Judeo-Christian doctrine and moral freedom

I did a post yesterday in which I quoted from an interview with Michael Cappi regarding the fact that Islam, unlike Judaism or Christianity, is not a religion that concerns itself with broader moral issues that rise above mere tribal law. I’d actually made precisely the same point in an earlier post, here. In connection with this most recent post, however, I got the following comment, which I reprint here verbatim, and which I thought was absolutely fascinating:

this person became interested in islam for what ? to embrace it or to pick, and nick and misquate,and then on top pour all the filth on islam with the likes of Rushdie, Ali Sana,Ali Hersi etc the so called humanists who have nothing to offer but nothingness,while islam comes with the full package, and answers for all your problums and they can not stomach it.they know that islam has tasted rule and one who tastes it wants it at any cast,and these poor humanist and winging liberals will be the loosers. their ways and rules have every one in mess , the biggest problum man faces is , alcaholism,the answer is in islam,gambling, again the answer is in islam,pornography,and degrading of your sisters and mothers,the answer is islam,rape ,every year over 20000 your sisters are raped in Amercia just alone,you aply the islamic law and the rate will be 0.01%,while on the other hand the law of these human wishy woshers allow the rapest to get a few years in jail where he fed and made even stronger so when he gets out he goesand rapes the other sister. shame on you ,keep listening to these devils and you will loose your daughters wholesale. so come on people look at islam your self and avoid these wingers and scare mongers. (Emphasis mine.)

As you can see, the part that really intrigued me was the bit in the second half about rape, since it seemed to highlight the way in which both Islamists and the Left view people, and may go a long way to explaining why people professing these radically different ideologies (Leftism and Islamism) can work so well together. The fact is that, although they devise different (or no punishments) for whatever crime is before them, neither believes in free will or in man’s ability to make moral decisions independent of his immediate circumstances.

Let me start with Islam’s view of free will. Actually, considering that “Islam” means “submission,” I probably don’t have to do this discussion at all, since the name tends to be a giveaway about the religion’s approach to free will. Nevertheless, I’ll still give you my little analysis explaining why I think that Islam denies that man has a moral capacity that can override his animal instincts.

It’s obvious that Islam is misogynistic. What’s less obvious is its misanthropy. The blatant misogyny is, of course, known to all of you and tends to fall into the three categories: (1) the restrictions placed on and abuses against women’s bodies and their brains, (2) the horrible punishments enacted against them for deviating from Muslim norms, and (3) the honor killings that reflect their chattel status within a male dominated culture.

The misanthropy is less overt, but it actually lies behind all these horrors visited against Muslim women: In Islam, men are viewed as so weak and animal-like that they cannot be expected to resist women’s lures. That is, a man who sees a woman uncovered or unaccompanied cannot be expected to resist taking her sexually. He is helpless.

This view of men, as utterly unable to overcome their basic instincts is, to my mind, a pathetic view that denies the possibility of free will, moral calculation or strength of character. All men are animals, controlled by their lust, and all women are mere sexual objects who must be erased for men’s protection. The Sharia laws reflect this debased view of human kind in the its punishments are extreme and violent.  They assume that men (and women) will be dissuaded from wrongful acts only if they are subject to death, dismemberment or whipping.  The concept of redemptive punishment for crimes less than intentional murder — the type of punishment that sees you lose freedom, time and dignity, but that is not a brutal physical assault against you, and that holds out the possibility of starting fresh — is alien in this world view.  In Islam, men cannot be trusted to make good decisions at the front end, nor can they be trusted to learn from bad experiences at the back end — only the most violent dissuasion will work against them.

Things on the Left aren’t much better, although the Left’s degraded view of mankind is a little bit less obvious. It starts with the Leftist principle that all people are controlled by their environment. If you’re poor; if you’re black; if you’re Hispanic; if you’re female; if you’re the victim of spousal, parental or sexual abuse; if you live in the Third World; if you’re in a former colony — all of these factors mean that, if your conduct is violent and antisocial, you get a pass. You cannot be held responsible for your actions.

