Martin Luther King's Letter From a Birmingham Jail

On MLK Day, it's always worth rereading Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," one of the great political documents in American history. An excerpt:

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.

Whole thing here.

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  • ||

    One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.

    This is extremely important, and most people want to gloss over it. I will admit it; I have no desire to get thrown in the slammer to make a point.

  • ||

    PB, any point?

  • Mad Max||

    There is room for fruitful historical debate about Dr. King's movement, but the significance of this day is that, not only have Congress and other governmental bodies honored an African-American freedom fighter, but they have honored a Christian minister who disregarded the Klan-derived slogan of 'separation of church and state' in order to infuse Christian principles in public life.

    I have taken the liberty of excerpting some of the religious references from the Birmingham letter. Note that, the only time he criticizes organized religion, it is for not doing *enough* to violate the church/state wall and get involved in politics:

    'Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their "thus saith the Lord" far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid. . . .

    '. . . the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights . . .

    'We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. . . .

    'I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all." . . .

    'A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. . . . Martin Buber . . . Paul Tillich . . .

    'Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. . . .

    'If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country's antireligious laws. . . .

    'Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God . . .

    'I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. . . .

    'Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." . . . In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. . . .

    'I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

    'But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen. . . .

    'In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular. . . .

    'Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

    'There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.

    'But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

    'Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. . . . We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. . . .

    'As [the Catholic poet] T. S. Eliot has said [in Murder in the Cathedral, about the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket]: "The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason." . . .'

  • short, fat bastard||

    Just another communist that cheated on his wife.

  • Lester Hunt||

    Nick, Thanks for posting this timely reminder.

  • GILMORE||

    Is there a Ron Paul Freedom Report Update today?

  • GILMORE||

    Ahh crap, i got beat by a short fat bastard. Just another communist. Yep.

    God forbid people ever grow up.

  • Elemenope||

    ...but they have honored a Christian minister who disregarded the Klan-derived slogan of 'separation of church and state' in order to infuse Christian principles in public life.

    You better have a linkee for that, lest you get savaged for being a fucking moron.

  • Fluffy||

    In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

    I have to say that I completely disagree.

    Law is subordinate to justice.

    The victim of unjust law is entitled to break, resist or evade that law.

    If King's argument here was literally true, then the people who ran the Underground Railroad were in the wrong. They should have obeyed the fugitive slave law, or defied the law openly "to bring attention to it", accepting lengthy prison terms and the return of their charges to slavery.

    If King's argument here was literally true, if Socrates had declined to drink the hemlock he would have been in the wrong. Of course, Plato put words to this effect in Socrates' mouth, too, but Plato was a toady to power in the end. [That has a lot to do with why his works survived, after all.]

    The reference to anarchy seems to be arguing, "Well, if I defy unjust laws, other people may see my example and choose to defy just laws." This places far too high a moral burden on the individual moral actor - who by this argument has to account for the evil that others will do if he does good. And that, in a word, is crap. The evil that others do is their own moral responsibility and not mine, and the decision-making process they use to choose to do evil is entirely their own and I am not accountable for it. The fact that I am free to resist injustice does not entitle other men to consider themselves free to do evil, and I should not have to concern myself with the possibility that they may erroneously think that it does.

  • short, fat bastard||

    I grew up, but decided I didn't like it. So I have been regressing as the years roll on.

  • ||

    Not only do I totally agree with Fluffy, I would add that it is, in my opinion, more moral to break an unjust law. It is practically (but not actually) a duty to do so, so as to undermine it. I do not agree with peaceful resistance other than the fact that if it is done right (to the right oppressors), it can work. So it can be an effective tactic, but in my opinion, oppression deserves violence in return.

    Just another communist that cheated on his wife.

    LOL

  • ||

    Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade.

    King was no anarchist.

  • ||

    Agree with Fluffy on this. I can't even get through the first paragraph without wanting to vomit. "There is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade." WTF? No wonder the state pays such honors to this guy. Give me Malcom X over King any day of the week.

  • ||

    Since everything is illegal, we're all revolutionaries, now.

  • ||

    I guess I was thinking of people like David Addison and John Yoo, earlier.

  • Elemenope||

    If King's argument here was literally true, if Socrates had declined to drink the hemlock he would have been in the wrong. Of course, Plato put words to this effect in Socrates' mouth, too, but Plato was a toady to power in the end. [That has a lot to do with why his works survived, after all.]

    You managed to answer your own question in this paragraph. Sometimes, people care about things other than freedom.

    Agree with Fluffy on this. I can't even get through the first paragraph without wanting to vomit. "There is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade." WTF? No wonder the state pays such honors to this guy. Give me Malcom X over King any day of the week.

    He doesn't care about *every facet of freedom*!!! BURN THE WITCH!

    You guys crack me up sometimes.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "Not only do I totally agree with Fluffy, I would add that it is, in my opinion, more moral to break an unjust law. It is practically (but not actually) a duty to do so, so as to undermine it. I do not agree with peaceful resistance other than the fact that if it is done right (to the right oppressors), it can work. So it can be an effective tactic, but in my opinion, oppression deserves violence in return."


    You took the words right off my fingers Epi.

  • Fluffy||

    Sometimes, people care about things other than freedom.

    One thing they definitely don't care about is consistency.

    Plato spent all that effort writing a series of dialogues where Socrates doubts everything. And then writes the dialogues of the Apology where the one thing Socrates does not doubt is that one must bow before the state. Fuck Plato right up the ass.

    Mad Max's list is a little amusing to me, too. The apostle Paul doubted a lot of things, too, and was quite an extremist - but he too stressed that one must bow before the state. Martin Luther said, "Here I stand," and while standing there reiterated that one must always bow to the state.

    Somehow I am not impressed.

  • ||

    Elemenope,

    If that were just an isolated view, you might have a point. But King's entire political philosophy was riddled with mindless pandering to the state. I respect him for physically standing up to the brutality of Jim Crow, but as a political thinker he didn't have much going for him. In that respect he was nothing more than the House Negro for the establishment political class. Honor his acts, sure. But to hold his beliefs up as something to be admired is dangerous.

  • Fluffy||

    You managed to answer your own question in this paragraph. Sometimes, people care about things other than freedom.

    And by the way, this really isn't much of a counterargument, since you seem to be saying, "Well, Plato had to pretend he thought it was moral for Socrates to accede to his punishment, because that pretense allowed his works to survive, where his works may not have survived if he openly advocated defying the state."

    The fact that an obsequious argument may grant you some benefit does not make that argument true. And offering a false argument to gain a benefit doesn't make you much of a philosopher, now does it?

  • Mad Max||

    LMNOP,

    Happy to satisfy your curiousity about the Klan.

    See the following on p. 408 of Philip Hamburger's book Separation of Church and State - 'Separation became a crucial tenet of the Klan. When recruiting members, the Klan sometimes distributed cards listing "[t]he separation of church and state" as one of the organization's principles. Bearing this out, Klan pamphlets declared that "[t]he fathers" and "the founders of our Republic" had "wisely provided for the absolute divorce of Church and State." Both in the South and the North, members even recited in their "Klansman's Creed": "I believe in the eternal Separation of Church and State."'

  • short, fat bastard||

    Setting aside the question of whether or not there should be public streets . . . .

    There is a legitimate state function in requiring a permit to hold a parade on a public street. Traffic will be disrupted. Intesecting streets need to be blocked off. Security needs to be put in place to ensure the safety of parade participants as well as spectators.

    However, the entire point of holding a protest is to disrupt the daily lives of the general public. And, of course, protesting state policies and actions is clearly protected under the 1st. So applying a requirement to get a permit for a parade is an unjust action by the state.

    But I would quibble with the good reverend. The law wasn't unjust in its application, the state was unjust in miss-applying an irrelevant law to a group of people exercising their 1st ammendment rights to gather and seek redress from the state.

  • Fluffy||

    He doesn't care about *every facet of freedom*!!! BURN THE WITCH!

    Who's saying to burn the witch? I just don't think his argument concerning civil disobedience is correct.

    Emerson offered some silly arguments, too, in addition to some bad poetry, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't go fishing with the man. Thoreau too. Maybe not Gandhi, because he would probably set my fish free or something, or demand that I find him a homemade fishing pole or something, but maybe even him too.

  • ||

    Good morning all. Happy Martin Luther King Day.

