Can you call yourself free if restrictions are put on your freedom?
We of The Atheist Conservative say that a person’s freedom should be limited by nothing but everyone else’s freedom.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seems to have a different idea of what freedom means.
He grants that with the first amendment the Constitution enshrines the principal of freedom of religion, but according to reports (see below) insists that “freedom of religion” does not include a right to “freedom from religion”.
So you are free to worship something or other, but not free to worship nothing.
How many ways can the idea be expressed? You are not free not to worship anything at all. You are not free not to worship. You have to worship something. It can be anything at all, but you must worship it. Hold it sacred. The thing. Or the person. Or any number of things or persons. You are Constitutionally obliged to consider it or him or her or them divine.
You are perfectly free to decide which it or him or her or them you consider divine. But you are not free to consider that nothing is divine.
You may choose (for instance) an abstraction, a dead Jew, a rock, a wooden or plaster or cloth or straw or polystyrene object, a devil, an ancestor. Or any number of the same. Or even a mixed bag of all of them – a Deity Allsorts.
That is right and proper and permitted by the Constitution of the United States. But you cannot deny that something or someone is, or a bunch of persons real or imaginary are, or at least that a state of mind can be achieved in which you understand that absolutely everything is, divine.
Not, anyway, according to the Constitution.
Which logically means that the Constitution forbids you to refrain from worshiping something. If you do, you may be in breach of Constitutional Law.
And it may follow that the thing you must worship must also be honored with the performance of rites. Simply believing it to be divine may not be enough. To be religious you must follow some ritual of worship. Otherwise you could just claim to worship your Aunt Sally and never do a thing about it. Even your Aunt Sally herself, if she’s alive on this earth and not moved on, or over, or through, or up to another (imaginary but Constitutionally-acknowledged) world, might not believe you are really sincere.
And this from a judge we have held in high esteem? Did he really say something that implied all that? What in fact did he actually say?
The Washington Times reports only these words of his:
I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over nonreligion.
And MSN interprets his words like this:
Defending his strict adherence to the plain text of the Constitution, Scalia knocked secular qualms over the role of religion in the public sphere as “utterly absurd,” arguing that the Constitution is only obligated to protect freedom of religion – not freedom from it.
He probably meant nothing more, after all, than that religious groups may put up their shrines and symbols in public places, and publicly display mottoes with religious references, and that atheist protestors have no grounds in law for objecting.
Austin Cline, who is an atheist, agrees with this view in an essay titled What is Freedom From Religion? But he discusses much more than that issue.
Freedom of Religion Requires Freedom From Religion
Conservatives insist that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, and argue against strict separation of church and state. Too often, though, conservatives seem to have a flawed understanding of what freedom from religion really entails and fail to realize that freedom from religion is crucial to religious liberty in general.
It is evident that a person misunderstands the concept of freedom from religion when they say that promotion of the idea is part of an effort to eliminate religion from the public square, to secularize America, or to deny religious believers a voice in politics. None of this follows from a belief that people have a right to be free from religion.
What Freedom From Religion is Not
Freedom from religion is not a demand that one never encounter religion, religious believers, or religious ideas at all. Freedom from religion is not freedom from seeing churches, encountering people handing out religious tracts on the street corner, seeing preachers on television, or listening to people discuss religion at work. Freedom from religion is not a demand that religious beliefs never be expressed, that religious believers never voice an opinion, or that religiously-inspired values never have any impact on laws, customs, or public policies.
Freedom from religion is thus not a social right to never encounter religion in public spaces. Freedom from religion has two relevant aspects: personal and political. On the personal level, a right to be free from religion means that a person has the freedom not to belong to any religion or religious organization. The right to be religious and to join religious organizations would be meaningless if there did not exist a parallel right not to join any at all. Religious liberty must simultaneously protect both the right to be religious and the right not to be religious at all - it cannot protect a right to be religious, just so long as you pick some religion.
What Freedom From Religion Is
When it comes to politics, the freedom from religion means being “free from” any government imposition of religion. Freedom from religion does not mean being free from seeing churches, but it does mean being free from churches getting governing financing; it doesn’t mean being free from encountering people handing out religious tracts on a street corner, but it does mean being free from government-sponsored religious tracts; it doesn’t mean being free from hearing religious discussions at work, but it does mean being free from religion being a condition of employment, hiring, firing, or one’s status in the political community.
Freedom from religion isn’t a demand that religious beliefs never be expressed, but rather that they not be endorsed by the government; it’s not a demand that religious believers never voice an opinion, but rather that they not have a privileged status in public debates; it’s not a demand that religious values never have any public impact, but rather that no laws be based on religious doctrines without the existence of a secular purpose and basis.
The political and the personal are closely related. A person cannot be “free from” religion in the personal sense of not having to belong to any religion if religion is made a factor in one’s status in the political community. Government agencies should not endorse, promote, or encourage religion in any way. Doing so suggests that those who accept the religious beliefs favored by the government will, by extension, be favored by the government – and thus a person’s political status becomes conditioned on their personal religious commitments.
What Religious Liberty Is
The claim that the Constitution only protects “freedom of religion” and not “freedom from religion” thus misses an important point. Religious liberty, if it is to mean anything, cannot merely mean that the state won’t use the police to stop or harass adherents of certain religious ideas. It must also mean that the state won’t use more subtle powers, like those of the pocketbook and the bully pulpit, to favor some religions over others, to endorse certain religious doctrines rather than others, or to take sides in theological disputes.
It would be wrong for the police to close synagogues; it is also wrong for police officers to tell Jewish drivers during a traffic stop that they should convert to Christianity. It would be wrong for politicians to pass a law banning Hinduism; it is also wrong for them to pass a law proclaiming that monotheism is preferable to polytheism. It would be wrong for a president to say that Catholicism is a cult and not really Christian; it is also wrong for a president to endorse theism and religion generally.
This is why freedom of religion and freedom from religion are two sides of the same coin. Attacks on one ultimately serve to undermine the other. The preservation of religious liberty requires that we ensure that the government not be handed any authority over religious matters.
Cline also sets out this for our enlightenment:
Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
In 1779 as a member of the General Assembly, James Madison supported Thomas Jefferson’s historic Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom; after Jefferson left for diplomatic duties in Europe in 1784, Madison became the bill’s prime sponsor. Enactment failed every year from June 1779 until it was finally adopted in January, 1786.
