Blair, speaking yesterday:
Some 200 Britons were among those killed in the attack on Sept. 11 at the World Trade Center. The British toll, Mr. Blair said, was “the worst terrorist outrage against British citizens in our history.”
“But even if no British citizen had died,” he said, “it would be right to act. This atrocity was an attack on us all, on people of all faiths and people of none.” (From the NYT-Italics mine)
This was a great speech overall, and when I read the above section, I cheered. Too bad that the leadership of my country feels differently.
So, I am assuming that you can provide a cite that where Bush says that only religious Americans were attacked? Funny, I seem to remember him saying that this was an attack on America and Americans, which would seem to include atheists (which includes me, btw).
I’m not sure what the debate is here but I will say that I have been thoroughly impressed by PM Blair.
I have no idea whether the British consider their Prime Minister to be a good one and I realize that a leader needs to be more than a good speech maker. Still, I’ve never been a big fan of Dubya and listening to his speeches and then listening to PM Blair’s speeches I’d like to trade our President for Mr. Blair.
All of the speeches our president have made have been adequate in my view. They give some of the info I want to hear but I find them in no way motivating or inspiring and mostly leave me feeling flat. All of the speeches I’ve heard from PM Blair leave me saying, “Hell yeah” and “Way to go Tony!” (or something like that).
PM Blair’s eloquence really shows-up Dubya. It partly might be access to better speech writers (although London Calling told me in an earlier thread that some of Blair’s speeches were off the cuff…even more impressive in my view). It is also partly delivery. Blair sounds like a teacher and an intellectual while Dubya sounds like he is delivering his first assignment in Public Speaking 101.
Nope- I’m sure Bush didn’t say something that specific against atheists, but after all the religiosity from him, it was very refreshing to read Blair’s statement. I do not in any way condemn his exercise or public expression of his religion, but, in view of the religious intolerance so often championed by his end of the political spectrum, when as President he makes a clear effort to include other religions in his descriptions of America, his non inclusion of the non-religious speaks rather loudly. He may not have singled out atheists for ostracism like the others I mentioned, but he sure hasn’t included them the way he has included religions other than his own. And since we hear over and over (from Bush, among others)that “leaders are supposed to lead, not follow opinion polls,” I was very glad to see Blair actually leading. His statement may not have been as daring in the UK as it would be in the US, but it was still good to hear. JDM
Why doesn’t “people of all faiths” include atheists?
Seriously, doesn’t an atheist have to have faith they are correct that there is no god. They can’t prove the non-existance of god any more than someone else can prove god does exist.
Or does this fall under the category of it being wrong to be asked to prove a negative? If so couldn’t you rephrase to say, “Prove the Universe and everything in it was created from natural events.” I’ll admit there seems to be more evidence for that side but it isn’t definitively any more provable than it is to prove that god created the Universe.
This seems to be a nitpicky point even below Dubya ignoring to mention Canadians in one of his earlier speeches about the WTC attacks.
Blair is a good public speaker and a clever man. Some might see his pragmatism as an advantage in a modern democracy, some might see it as a lack of principle and an unwillingness to take unpopular decisions. He’s certainly never been afraid to back down in the face of opinion polls.
Personally, I think that regardless of his personal feelings towards this conflict, he knows a (political) good thing when he sees it. No opposition politician will dare contradict him, and his only political opposition comes from left-wing veterans he can easily dismiss as ‘loonies’. I think he really enjoys playing the international statesman: he certainly liked being part of that ‘Third Way’ trio of Clinton, Blair and Schroder.
Perhaps it does include strong Athiests. But it certainly doesn’t include agnostics, which are quite a bit more numerous.
Athiesm is better described as rejection of faith. All people have a belief in their own corrrectness. For Athiests it extends no further than that, while the religious add faith in the existence of some flavor of supernatural being.
But you are wrong that no-one could prove god exits. If he DID exist, then it would merely be necessary to produce him for inspection. IMO the most likely reason no-one can prove he exists is because he doesn’t. But, of course, I can’t prove that. It’s just a working hypothesis.
You misunderstand the ‘prove a negative’ thing. It isn’t impossible to prove a negative any more than a positive. It is impossible to prove the non-existance of something; It is generally trivial to prove existance.
Which raises the question of why you think only Athiests are the ones bitching about Bush injecting religion where it doesn’t belong. Do you imagine you represent all agnostics?
In Britain, we have an established Church, the Head of State is also Defender of the Faith, representatives of the Church of England hold ex officio seats in the legislature, Roman Catholics are prohibited by law from holding certain offices and state schools are required by law to provide a daily act of Christian worship. In the USA, the Constitution provides for the absolute separation of Church and State.
So why is it that US politicians are much more ostentatiously religiose than their UK counterparts? Blair’s reference to “people of [no faith]” did not strike me as odd at all, but the fact that state legislatures in the US have tried to impose the teaching of young-earth creationism at the expense of legitimate science teaching (to give one example, admittedly an extreme one) strikes me as downright perverse. Any politician who advocated this in the UK would be derided as a nut.
Can anybody shed any light on this? Why should religion have a higher profile in the politics of the country with the First Amendment than in the country with the established Church?
Well this Brit didn’t vote for Mr Blair, and won’t do at the next election either. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think he’s handling things VERY well.
However when we vote we vote for a member of parliament, who will also be a member of a party (the choice varies depending on where you live) and the party with the most MPs becomes the government and their leader the PM.
So, whilst I admire Mr Blair’s handling of the crisis/war I don’t agree with him, or more spcifically the Labour Party, on almost anything else.
He is often portayed over here as a unprincipled opportunist, and is lampooned for his “vicar like” delivery.
Pretty much the whole country is behind him at the moment though.