'... but it CAN'T be TERRORISM if Christians did it!' / PsiCop original graphicBy now, my readers know about the attack last Friday on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, CO (WebCite cached article). It doesn’t take too much to figure why this man attacked that particular facility. After all, after an anti-abortion group released a series of videos purporting to show P.P. personnel “selling baby parts” — which they weren’t actually doing (cached) — there have been attacks on P.P. facilities in many places (cached).

No one should be surprised that this would have happened. Within the Religious Right there’s long been a seething undercurrent of sanctimonious outrage that P.P. even exists at all. Of course those videos lit a few fuses around the country! How could they not? Surely that was what the group that created them intended. They had to know they’d be stirring up a latent fury.

In any event, as soon as I’d heard a P.P. facility was the scene of an “active shooter” incident, I knew there were two possibilities: First, that the shooter knew someone there (either an employee or a patient) and that the incident grew out of some domestic disagreement; or second, that it was a furious Religious Rightist on a personal crusade to shut down P.P. and end its supposed practice of “selling baby parts” — which, as I said, they do not do (cached). It turns out that the shooter, Robert Dear, had a most recent address in North Carolina (cached), so the domestic angle would seem improbable at best.

That would make him an anti-abortion crusader. In other words, a domestic, Right-wing Christian terrorist. But … one wouldn’t know that from local officials or from mass-media coverage. The current mantra they’re all mouthing is that Dear’s motive is “unknown.” This is in spite of the fact that it’s also been widely reported that he’s been cooperating with police since his surrender. It’s difficult to believe they’d characterize him as “cooperating” if he hadn’t given them some idea of what he’d been trying to do.

As I’ve noted previously, they just don’t seem to want to acknowledge the reality of domestic, Right-wing terrorism in the US. The most that’s been said of Dear’s motive was mentioned in an AP report providing only one detail (cached):

The man who police say staged a deadly shooting attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic that offers abortion services said “no more baby parts” after his arrest, a law enforcement official said Saturday.

Even so, the same story repeats local officials’ insistence that there’s no known motive:

Police, however, have not disclosed a motive for Friday’s attack during which they say Dear stormed the Colorado Springs clinic, killing three people, including a police officer, before he surrendered to authorities.

It seems no one in the mass media or in law enforcement will dare put 2 and 2 together and just come right out and say what most of us already know: That Robert Dear is a domestic, Right-wing, anti-abortion Christian terrorist.

It’s long past time for Americans to fucking grow the hell up and admit the reality of domestic, Right-wing terrorism. It exists. It’s real. If you need yet another recent example of this phenomenon, look no further than the shooting that happened this past Monday at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Chicago (cached). It doesn’t appear those shooters were Christian, but they are definitely Right-wingers, of their own sort (cached).

No, instead of admitting the US has a Right-wing terror problem, we have Neocrusaders stomping around the country, desperate to outlaw Islam. We have presidential candidates who want to shut down mosques and possibly even track all Muslims (cached), as ways of eliminating terror. None of that bullshit is going to help much, if everyone just lets the likes of Robert Dear off the hook, making whiney excuses for why we supposedly don’t know why he did what he did. The truth is, we all fucking know why he did what he did. To say otherwise is a fucking lie.

Photo credit: PsiCop original graphic.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas TreeIn a remarkable contrast to all the Religious Right’s bellicose whining about how Christmas is somehow being outlawed, alongside their ongoing effort to force every American to worship it with them, Pope Francis made some comments recently about that holiday which are very different. As Agence France-Presse reports via Yahoo News, he said that Christmas celebrations will seem hollow this year (WebCite cached article):

Christmas festivities will seem empty in a world which has chosen “war and hate”, Pope Francis said Thursday.

“Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, Christmas trees and nativity scenes … it’s all a charade. The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path,” he said in a sermon.

