Applying the Golden Rule Collectively

March 15, 2011 | 39 comments
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0a-rockwell-golden-ruleChristian religions, in general, believe in what is widely known as the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In fact, as I understand it, most belief systems have some version of this idea. It seems to me that it is usually understood individually. But I have to believe that we should also apply it to groups — other countries, other peoples, other races, other sports teams… and other religions.

Despite its near universal acceptance, the golden rule is often ignored. And I believe that ignoring the idea of reciprocity is worse when it comes to groups. Somehow we seem to think that other groups don’t deserve what our group deserves.

Perhaps the golden rule was too trite to mention this past week when it was again so obviously ignored, while its uglier cousin, hypocrisy, was displayed. The hypocrisy in question was from New York Rep. Peter King, who started holding hearings last week entitled: “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response.” Opponents of the hearings remembered that King himself was a supporter of radicals—the Irish Republican Army, known for its attacks on civilians that would today earn it the “terrorist” label. [FWIW, Unknown among most Mormons is the fact that one victim of the 1998 Omagh bombing by the Real IRA was a Mormon teenager and his mother.]

Although it wasn’t mentioned, it seems to me that the golden rule is part of the logic used by many objecting to King’s hearings. “Hold hearings on other groups as you would have them hold hearings on your group,” they seem to be saying. On Religion Dispatches, Johanna Brooks points out that Mormons should not only put themselves in the place of Muslims in the King hearings, but that Mormons have already been in the place of Muslims in congressional hearings. The last religion singled out in hearings by the U.S. Congress was Mormonism, in 1903, when the Senate looked at Mormons in deciding whether or not to allow Reed Smoot to take his seat. [However, it should be noted that Congress has held some 22 hearings on "Radicalized American Muslims" over the past 5 years.]

At a UVU Mormon Studies conference this past weekend, Boston University Professor Stephen Prothero made a similar suggestion, observing that Mormons have long been compared to Muslims and expressing surprise that most Mormons didn’t side with Muslims over the plan to construct a Mosque near ground zero. “I think these Mormon Republican people in power are more Republicans than they are Mormons,” Prothero said. “If they took the time to see themselves as at least as Mormon as they are Republican they would do the right thing. They are more faithful to their Republican politics than they are to their Mormon faith.”

Both Brooks and Prothero emphasize the similarities between the Reed Smoot hearings and King’s hearing. Those who are uncomfortable with the comparison will easily find differences. However, it seems difficult to deny that the overall tenor of these hearings violates the reciprocity idea espoused of the golden rule. Just as it seems hard to believe that the Senators who spent four years investigating the LDS Church during the Reed Smoot hearings would have welcomed similar inquiries into how their protestant and catholic religions were run, so also it is difficult to see Congressman King keeping quiet about an investigation into the “radicalization” of the American Irish community, which, as I understand it, was the primary source of funding for the IRA.

When faced with this criticism, Congressman King dismissed the opposition as “political correctness.” Apparently the golden rule can be ignored if we simply dismiss it as political correctness.

I think the golden rule is a bit more important than just “political correctness.” And, more importantly, it must also apply to groups. We have to stop this attitude that somehow our group is better or more important, or exempt from what other groups face.

39 Responses to Applying the Golden Rule Collectively

  1. Course Correction on March 15, 2011 at 6:24 am

    Excellent post. You make a great point that the Golden Rule includes groups. For some reason it’s easier to demonize groups than individuals. Maybe the real test of Jesus’s teaching is whether or not we can extend the respect we believe our group deserves to others.

    Because the Smoot hearings were so long ago, I hadn’t made the connection to the King hearings against Moslems. Thank you for the Prothero link.

