Earlier this month I blogged about some Fox News hosts who said that non-believers should leave the U.S. if they prefer not to be forced to say “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. One of them was Bob Beckel, who — as Politico reports — has since advocated that the religious freedoms of Muslims in this country be taken away (WebCite cached article):
Fox News co-host Bob Beckel went off on American Muslims on Monday, demanding that no more mosques be built until moderate Muslims “denounce” the recent mall attack in Kenya.
Islam is “not the religion of peace,” Beckel, the show’s relatively progressive co-host said. “They are the religion of Islamic [fundamentalism].”
“I will repeat what I said before: No Muslim students coming here with visas. No more mosques being built here until you stand up and denounce what’s happened in the name of your prophet,” Beckel continued.
Politico offers video of Beckel’s spew:
As I see it there are a couple of problems with Beckel’s position: First, and most importantly, it’s unconstitutional. Muslims have freedom of worship in this country, guaranteed by the First Amendment. Unless an individual Muslim, or group of them, is breaking the law, there are no grounds for preventing them from building any mosques. None. I’m sure Beckel would agree with a lot of Neocrusaders who think there is no freeedom of religion for Muslims, because (they argue) Islam is not a “religion” per se, but a “political philosophy” which (they further argue) can be banned. (Not that this distinction even matters very much, either: Political parties and organizations of all sorts are allowed to exist, and they have rights, too.)
Second, Beckel thinks “denunciations” by American Muslims will somehow do something about al-Shabab and other Islamofascist terror groups. I’m not convinced that mere words even matter much. What does matter, is action. Ultimately, it is up to Muslims to police their own religion and stamp out extremism within it. And mouthing denunciations isn’t going to do that. Even so, I’m not sure precisely what actions American Muslims can take to rein in al-Shabab. They’re half a world away and difficult to contact — it’s true they use Twitter (cached), but they keep changing their handle, so using it to reach them won’t work. Traveling there to confront them personally is difficult at best, and dangerously foolish at worst. What American Muslims can do, is to stop joining al-Shabab (cached), and not give them any money … but it goes without saying that the vast majority of American Muslims already are not doing either of those things.
So Beckel’s demand is not only unconstitutional, it’s useless. I’ll have to add him to the ranks of the unthinking, fierce Neocrusaders who actually believe that one form of irrational religionism (i.e. theirs) is superior to another (i.e. Muslims’). I’m not convinced this is the case. Rather, they’re two sides of the same coin … and therefore have no right to hurl stones (whether real or rhetorical) at each other.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
, bob beckel
, fox news
, islamist terror
, religious freedom
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As a counter-point to this past weekend’s staggering expression of violent Islamist immaturity, another attack, of a different sort, happened elsewhere. As (NY) Newsday reports, a violent mob ganged up on and attacked a lone Sikh in New York City this past Saturday night (WebCite cached article):
Columbia University professor Dr. Prabhjot Singh, recalling the Saturday night attack in which his jaw was broken by assailants yelling anti-Muslim slurs at him, asked Monday: “Did they know what they were doing?”
Singh, an East Harlem physician who provides health care to low-income families, said at a news conference at Columbia: “This does not represent Harlem or this city. Someone gave these 14-, 15-year-olds the green light to act this way.”…
Singh said the assailants pulled his beard and tried to tear off his turban on Lenox Avenue and 110th Street in Harlem. The professor, whose lower jaw had to be wired, said he heard his attackers yell “Get him!” and “Osama.” Several witnesses chased the attackers away as Singh ran, he said.
These raging juvenile brigands picked the wrong target — on several counts. First, Singh is a Sikh, not a Muslim. Although most furious Neocrusaders (like this gang) are unaware of it, Sikhism and Islam are two separate religions. The former is a Dharmic faith, the latter Abrahamic. Sure, male Sikhs wear turbans, and some Muslims do as well, and both faiths are monotheistic, but they’re more or less unrelated.
Second, these attackers thought they were “getting Osama.” I guess they never heard the news: Osama bin Laden is already dead, and he has been for over two years now.
Third, the guy is a physician and a professor, fercryinoutloud. He’s no threat to anyone! In fact, I’m sure he does a lot of good for people. What’s the point of breaking his jaw just because he was walking around with a turban on? Seriously!?
Misplaced fury at Sikhs over the actions of Muslims is nothing new. They have, unfortunately, been targets of Neocrusaders’ anger ever since the September 11, 2001 attacks. A white supremacist shot up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and killed 6 people, just over a year ago. Being a Sikh in America can be deadly … and for no valid reason. Can we all finally just fucking grow up already before anyone else is hurt or killed, for nothing?
