As I’ve mentioned before, I am on the ReligionLaw mailing list run by Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy. It’s a valuable resource for many reasons, but especially because I get to interact with and hear the views of some of the preeminent legal scholars on church/state issues, including Doug Laycock, Marci Hamilton. Sandy Levinson and many others, in almost immediate response to new cases and controversies. The list also includes a few folks I consider cranks and they are generally tolerated (as am I, an opinionated non-lawyer type). One of those cranks has been the source of some controversy on the list and in the blogosphere lately and I thought I’d draw out the full story here for those who might be interested. I find the situation fascinating for several reasons.
The person in question is named Larry Darby. He is the former head of the Atheist Law Center in Alabama, and he recently resigned from that position to run for Attorney General of that state (where, frankly, as an atheist he has about the same chance of being elected as I have of winning the next season of America’s Top Model). Now, one would think that I would generally be allied with someone who is a staunch advocate of separation of church and state, particularly one in Alabama where many of his opponents, like future governor Roy Moore, are genuine theocrats. Alas, Mr. Darby turns out to be a bigoted nutball who sounds very much like a member of the KKK in his anti-semitic rhetoric.
All of this began to come to my attention when Eugene Volokh posted an item to his blog a few weeks ago, and copied it to the ReligionLaw list, concerning Mr. Darby’s bizarre views. He wrote:
Leading Atheist Legal Activist and Candidate for Alabama Attorney General Has Some Rather Interesting Views About Jews, Zionism, and the Holocaust…
Mr. Darby also (1) apparently wrote that “David Duke is right on with the problem of Zionism and the Zionist-Occupied Government we live under,” (2) seems quite interested in whether media representatives who contact him about such matters are Jewish, and (3) was substantially involved in organizing a speech by noted Holocaust denier David Irving.
I first heard about this when an acquaintance of mine e-mailed me an exchange that included Mr. Darby’s “Zionist-Occupied Government” quote. I then e-mailed Mr. Darby to verify the quote. (I had and still have no reason to question my correspondent’s veracity, but I thought that checking would be a good idea.) The closest Mr. Darby came to denying the accuracy of the quote is when he eventually said — after an exchange of several e-mails — “Know that what you sent to me as represented by [my correspondent] is not authentic,” which seemed to me like a somewhat coy way of addressing whether Mr. Darby indeed said the “Zionist-Occupied Government” item.
I then followed up by asking “My question was simply whether you did or did not e-mail the text I asked you about. Did you or didn’t you?” He didn’t respond to that question, but instead insisted that I tell him whether I was a Zionist and a Trotskyite.
Volokh wrote to Darby asking him to verify or deny these things and received, in part, the following reply:
[F]or the record, Dr. David Duke does offer insight into the neoconservative or Trotskyist government in Washington, DC. Some of what he has been saying for years is bearing out in the news today. Have you ever read anything of Duke’s your self? I’m sure he’d talk to you. Write him at www.davidduke.com and find out for yourself. And read what he really says for yourself, without relying on what Jewish Supremacists say about him.
Have you been keeping up with all the Zionists (Jews and Jewish-Christians) being arrested by the FBI? I know it hasn’t made mainstream media, but it is happening and expectations are that when Kidan turns evidence against Uber-Zionist Abramoff, some other members of Congress might be indicted. Those are only two of several people arrested.