  2. Dan on March 15, 2011 at 7:09 am

    it seems also that people forget that the IRA got training and weapons from the PLO and from Qaddafi. So to apply the silly guilt by association that people like Rep King apply to Muslims, Rep King supported not just white Irish terrorism, but also Muslim terrorism…

  3. Jon on March 15, 2011 at 8:36 am

    The golden rule is used as the origin of the non-aggression principle which leads one to the abolishment of the state. Which can be called anarchy under the rule of natural law.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-aggression_principle

  4. Kent Larsen on March 15, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Fascinating, Jon. If we can ever achieve anything close to widespread application of the golden rule, then I’ll think about supporting the abolition of the state.

    This is one of the areas where I feel the best about Libertarians. I wish they emphasized this more. Instead they seem to only talk about eliminating regulation and downsizing government.

  5. Jax on March 15, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Can anyone give me a reason they think the Smoot hearing were a bad thing?

    Doesn’t every group have the moral authority to ensure it isn’t giving place to something that will destroy it? Every group has some standards, right? They held hearing on Smoot to discover if he could be trusted and if he would hold to the same principles they espoused. They had a question about it and used the perogative to be sure the questions were answered before allowing a potential evil to be admitted to the group.

    I don’t see why trying to eliminate people from a group who want to destroy the group is a bad thing; be it terrorists from society, gays from the BSA, adulterers from the Church, or any other… It is ludicrous to say that any group must except everyone without any standard qualifications. And since there are very legitimate questions concerning radicalized muslims in the U.S. I see no reason to hold hearings to discover the extent of the threat, if any, and to determine what actions should be taken accordingly.

  6. jax on March 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    *Correction to last sentence of previous post.

    I see no reason NOT to hold hearings…

  7. palerobber on March 15, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Jax #5:

    gays want to destroy the BSA? you mean by doing volunteer work for it?

    btw, if Rep. King determines, after his careful examination of the facts, that American Muslims are indeed a threat to the United States what “actions should be taken accordingly” exactly?

  8. palerobber on March 15, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    nice post Kent.

    though i’m not sure the key distinction is really between how we treat individuals as opposed to groups. do you suspect Rep. King would be any kinder in his actions toward a Muslim individual? i think your example is a better demonstration of the “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” mindset that Jesus taught against.

  9. Jon on March 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    @Kent,

    Yes, talking principles would get us farther. It would be nice if people would be willing to obey the commandments so we can be free. Just like the ancient Israelites that were unwilling to be good and then asked for tyrants (kings) to lead them, even then the Lord warned them through his prophet but they did not listen.

    I accept that in an imperfect world sometimes it’s good to compromise, unfortunately people don’t understand that (ordered) anarchy is the goal and minarchy (what the US was founded on) is the compromise. I really think anarchy will be what we see in the millennium.

    When people hear the word anarchy they usually start thinking chaos. It would be nice if, instead, they would think order, freedom, and charity. In a world of anarcho-capitalism there would still be policemen, judges, etc. They would just be private entities instead of monopolies governing by violence.

  10. Jon on March 15, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    @Jax,

    I think the difference between the organizations you are talking about is that the government (or, better said, the state) is a monopoly of violence and the other organizations are private organizations. Since we have the compromise that we have an entity that exercises violence over others in the name of protecting everyone it (the entity of monopolized violence) does not have a right to purge minority groups since they also need protection from the laws created and since they do have a right to live on God’s land (the Earth). If it were a private organization I would respect the idea that they have property rights, etc. But since it is not a private but public organization we should allow a segment of the population give rules to itself and have a say in the ongoings of the government.

  11. Alison Moore Smith on March 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    The Golden Rule is only useful if you have particular shared values. It assumes that what you want done to you is in line with what God wants for you. A pretty far-fetched assumption even for people are are trying to be good as Mormons define it.

    How does “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” work with a masochist? If someone gets great pleasure from hurting themselves, the Golden Rule says they should hurt others in like manner.

    How does “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” work with a thieves? Do they want to get caught, convicted, and put in jail? Or do they want to be let off the hook?

    How does “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” fit with suicide bombers? If someone thinks blowing himself up is a great idea with great rewards, what does the Golden Rule suggest he do?

