Riding On My High Horse

Warning – This is an off topic post…and not particularly cheery.  If you want gym stuff, skip this.  I’ll have something for you tomorrow.

Every parent has had to respond to a child trying to use somebody else’s bad behavior to excuse their own. Who hasn’t heard the line “But mom, Jimmy does it all the time” when they call their child out for some misdeed or another. It’s a universal parenting experience. So what is the good parent’s response? Do we slink into the corner muttering “Oh, yes, that’s right. Jimmy does do that. I guess it doesn’t matter then. I shouldn’t have brought it up” or do we look our little darling in the eye and say “What Jimmy did was wrong. If he got away with it, it doesn’t make it any better. it’s still wrong. Furthermore, I don’t have the power to stop Jimmy from (insert bad behavior here…stealing, lying, hurting other children) but I’m most definitely going to see that YOU know right from wrong and if you make bad choices, you will be held responsible. There will be consequences.”

Aren’t we in agreement that this is the reasonable way to respond to our darlings when they make this worn argument?

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What if He-Did-It Jimmy lived a thousand years ago? Would that change the discussion in any significant way? Of course not, yet this is the same weak argument that the President of the United States made when he admonished his audience at the recent National Prayer Breakfast against throwing stones when they “live in glass houses.”  He was addressing legitimate concerns over a barrage of alarming violence across the world being committed by people who identify themselves as Islamic.

“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ” (he added slavery in the U.S. and Jim Crow as Christian misdeeds as well). “Murderous extremism” he explained, “is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”

First, let me fix that for the President. The murderous extremists that we’re all concerned about, that he’s taking about but refusing to name properly would more precisely be called violent (or murderous, if he’s settled on that word) Islamic jihadists. They are the people currently among us who quote both religious text and Islamic law to support things like

*Crucifying children (Iraq)

*Entering schools and taking young girls to use for their own pleasure i.e. sex slaves (Nigeria) This refers to one specific incident in Nigeria but using captive women as slaves, sexual and otherwise, is rampant in Syria, Iraq and Northern Africa. 

* Throwing gay people off the tops of buildings to kill them (Syria) 

*Slaughtering boys who watch soccer on TV by lining them up and killing them by firing squad (Iraq)

*Sentencing musicians to 90 lashes each for playing non-Islamic instruments (Syria)

*Entering a school, killing in excess of 120 children and burning some of the teachers alive while insisting that the children watch (Pakistan)

*Walking into the headquarters of a publication and killing 12 journalists/cartoonists…and then proceeding to kill people in a Jewish deli for good measure (France)

*Putting bear clamps on breastfeeding women’s breasts to punish them (Syria)

*Attacking a soldier in the street and beheading him with a meat cleaver (Britain)

*Taking hostages in a cafe which resulted in the deaths of two patrons (Australia)

*Burning churches to the ground by the hundreds (Nigeria and countless other places)

In the U.S., just off the top of my head, I can list the Boston Bombings, Fort Hood shootings, the beheading of a woman in Oklahoma, the recent execution of two policemen sitting in their squad car in New York…and of course the events of 9/11 when close to 3000 Americans were killed in one day.  I could go on and on because the list of atrocities go on and on.  People here and across the world are suffering because of violent Islamic jihadists.

Remember, the President needed to point out that this type of behavior “isn’t unique to one group or one religion.” I would counter that while that may be true over the span of human history, right now it’s violent Islamic jihadists that preach (and act to promote) the domination, death and destruction of people with differing beliefs all across the globe.

Second, a salient point ignored by the President, is that people in his audience weren’t alive during the Crusades. For the sake of this particular argument, I won’t challenge his interpretation of events (although there are countering readings of history that acknowledge known excesses during the Crusades but also provide a contextual view and discuss the instigating events). For the sake of brevity, I will leave his slant unchallenged.  I will respond to his take that in the past there were Christians who killed innocent people using their religion as an authoritative reason for it. Surely, he’s aware that since those he was addressing weren’t there, they couldn’t have pointed out the wrongdoing or done a single thing to correct that behavior. I wasn’t alive 1000 years ago, or 500 years ago, or 100 years ago, but I’m alive now. In what deranged view do I not have the responsibility or the standing, because of the shadows of history, to call out terrible transgressions and wrong doing in the here and now when I’m aware of them?

