Posts Tagged ‘Richard Baxter’

Reichwing Watch: Trump Spokesman Cites Japanese Internment to Justify Muslim Registry

November 18, 2016

This is terrifying. It’s another clip from Reichwing Watch, from a news programme in which a spokesman for Trump tells Megan Kelly, the news anchor, to her face that Japanese internment during World War II has set a precedent for Trump’s proposal to have all Muslims entered in an official register. To her credit, Kelly tells him that he cannot use this as a precedent, and reproaches him for using it to get people frightened. The Trump surrogate laughs this off, but says that the president still needs to protect America. She argues back that the protection extends the moment you enter America.

This should terrify everyone, who is sincerely worried about the march of Fascism, including anyone with a knowledge of Roman civilisation. Firstly, the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II as enemy aliens led to horrendous suffering and deprivation, and is still naturally resented by Americans of Japanese heritage decades later. George Takei, I understand, the actor who played Mr Sulu in Star Trek, was particularly active in Japanese-American civil rights organisations. American politicos have denounced the internment, and I think the government has paid the victims reparations. And it certainly was deeply unjust that when many Japanese-American servicemen were giving their lives for America, their families, friends and other members of their community were being herded into camps. It is repulsive that Trump’s spokesman should cite this as a precedent, and it does raise the issue of what Trump will do next. If he’s prepared to cite Japanese-American internment as a precedent, is he also considering interning Muslims as well, despite his mouthpiece’s smiling denials?

The American Constitution famously promises Americans freedom of religion. And religious freedom has been at the heart of American democracy, ever since Richard Baxter argued for it, including not just Christians, but also Jews, during the British Civil War. Baxter afterwards emigrated to the nascent US, and the proud, American tradition of religious toleration begins with him in the 17th century. Now Trump’s threatening to reverse this.

Trump’s proposal for Muslims to be officially registered reminds me very strongly of the ancient Roman attitude to religion. The Roman Empire was religious pluralistic, but retained a system of religious suppression. Because the Romans were afraid of the threat of insurrection and rebellion from clubs and other associations, including religious gatherings, they operated a system in which only those religions, which were not considered dangerous to the state, were officially tolerated. The Romans persecuted Christianity because it was not one of the religio licitas – permitted religions. Christians were seen as subversive, because they worshipped Christ as God, instead of the Roman Emperor. Hence the determination to make Christians sacrifice to the Emperor’s numen, his divine spirit, and the statements in the early Christian apologists that, although Christians didn’t worship the emperor, they nevertheless were good citizens, who prayed for him and the other authorities in their services.

Trump is threatening to inflict on American Muslims the type of system that led to the terrible persecution of Christians in ancient Rome.

And where America goes today, Britain and other nations follow tomorrow. I’m not a secularist, but this threatens religious tolerance and freedom right across the modern, democratic West.

And apart from the real danger it poses to Muslims, it also threatens to give the radicals a weapon to use against us. The Islamist bigots, going all the way back to the radicals demanding the suppression of the Satanic Verses and Rushdie’s death, whipped up opposition and hatred towards non-Muslims and the secular state by telling them that they were in danger from White and non-Muslim persecution. Way back in the 1990s the Beeb filmed one of these preachers of hate, Kalim Siddiqui, in his mosque, telling his congregation that ‘British society is a monstrous killing machine, and killing Muslims comes very easily to them’. When the team questioned Siddiqui about his words, he started ranting about how the Satanic Verses was the first step towards a ‘holocaust of Muslims.’ This is sheer, poisonous bilge. The book wasn’t blasphemous, and it certainly wasn’t published in preparation for such an monstrous atrocity.

But accusations like this were used to motivate British Muslims, or some British Muslims, into political involvement and opposition to British secularism. And you can bet that ISIS and al-Qaeda will use Trump’s wretched registry to whip up support amongst Muslims by citing it as proof that western society really is intolerant and that we really do have a genocidal hatred of Muslims.

We don’t. Regardless of individual religious affiliation or lack thereof, we need to stand united against this. We can’t let Trump divide us and make the denial of our collective freedoms seem respectable policies. Because it won’t just be Muslims. After them, it’ll be other groups. No-one will be safe from this type of intolerance.

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Donald Trump Wants Muslims Registered and Tagged

November 22, 2015

This is how the Nazi persecution of the Jews started.

Donald Trump, the multi-millionaire (at least) running for the American presidency, has said that he wants Muslims to be registered and have to carry some form of identification. The Young Turks report and discuss this appalling policy in the video below:

They point out that this is part of a series of deeply intolerant measures proposed or supported by members of the Republican party, including closing down all the mosques and barring Muslims from political office.

This is literally how the Nazis started the persecution and extermination of the Jews. The Turk’s anchors, Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, draw the extremely explicit parallels with Nazi Germany in this other video below.