    I really don’t care if you want to argue against these particular hearings. Have at it. But to suggest that somehow it’s ungodly to look into possible threats to our country — because, I suppose, you wouldn’t want to be investigated if you posed a possible threat to our country — rather puts public safety in a precarious position.

  12. Jon on March 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    @Alison,

    Yes, that is a conundrum. But we see the results of this natural law. We, as a country, have trampled on others for quite some time now (decades) and now we see the results of this, others attacking us. Hence, the reason Jesus said do unto others as we would have done unto us. Typically, if you treat others nicely they will treat you nicely. Conversely if you treat them poorly they will treat you poorly. Now this natural law does not say we cannot defend ourselves. If I attacked you I would expect that you would defend yourself, staying within the Golden Rule. If you would like to understand this principle better you can read the scriptures and you can read philosophical papers and books on it by many libertarians. Mises.org is a great source. Just look up the non-aggression principle which is just another way of saying the Golden rule. Neither of which says you cannot defend yourself.

  13. Brad Dennis on March 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Thanks for giving it to Peter King.

    Talk about the continued ignorance to the fact that Muslim leader after Muslim leader has already vociferously denounced radical Islam and al-Qaeda.

    These hearings do have a point, however. But it is not to actually investigate how many Muslims actually hold extremist views. Rather, it is to spread Islamophobia, push the notion that the American Muslim population is largely sympathetic to Islamic extremism, paint Obama as “soft on Islamic radicalism,” and ultimately poise the Republican Party as the true defenders of this nation. Political theatrics at its best!

  14. Kent Larsen on March 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I think you all have missed the point — probably because I didn’t make it clear in the post. The point is that both the Smoot hearings and Congressman King’s hearings single out a specific religion assuming that they are by nature a risk.

    The problem with the hearings is the assumption that Muslims are the problem, just as the problem in the Smoot hearings was its focus on Smoot’s religion instead of his ability to serve.

    Oh, and Allison, I believe we do have shared values with Muslims regarding the golden rule. Islam teaches “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

  15. Jon on March 16, 2011 at 12:56 am

    It’s interesting to note that the catholics were also treated the same way. Hence the reason it was such a big deal that JFK became president. Also, reading the preface to the Fox’s Book of the Martyrs has a pretty anti-catholic stance and the guy talks about how the US is going to end because they are coming here (to the US) (that version came either from gutenburg.org or archive.org).

  16. Jax on March 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Does it matter that muslim leader after muslim leader denounces violence if there are still SOME muslim leaders who advocate for the destruction of the U.S. and its citizens?

    This country, and every country, has the moral obligation to its citizens to investigate all threats to its citizens – defending its citizens is one of the few legitimate reasons for government. If the threat comes from a religious group, so be it.

    I don’t think most muslims are terrorists, or that there is any reason to persecute/revile/deport/etc muslims because of their religion. But I dare say that anyone who says that the religion of Islam has NO relation to terrorism is either a blithering idiot or a blatant liar.

    If the current Congress thinks that modern Mormons are being radicalized and may start killing others, then it would be unconscionable for them NOT to investigate the threat. And I would be more than willing to participate with them to find and eliminate any Mormons that caused such a threat. We must be allowed to investigate threats in order to protect ourselves. If we aren’t, or if we don’t, then we might as well disband the union now because it will never last if not allowed to defend itself and its people!

  17. Jax on March 16, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Kent

    We do share many of the same values as Muslims. In many ways I think our stated values and history more closely resemble Islam than Protestant Christianity. But Rep. King isn’t holding hearings on radical Islam because of some unjustified dislike for them, he is holding them because Muslims keep strapping bombs onto themselves and slaughter americans and others.

    IMO the Smoot hearings were perfectly justified. The US legislators were worried Mormons were a threat and/or disloyal. It was there duty, just as it is today, to protect their constituents and all americans by knowing whether or not it was true and what could or should be done about it. It is likewise Congress’ duty to do the same today for all credible threats no matter what their source is. Radical Islam is a credible threat and to ignore that threat because it comes from a religion would be irresponsible. Let them hold the hearings and discover IF there is a threat and what the best thing to do about it would be.

