Posts Tagged “neocrusade”

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis is the second of two posts today on the subject of what I call the Great Neocrusade … i.e. the American Religious Right’s war on Islam, mostly within the US but in some cases not limited just to this country.

There are a lot of really angry Christianists in the US, and most of them are mortally offended by the mere existence of Islam, which they view as the world’s chief rival to their own religion. Many of them sincerely believe that there’s no such thing as “Islamic extremism”; in their minds, all Muslims everywhere are by definition “extremists,” so all Muslims must be put down before they slaughter everyone else. Or something like that.

That the US is now contending with the Islamofascist group ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-people-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood isn’t helping. That particular outfit is guilty of a level of savagery the world hasn’t seen much of in the last decade or so. Boko Haram’s kidnapping of hundreds of girls in Nigeria earlier this year, and al-Shabaab’s attack on a mall in Kenya a year ago, provide similar examples of the primitive barbarism some Muslims have been willing to stoop to in the name of their particular version of Islam.

While groups like this don’t represent the entirety of Islam — in fact, other Muslims are more frequently the targets of their savagery — these sorts of events fuel Christianists’ sanctimonious rage over Islam and push them to lash out as a result. Right Wing Watch reports on one such Christofascist whose shit-fit over Islam made him declare an “overwhelming Christian just war” on that faith (WebCite cached article):

Yesterday, anti-Islam activist Gary Cass, founder of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, posted a piece on his website [cached] in which he calls for Christians to prepare to wage holy war in an effort to utterly destroy all 1.6 billion of the world’s Muslims because Christians simply have to “face the harsh truth that Islam has no place in civilized society.”

Saying that there is no possibility of converting Muslims to Christianity and forcibly sterilizing all Muslims in order to prevent them from building an “Army of Islam” is impractical, Cass declares that the only solution is biblical violence, which is why Americans must now begin preparing to launch an “overwhelming Christian just war” by arming themselves and their children and forming “small cells” that will “crush the vicious seed of Ishmael in Jesus name”

I won’t quote any of this creature’s nasty screed. If you feel like reading it, you can do so for yourself. I will just point out that Cass’s group, the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, is just another of many Christianist groups who presume that Christianity needs to be “defended” because it’s about to be wiped off the map. There is, of course, no effort to abolish Christianity in the US even if Cass and his colleagues believe there is. Christians are the majority in the country and will remain so for the indefinite future. He and the rest of the Religious Right have been hoodwinked by the psychopathology inherent in their own religion to want to feel persecuted for their beliefs, so they simply invent that persecution.

In any event, while the country’s Christofascists are cheering on Cass’s declaration of “just war” on Islam, I’m sure the rest of the world … especially the Muslim parts of it … aren’t entirely impressed. Cass doesn’t care about them, of course. In fact, the angrier they get, the happier he gets, because their anger only fuels his own sanctimonious indignation over Muslims’ continued insolent refusal to convert en masse to Christianity. In their minds, the only way to deal with some Islamists’ jihad against the rest of the world, is to direct a Christian holy war right back at them! In the meantime, those of us who’re neither Christian nor Muslim are watching these two groups engage in a pissing contest over whose god can beat up who else’s god. It’s all very tedious and also deadly, but since both sides are deeply mired in immaturity and anger, it’s not going to get better any time soon. More’s the pity.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Gustave Doré, Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, via Wikimedia CommonsToday I offer not just one, but two blog posts on the theme of what I’ve referred to as the Neocrusade; i.e. the American Religious Right’s effort to outlaw Islam in the US (and sometimes destroy it everywhere else).

I’ve blogged before about Christofascists declaring that the First Amendment’s freedom of religion doesn’t extend to Muslims. Usually the reason cited is because Islam — supposedly — isn’t really a “religion” per se, but rather, it’s a political philosophy. Therefore, the reasoning goes, it can Constitutionally be outlawed. Or something like that.

Of course, I’m not sure how that works, because as far as I know, the US also has things like freedom of speech and freedom of association, which together would make it impossible for government to outlaw any given political philosophy. Maybe that’s just because I’m a cold-hearted, cynical, godless agnostic heathen and such important sacred notions are beyond my feeble, god-deprived mind.

But I digress.