They point out that when Hitler sent the Jews and other political and racial prisoners to the concentration camps, they were made to wear badges identifying them by their race, religion or supposed offence, like being a Communist, homosexual or whatever. They also make the point that the Nazis actually made the possession of firearms easier, contrary to Republican propaganda about how the Third Reich disarmed the German people. The exception to this was the Jews, who were banned from owning guns, just as many gun stores and firing ranges in the US now ban Muslims.

They point out that America is not yet, mercifully, at the point where Muslims are being taken to concentration camps and gassed, but he does want Muslim refugees, such as those from Syria, segregated. This is the very beginning of how it all started.

And as the first video shows, Trump doesn’t have an answer to the question of how his policies towards Muslims differs from that of the Nazis to the Jews. a journalist from NBC asks him that, and all Trump says in reply is to mutter, ‘You tell me. You tell me.’

The standard reply by Republicans when you point out the similarity between their policies towards Muslims and those of the Jews in Nazi Germany is to deny that there’s any real similarity between the two. The Jews weren’t a danger to Germany, and there never was a ‘Judeo-Bolshevik world banking conspiracy’ to enslave Aryans and gentiles around the world. Islam, on the other hand, is a threat because of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, which have their basis in that religion and claim to be obeying its dictates.

This is correct, but it ignores the fact that ISIS, al-Qaeda and the other radical Islamist organisations are based in a very particular interpretation of Islam, one that in many countries runs counter to and is opposed to the officially sanctioned and promoted interpretation of Islam. The Egyptian-German scholar of Islam, Bassam Tibi, makes this point in his book, Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change. He points out that Islamic modernism in Egypt was introduced by the ulema, the Muslim clergy, who were impressed by the industrial, economic and scientific progress of Europe, and wished their country to share these advances. He also states that in his own, personal examination of Islamist suspects in prison, he found their religious views naïve and unsophisticated.

In other words, Islamic extremism is an underground movement.

The Republican’s rejection of the parallels between Nazi Germany and their intended treatment of Muslims also neglects other facts, which made the idea of a global Jewish conspiracy to enslave the world much more plausible to the average German or Austrian of the time. The Communist parties in Russia had a disproportionately high number of Jews, as well as other national minorities. In Austria, the leaders of many of the Communist brigades in the 1919 November revolutions were Jewish. During the Revolution, the Communists began a campaign of church burnings, which resulted in a massive increase in anti-Semitism. Given the prominence of Jews amongst the brigade’s leadership, it was all too easy for Austrians to believe that there really was a Jewish conspiracy against them.

America was partly founded on the principle of religious freedom. It’s been there ever since it was articulated by 17th century Puritan preachers like Richard Baxter. Trump wishes to overturn centuries of religious tolerance, and set up a truly Fascistic social order.

He’s a Nazi and should not be allowed anywhere near the US presidency.

And if he gets away with targeting Muslims, it’ll be Mexicans, the unemployed, Socialists, trade unionists, and the disabled next. Just like in Nazi Germany.

Richard Baxter and the Puritan Celebration of Science

May 3, 2013

Amongst some atheists, the Puritans have a reputation as the cruel opponents of science. Much of this appears to come from the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne’s view of Puritan responsibility for the horrors of the Salem witch-hunts. A previous generation of historians of science, such as the sociologist Robert K. Merton, believed that the Scientific Revolution was partly caused by the Puritans. This view has since been rejected. The interest in science and desire to promote and expand scientific knowledge was not unique to the Puritans, but also included other Protestants, such as mainstream Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, as is shown in the numerous scientific academies that existed in Roman Catholic countries, such as France and Italy. Nevertheless, many Puritan ministed strongly supported and took an intense delight in the new science, which they saw as leading to a knowledge of God. Richard Baxter was one of these Puritan ministers. Amongst his other achievements, he was the leading advocate of religious toleration during the British Civil War. Its inclusion into the American Constitution was due to his influence, rather than that of later Deism. He also strongly supported and promoted science. In his Christian Directory, written in 1664-5, he wrote:

‘The very exercise of love to God and man, and of a heavenly mind and holy life, hath a sensible pleasure in itself, and delighteth the man who is so employed … What delight had the inventors of the sea-chart and magnetic attraction, of printing, and of guns, in their inventions! What pleasure had Galileo in his telescopes, in finding out the inequalities and shady part of the moon, the Medicean planets…’

Modern American science owes much of its existence to the Dissenting Academies set up in England by the Puritans during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Puritan academy in Northampton, for example, taught mechanics, hydrostatics, physics, anatomy, and astronomy. The founder of one of the earliest of these academies was Charles Morton. Morton later emigrated to America, where he became vice-president of Harvard. He then introduced to that great, august American institution the system of science that he had established in England.

Far from being uniform opponents of religious liberty and scientific investigation, it was the Puritan ministers and educationalists Richard Baxter and Charles Morton who founded the American tradition of religious liberty and science respectively.

Source: C.A. Russell, Science and Religious Belief.