Tag Archives: 9/11

How do you know when you’re slipping into fascism?

28 May

I was never really a WWII nut. Growing up with living history/reenactment groups and then going to college for history, I was surrounded by people obsessed with WWII. There is something about that war and the American civil war that just seem to bring out the armchair generals in older white guys. The one thing, however, that has always fascinated me about the war is fascism and how it took over Germany like a virus takes over the brain.

How did a democratic nation (albeit a very young democracy)  go from that to fascism, secret police, war, and the systematic murder of over six million men, women, and children?

Answer? Slowly.

Hitler was democratically elected to power in Germany. He was able to very gently and carefully nudge the country into fascism by exploiting the fact that the country was going through hard times and by masterful manipulation of base human instincts. Sitting atop a sky scraper or watching the space shuttle launch, you may thing that we’re an advanced species, but we’re still beholden to barbaric instincts. These instincts best come out when we’re gathered in a crowd. The hive mind takes over; we revert back to panicky, superstitious, violent animals.

So how does a people know when fascism is taking over a country? In Germany there was never a big announcement declaring: “Attention! We are all now fascist!” No, it happened gradually and before they knew it they were murdering people in gas chambers. Nazi Germany is the perfect embodiment of the boiling frog metaphor. In case you haven’t heard of it, the metaphor is thus: If you throw a frog in boiling water, he’ll jump out; yet if you place the frog in normal water and slowly continue to raise the temperature, the frog will be cooked.

Moral of the story: people won’t be aware of slow change until it is too late.

There was a now famous experiment back in 1967 in a California high school. The Third Wave was an experiment where a history teacher successfully turned his entire class of students into fascists. The experiment took on a life of its own and had to be stopped, but it went to show just how vulnerable democratic societies are to the appeal of fascism.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe we have the ability to defend ourselves against a gradual erosion of our rights. The “patriot act” for example strips us of many of our constitutional freedoms in the name of “protection.” It passed after 9/11, when all the panicky animals were desperate to be protected. It has passed again every time since. The problem with trying to stop such an erosion is that when you cry out that things are wrong, people look at you like you’re insane. They’re all on guard for a lion, when the true threat is a mouse. “Relax! We’re not fascist, nothing much has changed!” By the time it does become noticeable, it’s too late for anyone to do anything.

There is nothing Obama can do right…

5 May

In the eyes of republicans, there is NOTHING Obama can do right. They refuse to give him credit for anything, no matter how much they might like it. It’s like an abusive relationship and Obama’s a hurt dog that keeps coming back to its master, begging to please, only to get beaten senseless at every trick preformed perfectly for the master’s amusement. I’m starting to think the president is somehow is mentally unstable.

Osama bin Laden is dead. Hunting him was one of the primary reasons (at least, officially) for why we invaded Afghanistan a DECADE ago. We hunted him down and killed him under Obama’s administration. But instead of making this an American victory, some conservatives are hell bent on making this a republican victory. (After all republicans = America and thus anything not republican ≠ America)

Lately I’ve heard a lot of talk along the lines of “Well, Obama’s not really responsible for killing Osama bin Laden since he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger….”

You know what? If you follow that “logic” Osama bin Laden wasn’t really responsible for 9/11 because he didn’t fly the planes into the buildings… (But what am I say? Screw logic)

But now a lot of republicans are attacking Obama because apparently Osama was unarmed when we killed him. “How horrible was it that we killed an unarmed Osama bin Laden?!?!? The president is an evil evil man!”

I dare you, I fucking dare you to tell me republicans would be saying the same thing if Bush was the one who had an unarmed Osama bin Laden shot. There is no fucking way in hell republicans would be giving Bush shit for shooting Osama. They’d all be like “AMERICA!!!!! FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!111”

But no, the president is evil for killing the most evil man in the world simply because he puts a D by his name.

“You know, this really isn’t Obama’s victory because Bush was the one who started this whole thing. It’s really because of Bush’s policies that we’ve caught and killed Osama….”

I wish I was kidding, but that’s seriously what some of them are saying….

First off, Clinton (D) started the hunt for Obama before Bush ever took office, before 9/11. (But conviently ignore that unless you want to try and blame 9/11 on Clinton’s failed attempts to find Osama, at which point you’d also be ignoring the fact that the worst terrorist attack in US history happened on a republican’s watch)

Secondly, you’ll try to take credit for killing Osama because of policies enacted by Bush, but you won’t take credit for the economy crashing because of policies made by the exact same president?!?!?!