    @ palerobber

    I doubt very much that anyone will find that all american muslims are violently dangerous, as your question suggests. But that small percentage that is/are planning violent attacks against americans, or advocating them to others, needs to be dealt with. If they are citizens then police forces need to use the legal system and prosecute them properly. If they aren’t then IMO they should be deported at the very least! Our freedoms can’t reasonably called upon to justify wheeling the trojan horse within our gates!

  18. Jon on March 16, 2011 at 9:05 am

    @Jax,

    If the US wants to get to the bottom of why people don’t like us in other countries why don’t we have hearings on how our foreign policy affects others views on us? Why don’t we have hearings on blow back? Why do we insist on seeing the mote in others eyes but not the beam in our own?

    Jax, this just amounts to paranoia. God has promised us protection as long as we live righteously. We have a beam and we need to extract it. Until then the hearings our useless.

  19. Kent Larsen on March 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Jax, if the King hearings were actually about security, I wouldn’t mind so much.

    Is there some reason that it is necessary to look at Muslims in all this? Why not just look at the security issues?

    Are you really willing to put up with the blowback on the LDS Church if Congressional hearings try to look at the FLDS Church and the sexual abuses its accused of?

    King’s islamophobia is well documented. Its not just about security. Its about a lack of respect for others.

  20. Brad Dennis on March 16, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Jax #16

    The FBI and NSA are already deeply involved in the investigation of potential domestic terroristic threats to the US be these from Muslim organizations or right-wing extremist groups. And they are doing a very good job at stemming violence, although sometimes things do slip through the cracks that probably shouldn’t have (i.e. Nidal Malik Hasan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallib). But why is it necessary at all to have a hearing? Does this mean that some politician should arrange a hearing on the investigation of the NRA to figure out whether or not they have sympathies for Timothy McVeigh?

    You suggest Islam has a “relation to terrorism.” How? Does this mean that Christianity also has a relation to terrorism based on the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and, to mention some recent examples, the IRA in Ireland and Britain and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda?

    My point: just because a person or a group commits acts of terrorism in the name of religion, such as Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA in Uganda, doesn’t mean that the religion itself is inherently prone towards terrorism. In fact the vast majority of Muslims around the world are opposed to committing violence in the name of religion.

  21. Jax on March 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    @ Jon

    I’ve been laughed out of Sunday School and Priesthood meetings for suggesting that the ills to our nations security issues lie in more faith than in more bombs. I couldn’t agree more that God WILL! Will! WILL! protect us if we were faithful and following Him. But we don’t. In fact we get worse and worse every year. And that makes us more and more likely to be smitten and wiped from this land just like every other nation that has turned its back on him. I understand that perfectly.

    As an Army Interrogator I had to be a subject matter expert in the field of Islam and Muslim beliefs, especially radical beliefs, so that I could understand the thought and positions of those I had to speak with. That was my job for a long period of time, and I excelled at it. Our foreign policy is a disaster and has been for most of 2 centuries. And I can’t blame anyone outside this country for hating us. I pretty much can’t stand most of modern depraved america either. But if you have a good option that will suddenly help us shed decades of bad choices and bad image, and that will suddenly allow the most grudge-bearing people on the planet change their mind that we are evil, please share with us all! I’d be all in favor of those hearings.

    Kent,

    I fully support all hearings into sexual abuse, especially of children, and even more so when it is being done under the banner of religion. The banner makes it even more frightening for victims to come forward. I assume any decent hearings will make it abundantly clear that the Mormons do not mirror the FLDS in any way in their sexual practices.

