Archive for the “General” Category

Posts of a general nature

N_2009_1_2There’s a lot of talk about racism in the American Right, and especially in the Religious (or Christian) Right movement. Rightists themselves deny any racism on their part, and the more religious among them point to two things: First, that the Abolition movement of the 19th century was primarily a Christian movement; and second, that the Republican Party, to which nearly all Religious Rightists belong, was founded as Abolitionist. What’s more, they say, the Democratic Party had done more to block the advancement of civil rights, during the 50s and 60s.

All of those things are true, particularly that many Abolitionists were devout Christians and many strongly motivated by their faith. But that doesn’t mean that it’s Leftists and Democrats who’re now (according to the Right) the chief promoters of racism. The reality of the Religious Right movement is that it was founded on opposition to desegregation (in other words, it was predicated on racism). Also, those conservative southern Democrats who once tried to stonewall civil rights reforms, have since then moved over to the GOP.

Put bluntly, “the Party of Lincoln” has become something very different from what it was in Lincoln’s time.

If anyone needs an example of how religiously-inspired racism still lurks deep within 21st century American Christendom, here’s an example to consider. As WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, LA reports, a shitstorm was kicked up over a Catholic school student’s essay (WebCite cached version):

Parents and students of a Catholic high school received a letter, apologizing after a student’s essay that chastised African Americans circulated on the internet.

The essay, assigned to a class at St. Michael the Archangel in Baton Rouge, was about Black History Month. Instead of writing about events in February in support of equality for all races, a white student wrote she was “unpleased” with having to write such a paper and continued not everyone is created equal.…

The student referenced what she thought were passages from the bible, supporting a claim that the only race on the earth during biblical times were Caucasians.

The school has disavowed the essay, and I have no reason to assume the student who wrote it learned her racist theology there. But, she learned it from somewhere. She didn’t come up with the idea that Jesus’ apostles were all white and there were no “different ethics” [sic] in Jesus’ time on her own. Someone — and an adult someone, at that! — had to have taught her this bullshit. To be clear, there were most assuredly different ethnic groups in Jesus’ time. There were even different ethnic groups coexisting in the Levant, back then. They spoke different languages and followed different religions, and they didn’t always get along … but they were definitely there.

It’s easy to dismiss this sort of thing as a kind of “one-off,” a unique expression of Christianist racism that doesn’t reflect what others think. But I’m not sure it can be dismissed that easily. Along with the B.S. about there being no “different ethnics” in Jesus’ time, the author complained about blacks wearing ill-fitting pants, and more. Tropes like this have been going around for a long time. This student absorbed them, and will — along with other kids her age — carry them forward into the next generation.

What I’m getting at is that this story is an indicator of a larger phenomenon, one that has a very old pedigree and which doesn’t seem to be going away.

Photo credit: State Archives of North Carolina, via Flickr.

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Alternative Facts / Mike Licht, via FlickrOne wouldn’t think that much changes, simply due to an election — even a presidential election. Yes, offices change hands, with prior officials leaving and new ones coming in … and yes, some weep and wail that their side lost and the other won, and generally carry on as though the world were about to end. But no apocalypse ever comes! The outgoing and incoming officials all work within the same underlying milieux, and American life generally doesn’t change much.

But that was before the unprecedented 2016 election.

As I’ve noted already, we’ve entered a new world, one in which not only the national governmental milieux, but reality itself, is changing … unraveling, even. In their effort to rationalize their specious actions and policies, the Groper-in-Chief’s retinue freely rewrites history and alters reality as though it’s theirs to change, as they see fit. Case in point: Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway cited a “massacre” that never even happened, as reported by the Washington Post, as the reason to ban entry from seven different countries, even for those already awarded green cards (WebCite cached article):

Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level [cached].

During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.”

“Most people don’t know that because it didn’t get covered,” Conway said.

The Bowling Green massacre didn’t get covered because it didn’t happen. There has never been a terrorist attack in Bowling Green, Ky., carried out by Iraqi refugees or anyone else.

No, what actually happened in Bowling Green, KY was that a couple of terror supporters were arrested there, and have since been convicted and given long prison sentences. There hadn’t been any “massacre” there. At all. What’s more, Conway lied when she said the incident hadn’t been reported, as WaPo explains:

The arrests in Bowling Green were indeed covered, contrary to what Conway initially said. A Lexis search of major papers turned up about 90 news stories. That’s not counting TV coverage, as in the ABC news story she attached to her tweet.