Despite this, it’s rare for Religious Rightists to just come right out and say this. They tend to keep this notion close to their vests. Even so, once in a while one of them lets it slip. It turns out that, as Right Wing Watch reports, Tony Perkins did precisely this recently (WebCite cached article):

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, who now styles himself as an Islamic scholar, said on his “Washington Watch” radio show yesterday that members of militant groups like ISIS are the real Muslims who are truly “practicing their faith.”

Islam is such a danger, Perkins explained, that Muslim-Americans should not have the same religious freedoms as other citizens.

He echoed other Christianists on the subject of why Muslims should be deprived of freedom to follow their religion:

He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”

As with other Christianists who’ve advocated defying the First Amendment in order to outlaw Islam in the US, Perkins claims it’s not merely a religion, but a lot more, thus depriving it of protection:

He warned that Islam isn’t necessarily protected under the Constitution because it “tears at the fabric of our society” and undermines “ordered liberty,” adding that Islam is “not just a religion, it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.”

I find it truly odd that a Christian like Tony-boy would condemn Islam because “it’s an economic system, it’s a judicial system and it’s a military system.” After all, the Religious Right movement as it exists in the US is most certainly an economic system, a judicial system, and a military system. If we’re to deprive Muslims in the US of their religious freedom on those grounds, then by the very same reasoning, Perkins and the rest of his fellow Christofascists must also forfeit theirs.

Only a brazen hypocrite could come up with something that insipid. Perkins’s own Jesus explicitly forbid him ever to be hypocritical, of course … but Tony-boy isn’t aware of that, and not likely ever to obey that injunction even if he were to be educated about it.

To be clear, I’m no more a fan of Islam than I am of Christianity (an accusation that correspondents have leveled at me). It is, of course, absolutely correct to protect the US and American interests, and Islamic terror groups such as ISIS/ISIL/IS/whatever-the-fuck-people-want-to-call-that-barbaric-brood ought to be destroyed. There also does appear to be something about Islam which allows such primitive barbarism to grow and fester in a manner not seen — at this moment — in any other religion. But even this admission doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, or even helpful, to outlaw Islam in the US or deprive Muslims here of their religious-freedom rights, merely because some anxious Christian presumes mosques here might be recruiting terrorists. Americans — all Americans, not just Christians! — have certain rights, not the least of which that they shouldn’t be presumed guilty of wanting to be terrorists until there’s reason to think they might be. This means Muslims should be left alone in their homes and mosques (which should continue to be built) until there’s information suggesting otherwise.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Husité - Jenský kodexAs 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.

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Islamic Center of Murfreesboro with flagI’ve blogged quite a few times about the mosque that was recently built in Murfreesboro, TN. Despite militant Christians having done everything in their power — both legal and illegal — to destroy it, the Islamic Center opened up anyway. Yet, Neocrusaders haven’t gotten over it. They still can’t handle that a bunch of insolent, reprobate Saracens dared open a mosque deep in the heart of their precious Bible Belt. They’ve gone to court over it, and despite having lost at every step, as the Associated Baptist Press reports, they’re demanding the Tennessee Supreme Court do their bidding for them (WebCite cached article):

Mosque opponents in Murfreesboro, Tenn., want the county to seize a newly constructed Islamic Center and turn it over to someone else.

J. Thomas Smith, an attorney for citizens asking the Tennessee Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision that allowed occupancy of the new 12,000-square-foot Islamic Center of Murfreesboro last November, told The Tennessean [cached] there would be several acceptable remedies should his clients prevail.

“I think the county would step in and have someone else take it over,” Smith said.

In their appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court (cached), the Neocrusaders accuse the ICM of being terrorists (see page 5), as the ABP explains:

While the lawsuit’s main argument is that citizens were denied proper notice to voice their objections before the project’s approval, it also objects to Corlew’s refusal to allow the testimony by two expert witnesses called to testify about alleged “Sharia-Jihad” risks related to the Islamic congregation that had been meeting in a smaller facility within Murfreesboro for about 30 years.

“The issue of the risk to public safety from the Sharia/Jihad teaching and practices of a regional Islamic training center such as the ICM was the major factual issue dealt with by the Court in its November 2010 opinion,” the Supreme Court document says.