  • ||

    For any of us that don't believe in an afterlife punishment for 'teh evildoers' violence or at least lifelong imprisonment (ass-rape variety) seems like justice to me.

  • ||

    Parade permits are not a reflection of common sense, justice or civilization. To the contrary, they represent one of the state's more mild forms of coercion.

  • ||

    Any peaceful resistor is, by default, bowing to the state. They are unwilling to attack the state (which can, of course, be extremely dangerous), which means they are granting to the state that which is most important to it: its monopoly on violence.

    This is why peaceful resistance isn't really resistance. It's coercion. It's convincing the state to change, instead of forcing it to.

  • ||

    The rights of assembly, seeking a redress of grievances and of association, if they are to mean anything, can not be conditioned by the very entity against whom folks are assembling for the purpose of seekking a redress of their grievances.

    Thus, King was illogical in asserting that parade permits are just. Does the servant dictate to the master when, if at all, and under what conditions, the master shall assemble and speak? Does the agent dictate when, if at all, and under what conditions the principal shall assemble and speak?

  • short, fat bastard||

    Thus, King was illogical in asserting that parade permits are just.

    This statement assumes that "protest" and "parade" are equivalent.

    I think there is a minor difference between an aggrieved population gathering to seek redress from the state and a thousand drunken Irishmen waving banners and wandering the streets on the 17th of March.

  • Mad Max||

    The idea of King's campaign was to mobilize public opinion against Jim Crow by exposing its ugliest features. Birmingham, at the time, was the place to go if you wanted to expose those ugliest features.

    If public opinion in the South wasn't enough, King wanted public opinion outside the South to get the feds to step in and use its authority to abolish Jim Crow. That part of the plan worked, precisely because of the brutality of the Birmingham authorities. In fact, the feds even went to far as to ban *private* discrimination, as well as government-sponsored Jim Crow.

    In that context, quietly and unobtrusively disobeying the Jim Crow laws would be pointless. If King was saying you *had* to obey these unjust laws unless you were willing to be punished, then he was wrong. But the whole point of his movement was they welcomed the public punishment, because the TV footage mobilized the nation.

    Saint Thomas Aquinas, whom King quoted, said a human law contrary to natural or divine law was no law at all. Whatever King may have thought, St. Thomas would be fine with ignoring human enactments which contradicted natural or divine law, whether you chose to publicize your disobediance or not.

  • Elemenope||

    See the following on p. 408 of Philip Hamburger's book Separation of Church and State - 'Separation became a crucial tenet of the Klan. When recruiting members, the Klan sometimes distributed cards listing "[t]he separation of church and state" as one of the organization's principles. Bearing this out, Klan pamphlets declared that "[t]he fathers" and "the founders of our Republic" had "wisely provided for the absolute divorce of Church and State." Both in the South and the North, members even recited in their "Klansman's Creed": "I believe in the eternal Separation of Church and State."'

    As I suspected, you managed to (sort of) prove that the Klan believed in the Separation, but it wasn't their idea, and was held by many who opposed the Klan's actions as well.

    Your argument seems to be: Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore all vegetarians are Nazis.

    Substitute "Klan" for "Hitler" and "separation" for "vegetarian" and we're off to the race.

  • ||

    "An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.."

    So, Mad Max, you would agree with the following examples:

    1. Income tax

    2. Progressive income tax

    3. Compulsory education

    4. Collective bargaining

    5. Empire building

    6. Redistribution of wealth

    7. Racial profiling

    8. Public sector employment

    9. The monopolization of the administration of justice.

    None of the above are rooted in eternal law or natural law.

  • ||

    Max,

    You should take up the issue of separation of Church and state with your own Church. Catholic doctrine believes in it.

    The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.-Allocution "Acerbissimum," Sept. 27, 1852.

  • Elemenope||

    Any peaceful resistor is, by default, bowing to the state. They are unwilling to attack the state (which can, of course, be extremely dangerous), which means they are granting to the state that which is most important to it: its monopoly on violence.

    So, um, why did MLK's tactics ultimately win the argument? And Ghandi's in India? Flukes?

  • Mad Max||

    Parade-permit ordinances? Allow me to suggest some reasons those ordinances are not in themselves wrong, so long as they're administered in a nondiscriminatory manner, with ample opportunity for people to get permits to march for their various causes.

    The usual use of the public streets is for motor traffic. A parade - a big one, anyway, tends to dirsupt traffic, so the authorities need advance notice so that the traffic can redirected. That way, there's less worry about pedestrians being run over, or commuters being delayed on the way to work.

  • ||

    Mad Max-

    Does Christ want Christians to worship the uniformed toadies of Caesar? A true Christian would never worship a state's soldiers. He may pray for their salvation and he may ask that Jesus forgive them for serving Lucifer-but he would not opine that it is good to rob people so that Caesar could field his legions or that the people should fete Caesar's legions with parades and call them heroes. Any argument to the contrary is inspired by he who is in the world. IOW, heathen horseshit.

  • Mad Max||

    Mo -

    That *was* a joke, right? You linked to Pope Piux IX's 1864 Syllabus of Errors, in which the Pope lists various *false* ideas which the Church repudiates.

    For instance, item 58. "No other forces are to be recognized except those which reside in matter, and all the rectitude and excellence of morality ought to be placed in the accumulation and increase of riches by every possible means, and the gratification of pleasure."

    That's on the list because it's an *error.* So is the principle of separation of Church an State.

  • Fluffy||

    Any peaceful resistor is, by default, bowing to the state. They are unwilling to attack the state (which can, of course, be extremely dangerous), which means they are granting to the state that which is most important to it: its monopoly on violence.

    So, um, why did MLK's tactics ultimately win the argument? And Ghandi's in India? Flukes?


    I would not go so far as to say that any peaceful resistor is bowing to the state. Not at all.

    I am saying that arguing for peaceful resistance and claiming that it's morally required, or that open defiance of the law would be morally wrong is incorrect.

    Peaceful resistance is still resistance, and can be quite effective under the right circumstances. Those who have practiced it should be saluted. But I am not going to let it remain unchallenged if as part of their argument for peaceful resistance they argue that unjust laws require obedience, and that if you want to resist an unjust law you are morally required to accept the punishment offered in the law.

  • Mad Max||

    'Does Christ want Christians to worship the uniformed toadies of Caesar?'

    Not that I know of - are you imputing such a view to me? If so, on what basis?

  • ||

    So, um, why did MLK's tactics ultimately win the argument? And Ghandi's in India? Flukes?

    As I stated earlier, this tactic can be successful, and was for both of them. No where did I say that it doesn't work. My point is that it still grants validation to the state, even though the state is performing the oppression in the first place.

    It's kind of like convincing some parent to stop beating their child. OK, they stopped. But it doesn't change the fact that they did it in the first place.

    Are those cheap wire hangers in your closet, LMNOP?

  • ||

    "See the following on p. 408 of Philip Hamburger's book Separation of Church and State..."
    Holy crap! In a book actually called Separation of Church and State, it took the writer 408 pages to get to the Klan! And the principle of the separation of church and state was Klan-derived? Sounds like either Hamburger needed a better editor. Or maybe you need to rethink this claim a bit.

  • 冉爽慷||

    I'm waiting for the day Gillespie gets around to acknowledging that MLK is at least as overrated as Pete Seeger. The major difference being that Seeger didn't get himself dramatically snuffed at a opportune point in his career.

  • Elemenope||

    You did pwn Mo, I'll give you credit.

    But now, Mad Max, if you'll be so kind, please return to the part where you attempt to tightly marry Separation of Church and State with the Ku Klux Klan, so we can work on you being pwned for saying something dumb.

    ...the Klan-derived slogan of 'separation of church and state'...

    Like the part where the Klan "derived" it. (WTF does that even mean?) I mean, they used crosses as symbols...does that mean the Klan "derived" the cross, too? How you feeling over there, with your Klan-derived crosses?

  • Elemenope||

    As I stated earlier, this tactic can be successful, and was for both of them. No where did I say that it doesn't work. My point is that it still grants validation to the state, even though the state is performing the oppression in the first place.


    Considering that Ghandi managed to *overthrow* the state, no, I don't get your point.

  • Taktix®||

    Your argument seems to be: Hitler was a vegetarian, therefore all vegetarians are Nazis.

