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September 18, 2015

Here's An Argument I Just Had

I was arguing that we shouldn't jump to SJW mob up on Ann Coulter. I noted that Lee Harris wrote about this yesterday, and could find only one previous statement of Coulter's that was arguably, and I do mean arguably, "anti-semitic."

That was during a discussion with Donny Deutsch, specifically on religion, when Coulter ventured that Christians that Jews were just swell, but needed "to be perfected" -- that is needed, like all other people (per Christian doctrine), to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.

Some Jewish people on Twitter took offense at that. (Most, it should be said, did not.)

But I have heard this claim made before: That to be "tolerant" of Judaism, a Christian essentially must accept Judaism as an equally metaphysically correct religion. That is, the idea runs that it is dangerous and "anti-semitic" to not make an exception for Jews in Christian doctrine. This is based on the fact that Christians have committed terrible crimes against Jews in the past, and of course anti-semitism still exists among some Christian populations.

But this idea seems to me to be nonsense on stilts, as it has seemed to me since I first heard it, expressed vigorously (if not always explicitly) with regard to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Many Jews who I otherwise respect essentially made the case, to my ears at least, that to proselytize for Christianity was, de facto, a sort of anti-semitism, as it could lead (and yes, it could definitely so lead) to anti-Jewish persecution.

While fully admitting the latter possibility, all religion can, in some circumstances, lead to anger and violence against nonbelievers. That's a terrible thing, obviously, but it can hardly, to my mind, justify a sort of demand that Christians rewrite their religion to interject an asterisk that then reads: Christ is Lord, but Judaism is equally valid and it's cool if you want to believe that too.

I've never heard such a breathtaking claim in matters of theology, to claim that a particular religion must admit that another religion is equally valid. No religions do that, except for a small number of explicitly fusionist religions which intentionally attempt to claim that all religions are, somehow, equally kind of true.

But no religion apart from such fusionist religions does so. All other religions maintain that they are themselves the sole and exclusive True Version of the Word of God.

To claim that Christians must accept that Judaism is "just as valid" as Christianity is as absurd as claiming that Jews must accept that Christ just might be the Messiah.

It's preposterous, and no one would accept such a proposition when laid upon himself. But people, being people, lay such rules upon Others with terrific aplomb.

This is why I always come back to the simple, powerful brilliance of the Shoe on the Other Foot test: If you are proposing a rule for others, and you would not accept a similar or analogous rule for yourself, the rule you're advancing is invalid, and almost certainly a creature of poor thinking our outright bigotry.

I mean bigotry in the sense that many people are willing to say "Well you have to believe my thing but of course I don't have to believe yours -- because mine is obviously right." That's a bigoted statement, because it provides no reason for treating oneself more favorably than someone else, except for the claim that "I, myself, am right."

I just don't get this claim. I understand that Jews are, very understandably, worried by what Christians might do if they get possessed by an anti-Other sort of feeling. Certainly their concerns in this regard are not hallucinatory.

But I cannot see how any thinking person could possibly put forward the idea that another religion must rewrite itself (down to the very core of it) in order to guard against that.

I continued to be baffled by this sort of thinking, and I continue being baffled at how people can never, ever recognize when they are making an bigoted claim.

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posted by Ace at 06:07 PM

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