In Response to Kathleen Parker’s Praise of Jeb Bush’s Ugly Christian-Crusade Sleight of Hand
I just updated a post of mine from Monday titled “Jeb Bush Accuses Sheldon Adelson of Lacking Moral Fiber. Or of Being a Closet Christian. (Not sure which, but it’s one or the other.)”, in refutation of Kathleen Parker’s assist to Bush in his bizarre, sleight-of-hand Christian Crusade.
Bush’s speech was a deeply ugly religious assault, a claim to religious and moral superiority and to the gracious bestowing of its truths even upon nonbelievers. By an utterly stupid politician. It needs to be recognized for exactly that.
I am trying not to respond. Really I am.
I am not a fan of Jeb Bush, or any Bush. But the “deeply ugly religious assault” you read into what he said is “in the mind of the beholder.”
As for “stupid,” that’s what I would call throwing away the votes of people who think they are Christians. Most of those people are poor and would vote for a Democrat if you’d let them.
Beverly, this post reminded me that i forgot to add a comment to one of your earlier posts…it’s this, by Bill Black: The New York Times’ Secret Rule Forbidding Its EU Writers from Reading Krugman…in it, you’ll see he doesnt once mention that he’s being facetious; & you shouldn’t either…what you’re saying doesnt need an explanation for those to dense to get it…
i pay almost no attention to politics, and see our elections as consistently a choice between the lesser of two evils…that said, deeply ugly religious assaults and claims to religious and moral superiority should be called out whenever they’re seen, and you’re doing everyone a service by doing so..
I guess Rjs doesn’t need to admit he is being facetious, so I don’t need to admit I am too dense to get it.
On the other hand, when someone mixes their facetious remarks with their factual remarks it can confuse those who are not familiar with her style.
Deeply ugly is still in the mind of the beholder. And if I wasn’t worried about losing votes I would try to explain why that is a bad thing.
I guess those who are too dense to recognize deeply ugly when they see it need to have it pointed out to them whenever they’re seen.
And those who are deeply ugly will regard it as a service for having it pointed out to them.
Oh, damn. I forgot to ask
if Rjs was claiming religious and moral superiority.
no, coberly, i’m claiming irreligious and immoral superiority; that’s a whole different thing…
Thanks for the chuckle, rjs. (Actually, I laughed out loud.) But all this has made me feel deeply ugly, and I realize that I better avoid looking in the mirror. Ever again.
that’s probably why i stay out of it as much as possible myself, Bev…at least you’re paying attention to what it does to you, rather than become consumed by it…
and that’s the problem with being facetious forever:
if you did what i think you just did you are far more subtle than i am.
but what is the good of it? at best you have the pleasure the irish had in insulting an englishman to his face and watching him walk away thinking he had been complimented.
or if you just did what Beverly has been doing… getting tangled in your own facetiousness to where you become merely ridiculous… well, you just lose friends among the vast majority too dense to get it.
but i guess you do get to keep those friends whose understanding is limited to “sounds like” you are ridiculing the “other.”
I read the Bill Black article. You should note that he confines his facetiousness to the headline and a few sentences early in the article. Then he gets serious. Also he is an accomplished, literate, writer.
At first, way back, I though Beverly had merely been careless in managing her “ironic voice.” Her reply to me and subsequent (and prior) efforts (“essays”) lead me to believe she has no other way of thinking than facetiously and no ability to control her writing so that it makes any more sense than a school yard taunt.
Bill Black doesn’t need to “admit” to being facetious, because he is a good enough writer that there is no confusion as to when he is and when he is not being facetious. Also he thinks clearly enough so that he has something to say…clearly.
Meanwhile poor Bev is left thinking that “ugliness is in the mind of the beholder” is the same as “you are ugly.” Which it is not. And since I wasn’t being facetious when I said that, I haven’t a clue how I’d go about trying to explain it to her.