The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom was an important milestone in establishing religious liberty in America and disestablishing official churches.
The Act has questionable opening lines – but read beyond them.
The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom.
Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free;
that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;
that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time;
that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical;
that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind;
that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry;
that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right;
that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;
that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;
that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;
that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
“Errors cease to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.”
“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship … but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions on matters of religion.”
Could freedom of speech be more plainly or strongly supported than by those statements?
They mean that we must be free not only to hold any opinions whatsoever on religion, but also to express them publicly whenever and however we choose.
The time may not be far off when humankind as a whole will be free from religion; when people will learn about the irrational beliefs their close ancestors held with passionate conviction and be amazed that in an age of science they could have swallowed such nonsense.
(Hat-tip Don L)
A selection of video-recorded statements by Christopher Hitchens on religion.
He is blunt and accurate, and entertaining as he always was (which we appreciated, even when – on political issues – we disagreed with him).
(Hat-tip to our reader Marnee)
Sam Harris is an atheist. We like a lot of what he writes and says. Just recently one of our readers sent us this statement of his, which we acknowledge, sadly, to be most probably true:
For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way.
We have watched videos of him lecturing. We have read some articles of his. And all with appreciation. So when we were sent his new book for review, we expected to like it.
Do we like it?
To read Jillian Becker’s review of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, click on its title in our margin, under Pages.
As the current wars of religion rage on, the mainstream media are chiefly reporting the war in Gaza. They put much stress on the number of Palestinian deaths – information they get only from Hamas, which has every reason to claim as many deaths as possible. Hamas’s tactic is to provoke attack and then show the wounds – the deaths of the women and children it uses as shields – and cry loudly until “the world” rescues them from defeat.
Is “the world” really concerned about the deaths of civilians in the Middle East? Or only concerned when they die because Israel strikes back at the Arab enemy after years of rocket attacks?
Is “the world” moved by Arab deaths if Israel can’t be blamed for them? Not so much. Shall we say Muslim deaths then? Also not so much.
What about Christian deaths at the hands of Muslims? The oppression and intense persecution of Christians? Christians being stripped of all they possess and expelled from lands their ancestors have lived in as Christians since the second century C.E? Hardly at all.
No outcry about their treatment from Christian America? No. Not a word from those Presbyterians who have lately evinced so much interest in boycotting Israel? No.
The Pope? He’s praying for their persecution to end. No persecutor named. If he was expecting a quick response from his God now that Omniscient attention has been drawn to the issue, is he disappointed?
The Archbishop of Canterbury? No – the Anglican clergy likes Islamic sharia law and helped introduce it into Britain.
What about the UN? You must be joking! The UN is an agency of the Arab states.
David Singer writes at Canada Free Press:
The Syrian civil war has claimed 170,000 lives in three years; this past weekend’s death toll in Syria was greater than what took place in Gaza. By some accounts, the past week may have been the deadliest in the conflict’s grim history. Meanwhile, the extremist insurgents of the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), have continued their ravages over a swath of territory stretching from eastern Syria to the environs of Baghdad, Iraq’s capital; the spike in violence in Iraq has led to more than 5,500 civilian deaths in the first six months of this year.” …
The newly-declared Islamic State (IS) – which includes Mosul – Iraq’s second largest city – already exceeds the area of Great Britain. …
Christians were given 24 hours to leave Mosul or convert to Islam and pay a tax – or die.
Nuri Kino – reported on Fox News – confirms the tragic situation in Syria and identifies those engaged in persecuting these ancient Christian communities:
Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, also has been nearly emptied of Assyrians, Armenians and other non-Muslims …
The prideful tone in which the perpetrators speak whenever I have interviewed them — both Al Qaeda and IS — is equally shocking. These are mostly disgruntled young men who were teetering on the edges of society in their own homelands, often in European suburbs, and now believe they have the power to do whatever they want in the name of Islam. They can claim any house in IS-controlled areas of Iraq and Syria as their own, and tell the owners to either leave or risk being killed. They can take any woman as their wife …
At least 700, 000 non-Muslims — Christians, Mandeans, Yezidis and others — have left Iraq by now. No one knows how many have left Syria.
Nina Shea reports in Fox News:
ISIS has set out to erase every Christian trace. All 30 churches were seized and their crosses stripped away. Some have been permanently turned into mosques. One is the Mar (Saint) Ephraim Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, newly outfitted with loudspeakers that now call Muslims to prayer. The 4th century Mar Behnam, a Syriac Catholic monastery outside Mosul, was captured and its monks expelled, leaving behind a library of early Christian manuscripts and wall inscriptions by 13th-century Mongol pilgrims. Christian and Shiite gravesites, deemed idolatrous by ISIS, are being deliberately blown up and destroyed, including on July 24, the tomb of the 8th-century B.C. Old Testament Prophet Jonah, and the Muslim shrine that enclosed it.
Patrick Coburn does not mince his words in The Independent:
It is the greatest mass flight of Christians in the Middle East since the Armenian massacres and the expulsion of Christians from Turkey during and after the First World War.
Yet the media show little interest in exposing the decimation and dispersal of the Christian communities in Syria and Iraq.
And here’s Mark Steyn:
Baghdad used to be 40% Jewish. Tripoli used to be 40% Jewish. And the Jews were all chased out there. And now it’s the turn of the Christians. … ISIS are effectively doing every day what the European media and American campuses accuse Israel of doing. Everyone thinks Israel is slavering with blood and wants to eliminate every last Muslim in Gaza. No, they don’t. They just want to live with them. The difference is ISIS actually wants Iraq cleansed of Christians in the way it was cleansed of Jews, just as the Muslim Brotherhood wants Egypt cleansed of Coptic Christians the way it was cleansed of Jews.
But still the West, Christian by tradition if not in belief or observance, shows little concern.
This can be seen not only in the dearth of comment from governments and churches, but also among the people who seek their information and spread their opinions on the “social media”.
David Singer adds this statistic to his article:
Google reports on the Israel-Gaza war outnumber reports on the ISIS-Christian conflict by about 20:1.
As quite often happens, Daniel Greenfield expresses an informed opinion on a headline event so well that we cannot resist letting him speak for us:
The bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers, 16-year-old Naftali who liked to play basketball, 16-year-old Gilad who had just finished a scuba diving course and 19-year-old Eyal with his guitar, will be met by the same ghastly parade of pallbearers who accompany every victim of terrorism.