    Why Muslims you ask? Have there been ANY terror attacks on US citizens from people who weren’t Muslim in the last 10 years? It’s not that all muslims want to kill us, most don’t. But since some do it behooves us to find out who, who is teaching them to hate us (radical violent Imams who should be deported) who is teaching them to kill us, and what if anything we can do to protect ourselves – including, I hope, changed in foreign policy. If even some percentage of attacks were done by Buddhists, or Christians, or Hindus, or whatever, then religion wouldn’t be linked to this. But since they are ALL Muslim it is hard to ignore.

    Brad,

    I know the CIA and FBI are doing fabulous work. Most especially with getting allies and sources from within the Muslim community. Perhaps you don’t see the obvious here. Congressional hearings allow congressmen to hear from the people at the CIA and FBI and other experts in the field about the work they are doing, work that needs to be done, and what help through legislation Congress can offer. I think all of the alphabet agencies have far too many restrictions on their efforts and hope that these hearings will identify ways for them to more fully protect US citizens, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

    Of course Christianity had a relation to the crusades and the Inquisition. And if the Arabs didn’t hold meetings to determine the level of the threat that Christians posed then they were blithering idiots. And so are we if we don’t do the same! Maybe you haven’t been reading what I’m saying – I DON’T THINK MUSLIMS ARE “INHERENTLY PRONE TOWARDS VIOLENCE” Either I haven’t been clear or you just think that my support of these proceedings make me racist or an Islamophobe.

    And yes, if there is belief that that NRA condones the OKC bombing and that its members are threats, then they should be investigated too. EVERY THREAT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED!!!

  22. Jon on March 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    @Jax,

    Yes, being in the military will change your view on the world. It’s like the cops that see everyone as potentially bad since they work with so many people that are actually bad. I’ve only seen muslims at a university and they were all cool, even the Iranians. So my point of view is more all good. I read more about bad cops and military actions so I see more military and cops as bad (and mostly just government, not necessarily the individuals but the group as a whole).

    As for the solution. Take Christ’s advice, denounce war, turn the other cheek to show the world that we have changed and only fight in self defense for attacks committed on this land, not on others. Two things that are effective in change are civil disobedience (done correctly) and opting out. Opting out entails leaving the military and only joining it when we fight defensively rather than offensively (as Mormon did). We should wait to be attacked at least twice on our land before retaliating (see D&C 98).

    Abolish the CIA and FBI (free nations don’t need organization like these).

    It’s tough and takes a lot of faith but the end results would be astounding. I know you won’t agree with me but that’s my solution. Let people be free and they will act more responsibly.

  23. brian larsen on March 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    @ Jax #21

    ALL the terrorist attacks in the US in the last 10 years have NOT been perpetrated by Muslims. Whatever valid points you may have made earlier are now heavily, heavily clouded by that erroneous claim. Yikes.

  24. Brad Dennis on March 16, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Terrorist attacks in the last 10 years by non-Muslims:

    September 2010 – James J. Lee, a radical environmentalist, straps a bomb to his chest and with a gun takes hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Maryland.
    February 2010 – Andrew Joseph Stack, an anti-tax protester, flies a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. Kills an IRS agent and wounds 11.
    June 2009 – James Wenneker von Brunn, a white supremacist and Neo-Nazi, shoots and kills a guard at the Holocaust Museum in DC.
    May 2009 – Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist, kills George Tiller at an abortion clinic.
    August 2008 – radical animal rights activists firebomb the home of David Feldheim, a molecular biologist at the University of Santa Cruz.
    July 2008 – Jim D. Adkisson, an anti-liberal extremist, opens fire on a Unitarian church in Knoxville killing two and wounding seven.

    Actually the list goes on, but these are just a few examples.

  25. Brad Dennis on March 16, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Terrorist attacks in the US

  26. Brad Dennis on March 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Jax, a couple of points.

    1. Doesn’t the Patriot Act already give federal agencies enough investigative liberty? Sure it is set to expire this May, but last week the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a three-year extension of three major surveillance practices legalized under the Patriot Act.

    2. No the Muslims didn’t have hearings about the Crusaders. There was already a general consensus to keep the Crusaders from taking their lands to begin with.