Conway has since defended herself by saying she’d misspoken, and should have talked about the “Bowling Green arrests” instead. But in the process, she doubled down on her contention that, in the wake of those arrests in 2011, Barack Obama had blocked all immigration from Iraq. That also, as WaPo relates, is not true:

Obama administration officials told The Post that there was never a point when Iraqi resettlement was stopped or banned. In the aftermath of the arrests of the two Iraqis living in Kentucky, the Obama administration imposed more extensive background checks on Iraqi refugees, and the new screening procedures created a dramatic slowdown in visa approvals.

So there had been a slowdown, but no ban, on entry from Iraq under Obama.

Conway and the rest of the Apricot Wonder’s crew has been doing this consistently, and not just since he announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015. No, the Groper-in-Chief has been living in a weird alternate universe for years. One could argue it goes back at least to when the Apricot Wonder was the world’s most vocal and best-known “birther” (cached). He lied outrageously about that issue — and expressed implicit support for birtherism — for years afterward (cached). He even claimed to have received a phoned-in tip that Obama’s birth certificate was fraudulent (cached). That was in August 2012 — a full four and a half years ago, in which time he has never once produced any evidence of this supposed “fraud.”

Of course, the GiC at last publicly disavowed his birtherism, but could summon the courage and maturity to do so only at the height of the general-election campaign (cached).

At any rate, we’ve reached the point where “alternative facts” now rule the day, and media outlets that dare report that the Apricot Wonder or his people have lied about something, are derided for promoting “fake news.” Their own statements, of course, aren’t “fake news” … supposedly.

Clearly the US has become a land where the ability to think is no longer desired, and dependency on veracity is unwelcome. That, apparently, is how all the angry white men in flyover country want this nation to be, because they’re the ones who elected the Groper-in-Chief (cached), and clearly they approve of his weird alternate universe full of distortions and lies. They disdain facts and care only about whatever makes them feel better about themselves. (How the scion of an upper-upper-class east-coast family, educated at the elite Wharton School, with homes in New York City and Palm Beach, FL can possibly ever do this, is beyond my ability to comprehend. I guess I just don’t understand the psychology of angry white men in flyover country — but if this is how they are, I never want to!)

So by all means, please count this cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen among those who plan to resist the takeover of “alternative facts” — to the death, if need be. No one will ever be able to convince me that veracity and true facts don’t matter.

Photo credit: Mike Licht, via Flickr.

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Comments Comments Off on Life in the Groper-in-Chief’s America

PsiCop animated modification of original photo of Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold, via WBTV / Original URL: http://www.wbtv.com/story/22057943/ten-commandments-on-display-at-sheriffs-office-causing-controversyThere are a lot of Christians who think the Ten Commandments are the pinnacle of human morality. They view them not only as the rules everyone should live by, but they think of them as having a kind of magical power to make everyone better and more moral. Or something. I guess. That’s why many of them want to post the Ten Commandments everywhere. Supposedly, being constantly confronted by the Decalogue will turn every American in to an upstanding, law-abiding citizen.

Only, all too often, it turns out this isn’t actually the case. As the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro, TN reports, one particular Decalogue champion turns out to have been anything but law-abiding (WebCite cached article):

Former Rutherford County Sheriff Robert Arnold pleaded guilty Wednesday to three of 14 counts stemming from a two-year criminal investigation into illegally profiting from inmates through a company selling electronic cigarettes.

Arnold pleaded guilty to wire fraud, honest services fraud and extortion. Each count carries up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, supervised release of not more than three years and a $52,500 restitution payment from electronic cigarettes revenues from the JailCigs business to the county.

Now, the DNJ article doesn’t mention it, but as the Friendly Atheist points out, former Sheriff Arnold just happens to have been a major proponent of spreading the gospel of the Ten Commandments, just a few years ago (cached). At that time, he’d openly defied an earlier court order, on the pretense that he is required to do so because “In God we trust” is printed on our currency, and because “[the Ten Commandments] were the founding principles of this country.” Or something. I guess.

As I always do in cases like this, I like to point out that, for Christians, putting up Decalogue monuments (or plaques, or signs, or whatever) is incredibly problematic. First, it’s an expression of public piety, which Jesus explicitly forbid his followers ever to engage in. Second, one of the Ten Commandments is, itself, a prohibition against idolatry; depending on one’s sect, it’s either part of the First Commandment, or it’s the Second. But, given that Christians are generally unwilling to follow the words of their own scripture, I guess it’s just too hard for them to stop posting the Ten Commandments all over the place. The poor little things, they just can’t help themselves … right?

I expect Arnold and his supporters will, no doubt, consider his corruption — which he admitted in court — a kind of insignificant aberration. After all, I’m sure they’d tell me, “he’s not perfect, just forgiven.” So hey, it doesn’t really matter if he fails to live up to the faith he supposedly follows. Right? Once he’s out of jail, Arnold might even go on the Christian lecture circuit, propounding his past “sin” of corruption to his co-religionists and touting his “fallen” status as a kind of perverse credential of piety. Such is how Christianity works … as freakish as it seems.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: PsiCop animated modification of original, via WBTV.