The reporters will scribble down something about “settlements” and the “Cycle of Violence.” The diplomats will urge restraint and remind everyone that the only solution can be found through negotiations with the terrorists. And the pundits will put it all into perspective burying them under layers of words and weighting their coffins down with stones of forgetfulness.
But all the empty words about the “Occupation” and the “Cycle of Violence,” the invocation of a peaceful solution that is always about to arrive, but never does, and the maps that cede more territory to terrorists are addressing a problem that doesn’t exist.
It’s not about physical territory. It’s about spiritual territory. It’s not about nationalism. It’s about Islamism.
It’s not about the “Occupation.” It’s about Islam.
“I raised my children on the knees of the [Islamic] religion, they are religious guys, honest and clean-handed, and their goal is to bring the victory of Islam,” the mother of one of the Hamas killers said.
Not a Palestinian nation. Not a Two State Solution. Not forty percent of this and sixty percent of that.
The victory of Islam.
Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were murdered for the same reason that countless people have been killed in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Not to mention the United Kingdom and the United States.
They were murdered in the name of a religious war that has been going on for over a thousand years. Muslims did not suddenly begin killing Jews in 1948 or 1929. They did not begin killing Christians over American foreign policy or the oil business.
Muslims did not begin killing Jews and Christians over foreign policy. They began persecuting and killing their Christian and Jewish neighbors because their religion told them to.
Hamas, the terror group that murdered the three teens, is not a Palestinian nationalist organization, though it occasionally plays the part. Its charter begins with Allah and ends with Allah. Article Five of its charter states that the group extends to “wherever on earth there are Muslims, who adopt Islam as their way of life.”
Its goal is to create an Islamic state. Everything else is secondary.
The Hamas charter describes it as part of the worldwide “Muslim Brotherhood Movement”. Brotherhood terrorists kill Jews in Israel for the same reason that they kill Shiites in Syria or Christian Copts in Egypt.
Article Seven of the Hamas charter concludes with the infamous Islamic Hadith which proclaims that the Muslim end times will come only when “Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
Aside from the obvious genocidal bigotry, this is a quote from a text that is over a thousand years old. Its author was not preaching the mass murder of Jews because of settlements in the West Bank. At the time Muslims had subjugated and ruled over the Jewish population of the Middle East. The Jews were no threat to them. The idea of a Jewish army was as ridiculous as traveling to the moon.
The hatred that leaks out of that text has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with Islam.
The insistence on a foreign policy explanation for Muslim anti-Semitism is as ahistorical as claiming that Hitler only hated Jews because of the Yom Kippur War. Except that at least both of these events took place in the twentieth century. Islam has been hating and persecuting Jews for over 1300 years before the rebirth of the modern State of Israel.
There are two ways of looking at the worldwide plague of Muslim terrorism. One is to treat every Islamic conflict with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and a dozen other religions as being due to some local political grievance of recent vintage. The other is to understand them as local expressions of a historical religious war and the continuation of the wave of conquests that made Islam into a worldwide religion.
We can be like the six blind men feeling around the Islamic elephant and assuming that its trunk and tusks are entirely separate phenomena. Or we can open our eyes and see the elephant in the room.
Hamas’ charter begins with the Koran’s praise for Muslims “as the best people” and damns Christians and Jews to be “smitten with abasement” for having “incurred the wrath of Allah.”
This is not a statement of Palestinian nationalism. It’s Islamic supremacism.
There is nothing negotiable about supremacism. Supremacism cannot be appeased. Supremacism does not want a piece of the pie. It wants the whole pie. The allies learned that the hard way with Hitler. So did the countless kingdoms that attempted to live in peace with the armies of the Mohammedan conquerors.
If Israel had never existed, Hamas would still exist, just as the other branches of the Muslim Brotherhood exist elsewhere throughout the Middle East. Even if Zionism did not exist, the Muslim Brotherhood would persecute the Jews under its control, just like the Christians in Egypt and Syria.
If Netanyahu, Sharon, Begin and a thousand other Israeli villains of the apologists of Islam had never been born, the followers of Mohammed would have gone on killing Jews just as they had for over a thousand years.
If the blue and white had never waved over Jerusalem, if Jews had remained as downtrodden and persecuted in the lands of Islam as the Copts and the Zoroastrians, Naftali, Gilad and Eyal would still have been murdered by two killers who were raised by their mothers to usher in “the victory of Islam.”
There is no political solution to a supremacist conflict.
If a thousand years of Jewish humiliation and persecution did not satisfy the ancestors of the murderers of those three teenagers, how will handing over part of Jerusalem do the job?
Solutions begin with truth. The truth is that Islamic violence against Jews is not recent or exceptional. The murder of Jews by Muslims, whether in Israel or Belgium, is not any different than the Muslim butchery of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and even minority Muslim splinter faiths. These conflicts cannot be resolved through appeasement. They can only be addressed through resistance.
Yes. Once that truth is fully accepted, the only remaining question is, what form should the resistance take?
Our answer is: military force wherever it can be effective; and everywhere, at all times, a de-Islamization campaign along the lines of the de-Nazification campaign pursued intensely in Germany after the military defeat of the Third Reich.
Islam needs urgently to be criticized; constantly, relentlessly, daily; in schools and academies; by the mass media, on all the social media. It should be so denounced and reviled that if anyone chooses to adhere to it he would feel it necessary to do so in secret, furtively, surreptitiously, in shame and fear of being found out.
Islam is an ideology as evil and destructive as Nazism.
All religion is a drag on enlightened civilization. Islam is the only religion now that is actively destroying it. Islam itself must be defeated – not only on battlefields, but with argument.
It is the ideology, not the people (except those actively engaged in jihad), who must be boldly attacked.
The ideology called Islam is a lethal disease. The human race must be cured of it.
In plain reason –
Those who say they believe in freedom of speech cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in freedom cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in equality of the sexes cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in “the golden rule” cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in “diversity” cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who hate cruelty cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in tolerance itself cannot tolerate intolerant Islam.
Know it, understand it, loathe it, despise it, talk about it incessantly, forbid it, exclude it, abolish it.
Is there any other way?