    3. The question is not over whether threats should be investigated, it is over what constitutes a threat.

    4. The real battle is winning the hearts and minds of Muslims. This hearing is not helping.

  27. Jax on March 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Brad –

    Yep! stupid and mean people kill others. Doesn’t make them terrorists. The James Lee event is the only one on your list that can be construed that way, but I don’t remember any news outlet claiming he was a terrorist. Definitions of terrorists include using terror as a political weapon and/or as a means of coercion – not simply killing people because you are mad at them or think they are evil. According to my knowledge, which is limited, Lee WAS trying to exert political pressure, but acting alone usually disqualifies a person from the “terrorist” definition.

    Brian –

    The only NON-Muslim terrorist acts I can think of are by either ELF or ALF, but I am unfamiliar with anyone actually being killed by either group. There may be other groups that garner so little attention that I am unaware of them – I don’t claim omniscience. My comment mentioned attacks AGAINST citizens, by which I meant killing or injuring people, and didn’t mean to include things such a burning down mansions, destroying animal care centers, or writing threatening letters. By the same token I wouldn’t classify Osama Bin Laden a terrorist if all he did were send out his videos. He gets that classification because he engages in acts that harm other humans.

    Jon –

    Loved my job with the military, but hated the military. I made the argument in a LDS military priesthood meeting that IMO the Army personnel (individuals, not group) made us less safe because of their complete lack of moral conduct and total disregard for human life. I received an official act of reprimand from my unit commander (also LDS) who didn’t think my comment was appropriate. Ironic huh? I’m no longer in the military because of my complete lack of trust in its leadership and principles. Just so that you know we see eye to eye on that.

    But your solution isn’t viable for defense. It could change the opinion over time, but not suddenly enough that the purpose of these hearings would be moot. It would take the elections of a President who had spent 2 solid years campaigning on nothing except global non-involvement to even make the smallest impression on the world to have them believe we were willing to actually follow such a path. And for the radicals who want to kill us for past errors, they wouldn’t care anyway. It is that path we SHOULD be taking now, but it won’t have immediate success. But why not do both advocate for the peaceful approach moving forward and hold hearings to see how we can defend ourselves from those already dedicated to kill us? Perhaps the Lord would see fit to defend us if we when the peace route, but why don’t we do all we can anyway, just in case?

    You say we should wait to be attacked twice on our own soil before retaliating. Just incase our embassies don’t count (technically our soil even though it isn’t within our borders) or our military vessels or bases (also legally our soil), do the two attacks on the WTC not count?

  28. Jon on March 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    @Jax,

    Glad we could agree on some important stuff.

    I question why we have embassies in foreign countries. So I don’t know if those would count, right now I would probably lean towards the negative.

    As for bases we definitely shouldn’t have any bases in foreign territories. I would call them an act of aggression against other countries and could see why they would be targeted. If someone set up camp in your back yard I could see why you would do something to try and extricate them. As happened in Japan with the prime minister who campaigned on getting some US base(s) out of Japan. He had to resign. Good material for a conspiracy theory.

    The attacks on WTC etc constitute one attack, unless you include the bombings from years earlier. But destroying an entire nation was not correct retaliation. Going in and targeting the terrorist organization would have been correct. We went way over board, as usual.

    I wonder if the hearings are more about political theatrics than anything else. Kind of like when Obama says he’ll close down Guantanamo, cares about the middle class, etc. Just political rhetoric to gain votes and look “good” to a certain segment of the population.