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Angel-Facepalm: Even imaginary beings know how dumb that was!The idea that vaccines are toxic — particularly those given routinely to children, such as the MMR vaccine, which supposedly causes autism — is a big, fat, fucking lie that just won’t die, even though it’s been proven fraudulent. Yes, that’s right. It’s a massive con job, originally cooked up by a British “physician” who’d hoped to make his fortune selling autism remedies.

That’s right, folks. The movement that rails and blusters and fumes against “Big Pharma” and its supposedly malevolent profit motive, was founded on the work of a man who’d planned to profit from a lie he’d carefully constructed (WebCite cached article). I can smell the stench of the contradiction and hypocrisy from here … !

As I said, the antivax movement just won’t go away. This is very likely a product of the backfire effect, but it’s been further fueled by charlatans and cranks who milk it for their own aggrandizement … such as the Groper-in-Chief, who declared his antivax credentials during the 2016 presidential primary. As he prepares to enter the Oval Office, as the Washington Post reports, the Apricot Wonder has decided another antivaxxer should be put in charge of vaccine safety (cached):

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a proponent of a widely discredited theory that vaccines cause autism, said Tuesday that President-elect Donald Trump asked him to chair a new commission on vaccines.

Hours later, however, a spokeswoman for Trump’s transition said that while Trump would like to create a commission on autism, no final decision had been made.

If Trump follows through, the stunning move would push up against established science, medicine and the government’s position on the issue. It comes after Trump — who has long been critical of vaccines — met at Trump Tower with Kennedy, who has spearheaded efforts to roll back child vaccination laws.

This is, of course, all about the children, you see:

“The President-elect enjoyed his discussion with Robert Kennedy Jr. on a range of issues and appreciates his thoughts and ideas,” Trump transition spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement. “The President-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on autism, which affects so many families; however no decisions have been made at this time.

“The President-elect looks forward to continuing the discussion about all aspects of autism with many groups and individuals,” she added.

You can be sure the Groper-in-Chief doesn’t give a flying fuck about autism or the welfare of children. If he did, he’d pursue another angle than “vaccine safety” to address it … because vaccines don’t have one damned, fucking thing to do with autism. Period. End of story.

I’ve blogged already about Kennedy’s antivaxxism. As the WaPo article makes clear, he hasn’t let go of it, despite his movement having been thoroughly debunked many times over. Then again, we have entered the post-truth era, and pesky little things like “fact” and “confirmed science” no longer matter any more. The Groper-in-Chief’s ignorant flyover-country voters have seen to that. If you needed any more proof that this country is fucked, well, now you have it.

Photo credit: shane_d_k, via Flickr.

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Christmas market near Kaiser Wilhelm Church, BerlinYes, folks, it’s time again for us to see yet another sterling example of the “Religion of Peace” in action. Yesterday, as CNN reports, it appears a Muslim refugee drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany (WebCite cached article):

The man suspected of deliberately ramming a large truck into a Christmas market in Berlin is a refugee from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, two German intelligence officials and a police official told CNN.

The sources said the suspect in Monday evening’s attack, which killed 12 people and injured dozens more, arrived in Passau, a city on Germany’s border with Austria, on December 31, 2015, after traveling through the Balkans.

This attack could have political repercussions in Germany:

“I know that it would be especially hard to bear for us if it was to be confirmed that a person (who) committed this act … was given protection and asylum in Germany,” [German Chancellor Angela Merkel] said.

Monday’s attack could cause further political upheaval for Merkel, who has come under criticism over her government’s generous acceptance of refugees. Germany has taken in more than 890,000 asylum seekers in the past year, a marked difference to other European nations.

Note, too, this attack was a virtual copy of the Bastile Day attack earlier this year, in Nice, France (cached). Islamist groups have pushed for adherents to use vehicles as weapons against soft targets, so we can probably expect more such attacks in the future.

Photo credit: Sergey Galyonkin, via Flickr.

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Comments Comments Off on The “Religion of Peace” Continues to Impress

Acocks Green Village after dark - Christmas lights - Jeffries Hardware - Merry Christmas / Elliott Brown, via FlickrOr should I have titled this post, “War on Christmas Finally Ended!”? I don’t know for sure, but that’s what Bill O’Reilly — effectively, the field marshal of this annual phantasmal conflict — has said. It sounds amazing that he’d make such a concession, but he did. It’s right there, for all to see, on his own Web site (WebCite cached article):

You may remember, about 10 years ago, The Factor began spotlighting companies that refused to say the words “Merry Christmas.”

