Third Party & Independents Archives

Red Provinces vs. Blue Provinces in Iran.

We all hope that the people of Iran can rise up long enough to get a positive reaction from the government or even to follow through with another revolutionary sweep to power by a new generation, but a question persists. Are there really enough wealthy and middle class progressive Iranians to hold onto power in Iran?

If you take the demographics of Iran’s electorate and their ideological leanings you can begin to see a familiar political playing field. Iran is a completely different political landscape from the United States, but during this era of social change and rapid cultural evolution, some of the same rules apply.

I’ve a heard a few arguments that this election could be legitimate, but they are flimsy, few and far between. Check STRATFOR, “Western Misconceptions Meet Iranian Reality”, for the best of these attempts at explaining a whale of a statistical anomaly. This article warrants a thumbs down in my book, but it raises a good point that I want to explore further. Coming back down to reality, however, and comparing provincial results between Iranian elections in 2005 and 2009 highlights the impossibility of such a tectonic demographic and political shift in the 2009 results. In the Iranian province of Lorestan for example, all conservative candidates combined received only 20 % of the vote in 2005, while Ahmadinejad got 71 % of the vote all by himself in 2009 ( .

This would be equivalent to three quarters of the liberals in America voting for George W. Bush in the 2004 elections, not likely by even a long shot. I’m not saying that Ahmadinejad couldn’t have won, I’m saying that he couldn’t have won by this margin.

It’s becoming more and more clear that Ahmadinejad and his ruling government have behaved like children changing their grades at school. If they had changed their Ds to Cs it would’ve been believable, but these children changed their Ds to As. Now when we look at all the other past report cards these kids brought home before, we realize that no conservative candidate ever got straight As like this before, especially not during such a hotly contested election.

Putting aside the legitimacy of the elections for now, we need to examine what similarities can be found between our experiences and Iran's. What am I talking about? Red vs blue states in America and red vs blue provinces in Iran. In the past and especially in 2000, 2004 and 2008, America witnessed a political tug of war between the rural heartland red states and the urbanized developed coastal states. People in the blue states are generalized as big city liberals and people in the red states are even more dismissively labeled the fly-over (a reference to the middle states that those big city liberals “fly-over” when going from coast to coast). Currently, the large population centers on America’s coasts combined with swing states to bring victory to the liberal progressive side of the U.S. electorate. What does this teach us about Iran?

Well, Iran contains a progressive urban population with better access to education, non-agrarian employment opportunities and communications with the outside world that is surrounded by a rural population with less education, agrarian employment opportunities and very little communication outside of their village. The urbanites are not atheistic, but they are definitely not considered as pious as those in the countryside. Sound familiar? We basically have the same dynamic at work here, but the back and forth has been going on just a little bit longer in the US and the long term trend hands the urban population centers the advantage in this country. Is that the case in Iran?

Eventually, one would think this dynamic would trend the same way everywhere including Iran, but look at how this has worked out in the United States. Such a contrasting demographic split along ideological lines in America has provided us with a severely limiting two party system that often swings the nation back and forth like a pendulum instead of forward. This one step forward two steps back cycle could evolve in Iranian politics as well, which would be a damn shame in this 3rdpartyblogger’s opinion.

Today in Iran you see two competing groups rallying in the streets of Tehran. One side gathers green clad supporters from the city itself and the other buses in supporters of the incumbent from the countryside. This leaves the persistent question above. Could a new revolution in Iran survive and establish itself successfully? And if they did this, would they be stifling the anger and resentment of millions of poor religious Iranians in the countryside?

For more information on this, I would ask the conservative thinkers of this nation for insight. After all, the rulers of Iran and their rural conservative base fall into roughly (and I mean roughly) the same ideological category as America’s conservatives, so they should be capable of understanding the chances a “LIBERAL” urban elite and their “PROGRESSIVE” ideas have in Iran.

It must be admitted, when all is said and done in Iran, that the forces of liberal democratic reason must overcome the forces of conservative religiosity.

A conservative fear of change and the impending loss of religious and family values allows the incumbents to remain in power, that and a fraudulent election. If we could just get some notes from Karl Rove and W. on where the Iranian government is coming from then we could really gain some valuable insight.

P.S. Post. Recent information from Ken Ballen at Terror Free Tomorrow on CNN: His organization took a poll in Iran three weeks before the election which showed Ahmadinejad holding a significant lead. Obviously, polls cannot be used to support the lofty numbers seen in the actual election, but another significant find of Mr. Ballen’s came up as well. His poll also found that a significant percentage of Ahmadinejad’s supporters expressed a desire for more individual freedom and government reform. In this case, we must conclude that Ahmadinejad’s recent actions in the suppression of the Iranian protesters could be damaging his base. If he keeps this up, hopefully his followers will begin to defect and the opposition in Iran will grow.

Posted by Frederick S. Friedman at June 17, 2009 1:43 PM
Comment #283122

Don’t be deceived, the Mullah’s control the political scene. No matter who is elected, they were chosen by the religious leaders. These misguided protestors in Iran want a democracy, but the foundation of a democracy is the 1st amendment. Fredom of speech and religion, and there are absolutly no muslim countries that will ever have this.


Posted by: sam at June 17, 2009 4:08 PM
Comment #283125

We could have said the same for the Shah who preceded them. The Mullahs control the political scene only so long as they successfully manipulate the people engaging in politics.

The moment significant resistance builds up in any political status quo, the tension increases. They have a choice at this point: co-opt or coerce. If neither of those is successful, the resistance may:

a)create a permanent subculture, which the governing faction concedes its territory.
b)peacefully turnover the rest of the culture, which may have been predisposed to a change, and take over dominance.
c) blow itself out like a storm.

and/or d) violently overthrow or disrupt the greater culture and take over things itself.

Keep in mind: these are metastatic outcomes, which is to say definite in their effect, creating changes that aren’t easily reversible, but which themselves may, upon a sufficient push rollover into a different, new outcome.