(Are you beginning to see how their minds work?)

Republicans do everything perfectly, democrats do everything horribly. Whenever something bad happens while a republican is in power, it’s the democrat’s fault. Whenever something good happens, it’s to the republican’s credit.

It’s the exact same “logic” they apply to god. God is on our side. Whenever something good happens, god did it. Whenever something bad happens, it’s because of our sinfulness and not following god. Everything happens for a reason. A tornado hits a house and kills an entire family except for one small child, “It was a miracle that the child lived! Isn’t god amazing?!” (Nevermind the fact that god allowed the tornado that just killed everyone else in the family) The game is rigged so god can never be put in a position of blame. Same is true for the republicans.

Not surprisingly, I’ve heard a lot of people attribute our killing Osama to god’s divine help. Yes laddies and gentlemen, the very same god who stood there and watched as 3,000 men,women, and children were butchered has finally decided to help us find and kill the man responsible after 10 years, $1,500,000,000,000, and 1,000,000 war dead. God works in mysterious ways eh?

Is history still applicable today?

4 Dec

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but am only now writing it down. I love history, I went to school to study it. In the lower level history courses, the levels populated by disinterested freshman who rather be back in bed, a common question was “how is this still relevant?” By the time you get up in to the higher level history courses you stop hearing this question. It’s always taken for granted that history is relevant. People are people and things never change, right? Well this is what I’ve been wondering about because as I’ve watched the first decade of the 21st century unfold, I’m no longer sure this is true. Come to think of it, the 20th century was the real game changer, the 21st century just sealed it.

So what changed in the 20th century? Well, before that time everything was pretty much the same. Armies fought wars with swords, then muskets, then rifles and cannon. Regardless of the weapons and uniforms being used the most basic principles of moving and feeding large groups of people remained the same. Communication was also relatively unchanged. Yes the time between when a message was sent and when it was delivered slowly decreased, especially after the invention of the train, but none the less there was still a substantial lag. The printing press was a huge leap forward, but until the 20th century lots of people still couldn’t read. Printing made books and news papers more available, but they still didn’t reach a universal audience. Before the 20th century, governments had a monopoly on information and the way discourse was framed.

So what changed with the 20th century? Well, everything. In the first 66 years we went from the first powered flight to walking on the moon. We went from horse drawn carriages to the atomic age. Within the that century we went from mail cars on trains to e-mail. From cash to credit. Mass media, the automobile, intercontinental flights, satellites, computers, the internet, GPS, cell phones, rock and roll, the entire world changed.

Throughout history the fundamentals of things stay the same, except the technology changes. Technology is exponential. It starts off slow and builds on itself. For most of our history technology has advanced so slowly the line would look arithmetic. However, there comes a point where the exponential rate of change starts to become visible. It’s at this point the advances become striking. The 20th century was that breaking point.

In the 20th century technology reached a point where it began to change the fundamentals that had dictated human events for centuries.  The first decade of the 21st century was a one-two punch that finalized the change the 20th century started. What were those two punches?

The first was 9/11. Religious terrorism managed to harness the power of scientific advances to wreak mass death. This shifted the political landscape forever. It introduced us to terms like preemptive strike, indefinite detention, secret prisons, sleeper cells, improvised explosive device, water-boarding, The Patriot act, warrantless wiretaps, among others. The power of government to violently intervine, even against its own citizens, drastically expanded.

The second punch was economic. The world economy crashed and we were introduced to the bailouts. Tax payers had to foot the bill for bank’s risky behaviors, all while millions of people lost their jobs and the banking executives took multi-million dollar bonuses home to the Cayman islands. Then we find out that the banks are foreclosing on people’s homes, even if they have made all their payments (Florida is especially bad, where they have so many foreclosures they’ve set up a “rocket docket.” Often judges will see 200 cases a day and will never bother to look at the documents, trusting the banks are telling the truth when it turns out they’ve been lying. *surprise*) The way banks operate now, you can never be sure your money will be there, or that the government won’t show up to do the banks bidding and throw you out of your own home, regardless if you’ve made payments.

