Monday, November 05, 2007

Mike Jones and Zig-Zag Logic

When I read an editorial by the Tulsa World's Mike Jones, I often am unsure as to whether I should scream in outrage or laugh. Jones' column from the Sunday, November 4, 2007 Tulsa World entitled "For freedom: Bibles, Qurans and the reason we need both," made me do both.

First Jones directly attacks Rep. Rex Duncan for refusing a copy of the Koran [read below], then he "zigs" to a criticism Rep. Mike Reynolds for calling on Gov. Henry to rename his "Ethnic American Advisory Council" because it is made up exclusively of Muslims. Having done that, he then "zags" toward taking up some of the many negative criticisms he receives from readers that took issue with his attack on Duncan in the previous week's Sunday World. The result is a column filled with what can only be described as "zig-zag" logic.

Making sense isn't so important if enough people who already agree with you think you make sense.

First, let's lay out some facts and then see if we can make sense of Jones' diatribe.
  1. As stated in my entries below, Rep. Rex Duncan did two things. He took the Islamic group up on their offer to decline a complimentary copy of the Koran and then took the opportunity to encourage the group to call for the end of lethal violence against women and children in Iran, citing most Oklahoman's disdain for such violence.
  2. Rep. Reynolds called on the Governor, as stated above to either re-name the advisory group or to disband it entirely, given its religious make up. Many argue [but not, curiously the ACLU supportin' Tulsa World] that such a group could easily be construed, no matter what it is named, as a pro-Islamic group that is receiving public tax dollars to operate.
  3. Finally, in the light of all the "garment rending" and histrionics that Jones and other critics heaped on Duncan, many who agreed with the legislator e-mailed their comments to Jones. A common theme apparently centered on something I, too, said on the KFAQ Morning Show when the story broke. I basically said, "I'd like to see what happened to a Christian group that tried to give Saudi lawmakers a copy of the Bible." The purpose of this was to make a point as to the relative "intolerance" that one would find in the two countries in question.

After criticising Duncan and Reynolds and praising the Governor, Jones begins some inane mutterings about how Oklahoma was settled by Christians, true, but was first settled by Indians.

"Yes, Oklahoma was settled on good ol' Christian values, but not until the religion of
the people we gave the land to and then took it away from was all but erased."

Ignoring the glaring condescension towards Christians in that statement, Jones is attempting to set up a Straw Man reference that Christians are hypocrites if they question attempts by Muslims to proselytize. Surely he isn't going so far as to say we Christians would get what's coming to us if we were forced in the future to convert to Islam because we became the minority. We can assume this, because Jones' whole point in the article is about religious pluralism and tolerance. Thus, such an argument would be out of place.

After writing about the varying degrees of tolerance/intolerance in Islamic countries toward Christians and Jews, Jones finally gets to his point about two-thirds through the article. He writes:

The implication in the Bible challenge [that Islam wouldn't tolerate Bibles
being handed out] is that since those countries discourage or even punish
Christianity, then we should do the same concerning Islam.

What the...? Where did you get that tidbit of logic, Mike?

I can't speak for the others that said it, but when I said it, I said it to make a point that politely declining the offer of a Koran because one is a Christian is barely [if at all] intolerant. This is especially true when one compares it to the sometimes murderous intolerance one finds in Islamic countries, where one might be imprisoned, beaten, maimed or killed...not by religious zealots on the street...but by the government itself!

Neither Reps. Duncan and Reynolds, myself, nor I dare say, any of Jones' e-mail critics intended their message to be construed as "let's shut down the practice of Islam in the United States." Does Jones really think that's what is being insinuated? Hard to believe. Jones also wrote:

"For me, I don't want to be like Saudi Arabia or even Indonesia. I prefer every
citizen's or visitor's right to choose their religion. I also endorse giving one
the freedom to choose no religion at all."

Go back and look at the three statements of fact above. Who the heck has been espousing anything different from what Jones believes? Anybody? Anybody at all?

Does declining the gift of a Koran mean you want to deny Islamics the right to worship? How can one make that leap of logic?

Does asking the Governor to rename a politically named advisory council because calling it the Islamic-American Advisory Council might raise separation clause issues mean that you want to take away the right of "citizens or visitors" to "choose their religion?"

Does pointing out the hypocrisy of Islamics screaming "intolerance" from the rafters because someone criticizes them for not accepting a Koran and calling on them to urge others in the Islamic faith to end killing and terrorism carried out in the name of their chosen faith, mean that such critics, ipso facto, must be calling for the end of Freedom of Religion for Muslims in America?

Jones finishes his convoluted exercise in zig-zag logic by writing this:

Quite frankly, the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world really don't care what religion anyone else is. They might believe that their brand is better than everyone else's, but that's standard for all religions.

They might have their share -- or more -- of religious zealots who misinterpret their holy book and turn it into a personal manifesto for violence. That, unfortunately, is true of every religion.

Not everyone can be or wants to be a Christian. Maybe we can all respect that.

For me, I'll take my chances here. I even relish all those e-mails and phone calls.

After all, it's a free country. We have the freedom to say what we want and worship as we want. How about let's keep it that way.

Once again, how does turning down a Koran equate to wanting everyone to be a Christian?

In closing, let me say I agree with Jones when he says we need more tolerance with regard to religious choice.

Perhaps Mike Jones could be so kind as to extend that tolerance to some Christian legislators who declined the gift of a Koran, because they "choose" not read a book they might consider blasphemous. That would be tolerant of him wouldn't it?

Perhaps Mike Jones could be so tolerant as to quit assuming that Christians who criticize the political actions of Islamic activists in our state are actually hoping to cleanse all Islam from Oklahoma.

If he will extend to we Christians, this tolerance, then we'll try to tolerate his whacky ramblings on the subject.

1 comment:

bono said...

yes, More than a few religions are messed up right now

“Is American Christianity, really Christian?”Pastor Paul Washer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=un_B3S9V8zY