblers. I hate profanity, but not those who employ it.

    2. Yep, but can a secular humanist even describe the creation story, and any accompanying scientific backing without smirking?

    3. I don’t think a values neutral presentation of sex ed is really possible. It has been seen that abstinence is presented as a final option for freaks and fanatics, but not really possible.

    Andy- I think I stole hatethink from 1984.

    Chris – I didn’t state that I don’t believe in evolution. You can read, right? Or are an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of imacs to produce your posts?

  13. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    A postscript on evolution: the confusion lies in the language. In other words, “theory of evolution” doesn’t mean “theory that evolution exists,” but “theory about how evolution works.” Evolution itself is not a theory, but a process we can see happening throughout history.

    Mark — Gravity is also not a theory; it’s an observable force. We came up with laws of gravity, based on our observation of it.

    Shanster — Why do you think homosexuality is immoral? If it’s between two consenting adults, and harms nobody, what makes it immoral? You’re free to think it’s wrong, but why do you?

  14. chris
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 10:09 am | Permalink


    Nicely put. I do think that a secular humanist can include the different creation stories w/o smirking. I have read and discussed many in the pedagogical arena, from the “Epic of Gilgamesh” to sections of the Boddhisattva. There were also the many and rich variations of Native American creation myths that were, unfortunately, all too briefly discussed in grade school.

    I fear, however, if the discussion of the various creation myths were discussed in any great detail the public school systems would be accused of promoting a “rainbow curriculum”. Which, I am quite sure would not meet w/ John…er, I mean, Mike’s, no wait…Shanster’s (or what other incarnation he is assuming this day) approval either.

  15. chris
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Back to the topic at hand. Can anybody tell me why the GOP would want to promote the christian conservative agenda. Does it really come down to just votes? There are any number of Republicans who given their educational backgrounds, and where they choose to send their children to college, really do/can not promote the christian right agenda. Is it just a tool to keep the smoke and mirrors going while America is fleeced?

    Anyone read the Hanna Rosin article in the recent New Yorker about Patrick Henry College? Mind boggling, or at least fascinating.

  16. Tony Buttons
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Someone needs to teach a class on cock sucking. The head I’ve been receiving around America these past few years from public school graduates has been absolutely horrendous.

  17. chris
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    hee-hee, maybe you should take the aluminum foil thong off first. Or at least, teach tem to take it off. Remember, no child should be left behind.

  18. Tony Buttons
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The aluminum foil is for her pleasure, Chris. It cannot be removed.

  19. chris
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Very funny.

  20. shanster
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Thanks for your definition of the evolution terms. I can accept that evolution, change, does occur. I disagree with the extent that it is purported to do so.

    My opposition to homosexuality is not based on its harmfulness to others, but its objective immorality as a choice. Your question seemed to imply that im/morality lies only in harmfulness to others. Lying is immoral, though no one might be harmed.

    Chris- it would be fine with me, if several different groups were allowed to present their views of creation. The problem would be figuring out how many, and which ones. Maybe a local Native American would like to present their story, but if your community doesn’t have any Hindus, you couldn’t give their ideas proper treatment. Don’t presume to know what I would accept. I’m new to blogland; is it common for faceless people with aliases to adopt extra aliases?

  21. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Shanster — I think the point about evolution is important, because creationism and evolution are not necessarily incompatible. Theories about evolution interpret the fossil record; they don’t address the first cause. They do contradict a literal reading of Genesis (as does the fossil record) — but the two creation stories in Genesis contradict each other anyway. Our interpretation of the fossil record is constantly changing, and will keep changing as we find more fossils.

    Yes, I think the morality of a given act is decided by its harm to others. A lie, for example, is not always immoral. A novel is a lie from start to finish, but that doesn’t make it immoral. A lie may be more moral than the truth in a medical or psychiatric emergency. Intent has a lot to do with it.

    If you don’t agree with that standard, what standard do you use? And what makes homosexuality “objective immorality”?

  22. chris
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting point Shanster. During my education from primary through to post graduate I was required to learn the histories and concepts of those individuals who had very little to do with my background, culture, or even academic interests for that matter. Be they the writings of Theodore Dreiser or the history of the Boer War.