The above paragraph is fairly abstract, so let me reduce it to more concrete terms. The view that environmental factors are so strong that people are incapable of exerting self-control or making moral choices appears most clearly in the way liberals view African Americans. My default example is Damian Williams, one of the young black men who savaged Reginald Denny during the Rodney King riots. Although there was no doubt that he had tried to kill Denny, Williams was still acquitted.

In a newspaper interview, Williams explained away his conduct by saying that he was “caught up in the rapture.” Indeed, as the New York Times reported at the time, “Mr. Williams, a 20-year-old black man, was acquitted in October of most charges against him by a sympathetic jury.” I believe that, had Williams been a white man who killed gays or blacks, that statement and the verdict that preceded it would have been held up by the liberal establishment as disgusting, horrific and vile. As it was, my memory (and I’m open to correction here) was that the media piled on with a bunch of stories about young men, and black rage, and mob identity, etc. In other words, being caught up in the rapture was a pretty acceptable excuse for trying to beat a man’s head in because he was the wrong color, in the wrong place. No one seemed concerned that a young man, a human being, had behaved like an animal, and no one seemed to expect better from him.

The next obvious example of this kind of liberal nihilism regarding man’s moral capacity is, of course, the reporting about Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Within days of the hurricane, Randall Robinson, a prominent black activist, was stating that African-American hurricane victims were cannibalizing each other. He eventually had to retract that claim.

Although the cannibalism assertion was patently ridiculous to anyone who thought about it (it had only been three days since the Hurricane, for goodness sake), it got a lot of press, probably because the media was perfectly ready, with the best intentions in the world, to think the worst of the African-American hurricane victims. Why else would they instantly have begun reporting lurid stories of murder, rape, and suicide? (Here’s one example: “Stories of rape, murder and suicide have emerged.”)

Ultimately, it turned out that one man alone was responsible for widely spread and credulously accepted reports to the effect that, during his stay in the Superdome, a man was murdered, a woman was raped and stabbed, and a man jumped from a balcony. The media ate it up. Other reports had murder in the streets, widespread looting, and rape all over New Orleans. (This story from England is a good example.)

Almost without exception, the above stories about base black behavior were untrue. Shortly after the media had everyone a’twitter with this hysterical reporting, it emerged that almost none of the anarchy alleged had actually happened. Even the World Socialist Website attacked the completely inaccurate reporting emerging from Katrina, although it predictably saw the rumors as part of a government plot.

Both of these examples, whether dealing with actual fact (Williams really did try to kill someone) or rumor (the Katrina reports), operate on the same basic premise: blacks are economic/racial victims and are therefore incapable of controlling themselves under circumstances in which we could expect more from people of other (read:  white) races.

As I said, this kind of thinking isn’t limited to blacks, of course. It’s part of the whole Marxist/Freudian soup that hit mainstream America big time in the 1950s. West Side Story is a frivolous paradigm of both this belief system and of a moment in time when liberal American was still capable of taking a step back from, and laughing at, these Marxist belief systems about race, economics and class. Mr. Bookworm recently screened the movie for the kids and, watching it, I was struck, as always, by the utterly shallow thinking about race and economics that lies behind it. I’m not discounting the fact that there were racial tensions in all emerging immigrant neighborhoods, as there still are, but this musical makes very clear that the real issue lies with the doctrine that was to take over in America — it’s not the malfeasor’s fault, it’s our fault because he is poor.

As I said, West Side Story is an early example of this now pervasive thinking, so liberals were still able to recognize the problems it could create when it came to assigning blame for wrongdoing — as demonstrated by Stephen Sondheim’s patter song “Gee, Officer Krupke“:

ACTION
Dear kindly Judge, your Honor,
My parents treat me rough.
With all their marijuana,
They won’t give me a puff.
They didn’t wanna have me,
But somehow I was had.
Leapin’ lizards! That’s why I’m so bad!

[snip]

Officer Krupke, you’re really a square;
This boy don’t need a judge, he needs an analyst’s care!
It’s just his neurosis that oughta be curbed.
He’s psychologic’ly disturbed!