Which is to say that the government in Iran could successfully surpress and coopt the electorate this time, yet creates the conditions by which their power begins to decay, or even soon falls victim to the legacy of their previous actions.

Juan Cole pretty much dissected the heart out of that TFT poll, pointing out that the real numbers pretty much would have guaranteed a runoff, with the undecideds leaning against Ahmedinejad’s positions.

I’d say the trick in mounting a successful third-party effort is to produce either a successful synthesis of the values of the two groups, or a strong alternative to one or both which can then either build ad hoc coalitions or replace the party closest to their position.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 17, 2009 5:17 PM
Comment #283127

Sam - Thanks for your comment! That is my point exactly. Iran currently has a religious council that holds power because of the support of conservatives in the country. They could lose that support at this point, no matter which decision the incumbents make, just as Stephen D. points out clearly. Harsh suppression will have the same eventual result as the ‘79 revolution. The question is whether the reformers could maintain power for more than thirty years.

Stephen - Thanks for the note on TFT poll, good to know.

Potential third party supporters in America, the ones that elected Obama, are a strange mix of right and left leaning independents. The task of synthesizing something coherent and unifying out of this group of people is daunting to say the least, but the Democrats and Republicans always manage to keep this group angry and in the middle.

Thanks again for your comments!

Posted by: Frederick at June 17, 2009 6:06 PM
Comment #283132

This blue/red Iran was on the Daily Show, right?

International comparisions are always dangerous.

A liberal in Europe, for example, is a conservative in America. The Europeans have kept closer to the original definition of liberal, which means someone who wants less government interference in the economy.

The “conservatives” in Iran believe that the government should direct, regulate and/or control virtually all economic activity in the country. They want regulation to set prices and wages to a large extent. The government calls the shots. Does that sound more like Newt Gingrige or Teddy Kennedy?

The progressives in Iran are interested in economic freedom too. I think that liberal Americans might not find that much in common with them. Especially since many liberals have so strongly criticized Bush’s “freedom agenda,” and sort of left the progressives at the mercy of the “legitimate” government, with whom they have promised to talk.

Religion is only one variable and its position in America is different than in most other places.

Posted by: Christine at June 17, 2009 8:32 PM
Comment #283150

“Fredom of speech and religion, and there are absolutly no muslim countries that will ever have this.”

Wrong. Turkey is a model of democracy, with freedom of both speech and religion. The government is secular, although virtually all of the people are Muslims.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2009 12:53 AM
Comment #283151

Christine - Believe or not, I don’t watch the daily show, never saw that bit before, but it sounds like a brilliant point:)

It’s a shame that you say international comparisons are always dangerous, I couldn’t disagree more with that statement. I glean some fantastic insight from comparing how people do things around the world, especially politically.

You do seem to have looked at a few political spectrum charts already, but I suggest you look at some new ones. Try googling “Nolan Chart” to find several examples of this nonlinear political chart.

You’ll see that right to left is only one axis whereas authoritarian to libertarian provides another axis. In this light, it’s clear that the right side and the left side both have authoritarian expressions and libertarian expressions of government. Meaning both left and right sides of the spectrum have totalitarian forms of government that practice complete economic and social control.

A communistic authoritarian government such as Cuba would be an extreme version of the left in totalitarian form, yes, complete economic control and supposed equality.
An Islamic-fascist authoritarian government such as Iran would be an extreme version of the right in totalitarian form with, yes, complete economic control, but no equality, the religious council lives very comfortably(remember the Nazi’s?).

I think you’re under the illusion that the right is simply less economic intervention, when in reality the right acts with much more complexity and can follow this policy to varying degrees (remember George W.?)
It may be a stretch, but in reality Newt Gingrich would feel more comfortable in Iran and Ted Kennedy would feel more comfortable in Cuba.

If the right in America actually followed the platform they claim to support, then there would be no majority of independents in the US right now and Obama never wouldn’ve been elected. What do you think?

Thank you for your comment and the strong argument you presented.

Posted by: Frederick at June 18, 2009 2:00 AM
Comment #283153

Interesting take. I still would be cautious of international comparisons of course but the red-blue comparison has some merit with an more religious,more rural population as the red and a more urban (more educated?) population as the blue. No wonder Christine chaffed a bit.

Iran is a big,big country with an incredibly deverse population, an ancient and rich history. I like most Americans hope for the best outcome in this election. An approachment with Iran is key to ending the apparently endless war with Islamic extremism we are engaged in. Iran is very influential in the whole region including Afganistan. As part of any approachment it is high time we took an honest look at our past and not very pretty relationship. We were not the good guys. For only one example , during the last battle in the Iran/Iraq war the Iranians lost 50,000 troops. THats right 50,000 in one battle. Iraq used chemical WMDs supplied by the US with proxy US AWACS directing command and control. We should expect them to be suspicious.

For those interested in a good look at Iran I found a big beautiful website:

Its may be an Iran government site(bring your salt) but I couldn’t tell you. It does cover their history from King Cyrus to the near present. and beyond also arts through the ages, religion, you name it.

Posted by: bills at June 18, 2009 6:41 AM
Comment #283155

oops maybe this will get it

Posted by: bills at June 18, 2009 7:12 AM
Comment #283183

phx8 said:

“Wrong. Turkey is a model of democracy, with freedom of both speech and religion. The government is secular, although virtually all of the people are Muslims.”

While Turkey does allow some freedoms, they are not a muslim controlled state. My statement was:

“Don’t be deceived, the Mullah’s control the political scene. No matter who is elected, they were chosen by the religious leaders. These misguided protestors in Iran want a democracy, but the foundation of a democracy is the 1st amendment. Freedom of speech and religion, and there are absolutly no muslim countries that will ever have this.”

Freedoms in a muslim state do not include freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Without these basic rights, a nation can never be a true democracy.