David Horowitz was a “red-diaper baby”. In his own words:
I was a leftist as early as I can remember. Raised in a Communist family and surrounded by radicals my entire childhood, I could hardly be anything else”.
A friend of mine named Betty Van Platter was murdered by the Black Panthers in 1974. … I was forced to question my most basic beliefs, and that began my long and difficult journey to sanity.”
We’ve just received a booklet from the David Horowitz Freedom Center, titled Rush Limbaugh’s Conversation with David Horowitz. (The whole of the conversation, which took place six months ago in November, 2013, can be read here.)
The following are extracts from it:
Horowitz: … According to a Pew poll, 49% percent of young Americans have a favorable view of socialism. What is socialism? It is a system that leads to mass misery, mass impoverization, and human slaughter. That’s what it means. Yet almost half of the young think it’s benign …
RUSH: … I look at so-called conservative commentators in Washington who seem to be content to commentate, but they don’t have any interest in beating this back. I don’t want to mention names, but most of them are that way. Same thing with the Republican Party. You come from the left. You’re one of the founders of the New Left. You’ve emerged; you were in the inner circle. You’ve spent much of your career trying to explain who these people are, the destructive, vicious malice that they have.
RUSH: And you don’t think — this is astounding to me — you don’t think that the Republicans or conservatives really yet comprehend the seriousness of the threat.
HOROWITZ: No. Otherwise they wouldn’t be squabbling among themselves so much. There’s another thing going on, and that is that the left controls the language. Our universities, our schools, our mainstream media are gone [into the hands of the left] — so if you pick a real fight with the left, you get tarred and feathered, as you know all too well. Conservatives are brought up in a healthy way; they mind their reputations, they don’t want to be bloodied, they don’t want to be looked at as kooks and extremists, which are the terms of abuse that are used.
RUSH: That’s true.
HOROWITZ: Obama is a compulsive, habitual liar. He makes Bill Clinton look like a Boy Scout. Clinton spun things and he did lie about something very personal and embarrassing to him, but Obama lies about everything, and all the time. And yet it’s taken five years for people to start saying this. Including conservatives. Take so-called single payer health care. Why do we use phrases like “single payer?” It’s communism! If the state controls your access to health care, which is what this is about, they control you.This is a fundamental battle for individual freedom, which is what conservatives are about, or should be. But who’s saying this about Obama’s plan to organize health care along communist lines?
RUSH: Let’s talk about persuasion a second. I’ve got true believers in my audience, and I’ve also got elements of the low-information or the swing-voter segment, and then a few leftists who listen. One thing I have discovered over the course of my career is that whenever I’ve used the word “communism” to describe, say, typical modern-day liberals, people say, “Oh, come on, Rush! They’re not communists!” It ends up being counterproductive, because I have found people don’t want to believe that about somebody like Obama. How do we go about persuading people that it is what it is?
HOROWITZ: That’s a very good question. … I think the language problem is a very serious one. I once tried to launch the word “neo-communist.” We talk about neo-fascists, so how about neo-communists? But that doesn’t work. People look at you as a relic if you use the term. But you have to at least say what their agenda is, and their agenda is controlling, is destroying individual freedom. That’s the way I would do it. By continually reminding people of what their agenda is. It’s anti-individual freedom. You can’t talk about the national debt just as an accounting problem. It’s taking away the freedom of future generations. It means that you have to work for the government instead of yourself. Currently we work something like half our lives for the state. Every other day we’re working for the government instead of for ourselves. What Obama is doing is diminishing the realm of freedom. Conservatives need to keep bringing that up all the time. …
RUSH: You pointed out that Democrats are always in lockstep, in contrast to Republicans, who are all over the place rhetorically and strategically. You said, and I’m quoting here, “The result is that a morally bankrupt, politically tyrannical, economically destructive [Democrat] Party is able to set the course of an entire nation and put it on the road to disaster.” David, people always ask, my callers ask me, “Why don’t the Republicans do ‘x’? Why don’t they do this? Why don’t they do that?” So let me ask you why. Aside from what you’ve said, that there’s a fear of being castigated by the media, mischaracterized. … Republicans simply don’t want to have mean things said about them. They want to be liked by the people who run Washington, D.C. But I don’t even see any pushback from the Republican Party. They’ll go after Ted Cruz and they’ll go after Sarah Palin and they’ll go after Mike Lee, but they won’t go after Obama.
HOROWITZ: Exactly. I have never seen Republicans conduct such bloody warfare as they do against conservatives. They don’t do that to Democrats, ever. And I think it’s great that all the people that you mentioned, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, are people, finally, who don’t care what The Washington Post says, don’t care what The New York Times says, and don’t care what the Republican establishment says. That’s the way it has to be done. I will tell you that the big difference between the left and the right that I saw when I came into the conservative movement 30 years ago was that the right had no ground army. I watched as the Democratic Party was pushed to the left by the activists in the streets — the MoveOn.org people, the Netroots — until it’s now just a left-wing Party. It was Howard Dean, a 60s leftover, who launched the anti-Iraq war campaign that shifted the whole Democratic Party. But on the Republican side, there was nobody pushing from the right. There was no ground war, no force pushing on Republicans from the grassroots. Now we have the Tea Party.
RUSH: You come from the belly of the beast. … You lived this stuff. You were a leader of the left in your youth. Talk about MoveOn.org — these are average Americans. They may make $50,000 a year. The Netroots, they’re a bunch of people in their pajamas, sitting there blogging and posting. What do they think is in it for them? They are not people Obama is prospering.
HOROWITZ: What’s in it for them is the fact that progressivism is a religion, or a crypto-religion. Like religious people, they believe the world is a fallen place. But they also believe that they can be its saviors. Salvation and redemption are … going to come … from the movement they are part of, from the organized left. What they get out of this is the consolation of religion. They get a sense of personal worth; they get a meaning to their lives. That’s what drives them. It’s not money. It’s much more powerful. When Whittaker Chambers left communism, he said, “I’ve left the winning side for the losing side.” Why did he think that? Because communists have ideas they’re willing to die for, and conservatives don’t. Conservatives have to get that idea. They have to understand that their freedom will be lost if we don’t stop the left.
RUSH: About stopping them. … Can the right triumph ever again?