    But LMNOP, all vegitarians are Nazis...

  • herodotus||

    Plato spent all that effort writing a series of dialogues where Socrates doubts everything. And then writes the dialogues of the Apology where the one thing Socrates does not doubt is that one must bow before the state. Fuck Plato right up the ass.

    That is a caricature of the sentiments expressed in the Apology.

    Socrates does nothing but express contempt for the assembly he is speaking to, albeit ironically. That's why more people vote to condemn him to death than had voted him guilty in the first place.

    And 'the State' as an abstraction meant nothing to Socrates (in fact, one might say the very notion of such an abstraction was a later invention of Plato). Socrates regarded himself as a member of a very finite and well defined community. Being found guilty of a bunch of trumped up charges didn't make him respect 'the state'. It is much more likely that he was kind of, you know, bitter that members of his community were that fucking stupid and petty.

  • Elemenope||

    And, as a little nit, Socrates didn't claim he *doubted everything*, what he claimed was that *he didn't know anything* and that everything he thought he knew should be doubted.

    There's a huge difference between the two. He was not a radical skeptic, just a person who believed that beliefs should be continuously re-examined.

  • ||

    Considering that Ghandi managed to *overthrow* the state, no, I don't get your point.

    I don't think "overthrow" is the correct word. Convince the British to allow self-rule? Sure. But the British made that choice.

  • Mad Max||

    The phrase got into the law in a 1947 Supreme Court decision issued by Hugo Black. Hugo Black probably got the phrase from his initiation into the Klan in the 1920s - remember that initiates had to pledge support for the eternal separation of Church and State.

    The Klan didn't invent the cross, but it may have invented the stuff about burning crosses in people's yards. That part seems original with them.

    Pledging initiates to support the eternal separation of church and state was certainly a Klan idea. That's where Hugo Black got it, and he introduced the phrase into Supreme Court jurisprudence. Where do *you* think he got it?

    On a related note, the metaphor of a wall of separation between church and state didn't come from the Klan, but it didn't come from the Constitution, either. It came from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to Connecticut Baptists, and it was borrowed by Chief Justice Waite for his 1870s opinion rejecting polygamist rights.

  • ||

    Not that mo didn't still get called down by Mad Max, but reading over the syllabus ended up being a little frightening. The Church arrogates a lot of authority under it. Though, given the context of the times, the syllabus seems more like a desperate case of sour grapes than it does any sort of grab for power. Interesting that our current pope also chose to be named Pius.

  • ||

    I'm utterly failing to understand why we should care that the Klan was for the separation of church and state. The Klan liked white uniforms, too. And so does the Navy! GASP

  • Fluffy||

    And, as a little nit, Socrates didn't claim he *doubted everything*, what he claimed was that *he didn't know anything* and that everything he thought he knew should be doubted.

    "I know only that I know nothing...except for the fact that the city is superior to me, so if the city says I should die, I must obey."

    And I'm sorry, I am guilty of an error. In my mind I always consider the Crito and the Apology one unit, because they deal with the trial of Socrates and then the aftermath of that trial. It's really in the Crito that Plato has Socrates argue that he must obey the verdict of the Assembly, even if it seems unjust.

  • dhex||

    "'As [the Catholic poet] T. S. Eliot has said"

    he was anglican, actually. dunno if that helped rev up or tone down his apocalypticism.

  • ||

    I did get pwned, you win this round Maxie. You're still full of shit on the Klan and separation of church and state.

    By the way, if the Klan using separation of church and state invalidates that concept. Do the wide variety of people using the Bible to justify slavery and segregation invalidate the Bible?

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    The quotes you provide are calls to bring Christian ideals into politics, not government. Those are two different things. In fact, keeping church and state separate is itself a very Christian doctrine, going back to "render unto Caesar."

  • dhex||

    "I'm utterly failing to understand why we should care that the Klan was for the separation of church and state."

    because the secular world is fallen and evil, probably.

  • ||

    Episiarch @ 11:14,

    You know who ELSE was a vegetarian?

    You know who ELSE built highways?

  • Elemenope||

    Where do *you* think he got it?

    Where *everyone else on Earth* got it. Thomas Jefferson.

    Nice slime-job, though.

  • ||

    Mad Max-

    Using the state to achieve religious objectives or using the state to impose religious objectives is doing the devil's work-it is just antithetical to the guy who is quoted in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

    Therefore, a real christian must be prepared to affirmatively proclaim that (1) robbing from others in order to field Caesar's legions is evil; (2) worshipping Caesar's legions and calling them heroes is evil. By contemporary standards, this means that a good christian must condemn the robbing of others in order to enrich defense contractors and to enable the state of Israel to brutally murder thousands. Anything less than an unqualified denunciation of the same is only so much heathen horseshit. A good christian just does not get cozy with the military industrial complex or with zionists.

    Moreover, a good christian recognizes that it is far more important to combat the income tax, the military industrial complex, empire building and zionism than it is to combat homosexuality and premarital sex.

  • ||

    That's where Hugo Black got it, and he introduced the phrase into Supreme Court jurisprudence. Where do *you* think he got it?

    My guess would be Jefferson who wrote, "building a wall of separation between Church & State," over 140 years before Black wrote that.

  • Fluffy||

    The phrase got into the law in a 1947 Supreme Court decision issued by Hugo Black. Hugo Black probably got the phrase from his initiation into the Klan in the 1920s - remember that initiates had to pledge support for the eternal separation of Church and State.

    The Klan didn't invent the cross, but it may have invented the stuff about burning crosses in people's yards. That part seems original with them.

    Pledging initiates to support the eternal separation of church and state was certainly a Klan idea. That's where Hugo Black got it, and he introduced the phrase into Supreme Court jurisprudence. Where do *you* think he got it?

    On a related note, the metaphor of a wall of separation between church and state didn't come from the Klan, but it didn't come from the Constitution, either. It came from a letter by Thomas Jefferson to Connecticut Baptists, and it was borrowed by Chief Justice Waite for his 1870s opinion rejecting polygamist rights.


    File this under "Mad Max is an intellectually dishonest [radio edit]".

    From the text of his statement he makes it clear that he knows that Thomas Jefferson talked about the separation of church and state over a century before the Klan was conceived, but he argues that Justice Black only knew about it from its incidental inclusion in writings about the Klan.

    There really is no limit to the stupidity people are willing to force themselves to pretend to believe in order to support their pathetic religious framework of belief.

    Remember it well.

  • ||

    wait but who said the Klan liking SoCaS invalidated it. Any more than the Klan liking white uniforms means the Navy doesn't wear them anymore - to borrow Epi's excellent example.

  • ||

    You know who ELSE built highways?

    Some guy of German/Austrian ancestry called...Eisenhower?

  • ||

    Joe-

    Off topic, but I hope you feel good about Jim Rice's election to the HOF. IMO, well deserved and long overdue. Who else in baseball history has led his league in hits, extra basehits, home runs, RBIs, slugging %, runs and total bases for a 12 year period (1975-1986)?

  • ||

    And why exactly does it matter where someone got the idea? If it's a good idea, then fine.

  • ||

    Mad Max-

    Where in the gospels does Christ ordain that homosexuality is naughty? Where in the Gospels does he ordain that homosexuals can not marry?

  • Nigel Watt||

    Given that the Klan only arose after the Civil War, and Jefferson was the first (to my knowledge) to discuss separation between church and state, Mad Max is retarded.

  • BDB||

    The Klan being for separation of Church and state is about as meaningful as the fact Karl Marx was for gun rights.

  • NotThatDavid||

    Some guy of German/Austrian ancestry called...Eisenhower?



    Exactly. Coincidence...or conspiracy?

  • ||

    BTW, the Klan didn't invent the burning cross. That was an old Scottish technique. The Klan adopted it, because they were purposely reaching for Scottish-appearing symbolism (like calling themselves clan), sort of like the Masons did with ancient Egyptian symbolism.

    There's a story about some Scottish-American supporters of James Michael Curley lighting some crosses on some hill tops surrounding the location where he gave a big, outdoor speech. He told the crowd that the Klan was trying to intimidate him, but he would not let them!

  • ||

    Joe-

    Off topic, but I hope you feel good about Jim Rice's election to the HOF. IMO, well deserved and long overdue. Who else in baseball history has led his league in hits, extra basehits, home runs, RBIs, slugging %, runs and total bases for a 12 year period (1975-1986)?