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
, columbia university
, mistaken identity
, new york
, new york city
, osama bin laden
, prabhjot singh
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By now anyone who’s read my blog knows that Glenn Beck is a lying Christofascist ignoramus of the highest order. It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged about his insanity, but I just came across something he said which is so colossally stupid — not to mention absolutely and totally false — that I can’t help but point it out. What he has done is to establish his own version of American-Israelism. The report comes from World
Net Nut Daily, which I don’t normally use as a third-party source of information, but they provide video, so brace yourselves (WebCite cached article):
Radio and television host Glenn Beck is now going public with his belief the United States is among the famous “Lost 10 Tribes of Israel,” and America today is suffering calamaties just as ancient Israel did due to its disobedience to the laws of God.
Echoing the conclusions of some experts who have delved deeply into what’s known as the theory of “Anglo-Israelism” or “British-Israelism,” Beck took viewers of his TV show into a biblical history lesson dating back to the time after King David of the Old Testament, when the once united Kingdom of Israel became divided.
For someone like myself, who studied actual history in college and who knows a thing or two about Biblical times, I groaned involuntarily. I know that misinformation is coming … and it did … but I couldn’t have anticipated how stunningly bad it would be. You see, among the many ahistorical claims Beckie-boy made, is this:
Beck went on to note that when the Assyrians [who'd conquered the northern kingdom of Israel] were finally defeated by other powers, they and the Israelite captives fled northward.
“And they fled out of captivity through the Caucuses Mountains,” he said. “The Caucusus Mountains are where you hear the word ‘Caucasian.’”
Glennie goes astray here by making too much of the word “Caucasian.” He’s suggesting that everyone who’s a “Caucasian” is a descendant of these Assyrians and their Hebrew captives. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. First of all, even before the Assyrian nation came into existence there were many nations, populated by people who would later be called “Caucasian,” already in Europe and in western and southern Asia! Second, Glenn errs by taking the term “Caucasian” too literally. Its etymology is actually mistaken. German anthropologist Johann Blumenbach, in the late 18th century, erroneously thought that the Caucasus mountain region had been the original homeland of the Aryan peoples. We now know he was wrong about that … and about a lot of other things, too, especially his “racial degeneration” theories. In any event, serious scientists no longer view the racial term “Caucasian” as being meaningful. That the Glennster does, and connects it literally with the Caucasus Mountains, betrays his ignorance.
But having spewed that lunacy, Beckie-boy wasn’t done. He reeled off even more lies:
“What’s interesting is the Assyrians, who were very good, meticulous record-keepers, and who were just brutal [people], they settled in Italy and in the Germany area and the Russia area where facsism comes from. But the Israelites, the Lost 10 Tribes, they went north and they started to scatter [in another] direction, and they went to the coastlines, generally in the area where the Pilgrims came from.
To this I can only say, “What the fuck!?” He offers no evidence the Assyrians went to Italy, Germany or Russia. He directly connects those Assyrians with fascism, a political movement that didn’t emerge for two and a half millennia after their state had vanished. And their Hebrew captives, whom the Assyrians had supposedly taken with them, somehow escaped, at some point Glenn never discloses, and settled in “coastal areas” (I guess he forgot that Italy has lots and lots of coastline, and Germany and Russia have some, too).
Lastly, the Glennster goes on at length about how America’s various symbolic associations with the number 13 — such as in the presidential seal — just can’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that the country was founded as a federation of 13 former British colonies. Oh no! It comes, instead, from the 12 tribes of Israel.
Yes, that’s what he said. That 12 equals 13. Glennie-boy even rationalized this idiotic formulation:
As far as why 12 tribes of Israel would be represented by the number 13 and not 12, Beck stated, “The tribe of Joseph split into Manassah and Ephraim, and those were in northern Israel. That’s the northern kingdom of Israel. That’s the thirteen tribes.”
The WND article continues with a whole lot more of Beckie-boy’s insipid and fact-deprived drivel, complete with his usual long chains of associations. It also cites a “historian,” Steven M. Collins, who supports Glennie’s insane ramblings, however, I can find no record of this Collins having any credentials in history (either by virtue of being awarded a history degree, or having authored an article in a peer-reviewed history journal). I can only assume the guy is no more a “historian” than another of Beckie-boy’s Christofascist friends, David Barton.
