Tea Party Absolutism (vs. Relativity)

Tea Party Absolutism (vs. Relativity)

Posted in the Bellingham Forum

Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#1 Jan 7, 2011
The following is a snippet from The New York Times essay 'Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr' by Arthur
Schlesinger, Jr.(September 18, 2005). It's about Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, and involves absolutism vs. relativity:

"...One imagines a meeting between two men - say, for example, the president of the United States and the last pope - who have private lines to the Almighty but discover fundamental disagreements over the message each receives. Thus Bush is the fervent champion of the war against Iraq; John Paul II stoutly opposed the war. Bush is the fervent champion of capital punishment; John Paul II stoutly opposed capital punishment. How do these two absolutists reconcile contradictory and incompatible communications from the Almighty?"
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#2 Jan 7, 2011
Here's more from the article:

...Mortal man's apprehension of truth is fitful, shadowy and imperfect; he sees through the glass darkly. Against absolutism Niebuhr insisted on the "relativity of all human perspectives," as well as on the sinfulness of those who claimed divine sanction for their opinions. He declared himself "in broad agreement with the relativist position in the matter of freedom, as upon every other social and political right or principle."
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#3 Jan 7, 2011
One more:

"A democracy," Niebuhr said, "cannot of course engage in an explicit preventive war," and he lamented the "inability to comprehend the depth of evil to which individuals and communities may sink, particularly when they try to play the role of God to history."

____

It looks like that was said in 1952. Interesting, especially when considering Noam Chomsky's explaining in 'Hegemony or Survival' that the U.S./Iraq war was begun as a preventive war.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#4 Jan 7, 2011
Finally, this applies locally to the traffic camera issue here in Bellingham. In his opinion piece in the Bellingham Herald, Tim Eyman closed by using the Founding Father quote....those who would give up essential liberty for security deserve neither liberty or security (paraphrasing).

That sounded too absolutist, particularly when considering that nobody cited that quote when surveillance cameras were put on public buses. Nor did they call for a petition and demand a vote on the issue. Yet bus riders are under surveillance not only from Point A to Point B (the entire ride--audio included), and not just when going through traffic intersections or school zones. Moreover, bus riders are the more environmentally friendly and are not driving WMD (aka motor vehicles) endangering pedestrian's. So why is that those driving motor vehicles expect to have their own 'private Idaho'? Are their personal freedoms more valuable than the bus rider's? Or is it the Constitution selectively applied?
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#5 Jan 8, 2011
Breaking News...Congresswoman Giffords, others shot in Ariz.

Conflicting reports on condition of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Etc.

MSNBC has video of Giffords discussing Tea Party threats against her earlier this year. Tragic. Too early to know if Tea Party involved or if it's something else.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#6 Jan 8, 2011
Giffords was shot point blank in the head reportedly, some news sites stated she had died but that has changed somewhat. Still conflicting reports...perhaps may be in surgery presently.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#7 Jan 8, 2011
Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot By Gunman
by NPR Staff


Drew Angerer/AP

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was re-elected to a third term in November.

January 8, 2011 Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a gunman at a public event in Tucson on Saturday. There are conflicting reports about whether she was killed.

The Pima County, Ariz., sheriff's office told member station KJZZ the 40-year-old Democrat was killed. At least nine other people, including members of her staff, were injured.

Giffords, who was re-elected to a third term in November, was hosting a "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Safeway in northwest Tucson when a gunman ran up and started shooting, according to Peter Michaels, news director of Arizona Public Media.

Giffords was talking to a couple when the suspect ran up and fired indiscriminately from about four feet away, Michaels said.




The suspect ran off and was tackled by a bystander. He was taken into custody. Witnesses described him as in his late teens or early 20s.

__________
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#8 Jan 8, 2011
"Giffords, a gun rights advocate, was first elected to Congress 2006 when she rode a wave of Democratic victories. However, she separated herself from most in her caucus when she criticized President Obama last summer for not sending more National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border." Fox News

That was my first thought...her immigration reform. I wondered if the shooting was over that, but MSNBC and other sites were showing the Tea Party angle due to the video from earlier this year where she describes being threatened (and her office having been vandalized) as it shows people holding a "Don't Tread on Me' banner; various Tea party slogans.

