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Posted on Dec 23, 2007
Huckabee
AP photo / Steve Mitchell

By Chris Hedges

The rise of Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate represents a seismic shift in the tactics, ideology and direction of the radical Christian right. Huckabee may stumble and falter in later primaries, but his right-wing Christian populism is here to stay. Huckabee represents a new and potent force in American politics, and the neocons and corporate elite, who once viewed the yahoos of the Christian right as the useful idiots, are now confronted with the fact that they themselves are the ones who have been taken for a ride. Members of the Christian right, recruited into the Republican Party and manipulated to vote against their own interests around the issues of abortion and family values, are in rebellion. They are taking the party into new, uncharted territory. And they presage, especially with looming economic turmoil, the rise of a mass movement that could demolish what is left of American democracy and set the stage for a Christian fascism.

The corporate establishment, whose plundering of the country created fertile ground for a radical, right-wing backlash, is sounding the alarm bells. It is scrambling to bolster Mitt Romney, who, like Rudy Giuliani or Hillary Clinton, will continue to slash and burn on behalf of corporate profits. Columnist George Will called Huckabee’s populism “a comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs.” He wrote that Huckabee’s candidacy “broadly repudiates core Republican policies such as free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America’s corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity.” National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote that “like [Howard] Dean, his nomination would represent an act of suicide by his party.”

Huckabee spoke of this revolt on the “Today” show. “There’s a sense in which all these years the evangelicals have been treated very kindly by the Republican Party,” he said. “They wanted us to be a part of it. And then one day one of us actually runs and they say, ‘Oh, my gosh, now they’re serious.’ They [evangelicals] don’t want to just show up and vote, they actually would want to be a part of the discussion.”

George Bush is a happy stooge of his corporate handlers. He blithely enriches the oligarchy, defends a war that is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history and callously denies medical benefits to children. Huckabee is different. He has tapped into the rage and fury of the working class, dispossessed and abandoned by the mainstream Democrats and Republicans. And he refuses to make the ideology of the Christian right, with its dark contempt for democratic traditions and intolerance of nonbelievers, a handmaiden of the corporate establishment. This makes him a much more lethal and radical political force. 

The Christian right is the most potent and dangerous mass movement in American history. It has been controlled and led, until now, by those who submit to the demands of the corporate state. But the grass roots are tired of being taken for rubes. They are tired of candidates, like Bush or Bill Clinton, who roll out the same clichés about working men and women every four years and then spend their terms enriching their corporate backers. The majority of American citizens have spent the last two decades watching their government services and benefits vanish. They have seen their jobs go overseas and are watching as their communities crumble and their houses are foreclosed. It is their kids who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The old guard in the Christian right, the Pat Robertsons, who used their pulpits to deliver the votes of naive followers to the corporatists, is a spent force. Huckabee’s Christian populism represents the maturation of the movement. It signals the rise of a truly radical, even revolutionary force in American politics, of which Huckabee may be one of the tamer and less frightening examples.

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Hints of Huckabee’s bizarre worldview seep out now and then. Bob Vander Plaats, Huckabee’s Iowa campaign manager, for example, when asked about his candidate’s lack of foreign policy experience, told MSNBC: “Well, I think Gov. Huckabee has a lot of resources that he goes to on national security matters. Here’s a guy, a former pastor, who understands a theological nature of this war as we’re fighting a radical religion in Islam.”

Robert Novak noted that Huckabee held a fundraiser last week at the Houston home of Dr. Steven Hotze. As Novak wrote, Hotze is “a leader in the highly conservative Christian Reconstruction movement.”

Huckabee has close ties with the Christian Reconstructionist or Dominionist branch of the Christian right. The Dominionist movement, which seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of the Christian faith and American patriotism, is small in numbers but influential. It departs from traditional evangelicalism. It seeks to redefine traditional democratic and Christian terms and concepts to fit an ideology that calls on the radical church to take political power. It shares many prominent features with classical fascist movements, at least as such movements are defined by the scholar Robert O. Paxton, who sees fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.” 

Dominionism, born out of Christian Reconstructionism, seeks to politicize faith. It has, like all fascist movements, a belief in magic along with leadership adoration and a strident call for moral and physical supremacy of a master race, in this case American Christians. It also has, like fascist movements, an ill-defined and shifting set of beliefs, some of which contradict each other. Paxton argues that the best way to understand authentic fascist movements, which he says exist in all societies, including democracies, is to focus not on what they say but on how they act, for, as he writes, some of the ideas that underlie fascist movements “remain unstated and implicit in fascist public language” and “many of them belong more to the realm of visceral feelings than to the realm of reasoned propositions.” 

Dominionism teaches that American Christians have been mandated by God to make America a Christian state. A decades-long refusal by most American fundamentalists to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the Earth itself. Dominionism preaches that Jesus has called on Christians to actively build the kingdom of God on Earth. America becomes, in this militant Biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, in which creationism and “Christian values” form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Labor unions, civil rights laws and public schools will be abolished. Women will be removed from the work force to stay at home, and all those deemed insufficiently Christian will be denied citizenship. 

Baptist minister Rick Scarborough, founder of Vision America and a self-described “Christocrat,” who attended the Texas fundraiser, has endorsed Huckabee. Scarborough, along with holding other bizarre stances, opposes the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine on grounds that it interferes with God’s punishment of sexual license. And Huckabee, who once advocated isolating AIDS patients from the general public and opposed increased federal funding in the search for a cure, comes out of this frightening mold. He justified his call to quarantine those with AIDS because they could “pose a dangerous public health risk.”

“If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague,” Huckabee wrote. “It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents.” 

Huckabee has publicly backed off from this extreme position, but he remains deeply hostile to gays. He has used wit and humor to deflect reporters from his radical views about marriage, abortion, damnation, biblical law, creationism and the holy war he believes we are fighting with Islam. But his stances represent a huge step, should they ever become policy, toward a theocratic state and the death of our open society. In the end, however, I do not blame Huckabee or the tens of millions of hapless Christians—40 percent of the Republican electorate—who hear his words and rejoice. I blame the corporate state, those who thought they could disempower and abuse the working class, rape the country, build a rapacious oligarchy and never pay a political price. 

