Apocalyptic Refusals

Many of you know I’ve published a few shoddy articles on why you shouldn’t vote. Not simply because it’s a religious ritual of the state, which it is, but also due to our direct complicity that occurs when we put yet another killer in office.

“But if you don’t vote, then you’re just as complicit as if you did vote!!” screams the person who thinks I should have voted for their political savior.

Nope. Nada. Nyet. Or, to quote NOFX, “You’re wrong.”

And now, right on time, I’m hearing a number of my so-called theologically-inclined friends (“Why, they even have degrees in theology!” he said with a grin) say, “Well, he kills less people than republicans.” Or, “At least he doesn’t try to hide it.”

So, that’s an achievement these days? Jesus, the bar is set so low.

How much less interesting can we get?

To be honest, I’ve occasionally hoped that what informed our decision to vote (or to not vote) was predicated on something a little more than, “Well, this person will murder less people than this other one.”

Such a triumph!

You know, it’s that whole Nieburhian lesser-than-two-evils inanity that owns our imaginations. Basically what Christians are saying when they get caught in that trap is that Christ died so you can choose between the lesser of two evils.

Well done, Jesus. Well done. You really accomplished something, didn’t you? (Personally, I was hoping for a little more, but you take what you can get, I guess.)

Best of times, guys. Best of times.

So here is a lovely reason or two, written by Conor Friedersdorf  (you can also jump to Chomsky on a similar subject), for why I am more than hesitant to help you put your more ‘tolerant, progressive, and, oh-so-thoroughly-social-justice-minded’ messiah in office:

Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama

Did you read it? Good. Or, not. Perhaps, those reasons are insignificant to you. Maybe they miss the boat. Or, maybe, Romney is just so bad that none of this really matters.


And, again, this is certainly not an argument for why anyone should vote for ol’ misogynistic Mitt; it’s just an exercise in how easy it is for one cult to miss the point while condemning the other cult (I use the word ‘cult’ in the richest, most religious sense of the term–that which you’re willing to kill and die for). Of course, the same thing happened with Curly Bill C. That man murdered countless human beings–I think they call it ‘sanctions’–oh, but what a saint.

It takes so little when you’re Ceasar.

Refusing to vote for Obama does not mean for voting for Romney, it simply means refusing to accept ‘the way the world is’.

And it also means that ‘this too shall pass’.

I hope.

Further Reading:
  • ZackHunt

    So are you trying to tell me that “Kill often, lest thee be killed” is not actually in the Bible??

    • theamishjihadist

      I think St. Ambrose thought it was . . . and, apparently, that’s all that matters.

  • Squid Kid

    Arg. You’ve shaken my pro-Obama convictions. But I’ll still vote for the murderer who won’t strip me of all my reproductive freedoms.

    • theamishjihadist

      Squid Kid! Now that’s an appropriate super-heroine name! And, yes . . . you should not vote for anyone who tries to own your uterus.

    • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

      Squid Kid,

      1. Whom do you believe is stripping you of “all your reproductive
      freedoms”? I haven’t heard Romney or anyone else suggest that you should not have
      as many children as you wish?

      2. Are you referring to government funded birth control pills? I don’t
      think it’s fair for tax payers to fund your recreational sex whilst not funding
      my recreational beer drinking?

      3. Are you are referring to abortion? Obama’s drones and abortionists both
      murder innocents, so I do see mutually supporting principles here; but I haven’t
      heard an inspiring Obama campaign slogan touting this linkage.

      4. Does your support for political murders who won’t strip you of all your
      reproductive freedoms extend to other political murders like Hitler, Stalin,
      Mao, etc.?