Turkey is not a muslim controlled state, actually, they are a military controlled state. There have been at least 5 military coups since 1960,,
The military has no concern about religion or speech, unless it concerns overthrow of the government.

You might find this link interesting,,

Islamist want to gain control of the government and if they did, there would no longer be freedom of speech or religion.

Therefore my previous statement stands, no freedoms in an Islamist run state.


Posted by: sam at June 18, 2009 12:24 PM
Comment #283184

Stephen D:

The Mullah’s will never relinquish power. They not only have the power of the military, but they also have the power to doom dissidents to an eternity in hell. You and I know they cannot do the last part, but a people steeped in religious superstition would believe they have this power. There were millions, during the dark ages, controlled this very same way by the Catholic Church. And, I might say, still do today in some places.

You might say these are young people, students, that are protesting, but many of the suicide bombers, in this part of the world, are college students and yet they strap bombs on their bodies and pull the pin, with the promise of eterniy in heaven. Islam has a hold on people that you could never understand.


Posted by: sam at June 18, 2009 12:41 PM
Comment #283207

Sam - I must say that I find the general statement “Freedom of speech and religion, and there are absolutly no muslim countries that will ever have this.” a disturbing inside look at your perspective.

You do realize you are saying a Muslim country will never, ever have freedom of religion and speech. What do you base this futuristic prediction upon? Dabble in fortune telling do you?

Information that would make one believe no Muslim country will EVER have these freedoms could be considered biased … stereotypical … a generalization … and definitely religious prejudice.

Are you openly saying you believe this generalization about the Muslim religion or are you just castigating religion in general?

I’m trying to give you a chance here, but you aren’t making it easy for anyone to debate with you rationally.

I can see a point in the fact that religious states do not provide these freedoms. You can’t point to a Christian nation in comparison to Iran because all these nations are secular, right? In that case, yes, secular government institutions are necessary for democracy, but you seem to claim this is impossible for the misguided protesters to achieve.

So, one more time. Are you saying that states ruled by religion cannot ever have freedom of religion or speech? Or are you saying that specifically Muslim nations are not capable of social and democratic advancement.

Saying these protesters are misguided and that it will be impossible to bring democracy to Iran is even more obtuse.

I mean really, it’s like you’re trying not to think here. A Muslim is a Muslim is a suicide bomber? Should we step back and allow them to all become suicide bombers or try to reach out and turn some of them into doctors, lawyers, etc. No your saying they are misguided and should go back to being suicide bombers?

You seem to be arguing the following point:

Don’t be deceived by the religious zealots and misguided reformers in Iran. We shouldn’t deal with the Iranians on any level because they are simply another Muslim country and, of course, Muslim countries cannot be changed or trusted.

Sorry for that interpretation, but you really are coming off like this. Please respond and tell me I’m wrong.
Please tell me that you don’t have these irrational feelings towards a specific religion.

There are lots of people out there that are preaching hateful propaganda about the Muslim religion and contributing to a new generation of bigots. Please tell me you aren’t one of these bigots Sam.

P.S. Yes, Turkey is secular; constitutionally.
Anyone ever hear of Indonesia? It’s not as free as America, but newspapers talk smack and Christians get to pray without being beheaded. Do they fit your perception of Muslims, Sam?

Once again sorry for the tough love, but you are coming off badly and need to clarify your position.

Good luck with that.

Posted by: Frederick at June 18, 2009 6:23 PM
Comment #283214

No doubt bills we had dirty hands , But please read further in the link you provided scroll down to “Origins ” of the Chemical Weapons

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 18, 2009 7:12 PM
Comment #283221


The goal of Islam is world domination. Just google “ultimate goal of Islam” and you will find enough material to read for many days. Islam and the Koran are not tolerant of any other religions. The Islamic nations that exercise freedom of religion and speech do so only because the Islamist are not in control of the government, such as in Turkey. It is the military in Turkey that keeps government in check and Islamist from gaining power. But even in Turkey there is the problem of mullahs provoking the people to take over the government.

Do you disagree that our 1st amendment rights are a foundation belief of a democracy? Without free speech, how can there be democracy. Islam denies free speech; therefore any nation controlled by Islamic leaders also denies these rights. Hence, any nation controlled by Islamic leaders can never be a democracy. This is not predicting the future or narrow-mindedness, it is simply fact. Our founders chose to base our government upon secularism and not religion, as the left is so fast to proclaim the separation of church and state. I say these people protesting the election in Iran are misguided because as long as they continue to allow religious zealots to control their nation, they will never know democracy. It is true, they overthrew a secular government 30 years ago, but the rallying call was from the mullahs. Today it is different. These people would have to renounce their religion or at least their religious leaders to go back to a democracy. And anything short of 1st amendment rights is not a democracy.

I am not saying a Muslim is a Muslim and they are all suicide bombers. I know there are Muslims, who want freedom, but even in America, where Muslims can exercise freedoms they never had in their homeland; still they force their children and wives to obey Islamic law. I know what I speak of because I have known several personally.

Actually, Indonesia is not an Islamic State, it is secular, thus the limited freedoms.

Read religious freedom.

If a religion is not recognized by the government, it cannot exist. And in conclusion, freedom of religion or speech is merely lip service in the Indonesian constitution:

Posted by: sam at June 18, 2009 9:12 PM
Comment #283223

Iranian protesters are still going strong! Day six!
Multiple signs security forces cannot be relied upon to follow orders to attack protesters.
Iranian state news agencies are showing images of the protests.
Opposition candidates meeting with guardian council on Saturday. Why?
Fights are breaking out in Parliament.
The entire protest is getting larger every day.
Tomorrow is Friday, the Islamic sabbath and it’s supposed to be big!!!
This is now bigger than ‘79; the rooftop chanting at night is a signature of ‘79.

Keep your eyes on history tomorrow.

They can do nothing in the face of fearless and absolutely selfless peaceful protest. All of these people are openly willing to take a bullet for a democratic Iran.