If you aren’t keeping up with those issues, then likely you won’t be able to understand that Dr. Duke knows what he’s talking about when it comes to Jewish Supremacism and Zionism…
Now, it seems to me that if one is being accused of anti-semitism (which surely includes paranoid ravings about how the Jews really control the US government and the world), one is not going to disprove such allegations by ranting about “Jewish Supremacism” and “Uber-Zionists”. Indeed, such terminology strongly suggests that the accusations are true. But Darby wasn’t done confirming those accusations, not by a longshot. In a post to the ReligionLaw list this morning, he launched quite an incoherent screed against Volokh and against a wide range of targets. It really has to be read to be believed. I’ll post some of it here:
More and more people are wondering what has happened to our Republic and more and more people are awakening from a dumbed-down trance or stupor of 4 or 5 decades, when it has been politically correct to ignore anything negative when, for example, US foreign policy in regard to the Jewish state should be discussed, but I digress. (We just blindly continue to pay U$Trillions in tribute, as if the US Constitution really is based on submission to Jewish law via the Noahide laws.) Preserving the myths regarding “the holocaust”, which is a modern religion for Zionists or Israel-Firsters, is what motivated Volokh to write his piece about me, without interviewing me or addressing genuine issues. Criticism of Trotskyism or Communism, which is the ideology of the Nonconservatives (Jewish and Jewish-Christian Zionists), is what Volokh feared. He later revealed that he had lied to me when he claimed he did not know what “MOT” means, but I digress again, which is easy to do when pretentious “scholars” reveal insidious motives that, if successful, will result in the destruction of our Republic or the principles of individual liberties forged during the Enlightenment and manifested in the US Constitution. A reason why the Traditional Enemies of Free Speech are quick to holler “anti-semite” or “holocaust denier” or “anti-Jew” (terms of art for Zionists) is that they fear that when a truth-seeker begins looking into taboos of Judaism, World Jewry or its organizations, and their global endeavors, that their cover will be blown, so to speak. In my investigations of modern mythology, such as the Six Millions Lie, which by the way was first trotted out by Zionists during or immediately after World War One, there is a nasty aspect that is too often ignored – that of Jewish Supremacism. I’ve noticed megalomania or superiority complexes even with so-called secular Jews. Even though so-called secular Jews reject the existence of YHWH (the Jewish God of War, the surviving god of all the gods Jews once worshiped) who made them the Master Race, according to the Tanakh, so-called secular Jews are still Jewish Supremacists.
Talk about ducking into the punch. Larry, if you’re going to claim not to be anti-semitic, ranting incoherently about “World Jewry” is not the way to do it. If you want to show that you’re not a holocaust denier, invoking the “Six Millions Lie” and parroting ridiculous rhetoric from the holocaust denial movement is not going to help your case. Nor is demanding to know whether someone is an “MOT” (meaning “member of the tribe”, i.e. a Jew) before answering their questions. And crawling in bed with David Duke doesn’t exactly boost your credibility either. One thing I find interesting about all of this is that an atheist is parroting the rhetoric of the KKK. White supremacists have been delivering similar rants about Jews for well over a century, but they base their bigotry on their warped religious views. That an avowed atheist would ally himself with such scum is astonishing to me. I fully agree with Prof. Volokh when he concludes:
It seems to me very important that irreligious people participate in public debate, to defend the legitimacy of their views, and to protect themselves against religious discrimination and hostility. I don’t agree with everything that all atheist activists urge; for instance, I don’t think that the Establishment Clause is properly interpreted as banning religious speech by the government. Nonetheless, there are indeed some egregious forms of discrimination against the irreligious (or the less religious), for instance in child custody cases — these should be assiduously fought.
Moreover, there seems to be a great deal of hostility to atheists among the public: A July 7, 2005 Pew Research Center poll, for instance, asked people about their views of various religious and political grounds, and whether “your overall opinion of [the group] is very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?” For Catholics, the total unfavorable percentage was 14%; for Jews, 7%; for “Evangelical Christians,” 19%; for “Muslim Americans,” 25%; for “Atheists, that is, people who don’t believe in God,” it was 50%, including 28% “very unfavorable” (only 35% said they had either a “very favorable” or “mostly favorable” view of atheists). Such religious hostility, it seems to me, should also be fought (though of course through argument rather than litigation). Anti-atheist bias is no more justifiable than anti-Jewish bias.
I therefore have nothing at all against atheist political movements in general, nor do I have any reason to believe that atheists generally have any hostility towards Jews, or affection for David Duke. Yet this makes it all the more important, it seems to me, for atheists who are deciding whom to ally themselves with — or for that matter, for members of other groups, such as Scouting for All or any marijuana decriminalization groups — to know Mr. Darby’s views that I describe above, views with which I hope most atheists much disagree. Likewise, Alabama Democrats should know who’s running in their primary, and should keep in mind the views I note above, even if some of them are tempted to agree with him on marijuana decriminalization, juvenile justice, or even religion in public life. (I doubt there are that many Alabama Democrats who do agree with him on those latter issues, but I imagine there are some.)
And it’s also important for Jews — even in America, the place in the world in which it is probably safest to be a Jew — to be reminded that these sorts of views do exist in America, and in what might to many seem like quite unlikely circles.