In fact, some of those businesses actually ordered their employees not to say it.

Well that culture war issue ignited, and we won. Most companies stopped the nonsense and Merry Christmas became a common greeting once again.

The only problem is, it’s all a big, fat, lie. A steaming load heaved right out the back of the barn. So what if a company doesn’t want its employees saying “Merry Christmas”? As private companies, isn’t it within their rights to have such a rule? In reality, though, it’s never been common, and in fact many employees said “Merry Christmas” in spite of it. So really, it never was a problem to begin with. It was just made-up bullshit that O’Reilly and the rest of the Religious Right have used to force everyone in the country, Christian or not, to celebrate Christmas too.

In his declaration that his own fictional “war” has concluded, Billy said:

And because it is a federal holiday, there is no reason to diminish Christmas or insult those who believe in it.

This is an allusion to Billy’s longstanding position that, since president Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a federal holiday, all Americans are required to celebrate it. Or something. I haven’t really figured out how that works, to be honest with you. I wasn’t aware that federal holiday declarations had that much power over people’s personal lives. But Billy has been saying this for years, so I guess it must be true. Somehow. Some way. Maybe someday he’ll disclose the exact mechanism by which this works … but I don’t plan to hold my breath waiting for him to cough it up.

Note too that O’Reilly alluded to the election of the Groper-in-Chief as the reason the “war on Christmas” has been won by Christofascists like himself. This comports with the Groper-in-Chief’s minion, Corey Lewandowski, who earlier had declared it – finally! — legal for Americans to say “Merry Christmas” again, as of November 8 of this year.

Now, although Billy has declared the “war on Christmas” concluded, I don’t expect that the Religious Right will let go of it. It remains a great way for them to indulge their Christian martyr complex and convince themselves they’re being persecuted for their Jesus, even though they aren’t.

Photo credit: Elliott Brown, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Christian Post.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas Tree / Mark K., via FlickrThe “peasants with pitchforks” moment in Killeen, TX I already blogged about, just ratcheted up a notch. The Christofascist attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, sued the Killeen school district over its order to remove a Christian poster from a public school. As the Houston Chronicle reports, a Texas judge ordered it be put back up (WebCite cached article):

A state district judge on Thursday ordered a “Charlie Brown Christmas’ display at a Killeen school restored after it was ordered taken down over a biblical message that educators said could be offensive.

After an hour-long hearing, Judge Jack Jones ruled that the door display featuring the Peanut character Linus, and his explanation of why Christmas matters, should be put back up with an added line: “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas message.”

Note the supposedly clever, legalistic workaround which (the judge thinks) will allow Ms Shannon to skate out from under the longstanding principle that government entities in the US can’t promote religion. And that is, by calling it merely “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas message” — as though it’s just a personal message from her to individuals. Unfortunately that doesn’t actually work, since this is still a government facility, and any poster within it constitutes government promoting something (in this case, Christianity). It’s a transparent maneuver.

The Chron article includes a standard Christianist whine:

“Religious discrimination towards Christians has become a holiday tradition of sorts among certain groups,” Paxton said in a statement after the judge’s decision.

Boo hoo hoo! Listen up, Kennie, and the rest of you militant Christofascists: No one is “discriminating” against you in cases like this, where overt Christian messages are removed from government property. No one — I repeat, no fucking one! — is preventing you from worshipping your Jesus any way you see fit, nor is anyone keeping you from celebrating Christmas in your homes, businesses, or churches.

Christmas has never been outlawed, anywhere in the country. It. Just. Hasn’t. Fucking. Happened. (Since colonial times, anyway.) So stop your fucking whining and crying that it has.

It’s time for you, Kennie, and the rest of your bellicose, whiney, paranoid Christianist pals, to fucking grow the hell up for the first time in your lives and stop claiming persecution that doesn’t exist. I get that you want to be persecuted for your Jesus. Really, I understand it. I was once a fundie like you, and I get it. Honest! I really am aware that this desire is deeply embedded in the psychopathology of your religion. But you have to stop fucking deluding yourselves over it and lying about it to others.

Oh, and about this whole business of celebrating Christmas in as public a manner as possible … were you aware, your own Jesus clearly and unambiguously ordered you never to express your piety in public? By all rights, were Ms Shannon truly following the teachings of her Jesus, she would never want to put up a Christmas display at all! It’s unChristian! Just saying.

Oh, and yes … in all likelihood, I do know more about your own religion than you. So I am in a position to explain to you what it teaches, and to point out when you’re brazenly defying those teachings.

Photo credit: Mark K., via Flickr.

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