This is, of course, a lie. The only threat to public safety in Murfreesboro, where the Islamic Center is concerned, has come instead from the ICM’s Christianist opponents:

Even before construction someone vandalized a sign at the future mosque site by spray painting it with the phrase “Not Welcome.” A second sign vandalism occurred later, and finally somebody set fire to heavy construction equipment parked on the lot for site clearing.

In 2011, the Islamic Center received a bomb threat in a profanity-laced phone call threatening that a bomb would be placed in the facility on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Christians calling the ICM a “threat to public safety” are, therefore, being hypocritical, feeling free to use violence to attempt to destroy the ICM — while at the same time accusing the ICM of being violent! Well done, guys. Really well done. You’ve got a heaping helping of chutzpah there!

A little note to all you angry Neocrusading Christians: I know it’s news to you, but your own Jesus ordered you never to be hypocritical. That’s right, you are not permitted to vocally condemn in others actions that you happily undertake, yourselves. Not at any time, and not for any reason. You cannot do it. Have a look at what your own Jesus said to you:

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Mt 7:3-5)

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. (Lk 6:42)

Those are Jesus’ orders to you. They are clear. There is no question about them. You can either follow them, or not. It’s entirely your choice. Just remember, though … refusing to obey your Jesus puts your mortal souls in peril. So I’d be real careful about that, if I were you.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Gustave Doré (1832-1883), Crusades Celestial Phenomena on Wikimedia CommonsNeocrusading Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas is one really angry fellow. That in itself is not news. He’s been outraged for years that there are actually non-Christians in his precious “Christian Nation” and he’s incensed that they dare actually stay in this country. (How rude of them!). He recently used time on the floor of the House, as Mediaite reports, to launch into an accusation that the Obama administration has conspired with Muslims to destroy his “Christian Nation” (WebCite cached article):

On the House floor on Friday, Texas Representative Louie Gohmert accused various federal agencies of aiding Islamic terrorists organizations such as the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America in their attempts to enact Sharia Law.

“We need to address the political correctness that is blinding our agencies and blinding our military of its ability to see who the enemy is, because it’s getting people killed,” Gohmert said. “When you refuse to acknowledge that the Afghans you’re training, may be willing to turn their guns you’re training them on and kill you … until you recognize that and who our enemy is, and that our enemy can be among us, and that our enemy can be in uniforms that we’re supposed to be friendly with, then more Americans are going to be killed needlessly.”

Gohmert accused the Obama administration of changing policy so that the FBI, State Department, and others had to “partner with” CAIR and ISNA, rather than treat mosques as terrorist recruitment centers.

He actually thinks CAIR and ISNA together will repeal the Constitution:

“Any time CAIR says, ‘This offends us,’ the FBI says, ‘Oh, gee, we’d better change it,’” Gohmert claimed. “When you’ve had the Fifth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals confirm that, yes, the evidence shows that CAIR, Islamic Society of North America—those are front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood. They want Sharia law to be the law of the land, not our Constitution. And that is what we did not take an oath to allow to happen.”

Note that Louie-boy isn’t the first militant Christianist to posit that the Muslim Brotherhood is being set up to take over the country and establish shari’a law here; Franklin Graham has been saying this for a few years now, as have his friends in the American Family Association.

The idea that CAIR and are “fronts” for the Muslim Brotherhood is an old one, but so far has not held up to scrutiny. It’s true that a board member of CAIR’s Texas chapter was involved with the Holy Land Foundation, which did, in turn, have connections with Hamas. But that was shut down by 2008 — before Obama was elected. And the board member in question was convicted in 2009 — under the Obama administration — of having funneled money to Hamas via his connection with the HLF.

So little crybaby Louie missed his mark. Not only did he point to the wrong Islamist bogeyman group (the Muslim Brotherhood vs. Hamas), he accused the administration that got a CAIR chapter board member sentenced to 65 years in prison of conspiring with them. I suppose that makes sense to Louie-boy, but to the rest of us, it doesn’t.

The Religious Right has been complaining for years about the existence CAIR and ISNA. They’d rather these groups disbanded and their members drifted off into silence. Well, too bad for them … this is a free country, where we have these pesky little things known as “freedom of speech” and “freedom of association.” CAIR and ISNA are allowed to get together and to say what they want to say and advocate on behalf of their membership, all they want — so long as they don’t break the law in the process (as one of them found out). And they get to do it in the same way that militant Christianist outfits like Focus on the Family, the Christian Coalition, Operation Rescue, the American Family Association, etc. can. Gohmert is being hypocritical when he whines and cries about CAIR and ISNA doing precisely what all of those groups — with which he’s allied — do. Curiously, though, his own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously forbid him ever to be hypocritical.

