Coulter con and pro, and the question of religious tolerance

(See the comment by George R. who rejects any notion at all of religious tolerance.)

Sam B. wrote in an e-mail to a name I didn’t recognize, with several people in the cc line including me:

Next time Ann Coulter comes on your show, ask her about her statement that “Jews are “uncompleted Christians.” She wasn’t joking. When she was asked if she was serious, she said she was.

This is the kind of “humor” that is misplaced—at a time when the conservative movement is losing big. But she is a narcissist who has only her own lame “wit” to display—and the devil take the consequences.

The redoubtable Michael Savage savaged her. I’m not always in favor of his style, but he’s an educated man, and there’s more to him than the Bronx street fighter. Even to idiot Jews, one an orthodox, he had to explain how Christianity began, with a dissertation on the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes (the sect from which Jesus came from—presumably.

I am not quick to take offense, and I don’t take Coulter seriously—never read any of her non-books—but as a Jew, I see her as having crossed the line of imagined PC “offense.” When she diminishes the other’s faith, she diminishes herself.

If she did not “mean” it and apologizes—though I’ve never heard her apologize about anything—then it’s time for her to count to ten before she sounds off and to begin to look within herself as to what it is that makes her that way. Savage was right: such talk led to pogroms and gas chambers. She is certainly no H.L. Mencken. How Christopher Hitchens must be laughing!

Sam B.

PS Next time you go to Israel, invite her along—then see if she’s got the balls to say that to a bunch of religious Jews who don’t regard themselves as uncompleted Christians

LA to Sam B.:

Sam, look at the intro of Coulter’s new book. She as much as boasts that she gets her jollies from upsetting liberals. Which means she’ll say anything that gets a rise out of people. She does some worthwhile things (like her skewering of Darwinism), but she is not a worthy person.

LA follow-up to Sam B.:

Sam, on second thought, based on the partial transcript I read here, and the whole transcript here, there’s nothing offensive in what Coulter said. If Christians don’t believe that Christianity is the truest and highest religion, what would be the point of their being Christians? She’s not forcing Christianity on anyone.

If you are going to demand that Christians cannot say that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life for the whole human race, if you are going to demand that Christians cannot say that we are all incomplete without Christ, then you’re demanding that they not be Christians. And that is not reasonable.

In the same way, as I’ve written at VFR, Christians are not reasonable when they expect Jews acting as a people to give up Judaism, the dispensation and peoplehood that was given to them by God in his first revelation of himself preceding Christianity.

The world has to learn to live with this mystery and paradox, central to the history of the human race, that God made two major revelations of himself, one to the Israelites, one through Jesus Christ, and therefore Christians cannot demand that Jews stop being Jews, and Jews cannot demand that Christians stop being Christians.

LA continues:

This is about tolerance. Tolerance means that in the interests of comity we suffer and accept each other, despite our mutual differences—despite the fact that there are things about each of us that the other doesn’t like. Which means that if people didn’t have real differences with each other, there would be no reason for tolerance and the question of tolerance would not arise.

What then does tolerance between Jews and Christians mean? It means that Jews tolerate the fact that Christians believe what Jesus said, that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father except through him, and that the gospel should be preached to all mankind. And it means that Christians tolerate the fact that Jews do not accept Jesus Christ.

However, while tolerance between Jews and Christians is good, that doesn’t mean that tolerance is the correct attitude toward all groups. It all depends on the particulars. For example, while Christians and Jews should tolerate each other, neither group should tolerate Islam, because Islam is inherently mortally dangerous to Christians and Jews. In this matter, there is for once a statement in the Koran that can serve as our guide. Do not be friends with the Christians and Jews, the Koran says, because they are friends with each other and oppose Islam. Indeed, Muhammad was correct and we should heed him. Christians and Jews should be friends with—or at least tolerate—each other, while they should both oppose Islam.

LA continues:

Even as I say that Coulter’s remarks in her interview with Donny Deutch were correct and not offensive, the fact that Coulter presents herself as a spokesman for Christianity, is offensive. This is a woman whose evident overriding purpose in life is to gratify her vanity, tick people off, play with the most important issues because they are “fun” for her and not because she is committed to them (e.g. her treatment of immigration), and display her skinny body at every opportunity. That this vulgar, self-seeking woman has made herself, and is seen as, a symbol of conservatism is bad enough; that she now apparently wants to make herself a representative of Christianity is, well, intolerable.

Ben M. writes:

I’ve been listening to Michael Savage for years and when it comes to the topic of religion, the man is a light weight thinker. The man doesn’t even grasp the fundamentals of the religions he talks about, yet he thinks he is some great mind on the topic. I actually get embarrassed for him many times when he begins to talk about religion.