Chris Hedges, who graduated from seminary at Harvard Divinity School, is the author of “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.”


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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, December 8, 2009 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

Hello, Eric.

This article was written two years ago. I wonder how you found it?

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By Eric, December 4, 2009 at 12:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You write:

the scholar Robert O. Paxton… sees fascism as “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cultures of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”

This reminded me of the Black Panthers and other movements embraced by the left.  Were/are they fascist movements?  Perhaps so.  But usually progressives only detect fascists on the right.

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By OzarkMichael, July 17, 2008 at 5:34 pm Link to this comment

The Safe Scapegoat

This idea should be taken to mean safe in every way. Safe in that the attackers know the scapegoat wont hit back. We are already in the majority now, so there wont be retribution to face in the future. Safe today and no worries about future payback(safe tomorrow).

There is another meaning of ‘safe’ to attack this scapegoat. Nothing will happen to the scapegoat(at least in the USA) so there cant be a bad result which the attackers would have to feel responsible for.

The caveat is that there wont be a bad result that the attackers know of. There are places in the world where the scapegoat is daily persecuted by Muslims, 100 times worse than anything that Muslims endure anywhere in the West. This inconvenient truth will not be reported in a ‘Truthdig’ by Gore Vidal(we have already established what that is worth). Unless someone contests these facts I say no more about it.

In the USA there is something of a moral debt(it is a new concept and I dont know what else to call it yet), which is artificially driven to higher and higher amounts against the scapegoat’s account. Let me say a few phrases which will illustrate, such as ‘the Inquisition’, the ‘Salem Witch Trials’,‘the plight of Native Americans’, ‘slavery’.

There are newly concocted debts from old accounts which were once considered as positive balances. Such as ‘the Crusades’. It is not about truth or falsehood right now. I will not contest any accusation for now. Besides, there are so many accusations/bills that it would be a full time job defending against them, and it still wont be enough to dissuade the collectors. The collectors can come up with new bills faster than we can plead against the old ones. Fine.

I am accepting and collating accusations, which in our analogy is represented as bills to be paid. I am sure any Truthdig reader can help make a long long list. 

Some people have been interested in pegging that moral debt up to the most staggering amount imaginable. For now i will leave off trying to figure out why, but one ought to wonder about that, and wonder what the possible outcomes will be. Thee is another aspect using scapegoats which comes to mind, perhaps I will develop that later.

A Christian will never get around to saying anything important if he defends against these endless charges. And there are new strange ghostly ones, displaced from another religion(Islam), which are more numerous than the reader suspects. The desire to attribute debt to the scapegoat ignites people’s imagination. I mention one person and one concept as prime examples: “Karen Armstrong” and “Andalusia”

And here is another way that kicking the Christian is ‘safe’. Despite the massive attempts to drive us out of business by leaving bills at our door, we open again for business tomorrow. There remains something in the old account somehow. We are safe in that way too, I mean that we are solvent, apparently even in the eyes of those who dislike us there is still credit in the account.

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By OzarkMichael, July 17, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

It was not so long ago that beheadings was the sport of the French.  And the axman had a well-paid and publicly applauded occupation at the end of England’s courts.

The axman was never considered to be the highest example of what a man can be. In the West, beheading does not have the spiritual imprimatur which comes from scripture.

Once when Mohammed was particularly stung by some mocking verses he had the poet assasinated. It isnt about culture or race, it becomes moral from a religious standpoint. Mohammed is enshrined in Islamic scripture as the most moral man.

Most religious people have a civil and humane way about them, (perhaps Muslims more so than Christians, I am not saying Muslims are bad) but there will always be a number of people who throw themselves 100% into the original text. What that brings forth in their lives depends on the religion. They will express the original doctrine of their religion in their lives. I am not talking about a peculiar quality of a people or a race or a civilization.  I am talking about fundamentalism.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali(bold print is mine)

Q. Have you seen any ideology coming from within Islam that gives young Muslims a sense of purpose without the overlay of militancy?

A. They have no alternative message. There is no active missionary work among the youth telling them, do not become jihadis. They do not use media means as much as the jihadis. They simply — they’re reactive and they don’t seem to be able to compete with the jihadis. And every time there is a debate between a real jihadi and, say, what we have decided to call moderate Muslims, the jihadis win. Because they come with the Koran and quotes from the Koran. They come with quotes from the Hadith and the Sunnah, and the traditions of the prophet. And every assertion they make, whether it is that women should be veiled, or Jews should be killed, or Americans are our enemies, or any of that, they win. Because what they have to say is so consistent with what is written in the Koran and the Hadith. And what the moderates fail to do is to say, listen, that’s all in there, but that wasn’t meant for this context. And we have moved on. We can change the Koran, we can change the Hadith. That’s what’s missing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/weekinreview/04goodstein.html?_r=3&oref=slogin&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

Thats what is missing. We need a simple admission, ‘listen, thats all in there,’ which even non Muslims are petrified to declare. Why? Because its a criticism, and criticism is racism, islamophobia, whatever it is they are cooking up at the UN to pin to it. If non Muslims cant say it, how on earth will Muslims say it?

If a Western person at the UN Human Rights meetings in Geneva can’t say it(literally! there is a sort of gag rule in effect now at the UN) how on earth do we expect a person in the middle of Saudi Arabia to say it?

“Listen, thats all in there…but we can change the Koran…”

Oh my. That will be hard to do. There are so many obstacles to this I dont know where to begin. Because people know there is truth in religion. It is human nature to want the whole truth. That is the impulse of fundamentalism and it is never going to go away. 

So Ayaan is right about the simple admission. But what she is asking for afterwords is impossible.  She seems to think this is how Christianity got ‘tamed’ and so why not have a reformation of Islam the same way. 

If she hadnt risked her life, I would laugh at her assumption and recommendation. But as it is, she carries some weight with me.

