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From Ann Coulter: "

NEW YORK TIMES READER KILLS DOZENS IN NORWAY."

She also notes:

True, in one lone entry on Breivik's gaseous 1,500-page manifesto, "2083: A European Declaration of Independence," he calls himself "Christian." But unfortunately he also uses a great number of other words to describe himself, and these other words make clear that he does not mean "Christian" as most Americans understand the term. (Incidentally, he also cites The New York Times more than a half-dozen times.)

Had anyone at the Times actually read Breivik's manifesto, they would have seen that he uses the word "Christian" as a handy moniker to mean "European, non-Islamic" -- not a religious Christian or even a vague monotheist. In fact, at several points in his manifesto, Breivik stresses that he has a beef with Christians for their soft-heartedness. (I suppose that's why the Times is never worried about a "Christian backlash.")

A casual perusal of Breivik's manifesto clearly shows that he uses the word "Christian" similarly to the way some Jewish New Yorkers use it to mean "non-Jewish." In this usage, Christopher Hitchens and Madalyn Murray O'Hair are "Christians."

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This, along with Bill O'Reilly's recent bloviations on this subject (no true Christian would do such a thing as this!), provide two excellent examples of the No-True-Scotsman fallacy. Shameless, shallow, and beyond simple-minded, but hardly unexpected.

O'Reilly may have been saying that no true Christian would have done such a thing. Coulter is saying that an athiest, who wants a movement of athiests and agnostics, and who does not like believing Christians is no Christian. Brevik is using "Christian" to desegnate white (non-Jewish?) member of Western civilization. Many would dispute that definition. Saying that someone who does not make the Gospel his holy Book is not a Christian is not unreasonable. Had Brevik cited the Gospel, or claimed to be inspired by it, that would be different.

So "Christian" is essentially a generalized "Western" or "gentile" or "European"...I will buy that.

@ Visitor. Certainly O'Reilly might be contemptible for his desire to always have his cake and eat it too when it comes to "labels".... but this hardly makes him unique.

Nevertheless there is no such thing as a No-true-Scotsman fallacy!

Rather it is an interesting problem, that sheds light upon a reason for the triumph American capitalism, namely Trademark Law.

No one really disputes that the golden arches and Ronald McDonald symbolize McDonalds. You know what a McDonald's is, you know what a Big Mac is. So you know that McDonalds is a true scotsman! (or at least the surname MacDonald?)

But this is because McDonald can control its trademark and tradedress.

So the problem is that "Christian" has basically become genericized.

The genericism of "Christianity" is I suppose the common belief that jesus died for the sins of the world and was resurrected, and that salvation is only thru jesus.

Now a lot of folks want to emphasize this genericized or "mere" christianity, or this "big tent" christianity that can include catholics, baptists and maybe even mormons...(hot political dispute, with Romney).

But there is an even greater genericism to Christianity that would basically branch itself out to include all of Europe, or would signify the dominion of Christianity in shaping the history of western civilization, and thus include everything as its product.

So these are defenders of the historical christian product, or those elements that they think are unique to "Western Civilization", and this includes many historical ideas and influences contrary to Christian teaching, contrary to the surmon on the mount, because it encompases literally all Historical europeans who have ever lived... i.e. Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, Locke, Descartes (weighted for historical influence).

This sort of genericism is the bane of more analytical thinkers. But this genericism is very common as a non-explicit assumption. (I pointed it out in the Progressivism thread, assuming that FDR and Charles Beard could be encompassed in a meaningful catagory(progressivism) despite severe disagreement over the historical issue of the day (namely world war II).

In order to really have a meaningful discussion about the identity of a label, you need to have an interest holder, whose views and interests are tied up in defending the intellectual property interest(the idea, or symbol) This is partially where the legal requirement of standing comes in.

So you can't just dismiss this as a "no-true scotsman" fallacy.

The argument is basically that the person claiming the interest lacks standing to advance the interest.

You can't have both the "No-true scotsman" and the "strawman" as fallacies, because the lack of one is indicia of the other.

"Liberals" more sensitive to the genericism problem and thus still frustrated by the "conservative" straw man identification of Islam with terrorism, want to emphasize Breivik's christianity, but in reality they should simply adopt the No-true scotsman" and a heightened view of standing and question self-identification.

Osama Bin Laden never had authority or standing to speak on behalf of Islam.

Nor is there a real "Islam" or "Christianity" or "conservatism" or "progressivism" that exists, or that is as defended and as precise in its product as a Big Mac from McDonalds.

Sometimes I think the tea party and conservatives, but also liberals and progressives are so frustrated by politics in part because as americans we are conditioned to expect a certain homonegized product to accompany a brand.

So you have a religion like Christianity or Islam that is present in every nation of the world, each has over a billion adherents compromising every single occupation and socio-economic status, and I demand that you synthesize and commoditize the term "Christian" or "Muslim" so that it is meaningful and capable of producing a recognizable big mac!

Of course all of this is Christian:) Matthew 7:16 "By their fruits ye shall know them."

John. Good points. But by the definition of "Christian" that includes Western Civ the number of Christians is greater than the number of "adherants." The former number includes many who never set foot in a Church. (P.S. One could even argue that the idea of secular society is a Christian invention, in this sense).

I also don't see any evidence that Americans are any worse in this regard than people elsewhere. We like to think we are, perhaps. Or at least our intellectuals do. (Perhaps that's because the average citizen had more say in politics here than elsewhere). We should remember that, witch hunting was much more common in Europe than it was in the American colonies.

I think he meant "Christian" in the same way that Huntington meant it - in civilizational terms. To be "in" Christendom is not the same thing as to be "of" Christendom. Breivik saw himself as defending a civilization, but that doesn't mean he actually buys into the theology, nor that the theology would in any sense justify his behavior.

Coulter points out in her article that Breivik refers to the New York Times 6 times in his manifesto. Which is more than the number of his references to Christianity. I guess based on liberal thinking we can blame the New York Times for Breivk's actions.

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