Posted by: Fred at June 18, 2009 9:36 PM
Comment #283224

Has it occurred to you that the Turkish military is made up of Muslims?

There are right wing Muslims and there are right wing Christians, and their goals are very similar. Most people, regardless of whether they are Muslims or Christians, detest the goals of right wing fundamentalists.

Posted by: phx8 at June 18, 2009 9:40 PM
Comment #283225

Sam -

Please stop with your BS of Islam, Islamic countries and Turkey. I visit Syria, Lebanon and Turkey every year, none of what you say is even close to true.

In Turkey the mullahs, even the most radical, are the liberal mullahs of Iran. Turkey was founded on secularism, no matter what, ask any Turk, being a Turk is higher than being a Muslim, and no amount of Islamist government would change that.

Islam is just as tolerant as Christianity on freedom of religion, if not moreso because you will find zero people out in Teheran, Istanbul, Riyadh, Cairo that would come up in your face trying to shower you with pamphlets and convert you. There are fanatics who hate in all religions, show me that you aren’t one by NOT making stupid generalizations about someone’s culture or religion or government.

Those guys who force their wives to wear burkas without asking if she wants to are close-minded and traditional, and usually older. Their wives, as much as we look at it as restrictive, aren’t the “oppressed, poor” women with no choice either. Most financial, family, and educational decisions are made by her alone.

You know what “freedoms” Iran, and Islamic countries don’t have? (the extreme idiots running Saudi Arabia are an exception) They don’t have the shock-o-thon celebrity culture we have, they don’t have 14 year olds with kids, they don’t have crack addicts on the corner, besides times of unrest (i.e. now), they don’t have thugs driving around shooting up the sidewalk. I can go on all day about the “stuff” we enjoy in this country which their country is missing.

On religious freedom, there are Jews and Christians in Iran, and Ba’hai’s, who were horribly persecuted because of ignorance, but just now they’re finally starting to get acknowledged as a part of Iran. There’s tons of religious intolerance in America, so I’d suggest you look home for fighting for religious freedom before Iran, because a piece of paper dosen’t stop bigots from practicing hate.

So as a Muslim, it’s very degrading to hear that Islamist governments are inherently intolerant, that Islam wants world domination, “oh just google Islam wants world domination”? I’ll get right on that.

Before we Americans can criticize ANYONE about oppression about religion, free speech (this one especially), freedom of the press (HUGE ONE), and civil liberties, I’d suggest you fight and fix our own problems before doing the same to people that are the same and as vastly different as you can get.

P.S. Sorry for the comments if I offended you. See?

Posted by: Jon at June 18, 2009 9:43 PM
Comment #283227

It’s me, Frederick,

What can I say.

I have no sufficient response to such airtight dogma. Your gonna see a certain static Islam no matter what and I’m gonna see an evolving Islam no matter what.

Humans are humans and we all are part of an evolving culture. Well see where we all stand in fifty years.

Good luck


Posted by: Fred at June 18, 2009 9:49 PM
Comment #283229


Your comment below violates our rules regarding flame baiting and critiquing the message, not the messenger. Please comply with our rules or your comment privileges will be suspended. Thank you.

There are fanatics who hate in all religions, show me that you aren’t one by NOT making stupid generalizations about someone’s culture or religion or government.

Posted by: WatchBlog Manager at June 18, 2009 9:56 PM
Comment #283230

Sam, google, “Christians pray for end of the world”. Hardly evidence that Christianity seeks to destroy the world, now is it?

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 18, 2009 10:00 PM
Comment #283239

Rodney Brown

Take a look at the same site:

We were involved. At the same time we were also secretly supplying arms to Ian. The point I hoped to make was that we should understand why Iran has suspicions about us but the importance of a re-approachment cannot be overstated. An alliance, even one of expediency, with Iran is the key to successfully defeating Islamic extremist.

Posted by: bills at June 18, 2009 11:38 PM
Comment #283242

””“”No doubt bills we had dirty hands “”” Yes we were as i stated and so was kennedy and Johnson in Vietnam up past there necks and we’ve made good reconciliations with them and we must again with Iran someday and I think we’ve got the right man in Office.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 19, 2009 2:27 AM
Comment #283248


Praying for the end of the world is not the same thing as seeking to spread an violent idealogy to every country. When the Muslim religion gains a majority in any nation, the next move is to gain poliical power and then the laws are changed to become in agreement with the Koran.

Can any of you deny that Islam is a violent religion?

Fred, you completely miss my point, the protestors in Iran may protest and they may win, but that won’t change anything. If the alternate president were a proponent of real democracy, he would already be dead. He is merely another puppet of the religious leaders in Iran. I agree that Iran or Persia has a rich history and that the people are industrious and intelligent, but their first allegence is to their religion. We are talking about a religion that would disown their own children if they converted to christianity. Some would go so far as to dispatch them to eternity.

The only candidates running for office in Iran are those already approved by the mullahs.


Posted by: sam at June 19, 2009 7:22 AM
Comment #283251


“Can any of you deny that Islam is a violent religion?”
Can you deny Christianity is a violent religion? How about the Crusades? How about the inquisition? How about the subjegation of of American natives, like the Aztecs, Incas,Mayans? How about the centuries of anti-semitism in Europe?How about the exile of the Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears so they could become better Christians while they starved?How about the THREE HUNDRED YEARS of slavery endured by the Filipinos under Spanish “Christian” rule? Get off your high horse.

A pox on all three patriarchal desert religions

How about a thousand other instances? Christianity is the most violent religion ever.

Posted by: bills at June 19, 2009 8:16 AM
Comment #283263

Thanks again for the link bills, The cylinder tells many things about a great culture that many have already known and much appreciated for many thousands of years.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 19, 2009 12:03 PM
Comment #283272


How about getting in the present day!

I believe the subject of the original post was modern day elections in Iran and the most recent discussion was the relationship of Islam to democracy and now you 2000 years of history have been added to the subject. Since I am new to Watchblog, perhaps someone to explain the rules. Discussion on here is like children arguing on a playground.