HOROWITZ: I remain an optimist, which brings me to the second problem with conservatives. In addition to their decency and their not wanting to make enemies and not wanting to turn politics into war, they’re fatalists. If you think you’re going to lose, you can’t win. That’s very basic. I believe there’s a lot of hope. The ideas of the left are bankrupt. They don’t work. We’re seeing this now with Obamacare. Ludwig von Mises wrote a book in 1922, titled: Socialism. He explained that you can’t centrally plan a large economy, and he showed why. 1922. That’s almost 100 years ago, yet the Democratic Party rammed through Obamacare, ignoring what the last 100 years has proved. They’re going to organize the health care of 300 million Americans with their computers. It’s lunacy. Yet it’s the policy of the whole Democratic Party. They’ve staked their political future on this. … To sell Obamacare, they claimed — lied — that it’s to cover the uninsured. But it doesn’t even do that. Everything they said about Obamacare is a lie. Why? Because their real agenda is not health care. It’s to create a socialist state. To do that they need comprehensive control over people’s lives. I never thought I’d be saying this, because I didn’t see it even in a remote future, but we’re on the brink of a one-party state if they were to succeed. If you are ready to use the IRS politically, if you have access to every individual’s financial and health care information, and if your spy agency can monitor all communications, you don’t need a secret police to destroy your opponents. Anybody you want to destroy, you’ve got enough information on them and control to stop them. That’s how close we are to a totalitarian state. They want to control your life — for your own good of course — even to the point of whether you can buy Big Gulps. That’s not incidental.
RUSH: No, it’s not. Now when this kind of thing happens … I wonder about the average American, somebody who’s not an activist like you or me. Do they not see this, and if they don’t, how can they be made to see it?
HOROWITZ: I don’t think they see it. Most people are averse to politics and don’t pay that much attention. However, Obamacare is going to make them pay attention because his plan affects so many people. You have to start using moral language against these people. I want to hear our guys saying, “This is a threat to individual freedom. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you run up the debt like this. You are attacking the freedom of every American when you put them all in a government-controlled program like this. Government should not have this information.” … Every time they have a program that hurts individual liberty, we need to stop talking about it as though it was just about money. The money figures are so big, trillions, nobody can even grasp them, unless they’re very involved in the economy and understand it — and then they probably are Republicans. …
RUSH: … Freedom requires personal responsibility. …
HOROWITZ: … We need to use a moral language. Notice when the left attacks, it’s always using moral language. Racist, sexist, homophobic, whatever. These attacks sting. We don’t use language like that. We need to. It’s they who are racist. … Why are we letting them get away with their destruction of inner-city minority communities? Detroit, Chicago: why weren’t the disasters Democrats have visited on these cities huge in the Republican campaign last time? Democrats control these cities, they’ve controlled them for half a century and more. They’re ruining, destroying the lives of young black and Hispanic kids in these cities, and poor whites there as well. They’re 100 percent responsible for that, yet we never mention it. It is beyond me. … They don’t want to be at war, and particularly a moral war, with other Americans. But that is the reality. The left has already made it that. Republicans are treated as though they’re of the Party of Satan. That goes with the religious nature of leftist beliefs. Progressives believe that they are creating the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and that people who oppose them are the Party of the Devil. That’s the way they fight. We have to use that kind of language. Fight fire with fire.
RUSH: You’re nailing it. You came up with something … that I think is worth repeating, and to me it’s brilliant. I would never have seen it had you not pointed it out. You write that the fall of soviet communism had the unforeseen effect of freeing leftists from the burden of defending failed Marxist states, which in turn allowed them to emerge as a major force in American life. That’s so right on. The failure of communism, ironically, led to a rebirth of it in this country. We wipe it out in the Soviet Union, and a shining example of its atrocities goes away, and it becomes a tougher sell to educate people what it is.
HOROWITZ: Exactly, and leftists saw that at the time. That’s the first thing they said about it. … That’s why connecting them to the communists is very important. It’s part of the battle. Republicans, and conservatives as well, have let the foreign policy issue, national security, slip off the political radar. Barack Obama is a supporter of the Islamofascists. He’s supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that wants to … destroy America. Obama and Hillary have supported them. Their Administration is infiltrated by Islamist agents. That’s why Benghazi is so important, and why I’m really encouraged that Republicans haven’t let it totally disappear. …
If conservatives and Republicans do learn at last to “fight fire with fire”, can America’s leftward slide be stopped? Can America be restored to a country that values and protects the freedom of the individual? Rush asks Horowitz if the rule of the left – of the Democratic Party – will “implode”.
HOROWITZ: I think they’re going to go down in flames in the coming election. I’m hoping for that, and I can’t see how that won’t happen.
So David Horowitz, at this point, is optimistic.
We would like to share his optimism. But we have one difference of opinion with him which makes us less sanguine that a Republican victory – even if led by a person such as Ted Cruz who understands the urgency of the need to recover from the leftward slide – is almost certain.
He says, in the same conversation, “we need morality, religion, laws”. Morality and laws, yes, we need them. But religion? He means a religion with a god – to oppose the communist religion which has no god. He observes with wonder the inability of the left to learn from the horrible history of their religion that it only creates widespread misery and sheds lots of blood. Yet he fails to learn from the much longer horrible history of god-worshipping religions that they created widespread misery and shed lots of blood.
We immensely admire the great work David Horowitz has done, and continues to do, teaching Americans the awful truth of the left’s ideology, and actively combating it.
But if the right insists on sticking “God” into its political platform, the left is much less likely to “go down in flames”.
What a rotten job the official representatives of Jewish communities in Western countries are doing!
British Jews are still so grateful to Oliver Cromwell for letting them into the country some 350 years ago, that they’d rather put up with anything – slander, humiliation, threats, even physical attack – than complain. Their official representatives play along with the phony “interfaith” racket in the stubborn (but forlorn) hope that it will soften Islamic hatred of them, although that hatred is ineradicably doctrinal as well as political. If it wasn’t for the excellent institution Stand For Peace under the inspired directorship of Sam Westrop exposing the racket for what it is, there would hardly be any resistance at all to the intensifying anti-Semitism and advancing stealth-jihad in the United Kingdom.
And it’s far worse in France and Sweden.
How well are “official Jews” doing to earn their salaries in Canada and the US?
Abraham Foxman recently announced after 27 years steering the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) he will retire next year. How well has he done?
