Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dumb and dumberest

Mark Hyman, star of Sinclair Broadcasting, and host of "The Point" -- a two-minute commentary that is predictably a litany of conservative talking points, forcefed nightly to the 62 stations Sinclair owns -- will never, one hopes, be mistaken for one of the right's leading intellectual lights.

Media Matters directs us to some of Hyman's recent "points" in which he has begun attacking university professors. They included this:
Hyman also claimed Michael R. Ball, professor of sociology at University of Wisconsin-Superior, "announced in a published paper that he discovered the common thread of hate groups: Christianity." Then Hyman quipped: "I'll make certain to mention this to all of the Christian suicide-bombers in the Middle East." In fact, Ball's 1996 paper focused specifically on American hate groups, and it did not identify Christianity in general as a motivation for hate. Rather, Ball identified a particular ideology, "Christian Identity" -- a distinct and extremist ideology that has little to do with mainstream Christianity -- as one of several "common threads" among the groups he studied. Here's the key excerpt from Ball's paper:

Although each hate group had its specific emphasis, we found common threads of ideology which were woven through all. (note 7) These included Christian Identity or similar religious beliefs, white separatism as a part of the "natural order," religious justifications for violence, the "right to keep and bear arms," opposition to political "liberalism" in any form, strict separation of male and female roles, opposition to Affirmative Action, welfare, or other "governmental meddling."


Space limits me from explaining each of these in depth, although I would like to briefly discuss Christian Identity because of its centrality and its pervasiveness among racist groups.

Christian Identity (note 8) is a modern version of the "British Israelism" espoused by Henry Ford and others in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. (note 9) This belief holds that in the beginning, God created the "beast of the field," including many resembling humans. These beasts (referred to as "mud people," or "mud races") were not human, lacking a soul. Finally, God created the "Adamic (white) race" and instilled its members with souls. ... British Israelism held that members of "the British race" were the true Israelites, while current Christian Identity believes that the true Israelites are members of any of the ten "Aryan nations" including the major countries of western Europe, the United States, and Canada. In their view, whenever the Bible speaks of conflicts, war and evil, it is in reference to maintaining their "race" from contamination or annihilation.

Funny thing. I'm sometimes accused of blurring the lines between mainstream conservatives and extremists. But that's exactly what Hyman does. Either he's a blunderer of the first order, or he's an extremist mole.

So, just so there's no confusion: Christian Identity has nothing to do with mainstream Christianity. It is an extremist racial belief system that adopts the guise of Christianity but has practices and beliefs that are not part of any traditional mainstream church. Most of their beliefs, in fact, constitute heresies for many faiths.

I'm hoping this was just a really dumb mistake. Because if it wasn't, and Hyman wanted us to think that Identity was just another kind of Christianity, well ... that's a problem.

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