    I do assume (if you will, seeing as you presume to deny my children the right to learn the theory of evolution at the expense of my tax dollar) that your retort will probably be that the writings, philosophies, and historically recorded actions of dead white men impact my experience as a result of living in America. Your failure in logic is to presume that teachings outside the dominant paradigm fail to impact a person’s experience and world understanding as well.

    The lack of Hindus in said imaginary community states that their contribution is not academically relevant. Are you saying that majority/mob rules? So does that mean if the majority of the parents at the local school vote to allow teaching sex ed and evolution you will tolerate it?

    With regard to your sentiment that homosexuality is immoral. I can respect your beliefs. Therefore, I suggest that you do not have sex with someone of the same sex. The Jehovah Witness do not believe in Halloween, therefore they do not trick or treat. But they also do not interfere with others ability to procure or distribute free candy on October 31st. Where do we draw the line? I think WE do not draw the line. You draw your line and do not cross it.

    Also, please accept my apology regarding my identifying you as another under bridge dweller. Your facile grasp of puncuation and lack of cutting and pasting lends evidence to the possibility that you are not he.

  23. Shanster
    Posted July 6, 2005 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I think we’ve found basically common ground on the evolution stuff. All I would ask is that those who interpret the fossil record differently be given a fair amount of time to present their ideas.

    I accept your apology. I didn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t study the Hindu creation idea; I just wouldn’t want to misrepresent it. In a less diverse community, it could be difficult to find a person to present it properly. I know I wouldn’t necessarily want someone else screwing up the presentation of my view. I guess the logistics of the whole idea get kind of difficult. Who would represent the Creationist view? There’s a lot of diversity even within the creationist camp, ranging from 144 hours of creation to 6 eons. The problem is not so much in getting my view across…I don’t need anyone else to be convinced of my creationist beliefs…but the problem is that young children are given only one side, without having the opportunity to choose some other logical (or illogical) conclusion.

    Anyhow, I’ll deal with your other points about homosexuality some other time.

  24. mark
    Posted July 7, 2005 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Since my original post, the Daily Kos has added to the list, in case anyone is interested.

  25. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 7, 2005 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Shanster — Is anyone denying those who interpret the fossil record differently a chance to air their ideas? I seem to have no trouble hearing about them.

    However — if they refuse to submit those ideas to scientific peer review, or if they fail that process, they may have to admit that they’re wrong. And scientific peer review is not just a popularity contest, but a specific set of criteria developed to test new ideas.

    It makes sense to me that if they don’t meet that standard, they shouldn’t be in the science curriculum. And you?

  26. shanster
    Posted July 8, 2005 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    Actually, I don’t think Intelligent design or creationism in general get much, if any, treatment in elementary or HS texts. I’m searching right now, and haven’t been able to find examples of a balanced presentation. If you search for Creation/Evolution/biology textbook/balanced, you just get pages arguing why the other side is a bunch of liars.

    Previously, I had said that it would be good for someone to be allowed to come in and present the creationist theory, but if a textbook could present it in an acceptable way, I think that would be fine. Did you hear/learn about creationism or ID in public school?

  27. mark
    Posted July 8, 2005 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    I think, as Doug mentioned, that there already exists a route to introduce new scientific theories through peer review. The only other option, it would seem, would just be to open up scientific textbooks to anyone and everyone who had a theory. There are, for instance, still people who believe the earth is hollow. Should they be allowed to share that with our children without the scientific evidence to back it up?

  28. mark
    Posted July 8, 2005 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    With that said, however, I do believe there probably is a place in public education to recognize the various creation myths of the world, including that of the Christian faith. It is not, at least to my mind, inconsistent to believe both. You can still believe in a divine creator and evolution. What you can’t believe, or at least what I cannot believe, however, is that the world was created 6,000 years ago and that men and women popped up here in their present form. The evidence does not support it, and to suggest that it does, I think, lessens your credibility across the board.

  29. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 8, 2005 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Shanster — No, I didn’t learn about Creationism or Intelligent Design in public school. I learned about orthodox biology. I learned about Creationism in church, and Intelligent Design in books.

    Nobody is stopping you from questioning orthodox science, or arguing whatever unorthodox ideas you like. Science is, by design, self correcting, so if these ideas pass the test, they will eventually be accepted. Meanwhile, it would be irresponsible to teach them as equal to those ideas that have passed the difficult test of scientific peer review.