      5. Do you think you are representative of other Obama voters?

      • Amanda

        Dave, have you actually read the healthcare reform provisions? (Sorry, let me just clarify–that’s a rhetorical question.) If you’d read it, rather than getting your talking points from Fox news, you’d know that no taxpayer is being requested or required to pay for anyone else’s birth control. The provision simply requires privately-held insurance companies make birth control a covered item (and again, let meclarify for the small minded–that does not make it free–since I pay a $200 per month premium, those items that are “covered” by my insurance company–meaning I don’t have to pay an *additional* out-of-pocket amount on top of my monthly premium–are still technically paid for by me. Not you or any other tax payer. Jesus, Dave, youcould probably have learned that one from Snopes.

        I realize a real discussion about reproductive health, women’s bodies, or any freedoms therein will be lost on you here since you don’t even bother to check basic facts about the language and provisions of public and easily accessible laws, so I will simply say, you should really shut the fuck up before you embarrass not only yourself but any woman who has the misfortune to be associated with you. You know naught of which you speak.

        • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

          Hi Amanda,
          I’m not feeling Jesus’ love in your response to my first amendment opinion? I’m a reasonable man who can be persuaded by reasonable arguments to change my opinion. At the end of the day, I’m always seeking to align my opinions with reason and morality. I’m hoping you’ll find it in your heart to give me a reasoned (civil would be nice too) argument if wish to change my mind.

          You made two fundamental errors in your assertion that “no taxpayer is being requested or required to pay for anyone else’s birth control.” First, a government mandate for privately held insurance companies to add birth control as a “covered item” increases the premium cost for everyone. That means, in fact, that I am being forced to pay for someone else’s birth control when I pay my insurance premium. Second, the Supreme Court ruled that the Obamacare mandate is a tax http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/28/explaining-the-supreme-court-ruling-on-obamacare.html.

          I think you would be more successful arguing for your point of view by making a case for the “goodness of the outcome,” i.e., the benefits of birth control as a covered item in private insurance policies justifies the government forcing all citizens to pay for it. I would argue back that the Federal government should not be in the insurance business because it’s not a power specifically enumerated in the Constitution; but, I would readily concede that regulation of insurance is a legitimate power for State governments.

          In closing Amanda, I would like you to know that I truly admire your passion and energy. But, for your own benefit, I hope you’ll consider a more civil and reasoned approach the next time you disagree with someone.

          Sincerely, Dave
          P.S. Women love me because I am an honorable and kind man.

  • Roberto

    This is a not a good position. The system is screwed up, but it’s the current system. And as the system stands, we can choose one pres over another. One is better than the other. Romney will probably start a war with Iran, and it came out today that he will repeal Obama’s stay on torture. Does Obama get a pass? Nope. His drones are probably dropping bombs as we speak. But that doesn’t mean you get to feel good about not participating in the lesser of two evils. Your non-participation in the presidential vote doesn’t do dick if you don’t offer alternatives. You should be advocating for the sensible choice, and then hardcore advocating that people press that sensible choice to hear our voices.

    • theamishjihadist

      Howdy Roberto!

      Good to hear from you.

      Oh, I don’t feel good about not participating in the lesser of two evils. It’s not about me remaining in some sort of “purist” state (it doesn’t exist). I’m refusing those categories altogether. And I have given alternatives elsewhere. After all, I don’t want to be ‘doing dick’. You know, join the Amish or on a a little more realistic scale (and we all know how much we have a fetish for realism), plant some tomatoes. It’s a far more politically-charged act than voting. And I’m only being about half-facetious. Did you read my actual article on not voting? If not, please do check it out.

      I just wonder why you feel I ‘need’ to do dick. I’m not a utilitarian. Jesus certainly wasn’t a utilitarian. I don’t know why I need to be concerned with how my ‘not-voting’ accomplishes something. That’s not the point. That’s just yet one more way our imaginations remain hostage to a culture in which everything is gauged by how much dick is done.

      But thanks for telling me what I “should” be doing: “advocating for the sensible choice”.

      I think I already did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/missional.ca Jamie Arpin-Ricci

    “Such would be the essential thrust of all Catholic Worker efforts:
    an intense, persisting localism, not as a step toward eventual national
    effort, but itself the ultimate effort. This localism included both
    spiritual and political work.” -Dorothy Day

    I can live with this. Thoughts?