    Jim Rice was young joe's hero. That man had the greatest swing in baseball history. If he was playing today and taking plate discipline seriously, instead of the swing-away practices that dominated in his era, he'd have a .400 lifetime OBP on top of everything else.

  • T||

    Where in the gospels does Christ ordain that homosexuality is naughty?

    Not in the Gospels, it's in Leviticus 18:22-23.

    "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion."

    Nothing about lesbians, though! So my collection of lesbian bondage porn is bible approved!

    Seriously, Leviticus has all the crazy rules in it. I don't get the logic for picking and choosing which parts are good and which parts are bad, but my religious education is spotty and mostly self-inflicted.

  • Elemenope||

    ...neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

    This is also high in the runnings for funniest Bible verse ever.

  • Mad Max||

    I suppose I would elicit less protest if, instead of calling the separation of church and state slogan "Klan derived," I had used a less controversial phrase like "Klan-approved and announced from the Supreme Court as the law of the land by a former initiate into the Birmingham, Ala. klavern who had sworn eternal devotion to that principle."

    Before Black got hold of it, Jefferson's wall (whatever Jefferson's intentions may have been) was very low (or at least it had an unlocked gate in the middle), so that there was a lot of crossing back and forth.

    In 1947, through Black, the Supremes decided to foist the 'eternal separation of church and state' idea upon the whole country - for the first time declaring that the states not only had to obey the First Amendment (whose first word is "Congress), but to obey a very extreme and attenuated interpretation of that amendment. For the first time, they decided to use Jefferson's wall as a battering-ram against the rights of the states (which Jefferson never endorsed - even his letter to the Danbury Baptists didn't claim that the feds could meddle with the laws of Connecticut).

    (They also decided that, from time to time, they would hand out dispensations to allow *some* jumping over the wall, on condition that they pretend it wasn't happening. Perhaps they hesitated to immediately enforce the full radical implications of their decision.)

    I didn't say that the Klan invented the idea of burning crosses, but of using these burning crosses as calling cards on people's lawns, rather than like the Scots did, to summon the (lowercase) clans.

    'Moreover, a good christian recognizes that it is far more important to combat the income tax, the military industrial complex, empire building and zionism than it is to combat homosexuality and premarital sex.'

    Maybe that's why I so passionately opposed the Ron Paul campaign - he was always going on about opposing America's militaristic foreign policy. Not to mention my posts cheering on the military-industrial complex and urging Obama to strengthen the American empire.

    And what makes zionism so *distinctly* evil? Or to be more precise, I don't like the lengths to which some go to 'combat . . . zionism.' From the American point of view, I see no need to support *or* combat it.

  • Mad Max||

    'There really is no limit to the stupidity people are willing to force themselves to pretend to believe in order to support their pathetic religious framework of belief.'

    You mean like the Syllabus of Errors being a list of Catholic doctrines?

  • St. Paul||

    Nothing about lesbians, though!


    Sorry, T. :-( [See Verse 26.]

  • ||

    I suppose I would elicit less protest if, instead of calling the separation of church and state slogan "Klan derived," I had used a less controversial phrase like "Klan-approved and announced from the Supreme Court as the law of the land by a former initiate into the Birmingham, Ala. klavern who had sworn eternal devotion to that principle."

    Yeah, well, you know who ELSE liked dogs?

    Seriously, Jonah Goldberg wouldn't write this crap.

  • RFK (Bobby)||

    Don't forget I wiretapped that anti-American bastahd.Otherwise you woudn't have known he cheated on his wife.

  • Mad Max||

    Now, joe, if I'd really wanted to Godwinize this thread, I would have talked about Nazi bureaucrats ordering the removal of crosses from classroom walls:

    'In 1941, the Nazi governor of one part of Bavaria, Adolf Wagner, ordered the removal of crucifixes from schoolrooms, but the resistance to this order, by the people as well as by the Catholic Church hierarchy, was so strong that it was soon rescinded.'

  • Salvius||

    This is also high in the runnings for funniest Bible verse ever.

    Matthew 4:2: "And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry."

  • Mad Max||

    'Jonah Goldberg wouldn't write this crap'

    I wasn't aware that Johan Goldberg was Catholic. I was under the impression that he was Jewish. Of course, both Catholics and Jews were targets of the Klan's wrath in the 1920s, the era of its "eternal separation of Church and State" campaign.

  • Elemenope||

    "And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry."

    LOL.

  • Elemenope||

    Mad Max, I'm pretty sure he was calling you a "cheap hack". i.e. Jonah Goldberg is a cheap hack, and you are just like Jonah Goldberg.

    Normally I would disagree, but you are, in this thread, today, acting like a intellectually dishonest cheap hack. You can do better. I've *seen* it.

  • Fluffy||

    In 1947, through Black, the Supremes decided to foist the 'eternal separation of church and state' idea upon the whole country - for the first time declaring that the states not only had to obey the First Amendment (whose first word is "Congress), but to obey a very extreme and attenuated interpretation of that amendment.

    If you want a federalism that holds that the enumerated rights don't have to be respected by the states, I'll trade you:

    I'll agree to unincorporating the Bill of Rights if you agree that the federal government can't intervene if a state becomes tyrannical and I as an inhabitant of that state decide to kill the governor, the state legislators, and all their police.

    Until that's the deal, fuck federalism, and hurray for Justice Black for pissing on it.

    In another thread I had fun listing a number of things that would justify a violent response from a citizen. We can add another one here. If a single tax dollar of mine is taken and used to establish a church, I am morally entitled to kill the tax collector, the magistrates, the legislature, the governor, the police, and the hierarchy of that church. If they all had a single neck, I would be entitled to cut it.

    If the states have a "right" to establish a state church, I have the "right" to fucking slaughter them as tyrants. Fair trade?

  • Mad Max||

    I'll try not to disappoint you too much, LMNOP, and it's certainly too bad that I didn't make joe's list of intellectually-honest conservative Christians.

  • Mad Max||

    Fluffy,

    I certainly don't see how your hypothetical crimes could be a federal issue (in most cases), so as a rule, I'd oppose any effort by the feds to take jurisdiction of your case. As a matter of federalism, your conduct would be for the states to deal with. Does that seem fair?

  • Mad Max||

    joe used to have a list, typed up in Size 12 Times New Roman font, of people whom he disagreed with politically but whose intellectual honesty he was willing to acknowledge. Sadly, joe has lost that list. The flea in whose belly-button the list was stored flew away.

  • T||

    Sorry, T. :-( [See Verse 26.]

    Ahh.

    "Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones."

    I'm claiming that means something other than lesbianism based on my reading of the signs and portents found in my accumulated belly-button lint. It could just mean the butt-sex or blowjobs.

  • Lefiti||

    It's amusing to watch market-worshiping cultists try to make up for "libertarian" hero race-bating Ron Paul by quoting MLK approvingly. Go fuck yourslef, Nick.

  • Fluffy||

    I certainly don't see how your hypothetical crimes could be a federal issue (in most cases), so as a rule, I'd oppose any effort by the feds to take jurisdiction of your case. As a matter of federalism, your conduct would be for the states to deal with. Does that seem fair?

    Absolutely.

    Cool answer.

  • Fluffy||

    Of course, both Catholics and Jews were targets of the Klan's wrath in the 1920s, the era of its "eternal separation of Church and State" campaign.

    The Klan's anti-Catholicism, like that of the Know-Nothing party, was based on a fear that Catholics would betray the United States in favor of the Vatican as a political entity. Catholics could not be trusted because it was believed their primary loyalty was to their church. Hysterical nativists thought that Catholics would seek to turn the clock back on the American tradition of religious liberty, and would impose Catholicism as a state church.

    Naturally, all of these fears were false. Catholic immigrants didn't want to do any of these things.

    It's darkly amusing, however, that if all Catholics were like Mad Max, the Klan's anti-Catholic hysteria would actually have been valid. He's kind of a Bush-like figure in that regard. He has an endless list of all the lies anyone has ever told about Catholics, but spends all of his time trying to make those lies true. Just as Bush spent most of his Presidency trying to actualize every propaganda lie ever told about the United States.

    We need a word for that. Some clever Greek-based word. Assuming there isn't one already that I'm just forgetting.