  30. shanster
    Posted July 9, 2005 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Okay Okay. Let’s drop the creation/evolution debate for the moment. I think we agree that there is a proper way to present the generally accepted theory of evolution, while respecting the beliefs and dissenting opinions of the minority. We can leave the details to those who have the time.

    The real issue was the Daily Kos’ hateful article about fundamentalists. He actually says that ‘we hate fundamentalists…’ Obviously he paints with broad strokes, and although he would like to, I don’t think he speaks for all liberals. Do you liberals hate Christians enough to silence us in every way possible, by any means necessary? Should we fear the coming Clinton Presidency as a period of cleansing America as in second century Rome? I don’t, but should I? Why all the hate? Can’t we have differing opinions and try to discuss them as well-meaning thoughtful fellow citizens?

  31. Jim
    Posted July 9, 2005 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Mark, can’t you do something to silence this Shanster person?

    Actually, Shanster, I appreciate your efforts to engage the readers of this blog in conversation.

    A couple of things: In the link Mark provides, Kos wrote:

    “Reality is, we hate everything Islamic fundamentalism stands for. On the other hand, the Dobson’s of the Republican Party — you know, the people running the show — have far more in common with the enemy than they’d ever like to admit.”

    This is a far cry from saying that “we hate fundamentalists.”

    Second, most American liberals ARE Christians, and they are offended by statements that seem to assume that liberals can’t be Christians, and that real Christians are always theologically and politically conservative.

    My bad joke aside, liberals are not trying to silence Christians. In an overwhelmingly Christian country, how could we? We just want religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

  32. Jim
    Posted July 9, 2005 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    OOPS! After the first line of the previous post, I put the word JOKE! in brackets, but the program must have interpreted it as code and omitted it. I hope that my attempt at humor was recognized as such anyway.

  33. chris
    Posted July 9, 2005 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    The Kos post was accurate and amusing. Um, yeah, I’m a Christian liberal. In fact, church is pretty much where I learned to be a liberal.

    My first detailed explanation of the theory of evolution was in Bio 101, taught by a…drum roll please…nun! So go ahead put creationism and ID in the classroom but put it where it belongs, theology 101/intro to world religions, Hx of science. There is plenty of room for these concepts in the canon.

    Shanster, you brought it up, not us! And seriously, I so agree w/ Jim about many liberals being Christians and the converse. In fact, all the rhetoric around liberalism precluding Christianity subtly smacks of anti-semitism. Not you Shanster, just the cult of christian fundamentalism.

  34. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 10, 2005 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m suspicious of any fundamentalist or extremist ideology — whether political or religious — since it seems to bring out the worst in people. By definition, extremists tend not to be pragmatic or tolerant; they see only one way. So yes, I don’t agree with fundamentalist Christians, but it’s the fundamentalism that bugs me, not the Christianity. Fundamentalist atheists bug me too.

    Another point — disagreeing with someone is not the same as trying to “silence” them. Christianity of all kinds seems to be flourishing in this country. Do you know of anyone who is trying to censor it?

  35. Shanster
    Posted July 10, 2005 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the quote from the Kos:
    “The reasons we hate the American Taliban are the same reasons we hate fundamentalists of all stripes — they seek to impose their own moral code on the rest of society, and do so with the zeal and moral absolutism possible only from those who believe they are doing “God’s work”.

    I guess my definitions of fundamentalist/Christian/conservative do need to be refined a little. For those of us on the right, it is sometimes hard to imagine Christians taking liberal views, but I understand that many do. sorry.

  36. Doug Skinner
    Posted July 10, 2005 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Shanster — Many liberal Christians cite Martin Luther King as a model: he was a Christian liberal, no?

    On the other hand, even Pope John Paul II — not exactly a liberal, but certainly a Christian — was highly critical of such conservative positions as unbridled capitalism, the death penalty, and the war in Iraq.

    So — people disagree! That’s hardly news; they always have.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughtful posts; and I agree we should all steer clear of hateful rhetoric. It does no good.

  37. Jim
    Posted July 10, 2005 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Shanster–thanks again for your constructive remarks, and in particular, thanks for pointing out that Kos quote. It’s very unfortunate that he said that and that few people called him on it in the comments section, but that’s typical of the strident tone of that (imho otherwise valuable and informative) site. I’m not sure why so many have difficulty making the “love the sinner, hate the sin” distinction.

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