“There are wars today everywhere, and hate,” he said after the worst terror attack in French history, the bombing of a Russian airliner, a double suicide bombing in Lebanon, and a series of other deadly strikes.

“We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognise the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it,” the Argentine pontiff said, adding: “God weeps, Jesus weeps”.

The sermon threw a shadow over the start of the festive season at the Vatican, where a giant Christmas tree was unveiled.

As seems to be usual for him, Pope Francis once again bucks a lot of Catholic, if not overall Christian, trends … using the observance of a Christmas tree’s unveiling to make somber comments of this sort.

I hope all the “Christmas warriors” out there … led as they are by the (yes, Catholic!) Bill O’Reilly … will take note of what Pope Francis said. Maybe their caterwauling and whining about Starbuck’s coffee cups won’t seem so sanctimoniously important.

Photo credit: Mark K, via Flickr.

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Husité - Jenský kodexThe Paris attacks a week ago have brought out the raging Neocrusader which lurks deep inside most Rightists here in the US. GOP presidential contenders have tripped over each other — not to mention themselves — trying to exhibit their Neocrusading credentials. They particularly have their knickers in knots over plans to bring around 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US (WebCite cached article).

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has said the US should admit only Syrians who can demonstrate they’re Christian (cached). He hasn’t explained how they’re supposed to provide this proof. Plus, wouldn’t a committed Islamist terrorist be able to “fake” being a Christian in order to get into the US, assuming there’s a meaningful way to do so? (And no, don’t assume Islamists would never pass themselves off as belonging to some other religion; there are no safe assumptions one can make about them.)

Then there’s the Christofascist Ted Cruz, Senator from Texas, who likewise called for admitting only Christians from among the Syrian refugees vying for entry (cached). As with the Jebster, Teddie assumes it’s “safe” to admit any Syrian who says s/he’s a Christian, and he doesn’t account for any means to verify such a claim in any serious way.

But neither of these misguided Christianist notions holds a candle to what real estate mogul and leading GOP contender Donald Trump came up with. He’s declared that he wants Muslims in the US to carry special identification and/or be tracked in a special database (cached). Yes, that’s right, he’s proposing we treat Muslims in ways the Third Reich had treated Jews (cached).

Likewise embracing Nazi tactics is Rhode Island state senator Elaine Morgan, who wants Syrian refugees who end up in her state to be placed in special camps (cached). Gee, those sound like concentration camps or internment camps to me.

None of this should be construed as dismissing any possible danger from Syrian refugees. Of course it exists and is real, especially since at least one of the Paris attackers — all of whom were actually European nationals — had returned to Europe posing as a refugee and may have planted a fake or stolen Syrian passport he’d used to come into Greece posing as a refugee (cached). It’s undeniable that a terrorist might try to enter the US as a refugee. But the process of getting to the US is time-consuming — upwards of 18 months, and usually around 2 years (cached). While the vetting process is far from perfect, as administration officials admit (cached) — and Rightists love to use these admissions to justify their Neocrusading impulses — this scenario nevertheless forces enraged Islamist terrorists bent on massacring innocents to sit around and do nothing, somewhere in Europe, for around 2 years before they can reach America. This alone makes it an unlikely tactic for them to use. A much more efficient tactic would be for them to recruit terrorists from among people already in the US or Canada … which has actually been done (cached).

I very much understand the fear these Neocrusaders exploit. It has a basis in reality … but the measures being promised are far too draconian, and won’t guarantee Americans’ safety in any event. What’s needed is better intelligence, and better action on that intelligence, to better pinpoint who the terrorists are, where they are, what they’re up to, and whom they’re in contact with. Broad policies, such as blocking Syrian immigration altogether or applying a specious religious test to it, really aren’t going to be much help, if we’re not willing to apply the intelligence we already have available (which, as Edward Snowden revealed, is extensive).

Not to mention, the average American is much more likely to become a victim of domestic Rightist terror rather than Islamist terror. But that’s another story entirely … !