Why would anyone want to answer a legitimate question with a history lesson?


Posted by: sam at June 19, 2009 2:32 PM
Comment #283294

“Why would anyone want to answer a legitimate question with a history lesson?”

Because that is the only way to answer questions involving the relationships of nations. How did we get where we are? Choosing to label a billion people as thralls to a violent faith, especially coming from another demonstrably violent faith leads nowhere except to more violence.How do we end the struggle with violent Islamic extremest? Are we condemned to be at war for centuries? More history, The Spanish fought the Moors for 800 years.The way out involves an understanding of our adverserys. It involves forming relationships with moderate Muslums. In order to this we must look at our own past behavior. Just as two individuals attempt to reconcile after a dispute, the first thing to do is for them to examine their own past behavior.

Posted by: bills at June 20, 2009 6:44 AM
Comment #283315

Mousavvi prepared for martyrdom, people dying in the streets as I write this. Horrific video of a woman dressed conservatively shot down in the streets and bleeding out while people around her scream with rage.

The image of blood gushing across her face as she takes her last breath has spread around the world like wildfire.

The Iranian women have the most at stake out there today and they aren’t backing down an inch!

I have to revise my views in above blog, it’s now my opinion and hope that a new political majority is forming in Iran as we speak. It may not come to power for years, but the fall of the Islamic Republic of Iran is just a matter of time now.

Posted by: Fred at June 20, 2009 3:00 PM
Comment #283345

The women of Iran got shafted in the revolution. They largely supported it in the hope of gaining freedom from the repressions of the Shah and the SAVAK. Instead they were beaten and forced into subjugation. Its about time they rose up.

Posted by: bills at June 21, 2009 12:19 AM
Comment #283346
Choosing to label a billion people as thralls to a violent faith, especially coming from another demonstrably violent faith leads nowhere except to more violence.How do we end the struggle with violent Islamic extremest?

History has its uses. But to learn history’s lessons, the first thing you have to do is get the history right. Self-criticism is important for nations as well as individuals, but it’s also pathological if it becomes a knee-jerk reaction that insists on ignoring actual history in order to enforce an equality of blame and always find moral equivalencies where none exist.

It’s ridiculous, for example, to bring up the Crusades when talking about US foreign relations.

The Crusades began almost a thousand years ago, lasted for about 200 years, and had absolutely nothing to do with the United States. The Crusades were also a bit more complicated than than they’re usually recognized as today—they were certainly not as simple as Christians trying to take Muslim land, which is how many unedcuated people uncritically think of them. At that time, the disputed areas were no more historically Muslim than they were Christian. In fact, some of them were less so. But that’s another story.

The same is true of the Inquistion. How can that be put at the feet of the US? Many of the earliest immigrants to the American continent were Christians trying to escape European religious persecution. And I have no idea what the Trail of Tears, etc, has to do with our relationsips with the Muslim world. I’m all for healthy self-criticism, but there reaches a point where self-accusation is actually a kind of moral vanity.

Posted by: Paul at June 21, 2009 1:21 AM
Comment #283355


My response was into regard to the veiled blanket assertion that Islam is a violent religion. There is plenty of historical evidence that Islam is no more violent than Christianity.The contrary may be true. That is all I was attempting to do and I believe I have done so for any unbiased reader. Whether or not you believe that the erroneous and dangerious belief that Islam is a fundamentaly violent religion held by many Americans has a bearing on US foriegn policy is up to you. I gave no erroneous information even if it is something you do not like to look at.

Posted by: bills at June 21, 2009 6:27 AM
Comment #283365

Right on bills, your message was loud and clear. It’s interesting how we as Americans can examine and pick apart the history of Islam, but have a “knee-jerk” response to disown the history of Christianity. Even if the US could distance itself from much of Christian history, the connection would still remain in the cultural awareness of the rest of the world.
One can say that it’s nobody’s fault the Christian European nations developed early and violently subjugated the rest of the world like it was some kind of glorious competition for the favor of Jesus, but this has no impact on the cultural legacy that this horrific conquest imprinted on the world. Call it what you want, but the rest of the world has good reason to mistrust and fear the Christian soldier, the Christian politician, even the Christian missionary.
I wish we could all get past the egos of our respective religions and realize that it is religion in general that is causing so many of our problems to this very day.
I believe in God, I mistrust religion.
Religion is a man made construct that is infinitely fallible.

I take many great and beautiful things from religion into my life, but there are some things that need to be left behind with antiquity (i.e not taking any scripture literally anymore).

Posted by: Fred at June 21, 2009 2:11 PM
Comment #283381

Beyond my response re: Christianity and violence the more modern behavior of the West toward the Muslum states has not been any thing to be proud of for the most part. Imperialism,exploitation, propping up dispicable regimes, military conquest etc. We do not have, nor deserve, the moral high ground and refusing to come to grips with that fact only complicates the long term prospects for peaceful relations with Islam.

Posted by: bills at June 21, 2009 11:20 PM
Comment #283382

The United States is not a Christian nation and therefore doesn’t have to answer for the two thousand years of Christianity in Europe.

I know we’re not a Christian nation and were not founded as a Christian nation because my liberal friends never get tired of telling me this. So which is it, left-wingers? It seems that the US’s affliation with Christianity changes from day to day based on what point a liberal is trying to make.

The knowledge of history around here is sad to behold and makes me fear for our public school system.

The violent clashes between various kingdoms, clans, fiefdoms, regional confederations etc, in Europe predated Christianity by some time and merely continued after the Christianization and fragmentation of the Roman and Byzantine empires. The teachings of Christianity itself, as opposed to the teachings of Islam, contain absolutely nothing advocating military conquest, imperialism, etc. People who wish to make authorative statements about the precepts of any religion ought to at least become familiar with them. Here is a quiz for you.

1) Which religion commands you to cut off the heads of unbeleviers? Christianity or Islam?