  • cunnivore||

    Klan-derived slogan of 'separation of church and state'

    uh, no. The separation of church and state was promulgated by the Catholic Church as a way of keeping kings from interfering with episcopal appointments during the Middle Ages.

    Of course, the separation of church and state was not intended to mean that religious people should never influence politics out of religious motives, which is what some would have us believe today.

  • robc||

    I think there is a minor difference between an aggrieved population gathering to seek redress from the state and a thousand drunken Irishmen waving banners and wandering the streets on the 17th of March.

    With the 1k drunk Irishmen, its hard to know for sure.

    BTW, is it bad from to show up at a St Patty's Day parade wearing Orange? What if you are descendent from Irish protestants?

  • Elemenope||

    Eirōneía An. Greek, root for English "Irony".

    How's that, fluffy?

  • robc||

    Ive already quoted from it once in another thread, but since we have already covered Catholics and separation of church and state, he is the appropriate section from the Baptist Faith & Message (SBC):

    God alone is Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power.

  • robc||

    Fortunately (in general) but unfortunately (in this case), there is no requirement for any southern baptist church to accept all or part of the BF&M.

  • ||

    Mad Max, I'm pretty sure he was calling you a "cheap hack". i.e. Jonah Goldberg is a cheap hack, and you are just like Jonah Goldberg.

    In particular, he's a cheap hack who used the same technique Mad Max is using on this thread in his hilarious book, "Liberal Fascism."

    Like Mad Max, he found shallow parallels between a modern political movement as an old, fascist one - you know who else was a vegetarian? You know who else talked about the people? - and tried to fashion an argument around them.

  • robc||

    This is also high in the runnings for funniest Bible verse ever.

    This one always makes me laugh, for 2 reasons:

    He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord."

  • Fluffy||

    Like Mad Max, he found shallow parallels between a modern political movement as an old, fascist one - you know who else was a vegetarian? You know who else talked about the people? - and tried to fashion an argument around them.

    I hate Goldberg, but that's not really what he did.

    The progressives believed in the perfectibility of man via the agency of the state. This led many early progressives to hold eugenicist and totalitarian beliefs that have subsequently been discredited. Pointing this out is actually instructive, and is not a shallow analysis at all.

    It would be silly and wrong to ascribe to modern liberals the offensive beliefs of some historical progressives. But it would not be silly and wrong to assert that the dark side of the collectivist antecedents of modern liberalism have been glossed over and deliberately obscured.

  • Mad Max||

    'It's darkly amusing, however, that if all Catholics were like Mad Max, the Klan's anti-Catholic hysteria would actually have been valid.'

    Yes, if all Catholics wanted to respect the religious freedom of 'sacramental' dope-smokers, to curtail the American Empire, to actually defend federalism consistently and from principle, not sporadically and from racism, to limit warrantless federal snooping on dissenters (even left-wing dissenters), and to defend the right to life of black babies in the womb, I can understand how Klan types would *really* hate the Catholic Church.

  • Kolohe||

    To be fair, King had already pre-Godwined the discussion.

    We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.

  • Mad Max||

    I lack joe's crystal ball, so I can't say what Goldberg's subjective motives were, but he certainly publicized some uncomfortable facts about liberals, like their support for eugenics, their praise of Mussolini, etc. Naturally, this doesn't in any way discredit liberalism, because all true Scotsmen, I mean liberals, oppose eugenics and Mussolini.

    To be sure, I am not a Goldberg fan, because he was a booster of the Iraq war.

    The best way for liberals to respond to Goldberg's inconvenient truths is to unearth inconvenient truths about their opponents, like how Strom Thurmond joined the Republican Party, and how John Foster Dulles was an isolationist, how Goldwater got so many votes from Mississippi segregationsists, etc. Trying to deny the history of liberal foolishness is a lost cause, which is why sophisticated liberals like joe are striving to deny any connection between liberalism (the pure 'ism') and actual historical personages who claimed the liberal label (like Strom Thurmond in 1948).

    If I may be permitted to return for a moment to the ostensible topic of this thread, that is, Martin Luther King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

    Modern secularists find it polically advantageous to pretend that they're cool with King's activities. Yet consider:

    King declared publicly that he saw "Hitlerism" in the Goldwater campaign of 1964. This could certainly be construed as support for Lyndon Johnson in the Presidential election of that year. An amendment to the federal tax code (sponsored in 1954 by Lyndon Johnson himself) banned churches from endorsing political candidates, on penalty of losing their federal income tax exemption. Unsurprisingly, Lyndon Johnson's IRS (to my knowledge) made no attempt to question the tax exemption of King's church after his political remarks. But one of the most influential modern secularist organizations, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (formerly known as Protestants and Other Americans United For Separation of Church and State), boasts of siccing the IRS on churches on a bipartisan basis, to punish them for daring to say that one candidates in an election may be better for their religious values than some other candidate. As AU proudly avows: "our first complaint was against the Rev. Jesse Jackson for attempting to use churches for fundraising during his 1988 presidential campaign."

  • ||

    I lack joe's crystal ball, so I can't say what Goldberg's subjective motives were,

    Uh huh. Crystal ball. That Jonah Goldberg, he's a mystery wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a warm flour tortilla. What could his motives have possibly been in writing a book titled "Liberal Fascism: From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning?" It's just baffling.

    ...but he certainly publicized some uncomfortable facts about liberals, like their support for eugenics, their praise of Mussolini, etc.

    You mean in the parts of the book where he doesn't assert that liberals did any of these things, because they took place before modern liberalism cam into existence? Whoopsie, you seem to have conflated liberals with early-20th century progressives - but once again, let's all keep in mind the complete and utter opaqueness of Jonah Goldberg's motivation.

    Naturally, this doesn't in any way discredit liberalism, because all true Scotsmen, I mean liberals, oppose eugenics and Mussolini. Absolutely right - all liberals oppose, and have always opposed, eugenics and Mussolini. Congratulations, you finally got something right.

  • Mad Max||

    'all liberals oppose, and have always opposed, eugenics and Mussolini'

    Does this include

    Sir Francis Dalton
    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
    Harold Laski
    Woodrow Wilson
    John Maynard Keynes
    Margaret Sanger

    Let me guess - they were nae True Scotsmen!

  • Elemenope||

    The best way for liberals to respond to Goldberg's inconvenient truths is to unearth inconvenient truths about their opponents, like how Strom Thurmond joined the Republican Party, and how John Foster Dulles was an isolationist, how Goldwater got so many votes from Mississippi segregationsists, etc.

    No, it really isn't. Where the hell did this come from? The best way for an intellectually consistent liberal deal with those areas of their ideologically sordid past is to say, "back then, people did bad things in our name. Some of these things were perversions of our ideology, and we should not be held to account for them. Others are inherent weaknesses in our world-view, and we have to be vigilant against them today. Look how we have been successful in not repeating many of those same mistakes!"

    Since when is tu quoque the best response to an argument?

  • ||

    The best way for liberals to respond to Goldberg's inconvenient truths is to unearth inconvenient truths about their opponents...

    Actually, the best way for liberals to refute Goldberg's silly little exercise in "You know who else liked nature?" is to do exactly what we've been doing - demonstrate through the success implementation of our political program that both in ideals and practices, we are the precise opposite of the far-right ideology of fascism, and of the once-widely accepted ideas, like eugenics or a Lindberghian respect for the energy of certain far-right European political movements, that Doughy Pantload unconvincingly attempts to pass off as being unique to the political left.

  • Mad Max||

    LMNOP,

    Your proposed response would be better, thought I doubt they'd have the guts to make it. If they aren't going to come clean, it would be better for them to misdirect attention onto their opponents - "we're the lesser of two evils!"

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    How many fascist governments called themselves "liberal?"

    How many have called themselves "Christian?"

    You REALLY want to walk this plank?

  • Mad Max||

    'unique to the political left'

    Just to be clear, bad political ideas are not unique to the left, the right or the center.

    I suppose I will have to turn in my hack credentials for admitting this. I really don't look forward to having my subsidy from the Olin Foundation cut off, but what's the loss of some lucrative corporate subsidies next to the importance of witnessing for the truth?

  • Elemenope||

    MAd MAx --

    I misunderstood your use of "better". I thought, originally, you meant "morally upright", not "instrumentally efficacious".