Meanwhile, look for a barrage of mainstream media and karen Armstrong/Chris Hedges types who will address the problem via displacement. I am not saying there is nothing to criticize in Christianity. I am not talking about my own pain, which is non existant. Except for one thing. My beloved History Channel is repeating the tripe about the Crusades now.

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By Shenonymous, July 16, 2008 at 12:12 am Link to this comment

Catharsis is good for the soul, so I have been told.  What if everything you say is true Ozark?  But what if it is not?  Psychological displacement as a mechanism to transfer aggression is understood as is scapegoating used as a tool to deflect grievous offense against morality. Being denied the freedom to express one’s fears can be debilitating.  It is good that you remind of this subhuman behavior.  We must reflect.  What is at the bottom of OM’s outburst? We can see that you are defensive about the episodes you describe, the dramatized “Christian” honor killing, the beheading. But both deeply evil practices are “traditional” drills among humans.  It was not so long ago that beheadings was the sport of the French.  And the axman had a well-paid and publicly applauded occupation at the end of England’s courts.  Women have been brutalized since time immemorial. And it was not restricted to Muslims, or Christians.  You obviously want to bring someone’s or many someone’s consciousness to bear on these episodes of violence that used religions (God) as excuses.  What do you hope to gain by your diatribe against Islamophobia? What good do you think will come from these posts?  I do not argue that some of what you say is the truth.  But there is some of it I am not so sure.  I want to take a good look, a cold look.  You said much, but distilled down, what really are you saying?  Who cares what Hedges says?  Who cares what he is afraid of?  He is an insignificant player in this whole theater.

You intimate that Islam is encroaching on the freedoms and safety of us.  You are not direct and do not come right out and say it for some reason.  You intimate.  You intimate that Christianity, “the scapegoat” is being kicked on another thread. You do not directly say that.  You deflect, no direct hits.  Ozark, if you want to criticize a religion (Islam) do it here.  You can do it here.  Do it!  Nothing bad will happen.  Nothing that is if you have reasoned impassionate and specific argument.  Passion in an argument is a blight and lessens the weight of a point made.  You are protected by the complete anonymity of the website.  Physically you are safe.  Perhaps I am not!  My anonymity has been breached a few times.  But you are!  Surely you know you are not the only watchdog on the imperiousness of Islam.  But you surely also know there are watchdogs on the imperiousness that arises within the realm Christianity.

You have taken offense for an dramatized incident about Christians involved in a killing reminiscent of Islamic honor killings, of Islamic beheadings.  Why, because a Christian is now the executioner, the perpetrator of the grossly reprehensible crime?  Why the howling uproar?  Do you think these are cases of Displacement?  Scapegoating?  Of course you do not naively think Christians are exempt from violent acts, do you?  What if we were to weigh the bodies of all those killed as honor killings and devotional beheadings, do you really think the Muslim measure outweighs every other religions’ vile acts?  Shall I remind us that over a million Iraqis are dead because a Christian God whispered in a presidents ear?

What I say is that fanaticism that leads to the denigration and desecration of humans is evil however it is expressed.  It does not matter to me at all that a Christian was portrayed committing these flagitious and atrocious crimes. It matters to me that humankind produces such monstrous behavior within their ranks at all.  It seems to me that rather than be defensive, we ought to be asking what kind of impulses are these such that these evils exist even once in our midst whether that midst be Evangelical or Islamic, et al.

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By OzarkMichael, July 15, 2008 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment

Part Three: We Speak Our Minds. One Way or Another

This week there was a beheading enacted on the BBC on a crime drama. Now, what type of character in the wide world does this sort of thing?

Remember your pyschology. It isnt about truth, because the truth is dangerous. And there is always the scapegoat to kick around.

Thats right! The TV drama depicted an evil fundamentalist Christian decapitating an innocent Muslim with a sword. And what was the BBC’s reaction to the paltry 100 emails it got that expressed indignation?

Yesterday the corporation admitted ‘regret’ that viewers had found the scene ‘inappropriate’, but defended its decision to show it.

Translation: “we did the right thing and we arent backing down. We regret only your oversensitive Christian fundamentalist attitude. We keep our artistic integrity! We faced down the danger!”

But it isnt really the danger is it? Its just the safe-to-kick-around-scapegoat. We all know what the danger is.

One viewer wrote at the corporation’s website: ‘If it had been another religion portrayed in that manner, the PC police would have been up in arms about the nastiness and their rights not to have their religion ridiculed - as it was Christians, it was apparently OK.’

We all know which religion that is. The one you cant criticize.

And thats what this boils down to. Because when people cant express their fears about something, it has to get dumped somewhere else.

Hopefully we have also put in focus the true meaning of “Islamophobia”, because people really are afraid of Islam. They are afraid to criticize it, question it, or even to notice it’s bad points.

The scapegoat is by definition a target you can dump on without fear of retribution. It has to be someone or a group which is already despised.

And so we come full circle. We wind up this thread(pending a final word from other regulars here) with a look at the Chris Hedges article(please read it one last time).

What is Chris really afraid of? How terrified he was, the alarm bells going off, the doom ahead! Dominionists! Christians on the rampage! They are taking over!

It lead to… nothing. Hedge’s assesment of the situation and his theory’s predictive value can be described as insignificant. His only strength was fear and hatred for the scapegoat which was repeated in many responses in the thread. That is all that remains, unchanged by events which proved it all to be displaced. And all those posts. All those smart people, who even now remain only dimly aware that there really is a religion encroaching on their freedom and safety. But they can not face that. Instead they bravely kick the scapegoat on another thread.


As we part,

*Shenonymous*

The Atheist.
With Ideals.

The only Effective Opponent.
And Best Friend.

The Fiery Woman.
With a loving heart.

Never named.
But never forgotten.

For Love
Outlasts faith.

Love
Outlasts fear.

Love
Outlasts death.

She laughs,
“Silly boy!”