    • theamishjihadist

      My thought is, I think I could live with that as well. I think we all could. Perhaps we could even thrive, no?

      • http://twitter.com/missional missional

        I think so too. I have been searching for resources to better understand and engage in this kind of localism. The writings of Peter Block and John McKnight have been very helpful. Any others you would suggest?

  • scott

    and what about voting in a libertarian or anarchist?

    • theamishjihadist

      Oh god. I’d have to punch (nonviolently, of course) any anarchist who considered themselves an anarchist while participating in a representative form of democracy. They would cease being an anarchist much the same way an orangutan would cease being a primate if it could fly. And why do these libertarians keep popping up in the same sentence with anarchists? I guess it would work if you were to say something like, “Libertarians are totally different than anarchists.” That would be cool.

      Where’ve you been, anyway? We need more ‘Scott’ around here these days.

      • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

        Professor, thank you for defending libertarians! We are not anarchists, although we do share a great distrust for government … including government run by libertarians.

      • Scott

        Haha. Thanks for the welcome, btw.

        Now, what if this said ‘orangutan’ bought a plane ticket to ‘fly’ from a zoo to a jungle…much the same way an anarchist would assume a role in government to set in motion a chain of events that led to a transition to anarchism? (this is just an illustration mr. zoo advocate, i still think zoos are cool).
        Isn’t an anarchist defined not by what (s)he does, but by who, what, how, (or the absence of these things) govern them? One could unleash his or her inner Tolstoy and govern the politarchician’s face for a moment, but I doubt that would n’t change much over the long haul (unless they used some brass knuckles, of course).
        I’m not so sure there is really a solid, universally-accepted definition of libertarianism. However, I would say that it’s is the next step to anarchy much like Marx’s theory of progression from socialism to communism (i used them both in the same sentence again, is that cool?).
        Anyway, can you give a quick word on direct democracy? Do you consider the ‘tyranny of the masses’ a form of archy?

        • theamishjihadist

          Ah, a quick word on ‘direct democracy’? Grow your own vegetables.

  • betterbegood

    Well, who’s going to stop all them gay folks from marrying and fornicating on our lawns?

    And surely Jesus must appoint an interim savior on earth while He’s chilling with the big G. There’s conflicting reports on what party He has officially endorsed though

    • betterbegood

      I come back here only to see swearbears, naughty words, and name calling…flashback to my youth when those things were pure ecstasy. I’ll now have to say a couple hail mary’s goddamnit

  • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

    Professor, I enjoyed immensely your very fine article, “A Non-Voting Manifesto?” Although you make very strong arguments for not voting, there is a reality beyond Christian ethics. The reality is that someone is going to be in power whether you vote or not, and it is also a reality that your vote could result in electing someone who is less evil than the other choices. I’m certain, if given a choice, Jesus would vote for less evil over more evil.

    I also enjoyed very much the links you provided to Conor Friedersdorf and Noam Chomski. Both should be required reading for Obama supporters and other uninformed voters.

    By the way, I did NOT enjoy your link to the moronic NOFX music video. NOFX members are intolerant, no-talent crappy musicians. Calling Ann Coulter the “C-word” in their lyrics “You’re Wrong” is offensive to anyone who respects women and freedom of speech. It is also unchristian, immoral and totally unbefitting a reasoned point of view.

    Some parting thoughts courtesy of that Great American Winston Churchill:
    “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” ~ Winston Churchill
    “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been
    tried.” ~ Winston Churchill

    • theamishjihadist

      Dear Dave,

      “You’re wrong.”

      The Amish Jihadist

      • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

        Haha. AM NOT! We can discuss further whilst we are driving to the Romney Rally tonight.

        • theamishjihadist

          Now that’s funny!