[snip]

DIESEL: (Spoken, as Judge) In the opinion on this court, this child is depraved on account he ain’t had a normal home.

ACTION: (Spoken) Hey, I’m depraved on account I’m deprived.

DIESEL: So take him to a headshrinker.

ACTION (Sings)
My father is a bastard,
My ma’s an S.O.B.
My grandpa’s always plastered,
My grandma pushes tea.
My sister wears a mustache,
My brother wears a dress.
Goodness gracious, that’s why I’m a mess!

A-RAB: (As Psychiatrist) Yes!
Officer Krupke, you’re really a slob.
This boy don’t need a doctor, just a good honest job.
Society’s played him a terrible trick,
And sociologic’ly he’s sick!

[snip]

A-RAB: In my opinion, this child don’t need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease!

ACTION: Hey, I got a social disease!

A-RAB: So take him to a social worker!

ACTION
Dear kindly social worker,
They say go earn a buck.
Like be a soda jerker,
Which means like be a schumck.
It’s not I’m anti-social,
I’m only anti-work.
Gloryosky! That’s why I’m a jerk!

BABY JOHN: (As Female Social Worker)
Eek!
Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
This boy don’t need a job, he needs a year in the pen.
It ain’t just a question of misunderstood;
Deep down inside him, he’s no good!

[snip]

DIESEL (As Judge)
The trouble is he’s crazy.

A-RAB (As Psychiatrist)
The trouble is he drinks.

BABY JOHN (As Female Social Worker)
The trouble is he’s lazy.

DIESEL
The trouble is he stinks.

A-RAB
The trouble is he’s growing.

BABY JOHN
The trouble is he’s grown.

ALL
Krupke, we got troubles of our own!

Gee, Officer Krupke,
We’re down on our knees,
‘Cause no one wants a fellow with a social disease.
Gee, Officer Krupke,
What are we to do?
Gee, Officer Krupke,
Krup you!

I’m no Sondheim fan, but that is a brilliant song that exposes all the excuses inherent in liberal thinking about crime and punishment.  No one actually commits a crime, because no one exercises the “free will” that underlies the American system of crime, with its focus on malicious intent (as opposed to negligence).  If if people cannot be held responsible for their crime, they certainly cannot be punished.  Or at least, the actor cannot be punished.

As Dennis Prager has pointed out more than once, failing to punish the actor often means that it’s the innocent who suffer.  What this means is that, in some ways, the Left is even worse than Islam.  Both deny man free will and conscience, but Sharia law at least has the decency to punish the wrongdoing (although the moral balancing that sees a woman designated as the wrong-doer for being raped leaves something to be desired).  The Left, however, which also gives man the moral weight of an animal is too softhearted to punish that wild animal, with the sad result that, as the murderous lion is allowed to walk free, the innocent lamb is often eaten.

So, we have two apparently antithetical doctrines that share a common thread in their belief that man is enslaved to his environment and his animal lusts, and is incapable of moral decision-making and self-control. That the responses are different — violent punishment versus no punishment at all — doesn’t subtract from the nihilistic core underlying both.  Give me good old Judeo-Christian thought any day, which holds that man is a rational, moral creature who can control himself, who is capable of making moral decisions despite difficult situations, and who if he commits crimes short of the most heinous ones (intentional murder topping the list), should be punished in a way that is meaningful, but leaves the possibility of redemption.

40 Responses

  1. Pat yourself on the back, Bookie, you’e now dining at the the choicest table at the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.

  2. Greetings:

    A couple of years back, on one of my internet safaris, I came across the U.S. Department of Justice’s crime statistics. In my quick analysis, I noticed that, in the good old US of A, a white person has 3-4 times the chance of being murdered by a black person than a black person has of being murdered by a white person. These were straight murder to murder numbers with no adjustment for the disparity in the relative size of the populations.

    Since then, I have seen these information in the media exactly one time, in a column by Michael Barone in U.S. New and World Report.