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By OzarkMichael, July 15, 2008 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

Part Two; We Speak Our Minds…

I want to question this. First, where exactly has this image of Christians who stone people come from? And to kill a woman for having a boyfriend of another faith? Is there a newspaper article about this phenomenon that I have missed?

Because yes there is something called honor killings, which occur mostly in Muslim communities. It is almost always women who get killed. The recent matter of the two girls in Texas killed by their muslim father for having Christian boyfriends. Last week again in Georgia another incident. It involved the girl becoming too Western and bringing shame on the family. Now she is dead. As far as stoning, there is the recent matter of a woman who was sentenced to stoning by the Islamic Republic for the crime of adultery.

I am not saying that these things are normal in a Muslim community. That is not my point. Most muslim dads are probably better fathers than the western ones. The point is that the tradition of honor killing is found in Muslim communities, such as Jordan, where the criminal sentencing of such crimes is lenient. Stoning women for adultery is part of Islam and not Christianity. Here is a link that still works! About stoning:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n5NHt8YWpQ

Another question from the Law and Order video: Where are churches that run Christian armies, which are implied when the killer talks about being a ‘General in Christ’s Army?’ Is it the Salvation Army? If a church existed that trained soldiers they would be closed down and I would want them to be.

But again, there is the matter of madrassa training for future Jihadis, various armed groups (planning violence and not just talking about it) in many places.

Now remember your psychology, it comes in handy. For there is a simple pschological dynamic occuring in America. It is called displacement.

Displacement occurs when a person, or group or a nation is afraid to express indignation towards the feared problem, so they retarget it towards a hated scapegoat that is not feared and safe to abuse. The displacer can also cast all its guilt upon the scapegoat. The nation’s guilt is neatly dealt with, as well as the fear.

The exhiliration that comes from attacking the scapegoat is also interesting. It doesnt take bravery to attack the scapegoat, but people who do so applaud each other for bravery and insight. The sense of confronting danger is a transference, because it really is dangerous to attack the feared problem. But the dangerous problem is not being attacked, its only the safe scapegoat. That is the magic of displacement.
 
It would take an unusual person to set aside well earned comfort and assume some sort of title associating herself with the scapegoat. It would take an exceptional person to not only do that, but to attack the feared problem in the most scathing terms, daring the real danger to act against her, almost hoping it would do so for that would expose it and break the spell of the displacement. Such people do not exist now.

Rest in Peace, O.F.

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By OzarkMichael, July 15, 2008 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

Part One: We Speak Our Minds. One Way or Another

What happens when people notice a problem but cant talk about it for fear of being accused of ‘hatespeech’? Do they just remain silent? We know human pyschology, we know that something we are afraid of will be expressed one way or another.

So what is the expression I am going to to show you, and where does it really come from?   

Here is our mainstream media exposing a problem in America. From an episode of Law and Order. Except the link wont work. NBC pulled it.
   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkGDUz_LXAw

the story: A teenage girl is found stoned to death. A pastor,(fundamentalist Christian) had been preaching to kids about being ‘Generals’, in Christ’s army and fighting the evil Muslims. The dead girl had been dating a muslim boy. The pastor (played by Sam the Hobbit!) on the witness stand goes on a ‘hate’ rant which gives away that he approved of the stoning, and who did it. The viewer is made to feel a bit disgusted with these Christians.

I want to question this. First, where exactly has this image

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By OzarkMichael, July 8, 2008 at 2:04 pm Link to this comment

I am referring those myths of those who are abjectly arrogant or overbearingly prideful… those preachers who think their brand of truth is The Truth, whether they are religious preachers or preachers of science, academia, or art, or in any other domain of human interaction.

Chris Hedges talks this way somewhere.

Yes, I agree.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2008 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

How poetic OM…what insight!
Yes that is one way to treat myth:  Those primordial kinds of myth that have seeds of truth in them.  That is not the meaning of myth I am discussing.  I am referring those myths of those who are abjectly arrogant or overbearingly prideful… those preachers who think their brand of truth is The Truth, whether they are religious preachers or preachers of science, academia, or art, or in any other domain of human interaction.  Those are the myths of self-deception, those that promote unconsciousness.  Those are the myths that need exploded to reveal the truth.  In those myths resides no delicate scent of truth but only lives the rank smell of the ignorant.

I recommend a film, The Mission.  It is a powerful restatement of exactly what you described. 

Noi testamento sempre sosta il meglio di amicizia anche se abbiamo diverso credenza! Ÿ questo non veramente?
We will always stay the best of friends even though we have different beliefs! Is this not true?

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By OzarkMichael, July 8, 2008 at 12:39 pm Link to this comment

Noi testamento sempre sosta il meglio di amicizia anche se abbiamo diverso credenza! Ÿ questo non veramente?

I enjoy putting sentiments into Italian.

“New testament always… friendship… we have diverse beliefs! The question is not true?”

I enjoy making up interpretations of things i dont understand!

But please tell me what it was that you really said. Same with French, and Latin, and ummm, everything else, too.

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By OzarkMichael, July 8, 2008 at 11:37 am Link to this comment

I agree with you that the idea of universal truth does ‘walk’ a razor’s edge, but we are liable to cut ourselves if we insist our own understanding is THE only right understanding.

Yes, i agree. We might cut ourselves. And others.

For example, a preacher visits some natives. Before begining a sermon with the intention of exploding their myths, it would be nice to think first. Think of what this will do to the culture of the natives, and to their civilization. These words should be printed onto the first page of every preacher’s Bible so he will not forget them:

“Once I destroy the root of a rare and slow growing plant, the flower will die and we may never see such a flower again. Simliarly, if I destroy a myth, any good thing which that myth provided could be lost.”

The good things might be simple to understand in a simple native culture. But as the culture makes many advances, it becomes harder to trace the effects of the myth. The natives themselves might not be aware of the relation. They might even assume that all people everywhere experience the relation, regardless of place or religion or time. But caution, have caution, Mr. Preacher! Even if the natives no longer attribute aspects of their culture to their myth, it may be that without the mythic roots the civilization flower will fade. What took a thousand years to grow… the finest flower, which anyone can appreciate as a good thing, gone forever because someone began a rightious ‘explosion’ of ‘myth’ to clear the way for ‘truth’.