As far as I’m concerned, as an objective observer, CAIR, ISNA, the AFA, FotF, etc. are all advocates for fervent religionism. At best, they’re two sides of the same coin. At worst, they’re all playing the same game, trying to promote unreasoning religionism. One form of religiofascist irrationality is no better than any other.

In any event, Gohmert’s absurd conspiratorial tirade places Louie-boy in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

One last thing about Louie-baby’s tirade: He says neither the Obama administration nor the Pentagon are concerned about “green on blue” attacks. But that’s not true at all. Of course they’re concerned about this vile phenomenon, and it’s slanderous for him to suggest otherwise. Since last year they’ve been taking steps to deal with it (cached). So that makes Gohmert a liar on yet another count. Well done, Louie. You must be so proud!

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (C) is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California September 15, 2012. Bret Hartman / Reuters, via the (NY) Daily News.America’s Neocrusaders are a strange and sometimes conflicted lot. They rage and fume at what they view as the excesses and extremes of Islam, and want to ban it from the US (if not eradicate it everywhere), but frequently they’re guilty of more than a few excesses and extremes of their own. An example of this is Terry Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL, a Christofascist crank I’ve blogged about many times, who turns out to have run afoul of the authorities in Germany during the time he tried to missionize there.

A more recent example, though, is the character who appears to have created and promoted the anti-Islam movie “Innocence of Muslims.” The New York Times reports that he’s had criminal convictions, and has been questioned about the way he marketed his video (WebCite cached article):

One of the men behind the anti-Muslim film trailer on YouTube that has sparked violent protests at Western embassies across the Middle East, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, was taken in for questioning by federal probation officers early Saturday morning, law enforcement officials said. …

In June 2010, Mr. Nakoula was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for orchestrating a check-kiting scheme.

Though he served only about a year in prison, part of his sentence also prohibited him from using the Internet for five years without permission from his probation officer, court record show.

The incendiary, amateurish video, which depicts the prophet Mohammad as a buffoon, a womanizer, and a child molester, was first uploaded to YouTube in June and translated to Arabic and uploaded several more times in the week leading up to the Sept. 11 anniversary.

Authorities are questioning whether or not Nakoula had used the Internet in order to produce and/or promote the movie, and thus violated his probation. He certainly had been deceptive, while producing the film:

Mr. Nakoula, the former owner of a gas station near his home, apparently used a series of pseudonyms while making and discussing the film, even when dealing with some of the actors, who believed they were making a film called “Desert Warriors.”

One actress said she had no idea Mohammad was even a character in the film, which was produced in 2011 in the remote hills of Los Angeles County.

In addition, as part of the bank fraud scheme for which he was convicted in 2010, prosecutors also alleged that Mr. Nakoula possessed at least 15 credit and debit cards in the names of other people, along with at least five identification documents that were not issued lawfully.

I question the degree to which Nakoula’s cast and crew could have been this ignorant of the content of the movie they were making … but it is possible, I suppose, for some — i.e. those with small parts or minor production involvement — to have been unaware of its true nature.

The bottom line is, people who complain about the evils of Islam, have no moral ground to stand on, if it turns out they have questionable pasts, themselves. They are, in short, hypocrites. In the case of Christians who fit this description, they’re guilty of disobeying the founder of their own religion, who clearly and explicitly ordered them never to engage in hypocritical behavior of any kind, at any time.

Photo credit: Bret Hartman / Reuters, via the (NY) Daily News.

P.S. I love how this character is willing to produce a film that insults Islam, and is enough of a publicity hound to work hard at promoting it as widely as he can … yet he doesn’t have the courage to show his face, and feels the need to parade around dressed up like a bandito in some campy old Western. Yeah, he’s a hypocrite all right. In multiple ways.