    • Amanda

      Dear Dave, I am a woman who also respects other women as well as freedom of speech and I gotta say, dude, Ann Coulter is a cunt in the worst sense of the word. She’s an awful, disrespectful, mean, horrible woman, and she’s not even smart. I’m far more offended by you pretending to know anything about women (you clearly don’t) or the merits of punk rock (you do know how hilarious the members of NOFX would find your calling them unchristian, don’t you?) than by anyone calling Ann Coulter out for the ridiculous, amoral, disgusting spectacle that she is. If you knew much about anything that is going on here, you would recognize that punk rock is not only completely befitting a reasoned point of view, but is also especially befitting of any conversation surrounding a revolutionary approach to government in particular. I guess you don’t get that info from Limbaugh so i’ll give you a pass. But you should really branch out sometime.

      • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

        Hi again Amanda,
        First, calling any woman the C-word is the moral equivalent of calling a black man the N-word. By definition, both are intolerant, hateful, immoral, demeaning, vile and totally unchristian. Skin color and genitals are benign attributes of biology and therefore have no relevance to evaluating a person’s character, morality or intellect.

        Second, I think Ann Coulter is very funny, and most of the time, she gives voice to my points of view. Just because you, and the members of NOFX, do not agree with her does not give you the right to call her the C-word … just as no one has the right to call President Obama the N-word because they disagree with him.

        Third, you do have the right, and I would add an obligation, to “call out” others
        based on the merits of their arguments. Of course, you also have the right to be funny, edgy, irreverent, loud, outrageous, disrespectful, etc.

        In your response, you wrote about Ann Coulter, “She’s an awful, disrespectful, mean, horrible woman, and she’s not even smart.” But you don’t say why you think so? Assertions without substantiation are sometimes interesting but are almost never useful or compelling, which is the case with yours.

        I was not foolish enough to assert that I know anything about women, so I don’t know why you are offended by my opinions?

        With respect to NOFX, I have no issue with Punk Rock; I even listen to some of it a lot, such as:
        My issue with NOFX is their totally unchristian and immoral use of the C-word. I would be just as adamant if they used the N-word for the reasons elucidated above.

        So Amanda, I continue to admire your passion and energy, but your anger is camouflaging what I’m sure are very interesting and important points of view. I’ll also assert that you have enormous potential to deliver opinion-changing arguments on subjects important to you … potentially even changing the minds of great Americans thought-leaders like Ann and Rush.

        Sincerely, Dave the Dude

    • Dave Penn

      I think that while voting for the ‘lesser evil’ seems noble it lessens the witness of the church. (Plus it sounds Niebuhrian) Did Jesus die for the lesser of two evils or for the Kingdom? He did have a chance to vote for a lesser evil…instead He just got crucified and gave us the Spirit.

      I’ve just started William cavanaugh’s book “Migrations of the Holy” and the second chapter, which focuses on Augustine’s ‘City of God’ was absolutely fascinating, but I think I need a second read to articulate it sensibly but voting for the lesser evil seems to be conceding that the nation-state is a more ultimate reality than the city of God. Just a thought.

      In other news, a friend of mine explained why he would not be voting, and his friend responded, and I kid you not: “You have to at least vote to protect the unborn.” I thought: Professor Amish Jihadist York would have a field day with that one.

      • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

        Hi Dave,
        Thank you for your thoughtful response. I take all of your points as well-reasoned and compelling within the context of the witness of the church. Professor Amish Jihadist argues your points just as passionately as you do.

        Where I get stuck intellectually with the passive “no voting” approach (and by extension, an absolute non-violent approach) is the inevitable result that evil triumphs over good. In the extreme, it was just this approach that enabled the Holocaust and other atrocities.

        So I find it impossible to believe that Jesus, witness notwithstanding, would favor an approach that enables abject evil to triumph over good, such as the Holocaust. For me, this is the foundation of Reinhold Niebuhr’s persuasive and pragmatic Christian Realism, which it appears, you do not embrace?