People who explode myths rarely appreciate what they destroy. How easy it is to destroy, really, because the faults of the natives are so obvious, with their primitive or violent ways. It is all laid bare to us who occupy the ‘higher’ vantage point. But somehow we are not smart enough to trace the really good things in their civilization… to their myths.

The scent of the delicate and rare flowers filled the air, and we still dont make the connection, until the fragrance is gone. Only then do we look back and wonder if there was truth in the myth. But the question is academic, since the myth is gone, and it’s great results are gone with it.

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2008 at 11:31 am Link to this comment

Exactly how do you perceive the cosmic battle?  Shall we define cosmic?  And of what form do good and evil take? 

Well you are quite right about pale and wrinkled bodies being part of the human race, but that is not the question Mapplethorpe is asking us to think about, is it?

And no it doesn’t become a more human portrait because the subjects are good looking and young, but it doesn’t become less either.

The distinction between myth and truth is to what I was referring.  If a myth is “exploded,” I think that means it is shown to be myth and not truth.  Myths are often believed to be truth and were thought to be truth at one time in the ancient cultures where the myths emerged.

For example (from The Free Dictionary): myth is defined to be a traditional, typically ancient story dealing with supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes that serves as a fundamental type in the worldview of a people, as by explaining aspects of the natural world or delineating the psychology, customs, or ideals of society, such as the myth of Eros and Psyche; or a creation myth; or, an idea or explanation which is widely held but untrue or unproven, i.e., the myth that the USA is a classless society.  This latter is mainly the type of myth that artists’ works aim at.

The “way,” in this context is meant with respect to truth.  If there is only one truth, then we do not know it the same as the one and only Truth. For instance, the integrity you offer would mean different things to each of us depending on where we each learned what it meant and would be colored by our idiosyncratic histories.  We would have to come to some agreeable definition and then that might be different than what our other acquaintances believe.  I agree with you that the idea of universal truth does ‘walk’ a razor’s edge, but we are liable to cut ourselves if we insist our own understanding is THE only right understanding.

Noi testamento sempre sosta il meglio di amicizia anche se abbiamo diverso credenza! Ÿ questo non veramente?

I enjoy putting sentiments into Italian.

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By OzarkMichael, July 6, 2008 at 8:13 pm Link to this comment

You see there really is not a “cosmic battle” over good and evil.  It is a battle right in the human mind.

I dont understand why the two sentences are mutually exclusive. I think its both.

The photographed slick black bodies of homosexuals of Mapplethorpe are intended to say these humans are part of the human race whether you like it or not!

Yes, and they would be part of the human race even if they were pale and wrinkled. It doesnt become a more human portrait because the subjects are good looking and young.

If an artist indeed does explode a myth, it doesn’t need applause of his/her own fellow artists but of those, any of those, who intuit the explosion.  If insult is felt, it is because the arrow struck its mark.

What does that stricking mean? Does it mean the myth is really exploded? Is it a blow for truth because I understand its an insult?

OM, I would never consider you an enemy.  Would you so consider me?  The distance between us is merely a thin line compared to the size of our humanity.  I do not even see you as an opponent but I see you as another mind in search of the truth in a different direction.  Aristotle said “the way is wide.”

I dont know that the way is wide. When it comes to friendship, yes, the way can be as wide every person in the world. When it comes to truth, when it comes to maintaining integrity, the way might be narrow. I think we both believe that. I think within yourself, Shenonymous, truth walks a razor line. Which is one of the things I like about you.

My opponent? If so, only in the best way, and on this topic of art you are merciful to a borderline ignoramus. I didnt know what the term ‘modern art’ really meant until you explained it.

Friends? You bet!

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By Shenonymous, July 6, 2008 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

1.  As a bull would lower its hard head…bravo for digging in with the hooves.  I think direct words are the most unfair form communication can have.  The thing is that with art one can walk away without the slightest inking understanding what is said.  Sermons use words that are at least the language of the listener.  If the listener is incapable of understanding, that is akin to not understanding the work of art that appears prima facie to be something loathsome or obscure.  Modern art purposefully left dialectic or narrative out of its imagery and concentrated instead on the effects of the elements, the inherent qualities of color, shape, line, texture, and shade (value), or the abstract ideas of space and time.  For example, modern artists such as Pablo Picasso in his Guernica that alludes to the atrocities of the bombing of that village in the Spanish War, used the elements of shape to express the idea, shape ascended to be more important than the story because it is shape that actually affects our sensibilities and the story comes second after the initial shock of the sharp and angular shapes that instill terrifying fear and desperate avoidance psychologically first for that is what registers in the mind first.  The story of atrocity is more poignantly told with the shapes.  Artists such as Jackson Pollock used lines to express human gesture, Franz Kline also used line as an exploration in a much different manner focusing on how a close observation of a line may be expressive within a composition that had to do with the principle of balance that also invested in the difference between black and white.  Such are the concerns of modern art.  This is a different mentality than say Symbolist Art or Futuristic Art that also emerged about the same time late 19th to mid 20th century.  The narrative kind of art that we speak of with respect to degenerate was created along side the other arts and may even incorporate some of the stylisms of modernity crossing both modern and non-modern camps.  Impressionism is a precursor to modernism with their interest in the effects of light and how to overcome the realism of the camera.  Their focus was not on the subject matter of boating scenes, or the countryside but rather what was happening to the retina of the eye when looking at the world.  This was also the interest of modern sculptor August Rodin who was completely taken with breaking up the surface of the bronze so that light reflections gave an animation to the sight of the viewer looking at the inert bronze.