And just in case you all missed it: I am not a supporter of Jeb Bush. Quite the contrary. While Bev is out winning votes for him by insulting the people who should be voting “for their own interests.”
coberly, my point was, as you’ve hinted at, is that explaining that one is being facetious takes the sting out of it…it’s like having to explain the nuances of a joke to someone who doesnt get it; it’s no longer funny, but a long distraction that never gets to the punch line..
all that notwithstanding, i find it very hard to believe what you seemed to imply, that thousands of christians who were going to vote for hillary will switch their votes to jeb because of anything Beverly might write….you might, for spite, but the rest of her readers are going to be entertained without any impact on their voting…
I agree with the content and tone of the post. Sometimes calling ugliness ugly is a good thing. The people who refuse to see the truth of it are not lost to you–they were never with you in the first place, concern trolling nonwithstanding.
i was afraid of that. just goes to prove that communication is hard enough even without poorly written facetiousness.
no one will change their vote because of Beverly. but many who changed their votes years ago because the Right knows how to appeal to their basic fears and hopes will NOT change their vote to vote for “their real interests” because of Beverly… and I am afraid many many like her who are not being facetious but just nasty and so amazingly stupid it causes me to wonder.
there wasn’t much sting in Beverly’s facetiousness. I don’t like Jeb, and I don’t like Kathleen Parker, who also tries to be facetious.
and just to say it again, because i have said it so many times to no avail, proving that it’s not what you say, it’s what the other guy hears… because it is stamped in concrete in his head: i don’t disagree with Beverly on the substance. I don’t “not get” her facetiousness. I do get that she can’t manage her facetiousness without getting tangled up and saying things she doesn’t mean… which are not noticed by her fans who know what she means and think they are on the side of truth and justice and don’t need to actually make sense, or care about what someone else “feels.” after all, anyone who sounds like they may be disagreeing with you is a “concern troll.”
Now, for a real intellectual exercise: identify just what was “ugly” in what Bush said. remember, he is a politician and is pretty careful not to offend even the people he is about to screw.
Thanks, Joel and rjs. I’ve been stunned a few times here that something I wrote that could only be written in its context here factitiously, not as fact or actual opinion, were taken as fact or actual opinion. In my post from a few days ago, rjs, that you mentioned in which I added the postscript saying outright that it’s title and content were intended as factitious, I did that only because the title called some editorial writer at the Times a liar. I hated to sort of step on the joke’s parade that way, but just knew I’d end up having to clarify that otherwise.
And, Joel, I couldn’t agree more with you that there are spades that really, really should be called spades. Explicitly.
And, rjs, that Black article is awesome.
And I have been stunned by how many times I have said that I “understood” the facetiousness (not factitiousness) of Beverly’s essay, and moreover that I agreed with her on the substance…
but that her grammar was not equal to her facetious intent: in a list of three “facts” which were, presumably, intended to be facetious, two of them were in fact fact, and only the third was “facetious,” but it was also ugly and wrong and in the context of being part of a list of factual facts could be taken as not intended to be facetious, but intended to be a third fact… accounting for Reagan’s winning the cold war.
The response I got to that was … more facetious language and personal abuse. Which oddly, is what I got from Joel when he announced that since he was right he didn’t need to care about the feelings of others… and I found that chilling, more in the vein of Stalin than of Gandhi, whom Joel claimed to be like. When i offered an excerpt from Gandhi’s writing showing that he insisted that caring about others feelings was the first step to freeing yourself… Joel didn’t even care to try to explain what he meant. Just asserted what a terrible person I was to compare Gandhi with Stalin… etc.
Now I no longer expect anyone to care or understand, so this is just for the record.
What astounds me is that people come here with an opinion that can be shown to be wrong, or at least based on a misunderstanding, and they never vary from their original opinion, never show any sign of having heard the attempted clarification. Well that’s what happens when you know you are right and don’t have to care about the feelings of others or even what they actually say. What matters, of course, is and always is what YOU think, and as long as you never have to change what you think you think, you are safe.
Beverly et al are hardly the only people guilty of this, but are an example of why we never get anywhere.
“Joel when he announced that since he was right he didn’t need to care about the feelings of others ”
There you go again, lying about me, Dale. Why do you find it necessary to lie about others in order to make a point.