    I have no doubt in what’s left of mind that these type of statistics will be replicated by the Muslim population.

  3. So Book you no longer think all religions are equally wacky?

    ” I’m perfectly willing to concede that Mormonism has some wacky ideas but, viewed objectively, so do all religions. ”

    And I am perfectly willing to be branded a bigot because I think Christianity is true and Islam (and Mormonism) false.

    I’m still for Rudy.

  4. I think Christianity is true and Mormonism is false. And I used to think that I couldn’t support a Mormon Presidential candidate because of some of the strange beliefs, reasoning that a person who devoutly believed them had problems with discernment. However, as I’ve said before, I’m not electing a religious leader, we thankfully don’t live in a theocracy. And Romney’s record in his business ventures is much more revealing of his smarts and leadership than his religious beliefs are revealing of an inability to separate affairs of state from religion.

    But I must say I was chagrined to hear him step back tonight from his statement that he ‘watched his dad march w/MLK’ and rather lamely say that he ‘meant’ his dad symbolically marched w/him.

  5. Regarding religion, DQ and I were just talking today about the difference between doctrine and practice. Doctrine is the core mystery of a faith, and to the uninitiated or the unbeliever it’s always going to appear foolish. I don’t say that to denigrate religions. You all know how I admire and respect religious people, and I feel there is a hole in my life that I can’t share in this kind of faith. But as the outsider looking in, I can assure you that each core doctrinal point makes sense only through the prism of belief. The fact that Mormonism hasn’t had a couple of thousand years to make people comfortable with the mystery is a problem for the faith, but shouldn’t be an issue for one who is running for President.

    Now, practices — there’s another story. I think it would be perfectly reasonably to question Romney to discover how the practices of his faith vis a vis women would affect his appointing qualified women to positions of government, or to assure us that, even though he doesn’t drink coffee or tea, he won’t force White House guests to abstain too. In the same way, since Huckabee is running a vigorously religious campaign, it’s fair game to ask him, not about the resurrection, which is none of our business, but about whether he will feel it impossible to place people of different faith in his cabinet. (And I’m not saying he has to put such people in his cabinet, but we should be allowed to know.) And if a Muslim ran for President, we’d be entitled to know whether he feels it is his religious obligation to push for the enactment of Sharia law through the land and to force conversion on American citizens — both of which are entire consistent with Muslim practice.

  6. We do not currently have a theocracy, but Mormonism and Islam both state that is their goal,

    And while I did not march with MLK, I did march with Dick Gregory, was a member of CORE (Congress On Race Of Christians and Jews), SNEC (whatever– led by Ralph Abernathy).

    My creds are solid — Romney’s are not. So call me a bigot if you will, but I will never vote for Romney.

  7. Excellent points, BW! Which is what I had in mind when I mentioned above that I thought Romney could separate affairs of state from religion, but perhaps you mean that he still needs to flesh that out more to convince you and others that he is indeed capable of doing that on the national stage?

  8. This current rush to faithfulness is a little disconcerting to me. I find it to be a blurring of the line of a religious test. Though there isn’t one Constitutionally, the candidates are making it one elctorally. As to Islam, or other religions with designs upon government.

    I personally find no issue of speaking out against a religion that denies the idea of freedom of worship. It has been shown over and over that one of the tenets of Islam is it is to supersede all modes of belief, and thought.

    Members of that faith are free to practice that faith, but to eliminate other faiths, I am intolerant of that idea.

  9. Hasn’t Romney functioned succesfully for years in a basically non-Mormon world? I have a hard time beiieving that the business world would tolerate a religious flake who didn’t know the bounderies between personal belief and public action. Were there constant protests from Boston’s Irish Catholics about Romney’s imposition of his beliefs on them? I don’t know what goes on in his head. I can only judge the man by how he has functioned. There have been enough Christians, be they evangelical TV preachers or pedophilic priests, to teach us that professions of allegiance to any faith is not a sufficient basis for judging a person’s merits.