All this notwithstanding is different than when an artist is intending to call on you to explore an idea of violence or other human depravity.  Those ideas are naturally and usually pushed out of the mind so that it is psychologically safe, for if humans were to have them constantly in the front of their thinking, they would become completely depressed at human existence and then where would we be?  Mass hysteria and suicide I would venture.  This happens on a small scale at any rate, I believe.  The intention of the artist is to strike a blow of the deepest psychically kind.  The art photos of the piles of human carcasses of the holocaust are intended to offend.  The photographed slick black bodies of homosexuals of Mapplethorpe are intended to say these humans are part of the human race whether you like it or not!  They can be positioned in beautiful ways, where in this case the notion of beauty offends some.  Now that is a juxtaposition that makes one question the idea of beauty itself.  How could such depravity and beauty be combined, if in the eyes the real god it actually is depraved?  And how could base mortals, as all mortals comparably are base, presume to know the mind of god?  And are you so blinded by your own idiosyncratic idea of morality that you violate your own Jesus commandment to love your fellow humans?  And what of love, what does it really mean to love?  These are questions art poses.

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By Shenonymous, July 6, 2008 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

2.  You see there really is not a “cosmic battle” over good and evil.  It is a battle right in the human mind.  And what is or is not moral are the questions not of one person’s sensibility but of a community, a society to determine, and if there is a difference of opinion within that society, then it is something that that society must work out in order to live peacefully.  And if one cannot abide by the society’s decision then that individual must leave and go somewhere else. 

Of course people have a right not to see the truth.  They always have the option of closing their eyes.  Just as they can close their ears to a sermon they do not want to hear. 

Imagining a conversation among artists as applauding each other is a device for avoiding real dialogue.  The comedic drama is only in the head of whoever is doing the imagining.  If an artist indeed does explode a myth, it doesn’t need applause of his/her own fellow artists but of those, any of those, who intuit the explosion.  If insult is felt, it is because the arrow struck its mark.

All communication is the longing to connect with Other than oneself.  Humans are essentially social creatures and long, either genetically or through being conditioned by the need for love, sustenance, and nuture.  Places where artists may show their works are limited.  The fact is that they have been invited to exhibit in many non-traditional places including churches, railway stations, restaurants… 

OM, I would never consider you an enemy.  Would you so consider me?  The distance between us is merely a thin line compared to the size of our humanity.  I do not even see you as an opponent but I see you as another mind in search of the truth in a different direction.  Aristotle said “the way is wide.”

Your last paragraph is insightful.  For the most part, art that is more than an exercise in copying some object or scene, but intends to arouse questions about some aspect of life for humans to think about beyond the surface, that is what art is.

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By OzarkMichael, July 6, 2008 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

The strong ideas she has earned in all these matters, the strong intellect and knowledge behind them, do not need recourse to the shouting and extreme language that occur so often. She holds her truths no less dearly than the shouters, she understands her truth better than most of them, she speaks it more clearly and firmly.

While I have only a rudimentary appreciation of art, (recently i attended a modern sort of art exhibit for the first time and understood what was going on… with help), I am digging my stubborn hooves into the ground and lowering my hard head. Only slowly and by degrees am i understanding this, and until I do, i am not budging.

The question, again to make a correction, is whether sacrilegious art has a right to public display, not whether all art does.  There are artworks the content of which I would not put on public display for the mere reason that there are children who ought not to be exposed to vile ideas.

Yes there is no argument or defense that a child can make against an artwork, no less than they can against an adult who wishes to hurt them. Maybe there is no argument anyone can make. All one can do is withstand the blow. Isn’t Art the most unfair form of communication? It is a bit like a sermon which one must listen to. One cannot interrupt or argue with it.

All ideas are subject to become the subject of artworks.  That does not mean there are adults who should not be exposed to such as there are valid reasons to raise the consciousness of the adult public about repugnant ideas through the media of art.

If people want to be exposed to it, yes.  Otherwise it is like being forced to go to church. People have a right to not see it, to not go, to not listen. But in that case only the folks who need it the least will show up. The folks that the artist(and preacher) really want to get to are never there.

As consolation, fellow artists(and preachers) reciprocally applaud each other with phrases like ‘bold’, ‘truthful’, etc. To me these mutual praises are not worth anything. If one artist says of another, ‘his work is boldly exploding myths’ I get the drift but it makes me laugh. I dont think people who talk like that and who do such things should be taken seriously. For it is not so bold to insult Christians in an art gallery (or preach Christ in a church). To come up with a new way to insult(or a new phrase to preach with) ... isnt that really just the same old thing? It is a cleverness, yes I grant that. It turns on the converted like electricity, yes I grant that too. 

The artist(and preacher) worth his/her salt longs to connect to a wider audience, to really test themselves against the unwashed masses. The legal limitations of where and how a preacher can compel people to listen is basically established. We might argue over exactly where the line should be drawn, but we agree that there is a line. Should not the same be true for the artist? 

Now, if we argue over exactly where these lines should be drawn, does this make us enemies? Is the distance between us so great? No, at least i hope not. We are merely opponents.

Now in those rare times when Christians look at an artwork and say, “That is really good. I disagree with the answer but its a well proposed question.” or when the artist hears a sermon and says, “That was beautiful and true. I dont believe in the conclusion, but it was compelling.” In both cases we can say it was a great thing. It isnt mere rhetorical flourishes or well worn phrases that make for great preaching. Nor is mere shock and insult the ingredient for great art.

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2008 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

When I said ‘no matter’ I meant that in response to your changing the direction of the discussion, not that it didn’t matter that others than Christians pay taxes.  As my next comment implied that I would continue with my own point.  Again it doesn’t matter that I put the discussion back on the track I was on.

Was I happy with the compromise of turning panels so offended students would not have to look at my nude drawings?  Happiness was not an emotion I felt or did not feel.  A peaceful resolution always makes for a tranquil state of affairs.  The show went on uneventfully except for the congratulations and compliments.  Now that made me happy.

The question, again to make a correction, is whether sacrilegious art has a right to public display, not whether all art does.  There are artworks the content of which I would not put on public display for the mere reason that there are children who ought not to be exposed to vile ideas.  And horrid ideas do show up in artworks.  All ideas are subject to become the subject of artworks.  That does not mean there are adults who should not be exposed to such as there are valid reasons to raise the consciousness of the adult public about repugnant ideas through the media of art.  That however is a topic for another time. 