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Help! Help! I'm being repressed! (Dennis the constitutional peasant, Monty Python & the Holy Grail)Leave it to Texas Senator, GOP presidential candidate, and avowed Christofascist Ted Cruz to take advantage of Friday’s Islamist terror attacks in Paris as a foundation for his own attack on separation of church and state here in the US. He compared those attacks, as CNN reports, with American Christians having to deal with people whom they disapprove of:

Ted Cruz used the backdrop of the terror attacks in Paris as the latest evidence that Christians are under siege, making a pitch on Saturday to evangelicals here that tied together his take-no-prisoners foreign policy with his faith-driven domestic agenda.…

But Friday’s attacks in France recalibrated Cruz’s message and its overall tone: He began the event with a lengthy moment of silence, and Cruz spent nearly as much time discussing the perils of “radical Islamic terrorism” as he did government persecution of Christian merchants and educators.

“Right now as we speak, it is persecuting Christians. It is persecuting Jews. It’s even persecuting fellow Muslims,” Cruz said of Islamic extremists, as part of a prayer at Bob Jones University, a prominent Christian school. “We ask for unity for the people of America, and we ask finally, that you bless this gathering in celebration of the liberty to worship you with all of our hearts, minds and souls.”

This is just the latest example of a longstanding trend of Religious Rightists and preachers using terrible events — natural disasters, massacres, etc. — to promote their unrelenting and dour metaphysics. Usually their appeal is based on the presumption that their God allowed the disaster to happen because he’s angry about something. Other times — such as this one — the appeal is based on the idea that something happened because profane agents in “the World” are out to get all the “True Believers” and destroy them because of their holiness. Or something.

The comparison in this case is not apt, no matter how fervently Teddie or his sheep believe otherwise. Islamist terror has nothing at all to do with wedding-chapel owners who break the law by discriminating against gays, nor has it anything to do with public-school coaches who insist on leading public prayers even though it’s illegal and they’ve been ordered not to. Christianists like Teddie and his ilk love to bellyache and whine that they’re being “persecuted,” but in fact, they’re not. Actually, Christians are in the majority in the US and are not going anywhere. All that’s happened to Christianists is that they’ve lost their once-expansive privilege of controlling others’ lives, imposing their beliefs on everyone, and relegating people they hate to second-class status. That’s just not “persecution,” and Teddie or anyone else endlessly intoning that it is, cannot and will never magically make it so.

The reason these people think this way is because they’re delusionally paranoid, due to their religion’s own inherent psychopathology. They’re just not capable of comprehending that not being in control of everything and everyone — and being unable to harass and oppress people they dislike — isn’t “persecution.” Quite the opposite, it’s “freedom,” the very “freedom” they claim to want to promote. In truth, what they’re after is freedom only for themselves; they expect everyone else to knuckle under and just obey their every whim.

Photo credit: PsiCop graphic, based on Monty Python & the Holy Grail.

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'Je Suis Charlie' / Bild (DE)Ten months ago, Islamist terrorists attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo, killing a dozen, then went on a rampage in the Paris region. They did this, reportedly, to avenge their prophet Muhammad, who apparently had been harmed by some cartoons, thus forcing some of his followers to kill the blasphemers who’d insolently dared draw them. Or something like that. I’m still not clear as to how a long-dead man could have been harmed by mere cartoons, but then, I’m just a cynical, cold-hearted godless agnostic heathen and couldn’t possibly be expected to understand such important sacred notions, could I?

Well, by now most of my readers have already heard the news that the Islamists have done it again. This past Friday they launched a savage series of attacks on Paris. The details of this multiple-site massacre are still being collected, but France’s president Francois Hollande has said this was “an act of war” by ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-that-savage-brood, and they’ve claimed responsibility for it.