Andrew Bostom, writing at American Thinker, said of Foxman in 2011 that he is –
… the most blindly agenda-driven organizational Jewish “leader.” The Anti-Defamation League (ADL)’s Foxman sprays defamatory charges – rooted in willful ignorance – against all those legitimately concerned with the ceaseless efforts of mainstream institutional American Islam to insinuate Sharia mores and jurisdiction into US society.
Today Mark Steyn says what needs to be said about this self-blinkered Official Jew:
Canada’s “official Jews” [are] among the most useless people on the planet. Under Bernie Farber, for example, the Canadian Jewish Congress was obsessive about the last three neo-Nazi losers living in their mum’s basement and contributing unread blog posts to obscure “white supremacist” websites. But it had nothing to say about the broad-daylight mass Jew-hatred and, indeed, brazen incitement to murder of large groups of people parading through downtown Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Farber & Co were cardboard warriors, capable only of fighting the battles others had already won long ago.
And so it goes for America’s “official Jews”:
Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman believes that anti-Semitism is at its height since the Holocaust, and threatens the lives of Jews all around the world.
He got that right. He got everything else wrong:
Europe is where the Jewish people have paid the highest price for anti-Semitism, and it’s sort of an old-new phenomenon,” he said, defining it as “nationalists, anti-government people, neo-fascists, neo-Nazis of anti-immigration and anti-government coming together with a glue and cement of anti-Semitism. I think it’s a serious threat to Jewish life.
Is it really possible in 2014 even for the capo di tutti capi of official Jews to be so blind? Foxman is either the most wicked dissembler or, to be more charitable, he reflects merely the blinkered parochialism of America’s liberal Jewish elites. Unlike the head of the ADL, I have no special interest in or responsibility for the welfare of the Jewish people, but I have been to Toulouse, Antwerp, Malmö and the old Jewish East End of London, and I know what I have seen there.
I would like Foxman to go to Toulouse, a city the size of Jacksonville, Florida, where in recent years one synagogue has been firebombed, another set alight when two burning cars were driven into it, a third burgled and “Dirty Jews” scrawled on the ark housing the Torah, where a kosher butcher’s was strafed with gunfire, and a Jewish sports association attacked with Molotov cocktails, and three Jewish children murdered outside their grade school, I would like Foxman to go to Toulouse and tell any Jew he finds there (they are advised by their rabbis not to wear identifying marks of their faith) that it’s all the work of “anti-government people”.
I would like him to go to Malmö – once the first Christian city in Norway and soon to be the first Muslim city in Sweden – and tell such Jews as he can find (they are abandoning the city) that the desecration of Jewish cemeteries and the ugly reinforced steel doors at the Jewish kindergarten and the rocket-proof glass in the windows of the synagogue are all the fault of “neo-Nazis”. Sweden is renowned for its neo-Nazis, isn’t it? Doubtless they were the reason why a year or two back at the Davis Cup the Israeli tennis players had to play their match behind closed doors, in a Baltiska Hallen stadium without a single spectator. For had they opened the doors, the seats would have filled up with Swedish “nationalists” and Swedish “neo-fascists” and all hell would have broken loose.
I would like Abe Foxman to go to Tower Hamlets in London’s East End, where on Holocaust Memorial Day a couple of years ago a visiting New Yorker had to be taken to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel after a Jewish tour group was pelted with stones by a group jeering “If you go any further, you’ll die.” I would like Foxman to tell those Jews that their attackers were an “anti-immigration” group.
I would like him to go to Villiers-le-Bel, where a Jewish girl was brutally attacked by a gang shouting “Jews must die!”, or to Odense, where the headmaster says his school can no longer take Jewish pupils for security reasons, and tell them it’s the fault of Danish “nationalists” and French “neo-Nazis”.
But I don’t suppose Abe Foxman will go anywhere outside his bubble, will he? Is it really too much to expect him somewhere in that long laundry list of antiquated irrelevances to utter the “M” word? As Laura Rosen Cohen writes of this contemptible nothing of a man:
Shame on you, Abraham Foxman. Shame on you.
These Jews are a danger to the Jewish people.
Their denial is so thick and so amoral that it is difficult sometimes to find the words to express my utter disgust and contempt.
By fighting the last war against the German Nazis over and over in their heads, they endanger living Jews. But they will never learn.
It’s so cozy to be a professional Jew, fighting the ghosts of WW2 over and over and never facing the real threats to the Jewish people.
Though the Holocaust must never be forgotten, it must not so obsess generation after generation that they fail to see what is happening all about them.
Jewish groups missed the threat 80 years ago, too. But why wouldn’t they? There’d always been anti-Semitism in Europe: You can’t buy property here, you can’t stand for parliament there, and everywhere always a certain sliver of people who just don’t want to be around Jews. But it didn’t turn genocidal until the 1930s, and, after a millennium of low-level Jew hate, you can understand why nobody saw it coming.
But the violent, murderous phase of the new Jew-hatred is already here – in the emergency ward of the Royal London Hospital; in the corpse-strewn schoolyard of Toulouse; in the synagogue in Brussels set alight by Molotov cocktails; in a pleasant Jewish home in Antwerp, where burning rags were pushed through the mail flap; at the RER train station in Auber, where a commuter was savagely assaulted by a mob taunting, “Palestine will kill the Jews”; in the suburban home where a young Frenchman was tortured to death over three weeks while his family listened via phone to his howls of agony as his captors chanted from the Koran; in the stairwell of the apartment house where a Paris disc-jockey had his throat slit, his eyes gouged out, and his face ripped off by a neighbor who crowed, “I have killed my Jew!”
Those “anti-government people” get around, don’t they? The groups who perpetrate this violence come from a minority community – larger than the Jews but not yet larger than everyone else. They are telling you what they will do when they have the numbers to do it. …
Abe Foxman has not had his eyes gouged out, but he is blind, utterly blind.
“Racism” – an infinitely elastic term – is by far the very worst crime any human being can commit according to the Left.
There is one exception, however. Essential as it is to strive (hopelessly if you’re a white person, not too hard if you’re anything else) not to be racist, it is compulsory to hate Jews. Though you mustn’t call them that. You must call them Israelis or Zionists. And hating them isn’t enough. You must work actively for their destruction.