The 1998 amendment Supreme Court decision needs to be stated verbatim to understand also its limitations and explicit intentions. 

Such legal limitations would have banned the highly controversial Heironymous Bosch’s tryptic Garden of Earthly Delights that was condemned openly by the Catholic Church and outlawed but was shown extensively in the public and actually became panels in a altarpiece.(JSTOR reference: Divine Judgment in Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights by Peter Glum) I will provide upon request.

You are welcome to the art lessons.  I am always glad to help the uninitiates become more aware of what art is.

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By OzarkMichael, July 5, 2008 at 6:09 pm Link to this comment

Shenonymous, your three posts were very informative, about things I know little about. I finished reading them twice and will read them again later.

Shenonymous: I should like to point out, however, that Christians are not the only ones that pay taxes nor ought to be able exclusively to say which dollars goes for what!  But no matter.

Yes, it does matter. What you are saying is absolutely right.

After tracing out religious/sacriligious through Michalangelo and Goya(by the way, Cyrena was right. We are getting a free education here! It generates a desire to understand art more) the links to the website were helpful, Not too partisan. I read several of the summaries.

Yet my minor contention continues, from the website Shenonumous linked:

In 1990, Congress adopted an amendment which directed the NEA to take into consideration “general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public.”

This amendment led to a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the decency standard enacted by Congress.

That is Congressional action and the Supreme Court episode I was referring to. That law is still in effect.

And back to Shenonymous:One could extrapolate on one’s own what might be the next logical step for curtailment of the freedom of speech.  There are wolves at that door.

I dont know. I must be missing something. I will have to read the 1st Amendment website more closely tomorrow.

Whether it ‘is’ sacrilegious is also in question.  And whether sacrilegious art has a right to public display, particularly within a society that is homogenous in ethnicity and ethnic values.

Does art have a right to public display… I am not sure that in all cases it does. I liked the compromise you came up with in your undergraduate days. But I feel a bit bad for you. Were you happy with the compromise?

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2008 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

Good Morning
Part 1 – On the nature of controversial art and the freedom of speech
I do not argue with your contention that artists ought to obey a standard of decency in their works.  And you ought to be able to easily live with what shall be hurled below!  Each of us has a right to their own personal opinions, at least in this country and you know I would fight to the death for that right!  Though I hope I never have to.  But I submit that what is offensive to some is not offensive to all.  And yes, as an artist, an extensively educated artist, I do probably have more knowledge about the arts than you.  First of all I did not reference Mapplethorpe’s work, but you used that work to make a different point than what I did.  Nor did I suggest that the government subsidize artists who do depict violence and depravity in artworks.  I should like to point out, however, that Christians are not the only ones that pay taxes nor ought to be able exclusively to say which dollars goes for what!  But no matter.  I will continue with my  point. 

Using the most paradigm examples in the culture of today of a medium of communication, art, to demonstrate what I meant by restriction of the freedom of speech, the artworks I cited are probably the most controversial.  They are contentious because they fuse together religious content with secular symbolism that appeared to attack sacred meaning.  The 90s in art was the highlight of a staggering assault on the sensibilities of the religious and the most profane of topics. 

The power of art to bring to cognizance the capacity of human emotion and action is uncontestable and is able to arouse the most intense response available to that consciousness.  This is true of all the arts, but images in visual experience can be the most keenly distressing.  I purposely refrained from using Mapplethorpe’s art here as an example since his art involved the morality of homosexuality and did not use religious iconography although his subject matter did elicit the sharpest response from the ultra-conservative religious right. 

Serrano and Ofili, however, did use the most common of ecclesiastical imagery.  All three of these artists, and others not mentioned, while not their primary purpose, were challenging the freedom of speech in their unique way and the challenge was ultimate.  How much farther could one go beyond that, as Ozark asks, is rhetorical.  Freedom of speech spills over into the freedom for all to speak.  The aesthetics of these artists’ works was a direct hit to the limitations of that freedom.  Our accounts of beauty and our responses to it is partly at bottom of what art is about.  While some think it is only about such things, other critics think art has nothing at all to do with beauty or life or politics, and some think it ought not to at all.  Such are the variety of opinions.  But that is the point, to have or not have a voice, to have or not have a vision of reality and to choose what is reality and what is not.  And the debate is not whether what these artists produced is art or not, for if one were to take any number of ways to criticize art, these works qualify unqualifyingly.  The debate is whether what they had to say was important to raise the level of thinking about what is important!

The discussion is not even whether the content is acceptable in the public domain and ought to be funded by public money.  But that in essence is where politics entered the picture and the idea of the freedom of speech became involved.

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2008 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

Part 2- On the nature of controversial art and the freedom of speech Cont.
Leaving the topic of homosexuality aside at this time is also on purpose because it is a subject that would take another direction and a great deal of debate that is dealt with copiously elsewhere, and is not really the subject of my talk here.  I do want to discuss briefly whether controversial religious topics are proper in the domain of art.  Some religions absolutely forbid religious images and finds them a sacrilege (Islam).  These religions have no say in the debate since all portrayals are anathema to them clearly putting them entirely outside the arena of discussion.  Other religions, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., have used visual imagery, and it could be argued since the cave if one were to suggest that primitive man had religion and painted quasi visual descriptions of entities greater than themselves.  It depends, therefore, on the tradition of the society in which the artworks appear.  Art has consistently been used to critique every aspect of human endeavor.  There is no quarter within the arts where it has not provokingly inquired into the most vital and fundamental beliefs and this definitely includes the realm of religion.