At the same time technology has had a drastic impact on how politics operates. The 24 hour news cycle has really helped to kill journalism and government is increasingly in control again of how issues are framed:

On the other hand, the spread of information has been democratized. The internet, alternative news outlets, twitter, reddit, facebook, these are all extremely powerful tools that have never been used before in history. With the advent of cell phones and smart phones people have the entire wealth of human knowledge (the internet) in the palm of their hand. With cameras in those phones they can record any event in front of them and upload it to the internet within minutes. Just recently The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency created a challenge, hiding 10 red balloons in secret locations across the entire US and offered $40,000 to the first team to find all of them. Using social networking, it took a team from MIT 9 hours to locate all 10 balloons.

These leaps in technology have put levels of power and information in common people’s hands that were previously unthinkable. What scares me are the steps ever increasingly authoritarian governments are taking to limit this power or to at least spy and keep track of it. These governments also benefit from the increased technology. Never before have they been able to keep tabs on their citizens the way they can now. It makes me wonder how resistance groups would be able to operate if the government became too authoritarian. I imagine the old models developed in occupied countries during WWII would not work given what current technology can do.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the world will never be the same because of climate change.

(I don’t think I need to tell you how bad things will get once climates shift, people are unable to grow food like they used to, sea levels rise submerging coastal cities, and storms intensify.) The data points to increased human activity, primarily starting in the 20th century.

In essence, things are changing at a pace and speed never before seen in history. Technology has reached a level where it changes the fundamentals of how we live our lives, how governments relate to their citizens (and vise versa). The economic situation has changed drastically as a result of the risky practices of the late 20th century. And finally, our planet itself is changing immensely as we destroy our ecosystem with ever increasing speed.

Is history still applicable today? I’m honestly not sure. In specific instances it can prove a useful guide, and we still need to be ever vigilant so as not to allow old crimes to be reperpetrated, but overall I think it has lost some relevance ever since the 20th century.

Build the Muslim community center!

25 Aug

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ve heard about the planned Muslim community center that is going to be built 2 blocks away from ground zero. Fox news has dubbed this the “9/11 Mosque” or the “Terror Mosque”. Fox viewers, known for being easily scared, quick to anger, and slow to do their homework, did not disappoint. Thousands have shown up to protest outside of where the community center is to be built.

Fox news has repeatedly alluded to this evil person funding the mosque, how the organizations he supports fund terror, and how he builds extremist Islamic madrassas. The thing is, Fox never directly named the person they were attacking. They preferred to keep it shadowy, knowing their audience wouldn’t bother to fact check them and see who this person was. The person funding the community center is Prince Alwaleed, a Saudi. Here he is in the left of this picture:

Here’s the sweet sweet irony. Do you know who that is in the right of the picture? That’s Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News. Why is this Alwaleed (who is an evil Muslim terrorist according to Fox “news” anchors) shaking hands with Murdoch? Because he is the #2 largest share holder of News Corp and Fox!!! He owns Fox! That’s right! The evil shadowy guy the Fox reporters are demonizing is actually their boss!  Either they’re trying to hide that fact and still get people angry and worked up (in which case they’re incredibly evil and manipulative) or they honestly don’t know that the guy they’re bashing owns their company (in which case they are mind numbingly stupid).

The fact that angry Fox viewers, by watching and supporting Fox, are by extension helping Alwaleed and his community center, aside; this is really a constitutional rights issue. The 1st Amendment guarantees that the government can’t prohibit the free exercise of religion. Building a religious building on private landed, funded with private money is fair game and the right of these Muslim Americans. Ron Paul, of all people, came out to defend this point:

It just baffles me how people can go on and on about how they’re defending the constitution and our rights, and then the moment an unpopular group tries to use those rights, they go ape shit. News flash: The Bill of Rights protects everybody, not just the popular people/views. Not sure if you got the memo. Now as an atheist, I’m no fan of Islam. I’m no fan of Christianity either, but as a hated religious minority I can sympathize with the Muslims on this one. Newt Gingrich came out and said we shouldn’t let any mosques be built in the US until Saudi Arabia lets churches be built. Seriously Newt? You want us to lower ourselves to the same standard of Saudi Arabia? The fact that we do allow unpopular views to exist freely here is what makes us better than that desert hell-hole! I think a lot of the people protesting this mosque don’t understand that basic fact. We are better because we are tolerant, not in-spite of it.