Why, you ask? Isn’t it obvious? Because Israel is an apartheid state, Israelis are Nazis who colonized the long-established independent state of Palestine, and Jews are carrying out savage acts of terrorism on every inhabited continent, and threatening to take over Europe and the world. While the Muslims – pacific and tolerant even though they’ve been horrifically persecuted for hundreds of years – are making huge contributions to humanity, especially through Science, so winning Nobel Prizes out of all proportion to their tiny number.
This is from Front Page, by Caroline Glick:
The main foreign policy issue that galvanizes the passions and energies of the committed American Left is the movement to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.
This week has been a big one for the anti-Israel movement. In the space of a few days, two quasi academic organizations – the American Studies Association [ASA] and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association – have launched boycotts against Israeli universities. Their boycotts follow a similar one announced in April by the Asian Studies Association.
These groups’ actions have not taken place in isolation. They are of a piece with ever-escalating acts of anti-Israel agitation in college campuses throughout the United States.
Between the growth of Israel Apartheid Day (or Week, or Month) from a fringe exercise on isolated campuses to a staple of the academic calendar in universities throughout the US and Canada, and the rise of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to wage economic war against the Jewish state, anti-Israel activism has become the focal point of Leftist foreign policy activism in the US and throughout the Western world.
Every week brings a wealth of stories about new cases of aggressive anti-Israel activism. At the University of Michigan last week, thousands of students were sent fake eviction notices from the university’s housing office. A pro-Palestinian group distributed them in dorms across campus to disseminate the blood libel that Israel is carrying out mass expulsions of Palestinians.
At Swarthmore College, leftist anti-Israel Jewish students who control Hillel are insisting on using Hillel’s good offices to disseminate and legitimate anti-Israel slanders.
And the Left’s doctrinaire insistence that Israel is the root of all evil is not limited to campuses.
At New York’s 92nd Street Y, Commentary editor John Podhoretz was booed and hissed by the audience for trying to explain why the ASA’s just-announced boycott of Israel was an obscene act of bigotry.
Many commentators have rightly pointed out that the ASA and the NAISA are fringe groups. They represent doctorate holders who chose to devote their careers to disciplines predicated not on scholarship, but on political activism cloaked in academic regalia whose goal is to discredit American power. The ASA has only 5,000 members, and only 1,200 of them voted on the Israel- boycott resolution. The NAISA has even fewer members. It would be wrong, however, to use the paltry number of these fringe groups’ members as means to dismiss the phenomenon that they represent. They are very much in line with the general drift of the Left. … While the ASA and its comrades are on the fringes of academia, they are not fringe voices on the Left. The Left has embraced the cause of Israel’s destruction.
Rejecting Israel’s right to exist has become part of the Left’s dogma. It is a part of the catechism. Holding a negative view of the Jewish state is a condition for membership in the ideological camp. It is an article of faith …
Consider the background of the president of the ASA. Curtis Marez is an associate professor in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, San Diego. His area of expertise is Chicano Film and Media Studies. He doesn’t know anything about Israel. He just knows that he’s a Leftist. And today, Leftists demonize Israel. Their actions have nothing to do with anything Israel does or has ever done. They have nothing to do with human rights. Hating Israel, slandering Israel and supporting the destruction of Israel are just things that good Leftists do.
And Marez was not out of step with his fellow Leftists who rule the roost at UCSD. This past March the student council passed a resolution calling for the university to divest from companies that do business with Israel. Why? Because hating Israel is what Leftists do. …
Challenging the likes of Marez, or the Swarthmore students … to a reasoned debate is an exercise in futility. They do not care about human rights. They do not care that Israel is the only human rights-respecting democracy in the Middle East. … Being hypocrites doesn’t bother them either.
You can talk until you’re blue in the face about the civilian victims of the Syrian civil war, or the gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia and the absence of religious freedom throughout the Muslim world. But they don’t care. They aren’t trying to make the world a better place.
Facts cannot compete with their faith. Reason has no place in their closed intellectual universe. To accept reason and facts would be an act of heresy.
The religion of Christianity began by plundering and anathematizing the religion of Judaism, and became a menace to the Jews. The religions of Islam and Socialism plundered and anathematized both, and menace all of us.
Religion is a self-imposed curse on humankind.
To most people “Quaker terrorists” may seem a contradiction in terms. So we must explain.
To excuse or defend terrorism is to encourage it; to encourage it is to co-author it.
And what is terrorism? It is not an ideology. It is a method, a tactic. It is the systematic use of violence to create public fear. By the targeting of the innocent the fear is spread. Everyone in a certain place, or of a certain race or calling, or in a certain position, must be given reason by the terrorist to fear that he or she, or his or her spouse or child or parent, can be blown into pieces, or be knifed or beaten or shot to death, by complete strangers at any moment. Terrorism is morally indefensible. Arguably the most morally indefensible form of violence that can be imagined. Nothing can justify it. No cause. Nothing.
For centuries the Quakers were a widely respected sect. They were pacifists on moral grounds. Pacifism was one of their founding religious principles. Their name was synonymous with non-violence. In wars, they would serve their country as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, stretcher-bearers … They eschewed violence even in self-defense. As a sect, they lived up to their principles. That was what they were respected for.
(For the record – in our view a pacifist upholding his principle of non-violence when the aggressors are Nazis or Communists say, while others risk their lives to save him from them, is not admirable. But our task here is to explain the Quaker view, which many hold in high esteem: that it’s wrong to use violence at all. Ever.)
But now the Quakers are terrorists. They are terrorists in that they excuse, defend, and actively encourage terrorism.
Here is the story of how the change, the reversal of their values, came about. We have taken it from the The Tower, condensing the full account given by Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander H. Joffe:
The Quakers — thus named because they tremble or “quake” before God — [is] a Protestant sect founded in England during the mid-17th century. … As part of their beliefs, Quakers oppose violence in all its forms and reject any compulsion in religion. …
The Quakers are also called The Friends. So unthreatening. So simple. So trustworthy. So good.
On April 30, 1917, the Quakers formed The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) “in response to America’s entrance into World War I”.
Challenged by public hostility and government disapproval due to their refusal to be drafted, the Quakers formed the AFSC in order to organize alternative forms of service for its members, such as providing medical aid and other non-violent participation in the war effort.
