A Blogger Writes

This blog doesn’t get many comments, so it’s good when feedback does arrive, even if it’s just to slag me off. Joel of Confessions of a Hot Carmel Sundae doesn’t appreciate my take on Katherine Harris:

So let me see if I have this straight. Katherine Harris at one time studied at a school founded by a man [Francis Schaeffer] who was a member of a denomination that later turned into another denomination that later turned into yet another denomination some of whose members have reconstructionist ideas [The Presbyterian Church in America]. Moreover, she attends a church connected to a church [Calvary Chapel] founded by a man [Chuck Smith] who belongs to a movement that has some members [Jesus Freaks] who would find reconstructionist ideas compatible with their own. Finally, Harris once served on the same panel as a man [David Barton] who believes that public office should be held by people whom he considers moral. Sounds mighty incriminating to me!

This is depressing, as I was trying to avoid the impression of mad conspiracy-mongering while getting in as many links as I could. So, a bit of explanation may perhaps be useful.

My purpose in writing the Harris post was raise two issues:

1. What does the L’Abri (and supposed Barton) connection tell us about what makes Harris tick?

2. What does this tell us about the role of conservative forms of Christianity in American politics?

These are questions of interest to many people, but most of these people, it must be said, don’t know their Charismatics from their Evangelicals or their Pentecostals from their Fundamentalists (the latter term I use very sparingly). So, it’s common knowledge that Harris is a practising Christian, but how might that affect her job? The question cannot begin to be answered until we know what kind of Christian she is. Links with David Barton and Francis Schaeffer seem to me to be highly suggestive (although I’ve since discovered that the Barton panel didn’t actually happen, and have amended posts on this accordingly). “Incriminating” is a subjective term: perhaps Harris may downplay certain connections, but in all likelihood most commentators just lack “the eyes to see”.

Also, this blog is really a kind of notepad. Unlike a proper journalist, I don’t interview people or do much print-based research. I merely chase up stuff online that captures my interest, draw it together, and make a few conclusions, which may be more or less tentative (and, if I’m in the mood, I’ll add some snarky comments). For example, in the Harris article I really don’t know of what significance her membership of Calvary Chapel is, but it’s interesting and so I’ll note it. And the material about the Presbyterian Church in America was clearly marked as an aside rather than as part of my investigation of Harris. The denomination seems to keep appearing in things I look into, so I decided to flag it up.

Others can make of this resource whatever they like (apart from any racists, etc., who should clear off); if they can fill in any gaps or offer new perspectives I’m always very happy to hear from them.


Looks like the Katherine Harris/David Barton panel at Doug Giles’s Clash Christian Church in April never happened after all. The pdf agenda I found and commented on does not tally with another agenda, from Giles’s old cached website. No sign of Jeb Bush, either. Did they back off, or was Giles just being hopeful all along? Curious.

I have amended previous posts to reflect this.

Hatred Revealed

Jeff Sharlet at The Revealer has been at the receiving end of winger abuse since he reported thus:

hate-spewing anti-Muslim blog Little Green Footballs won Washington Post’s reader poll for “best international blog” with bon mots about Palestinians and other Muslims such as “I’ve been fond of transfer of these subhuman[s] for a while. Perhaps something more like targeted genocide… will become necessary” and “How can these vermin have a country? How can these vermin be allowed to live?” It’s a truism by now that liberals sling around Hitler accusations too loosely, but LGF quacks like a Nazi duck…This is a big religion story, and it’s a big political story.

LGF supporters responded with, basically, three ripostes:

1. LGF is pro-Israel. Therefore to criticise LGF is to be anti-Semitic

2. The Revealer has mischaracterized LGF, and what better way to prove this than by sending Jeff hate mail with menaces

3. The Revealer has relied on comments, and no blog can be responsible for all its commentators.

Of these, only the third can be taken seriously. But Jeff has rightly stood his ground, responding directly:

I’ve been spending some time skimming through LGF’s archives. It’s hard to read more than a few hundred words without coming across an equation of Islam with terrorism, or a reference to all Muslims as “barbaric,” or worse…I read your defense of the term “vermin” based on the murder of a five-year-old girl. Fine — if you’re ready to call Israelis “vermin” for the same crime.

I’m not. “Vermin” is a term that does not apply to whole peoples, unless your prone to the pathetic racialist thinking made most famous by the Nazis.

Jeff also observed:

a site which frequently referred to Jews as “vermin” (LGF has done so with regard to Muslims hundreds of times, according to one counter), I suspect the rest of the press would have paid attention. But the press ignores LGF. LGF readers, unfortunately, don’t ignore me — today my email box has been jammed with messages along the lines of “Die, arab-loving fag.”


Not one of these comments is repudiated on the site. While it’s not news that there are people eager to channel their personal pathologies into a cause, the popularity of such views on the web should be. LGF has a readership bigger than almost any print political magazine. Judging from the email signatures of some of the people who’ve been writing me — lawyers, government employees, professors — they’re an influential bunch. Most major political blogs include links to LGF.

So, it’s time for solidarity with The Revealer. This kind of demagoguery is shameful, and offers nothing for those of us who want to see an end to anti-Semitism and Islamic fundamentalism.

And, while I’m at it, the same goes for Jihad Watch. I dislike Islamism as much as Robert Spencer, and I’ve got no problem with robust intellectual and historical arguments against Islamic doctrine in general (or against any religion). But of what use is a site that uses fundamentalism to inflame hatred against all Muslims? In some ways, Jihad Watch is even worse than LGF, since it offers this weird heading at the start of its comments section:

Comments on articles are unmoderated, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jihad Watch or Robert Spencer. Comments that are off-topic, offensive, slanderous, or otherwise annoying may be summarily deleted. However, the fact that particular comments remain on the site IN NO WAY constitutes an endorsement by Robert Spencer of the views expressed therein.)

So, don’t blame me for any racism, but I MIGHT delete stuff I don’t like. And I won’t use the comments myself, or my platform, to put any racists right about what I think. So we can get stuff like this:

Arawat [sic]…all the blood on your filthy arab hands

Islam = Irrational stupid lazy arab monsters!

9/11 and Iraq could have been avoided if we simply didn’t let any Muslim scum into our country in the first place.

Kill them all and lets finally rid the planet once and for all of this cancerous scourge which has been festering in the gut of civilization for well over 1000 years…

Oh yeah…and of course as much as we would like to see every single muslim well mand truley [sic] gone from all western countries we don’t go sending suicide bombers in to blow up the innocent women and children among them like the Palestinian scum.

Spencer does at least allow dissenting views on his site, but I bet you any reference to “filthy Jewish/Israeli hands” or “lazy Jewish/Israeli monsters” wouldn’t last five minutes, and rightly so.