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Crusaders battleThe nation’s Neocrusaders have carried their war against Islam into the Nutmeg State, and have claimed several Metro North commuter-train stations as their beachhead. The Connecticut Post reports on this latest propaganda effort (WebCite cached article):

The series of billboards paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative are the latest chapter in an ongoing battle of trackside messages financed by advocacy groups on opposite sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The current ad campaign posted at five Connecticut stations on the New Haven Line — Greenwich, Cos Cob, Noroton Heights, Darien and South Norwalk — include the slogan “It’s not Islamophobia, It’s Islamorealism,” in red lettering on a black background.

Above the slogan, the poster lists the number 19,250, the purported number of terrorist attacks carried out by Islamic extremists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The signs were put up by a group led by Pamela Geller, a prominent and vocal Jewish Neocrusader, part of a pissing contest she’s gotten into with a critic of Israel:

Geller said the ads, which will run through Sept. 2 were bought to counter a round of platform advertisements critical of Israel that were financed by retired Wall Street broker Henry Clifford of the Committee for Peace in Israel and Palestine, she said in an email exchange.

Call me unimpressed with Geller’s signs, which state that Palestine belongs to solely to Jews and that everyone else needs to get the fuck out — now. This is the sort of attitude that all sides in the Middle East conflict have been hurling at each other for decades now, and I note that it has accomplished absolutely nothing whatsoever. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see how continuing this sort of rhetoric is going to do any good; after all, one of the clichéd definitions of insanity is, “Doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.”

I note that at least one of Geller’s signs is non-factual. Have a look at it:

One of several controversial advertisments is posted at the Cos Cob train station. This ad reads 'Jews have had a continuous presences in Israel for over 3,000 years. Ancient Israel was renamed ''Palestine'' by the conquering Romans in 135 CE. By any name it has always been the Jewish homeland.' Photo: Lindsay Niegelberg / Stamford Advocate. Via the Connecticut Post.

One of several controversial advertisments is posted at the Cos Cob train station. This ad reads ‘Jews have had a continuous presences in Israel for over 3,000 years. Ancient Israel was renamed ”Palestine” by the conquering Romans in 135 CE. By any name it has always been the Jewish homeland.’ Photo: Lindsay Niegelberg / Stamford Advocate. Via the Connecticut Post.

Let’s go over the sign’s claims. First, we have: “Jews have had a continuous presences in Israel for over 3,000 years.” This part is true. The people from whom modern Jews descended, were living in the region, c. 1,000 BCE. So far so good for Geller.

But then we have: “Ancient Israel was renamed ‘Palestine’ by the conquering Romans in 135 CE.” While it’s true that Emperor Hadrian renamed the province “Syria Palaestina” in the early 2nd century CE, it’s absolutely not true that the name “Palestine” was a Roman invention. No way! The Romans followed a precedent that was ancient, even in their own day: Egyptians had known the area as “Peleset” for a millennium or more, and that name ended up becoming “Palaistina” in Herodotus and — yes! — “Pelesheth” in the Old Testament. Far from inventing a previously-unknown name, the Romans merely used an older one that they were aware of.

Lastly we have: “By any name it has always been the Jewish homeland.” This statement obfuscates the facts. The region known as Palestine may be “the Jewish homeland,” but it also happens to be “the Canaanite homeland” and “the Samaritan homeland” as well. Many other peoples have lived there through history: Phoenicians, Syriacs, Philistines, & Arameans, not to mention Egyptians, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Greeks, and any number of others. Really, the concept of assigned “homelands,” and deciding to which people a region “belongs,” is juvenile and ridiculous in any event. One can select any arbitrary window in history and then say the people who were in a region at that time, “own” it forever and ever. But the odds are, that people moved in there at some point, either adding to or displacing another people who previously had “owned” that region. All of humanity migrated out of Africa, so quite literally, no other area can be said to be the ultimate “homeland” of any people.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: The mature way to respond to one form of religionistic extremism, is not to hurl another form of religionistic extremism back at it. It’s childish, and it’s not going to help anyone.

I’ll close this post by pointing out that the “American Freedom Defense Initiative” is a contradiction in terms. Geller and the other folks behind it, are not promoting true “freedom.” If they had their way, Islam would be outlawed, and very likely so too would be non-belief. That sort of effort is the opposite of “freedom.”

Photo credit, top: Wikimedia Commons; middle, Lindsay Niegelberg / Stamford Advocate, via Connecticut Post.

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