  10. BW,
    Identifying a similarity between late 20th Century Liberalism and Wahabist Islam via their respective view of the individual is brilliant. Your analysis further supports the idea that the responsible exercise of free will, both individually and corporately, is a cornerstone of the evolution of civilized behavior. And by contrasting Liberalism and Islam with the foundations Western civilization, you illustrate the danger of the former toward the latter.
    It is understandable that Liberalism and Islam appeal to some because both offer a mechanism for those seduced by power to acquire same over those equally seduced by the narcotic of living a life without the need for thought or responsibility.
    I have to say when I first read the rant at the beginning of your post, I thought it might have been a joke. Now it seems less so. There is a lot of work ahead of us.
    Al

  11. This is one of your most insightful postings yet, Book. Definitely a keeper. How the heck did this thread veer off the road into a discussion of Romney?

  12. I am not sure how this post got to be a discussion of whether one can support Romney or not, and perhaps this is really meant for you, Bookworm. I love your blog and your posts are like having my morning coffee with a good friend with a good mind. This one hits the nail on the head, but it is way more than a discussion about political candidates. Thanks for being there.

  13. I’m with Danny Lemieux and Lee Logan.

    A compelling read to say the least. One of your best, in my humble opinion.

    Merry Christmas,
    J

  14. Bookworm –

    Danny and Lee are spot on. This is one of your best pieces to date. Excellent and insightful analysis.

    Deana

  15. when it comes to punishing wrongdoing the Muslims really have their act together. Like it or not Islam does concern itself with broader moral issues. This guy Cappi seems to be pretty unscrupulous. The same analysis will reveal Judaism to be even more of a “tribal” faith than either Islam or Christianity both of which espouse a universal truth and a universal revelation. After the Jewish people are people that “stand apart” and who intentionally have rejected the influences of other tribes and who have eschewed promulgating their to others. I’m sure this guy could have a jolly time writing about archaic exhortations to genocide and racism in the Talmud too – if it was politically expedient to talk about.

    Bottom line: This guy Cappi is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It may comfort some of the people on this forum that he demonises Islam, but it shouldn’t. The tables can be turned way too easily.

  16. Seymour,

    Actions > Words

    Radical Islam is demonizing Islam. What disturbs me the most is that peaceful Muslims, I believe, should be leading the charge against the radicals, protesting the loudest. Yet, I do not see this happening. The lack of condemnation, over time, raises suspicion of complicity.

  17. somebody needs a few hamster patties.

  18. Yet, I do not see this happening. The lack of condemnation, over time, raises suspicion of complicity.

    It is sort of like expecting honest and peaceful individuals to speak out against the mob, which controls all the businesses in their neighborhood.

    Complicity is what the Islamic Jihad and terrorism are out to get. They cannot exist any other way than through extortion and intimidation.

  19. There are some interesting thoughts at this link about the differences between islam, Judaism and Christianity…

    http://www.realclearreligion.com/index_files/69d3fe38ae104480d4d00a977aeef60a-275.html

  20. I saw Romney’s widely reported tears on Russert when he spoke of “the faith of his fathers” finally getting a revelation from god that blacks are OK — or lose their tax exemption. Oops, he didn’t say that last part.

    Oops, his father didn’t actually march with MLK.

    Yes, without dispute he is a good manager. But I seriously doubt his truthfullness.

    I’m still for Rudy. Think back: the attacks on the WTC were totally unexpected. What NYC expected was IEDs — similar to what was going on at the time in Israel. (think blowing up hotels)

    Then think of Katrina hitting New Orleans. They had weeks of warning, when NYC had none.

  21. That was a thought-provoking article. We are looking for writers just like you and would like to feature this article on our blog. Consider joining the Christians Against Leftist Heresy blogroll at http://christiansagainstleftistheresy.blogspot.com/

  22. [...] Bookworm Room, “Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom” [...]

  23. [...] its picks for the most outstanding posts of the preceding week. The winning Council post was Bookworm Room’s post, “Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom”. I didn’t care much for this post and [...]

