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We have a diagnosis

Thank you, Fred Vultee, for giving us a term we badly needed.

At Headsup: The Blog, a post describes Pastor Terry Jones’s campaign of alarm about creeping Sharia in Dearborn, Michigan, as sharianoia.

Rough economic times have always seen Americans go a little batty.

In the nineteenth century, the influx of Irish immigrants, bringing their filthy folkways and alien religion with them, had true Americans fearful that their liberties would be swept away and that that sinister figure in Rome would call the shots.

The anti-Catholic paranoia was still there, though much enfeebled, fifty years ago when John Kennedy won the presidency.

And of course we periodically see flare-ups about that other group of sinister Semites with their filthy folkways and their alien Mosaic code whenever someone of shaky wits rediscovers that czarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Someone needs to keep saying that imposition of Sharia in the United States as civil law is as unlikely as imposition of the Deuteronomic Code or Roman Catholic canon law.

Though it needs to be said, I doubt that it will have much effect, because people who are fearful are also gullible.

This morning, even Ron Smith, whose forthright conservative views are so bracing on The Sun’s op-ed page, is muttering darkly that Barack Obama’s “original birth certificate, medical records, school records and legislative papers while a state senator in Illinois have all either been sealed or have simply disappeared. There has been an incredibly successful obliteration of the man's past. Which raises the inevitable question: Why?”*

The spread of the birther nonsense must surely be linked to sharianoia, both representing a generalized fear of Islam combined with the planted suspicion that the president of the United States is a sleeper agent of the caliphate.

That supposedly rational adults can assert such absurdities, and that a significant portion of the population can believe them, speaks well for neither the national intelligence nor the national mental health.


*This in the context of an article on how the menacing monolithic Media will never allow Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy succeed. Downtrodden Donald Trump! Donald Trump, who has had a free ride in the media for more than thirty years!



Posted by John McIntyre at 9:40 AM | | Comments (11)


Have "we" ever seen a birth certificate for any of the past presidents? Has this been SOP and I've not paid attention? Medical records? I don't remember these question as they pertained to previous presidents.

I do, actually, remember during the 1956 campaign, a neighbor warning that if Eisenhower should have another heart attack, Tricky Dick would take over. When questioned, my father explained that the man was "a closet Democrat" and not to be taken seriously.

Well, Kennedy must have leaked through, because all nine presidents since him have been Protestants, and all except Nixon have belonged to extremely mainstream denominations at that. (Whittier Meeting was asked by many Friends to consider formally disowning Nixon for his war-making and deceit, but did not.)

What's more, all of the last ten presidents, including the incumbent, can trace their ancestry to the British Isles.

John Cowan,

Clearly the "Whittier Meeting" (& Friends) were by-and-large a much more forgiving lot than all but the staunchest Nixon apologists. Although many, in retrospect, saw a modicum of redemption in Nixon's efforts at U.S.-vis-a-vis-world diplomacy, particularly as it related to ongoing relations w/ communist/ mainland China, the taint of the Watergate fiasco trumped all of his positive accomplishments, haunting Nixon to his grave.

The Whitter, CA-based Quaker fold from whence Nixon came, I'm sure were initially delighted when one of their own fundamentalist religious stripe assumed the reins to the highest, most demanding political office in the land. Yet the litany of Tricky Dick's subsequent un-Quaker-like actions, deceptions, and missteps while in office must have been a measure of some embarrassment in U.S. Quaker circles as his presidency devolved.

I would imagine his being pardoned by Pres. Ford, a very controversial decision at the time, would have sat well fairly w/ most of Nixon's Quaker brethren........ a most forgiving lot, in-the-main.

Shifting gears a tad...... along w/ the admittedly clever, newly coined term "sharianoia", perhaps "Shariaphobia", (a branch of the all-encompassing term "xenophobia" ---- hating 'The Other'), could be equally appropriate, connoting fear and loathing of orthodox Islam?

If I may bend a common turn-of-phrase----desperate times, indeed, call up desperate, racist, irrational fanatics....... Florida-based evangelical Pastor Terry Jones being the most recent ad hoc poster-boy for this disturbing, and what's proved to be lethal*, anti-Moslem rhetoric.

*Lehtal, in light of the recent slaughter of ten UN workers in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, allegedly provoked by the ritual burning of a copy of the Koran in a Florida church by a Pastor Sapp, aided and abetted by the now infamous, hateful Pastor Jones. Sheer insanity.

John, always appreciate your generally astute, and eloquent contributions to this fun and educative blog. Enjoy your Easter weekend.


Alex, are the Friends "fundamentalist"? I rather doubt it.

And Professor McI, I think "bracing" is perhaps not the adjective I would have chosen in this context. You are very kind and/or diplomatic.