    Sure, casing aspersions on one's enemies, and the assorted skeletons in their ideological and personal closets, is an effective tactic, just not one I'm bound to respect. :)

  • ||

    Mad Max,

    Remind me, other than a politician, what job did the fascist head of Czechoslovakia hold?

    Oh, right...he was a Catholic priest.

    Please, let's keep talking about fascism, and it's political cousins.

  • ||

    Just to be clear, bad political ideas are not unique to the left, the right or the center.

    Actually, certain bad political ideas are not unique to the left, right or center. For example, eugenics, or admiration among people in the 20s and 30s for the apparent turnarounds in Germany and Italy. Those were ideas that could widely be found across the political spectrum. Or, in American history before the Civil Rights era, segregationism and white supremacy.

    Other bad political ideas, like the divine right of kings or the abolition of private property, are indeed closely linked with particular points on the left-right spectrum.

  • Mad Max||

    joe,

    I suppose if the Pope of liberalism made as many acts of repentance for liberalism's support for eugenics and the like as the actual Popes have been recently making for the misguided sons of the Church, then that would be nice.

    If the Church had a Francisco Franco Society the way Planned Parenthood has a Margaret Sanger Society, that might also be a problem, because it would indicate that the modern Church is glorifying people who did bad things under the "Christian" name.

    Of course, the Church had somewhat of an excuse for supporting Franco in the Spanish Civil War, viz, that the other side sometimes showed a tendency to massacre priests and nuns. Not the best way to win friends and influence people, if your'e trying to have the Church on your side.

    To be sure, the Church *did* make some criticisms of fascist beliefs while these beliefs were actually extant and influencing existing governments. They had to smuggle in the anti-fascist Papal encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge into Germany in 1937.

    And some would-be victims of Hitler found refuge in Franco's Spain, so there's that.

  • Elemenope||

    And some would-be victims of Hitler found refuge in Franco's Spain, so there's that.

    Also Mussolini's Italy. That doesn't make Franco or Mussolini any better. "Hey, guys, we didn't participate in *that* massacre. Hurray for us!"

  • Mad Max||

    'what job did the fascist head of Czechoslovakia hold?'

    There was no fascist state of Czechoslovakia. there was a Slovak Republic, formed after the German-inspired split between the Czech and Slovak lands. The President of the Slovak satellite republic was a priest, Josef Tiso, who was an embarrassment to the Vatican. They should probably have defrocked him, but I don't know anyone who says that the Vatican enthusiastically put him in office and said, "you go, boy!" The Vatican had less involvement in the installation of Tiso in power than (say) FDR had in getting jobs for Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss.

  • Mad Max||

    LMNOP,

    It doesn't justify fascism, but it was kind of a good break for the Jews who benefited from it.

  • MNG||

    Max
    What always kills me about this is that if they chucked seperation of church and state then for most of our history it would be Catholics that would have suffered, as for most of our history Catholics were frowned upon and WASPS dominated. There were many restrictions on Catholics in many of the colonies/states even after the Constitution went through

  • Elemenope||

    It doesn't justify fascism, but it was kind of a good break for the Jews who benefited from it.

    Oh, no doubt. Fascism *as an ideology* doesn't and shouldn't get credit for saving Jews just because they happened to save a few. This is why I had such a particular problem with you earlier making noise about elements of particular groups' ideologies that were almost tangential to them and then using those incidental relationships as a bludgeon to smear unrelated groups who happened to agree on the tangential point.

  • Mad Max||

    We seem to be a bit vague on the definition of "separation of church and state."

    I was thinking of (a) the ideological movement, going back as far as the Blaine Amendment agitation of the 19th Century, the Ku Klux revival of the 1920s, and the *Everson* decison of 1947, to impose arbitrary restrictions on the ability of the government to provide equal treatment to its Catholic citizens vis-a-vis the Protestant population, and (b) the modern crusade which grew out of the foregoing to exclude *all* traditional-minded Christians (and even Jews) from the public square, including not only bans of public acknowledgement of the Judeo-Christian Deith, but restrictions on the ability of private organizations to promote their values (eg, churches endorsing candidates, believers renting their property to those who observe tradtional morality, etc.)

  • Mad Max||

    Judeo-Christian Deity

  • Mad Max||

    And, to return to the ostensible topic of this thread, Martin Luther King is being honored today for activities which arouse the ire of organized secularism. Specifically,

    -He used religious arguments to justify particular government policies.

    -He actually expressed a preference for particular political candidates over others, defying the Internal Revenue Code.

    -He invoked religious arguments, based on allegiance to God, to justify breaking the law.

    Secularists don't like these principles. They only give King a pass because he's politically untouchable.

  • ||

    I suppose if the Pope of liberalism made as many acts of repentance for liberalism's support for eugenics...

    There is no such thing as "liberalism's support for eugenics." There was a period when support for eugenics was fairly widespread, and it enjoyed respect across the political spectrum, but there was never any point in American or world history when eugenics was a liberal cause. Or even a progressive cause.

    There was no fascist state of Czechoslovakia. How silly of me, I was thinking about the Clerical Fascist government in Austrian under Dollfuss. But thanks for bringing up yet another example of openly Catholic, openly fascist government. Shall we also mention the Croation Ustase, the Iron Guard movement in Romania, or the Rexists in Belgium? But why bother? With this statement:

    The President of the Slovak satellite republic was a priest, Josef Tiso... you've established that there was a stronger relationship between fascism and Catholicism than has ever been shown to exist between liberalism and fascism.

    Once again, I'm going to ask you, how many fascist governments have described themselves as liberal?

    The Vatican had less involvement in the installation of Tiso in power than (say) FDR had in getting jobs for Harry Dexter White and Alger Hiss. So now, not only are you changing the subject to "the Vatican," but you're conflating the appointment of moles whose missions and allegiances were unknown and who were considered to be ordinary, democratic-minded officials with the purposeful effort to create fascist dictatorships based on Christian principles.

    The commandment about lying certainly has a lot of give in your reading.

  • MNG||

    I'm all for getting rid of seperation of church and state so we can get to enacting laws like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Supremacy

  • MNG||

    I'd like to see some Religious Oaths brought back too, you know, like those barring Catholics from office.

    And who wants those people on juries and testifying? That was in at one time too.

  • Mad Max||

    joe, I know the flea who had your list flew away, but just for laughs, can you give me a list of people on this forum who dissent strongly from your political principles, but whose honesty you are nevertheless willing to acknowledge?

  • Mad Max||

    Just to play joe's game, what was the Soviet code name for Julius Rosenberg, the atomic spy?

  • ||

    I had such a particular problem with you earlier making noise about elements of particular groups' ideologies that were almost tangential to them and then using those incidental relationships as a bludgeon to smear unrelated groups who happened to agree on the tangential point.

    To drive this point home: support for contraception among Catholics in America today is about 70%, a number that far exceeds support for eugenics among progressives during the 1920s.

    Mad Max will go to his grave insisting that the less-popular position is definitional among the group he doesn't like, but that the hugely popular position he disagrees with is merely a fluke among the group he does like.

  • ||

    joe, I know the flea who had your list flew away, but just for laughs, can you give me a list of people on this forum who dissent strongly from your political principles, but whose honesty you are nevertheless willing to acknowledge?

    Rick Barton. Jesse Walker. Pro Libertate. Highnumber. Thoreau.

  • ||

    Just to play joe's game, what was the Soviet code name for Julius Rosenberg, the atomic spy?

    You must have me confused with someone who wrote a comment about code names.

    So...absolutely nothing about the fact that there have been numerous Catholic fascist governments just in Europe, just in the 20th century (without even trying to get into Latin America), but absolutely no liberal fascist governments, anywhere in the world, in the entirety of human history?

    If I was trying to argue that liberalism is deeply bound up with fascism, while Christianity is its opposite, I wouldn't want to acknowledge that point, either.

  • ||

    Mad Max-3:51 pm

    On that, I agree.

  • ||

    Although I believe they named Hiss "Liberal," in honor of the cover he'd adopted, as a liberal.

  • Mad Max||

    joe,

    So, of all the people at H&R and elsewhere who have disagreed with you politically, you can only identify 5 honest men (and no honest women)? Diogenes could have done better *without* his lamp.