I’m willing to bet you that some of those people protesting now also believe the terrorists hate us for our freedoms, that the terrorists want to take away those freedoms. If that’s true, let me ask you this: If you then try to take those exact same freedoms away from other Americans, how are you different from those terrorists that tried to them from you? How do the terrorists not win if we start taking freedoms from other Americans just because we don’t like them? How does that make us any different from the bad guys? No, this community center should go up as a giant “fuck you!” to the terrorists that would love nothing more than to see us turn on each other and start tearing down the constitution.

Are Christian values really Christian?

5 Aug

What are “Christian values”? Well there are as many different answers as there are different Christians, so your personal views very well may be different from others’. I googled the term and two of the first pages that popped up were the wikipedia page on it, and this “Access-Jesus” page. According to them “Christian Values” are this:

  • Worship of god above all things, including family members and loved ones
  • Fidelity in marriage
  • Faith
  • Rejecting worldly goods
  • Rejecting violence
  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Righteousness

So now that we have this grocery list of values, what about them makes them “Christian”? Lets go down the list one by one.

Worship of god above all things: Well, lots of Christians do this, yes, but they by no means have a monopoly on it. Other faiths do the exact same thing, many of them have been around thousands of years before Christianity was ever invented.

Fidelity in marriage: Again, what makes this Christian? Billions of people around the world are married, the majority of them aren’t Christian. Marriage has existed for millenniums before Christianity ever came on the scene. Heck, if you look at divorce rates among religious groups in the US, Christians have the highest, non-theists have the lowest. It would seem that you’re more likely to be faithful to your marriage if you’re not a Christian. (Just look at the news, it’s as if every month a new conservative Christian leader is being flushed out as an adultery or a sodomite)

Faith: Mark Twain once said “Faith is believing in something you know ain’t so.” Since when is faith a value? Taking something “on faith” is an admission that there is no good evidence to believe something, but you’re going to believe it anyways. Faith is the last stand of the indefensible. It make people credulous and gullible, which makes them extremely vulnerable to getting scammed (as they all too often do) which leads us to our next “Christian value”…

Rejecting worldly goods: Still, nothing that makes this specifically Christian. Many religions around the world preach this, far fewer actually practice it. Instead most believers like to flaunt their wealth and piousness by building bigger and grander churches, wearing flashy religious jewelery. There are a lot of very wealthy religious leaders around the world, many who live off the donations of a poverty stricken flock. This has been a problem for religion since it was created. In the middle ages there was a cycle where the church would become too corrupt and oppulent whereby a monastic order bent on poverty would be founded. These new monks would try to live as beggars and try to reform the church until eventually they too became rich from donations and tithes; at which point a new corrective order would be founded. Greed is just in human nature.

Rejecting violence: This is a nice one that again every faith preaches, but few follow.

Forgiveness: This is an interesting one to me because growing up, I honestly thought Christians had invented this. I remember my mom telling me that in Japan they didn’t have the concept of forgiveness until the west introduced Christianity to them. (I know, sounds absurd, but it’s just a blip of a memory I have that influenced me as a child). I felt for the longest time that Jesus was a revolutionary in bringing this concept of forgiveness to the world. Now that I’m older I realize just how silly this is. Forgiveness is not solely a Christian Value, it wasn’t something divinely given to us by a god.

Love: Of all the values, I think this one is the least Christian. Even though this value is universal, Christians like to claim they have the market on love cornered. “God made us knowing we were going to sin and decided to send all sinners to be tortured for eternity, but then changed his mind and made a big gruesome show of killing his son in order to appease himself so he would let a select few escape eternal punishment, and this is because he loves us all so very deeply.”  No, Christians very seldom practice love, and when they do there are always strings attached. It could be helping the homeless only after they agree to sit through a sermon first, or bringing food over to a church member, solely because they’re a church member, or any kind of aid that is contingent on the person accepting some dogma or jumping through hoops of another kind to appease the religious. For the most part, many of them do good works because they feel it will earn them brownie points with god. It’s not that they really love, it’s that they want a reward for their generosity. You want to see how quickly the “Christian value” of love evaporates? Try leaving a church, the whiplash will snap your neck.