2) Which religion commands you turn the other cheek? Christianity or Islam?

3) Which religion tells you that your faith is not an earthly but a spirutal kingdom and which tells you to invade other countries and convert them?

As far as slavery, colonization, etc, predominantly Christian nations have instigated such things. This history is remarkable and unusual among religions only in that Christian nations are the only ones who have abolished slavery and such abuses voluntarily as a response to their own religious teachings. You will find no such history in any other world religion. The Abolitionists were Christians. Martin Luther King Junior was a Christian preacher.

It’s true that Christianity has a very bloody history in Europe, with the various inquisitions and whatnot. It’s also true that these provoked a Reformation (resulting in both Protestantism and a liberalization of Catholicism itself).

How many centuries has it been since there was a state-sanction execution of someone for heresy against Christian teachings? When did Islam have a similar reformation? We’re still waiting, but somehow the American liberals see no difference between Islam and Christianity and want to compare what happened in the West in 1100 AD with what happend in the Muslim world yesterday.

Posted by: Paul at June 22, 2009 12:32 AM
Comment #283385

I know you really thought that was a slam dunk Paul, unfortunately, I think you don’t understand how you generalize with every word and breath. You turn a blind eye as you do so.

Anywhere you want to look with any lense you want to use, it still comes up wrong.

There are plenty of examples of Christian and Jewish religious extremists acting out in the name of God just like Muslim religious extremists, today and everyday.

Whether you’re talking about somebody putting a bullet through the head of an abortion doctor just the other day or multiple generations of sexually enslaved little girls being married off to elderly polygamist prophets.
Good white Christians used to crowd their way into the picture of lynchings being photographed and then try to get a copy to show their friends later, but your right Paul, now we’ve advanced so far to the point where good Christians hide in dark alleys waiting to bash in the heads of homosexuals because they think God hates gays.

If the Reformation did what you so simply and proudly proclaimed it did, then no such barbaric evil could’ve come from Christianity since. This has not been the case; you only need to see pictures of the last KKK march down Pennsylvania Ave with burning crosses in the 30s to know America was and still is an essential part of a global religious extremism.

Back in the day, Christian and Muslim hordes did roam the earth cutting off each other’s heads, today … after the reformation you hang so much significance on, people act barbarically on a much smaller scale.

No, you can’t pretend we’re perfect today or even in the future. Sick American’s will continue to go on murderous rampages, rape children, cut off each other’s heads and other body parts and do all kind of crazy evil stuff, just like a certain portion of the Muslim population will do.

If the number of pissed off psychotic Muslims rises with the number of foreign troops on their soil, you have to ask yourself if the same thing wouldn’t happen over here with foreign troops on our soil.

I know I would be gettin’ down and dirty if Muslim soldiers were on American soil bombing towns and torturing American’s or if they had private contractors here to protect their diplomats, contractors that could shoot up Time Square and not be prosecuted for it.

I can’t follow you here at all Paul. I’m not going to point out any lack of historical knowledge on your part, that would be presumptuous, but i will point out your tendency to use that knowledge selectively to support your argument instead of taking historical evidence on the whole and trying to synthesize a stable argument from it.

What you say doesn’t stand up at all. I can find terrifying or hopeful scripture from all people of the book(Jews, Christians, and Muslims) and I can look around me today and find terrifying or hopeful behavior by all people of the book(Jews, Christians, and Muslims).

I can see only one common factor here, religious extremism.
Religious extremism by all three groups, Jews, Christians and Muslims is keeping this world war going.

You may think there’s a difference because we drop bombs on civilians from ten thousand feet with jacked up ego jockeys called hero pilots while they easily convince brainwashed traumatized children to blow civilians up along with themselves in revenge.

I don’t care who’s right here! Just stop it!

Posted by: Fred at June 22, 2009 4:10 AM
Comment #283387

I thought we were done with this. I did smile a bit after you castigated me for bringing up ancient history and then in another column ask whether the Romans had government health care.
To stick to modern history, it is just a fact that the US has dirty hands in dealing with Iran. The imposition of the Shah,the material and intell support of his brutal SAVAK, the arming of Saddam during the Iran/Iraq War. The links in support are above.They have good reason to be suspicious of our motives. If we were to become assertive in support of the opposition it would be used as an excuse for repression. Urging Iranian youth to charge the bayonets of the militia is suborning murder. At the end of the day the Iranian regime will either have to change or repress the opposition. We need for our own interest to be able to negotiate with whatever government emerges. BHO has taken the right tract. Now we get to see if the Righties that keep accusing him of bending to political pressure are right. He need to stay the course.


Posted by: bills at June 22, 2009 7:20 AM
Comment #283412

Fred, religious groups are little more than tribes and clans competing for authority. Tribalism is deep within the human nature and sociology. One need look no further than sports to see such tribal identification at work at the individual psychological level. Humans have a need to identify, and identify with, the tribes to which they belong, as part of defining who they are to themselves.

To the extent that the world’s great religions can successfully invite their followers to observe the basic and original tenets and teachings of that religion, those followers can and will become a more humane and ethically responsible group. That of course, is the great conundrum for the world’s religions. Getting folks to identify is easy. Getting them to behaviorally subscribe to the religion’s teachings is quite something else again.

Turn the other cheek upon being struck, is a teaching folks want to admire in others, don’t want to practice themselves.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2009 3:24 PM
Comment #283416

Regarding Islamic governments and their potential for freedom of religion/speech, it is, as with other religions, dependent on how radically a religious Islamic government and the individuals forming it, may view and/or implement the tenets of the Koran and muslim religious practice.

I believe there are many devout muslims who believe strongly in freedom of speech and religion and it is not impossible, or even unlikely, that a group of such religious muslims could form or be elected by a plurality of their peers to a religious government, which is never the less convinced of the importance and advantages of these freedoms.