YouTube stuff of the shooter is now beginning to be referred to in some reports, but it doesn't give clear indication of the motive--just strange political viewpoints.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#9 Jan 8, 2011
I looked at some of the shooters YouTube but there doesn't seem to be Tea Party slogans on there. May not be Tea Party then...still hard to know, but Sarah Palin calling Giffords congressional district a target, depicting it in crosshairs, will probably get alot of scrutiny.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#10 Jan 8, 2011
I've said it elsewhere...I belive our country should be like Canada and Europe. The prevalance of guns in this country is clearly linked to the preponderance of violent deaths. We should allow firearms for protection in national parks amongst bears (Glacier N.P. especially--where the most bear attacks occur in contiguous U.S.), but otherwise we should not have guns legal all over the place. That simply compels gun ownership and makes those who do not want to have guns extremely vulnerable.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#11 Jan 10, 2011
He killed a federal judge, opposed "federalism', etc. That's Tea Party; "Don't Tread on Me" Libertarianism. Timothy McVeigh terrorism.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#12 Jan 11, 2011
Fred Phelp's and his church are planning to protest the little girls funeral Thursday--terrible.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#13 Jan 11, 2011
This helps with context...Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. is a famous historian, and also founder of 'Atheists For Niebuhr'(as explained, Niebuhr was broadminded to such a degree "even secularists" agreed with him).

Also, there is interesting book 'Against Us, But For Us', which describes Niebuhr influencing MLK, JR. and then MLK's critique of some of Niebuhr's theology. Looking forward to reading more on that...
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#14 Jan 12, 2011
That book is "Against Us, But For Us; Martin Luther King, Jr. And The State" by Michael G. Long.
P.74 has an interesting paragraph. Just caught that much of it through a Google search, looks like MLK, Jr. was influenced by Niebuhr, but later went on to provide some critique of Niebuhr's writings.
At first galnce, it looks like MLK, Jr. took Niebuhr's realism and placed it in a context of agape love. But did he do it convincingly enough? I haven't read enough to know. But looking forward to trying to find out.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#15 Jan 12, 2011
Fox News:

Sarah Palin made a call to conscience Wednesday for those who would manufacture "a blood libel" for last weekend's Arizona shooting, saying "acts of monstrous brutality ... begin and end with the criminals who commit them, not collectively" with Americans exercising their constitutional freedoms.

____

A "call to conscience"? Absurd. Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:

Evil is not to be traced back to the individual but to the collective behavior of humanity.
Bruce Deile

Bellingham, WA

#16 Jan 12, 2011
Palin's "blood libel": Dostoevsky has been accused of anti-semitism in his writings. One example used is from 'The Brother's Karamazov'. Alyosha, when asked by a child if it is true that Jews kill children on Easter and eat them, replied "I don't know". Alyosha is the "moral hero" of the novel, so his lack of refutation is seen as anti-semitism. Dostoevsky is one of my favorite writers yet there are many thought provoking examples of anti-semitism cited in a book on that subject (forgot the name of it). Maybe he was hounded by Jewish bill collectors (since he reportedly was in debt much of his life) and got back at them by playing games in his novels.

Suspect Palin is also playing (incendary) games and the use of this term is not attributed to ignorance as one pundit believed on MSNBC video today. Ann Coulter is a war mongerer and makes millions from it; could be similar behaviour on display here with Palin.
Bruce Deile

Baring, WA

#17 Jan 15, 2011
Just attended Whatcom Community College MLK, JR. Conference today. Discussion rooms--one upstairs specific to the jail proposal wouldn't let me speak about MLK, Jr. and Christian socialism (even when specified to the jail issue)...but downstairs the people allowed me to speak and were nodding their heads affirmatively. Hate to say it, but upstairs was filled with plutocrats controlling the jail issue (and everything else of course), and downstairs had poor people speaking about MLK, Jr.

The Socialist Party that meets on WWU--they were nowhere to be seen at MLK, Jr. Conference...????

Christian Socialism taboo--plutocratic oligarchy wouldn't allow it to be discussed even though it's most likely why MLK was killed--he was trying to help the poor and the only way was through a socialistic structure; Hugo Chavez, etc.

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