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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

No, really, why not?

E. J. Dionne, in yesterday's Washington Post, asked a trenchant question: if you believe that God is on your side, and that your God is the one true God, why shouldn't you try your best to kill or convert all non-believers?

After all, as he put it, "if you believe that you are in possession of something like the absolute truth -- and have an obligation to proclaim it and a duty to convert others -- religious toleration ultimately involves tolerating 'error' and allowing error to propagate itself." And who wants to tolerate mistakes?

The context, of course, was the certifiably nuts Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin (which reminds me, I need to ask him what the "Jerry" in "William" stands for), who has publicly stated that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that Allah is just an idol. Of course, I disagree with him on the first statement, but in the interest of fairness, I should point out that in a sense, I agree with the second; but then I think all gods are idols, or more generally silly fantasies.

From that perspective, a letter to the editor, also in yesterday's post, got it even more right than Dionne:

Although Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin's remarks have been widely condemned as offensive, the extent of the national security problems created and revealed by those remarks appears not to be widely appreciated. One of those problems is that the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence believes he saw a supernatural entity on a surveillance photo.

If he had reported seeing a leprechaun in Belfast rather than a demon over Mogadishu, I suspect that the administration would have taken more immediate and drastic action.



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