Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Friday, February 24, 2006

How do you converse with an Anglican Weasel?

British Conservative Author Melanie Phillips, who is an Anglican, wrote about a group that she was pleased about that was recently formed, called "Anglicans for Isreal". She felt it was much needed to challenge what she described as Anglican animosity towards Isreal. She wrote about why she felt this was an important development, and then described an encounter she had with an Anglican Cleric about Isreal. Here is an excerpt:

...'Anglicans for Israel', has opened its own website, found here, which contains articles that approach the subject of Israel and the Middle East in a spirit of fairness, truth and historical memory.

This is an immensely welcome development for two main reasons. First, it demonstrates that there are Christians in Britain who are motivated by principled impulses, a spirit of generosity and absence of prejudice towards the Jews and a sound understanding of the wellsprings of evil in the world. As a result, they will give heart to others who think like them but who until now have lacked a voice to represent their viewpoint against the decadent prejudices within Anglicanism. Second, they will provide a vital public challenge to those prejudices for Anglicans who genuinely do not realise that the world-view they take for granted as the moral high ground is actually a repository of moral inversion, historical ignorance and the discourse of racial hatred.

I recently found myself confronting this world-view in a conversation with a senior cleric in the Church of England. We had both just heard an account of Israel's history and society which to me was a travesty of the truth, omitting altogether the half-century of exterminatory Arab attacks on Israel, the vilification of Jews in Arab and Muslim discourse and the five year campaign of mass murder against Israeli citizens in the Oslo intifada. Instead, Israel's Jews were presented as motivated by an otherwise inexplicable racial prejudice against the Arabs and a desire to discriminate against them and generally do them down.

When I protested, the cleric declared that he wanted to understand my pain. I replied that my pain was caused by having heard an account of Israel that was not based on the truth and which would further deepen the already toxic prejudice against the Jews. To which this cleric replied that there was no one truth, and that we all had to respect each other's truths. To which I inquired whether this meant that we had to respect each other's lies -- which elicited the reply that these were merely 'competing narratives'.

So to this cleric, it seems, the Arab lie that, for example, Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians -- a lie which has the direct result of inciting the mass murder of Israelis -- has to be respected. Not surprisingly, therefore, he told me that the person to whose narrative I had objected was, to him, 'a hero'. For good measure, dismissing the fusillade of rockets that Hamas had just launched from Gaza against the Israeli town of Sderot, he declared that it was wrong for Israel to attack Hamas in response and that it should be talking to it instead.

When I inquired what they might find to talk about, since Hamas has a non-negotiable postion which happens to be the extermination of Israel, and wondered whether he would have similarly urged negotiations with Hitler instead of declaring war in 1939, he acknowledged that he too had been pondering that very scenario! But attacking Hamas, he persisted, would not achieve anything - a prediction dashed within hours, when after Israel had pounded Hamas positions and thus showed it would not tolerate such aggression but would defend its citizens with tenacity, Hamas was moved suddenly to re-impose its ceasefire...

As I read this, I experienced a severe case of "San Francisco Flashback". I can't tell you how many times, for years, in San Francisco, I had to endure people like this cleric, and their "non-discussion discussions" about whatever it was that they would avoid actually discussing with you. Those phrases: "I want to understand your pain", and "there is no one truth", and "we all have to respect each other's truths", and "these are merely 'competing narratives'". They are classic evasive manuvers. But in my years of living in San Francisco, I learned to understand the "weasel" language, and am happy to provide the following translations:

"I want to understand your pain"
"I'll pretend to care about your feelings, because it's easier to manipulate people emotionally"

"there is no one truth"
"it's not possible to really know what the truth is; therefore I can't be wrong, and there is no point in arguing"

"we all have to respect each other's truths"
"you AREN'T ALLOWED to critisize what I say, and I won't respond to what you say"

"these are merely 'competing narratives'"
"I will NOT respond to what you are saying, BITCH, so stop trying"

As we continue to live in a culture that finds these sort of non-answers acceptable in place of debate or discussion, we end up in a society that can no longer debate or discuss. It's creating an environment where political correctness gets to decide what can be said, by who, when and where, and even what comics can be published and viewed. I believe it is also contributing to the current attitude that says we have to respect lies, such as "Islam is the Religion of Peace, so we must respect all Muslims" despite what evidence we see to the contrary.

You can read the whole of Mellanie's article here: Anglicans for truth and decency.


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