I never said that when I know I’m in the right, I don’t need to care about others. In fact, when I am right, I care about the feelings of others who have been wronged. In fact, what I said is that I don’t care about the feelings of those who wrong others, not that I don’t care about the universe of others. If you cannot tell the difference, just say you don’t understand. Don’t invent things I didn’t say and then attack them.
“Joel didn’t even care to try to explain what he meant.”
So that makes it OK for you to invent words I didn’t say and put them in quotes as though I did? Shame on you, Dale Coberly.
“Now I no longer expect anyone to care or understand”
I do care that you deliberately and repeated lie about me. I don’t understand why you do it.
Beverly appended to her earlier post on this subject what I take to be her evidence/argument about what she found ugly in Jeb Bush’s speech.
It might be instructive to begin with this quote from Beverly:
“I have not read or listened to the speech…”
And this is the part of Bush’s speech she finds ugly:
“No place where the message reaches, no heart that it touches, is ever the same again. And across our own civilization, what a radically different story history would tell without it. Consider a whole alternative universe of power without restraint, conflict without reconciliation, oppression without deliverance, corruption without reformation, tragedy without renewal, achievement without grace, and it’s all just a glimpse of human experience without the Christian influence.”
Now apparently what she finds ugly in this is not what it says, but what she knows is it’s secret meaning. You see, she, and reader Jack, know that Jeb is saying that no other religion has ever done any good in the world, and that the world’s ills for the past two thousand years have been caused by the Christian religion.
Then Beverly explicitly conflates right wing political ideology with “organized religion.” And without actually, you know, having read or listened to Bush’s speech, she accuses him of “erecting an elaborate straw man. He accuses non-Christians and non-religious Christians of attack Christian tenets of compassion….” Which doesn’t seem to be what he, you know, actually said.
Now maybe that’s what he meant, but people being what they are, I suspect he actually thought he meant what he said. What he does may be something else entirely and I would not be the least surprised if what he does is what I might call un-Christian.
But to get seriously hysterical about what he said, you have to believe that “the Christian Right” is the true and only embodiment of what Christians believe and do. Just as you have to believe that all the evil that has occurred in the past two thousand years is somehow the fault of Christians as Christians. Which would suggest a serious lack of knowledge about history, contemporary Christians, and Christianity itself.
Or just a failure to think.
This is all out of my league.
One rule: never explain irony, if you have to explain it it isn’t irony.
This appears to be Jeb Bush’s actual speech:
Given the example set for us by Beverly I cannot pretend that everyone who reads it will not see the smirking ugly face that she sees..
but as to what he actually says beyond a little Christian boosterism… he is after all talking to the graduates of a Christian school…
the only thing i really see to object to is his contention that the “Little Sisters” are being abuse by “Big Brother” by being asked to include payment for contraception in their mandatory insurance.
I think Jeb errs. Christ taught “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” and nowhere does he teach resistance to taxes, or mandatory insurance. If it’s all about money, then Christianity has indeed lost its way.
I don’t think it has, but in the first place I am not surprised to see a right wing politician try to conflate the issues, and in the second I know that if I had some cherished belief I would hate like hell to be required to pay for someone else violating it. But then that is exactly what Jesus tried to teach against: “hating like hell.”
In any case, I don’t see anything here to get hysterical about. And that hysteria is exactly what Jeb is talking about when he talks about Christianity being under attack.
It’s a shame to feed into that.
you or anyone else is invited to go back and see what you actually said, and what i actually said, and my invitation to you to explain exactly what the difference between what you said and what i said was and how it mattered.
you are a little loose with that word “lie.”
sometimes I, even I, say things poorly and have to explain them. Beverly could have said, “no, that’s not what i meant.” or even, “you, dale, misunderstood me.” instead she launched a personal attack in her “facetious” voice. and led to all this trouble.
in re Joel
this is, as exactly as copy and paste can make it, what Joel said:
May 2, 2015 9:31 pm
Like MLK and Gandhi, I don’t feel like I need the validation of others to advocate for what is right. Nor do I worry about whose feelings I hurt by advocating what is right.
