Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Hate-Filled Religious Terrorists Think They Are the Good Guys

This is what a hate-filled religious terrorist looks like:





Barry West is a County Commissioner in Tennessee.  He posted this image on Facebook, which then went viral.  He was embarrassed enough to take it down, but not to take it back. He says he is “prejudiced against anyone who’s trying to tear down this country, Muslims, Mexicans, anybody.”

Objectively, he is threatening violence against people he defines as enemies of his way of life because they are of a different religion.  That is what "hate-filled religious terrorist" means.

What he thinks he is doing is defending the good against people who are objectively evil.  Which is exactly what the terrorists who attack our country think they are doing, too.

Worse, Mr. West is a government official threatening fellow Americans because of their religion. But he doesn't see that that is what he is doing, because he doesn't see Muslims as fellow Americans. Worse, he doesn't see armed threats by government officials as the worst kind of terrorism.

We will not understand what the terrorists who attack us are until we see that they think they are the good guys defending their way of life, just as we do.

I am not arguing that the 9/11 attackers or the Boston Marathon bombers were actually good guys.  They were actually hate-filled religious terrorists who did very evil things.  I am arguing, though, that when Americans make the same kinds of threats, they are becoming the thing they hate, while imagining they are doing the opposite.

37 comments:

Nancy Botwin said...

The difference is this guy IS the good guy and the terrorists are the BAD guys. You are making the moral equivalence error. And of course he was just making a point... first amendment and all. Don't be so serious...

gruntled said...

What point was Mr. West making?

Nancy Botwin said...

It doesn't matter to you does it.

gruntled said...

Yes, that is why I asked.

Nancy Botwin said...

He is against the overthrow of our country by anyone regardless of race or religion. He is saying don't mess with us, were are not all wimps. He was exercising free speech.

gruntled said...

Al Qaeda killed people in the World Trade Center because "Christians/Crusaders/Americans" were trying to overthrow their country. They did not distinguish between the few actual American Christians who had an armed camp in their country and the millions of other American Christians (not to mention non-Americans and non-Christians) who worked in the World Trade Center. That is what makes them religious terrorists.

In the same way, Commissioner West does not distinguish between the few actual Muslims who have attacked our country and the millions of Muslims, including American Muslims, who have not in any way threatened our country and, indeed, contribute to its greatness just like other Americans. That is what makes him a religious terrorist.

Commissioner West's free speech is in no way imperiled if anyone else freely speaks to point out how un-American his speech is.

Constructive Feedback said...

Professor Weston:

Here is my argument that will successfully strip away your attempt at framing "right-wing religious hate" as the only "Bad Guys Who Think They Are Good Guys".

Rev Jim Wallis of "Sojourners" - a Progressive Christian. He is committed to training his "grace" upon the border states where RIGHT-WING forces like Barry West are executing their "hatred and xenophobia" against Hispanics.

I am sure that you are pleased with the works of Rev Wallis.

BUT WAIT, Professor Weston - "JESUS does not respect MAN MADE POLITICAL BOUNDARIES".

As we hear the constant mass murders and "lynchings" in cities miles south of the US/Mexico border - there is a massive bit of SILENCE coming from the pulpit of Rev Wallis and others who vow to apply the "Protective Hands Of The Lord" upon the Mexican................once he makes it across the border and is threatened by (White American) Right Wing forces.

So tell me, Professor Weston - what is your view of the "Left-Wing Religious GOOD GUYS" who never seem to go on missionary trips beyond the political boundaries of the United States - never going where their POLITICAL INFLUENCE IN ELECTIONS AND POLICY attenuates and only "Their JESUS" is present as guidance.

Are you sure that overt "hatred" is the only type of misappropriation of religion in this space, sir?

Ken Lammers said...

A hate-filled religious terrorist would be someone who believes he has a positive duty under his religion to go out and do X to others to make them act in a certain manner. This man is reacting to a perceived threat. He may be over-reacting, but there's nothing here to indicate that his reaction is religion based or that he feels that he has a positive duty to seek out and harm or cause fear in those not of his religion in order to force them to behave in a certain manner.

Anonymous said...

