Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jihad Watch Comments on the Barna Survey

Update: The comments field of the Jihad Watch thread about the Barna survey has been growing by leaps and bounds: there were some 80 comments when I wrote this essay a couple of hours ago; there are now over 139 and it will likely keep growing. My estimation of the “poor pedagogy” these comments reflect stands. The remainder of comments mostly go off on the tangent of atheism, whether pro or con, of little relevance to the larger problem of PC. When commenters veer slightly back on track, they err in their poor pedagogy, example:

I think what is lost in this whole argument is that atheism's apparent hold on our post Christian society is what is helping embolden our enemies. They look at us as spiritually bankrupt, believing in nothing and they are clearly showing us with their actions how much they believe...

[For more updates, see the bottom of this essay.]

Concerning this poor pedagogy of Jihad Watch commenters, we see the responses that typically delimit the problem of PC to the sphere not only of atheism, but also of “Leftism”—and often the two are indiscriminately mushed together, which tends to ignore the fact that many atheists are not PC, and that many Jews and Christians (as well as other religious people) are PC:

This is simply because a majority of atheists are of the same mindset that readily accepts concepts like Marxism, Humanism and any other -isms that close out the notion of soul and hope and human spirituality.

Such a view unduly restricts the problem of PC, which infects broad swathes of Jews and Christians (among other types of religious people), as well as people on all points of the political spectrum and of all social classes, throughout the West.

Caveat Lector: We must make an important point at this juncture: As I argued in more analytical detail in a previous essay on my other blog, The Hesperado: PC is no longer a “Leftist” phenomenon. PC may have had more strongly Leftist influences as it was taking embryonic shape roughly 200 years ago, and as it continued on its evolutionary career throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, but somewhere along the way (roughly 50 years ago) PC transformed Leftism into a mainstream view, or Leftism transmuted into the more broadly mainstream sociopolitical phenomenon of PC: one can say that PC is now a “Leftism Lite”—swallowed and regurgitated like pablum and breathed in and out as general atmosphere by the vast majority of people in the West on all points along the political spectrum. In terms of the PC axioms that most people reflexively believe, we can say that Leftism has become mainstream. In becoming mainstream, however, it has undergone an “atomization”: its ideological virulence has become considerably watered down (hence its ability to be swallowed by so many who are otherwise not Leftists per se).

Of course, I am not denying certain particularly aggressive postures of PC among Leftists and Leftist atheists/agnostics, such as this one adduced by another commenter on the same Jihad Watch thread:

The world's greatest enabler of theocracy in the United States, is led by a man who receives policy advice from God and is demonstrably against the separation of church and state.”
My point, to repeat myself for the umpteenth time, is that while such important subsets of the Western PC problem exist and cause damage in their qualitatively unique ways, we should not lend undue weight or focus to these subsets that would lead us to delimit the problem of PC to them, magnify them as the PC problem in its virtual entirety, and therefore ignore the broader and deeper problem of PC that, in fact, I maintain continues to nourish and enable these subsets—as important as they are. An important dimension of these subsets (such as “Leftism”) is lost when we bracket out the broader and deeper scope of PC that surrounds them.

Another Jihad Watch commenter, after tilting at the Leftist Christopher Hitchens and others, comments:

I believe it is a sign of the end times: the ressurgance of islam and its unofficial alliance with the leftist-athiests. They both engage in dissimulation and both downplay the islamic threat and attempt to create a Christian one out of nothing.

This kind of comment combines the error of delimitation with the recourse to a troubling politicization of apocalypticism; and one cannot help wonder if the latter is fueled and informed by the former.

Other comments similarly jump on the atheist-cum-Leftist scapegoat to be sacrificed as an answer toward the general problem of PC in the West, example:

I suspect most atheists are afraid of having their hoped-for, strived-for secular utopia disrupted by a relgious war. The first mistake they make, from ignorance, is to assume that Islam is (primarily) a religion. The second mistake they make is to assume that all resistance to Islam must be inspired by religious bigotry...

One lonely commenter adduces the datum of Christians who are PC vis-à-vis Islam:

Before you lot jump onto this case with a vengeance, have a look at the suicidal attitude of the leaders of MOST of the major christian churches to the Islamic problem. These people(with some exceptions) seem to consider ALL religions the same (and they should know better) and insist on maintaining their "turn the other cheek" atitude towards the "poor Palestinians" etc. This is the group which need re-educating.Not the pseudoathiests/agnostics who have no real idea and who can do far less damage.

And of course, the comments to this thread are not monolithic: there are exceptions (which, however, prove the rule) to what seems to be the general tendency of Jihad Watchers to delimit the problem of PC either to “Leftists” or to “atheists” (or, of course, to both):

I myself am an atheist... Christianity may have had some violent history in the past, but that violence was never found to be justified, and is not commanded for all time, unlike Islam's violence, which is valid for all time, as a set of world-conquering commandments which every Muslim must follow. When I take the tube to work in the morning, I'm not afraid of Christians—I'm afraid of Muslims!

Update (cont.):

The comments field on the Barna Survey thread now (some 5 hours after I originally wrote this essay here) number nearly 160.

Another commenter writes:

...political correctness and atheism are different, but they're born from the same mother. The socialist ideals that have been employed in our world have given rise to many different viewpoints, central to them is the moral equivalency we hear all the time, atheism, as part of the secular teachings which includes the rejection of our Christian heritage. This as I stated earlier is tied in with how our schools have become ultra liberal does not surprise me on why we have this belief in all religion is bad...

This commenter is both right and wrong: He is right in noting that such currents as atheism, socialism and secularism are part of a larger pool whence PC has derived much of its formative sustenance; however, he is wrong in attributing so much consanguinity to those currents with PC that he therefore delimits PC, or compartmentalizes it, in those hermetically sealed historical boxes from which other currents, apparently, are immune. One of the most important features of PC is precisely its sociopolitical ability to transcend boundaries—whether political, social, or cultural. And by this ability—due in great part to its “atomization” or watering down of ideology—it has been able to becoming dominant and mainstream throughout the West. Even these rather complex fine points I am articulating here only scratch the surface of the tremendous complexity and amorphousness of the process—the sea change in Western consciousness—by which the West has become predominantly PC.


Anonymous said...


Earlier today I saw that the thread in question had reached 229 posts, but is now inaccessible. One can't post in that thread now (I've tried a few times now), though I have been able to post in another (newer) thread.

Anonymous said...


It is possible to post in that "atheists/agnostics" thread, but to do it you have to sign in on a different thread that is working, then open up another window for Jihadwatch, and then go to the athiests/agnostics thread (there the comments box should appear at the bottom). Now that the thread is buried, there probably won't be too many comments. I suspect it would have easily went over 300 comments yesterday if there had not been that technical(?) problem.

Something else I noticed in my brief research on this issue: In another study, where the option "None" (as in, no religion) is given, this option captures 11.7% percent of sample of the general population, whereas "agnostic" and "atheist" capture only 0.7 and 1.7% of the population, respectively. Thus, it is possible that most of the people in the Barna sample, if given this option, would not have not have labeled themselves as atheists or agnostics.