In any event, what the Glennster outlines here isn’t really that strange, if you see how similar it is to a movement known as British-Israelism. It, and other related wingnut hypotheses (such as the Khazar myth) are all basically anti-Semitic notions, cooked up in order to rob Jews of their own spiritual heritage and award it to some other group or nation instead. It’s all very irrational, not to mention hateful, and it has no place in the 21st century United States.
Nevertheless, the Glennster is sticking to it. Hmm.
Ordinarily I’d have embedded the video of Glenn spewing his ignorance, distortions, exaggerations, and lies … but somehow I can’t bring myself to put his face on my blog any more. Something about it just turns my stomach. You’ll just have to go there for yourself if you care to see this insanity.
Hat tip: Rational Wiki.
Photo credit: HaHaStop.
, british israelist
, christian zionism
, christian zionist
, christian zionists
, glenn beck
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Update: No sooner did I finish this blog post, than the Islamist terrorists’ body count went up. See below for more.
For much of this year, there’s been a trend toward accusing the so-called “New Atheists” of being Islamophobic and racist, because they insolently dare critique Islam and Muslims. I haven’t been able to make much sense of all this, because, let’s face it — they’re in the business of critiquing all religions, Islam being just one of them. I can only surmise that these accusations are based on the idea that Islam as a religion is unimpeachable, and its adherents are all virtuous and above reproach, hence, the only reason anyone would say anything unkind about them or their religion is due to some racist impulse.
Or something like that. I guess.
If anyone needed evidence that there’s an extremely violent wing of Islam, made up of Muslims willing both to kill and to die for their own vision of al-Lah and Muhammad, this weekend provided it. The world’s Islamist terrorists decided to go on a tear over the last couple days, and are piling up the bodies like cordwood.
First, as the New York Times reports, there was an attack on a mall in Nairobi; as I type this, it’s still underway (locally-cached article):
Masked gunmen stormed into a fancy, crowded mall in Nairobi on Saturday and shot dead at least 59 people and wounded more than 150 in one of the most chilling terrorist attacks in East Africa since Al Qaeda blew up two American embassies in 1998.
Parents hurled their bodies over their children, people jumped into ventilation shafts to save themselves, and shoppers huddled behind the plastic mannequins of designer clothing stores as two squads of gunmen believed to be linked to a Somali terrorist group moved through the mall, shooting shoppers in the head. Hours later, the mall’s gleaming floors were smeared with blood as police officers dashed through the corpse-strewn corridors, trying to find the assailants.
A standoff with the attackers, who were reported to be heavily armed and holding an unknown number of hostages, continued as the sun rose on Sunday.
It must have taken enormous courage for these brave and faithful mujahadeen to storm into a mall full of defenseless shoppers and mow them down with assault weapons. What a stunning achievement on their part! They must be so proud!
Next, again as the NY Times reports, we have a church bombing in Pakistan that took place as a service ended (locally-cached article):
A suicide attack on a historic Christian church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 78 people on Sunday in one of the deadliest attacks on the Christian minority in Pakistan in years.
The attack occurred as worshipers left All Saints Church in the old quarter of the regional capital, Peshawar, after a service on Sunday morning. Up to 600 people had attended the service and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside when two explosions ripped through the crowd.
“As soon as the service finished and the food was being distributed, all of a sudden we heard one explosion, followed by another,” said Azim Ghori, a witness.
No doubt the bomber expects to be attended, now, in Paradise by the 72 houris he earned through his act of sanctified suicide. He must certainly be pleased with himself, right about now.
But even these two horrific attacks still were not enough for the world’s sanctimoniously-enraged Islamist terrorists. In Iraq, as the Associated Press reports via Yahoo News, they blew up a police headquarters, and a funeral (WebCite cached version):
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near a funeral tent packed with mourners and another bomber on foot blew himself up nearby in a Shiite part of Baghdad early Saturday evening, the deadliest assault in a day of attacks that claimed at least 65 lives in Iraq.
In those two attacks we had Muslims attacking other Muslims. Yes, folks, these people are still waging a war inside their own religion, that began in the middle of the 7th century. Even after over 12 centuries these raging crybabies still can’t grow up and give it a rest!
I’m sure al-Lah must have had very good reasons for ordering all these cold-blooded attacks, including some on his own followers! Please, by all means, let’s continue hearing all about how horrific it is that anyone dares criticize the religion that brought us these atrocities. Let’s continue hearing about how anyone who says even the slightest unkind thing about Islam or Muslims, can only be motivated by “racism,” because Islam is, after all, “the Religion of Peace” and its followers could never be guilty of doing even the slightest thing wrong.