Professor,

Unlike the bulk of your commenters, I tend to agree with the gist of your post. Hatred and threatened violence on the basis of religion is what connects hate-mongers like Mr. West and terrorists like those who perpetrated the 9-11 attacks.

Nancy’s concern that you are applying moral equivalence doesn’t hold up because while you seem to find Mr. West’s post reprehensible, I did not hear you calling for severe criminal penalties (as you undoubtedly would for those whose bombs killed and injured many people). To say that the same misguided and disgusting motives inspire two people is not the same as implying that their actions or plans are morally equivalent.

However, I do think one distinction is in order. Calling Mr. West a terrorist assumes that his hateful post was done to incite fear in a particular group (Muslims). That’s what terrorism is; action, threats, communications, violence, propaganda, etc. that seeks to disrupt people’s lives through fear. While I cannot know for certain, I suspect that Muslims were not Mr. West’s target audience. Rather I suspect his goal was to foster in the minds of his like-minded constituents the kind of testosterone-riddled, we’ll-put-a-boot-in-your-ass, don’t-mess-with-Texas, “patriotism” that trades on hate and fear and that don’t tolerate any backtalk from brown people anywhere (as his later explanation makes clear.)

While I (obviously) find words and actions like that appalling—I think Mr. West would be more accurately described as a hate-monger (since he trades on hate and fear) than a terrorist (since his apparent target audience was other right-wingers and not Muslims).

gruntled said...

To Constructive Feedback:

I don't see anything in Rev. Wallis' actions that make him a terrorist - or even indicate that he is hate-filled.

gruntled said...

To Ken Lammers:

"A hate-filled religious terrorist would be someone who believes he has a positive duty under his religion to go out and do X to others to make them act in a certain manner."

I have to disagree. A terrorist is not trying to make others act in a certain way. A terrorist is trying to induce terror by threatening violence and/or carrying out violence.

gruntled said...

To Anonymous:

Mr. West's overt act in his post is to point a gun at Muslims. I think that counts as religious terrorism under any definition.

The fact that he did not think about how actual Muslims, especially American Muslims, would feel that threat of religious terrorism only goes to show that he is thoughtless and self-absorbed. It does not reduce the content of religious terrorism in his message.

And the fact that he thinks he is defending the good against other people's threat of violence just proves my larger point (on which we agree).

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]I don't see anything in Rev. Wallis' actions that make him a terrorist - or even indicate that he is hate-filled. [/quote]

With all due respect sir - THAT'S YOUR PROBLEM!!!

You FRAME and/or ACCEPT THE FRAMING of an indictment against others - most of whom just happen to be "Right-wing Adversaries".

YOU want to keep the discussion upon "Terrorists" and "Hate Mongers" who seek to impugn a "vulnerable minority".

I added a kerfuffle to your framing - making note that your "Heroes", while rarely out of alignment with YOUR value of "open access to opportunity" and reduction of speech made to "rile up" their opponent - is himself INCOMPETENT at going into a green-field where "Jesus" is made to take cover from the flying bullets as his Progressive Disciples bring order where there is chaos.

INSTEAD they are most expert at coming into the place where there is relative "law and order" and then expend their altruism on behalf of the least of these by pushing against THEIR domestic "Hate Groups" (your word) as they are made the heroes by allowing free passage.

I cannot be any more clear than this.
I will be forced to assign the notion of "willful ignorance" if you can't speak to how the "American Progressive" is both SILENT and INEPT in extending their grace beyond the "man made border" as they reach out to "equal human beings in need" within the lands that they seek to depart from.

Where is their competency at providing structural support where "the least of these" reside?

Of the worst kind said...

Comments have ignored your statement that, "he doesn't see armed threats by government officials as the worst kind of terrorism." and its implications on our current second amendment debate.

The second amendment states, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I doubt Mr. West would agree but, to the extent Americans should still possess it, a right to bear arms is founded in the need to control the kind of bigotry and hate mongering cloaked in government authority that he promotes.

Anonymous said...