It seems the President thinks it’s odd or that it points to some sort of unsavory personality trait that violent Islamic jihadists should capture our attention. I think it’s eminently reasonable to turn my eyes upon them and give their motivations and actions investigation and thought when they daily declare war against me and mine…and when they exhort their followers to kill my children (I watch them kill other people’s so I know it’s not idle talk).

I pay attention because I want to shield the innocent. I read and study their philosophy because it poses significant danger to large numbers of people across the world and must be counteracted. I do it because I don’t want wrong thinking to win. I talk about it because my children deserve a parent who will stand up for them (and I’m happy to stand up for the children down the street from me, and on the other side of the world as well). We are stewards in the here and now. If I shut up because of transgressions made hundreds of years before I was born then evil wins twice. I can’t change the past. I can’t take responsibility for something that happened when I wasn’t there but I can tell you that if Islamic jihadists prevail in my lifetime, it won’t be because I sat down and refused to name them, because I wouldn’t point out the crimes they commit against their fellow man (and all decency) or because I wouldn’t support a superior philosophy of proper conduct.

I’m perfectly comfortable on my high horse. I can’t and won’t absolve a violent Islamic jihadist of responsibility today because Jimmy acted up…centuries ago.

References (I provided these for people who think I’m making this stuff up.  You can google each instance I cited above yourself and you will see countless supporting documents for each one)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/04/isis-crucified-children_n_6613578.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/isis-throws-gay-man-building-stone-death-article-1.2101930

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/missing-nigeria-schoolgirls

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/20/islamic-state-terrorists-kill-13-teen-boys-for-wat/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2918061/ISIS-police-sentence-musicians-lashes-playing-Islamic-electonic-keyboard.html

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-asia-30491113

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-paris-shooting.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2890911/All-female-Islamic-State-police-squad-tortured-woman-device-called-biter-caught-breastfeeding-public.html

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/19/woolwich-murder-soldier-street-adebolajo-radicalised-kenya

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/world-australia-30475711

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/nigeria-boko-haram-torch-185-churches-captured-towns-borno-adamawa-1468763

12 responses

  1. I was reading this and just jumping up and down and shouting hurrah, clapping and yelling “you go girl”. You voiced my sentiments and said what so many people are afraid to voice. I am definitely not a politically correct advocate. Anyone who would even remotely seem to defend in any way what the extremists do — Obama trying to negate the evil by, as you say, bringing up 1000 year old history and basically just resorting to, well, so and so did it, so what, is so outrageous and unacceptable. He and all his cronies have never represented me or my country in my book. I highly respect the Office of President but, for now anyway, I definitely have no respect for the man in that Office. Oh, my thoughts are just swirling. I think I’ll stop here before I put something in print I shouldn’t! 😆 Anyway, I appreciate your commentary and agree with you wholeheartedly!

    1. Hi! I’m so glad you stopped by. Thank you for the wonderful, kind note. I was so disturbed when I heard the President’s comments at the prayer breakfast. It struck me as such a pathetic, sophomoric response to the very serious concerns so many of us have. I expect better from our elected officials (even when I disagree politically with them). The argument the President put forth was both intellectually immature and philosophically bankrupt…something you’d expect out of a young child, not the “leader” of the free world.

  2. Reblogged this on Masako and Spam Musubi and commented:
    Eloquence from Dr. Lynn once again..!

  3. Hear! Hear! Your eloquence is outstanding. Perhaps you can climb up a bit more on that horse so that the White House can hear? 🙂

    1. Thank you! I’m so grateful to have a way to express my thoughts. I think I might go up in flames otherwise when I contemplate some of the lunacy that comes from our “leaders.”

  4. I don’t mind that he said it because what he said is probably true. More importantly to everyone under 30, it is breaking news because all of that has been taken out of the text books and the school curriculum.