Or so the “New Atheists’” opponents think. I guess. At least, that’s what they’re implying.
By posting this, I absolutely am not suggesting that the followers of any other religion are above reproach, that only Islam is violent, or anything like that. I’ve spent the last several years blogging about horrible things said and done by followers of virtually every religious tradition on the planet. Christians far and away have been the chief targets of my observations, if only because I live in a predominantly Christian country. I’ve even chronicled at length all those militant Christians who’ve chosen to point the finger of blame at Islam, as though Muslims’ transgressions somehow justify their own. Their version of Christianity is dour and vicious in its own way (and yes, there is such a thing as Christian terrorism). They can’t make the viciousness of their religionism go away by kvetching and whining about Islam, even if they think they can. (That’s an example of their “two wrongs make a right” thinking as well as hypocrisy, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly.)
No, the problem is that all religions inevitably lead to excess and extremism, by some of their followers, some of the time. Without exception. Every. Single. Last. Fucking. One. Of. Them. Yes, even eastern religions that so many of us here in the occidental world think are pacifist in nature.
I suppose someone out there may, after reading this, accuse me of being an Islamophobe. All I can say is, if it’s so important to you to do so, then go right ahead. If it makes you happy to think of me as a vile racist Islamophobe so that you can conveniently ignore these facts, then by all means, go ahead! It won’t mean I’m wrong, and it won’t make you right, but you just go and do it, anyway — and don’t you dare let any pesky little facts get in your way!
P.S. In response to this severe wave of Islamist violence, I’ve put one of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons at the top of this post.
Photo credits: Top, Middle East Issues at About.Com; second, Goran Tomasevic/Reuters, via Al Jazeera America; third, Arshad Arbab/European Pressphoto Agency via NY Times; bottom, AP photo via the BBC.
Update: The count of the dead in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi is up to 68, as fighting there enters its third day (cached). Those brave, defenseless-shopper-killing mujahadeen are holding their own and still have hostages.
Tags: al qaeda
, islamist terror
, islamist terrorism
, islamist terrorists
, religion of peace
, terror attacks
, westgate mall
, westgate mall massacre
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For some reason, any discussion of mental illness tends to get caught up with religion. This was inevitable, I suppose, when Pastor Rick Warren — founder of the “Purpose-Driven” publishing empire — and his wife were interviewed a few days ago by Piers Morgan on CNN about their son’s suicide earlier this year (WebCite cached article). But the idea that religion is an effective remedy for mental illness, has been around for ages. The Christian Post reports that a majority of Christians in the US believe that their religion can cure it, and brags about this (cached):
Nearly 50 percent of American Christians believe that prayer and Bible study alone can cure mental illness, according to a recent survey by LifeWay Research.
Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, credited this response to Christians’ faith in God.
“I applaud those out there who really believe in the power of God,” Clinton told Moody Radio show host Chris Fabry on Thursday. “It’s an encouraging time. People continually look for out for God spiritually for hope, for help.”
Clinton and the CP might be proud of American Christians’ refusal to let medicine get in the way of their hyperreligiosity, but those of us who are capable of actually thinking about the problem of mental illness, know better. Any given mental illness is precisely that — an illness — which requires valid, effective, clinically-supported treatment. Praying and reading the Bible are not valid, effective, or clinically-supported — no matter how vehemently anyone may insist they are.
Despite his ardent belief in the primacy of prayer and Bible-reading as treatments for mental illness, Clinton says he’s not completely averse to medication:
One of the first steps the church must take is to avoid stigmatizing Christians taking medication for their mental illnesses, said Clinton.
At the end of the article, the CP tosses in an obligatory link to recent massacres, no doubt in order to scare up interest:
Nationally, mental illness has dominated discussions about the possible motives of the gunmen in last year’s mass shootings in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, as well as a first-grade class in Sandy Hook, Conn., and also more recently in this week’s mass shooting in the Washington D.C. navy yard.
Unfortunately for the CP, they are wrong about the Sandy Hook killings. The shooter there was never, so far as anyone knows, diagnosed with any mental illness, and there were absolutely no drugs in his system … no illicit drugs, no alcohol, no prescription drugs (cached). So he was not on any medications. It’s true that the Sandy Hook massacre has brought up talk about mental illness, but until we find out differently (cached), it’s not reasonable to believe mental illness played any role in it.