Clearly, the “Religion of Peace” has shown its true colors … again! … even if, by now, no sane person actually needs such an illustration. Predictably, Muslim leaders and organizations around the world have condemned the attacks on Paris, but let’s be honest: Those condemnations will accomplish nothing whatsoever. ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck and all its ilk will continue their barbaric terror campaigns, and they’ll keep attracting Muslim recruits from around the world. It’s not going to stop just because some scholars of Islam mouth recriminations against Islamist terror. The Islmists already don’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks, and they’re not going to, ever. Mere words don’t matter, and have no discernible effect on them.

The sooner the world’s Muslims begin actively (rather than just verbally) dealing with the festering sore deep within their religion, which these violent barbarians believe grants divine sanction to their savage terror campaign, the sooner something can actually be done about it. But sadly, I just don’t see that happening. Not enough of them have the courage to do so.

Photo credit: Bild (DE).

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'... because nothing says "Christmas" like millions of Christians pitching infantile fits' / PsiCop original graphicYes indeed, folks, this may well be a busy year in the annual “war on Christmas,” seen as how we’re only a week into November and already another battle has erupted in the Religious Right’s perpetual campaign to force every American to worship Christmas however they demand. Their latest target is the ubiquitous Starbucks coffee chain. As Time magazine explains, American Christendom has gone into a meltdown over — get this! — their holiday-season cups (WebCite cached article):

Some Christians have taken to social media channels to protest the new Starbucks holiday cup, which they say is conspicuously devoid of images of both Christmas and Jesus Christ himself. The new cup, which is shades of red with the Starbucks logo, showed up in stores late last month.

“Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” wrote Joshua Feuerstein in a viral Facebook post with nearly 10 million views [cached]. In an accompanying video, Feuerstein encourages customers to give their name as “Merry Christmas” to force Starbucks employees to say the phrase. The movement had caught on by Sunday with the hashtag “MerryChristmasStarbucks” trending on Facebook.

Here’s the plain red cup that’s got so many Christians’ knickers in knots:Starbucks christmas cups for 2015, via JezebelI find this a strange objection, because in prior years, Starbucks had never included any religious symbols on their holiday cups:

Past Starbucks holiday cups (in an animated GIF courtesy of GIFMaker.me)

Past Starbucks holiday cups (in an animated GIF courtesy of GIFMaker.me)

The name “Jesus” has never once appeared on a Starbucks cup, as far as I’ve been able to find. Nor have crosses, or Madonnas, or anything else of the sort. So I’m surprised that, this year, a minimal red design would kick up religionistic sanctimony, when previously a lack of any overt expression of Christianity on Starbucks holiday cups had never mattered before. And I don’t get how plain red cups can rationally be called an expression of hatred for Jesus. I mean, seriously, what the fuck?

If you’re curious as to why Starbucks did this, Time explains:

Starbucks has offered special holiday cups since 1997 with designs varying from year to year. Jeffrey Fields, the company’s vice president of design and content, explained this year’s design as a “more open way to usher in the holidays.”

“Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays,” he said in a press release. “We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it.”

The Christianist outrage aside, let’s step back from the edge and take a serious look at this. Why would Starbucks — which normally sells hot beverages in white cups — use red cups near the end of the year? Obviously, it’s an homage to Christmas, since the color red is symbolic of that holiday. So what if there are no other symbols or messages on the cups? Just the fact that the cups are red is a loud and clear acknowledgement by Starbucks that Christmas — not some other holiday or occasion — is on its way.

I’m just not getting these Christianists’ objections. I think the simple red-only design is striking and attractive. Maybe that’s because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and such important sacred considerations are beyond me. Yeah yeah, that’s it!

Photo credit: Top/first and middle/third by PsiCop; middle/second by Jezebel.

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When the Fail is so strong, one Facepalm is not enough / Picard & Riker / based on HaHaStop.ComI’ll grant that Dr Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and current Republican candidate for president, is probably a very smart guy in many ways. Correction: Make that “he must be” a very smart guy in many ways. You can’t do the sorts of operations he’s done without being intelligent. It’s just not possible.

