Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bruce Fein vs. Jeff Kuhner



part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

In the above video series, a spirited discussion takes place about the reasonableness of the foreign policy of the United States, particularly in regard to the “war on terror”. Though I am inclined to agree with one of the debaters, I would like to focus on some objective observations--my personal mental notes, which take a different tack.

The first observation is that, in attempting to win the debate, both sides claim that the other’s is extreme, probably much more extreme than it really is. And each time this claim is made, the other denies it, not just saying that their position is not extreme, but that the other side is misrepresenting what the other’s position is. This is typical in politics. Use fear to demonize your opponent. Not that this debate isn’t valuable and something that the American people need to hear, but the strategy of exaggerating the position of the opposing side takes something away from it. For example, Bruce Fein accused Mr. Kuhner of wanting to kill all Muslims and wanting a police state and Mr. Kuhner accused Bruce of wanting to do nothing about terrorism.

My second observation is that neither side used in argument from the Bible to back up their position. I suppose this better than misusing the Bible, but to disregard the Scriptures or not connect the principles that you are trying to argue to Bible in a way that would be convincing to a Christian audience is a serious mistake. Mr. Kuhner’s arguments are largely based on fear of Islamic terrorism and Fein’s position’s are based on fear of our own government. Though both sides invoke moral arguments which could be loosely based on Scripture, neither one brings the Bible to the forefront. For example, when Mr. Kuhner speaks of how Muslims hate America, calling it “the Great Satan” he merely uses human wisdom and not Biblical wisdom to justify what the he believes to be the appropriate response to the situation as he sees it. But a Christian response (What would Jesus do?) is expected to be different than what would make sense to a nonbeliever (i.e. Luke 6:27 says “Do good to those who hate you”). On the other hand, Mr. Fein doesn’t use these verses. He does not seem to explore the issue of whether an over population of Muslims could, in one way or another, contribute to the breakdown of our sacred institutions (it’s not just the Muslims who rant against the U.S. on the internet).

Perhaps this is outside the scope of the discussion, but neither side was willing to explore the possibility that the September 11th attacks, the lack of success in response to it, or the increase in the Muslim population is due to the fact that Christians (or those who claim to be) have largely turned their backs on God. Fein and Kuhner argued over whether the Muslims hate us because we meddled in their affairs or because we are fornicators and perverts. But what if any efforts, whether they be aggressive or subdued will all fail for this reason? What if it is because God is not on our side because of our homosexuality, filthy language, pornography, drugs, abortions, and all the rest of our sins? If God were really on our side, would we be in such a quagmire (the war in Afghanistan is the longest in U.S. history)? Would be so overextended, so much in debt, and incapable of defense ourselves (both collectively and individually) without blatantly violating the Constitution? This is something to think about.

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