  29. Brad Dennis on March 17, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Jax,

    Nice try. Terrorism is a highly subjective term (and at some point it seems to be a matter of legalistic hair-splitting). And the FBI’s official definition of terrorism isn’t agreed upon by all. Interestingly the FBI and the DOJ considered Hesham Mohamed Hadayet’s 2002 shooting at LAX airport an act of terrorism even though after a worldwide investigation, investigators found no evidence linking him to terrorist groups. Instead it was only because he “espoused anti-Israeli views and was opposed to U.S. policy in the Middle East” that they considered it terrorism. Follow the link here:

    http://articles.cnn.com/2003-04-12/justice/airport.shooting_1_federal-investigators-israelis-terror?_s=PM:LAW

    So if his apparent acting alone is considered terrorism, I’ll go ahead and consider the incidents I mentioned above acts of terrorism on the basis that they are ideologically motivated acts of violence designed to coerce people or groups (both private and public) to change policy, violence which may or may not necessarily be directly coordinated by a specific group, but highly influenced by the philosophies of a particular group or groups.

    Also by your more rigid definition of terrorism, name one violent act occurring in the US since 9/11 that YOU CAN consider an act of “terrorism,” committed by either Muslims or non-Muslims.

    So my point stands. What are the King hearings supposed to accomplish that actually needs accomplishing in relation to Islamic extremism? Isn’t enough being done already? Ironically the hearings are more likely to drum up more fear among Americans about Muslims, make them more suspicious towards Muslims, and lead to an increased sense of alienation among American Muslims. Excessive policing and surveillance of Muslims won’t make extremism go away. It is all about winning the hearts and minds.

  30. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Jax wrote: “I assume any decent hearings will make it abundantly clear that the Mormons do not mirror the FLDS in any way in their sexual practices.”

    This is exactly the problem. The distinction you make is lost on a hugh portion of the audience, to say nothing of those who are holding the hearing.

    Given King’s past islamophobia, its hard to believe that the distinction between islamic terrorists and mainstream Muslims (let alone peaceful Muslim fundamentalists) will be made successfully. It certainly wasn’t the first day of King’s hearings.

  31. Jax on March 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Jon,

    Definately need an embassy in most foreign countries and they are considered US soil, and reciprocally foreigh embassies in the US are considered property of the respective governments.

    Agreed about bring troops overseas home!

    WTC was bombed twice.

    Brad

    I know everyone had different defintions of terrorism. That’s why I didn’t give one but said that “Definitions of terrorists include” – I was acknowledging multiple definition while giving the substance of MY definition. I don’t know why the FBI classified him a terrorist, but by your definition every home invasion, rape, murder, and domestic abuse incident would be “terrorism”.

    What is interesting though is that you missed the main point that would have supported YOUR argument. He was probably classified a terrorist simply because he was Muslim – which does show the prejudice you are claiming exists. If we worked alone and hadn’t had any contact with a terrorist group/member, then by the definition we used in my unit and most I’ve read from other organizations, he was misclassified – probably because of his religion and having happened so shortly after 9/11. (the few reports I read after your post don’t say he is muslim, but his name and his Israeli targets give me reason to guess that he is).

    Maror Hasan was in contact with a violent Imam and opened fire of fellow soldiers to show political opposition to a war with fellow Muslims. ALF and ELF both are terrorist groups, but since they don’t target humans I left them out of my list as I mentioned earlier.

    I know about winning “hearts and minds.” And if you’ve been reading, I don’t think this country has had a good approach to foreign nationals or immigrants for many years. I was probably wrong to say “all” terrorism is by muslims, showing me 1 or 2 instances where I was wrong won’t change the fact that many muslims want to kill us and it behooves us to take steps to protect ourselves. You and Kent think that hearings don’t do that – I do.

    Kent

    during the raid on the YFZ ranch in Texas it was my opinion and observation that more people I know had a greater understanding that Mormons were not affiliated with the FLDS and that such and understanding increased, not decreased. So additional hearings would be good IMO. But you didn’t adress the point I was making – don’t you think we should investigate ALL threats, from religious and non-religious sources alike?

  32. Brad Dennis on March 17, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Jax,

    It is good to see you conceding on some points, or at least moderating your viewpoint a bit. I am also glad that you acknowledge bias against Muslims embedded in parts of the US administration, particularly in the case of the FBI and the LAX incident. I agree.