To argue that such a government would not be “truely” Islamic is a specious argument, and would argue against the very concept of freedom of religion. The christian religion is not defined and validated solely by the evangelical ultra-conservatives, nor is the hebrew religion defined solely by the ultra orthdox jews. Each is practiced across a spectrum of belief, or degree of belief in the validity of various tenets which characterize each religion.

I believe your making the classic mistake of judging a group by the behaviour and convictions of a minority of the individuals in that group, in this case, Islamic extremists.

Just as you cannot and should not judge the christian or hebrew religions by a minority of radical, ulta-conservative extremists, who by their nature seem to attain an abnormally high proportion of national, or international attention, a similar judgement cannot be supported with regard to muslims and the religion of Islam.

Posted by: lucidoor at June 22, 2009 5:57 PM
Comment #283424


I agree with a lot of what your saying. Much of my opinions on religion are supported by anthropological evidence as you yourself bring up aptly.

The role religion is playing in the global war of extremism is paramount. This actually amounts to a revolution in world religious behavior that we are witnessing and participating in with this very discussion.

I especially agree with the final point and must expand on it.
It seems quite true that Christians love to hold the “turn the other cheek” statement up high and wave it about, but they never follow this principle. Never … the US political culture will not allow us to turn the other cheek and I can’t remember the last time we did, so how do we have the right to brag about it.

American Christian culture was defeated by MLK’s true Christ like behavior and his peaceful resistance movement.

Gandhi showed MLK how to do this when he defeated the British peacefully and now our Muslim brothers and sisters are following the same path by protecting the captured Basij that were just moments ago beating them.

I think that we are witnessing the very thing that some people in this discussion are saying is not possible for Muslims to accomplish. Anyone reading this should leave a comment with us about how you feel and then get your butt on twitter to watch the Islamic awakening.

Posted by: Fred at June 22, 2009 6:46 PM
Comment #283427

Paul, whoa Bub, slavery was not abolished here in response to our nation’s Christian teachings. You yourself said our nation is NOT a Christian nation. If it were the case that slavery was abolished due to religious teachings, it would have never been allowed in the first place within our Constitution.

Civil Rights for minorities, for example, was abolished due to Television and middle class college education, and a public’s empathy for those mistreated by racism and bigotry in the starkest of images, still and moving. Had LITTLE to do with religion, though churches and religious sects supported and opposed the abolition of slavery and civil rights, to be sure, but, so did atheists and deists.

Slavery was abolished because it was tearing the United States apart - literally, and the abolitionists won the Civil War. That is the long and short of why slavery was abolished. But for fortune, it could have easily gone the other way, and America could still be trafficking in slaves today as well as being a legally sanctified Christian Nation by Amendment. Fortunately, the South lost and that was not to be.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 22, 2009 7:28 PM
Comment #283436

David, abolitionist movements in the West long predated the US Civil War. The USA was virtually the last western nation to abolish slavery, and to understand how and why it happened here you have to study both the causes of the Civil War (which are pretty complicated) and the European abolitionist roots which inspired the American abolitionists.

The Christian influence on abolition couldn’t be clearer or more important. To understand how the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 came to be in England, I suggest you google and learn a little bit about a man named William Wilberforce, an evangelical Christian. And in England, as well as in the United States, the Quakers were a major driving force behind abolitionist sentiment. France’s involvment in slavery/ the slave trade is a slightly more complicated story, which I’ll leave alone for the time being.

It’s commonplace to say that the Civil War was fought over economics rather than slavery, and there’s some truth to that (although there were a hell of a lot of Union troops who were fervent Christian abolitionists and who were being recurited by fervent Christian abolitionist preachers). But whatever the causes of the Civil War, the Abolitionists were instrumental in seeing to it that one of the effects of the Civil War was Abolition, and even a very slight knowledge of the Abolitionist movement/movements in the west must recognize its Christian roots.

Posted by: Paul at June 22, 2009 10:44 PM
Comment #283438

To the point about the Crusades not having to do anything with America, you may not believe that, but to Muslims living in the Middle East the Crusades aren’t something that happened centuries ago and are history, they believe that it’s still continuing, and is in many cases.

Modern Arabic speech is full of references to martyr’s who dies 800 some odd years ago, and of battles from that time.

The U.S. imposing the Shah, post-WWII playing jigsaw with the region, European meddling, Russian greed, and fundamentalist regimes all are playing a part in the current situation.

Posted by: Jon at June 22, 2009 10:48 PM
Comment #283442

I recall yet another insensitive GWB gaff when he called for a new crusade to wipe out terrorism. His aids quickly recanted with various lame apologies.

Posted by: bills at June 23, 2009 12:01 AM
Comment #283443
To the point about the Crusades not having to do anything with America, you may not believe that but…

Do you not believe it too? Why are you phrasing it like that? I’ve read enough history to know that it’s not just my subjective opinion that the United States had nothing to do with the Crusades. In any event people need to seriously examine this Muslim attitude that the Crusades were some kind of aggressive attack on Islam by the West. I’m shocked that even Westerners buy such an idea, an idea which is utterly absurd.

The Crusades (those in the Holy Land at least) were a waste of time, money, and lives, I’ll agree, but they were a response to Muslim aggression and not the other way around.

Muslims didn’t even set foot in the Holy Land until the Seventh Century, and Jerusalem was controlled by the Jews, Persians, and Romans long before the Muslims invaded it. The idea that the Crusades were an invasion of “Muslim Lands” is pure nonsense and progaganda, and that Muslims cast their anscestors as innoncent victims is laughable.

Many of the later Crusades were actually fought in Europe. Spain, Portugal and the Balkans which were being overrun by Muslim invaders. Funny how we don’t hear anything about these events when we talk about the victimhood of the Muslims during the Crusades.

Posted by: Paul at June 23, 2009 12:07 AM
Comment #283444

Muslum invaders? They were in Spain for hundreds of years and had established universities,libraries and great cities at a time when most of the light of Europe was hiding in monastaries. The castle of Alhambra is an example of some of their culture still remaining. It was the Muslums that preserved much of the work of Plato,Socrates and Aristotle. Had these two great faiths followed their own precepts and worked together there is no telling how much suffering and darkness could have been avoided. If there is a lesson for the present it is that that should now be our task.

