Monday, December 19, 2016

David Talbot's Christmas column

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 14: (L to R) Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, Larry Page, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google), Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, Vice President-elect Mike Pence listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a meeting of technology executives at Trump Tower, December 14, 2016 in New York City. This is the first major meeting between President-elect Trump and technology industry leaders. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images
David Talbot, the Chronicle's new columnist, writes a Christmas column:

Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus, had to register too. That’s why they were forced to make the grueling 90-mile journey from their home in Nazareth through the Judean wilderness to Bethlehem, despite the fact that Mary was about to give birth to her extraordinary child. By the order of Caesar Augustus, the Roman ruler who needed more tax revenue to vastly expand his empire, all imperial subjects had to register in their ancestral towns. And so the baby Jesus came into the world in a cave used for sheltering donkeys and sheep, the only place the family could find to bed down.

The above is the first paragraph of the column. Is he a Christian or is he simply using the birth of Jesus as a rhetorical device in a column opposing the registration of Muslims in the United States? If so it's unlikely to be effective with the Chronicle's secular readers.

This narrative about the birth of Jesus---a virgin birth, at that!---seems to be a myth created, like the gospels themselves, long after Jesus lived. The only non-Christian source we have that Jesus was a real person is Roman historian Josephus.

Of course the idea that Muslims in the United States should be registered is completely unacceptable and surely unconstitutional, though the Supreme Court President Trump creates may have a different view. 

Talbot hammers representatives from the tech industry for not bringing up the issue during their recent meeting with Trump. An "update" appended to the online version of Talbot's column: "As the Chronicle went to press, it was reported that Google, Apple and Uber also stated they would not help build a Muslim registry."

Like his pledge to lock up Hillary, this is a notion that Trump is unlikely to follow up on. It was probably just red meat thrown to the rubes during the campaign.

But the problem with Talbot's approach here is similar to that many liberals in the US have: he leaves out the context. Though it's a small minority of Muslims who commit terrorism, those attacks are cumulatively damaging. 

Islamic terrorism is not an existential threat to the country, but the recent acts of "individual terrorism" by Muslim fanatics do serious political damage, creating the context for Trump's Islamophobic remarks. See US media and jihad.

Even though this attack last night happened in Berlin, its effects will be worldwide.

Part of the context: Give Islam the Book of Mormon test.

Labels: , , , , , , ,