Righteousness: Again, other faiths practice the same thing. Feeling you and your actions are some how set-aside, better perhaps, than other people because you feel you have the “truth” is unfortunately not restricted to Christianity. Why is it that so many conservative Christian leaders in politics can commit horrible hypocrisies and get off scot-free while liberals go down in flames? Simple, they are “righteous” and many belong to “the family“. If you are a member of that family, you are seen personally chosen by god to carry out his work, and thus you can do no wrong. Think I’m kidding? Why is governor Mark Standford still the governor of South Carolina after leaving his post without telling anyone to go bang a woman, not his wife, in South America? His friends were the very same people who impeached president Clinton for having oral sex in the White House, yet they were silent when their friend did something much worse. Why? Because he’s righteous and can do no wrong.
That last one, righteousness, or self-righteousness, ties into the scary trend within the past half century of wedding “Christian values” with “Conservative values”. Today the two are pretty much synonymous.  Again, there are as many different definitions of “Conservative Christian Values” as there are conservative Christians but the majority, to me, seems to be as follows:

  • Dedication to dogma : Conservative Christians do one thing really well, and that is stick together. There is a party line that must always be towed, regardless of what happens in reality, there is an agreed upon narrative. Jesus is lord, America was founded by fundamentalist Christians for Christians, and Reagan was a prophet. No ifs, ands, or buts. There is a reason this group is such a strong, vocal, and cohesive voting block: their members swallow the dogma whole and fall in line.
  • The white male rules all. Don’t be fooled by the small handful of conservative public figures that are women or minorities, the white men still have the power in the party. This group has continually dug in there heels when it comes to leveling the playing field for women and minorities. (Here is a really interesting shift. Over the course of the 20th century, the religious completely switched sides on social issues. They once carried banners for women’s suffrage and for civil liberties for blacks, but in the 1970’s something drastically changed and I’m not exactly sure what it was. Perhaps it was the influx of people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Ronald Reagan. Somehow the people of progressive change for the better became the people who fought to deny women rights to their own bodies, or equal pay in the work place. After fighting to help blacks get equal protection under the law, they threw down their banners when the LGBT community stepped up and asked for their turn. What happened? It’s as if hate became a value.
  • Fear and war. Again, in the last half century, these have increasingly become conservative Christian “values”. Fear of immigrants, fear or minorities, fear of your neighbor, fear of the government, fear of foreigners. Everywhere you look, fear, fear, fear! It’s the reactor that powers the modern conservative movement. 9/11 was a turbo boost to their fear reactor and they used it very effectively. A fearful people are quick to bite their tongues and fall in line with the dogma, which leads to wars. We’re scared of Iraq, we must invade. We’re scared of Iran, we must invade. We’re scared of North Korea, Venezuela, Somalia, China, you name it. As a conservative Christian and they’ll most likely tell you that we should steam roll these countries. Ann Coulter famously said after 9/11  “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  The peace talks in the middle east are a farce, why? Because peace in the middle east is the last thing conservative Christians want. They want the wars, the killing, the blood. Why? Because according to their “to do list”, in order for Jesus to return and take all his followers to heaven there has to be an apocalyptic religious war. Peace would only delay that. Don’t believe me?
  • Ignorance. (The brother of faith)  This is fast becoming a virtue in the fight against the teaching of science in schools. Religion was invented to explain the unexplainable: where did we come from? Why do my crops fail? What causes rain? What causes fertility in women? Why did my family die in a flood? Where does the sun go at night? Over the course of human history science has slowly discovered the natural explanations for things and vanquished the superstition that once filled the gap in understanding. In the past two-three hundred years, when society and science started to break free of the shackles of religious dogma, we’ve made tremendous advancements in everything. This trend shows no sign of slowing down and there are many in this country that see this advancement in knowledge as a threat to their deeply held beliefs. Thus they dig in their heels and demand that science not be taught in schools, that their iron age beliefs with only their faith for “evidence” should be taught. Meanwhile the rest of the world (and their economies that benefit from new products produced by science) are moving fast ahead of us, which brings us to our next value.
  • Greed. The stories of Jesus being generous to those in need must be liberal lies edited into the bible. I’m sure Jesus asked for proof of health insurance before healing the sick and the blind. Increasingly conservative Christians are turning against the poor. Just this week a $30bn unemployment benefits package was passed by congress, with almost every single republican voting NO. They had been shamelessly delaying the bill since early July, when the benefits ran out and real people ran out of options. At the same time they decry the $30bn addition to the deficit, they are gearing up to staunchly defend making Bush’s tax cuts for the richest Americans permanent. That add another $600bn to the deficit, but no, we can’t help the poor people. I’m sure Jesus was meant something else when talking about a rich man, a camel, and the eye of a needle.