    However, you misconstrue my definition of terrorism. No I don’t think that individuals targeting individuals (unless maybe that individual is a high-ranking political official) over personal non-political issues is an act of terrorism. However, I do consider individuals or “lone wolves” under the heavy influence of a particular political ideology who commit violence against collective targets (or individual symbols of collective bodies, organizations, etc.) to be terrorists, albeit on a lower level than collectively targeted violence by a highly coordinated group. The FBI’s “ruling” on the LAX 2002 case serves as a precedent.

    So yes I agree with you that Major Hasan committed an act of terrorism. However, it should be noted that the FBI has not been prone to “rule” this as an act of terrorism, arguing that no terroristic plot was evident from his conversations with al-Awlaki (probably to save their rear ends from not taking earlier action against him).

    I agree that hearings on the state of homeland security could be greatly beneficial. But it is important to identify threats from all over (right-wing and left-wing extremists, drug traffickers/gangs, radical politicized religious organization) and not simply target Muslims. So in conclusion Peter King is going about this in the wrong way, putting on political theater more than actually discussing the state of security.

  33. Kent Larsen on March 17, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Jax (31): “don’t you think we should investigate ALL threats, from religious and non-religious sources alike?”

    Of course. I just don’t think we should start from a biased perspective, or single out a specific group in the investigation, unless the group itself is clearly fomenting the threats.

    That is not the case with Muslims, and in most cases isn’t even the case with Muslim fundamentalists.

    Oh, and from where I sit, there still seems to be quite a lot of confusion among people about what Mormons believe vs. what the FLDS believe. I don’t know where you are, but here in New York City not everyone got the distinction you think was clear in the FLDS coverage.

    Of course, that is still beside the point. It is simply not right to single out one group for examination when you look at problems like this, unless you can show that they clearly are behind the problem.

  34. Jax on March 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Brad,

    I don’t think my position changed, though I acknowledge a poor choice of words when I said ALL. Your definition is as good as any I’ve seen except for one thing: it is all subjective to personal opinion where mine was based more on concrete matters. Not that either is right, we just disagree on terms. By my terms my statement was correct, by your terms it wasn’t.

    I am more than happy to see your side and point out a strength that you may have missed because I’m not an idealogue and don’t care about “winning” an argument. With your acknowledgement of Maj. Hasan you appear to do the same. Now if only we could get others to disagree amiably we’d be getting somewhere in this country.

    You are right about the Maj. Hasan not being termed a terrorist because of the liability it causes for the feds. But everyone knows he fits all but the most strict definitions.

    Kent

    I’m in Arkansas and routinely get asked how many wives I have. But the recognition of the differences from the YFZ affair helped. Shows like “Big Love” don’t. So its an ongoing struggle that I THINK is helped by real events. I can’t site any evidence either way, can you? Otherwise we’re both entitled to our perceptions.

    I think it is impossible to act without a biased perspective for any proceedings on any topic. It’s only a matter of the degree of bias. King may be completely biased, but he isn’t the only one involved. Other congressmen hear the information from experts in the field as well as the informed citizens who follow the preceedings. So while rational argument may be wasted on King and some others, having good information, which is what I hope will be given in testimony (hopefully nothing like Stephen Colberts) can and should be useful in advancing our security concerns.

  35. Brad Dennis on March 17, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    OK Jax, thanks for the discussion.

  36. Jon on March 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Out of the billions of Muslims and the very few radical Muslims I don’t understand why the Muslim religion is brought up so much. If it were truly a violent religion then we would all be screwed.

  37. Kent Larsen on March 21, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Good point.

  38. ceejay on March 29, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    The golden rule is absolutely great in an absolutely ideal world. I appreciate the points Jax has made about how our world is not ideal. At the same time, I would like to adhere to the golden rule as much as possible.

  39. Kent Larsen on March 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    ceejay,

    I agree also. But I think I put the issue in a very concrete context. Its too bad that Rep. King isn’t willing to adhere to the golden rule as much as possible.

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