From Beverly’s post in re Alito thinks four people have had a right to marry…
note, this is not an exact quote of the title. does that make it a lie?
as for my failure to quote Joel “exactly” or his failure to quote himself “exactly,” you can decide for yourself which is a lie. I think I already know how you will decide.
I am late to the game and don’t spend much time here, although this week and the next 2 I am “baching it” so I have more free time.
“Nor do I worry about whose feelings I hurt by advocating what is right.”
I am proud of those words. Of course, to anyone fluent in the English language, they are *not* the same thing as saying I don’t care about the feelings of anybody.
I don’t worry about hurting the feelings of people who agree with me. That’s not the same as saying I don’t care about them. I do.
I don’t worry about hurting the feelings of people who are indifferent to my views. That’s not the same as saying I don’t care about them. I do.
I don’t worry about the feelings of people who disagree with me. Yes, I don’t worry about them. Do I care? Depends. If they are haters, no. If they react with concern, I’m willing to engage.
Dale Coberly is a liar when he says that I don’t care about anybody’s feelings when I believe I’m right. See above for the exposition
I have no expectation that Dale Coberly will admit that he has been wrong about me. I’ve met enough old men who cannot admit they are wrong to expect any different from him. Shame on Dale Coberly.
that person you don’t like so much said something once (not an exact quote; am i lying?) about what credit is there to you for loving those who love you? i say “love your enemies.”
He had an important point. One you might discern in the Gandhi quote I offered you.
As someone who has watched the English language very closely for over seventy years (I still feel like dancing), I would have to say that you are quite wrong about what “those words” mean. They mean you have an arrogant assumption that you are “right” (exactly what you accuse me of, and of course i may be guilty as charged) and therefore you are proud to agree with the people who agree with you but don’t give a damn about those haters you hate.
But what amazes me is the complete inability you have shown to read what i have actually said… you said i compared Hitler/Stalin to Gandhi/MLK. quite the opposite, I compared Hitler/Stalin to what YOU said and pointed out that Gandhi at least and almost certainly MLK believed the opposite of what you appear to believe: you must care about what your “enemies” think and feel.It is the critical first step to freeing yourself from error or at least futility.
I am not sure this game is worth the candle. It’s a bit of a grudge match between me and Joel and Beverly and people in general who believe that because they are “right” they don’t have to care about what the other guy thinks. neither do they have to actually make sense.
the first is probably the cause of all wars and strife not resulting from actual life or death competition for food. and the second is probably just the human condition. as long as you have your own tribe, a few grunts are enough to establish “what you mean.” and who cares what the other tribe thinks.
I have written several thousand words above which I think “reacts with concern.” But all Joel sees is “the hater.” The hater is in his own mind.
“Willing to engage” might mean actually reading and thinking about what “the other” said. But Joel seems stuck on the idea that I “lied”… which would be a strange thing to do about something someone said where the whole world can see what he said… and is determined to nurse his hurt feelings … which is actually not very engaging.
you know, Coberly, maybe you ought to be advising Paul Krugman on his writing too…seems he made fun of Alan Greenspan, calling him the worst Fed chairman ever, & in a funk, Greenspan has pulled out of a conference this summer on monetary reform….if Krugman would learn not to be so facetious, maybe he could have won Greenspan over to his side…
after all this time you still don’t get it. so once again class:
The problem is not facetiousness. Krugman, Dean Baker, and Bill Black can all manage facetiousness because they are all good writers. Beverly’s problem is not facetiousness but that she is not a good enough writer to pull it off. And she has no idea what “in the mind of the beholder” means.
Nor, apparently, can any one of you read what Gandhi said and understand why it is NOT what Joel said, or Beverly et al practice.
Now, please, this is not getting us anywhere. So I am going to tiptoe out of here. Please let me go quietly.
well, there you go Beverly….Coberly, professional writing critic that he is, has diagnosed the problem with your posts…all you have to do is be more like Paul Krugman, Dean Baker, and Bill Black…
maybe you could grow a beard?