The AFSC slowly expanded over the years, and by the late 1940s it was an established Christian organization with global experience, recognized by national and international establishments as a major provider of international relief, charity, and aid. …
The dawn of the Cold War, however, proved a turning point in the history of the organization. In April 1947 …
Just thirty years after its founding …
… a faction within the AFSC’s leadership convened a meeting at which the head of the organization, Clarence Pickett, and others argued that tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union had become so intense, and the threat of atomic war so grave, that the AFSC should abandon its long-standing tradition of political neutrality.
The argument was absurd. How by taking one side against the other would they be lessening the tension and preventing atomic war?
It is true that one side of the Cold War was working through agents of influence to get the other side disarmed by public opinion. It paid its agents to organize “Peace” movements. Not because it was for peace, though it pretended to be. Far from being peaceful, it was arming, aiding and abetting proxy wars of “liberation” on five continents. That lying, hypocritical, relentlessly belligerent side was the Soviet Union. And that is the side the AFSC took.
Can there be much doubt that Clarence Pickett, whether personally paid or not, was one of its agents?
Such a stance [of neutrality], Pickett said, could no longer be an article of faith but a crime. The radical nature of this [new] stance was reflected in the words of another participant, who said, “Evolution is too slow. We need revolution in the Society of Friends.”
Hear in that the vocabulary, the phraseology of Marxism.
The organization, Pickett and his supporters felt, should actively spearhead a peace movement that would directly challenge America’s Cold War policies.
Not for a moment did they apparently consider that the American Cold War policies were a direct challenge to the Soviet Union’s hot war ambitions.
This began the AFSC’s transformation from a religious group to, as one Quaker scholar later put it, “just one more pressure group within the secular political community”.
Or in other words, it changed not only from a pacifist to a revolutionary movement, it also changed, effectively, from a Christian sect into a Communist sect.
The AFSC’s newly radical stance took aim at American policies throughout the 1950s and paid little or no heed to repression and terror in Communist countries. This hit its stride during the Vietnam War. The organization bitterly and actively opposed the war throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Its attacks on American policy in Vietnam were furious and wide-ranging, opposing everything from the escalation of military operations to all forms of aid to South Vietnam to the conduct of the war itself. In addition, the AFSC directly violated American embargoes and sent medical aid directly to North Vietnam. These actions proved to be extremely controversial. In one case, the AFSC was accused of revealing to the North Vietnamese that a prominent Buddhist activist was a CIA agent, prompting one prominent Quaker to hold a sit-in at AFSC headquarters in protest.
So some individual Quakers – many, according to the authors – were still true to their founding principles, or perhaps were American patriots.
The AFSC’s activism placed it unquestionably on the side of the American far-Left, where it remains to this day.
The Quakers’ [erstwhile] beliefs in nonviolence have not prevented them from supporting bloody despotic regimes. …
And the hypocrisy was – and remains – blatant:
While still voicing support for pacifism, the organization increasingly aligned itself with violent Left-wing governments and movements, some of which used terrorism to advance their goals.
Many rank-and-file Quakers were appalled at the AFSC’s overt support for such regimes and movements, as well as its double standards … But their protests proved fruitless. The AFSC rejected all criticism as fundamentally illegitimate “red-baiting and McCarthyism”.
“Red-baiting”. Again, the vocabulary of the Communists. Or rather of the Comintern – the Soviets’ ideological club for foreign fans of its appalling system.
… The AFSC’s policy towards Iran is [to demand] the removal of sanctions and [dismiss] concerns about Iranian nuclear weapons.
It is openly, shamelessly supportive of the most terrible regime on earth:
Today the group operates collective farms in North Korea …
And is intimately supportive of at least one of the most savage terrorist groups on earth – Hamas.
Romirowsky and Joffe trace the history of the Quakers relationship to the “Holy Land”, the Palestinians, and Zionism, giving them credit for aiding the refugees more rationally than most other organizations working among them. But …
… after the 1967 Six Day War, the AFSC began to take a more explicit and fervent pro-Palestinian stance, applying its growing radicalism and willingness to accommodate the use of violence to the Middle East conflict.
As the 1970s saw the rise of Palestinian terrorism as a major source of global violence, the AFSC began to take a disturbingly understanding approach to the issue. A 1972 AFSC pamphlet, Nonviolence: Not First For Export told its readers:
… before we deplore terrorism it is essential for us to recognize fully and clearly whose “terrorism” came first, so that we can assess what is cause and what is effect.
It was clear enough that, in regard to Israel the AFSC had no doubts about whose “terrorism” came first. The pamphlet expressed, for example, deep understanding toward the Palestinian Fedayeen — “those who sacrifice themselves” — terrorists whose main purpose was to infiltrate Israel and kill civilians. …
In 1973, the AFSC called for a U.S. embargo on arms and other aid to Israel, and in 1975 adopted “a formal decision to make the Middle East its major issue.” It quickly opened an office in Israel, installed specialized staff members at regional offices in the U.S., and began advocating for the Palestinians in Israeli and international courts. Israeli officials quickly discovered, however, that the new AFSC representative in Jerusalem was attempting to organize on behalf of the PLO. …
The AFSC has moved ever closer to the Palestinian cause since the 1970s. Today, this is expressed through fieldwork, lobbying, and activism, in particular through the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement [against Israel] …
In regard to Hamas’ indiscriminate use of rockets against Israeli civilians, the AFSC simply notes that “it is important to look at the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups in context”, since this is “intertwined” with “ongoing Israeli military actions in Gaza”. …
Military actions which are rare, targeted, and defensive only. While the rockets are constant, indiscriminate, and aggressive.
The authors suggest that the Quaker movement now clings to its anti-Zionism as a cause to keep it alive.
It may be that a movement like the Quakers, which has seen its numbers dwindle along with other liberal Protestant denominations, sees anti-Zionism as a last resort; a movement with powerful emotional appeal on which it can draw in order to maximize its power. If so, then it has undone a great deal of the good it once did, and substituted hypocrisy and bad faith instead.
Once a byword for humanitarianism … it has now become, in effect, a brand — one on which the AFSC can trade as it exploits the putative neutrality and pacifism it stands for in order to advance hostility toward Israel and, with its promotion of the “right of return”, an end to Israel itself.
In the end, the AFSC’s story reflects the tensions between pacifism and politics, between aid work and political activism … It demonstrates that small religious movements are susceptible to hijacking by radicals, and suggests that pacifism may inevitably engender its opposite. The organization’s slide has been a long one, and at the moment it shows no sign of or interest in reversing it.