For once gruntled is completely right. Anonymous, the fact that West may claim that his audience was an in joke confined to a group of his like minded -- or should I say, like, mindless -- peers doesn't let him off the hook. That claim is probably disingenuous and if not then he's a naive terrorist rather than a sophisticated one. He published a terroristic message. Had he confined it to his family, then you could excuse him as "hate monger" but that's a trivial distinction. Hate mongers aid and abet terrorists. The distinction here isn't like the one between civilians and combatants. It's more like between coming up with a business plan and actually starting up a business.

Nancy Botwin said...

Sometimes the truth is politically incorrect..

Nancy Botwin said...

Sometimes the truth is politically incorrect..

Pooch said...

It is a joke politically correct friends.

gruntled said...

If the same guy were wearing an Arab headdress, and the word "Christian" were substituted for "Muslim," would you take it as a joke?

Pooch said...

No because way to many bad ones have attacked us.

Pooch said...

If he were we love gays and religious tolerance... the it would be funny.

Ken Lammers said...

I started to comment here again, but it became much too large so I put it up over at my CrimLaw blog.

Nancy Botwin said...

You sometimes lack moral clarity...

gruntled said...

Let me be clear then.

The vast majority of American Muslims are just as good Americans as the vast majority of American Christians. The vast majority of Muslims in the world as just as good people as the vast majority of every other great religion's believers.

We welcome all faiths in this country. People who threaten other Americans because of their religion are un-American.

People who think that the worst Muslims are the typical Muslims are as foolish as people who think Westboro Baptist Church members are typical Christians.

Nancy Botwin said...

I don't welcome radical Islam...

gruntled said...

Do you welcome regular Muslims?

Nancy Botwin said...

Absolutely my neighbors are regular Muslims...

gruntled said...

So you would share my objection to Mr. West pointing a shotgun at your neighbors, yes?

Because that is what he is doing in the picture.

Nancy Botwin said...

We grind our axes in different ways. You call tea partiers tea baggers. There are good and bad tea partiers and Muslims.

Nancy Botwin said...

I think that the IRS investigating the tea party because of politics would get you centrist's dander up. No.

gruntled said...

I did not see any stories about the IRS investigating Tea Party groups because of politics.

I did find stories about the IRS making mistakes in handling the applications of Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status. This report is from CNN:

"Multiple tea party groups reported significant delays and excessive questioning from IRS officials while trying to obtain 501(c)(4) status.

“The IRS recognizes we should have done a better job of handling the influx of advocacy applications. While centralizing cases for consistency made sense, the way we initially centralized them did not,” the IRS said in a statement.
...

The IRS said it saw the number of applications seeking such status double from 2010-2012. To handle the influx, local “career employees” in Cincinnati “sought to centralize work and assign cases to designated employees in an effort to promote consistency and quality.”

Acknowledging the system did not work, the IRS said it fixed the situation last year and has processed more than half the cases. New rules were issued last year, as well, to “ensure that these mistakes won’t be made in the future.”

“The IRS also stresses that our employees – all career civil servants — will continue to be guided by tax law and not partisan issues,” the statement read."

Mac said...

Beau said, "I did not see any stories about the IRS investigating Tea Party groups because of politics. I did find stories about the IRS making mistakes in handling the applications of Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status."

Here's one you should read. http://www.politico.com/story/2013/05/irs-knew-tea-party-targeted-in-2011-91214.html?hp=f1

"Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew employees were singling out conservative groups for extra scrutiny as early as 2011, according to a watchdog agency’s report set to be released next week, POLITICO has confirmed from a congressional source... The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that senior Washington officials were informed in 2011. The agency is not disputing the timeline included in the report... The report will also confirm that the IRS asked unnecessary questions of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status from the agency, the source said, and that there were delays in processing applications for conservative applicants and other c(4) groups."

But, hey, it's ok if it is conservatives who are the victims, right?

gruntled said...

Thank you for the link. I will follow the unfolding story.

Nancy Botwin said...

And it seems they also targeted Jewish groups because of politics.

Nancy Botwin said...

This story was leaked by Democrats and may simply be a diversion from the worse scandal Benghazi.

Nancy Botwin said...

Crickets

frank coulter said...

Now is the time to prove you are a moderate.