    I am also glad that he said it because we are past the need to have a national debate about what to do in Iraq. What we are doing now is ineffective at best and doing nothing to stop everything you documented. We either need to commit to a total war with the intent of destroying these savages. When I say total war, I mean WWII style and prosecuting the war with no regard for enemy life and unfortunately for the civilians that are caught in the middle. You cannot fight a surgical war, it is brutal, ugly, bloody and deadly. But when it is over, then we can enjoy peace.

    Or we need to pull out and let it happen. The only question is if we are willing to commit to that type of war and are we willing to sacrifice our best and brightest for all those who live under ISIS terror? If the answer is yes, then congress needs to declare war. If the answer is no, then we need to totally pull out of the middle east and let it go how ever it goes.

    1. Hello my friend! Glad you stopped by and left such a thoughtful note.

      The reason I was less than thrilled with the President’s tone is that I thought the National Prayer Breakfast remarks were a missed opportunity to strike a different, more unifying tone. It’s a place where he had the opportunity to talk about how people of faith, who want a better, more peaceful, less troubled world could come together toward those ends. He could have talked about the power of prayer (and action), while still reminding the listeners to remain vigilant against the pitfalls that trip all of us up. By talking about high horses, the Crusades, the Inquisition and the other misdeeds he illustrated in the Christian past, he brought the conversation to a screeching halt. Basically, he gave the message “just shut up, everybody has a despicable past (or present)”

      To that I respond…AND SO? Christian misdeeds are not what was foremost in the minds of the people attending the breakfast. It’s a valid subject for exploration and discussion but not as a deflection of what is on everybody’s mind today which is the problem of Islamic Jihad. It was a cheap trick utilized by even fledgling debate students designed to change the subject (the attention of the audience). if you don’t have the desire to actually discuss the topic at hand, you shift the focus. It really was a “Well, Jimmy did it” moment…simultaneously sophomoric and deeply cynical. Meanwhile, I doubt the little boys and girls being hurt in the Middle East, North Africa, America, Britain, France, Australia, Sweden, Denmark, Indonesia and elsewhere on the globe give one hoot about the Crusades…they need our attention to be on violent jihad at this juncture in time. Its not mean or misguided to have that as a focus, I think it’s our responsibility as Christians, as people who feel charged with protecting the innocent. Certainly we must remember where we have stumbled in the past, but the prayer breakfast speech would have been much better used as a positive, unifying, coalescing of the force of good. It was a place for inspiration not chastisement…that was my problem with the remarks…wrong place, wrong time.

      With your permission, I’d like to respond privately to the latter part of your note. I have some thoughts I could send via email. If you’re tired of my railings, I totally understand! Wishing you a wonderful day!

      1. Doc,

        I cant disagree with anything that you said and I appreciate that you are so thoughtful, eloquent and convincing. The location that the President chose to make these comments would not be one that I would chose. I do think that he is trying to change the course of the conversation and I do think it is inappropriate to chose that forum to make his comments. I don’t see any advantage gained by his making these remarks at the prayer meeting.

        For whatever reason, he did feel it was the right place and time to speak out and since he is the boss and we are not then all we can do is be disappointed and use our voice to express that displeasure. I am so thankful that we live in a nation where you and I can have this discussion without fear of being arrested and hung at sunrise, like Saddam did.

        I think that you have earned the right to say anything you want to me in either a public or private forum. I eagerly await your comments in my e-mail box. I am not afraid of what you might say because I know that you are they type of person who can gently correct my misguided viewpoints with compassion and understanding. Ha ha.

        You are a fantastic soul who has a heart of gold. I only wish there were ten more like you and then we could rule the world. Keep smiling and I love that you are letting your voice shout to the mountain tops from your high horse.

  5. Reblogged this on Shootin' the Breeze and commented:
    I wish I wrote this because it is an excellent editorial about telling it like it is.

  6. Excellent post. Your points are logically presented. It needed to be said, and you said it well. Thanks for taking the time to articulate what many of us were thinking about the President’s remarks.

    1. Thank you and thank you for the reblog as well. I consider that a real compliment and it’s much appreciated! I’m glad I have a place to write my thoughts down…otherwise I might just burst into flame over some of the crazy stuff going on these days

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