In a syndicated column published in this morning’s Seattle Times, Leonard Pitts Jr., former editor of Soul Magazine (“The definitive voice of the urban-alternative experience”) Defends Islam and attacks Christianity by the most efficient method available. He lies.
It’s not the same as telling the truth. I mean, he could just tell the truth, but I suppose that would not make a good column of it. Or make his point. Instead he lies and then absolves himself by admitting as much, but then carefully obscures that admission, so you have to know his target topic pretty well to even recognize the disclaimer. Leonard Pitts is an award-winning writer in the culture where that kind of “cleverness” is admired.
The article appears with the title “A quiz: Name the religion that calls for its followers to take up the sword” and the quiz it includes is supposed to make the point that Christianity, just like Islam, has called for violence to spread its message.
That is, of course, purest fiction. Christianity, from its inception, has NEVER done that. Jesus pointed out, explicitly, that He came to bring a kingdom that transcended physical boundaries, earthly government and, hence, His discipleship engaged no military principles. In fact, it does not take a long time to uncover that Pitts KNOWS the claim is false. That is the reason, in fact, that his column had to employ intentionally deceptive rhetorical tricks.
The first trick is the shell game. He tells us his quiz compares “religions,” Islam and Christianity are understood. But he then switches (without disclosing the fact) to Original Judaism by talking, not about Christianity, but the Bible, which covers both. Original Judaism (which has been out of practice for a good deal more than 2000 years), in fact, and in contrast with Christianity, DID have an earthly kingdom, a physical territory and engaged in physical wars.
For his next magical trick, only one of Pitts’ four quiz questions is about Christianity and that one regards a quotation intentionally taken out of context. We know he knows it is because of his disclaimer:
It is not my intention here to parse any of those troubling quotes. [no kidding!] Let us leave it to religious scholars to contextualize them…”
Putting quotations in context would ruin the whole trick! He quotes Christ saying He did not come to bring peace, but conflict ( a “sword”). Even out of context it is clear Jesus did not call for initiating violence, but it is equally clear that His “Great Commission” is spreading the claims of Christianity (the Gospel) and that the claims of Christianity consistently generate conflict and controversy everywhere.
A good current example is the gay rights issue. Christianity calls same-gender sexual relations “sin,” the desire to engage in the activity “temptation,” and asserts that the proclivity in a person can, and should be, overcome. Christianity calls the message of deliverance from homosexuality, “love.” Liberals and gay activists hate that. In response, they have expressed their contempt for Christianity and Christians and some have called for violence against Christians and churches and, in fact, many have engaged in that violence.
Dropping the issue would bring “peace.” But Jesus doesn’t want the issue dropped.
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
~ Matthew 10:33-35
And history has borne out that the violence generated by Christianity is almost always violence against Christians for their message. Pitts, himself, has obviously, here, engaged in a kind of rhetorical violence for that very purpose.
What sticks in his craw is that people keep quoting the Koran to demonstrate that Islam calls for violence against “infidels.” It does. It always did. Muhammad, from the beginning, spread his “kingdom” with force. He and his followers conquered a good percentage of the known world by pure military conquest, offering the conquered a choice: convert or die. Christianity, by contrast, was the wellspring of Western Culture and spread across the whole world by persuasion: evangelism. The historic road of Christian “battle” is an intellectual conflict littered with the bones of martyrs. It is their words that conquered their murderers.
But Pitts, like most products of our liberal educrats, is an epistemological relativist. He prefers to regard ALL religious belief as an exercise in subjective imagination and among its legitimate purposes he counts the “tolerance” of all “lifestyles.” And if people are going to insist on judging Muhammad’s words as if he meant them, by gum he’s going to respond by mangling Jesus. It’s only fair.
Which brings me to the logical response, in kind, to Pitts:
A Quiz: Name the writer that calls for lying propaganda
OK, put your books away. We’re having a pop quiz.
Below are five quotes. Each is from one of two sources: Leonard Pitts Jr. or Nazi Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, although, just to make things interesting, there’s also a chance all five are from one source.
Three were edited for length and one of those was also edited to add a writer-specific detail. Your job: Identify the author of origin. Ready? Go:
- The effective propagandist must be a master of the art of speech, of writing, of journalism.
- Writing is not enjoyable.
- But propaganda is still necessary if a good cause is to succeed.
- Some of us use lies, exaggerations and rhetorical gobbledygook. In time, perhaps, assuming you possess the basic gifts for it, you will become great.
- It is a mistake to believe that people cannot take the truth. They can. It is only a matter of presenting the truth to people in a way that they will be able to understand.
All right, pens down. How did you do?
If you identified the first, third and fifth quotes as being from Goebbels and the other two as originating from Pitts, I want to congratulate you on that degree in journalism. Goebbels is hardly unique in his admonitions to use propaganda..
Disclaimer: It is not my intention here to parse any of those troubling quotes. Let us leave it to Pitts, himself to contextualize his own, to explain how they square with reason. For our purposes, it is sufficient to note that, while Pitts or his apologists will offer context and explanation (but only for Pitts), he certainly did not afford it for his attack on Christianity nor his whitewash of Islam. .