So in conclusion, there are no values that are uniquely “Christian”, values are universal, regardless of your creed or politics.

Islam is in the dark ages.

31 May

Before you read this any further, ask yourself: Will I change my views if the evidence suggests otherwise? If no, then you might as well leave.

I am going to present some facts about Islam, then give you my conclusion at the end.

Islam. The very name means “submission”. Unlike in Judaism or Christianity, the relationship between god and worshiper is master/slave. You submit to Allah’s will.

Women are inferior to men in Islam:

2:223 Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye willQur’an (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176).

Qur’an (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”

Bukhari (6:301)“[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’  They replied in the affirmative.  He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’

Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.'” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.

Tabari Vol 9, Number 1754“Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.

(More verses here)

Women do not need to be present at their marriage for their fathers or brothers to marry them away.

Women often do not get to choose who and when they will be married.

They must submit to their husband’s sexual desires whenever he wills. (See 2: 223)

In Saudi Arabia, where Islam is applied to the letter, women are not allowed to leave the house without a male relative escorting them. They are not allowed to drive cars. They are not allowed to be anywhere unless they are being supervised by a man.

An-Nisa verse 34: “Men are the maintainers of women because God has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as God has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely God is High, Great”

Two words: Honor Killings

This is such an important issue in Islam today. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that around 5,000 women are brutally murdered each year by male relatives in an attempt to wash away some shame, usually the shame of the woman being raped. I cannot overstress the importance of this issue. I could write several blog posts on it, but the Middle East Forum did an interesting study here, with statistics and explanations. Some would argue that this has nothing to do with Islam, the evidence says otherwise.

Attacks on Free speech

Islam has a long history of threats, violence, and murder perpetrated against anyone who dare criticize it.  Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, just to name a few resent people. Why is it only Islam seems to threaten and kill people over free speech? Why did the Vatican not issue a death warrant on Dan Brown? Why were there not riots in the streets by angry Catholics over The DaVinci Code? Why do Muslims en masse feel they need to riot, destroy buildings, burn books, and kill people over words or cartoons?

Fact: Pakistan shut down Facebook, youtube, and other internet sites over “Draw Muhammad Day”, an exercise in free speech created as a response to death threats for drawing a cartoon.

Fact: 9/11 was carried out expressly for religions reasons. Not for political reasons, not for economic reasons, religious reasons. It was a one way ticket to heaven.

Fact: Islamic countries score very poorly, as a whole, on the Human Development Index.

Fact: Muhammad was a pedophile.

In Islam, Muhammad is infallible. He sets up exact proscriptions on how to live, how to treat women, and what is permissible and what is forbidden. By doing this Islam has sealed itself in the world view of the 7th century Arabian desert.

My conclusion: All this considered, I see Islam as backwards and disgusting. It subjugates women, and violates human rights. Without undergoing its own enlightenment, as the West did, Islam truly is stuck in the dark ages. Unfortunately, people with this medieval mentality now have access to 21st century technology and weapons, developed by the West, with which they  use to wage holy war.

Am I saying Western culture is far superior? Yes and no. My culture has plenty of problems. It is far from perfect and there are many different ways to do things, which is fine. However, Islam has far more serious problems concerning basic human rights.

“Oh but GP, who are you to say that their culture is inferior?” The idea of basic human rights was developed in the West as a product of our combined experiences. We had gone through an enlightenment, where we freed our society from the absolutist shackles of religion, and began to experiment with how to create a better, more just world. The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights were one of the first great answers to that question. Even by the 18th century people in the West began to see that some practices were more conducive to human flourishing than others.  The violation of these practices and the horrendous slaughter of the 20th century only further compounded the importance of these rights. Thus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was  developed. Human rights, if respected and adhered to, improve the lives of everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.