He likes religion in the sense of it standing up for morals and values but that’s it. He just doesn’t grasp anything outside of that. I guess he likes to imagine that the West that drove back Islam time and time again was built on his ridiculous version of Christianity.

He had a great big lash out at Falwell years ago when he came on his show. He liked Falwell because he was a man who stood up for morals and values. Falwell made it clear without wavering that Jesus was the only way to heaven. Needless to say, Savage thought the spirit of Hitler was back. It was so idiotic. Savage likes to believe Christians can be tough and stand up for morals, while not believing the fundamental teachings of Christianity of Jesus being the way, the truth, and the life.

LA replies:

Yes, the only version of Christianity he can tolerate is a tamed, attenuated version of Christianity that doesn’t differ in any essential way from his own beliefs. But that’s not tolerance.

Jeff in England writes:

What is wrong with people feeling their religion is best? It seems logical for free thinking adults to feel whatever religion they practice to be the best one around. Coulter is not saying that Jews are bad people nor is she advocating Christians should attack them. Nor is she saying that she is a superior person because she chooses Christian. She is simply saying she feels Christianity is the best religion around (in her view it helps perfect people better than any other religion) and that she would hope that people would realise that and convert. She is not advocating force. Are we in the West supposed to feel all religions or cultures are equivalent?

Obviously Christians feel that their religion is on a higher level than Judaism; otherwise what was the purpose (from the converts’ point of view) of its creation at the time…. to keep people on the same level of spirituality? Now, that doesn’t mean I as a Jew agree with that view but it is logical to want to be in a religion because you feel it is the best around. If I felt Christianity was on a higher level than Judaism I would consider switching. Or Buddhism or even Satanism. Like switching to better vitamins.

It is perfectly logical to feel it is a good thing for people to switch to what one feels is a better spiritual or political system. I feel people in the world would generally be better under a Western democratic system. I would say that to the millions who don’t live under a democratic system. I might be accused of cultural superiority. I would not try and force them to live in a democratic way. But I would want to feel free to state my opinions about the superiority of Western values in a strong way. I would not feel inherently superior because I lived under a democratic system. But I would say that the Western value system gives me a better chance of “perfecting” myself (politically and culturally) than other value systems. What is wrong with that?

Nor is there anything wrong with Coulter feeling that Christianity gives people the best chance to perfect themselves spiritually.

Jarrod writes:

When I read the phrase “uncompleted Christians” it tugged at a memory I thought I had of something Disraeli once said… I went questing about briefly, and found this, in Wikipedia’s entry on (Benjamin) Disraeli:

In 1847 a small political crisis occurred which removed Bentinck from the leadership and highlighted Disraeli’s differences with his own party. In the preceding general election, Lionel de Rothschild had been returned for the City of London. Ever since Catholic Emancipation, members of parliament were required to swear the oath “on the true faith of a Christian.” Rothschild, an unconverted Jew, could not do so and therefore could not take his seat. Lord John Russell, the Whig leader who had succeeded Peel as Prime Minister and like Rothschild a member for the City of London, introduced a Jewish Disabilities Bill to amend the oath and permit Jews to enter Parliament. Disraeli spoke in favour of the measure, arguing that Christianity was “completed Judaism,” and asking of the House of Commons “Where is your Christianity if you do not believe in their Judaism?”

I’ve no idea whether Coulter was alluding to this comment by Disraeli of course, but thought it worth mentioning.

LA replies:

Interesting. Thank you. Note that Disraeli was asking for a special dispensation for Judaism, not on the basis of some liberal universal tolerance for all religions, but on the basis of the particular closeness between Judaism and Christianity.

KPA writes from Canada:

The oath that was to be amended (and which was take out) in the Jewish Disabilities Bill read as: “on the true faith of a Christian.”

Didn’t the removal of the oath make England’s world view depart further from her Christian roots? As Hirsi Ali pointed out, there are some religions that do not belong in the Christian nation, but there are some oaths and practices that absolutely do.

That small (I think giant) step in the British Parliament may have led to much bigger repercussions than even these British leaders suspected.

Of course, the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, was probably the precursor, but that is another issue (although perhaps not so much).

Somehow, I see many parallels in these developments in English political environment, with that of the U.S. Protestants allowing other denominations, then allowing closely related religions, then alien believers alongside devout non-believers, to enter public life in major decision-making roles.

Even Disraeli himself was a converted (Church of England) Christian, so his words are important in that he can fully identify with both sides of the spectrum.

LA replies:

I was not addressing the wisdom of allowing Jews to be members of Parliament. My point was that the disability on Jews was removed, not on the liberal univeralist basis of equal inclusion of all types of men and beliefs, but on the particularist basis of the actual closeness between Judaism and Christianity. I am saying that if a society is going to open doors that have previously been closed, it should be done on a particularist, not universalist, basis.