At any rate, mental illness poses a particular problem, in that a lot of the valid medical treatments for it are, unfortunately, not all that effective. Psychotherapy and antidepressants for depression, for example, work only about 60-65% of the time. This is enough to show that they’re effective for a majority of people, but it means there’s a significant number of folks who aren’t helped, sadly, and are often left twisting in the breeze of psychiatry. This means there are people whose needs aren’t being met by valid medicine, who become prey to proselytizers, who gladly use this as a “hook” to rope them into their religion. In the realm of addiction, this is precisely how many substance-abuse treatments work, as I’ve blogged already. That it’s unethical at best to use a vulnerability like this in order to gain converts, doesn’t seem to matter to these believers. They just go ahead and do it anyway.
The solution is for psychiatry to step up to the plate and really work on new, more effective, treatments for common mental illnesses like depression. Treatments are needed which are over 80% effective, if not over 90%. Leaving things as they are — which is what’s been done for decades — is just not working. It’s time psychiatry admitted it. In the meantime, prayer and Bible-reading is just bullshit and will do nothing for these folks. If you have a mental illness, run — do not walk! — away from anyone who suggests that his/her God is all you need to get over your ailment. It’s a scam, and you need to avoid being taken in.
This is the United States, and it’s the 21st century, for fuck’s sake. It’s time to get the hell out of the “Dark Ages” already. Gimme a fucking break.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Tags: bible reading
, dark age medicine
, efficacy of prayer
, mental illness
, metaphysical medicine
, religious psychiatry
, religious treatment
, rick warren
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Readers haven’t tacked many comments onto them, but my many posts on various examples of book-burning have accumulated a little private correspondence, since I launched this blog several years ago.
Mostly, I’m asked what my problem is with book-burning. Since I’m an agnostic with no metaphysical beliefs, why should I care why other people burn books? If the books are meaningless, why would I object to this, or find it foolish or harmful? I’ve decided it’s time I addressed that issue, and did so with a new static page. Have a look at it, if you care to.
Photo credit: Der Spiegel.
Tags: book burned
, book burning
, books burned
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I recently blogged about how fundamentalist Christians are leaping for joy and rubbing their hands over the possibility that the US might attack Syria, as the so-called “Biblical prophecy” in Isaiah 17 coming true — a development that, they further think, will trigger “Armaggedon” and Jesus’ return. They are, as I explained then, absolutely fucking wrong about that: First, because any chance there had ever been of all of Isaiah 17 ever coming true, has already gone by, long ago; and because all Biblical prophecy is bullshit in the first place.
This hasn’t stopped the Religious Right from stomping around, declaring that the “prediction” of Isaiah 17 is about to come true — even though the proposed attack on Syria may not even materialize. They just can’t seem to let go of it. In fact, as the Raw Story explains, Neil Cavuto, of Fox News and Fox Business Channel has weighed in and is shilling for this bogus proposition (locally-cached article):
Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto on Monday devoted an entire segment to the possibility that a United States attack on Syria could be a sign of the End Times, a period in which Christians believe that Jesus Christ will return to face the emergence of the Antichrist.
“This Syria stuff is way old,” Cavuto explained. “I mean Old Testament old. That’s how old I’m talking about. Don’t laugh. Some biblical scholars say it’s all there in black and white.”
The Fox News host invited author Joel Rosenberg to weigh in on the link between the Syrian conflict and the Bible passages, which he said were “uncanny” and “kind of scary.”
“These are prophecies more than 2,700 years old, some of them, but they have not actually been fulfilled,” Rosenberg said. “But this prophecy, as you just pointed out, talks about the complete and utter destruction of Damascus. That’s an End Times or eschatological prophecy.”
“It’s a very sobering thought to think that a judgment of a city or a country could happen in which an entire city could be wiped out, but that is, in fact, what the Bible is predicting,” he added. “I think it’s wrong for people who teach Bible prophecies to guess — I mean, in a sense try to say for certain it’s going to happen now.”
The Raw Story helpfully provides video of this little exchange:
I’d have thought someone like Cavuto would have better things to do … like scream and rant and whine and cry that Barack Obama and the other Democrats dare remain in office, insolently thwarting corporations’ efforts to disband the government, eliminate taxes on businesses and the wealthy, and relegate most of the country to indentured servitude … but like most of the rest of the folks on the Right, he seems committed to this erroneous “End Times” theology. Sigh.
Hat tip: Michael Shermer, via Twitter.
Tags: attack on syria
, bible worship
, biblical prophecy
, end times
, fox news
, isaiah 17
, neil cavuto
, syria attack
, syrian civil war
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