Posted by: bills at June 23, 2009 5:57 AM
Comment #283459

“The wisest mind has something yet to learn”.
Southern born Democrat President Woodrow Wilson introduced segregation back into several Washington D.C. federal departments, for the first time since 1863, DC was almost fully Integrated for 50 years! Wilson supported some cabinet appointees in their request for segregation of employees and creation of separate lunchrooms and restrooms. He was highly criticized for this. President Grant sent troops down south and Routed the KKK it also reared it’s ugly Vile head 50 years later around the same time Wilson became president In fact Wilson thought the” Birth Of A Nation” was a great movie.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 23, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #283465

Paul pontificated about Christian influence on slavery abolition. Of course, Christianity had some influence in adopting slavery, and later, in abolishing slavery. Christian America after all, defended the definition of non-whites as no more than farm animals, before abolishing such notions. The same may be said of every other religion in every other nation moved by external and internal forces to become more humane toward fellow human beings. The British had enslaved India for its own profits, despite a law outlawing slavery in India in the latter half of the 19th century.

Next time you read some of that history you professorially recommend to others, you might try doing so with some respect and understanding of the myriad connections of which history is made. Christianity was not the cause of abolition precisely because the slave owners of the South were Christians and had to be fought and defeated to force them to abandon slavery - which they didn’t for another 100 years, though their 20th century slavery had undertaken ever more subtle forms enslavement during those 100 years. Throughout the world, abolition occurred in the context of each nation’s history, culture and religion. Occurring in the context of, however, does not even remotely constitute, ‘caused by’. Religions in most countries DO NOT pass laws, government’s due. Abolition was a product of modern lawmaking, not centuries old religions which sanctioned slavery during those centuries either explicitly or, by turning a blind eye to it.

Slavery still exists in every nation on earth, including the U.S., though in very much more subtle degrees and by varying legalistic and economic mechanisms. Credit card companies in America and Congress have made slaves of lower middle class wage earners whose modest debts are unlikely to be paid off in their lifetime, as their labor enriches the usurers charging 30% and more in some cases, and wages fail to keep pace with health care, education, and energy costs.

To owe one’s future labor in debt to another with little hope of ever freeing oneself from it, is a form of slavery. Humanity continues to make progress on the slavery issue, but, still has some distance to go, even yet. If Maslow’s self-realization is the pinnacle of freedom, then we have yet, some distance to go globally and in the U.S. before slavery, the antithesis of self-realization, becomes predominant amongst the world’s peoples.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 23, 2009 1:47 PM
Comment #283471
To owe one’s future labor in debt to another with little hope of ever freeing oneself from it, is a form of slavery.

The difference being, of course, that they do so of their own choosing and it is not based on race. It is not forced by law and is not something someone cannot get out of if they choose to.

Other than that, sure!

Posted by: rhinehold at June 23, 2009 3:47 PM
Comment #283472

Cotton was King in the south and most of it went to Britan and europe the great minds of Lincoln and many others in the Union knew this also, Cut off the supply and the demand will seek to find other areas.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 23, 2009 3:50 PM
Comment #283473

“Slavery is a weed that grows on every soil. ” Edmund Burke.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 23, 2009 4:03 PM
Comment #283474

Rhinehold in typical Libertarian fashion uttered the FALSE generalization: “The difference being, of course, that they do so of their own choosing and it is not based on race.”

False, because NO ONE chooses to indebt their futures for outrageous health care costs or Corporations changing the contract APR on credit card holders on past balances contracted at much lower rates.

NO! Rhinehold, NOT of their OWN CHOOSING in a majority of the cases, these days. And not something they can get out of easily, if at all as of the last Bankruptcy reform legislation under Republican’s rule, for middle and lower middle class wage earners whose wages fail year after year to keep pace with rising costs, fees, and taxes.

When you catch up to the 21st century of real events, let me know, and perhaps we can have a rational discussion of real world events.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 23, 2009 4:25 PM
Comment #283510

Sorry David, but you are wrong, though as a statist I expect that happens a lot more than you wish.

No one, NO ONE, is forced to own or use a credit card. ‘In a majority of the cases’? Really, then you should be able to detail a few of them here, right? Where a person had no other choice than to use a credit card, against their will, to purchase something. Please David, enlighten the ignorant of us…

Posted by: rhinehold at June 24, 2009 1:50 PM
Comment #283564 Ahmadinejad compares Obama to Bush, Getting back to business as usual .

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 25, 2009 9:39 AM
Comment #283574


that is why unlike many of my constituants i felt obama should keep his mouth shut. i felt it was more important for the iranian people to feel the support of the american people as opposed to the the support of some gov’t mouthpiece. with all the support coming from individual americans it would be hard to spin this as some cia plot, and not a true grassroots movement, which is exactly what is happening now. they will go all out to discredit this as bought and paid for by the US gov’t. pretty sad.

Posted by: dbs at June 25, 2009 11:38 AM
Comment #283577

You have a point dbs, The more educated folks and downtrodden on the streets for change know too and can think for themselves, Theocracies don’t like change.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 25, 2009 12:08 PM
Comment #283623

Rhinehold, your comment contains enough enlightenment to not warrant a response. For a comment to be so absolutely out of touch with the society and culture from which it springs, is truly enlightening, Rhinehold. Thank you.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 26, 2009 12:35 AM
Comment #283647

In other words, you can’t defend your statement that the majority of the people in the US are slaves to the credit card companies, being forced to use credit cards to survive, correct?

Thanks you.

Posted by: Rhinehold at June 26, 2009 1:32 PM
Comment #283654

..G8 to Iran: end violence, reflect will of people.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 26, 2009 2:57 PM
Comment #338811

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