That said, being smart doesn’t make one impervious to stupidity on occasion. Even the smartest people are known to be stupid, once in a while (WebCite cached article). For better or worse, that’s just human nature.

And Carson is no exception. Recently, Buzzfeed reported on an ancillary remark Carson had made during a 1998 commencement speech about the Egyptian pyramids having been used for grain storage (cached):

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson told graduates during a commencement address in the late ’90s that he believed the pyramids in Egypt were built by the biblical figure Joseph to store grain, and not, as most archeologists contend, as tombs for pharaohs.

At the 1998 commencement for Andrews University, a school associated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Carson also dismissed the notion that aliens were somehow involved in the construction of the pyramids.

“My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain,” Carson said. “Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves.”

Let me be clear before we go any further here: The Egyptian pyramids were not built as warehouses — to hold grain, or anything else. They were, instead, tombs. They had some interior chambers, as well as tunnels or shafts to access those chambers which were usually filled in once the late pharaoh was interred, but overall, they weren’t hollow. This has been known for a very long time, and — aside from occasional wild, unsupportable claims by various cranks and pseudo-archaeologists — there’s really no question about it. Yes, even though Carson explicitly dismissed everything archaeologists have to say about them.

One wonders why someone smart would come out with such a demonstrably pseudohistorical claim … but one needn’t look far for an explanation. As Carson himself said, it was the Old Testament hero Joseph, Jacob’s favored son, who built it while he’d been in Egypt and had worked his way up from slave to pharaoh’s vizier due to his magical dream-interpretation ability. Joseph’s story takes up a significant portion of the book of Genesis (chapters 37 through 46). His dream interpretations told him there’d be seven years of plenty followed by seven more of famine; pharaoh put him in charge so he could prepare and allow Egypt to get through the famine without trouble.

Christian fundamentalists like Carson (yes, I’m aware he’s a Seventh-Day Adventist, but that sect is essentially a Protestant fundamentalist one) are convinced the Bible’s contents are historical and accurate, therefore, the patriarch Joseph actually did save Egypt (and subsequently his own people) by stockpiling large amounts of food. Having made this assumption, they further conclude that this event must have left some extant impression on Egypt … which is exactly what Carson said as he continued in his comments at the time:

“But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.”

Yes, it’s bizarre logic. But it’s precisely what I expect of fundamentalist Christians. They can’t help themselves, because they simply can’t imagine anything else! To them, everything that exists points to their Bible’s literal veracity, without regard to whether or not it actually does. They relentlessly intone the mantra that “archaeology confirms the Bible” even though, in fact, it does not do any such thing.

One thing I’ll give Carson credit for: He did disparage other crank theories that the pyramids had been built by extraterrestrials. That’s been widely claimed by “New Agers” and other assorted nutcases, because they simply can’t imagine the ancients had been capable of building anything so big, and because they keep saying no one knows how the pyramids had been built. In fact, though, the Egyptians really did build them, and we do know precisely how they were built … from primary sources, no less!

Now, Carson might have said this back in 1998 — 17 years ago. So it wouldn’t seem very relevant now. And I wouldn’t have blogged about it. But with the passage of time, Carson hasn’t relented. Having been asked about the Buzzfeed story, CBS News reports he’s sticking by his weird Christian-literalist theory (cached):

Ben Carson stood by his long-held belief about ancient pyramids in Egypt, that they were used to store grain, rather than to inter pharaohs.

Asked about this Wednesday, Carson told CBS News, “It’s still my belief, yes.”

Yes, folks, this is a man who wants to be president. Either he genuinely believes this, in which case he’s clinging to an erroneous notion in order to back up his own irrational metaphysics, or he’s just saying it in order to appeal to Christian fundies who make up a large proportion of GOP primary voters so that they can back up their own irrational metaphysics … but either way, it’s not good.

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