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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When emotion overrides logic, part two

Okay, so I goofed on my last post by somehow completely forgetting to write about part of the protester's commentary in an image folks I know on the left are passing around - I've seen it a few more times in the two days since I wrote my last post

So let's get right to it.  Here's the question from the first part.  Is Obama anti-war (the protester's sign says he's not).

Personally, I haven't got a clue.  To begin with, I don't know what the protester considers "anti-war."  Frankly, I thing most people, left or right, think war is a bad thing and the world would be a better place without it. The question I would ask is, at what point does a person decide that going to war is a better option than not.  At one extreme, I know people who insist that there is never, ever, any reason good enough to go to war.  I have to disagree, since it's thanks to people willing to go to war that my parents survived to meet, marry and to produce me and my siblings.  On the other hand, there are some far too willing and eager to go to war.  Like the late Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait.  Or Hamas with their constant rocketing of Israel. 

Since we're looking at US politics, I think it's safe to assume the protester's sign refers to the ongoing struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Add to the fact that most of the people I know who use the term also consider G.W. Bush to be a warmonger and believe he went to war in the Middle East, not because the US got attacked on 9/11, but because of oil.  With that in mind, let's assume that anti-war means pretty much the opposite of anything GWB supported.

So let's do some digging.  Oh, how handy.  There's a webpage comparing Obama vs McCain in regards to the war on Iraq.  This is what Obama officially campaigned on and part of what he got elected for.  Is Obama pro- or anti-war?  The site states:

- Obama was against the war in Iraq (anti-war)
- he opposed Bush in re: to Iraq, stating the US should focus on Afghanistan (anti-war on one, pro-war on the other)
- he vowed to end the war within 16 months (anti)
- advocated focusing on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan (again, pro- for Afghanistan, anti- for Iraq)
- claims opposition to the war in Iraq but supports allied efforts and "would engage the world community in combating terrorism."  (again, anti- on the one hand, pro- on the other).

This leaves me to wonder.  While running for president, he was clear about opposing the war in Iraq, but supportive of continued action in Afghanistan.  So ultimately, he would have to be considered pro-war - at least under specific circumstances.  However, since I know the people sharing this image are anti-Bush and against the war in Iraq, using that as the deciding factor, Obama would be considered anti-war. Except that, as senator, when it came time to vote, he apparently cast votes that favoured the war.  I'd link to that, but the original sources keep coming up dead.  Instead, I'm finding commentaries like this.  He was playing both sides of the field.

What about since he was elected?

Well, aside from Obama's speech declaring the war in Iraq over, I'm not finding very much other than opinion pieces.  Very little that's any official position.

So what can we conclude from this?  Well, Obama was officially anti-war in Iraq, but pro-war in Afghanistan.  He's also continued a number of Bush's policies, such as continuing Guantanamo Bay (not that he has much choice, there).  So he's... anti-war... except when he's pro-war...

The problem with drawing a conclusion is, where on the sliding scale of anti- and pro- is he?  He's not far enough in either direction to be declared one or the other.  As someone who believes that, as much as I'd prefer war never happening, there are times when war is necessary, I can understand that.

However, if we go back to the protester's sign and the interpretation of anti-war that the people I know sharing this have, Obama is officially anti-war, which is the opposite of what the protester's sign claims.

Unofficially, or what he may be forced to do, is something else entirely.

So what about the other side of the protester's equation?  Is Jesus anti-war?  According to the protester's sign, he is.

I'll have to do some digging here, as well, as I don't recall Jesus talking about war.  He certainly wasn't the pacifist some people try to paint him to be.  He showed anger, even violence, when He drove the merchants from the temple.  War, however, is a whole 'nother ballgame.  Was Jesus actually anti-war?

The question has been examined rather thoroughly by others.  Here are a few I found well worth reading.

Jesus Christ and war
Jesus: War or Peace?  On Swords
What does the Bible say about war?
God and War: What the Bible Says About the Just War theory

In the end, Jesus seems to be saying that war is an inescapable part of living in this world.  Sometimes we're called to avoid conflict, but others we're to take up arms.  Different people have different interpretations about when and what circumstances would have us choose one over the other.

But was Jesus anti

What about the war in Iraq?  Does this fall into what's considered a "just war?" 

Well, that certainly leaves things up for debate, and I can easily see people being able to use the "just war" theology to bolster either view, depending on how they already felt about the war.

In looking at the protester's claim, that Jesus was anti-war, I would say that, according to the Bible, the answer is actually no, even though he certainly wasn't pro-war.  In using the interpretation of anti-war I see among my friends on the left, I'm not so sure. On the one hand, a lot of them claim there is no such thing as a "just" war, and all war is evil, but since pretty much all of them are also atheists, they wouldn't believe in Jesus, anyhow.  Their use of this image isn't because they actually agree that Jesus was anti-war, but a dig at what they describe as the religious right (because, apparently, there's no such thing as a religious left).  What they're actually doing is using this image as just another way to mock anyone who disagrees with Obama as a racist hypocrite.  They are the ones projecting an interpretation of Jesus as a pacifist; something Christians don't agree on themselves. 

The leftists I know who are passing this image around and tittering away at how cleverly the right is being skewered with their own hypocrisy clearly haven't examined what the sign is actually saying.  Let's recap the statements it makes, with my conclusions in (brackets).

Obama is NOT brown skinned.  (Well.. duh!  Of course he is.  The left can't seem to let us forget that.)
Obama is NOT anti-war (officially, he is, but it's questionable)
Obama is NOT a socialist (by definition, as a Democrat, he is; the only question is where on the scale he falls between free market capitalism and communism)
Obama is NOT trying to give away free healthcare (quibbles about what "free" health care actually is, passing the "Obamacare" was one of the things he ran on and got elected for.).

On the other hand, they are saying:

Jesus WAS brown skinned (as a Jew, Jesus would be classified as a Caucasian, which is considered lighter skinned or white.  In reality, the term includes peoples of varying shades of brown.  The best we can do is compare Obama to modern ethnic Jews, at which point we'd have to say that no, he was unlikely to have had skin as dark as Obama's Caucasian/Kenyan genetics.)
Jesus WAS ant-war (debatable, but unlikely.  Jesus was not a pacifist, and He was clear that war was pretty much the normal state of affairs for this world.)
Jesus WAS a socialist (Jesus taught that we, not the state, are responsible for caring for our fellow man.)
Jesus WAS giving away free healthcare (Jesus may have performed miracle healings and taught that all people are deserving of care, not just those of wealth and status, but nothing about the state providing health care for "free.")

Now, each of these points were pretty easy to counter - especially the laughable "brown skinned" point.  Considering each point made on the sign is essentially false (though some are open to interpretation), you'd think the quote would have been something the folks on the right would be sharing among themselves, tittering at how an Obama protester was embarrassing him (her?) self by holding it up. 

Instead of calling out the obvious errors made in the sign, the leftists, always keen to promote their own visceral disgust and hatred of the right, neglect logic. 

And make fools of themselves, instead.

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