    'So...absolutely nothing about the fact that there have been numerous Catholic fascist governments just in Europe'

    While I don't see the relevance to Martin Luther King Day or his Birmingham letter, yes, there have been plenty of Catholics who have claimed (in defiance of *Mit Brennender Sorge* and other authoritative teachings) that you can be a good Catholic and a good fascist. Just as there are "liberation theologians" who claim that you can be a good Catholic and have constructive dialogue with Marxists, or even serve in Marxist governments.

    There are even some weirdos who claim that you can be a good Catholic and support a right to abortion.

    The Catholic Church supports fascism, Marxiam and abortion - who could have thought?

  • BDB||

    Mad Max, if being a Fascist was incompatible with being a Catholic I think Hitler and Mussolini would have been ex-communicated. But they weren't.

  • Mad Max||

    BDB,

    Hitler never even tried to take communion as an adult. He made clear that he had no intention of doing so.

    The point of excommunication is to keep the offender from the Catholic sacraments, but Hitler expressed no interest in availing himself of those sacraments.

    Don't know the details of Mussolini's case, but I'm not aware of him trying to reconcile himself to the Church after the Catholic-bashing novels of his youth. He signed a treaty with the Church, but then, many non-Catholics have done that.

  • ||

    T-

    That is the point-not in the gospels. If Jesus himself did not condemn homosexuality, why do so many who profess to have heard his call devote so much energy and passion to condemning it?

    To be sure, some Christians will counter that the entire Bible is the inspired word of God. Of course, this position carries with it the obvious burden of supporting the proposition that all verses are equal-which of course contradicts the whole raison d'etre of the New Testament. Put another way, the Old Testament is the exhibition season; the New Testament is the regular season and the Gospels are the Super Bowl. If homosexual activity was so awful, don't you think Jesus would have said a word or two about it?

  • ||

    So, of all the people at H&R and elsewhere who have disagreed with you politically, you can only identify 5 honest men (and no honest women)

    No, that was just off the top of my head.

    I love this game, though: "Why don't Muslims ever denounce terrorism?"

    "They do, here and here and here, and here and here."

    "Well, why don't they do it MORE?"

    Dodge by the pwned.

    Oh, but this is hilarious right here:

    Mad Max | January 19, 2009, 3:16pm | #

    'all liberals oppose, and have always opposed, eugenics and Mussolini'

    Does this include

    Sir Francis Dalton
    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
    Harold Laski
    Woodrow Wilson
    John Maynard Keynes
    Margaret Sanger

    Let me guess - they were nae True Scotsmen!


    followed by


    Mad Max | January 19, 2009, 4:20pm | #

    ...yes, there have been plenty of Catholics who have claimed (in defiance of *Mit Brennender Sorge* and other authoritative teachings) that you can be a good Catholic and a good fascist. Just as there are "liberation theologians" who claim that you can be a good Catholic and have constructive dialogue with Marxists, or even serve in Marxist governments.

    There are even some weirdos who claim that you can be a good Catholic and support a right to abortion.

    The Catholic Church supports fascism, Marxiam and abortion - who could have thought?


    I guess they were nae True Catholics?

    But even this parallel fails to capture just how off-base you are. You have been able to find a handful of individuals who self-identified as liberals (or sometimes, didn't even self-identify as liberals, but as progressives, a distinction you're just sort of elided), while I've identified large movements and governments, ones that spoke for the majority if not virtually all of the Catholics in entire nations, which were overtly fascist.

  • BDB||

    How about Franco, Mad Max? Pinochet? They were "Catholics in good standing" to the day they died.

  • ||

    Joe-

    Jim Ed was also one of young Libertymike's heros as well.

  • ||

    While it would probably be fun to twirl Mad Max on his spit above the fire for a few more hours, my generally good moos inspires me to let him off the hook:

    Don't worry, Max. I'm not out to prove that "The Catholic Church supports fascism."

    Quite the opposite - what I've demonstrated is that self-identified Catholics, even ones who conceive of themselves as being good Catholics who are working very hard for the advancement of Catholicism, and who revel in their Catholic identity, even making membership in Catholic communities a part of their definition of the fascist volk, can hold beliefs that are wholly incompatible with Catholic teaching.

    That a few people of the left held certain illiberal beliefs does not make those beliefs part of, or even consistent with, liberalism; any more than the much larger body of Catholics who held fascist beliefs makes fascism part of or consistent with Catholicism.

    It's just a long, overly-developed exercise in "You know who else liked dogs? You know who else was a vegetarian? You know who else built a highway system?"

  • ||

    Jim Ed was also one of young Libertymike's heros as well.

    Good eye.



    True story: whenever a Red Sox batter comes to the plate with one out and a man on first, my best friend says, "And now coming to the plate, Jim Rice. One out, man on first."

  • Fluffy||

    That a few people of the left held certain illiberal beliefs does not make those beliefs part of, or even consistent with, liberalism; any more than the much larger body of Catholics who held fascist beliefs makes fascism part of or consistent with Catholicism.

    It's just a long, overly-developed exercise in "You know who else liked dogs? You know who else was a vegetarian? You know who else built a highway system?"


    This is the post where joe reaches out to Max because they both share an interest in burying the embarrassing past.

    You know what, joe? Catholicism historically elevated the concept of an infallible authority, the questioning of which could be a capital offense. It also made no secret of the fact that it considered the individual conscience a potential threat. The church also allied itself with monarchy and aristocracy in violent opposition to just about every liberalizing movement in European history prior to the First World War. There is just a bit more reason to view fascism as consistent with Catholicism than "Hey, you know who else liked dogs?" Social movements that stress authority, tradition and obedience have something in common with each other and it is perfectly cricket to point that out.

  • Fluffy||

    True story: whenever a Red Sox batter comes to the plate with one out and a man on first, my best friend says, "And now coming to the plate, Jim Rice. One out, man on first."

    Does he do a Cusick imitation and call the double play, too? "Rice grounds to short...and the inning's over."

  • Mad Max||

    'I'm not out to prove that "The Catholic Church supports fascism."'

    No, joe, you *were* out to prove it, but when the evidence was against you, you professed that you weren't trying to argue any such point.

    So, let's recap - you tried to show the Catholic Church's support for fascism - when you realized that the same "logic" would show that the Church supported Marxism and abortion, you laughed it off and pretended that you weren't saying what you clearly were saying. We know you're telling the truth because you're honest. You know you're honest because you say you are.

    You strained to find five people who disagreed with you who you couldn't be caught on tape accusing of lying, shilling for Republicans, etc., and you came up with five. Then you protest that you could have come up with others, if you'd set your mind to it. We are to believe you because you are honest. And you are honest because you say so.

    What did you say about the commandment against lying, again?

  • Mad Max||

    Fluffy,

    Shh . . . joe's new line is that he wasn't trying to link the Church with fascism, don't embarrass him.

  • Elemenope||

    No, Mad Max, it's fairly clear that he was making fun of your argumentation style in this thread. That is, using the style of argument that you have been using, it would be undeniable that the Catholic Church fluffs fascism, et cetera.

    And he's right, BTW. The standards you have been laying down for argumentation in this thread would allow anyone to prove *anything* about a group by mere association.

  • Mad Max||

    'While it would probably be fun to twirl Mad Max on his spit above the fire for a few more hours'

    Just like the Spanish Inquisition!

    Won't somebody please think of the Spanish Inquisition?

  • Mad Max||

    LMNOP,

    It may well be that, goaded by guilt-by-association fun and games along the lines of "Hitler used the word 'God!'", I wanted to give the other side a taste of its own medicine.

    The "Church v. State" crowd has been a particularly egregious offender in this regard, given the links I have provided about the secularist zealots running to the IRS whenever someone preaching in a church dares suggest that some candidate may be preferable to another - therefore, let's sock the church with the full force of the income tax laws!

    Please.

    The thing is, the secularists tend to be on the left of the political spectrum, but their zeal is such that (as Americans United boasts) they are willing to go after churches who endorse left-wing candidates.

    So why not let these self-righteous secularists explain how come their rhetoric so closely matches that of the revivied Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s?

    Unfair? Do you really think that if a Supreme Court justice, noted for his advocacy of accomodation between church and state and restoring prayer to the schools, had taken a solemn oath at a Klan rally to "keep God in the schools," that wouldn't have been duly noted as an argument in favor of the secularist cause?

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    When you grew up in New England during a certain era, the double play is implied.