To argue against human rights is to condemn generations of people in Islamic countries to lives of suffering, poverty, disease, and war. Don’t misunderstand me. The goal is not to eliminate Islam, merely to accelerate it’s enlightenment. Christianity and Judaism were not eliminated by the European enlightenment, and nor will Islam be. What matters is that they be lifted up out of the dark ages in order to free their men and women, and end the violence.

How do we do this? Violence is not the answer. We will not speed up an enlightenment through bombs or guns. This will only harden their ignorance and hatred towards us. We must speed it up through education. Where does education pay the most returns? Women. Educated women will be better able to stand up for their rights. Educated women will educate their children, who will then educate their children in return. It’s exponential. It will take some time, but it is the only way. If we do nothing, we can only expect to see more suicide bombers, more honor killings, more misery.

I’m sick of Democrats and Republicans

12 Mar

Growing up I was pretty politically active. At the age of 14 I started writing political notes on toilet paper in the bathroom. Once I got my car at 16 I started putting up bumper stickers. Around the same time I started volunteering for local democratic campaigns, and joined young democrats clubs.

I was in 8th grade when 9/11 happened, and so my entire teen years growing up were under Bush. All I’ve ever knew growing up was Bush. I lived in a really republican part of Virginia Beach, and I used to get my thrills putting out liberal yard signs early in the morning, only to be enraged that they were all stolen by the time I drove to school. I even put together a “battle binder”. I hated how I could not argue as well as the talking heads on tv, and so I spent hours one night compiling statistics, facts, data, etc on all the various political issues of the time and putting them neatly into a binder. I then lugged this massive thing with me everywhere I went. If I got into a debate, I could pull out facts and sources right there and shut people down.

I became a democrat fanatic. In my naive state the democrats became all that was good in the world, the cause, justice. I remember I used to fantasize about being part of a democrat task force, acting like a guerrilla unit if we went to war with the republicans. It got really bad and looking back I’m not proud of it, but hey, I was an angry teenager, and instead of turning to pot or crime, I vented my frustration in politics.

Well 2006 was the big year when congressional elections took place. My local guy Kellam lost, but our senator, Webb, won. I was ecstatic. The democrats took control of congress! I thought “surely, now the reign of terror under Bush will end, things will start getting better”. But it didn’t. Nothing changed. Despite losing control of congress, the republicans managed to push through everything they wanted. The democrats just rolled over and surrendered.

I was crushed. I was betrayed. I worked hard for them. I volunteered, worked phone databases, went door to door! And they just turned their backs on me. The democrats we elected were only marginally liberal. The democratic party leaders believed the conservative spin that “liberal” was a bad thing, and went on a campaign to elect anyone with a “D” by their name, regardless if they were democrats in name only or not. As a consequence, many of our newly elected democrats defected to the republicans.

In 2008 I made the mistake of letting myself hope Obama would be the solution to all our problems. I was just so ecstatic that the Bush years were coming to an end, anything seemed better. Here we had a charismatic guy who wasn’t a baby boomer. He was to be our savior. He promised to end don’t ask don’t tell, to bring the troops home, to close Gitmo. When he won I thought everything would get better. But it didn’t. The democratic congress continued to stonewall his efforts. Just about everything he wanted to do, the republicans would threaten to filibuster. To them, he was the anti-christ, to be stopped at all costs. And again, the democrats just rolled over and died.

When republicans get power, they bust in, guns blazing, and ram through their agendas. When democrats get power they tip-toe in, feeling like they secretly don’t belong, and are so eager to please their republican colleagues.
It’s sickening. I’m so sick of both of them. Why should I vote for democrats who repeatably roll over and die? No one will stand up for my values. No one. And worst of all, I feel like I don’t have a choice. If I don’t vote, the republicans win. When I do vote there’s no way in hell I’m voting republican, but I hate the other side almost as much. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. But I guess that’s a major flaw in the 2 party system. If both parties suck, you don’t have a choice.

What’s sad is that the democrats are going to get creamed in the upcoming elections. Everyone knows it. People are furious. The republicans are about to reach for their guns, and massive chucks of the democratic base are just as disillusioned and heartbroken as I am. The worst part is that when the democratic leaders lose big time, they’re going to think “Oh, it was because we were not conservative enough.” And then they will proceed to try and grovel to the republicans even more.

I really wish we could just fire congress, all of them.