Well, why are his records from the Illinois Senate sealed? I thought Senators' votes were all on the public record. The press went after Pres George Bush II mercilessly - college transcripts, military service, record as Texas Governor. What is good for a Republican should be good for the Democrat. Of course, that might explain much. And I've heard Mr Smith - he does tend to go directly to the point without pussyfooting about. I'm sure Obama was born in the United States, but all this nonsense about concealing all pertinent documents does tend to fuel the fire. He ought to have released all relevant material during the campaign and have done with it. And the liberal-tilting press should have insisted.


I grant you, you do have a compelling point there.

For what it's worth, I happen to have found a fairly reasonable definition of upper-case "F" Fundementalism on Wikipedia, namely, "strict adherence to (a) specific set of theological doctrines typically in reaction against theological Modernism....". Admittedly a tad over-generalized, but nonetheless kind of reflecting what I had in mind when I earlier used the term in referring to Nixon's "Friends". I think my notion of "fundamentalism" relates more to the Quakers being non-mainstream relative to the more popular Protestant faiths, not unlike the Shakers, or Amish folk.

Perhaps my categorizing Quakerism as small "f" "fundamentalism", adhering to the most strict definition of the word, was inaccurate, since many established modern theologians would likely argue that intrinsic to the very foundation of most Christian fundamentalist doctrine is the belief that the Holy Scriptures are the direct, inspired word of God (and Jesus in regards to the New Testament), and further that their ordained clergy are recognized as the direct conduit from the Almighty to His earthly flock, and visa versa.

Quakers, as far as I know, do not necessarily view the Bible as the direct word of God, or the repository of inviolate Truth, and further have traditionally rejected any form of clergy---priests, ministers, reverends, pastors--- adhering to the belief that each and every "Friend" in the Quaker congregation has an eternal and sacred one-on-one relationship w/ both God the Father, and Christ the Redeemer.

Maybe the term Protestant Nonconformist, in retrospect, may have been more to the point, than my use of "fundamentalist", in my earlier Nixon-related post? Oh well.

I am far from an authority on matters theological, so my fuzzy thinking, ignorance, and faulty interpretation can admittedly, at times, cloud my understanding. But I try, and I heartily welcome any constructive criticism, or clarification that comes my way.


//Well, why are his records from the Illinois Senate sealed? I thought Senators' votes were all on the public record. ///

Patricia, would you mind explaining what you mean by "sealed" and how you know it? Because it takes about two minutes of searching to find, for example, this:

The general set of assertions about Obama's having hidden his entire Manchurian life behind a well-financed wall of secrecy are, I expect, myths. Have you ever heard them from anybody who's used Lexis to search the Harvard Law Review" Or efrom someone who's done a little basic stooging around on the Illinois legislature's site?

It may be that the allegedly liberal media haven't gone sleuthing because they're all in the pay of Lenin and Mao and Soros. Or it may be that you don't see the story every day because _there is no story_. Imagine that.

In case my pvs post didn't get through:

Wow, that was hard to find.

Theologically, Friends vary from very conservative to very liberal. Disownment is described here; it's not a punishment like excommunication, but simply a declaration that the disowned person is no longer a Friend. Nothing stops them from attending Meeting for Worship, nor does it involve shunning.

John Cowan,

Who knew that the Quakers were "unfriending" members of their flock, long before the Facebook crowd formalized a similar action, but w/ perhaps far less emotional gravitas than is entailed in the religiously sanctioned disowning declaration?

"Unfriending" in Facebook circles appears to be no real 'biggie'; just one of the accepted risks one takes in signing on to this über-popular social networking site. Well, a parent getting unfriended by their son, or daughter might be a bit of a concern. HA!

Whereas, unFriending (or "disownment") for the devout Quaker must be a bitter pill to swallow, although rejecting the notion of complete ostracism from the fold for the 'disowned' Friend, I would imagine makes the demotion in status at least somewhat bearable. Still, there must be some emotional scarring, and social stigma attached to being disowned, if one is no longer regarded as a Friend among the congregants, even though the disowned Friend is still permitted to go to Meeting(s) for Worship. It can't be easy.

Would much prefer the sting of unfriending on Facebook. Just sayin'.

(Personal disclosure------- I'm not, or never have been, on Facebook, and have no burning desire to join the ranks. To each his own.)


Alex, we have something in common. I'm not on Facebook either--nor am I a Friend, although one side of our family is descended from Quakers. We sometimes think that one of our sons got the "Quaker gene." When we were looking at schools year ago, we looked at the local Friends School. When I asked about the role of religion in the school I was told that the core belief was that "there is something of God in every man." Not too theologically demanding!

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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