    Mad Max,

    No, joe, you *were* out to prove it, but when the evidence was against you, you professed that you weren't trying to argue any such point.

    So, let me get this straight - you can't possibly know what National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg's motives were in writing a book called "Liberal Fascism..."

    But..

    In a discussion in which I argued from the beginning that the common themes between two different movements were superficial overlaps that didn't demonstrate any common intellectual lineage or relationship (ie, you know who else liked dogs?)...

    The fact that I pointed out several overlaps between two other movements - one of which is near and dear to the heart of the person postulating a common intellectual lineage and relationship - can't possibly be explained as an effort to prove the point I was making from the beginning.

    No, no, it must be that I, a liberal and communicant at St. Maragaret's Parish, thinks that Catholicism is inextricably linked with fascism.

    You are not only a dolt, but you have been so thoroughly pwned on this thread that I would cease posting about this subject entirely were I in your place.

  • ||

    Elemenope | January 19, 2009, 5:22pm | #

    No, Mad Max, it's fairly clear that he was making fun of your argumentation style in this thread. That is, using the style of argument that you have been using, it would be undeniable that the Catholic Church fluffs fascism, et cetera.

    And he's right, BTW. The standards you have been laying down for argumentation in this thread would allow anyone to prove *anything* about a group by mere association.


    Holy crap, Elemenope is part of the liberal-fascist conspiracy too!

  • Mad Max||

    'No, no, it must be that I, a liberal and communicant at St. Maragaret's Parish, thinks that Catholicism is inextricably linked with fascism.'

    Oh, no, the Catholic Church endorses the Democratic Party and Barack Obama! Otherwise, it would have excommunicated joe, rather than allow the wheat and the tares to grow together until the harvest.

    'You are not only a dolt, but you have been so thoroughly pwned on this thread that I would cease posting about this subject entirely were I in your place.'

    Interesting that you seem determined to repeat, 'look, I've won! I've won! Don't you notice?' rather than simply rely on the strength of your own position. But, then, given the actual strength of your position, I understand how you don't want to rely on it.

    'Holy crap, Elemenope is part of the liberal-fascist conspiracy too!'

    I said nothing about a conspiracy. LMNOP shares many of your secular preconceptions, and in this particular case that commonality overrides his disagreement with you on other libertarian issues.

    You may think it's a powerful argument to say, "look! a secularist libertarian disagrees with you!" but that says a lot more about your position than mine.

  • ||

    The thing is, the secularists tend to be on the left of the political spectrum, but their zeal is such that (as Americans United boasts) they are willing to go after churches who endorse left-wing candidates.

    It didn't occur to you that this is, you know, kind of nuts?

    So why not let these self-righteous secularists explain how come their rhetoric so closely matches that of the revivied Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s?

    Because the rhetoric in question is universalist, boilerplate Americanism, that the Klan adopted for precisely that reason.

    Do you really think that if a Supreme Court justice, noted for his advocacy of accomodation between church and state and restoring prayer to the schools, had taken a solemn oath at a Klan rally to "keep God in the schools," that wouldn't have been duly noted as an argument in favor of the secularist cause? If "Keep God in the Schools" was a long-standing doctrine at the heart of our political and legal order, the way "the separation of church and state" is, then no, nobody would find it the slightest bit interesting. The Klan pledges loyalty to America, too. So do the Boy Scouts, the homeroom classes in public schools, and newly-minted citizens. I don't find that scary, either.

  • ||

    Oh, no, the Catholic Church endorses the Democratic Party and Barack Obama! Otherwise, it would have excommunicated joe, rather than allow the wheat and the tares to grow together until the harvest.

    I don't know what this is supposed to mean, but it sure as hell isn't a rebuttal to the point you quoted.

    Interesting that you seem determined to repeat, 'look, I've won! I've won! Don't you notice?' rather than simply rely on the strength of your own position. Huh. All this time, I've been using the word "interesting" wrong. As far as the strength of my argument, it would appear that a neutral observer has weighed in, and agreed that my effort to turn your logic against you worked pretty well.

    But as many times as I read and reread your comment, I still can't see the part where you either acknowledge, or attempt to rebut, that my use of the history of Catholic fascism has pretty effectively shot down your "Liberal Fascist" ponderings.

  • Mad Max||

    'a neutral observer'

    Neutral observer, hard-core secularist, feh, it's the same thing.

  • Mad Max||

    'your "Liberal Fascist" ponderings'

    You're thinking of Jonah Goldberg. You made the link between myself and Goldberg, and I pointed out that, whatever his motives, he exposes some embarrassing things that liberals (excuse me, 'progressives' - I'd distance myself from them, too, if I were in your position) endorsed.

    I explicitly acknowledged, however, that other political factions may have said or done equally-bad things. In fact, I offered some helpful advice:

    'The best way for liberals to respond to Goldberg's inconvenient truths is to unearth inconvenient truths about their opponents, like how Strom Thurmond joined the Republican Party, and how John Foster Dulles was an isolationist, how Goldwater got so many votes from Mississippi segregationsists, etc.'

    So my accusations of inconvenient truths about liberals was expressly balanced with calling for liberals to expose related inconvenient truths about non-liberals. I even provided some hints about how this could be done: Exposing Thurmond, Dulles, Goldwater, etc.

  • Elemenope||

    Neutral observer, hard-core secularist, feh, it's the same thing.

    This description would cause not a few people *who actually know me* to giggle.

  • ||

    Neutral observer, hard-core secularist, feh, it's the same thing.

    Actually, on the question at hand - the implication of the overlaps between different movements - Elemenope is indeed a neutral observer.

    He believes that they demonstrate something significant about progressives and fascists, and that they demonstrate something significant about Catholics and fascists.

    Which is to say, he is equally hostile to my position as yours.

    You're thinking of Jonah Goldberg. You made the link between myself and Goldberg, and I pointed out that, whatever his motives, he exposes some embarrassing things that liberals (excuse me, 'progressives' - I'd distance myself from them, too, if I were in your position) endorsed. The phrase "Yes, you're right" would have been easier to type.

    "Yes, joe, you're right, I was making that point about progressives and fascists." You see how easy that is?

    So my accusations of inconvenient truths about liberals was expressly balanced with calling for liberals to expose related inconvenient truths about non-liberals. I even provided some hints about how this could be done: Exposing Thurmond, Dulles, Goldwater, etc. Except that saying "Other people did bad stuff, too" isn't my point.

    I'm not deflecting; I'm refuting the very core of your argument, that the ephemeral overlap between some progressives and fascists over some things indicates an intellectual meeting of the minds. I did so by pointing out that a much larger overlap exists between fascists and Catholics, leaving you in the untenable position of either acknowledging that Catholicism and fascism are closely related, or abandoning your thesis about overlaps altogether.

    I won't restate this point again in any detail; I'll just point out that you still can't come up with a couter-argument.

    And I'll continue to point out your lack of a counter-argument until you either make one (which won't happen) or stop trying to cover your ass without addressing why it's naked.

  • ||

    I'm not deflecting; I'm refuting the very core of your argument, that the ephemeral overlap between some progressives and fascists over some things indicates an intellectual meeting of the minds. I did so by pointing out that a much larger overlap exists between fascists and Catholics, leaving you in the untenable position of either acknowledging that Catholicism and fascism are closely related, or abandoning your thesis about overlaps altogether.

    If you could address this, you would have by now.

  • Elemenope||

    He believes that they demonstrate something significant about progressives and fascists, and that they demonstrate something significant about Catholics and fascists.

    Actually, you got that a little backwards. I think that the overlap between any two ideologies that developed more-or-less independently indicates approximately *nothing* about a possible relationship between the two. Personally I think the fact that progressives used to like Social Darwinism and that a bunch of Catholic priests ended up as leaders in fascist regimes says little of interest about either Progressivism or Catholicism.

    In a second-tier sort of way, there is something to be said about the Progressive mindset leaving a person vulnerable to believing that Social Darwinism would be the way to go to "improve society" (much as Fluffy pointed out earlier) or that the Catholic Church's rigid and autocratic power structure would make a person more comfortable with the rigid, autocratic power structure proposed by Fascism. But the sorts of personal weaknesses that holding certain beliefs tends to encourage is a fault of the person holding the belief, not the belief itself, IMO.

    Which is to say, he is equally hostile to my position as yours.

    That's still true, oddly enough. ;)

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