        Perhaps, a more persuasive argument for voting may be “proactive support for
        goodness,” i.e., vote for the person(s) or issue(s) that represent the most goodness. Over time, this approach of steady, incremental improvements in goodness inevitably leads to the levels of goodness that Jesus envisioned for humankind.

        Having said all that, I can be — rather, I would love to –be persuaded that “no voting” and “absolute non-violence” will lead to goodness for humankind.

        • theamishjihadist

          Christian pacifism has not stake in the results of its actions (or non-actions). Consequences can neither be determined, in advance, by the warrior or the pacifist (this is what Reinhold Niebhur dubbed the ‘irony’ of history). Christian nonviolence is only intelligible because it gives witness to the one who absorbed evil and taught others to do so rather than return it. It’s not going to lead to goodness for humankind (indeed, according to Christianity, nothing will, because this is a ‘fallen’ world); rather, it can only bear witness to God’s peaceable kingdom as detailed in Isaiah. So, Christianity needs to be a bit more like its first three hundred years where it was not concerned with utilitarian calculus, but whether or not it obeyed Jesus. Can that get you killed? Absolutely. Could it get others killed? Absolutely. To be sure, that’s the one thing it has in common with the just war tradition: both groups have convictions that may ask that others suffer for them.

          • Dave_the_Zoo_Advocate

            So Professor, if your
            first paragraph immediately above is true concerning Christian pacifism being
            unconcerned with consequences of action/inaction, then why are pacifists continuously
            engaged in all manner of causes and movements to bring about change to the evil
            status quo? A few pacifist movements
            spring to mind: Anti-war, anti-slavery, anti-women abuse, anti-poverty,
            anti-animal abuse, etc. You often cite the Fathers Berrigan as exemplars of
            pacifist principles and courage for their anti-Vietnam activism– this does not
            seem to square with your assertion that “[Christian pacifism is] not going to
            lead to goodness for humankind (indeed, according to Christianity, nothing
            will, because this is a ‘fallen’ world); rather, it can only bear witness to
            God’s peaceable kingdom as detailed in Isaiah.”?

            To stay with the
            theme of your fine blog, “Apocalyptic Refusals,” which asks readers to
            consider the CONSEQUENCES of voting, “Not simply because [voting is] a
            religious ritual of the state, which it is, but also due to our direct
            complicity that occurs when we put yet another killer in office.”, I am more
            confused than ever about why pacifists do the things that they do, especially
            if their purpose is not the consequence of propagating good over evil.” I would
            argue strongly, that voting is a non-violent activity that aligns directly with
            the pacifist principles, to achieve change, demonstrated by King, Gandhi, Berrigan
            & Berrigan, et al.

          • theamishjihadist

            Capt. Dave!

            Good questions.

            The ultimate/final concern of Christian nonviolence hinges on whether or not it bears witness to Jesus. So, when I say that it is not, ultimately, concerned with consequences, I am saying that, as an ‘action’, it is not determined by whether or not it ‘succeeds’–as many great Christian pacifists were failures in bringing about change (the Berrigans being some of them–they never stopped a war, they never brought about the end of nuclear weapons–the US is as militarized as ever). So, it goes back to the boys in the Book of Daniel who said, “Even if God does not save us, we will not worship you.” That is, regardless of the results we can only bear witness to God. It may bring good and it may not bring good. Just like Jesus dying on a cross, the greatest in the Christian tradition, the martyrs, remain, within the eyes of many, to be a failure (after all, power killed them).

            Pick up my book, Living on Hope While Living in Babylon!! It has a lovely little epilogue called, Failing Faithfully that I think you would enjoy (I’d give you a copy but I’m down to only one, and I’ve written through it).

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  • ZackHunt

    Absentee voting is just the technical term for not voting, right?

    Because I mailed in several absentee ballots this year in order to make it really clear that I would be absent from voting for Caesar.