  24. [...] one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process. Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, [...]

  25. This is really a good post, Book.

    As for Romney, I saw in Bush that actions taken belongs solely to the person taking those actions. Not his religion. Bush’s Christianity did not cause Valerie Plame and Wilson to go scott free. Bush did that all by himself.

    Whatever Mitt does, there will be positive and negative consequences. His religion can only influence the decisions of the man. It cannot and will not ever replace it.

    So we have this love triangle. The Left says capitalism and Islamic religions are nihilistic and worthless. We say the Left and Islamic religions are nihilistic and worthless. The Islamic religion and region says the Left in Hollywood and America’s military are nihilists and worthless.

    Can’t we all just get along?

    The Left gives us an answer, or at least the same answer I would give. Which is that if a person decides on his own ethical framework to come and attack me, I will tear him limb from limb for siding with evil and injustice. If we accept the Left’s answer that these people are just beasts who can’t control themselves, like the tiger that escaped, then I will continue to kill and bring peace to the animals, peace that they never had in life. It doesn’t change anything, Book.

    Regardless of whether a person is evil or whether he is just an uncontrollable animal, Book, the same answer applies. Put him down, now.

  26. [...] Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom Bookworm Room [...]

  27. [...] 1. “Judeo-Christian Doctrine and Moral Freedom” by Bookworm Room [...]

  28. A glance back into history reveals a fine-line between the three major ‘Abrahamic religions’…yes, today, Islam is the more threatening, but let’s not forget the past. From the Washington Post:

    Huckabee Steps Back Into the Pulpit at Evangelical Church in N.H.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/06/AR2008010602261_pf.html

    “When we become believers, it’s as if we have signed up to be part of God’s Army, to be soldiers for Christ.”

    “When you give yourself to Christ, some relationships have to go,” he said. “It’s no longer your life; you’ve signed it over.”

    Huckabee said “there is suffering in the conditioning for battle” and “you obey the orders.”

    So much for – “free will”…

  29. Here’ a question. After the flood there is noah his wife and three sons. now from my reading you have one copperlike color one redish white and one black. Each one is given specific land area. and from there the world populated. If God prohibited incest then maybe this will help to explain why things are the way they are. If the three brothers end up sleeping with eachothers wife’s you still get incestual offspring. So isn’t all humanity doomed anyways

  30. Reginald Oliver Denny is still living in Lake Havasu, Arizona and he is born on January 22, 1956 in Lansing, Michigan.

  31. More on Reginald Denny’s background:
    Shelley Roseanne Montez (Reginald Oliver Denny’s ex-wife and now married to Christopher Coppel in London, England) was born on August 12, 1962 in Los Angeles County in California.
    Ashley Rose Denny (Reginald Oliver Denny’s daughter) was born on June 14, 1992 in Stanislaus County in California
    Reginald Oliver Denny and Shelley Roseanne Montez got married in Clark County, Nevada on February 14, 1982. Unfortunately, they got divorced some years later, and Reginald Denny is now living in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

  32. Reginald Oliver Denny is like Mark Anthony Bretz of Los Angeles. Bretz himself came from Bretzius.

  33. Hi, I recently started reading this blog – thanks for the good work. As an FYI that it’s not showing up properly on the BlackBerry Browser (I have a Storm). Either way, I’m now on the RSS feed on my laptop, so thank you!

  34. I think I first came across your blog via a link on Twitter.. I truly like the stuff I have read on your site and plan to keep reading when I find more time. Do you have a Twitter account?

  35. Excellent read.

  36. dear Sir, I was asked to write a report on scripture and moral can you help me my address is godyssc@hotmail.com i have started it but cant get to the 2,500 words please help

  37. Very interesting discussion…

  38. I think I first came across your website via a link on Twitter.. I really love the stuff I have read on your site and plan to keep reading when I get more time. Do you have a Twitter account?

  39. Although very detailed yet a nice post. Its great to go through it in its entirety! keep it up!

  40. Moral freedom is a liberty which is not restricted to any religion but still very few allow it openly.

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