However, on KPA’s point, if Britain wanted to maintain its identity as a Christian country—and let us remember that unlike the U.S. Britain had then and still has now an established church—then there is a reasonable case to be made that it should not have admitted Jews into Parliament.

Leonard K. writes:

You write: “…while Christians and Jews should tolerate each other, neither group should tolerate Islam…”

Do you mean “neither group should tolerate Islam within the Western societies”? Isn’t your Separationism doctrine a policy of tolerance of Islam, provided it is physically remote from the West?

LA replies:

I think the question of tolerance only properly comes up when we’re speaking of people who are physically present in the same society with ourselves and the question arises of how we should relate to them. I don’t know that it makes sense to speak of whether we “tolerate” people on the other side of the world.

However, to answer your question, since the purpose of Separationism is to quarantine Muslims from the rest of the world, I don’t see how it could be called a policy of tolerance in any sense of the word. The premise of Separationism is that Islam is and will always remain the mortal adversary of our civilization. It is a policy of accepting Islam’s existence, so long as Islam is kept away from us and deprived of all power to have an effect on us.

Randy writes:

Christians have been proclaiming the Gospel for 2000 years. The New Testament states that “all have sinned.” All unbelievers, whether Jews, pagans, or unbelieving gentiles, must accept Christ as savior in order to be saved from the consequences of unbelief-Hell. So, why is it such a shock that Coulter, as a Christian, is proclaiming the gospel. Just shows how loony this society has become. Where is the outrage on the left regarding the proclamations of Islam?

LA replies:

You know the answer. Christianity it the majority religion. For a (member of the majority religion to say the majority religion is the true religion is to enforce a dominant orthodoxy on minorities. For a member of a minority religion to say the minority religion is the true religion is just an expression of diversity.

Remember the socialistic structure of multiculturalism. All cultures are equal or must be made equal. This requires treating the majority and the minorities by different rules. The majority must be silenced and delegitimized, the minorities must be empowered and raised up. The MORE objectionable, destructive, weird, alien, and threatening the minority is, the MORE it must be raised up. The socialist or modern-liberal idea of equality REQUIrES the inversion of normal morality.

George R. writes:

You write:

“This is about tolerance. Tolerance means that in the interests of comity we suffer and accept each other, despite our mutual differences—despite the fact that there are things about each of us that the other doesn’t like.”

What you are not seeing is that this is not a case of “mutual differences” or merely “things about each of us that the other doesn’t like.” Either Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, or he isn’t. It must be one or the other, and it can’t be something in between. Therefore, if Christianity is true, then Judaism is a monstrous lie that denies the very basis of salvation. But if it is not true, then Christianity is a enormous slander committed against the Jews and a hijacking of their religion. Whichever be the case, there can exist no parity between the two sides that can serve as the basis of an essential accommodation.

LA replies:

George R. presents the most compelling argument for modern liberalism I’ve ever heard. Faced with George’s thinking that must lead to hatred of all persons not sharing one’s own faith, and to the active persecution of all persons not sharing a society’s dominant faith, liberals would be entirely reasonable in concluding that, in order to counteract the reign of hatred that George would bring about, tolerance must be the absolute rule of society, making any substantive moral and cultural order impossible—which is exactly what we have now. Thanks a lot, George, for helping lock modern liberalism in place.

George R. replies:
Are you suggesting that, for the sake of peace, we must maintain a polite fiction (to use Rich Lowry’s expression) that papers over the essential contradictions between Judaism and Christianity?

LA replies:

You don’t understand the basic idea of tolerance. The person who is being tolerant is not giving up the truth; he is suffering the presence of people who do not accept that truth. But if he is to suffer them, he cannot call them “monstrous.”

How else can your words be interpreted than as expressing a desire to launch a jihad against Judaism? You see Judaism, a religion practiced by a fraction of 2 1/2 percent of the American population, as “monstrous,” and as a “contradiction” of Christianity. Clearly you are alarmed by this tiny minority religion and see it as a threat to Christianity and want to eliminate it.

And every time an enemy of the Jews like you speaks up, it convinces Jews and liberals that there really is this Nazi-like force lurking in America waiting to strike, which only strengthens the hold of anti-Christian, anti-American liberalism over the whole society.

A guy like you is to Christianity what Joseph McCarthy was to anti-Communism—a total disaster, persuading people your own cause is malevolent and must be suppressed.

. (Note: in the followup thread on Coulter, George makes much more fairminded statements on this subject )

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 12, 2007 01:51 AM | Send

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