The mistake is that the arts are there for the general public’s enjoyment, pleasure, and to appreciate beauty, albeit to present “pretty” pictures.  In fact, those are not the essential reasons for art.  Art is to raise consciousness in ways that are not accessible by any other means.  The fact that the arts use particular emotive and affective ways to get “the message across” is important for its reason for existence.  One could just tell the story verbally of the abusive and unjust exercise of power that is found in the history of religion, the horror of torture and violence by those speaking in the name of god.  However, when a crucifix is seen in a glass of human piss, that is quite a knockout worse than any boxer could inflict.  One must, one is compelled, to ask what does it mean?  Why in their wildest dreams, or nightmares, would anybody present that image?  What is this seemingly probing of primal psychological drives?  The fact that Serrano’s photograph has aesthetic value, the cropping of the image, the colors chosen, the position of the crucifix as turned slightly to the viewer’s left, the array of bubbles in the bloodlike color (red), these are all the elemental tools and principles the artist employs to present his/her idea as strongly as possible and in this particular discussion, while having importance since we are dealing with art, is secondary and adjunctive to the content and the fact that it ‘seems’ sacrilegious is the issue.  Whether it ‘is’ sacrilegious is also in question.  And whether sacrilegious art has a right to public display, particularly within a society that is homogenous in ethnicity and ethnic values.

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By Shenonymous, July 5, 2008 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Part 3 - On the nature of controversial art and the freedom of speech Cont.
Let us stipulate, for the moment, that these images are artworks, and that their content is sacrilegiously offensive to some.  Controversial subject matters in art do have precedence.  What first comes to mind, since they are so well known and revered, are the works of Michelangelo, particularly the Last Judgment painted on the Sistine Chapel that depicts bloody scenes of martyred saints and tormented sinners obviously with religiously moral intentions, or Francisco Goya’s works, i.e., The Naked Maja certainly presages the modern works that depict sex, and his The Executions of May 3, 1808 that painted pools of blood while the monks portrayed “hide their faces in horror at the massacre.”  Does Goya’s moral perspective indeed differentiate him from Serrano?  One must read about Serrano to understand his artistic intentions.  They are not obvious from cursorily viewing one work.  Viewing Goya’s Black Paintings are said to be within the most jarring and disturbing in all of art history.  His Saturn Devouring One of His Sons, shows as graphic as any image can cannabalistic infanticide.  So precedence of horrid and sacrilegious imagery is found historically.  Highly charged imagery in artworks of a religious nature were not new to the 20th century.

FYI: Although the Supreme Court made clear that the government is not required to subsidize artistic expression with public funds, the Court also found that once it does decide to provide funds for arts programs, the government cannot withdraw that funding, thus censoring certain works, because it disagrees with the viewpoint expressed in the work.  The uproar over the Mapplethorpe exhibit led to its cancellation at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and to the arrest and trial of the director of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center on charges of pandering and obscenity after he allowed the exhibit to open at the center. However, the director, Dennis Barrie, was acquitted after a much-publicized six-month trial.

My argument is not about whether or not public funds ought to be used to support exhibitions of controversial artworks although that could be food for an extended debate at some other time.  The point is how curtailment of freedom of speech seeps into all facets of life.

And to answer Ozark’s question of what is next? I refer you to a 2006 report http://www.fac.org/rel_liberty/establishment/..../rel_liberty/establishment/topic.aspx?topic=art_funding
that gives a fairly good description of the issue and the state of Art and the First Amendment, Public Funding of Controversial Art.  One could extrapolate on one’s own what might be the next logical step for curtailment of the freedom of speech.  There are wolves at that door.

As an undergraduate student, I had personal experience with this issue for an exhibition in the campus library of a community college where I attended.  My works were part of an art exhibition where three of my drawings of nude figures were displayed.  Some religion students expressed offense at having to look at these drawings (which were the result of in-class exercises and were not of lewd composition, but definitely as nude as the Botticelli Venus).  The library did not ask me to remove the drawings, but the panel walls used to hang the works were turned so that direct observation was eliminated and if one wanted to see the works, walking through the panels was the option.  It was a peaceful solution without anybody’s rights being eliminated.

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By OzarkMichael, July 4, 2008 at 9:42 pm Link to this comment

It all began in 1989 when Piss Christ, along with the homoerotic photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe, found themselves at the centre of controversy in the United States, where the forces of the Christian Right rallied to curtail the National Endowment for the Arts. More recently, Congress legislated, upheld by the Supreme Court, that the NEA must take “into consideration general standards of decency” in awarding grants.

What artists want to do in for their exhibits is their own business. Yes, I agree with that. But unfortunately, Shenonymous, we are going to clash on this somewhere along the line. Unfortunate because you are an artist and i am aware that you know more than i do about this matter.

Yes, Mapplethorpe et al. can do whatever he likes on his own time. Artists can skewer us and our beliefs all they want. So at first the NEA seemed to think it was unassailable. From their high walls the elites motioned for the barbarians at the gate to go home. It was their program to do with as they pleased.

The tipping point came when Christians became aware that they were footing the bill. The US government provides the money so that the NEA can hand out grants to Mapplethorpe et al, so it is our taxes that pay for these projects.

Government sponsorship of art is not a right. The sense of entitlement needed to be adjusted. 

The symbolism of the artworks, their possible merits, etc, was a smokescreen. If we would have been gullible enough to think the whip or the piss was somehow nice, I bet the artists would have laughed all the way to the bank as they cashed their NEA checks. 

I am certain if we let the artworks pass, our political action would have only been postponed until the next more obvious insult. Artists like to test boundaries. Who knows what they would have done next, pushing harder to find out if there is any limit to our credulity. 

Again, it was not the artwork itself so much as the fact that we were paying for it. If it had been privately funded, the protest against it would have been limited to the fringe. But as I recall the reaction was like a tidal wave. The consensus on my side was that the NEA was either going to be more selective in distributing its cash or it was not going to get any more cash.

If the Supreme Court had ruled that it was illegal to make the NEA be more selective in its grants, then we would have lobbied to shut down funding of the NEA. Completely. 

In the event it was a fine compromise which everyone was able to live with.

I hope I can live with whatever Shenonymous is about to hurl my way.

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2008 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment

Part 2
Freedom of speech, while guaranteed in American constitutional law, is not absolutely a freedom since it is restricted when it is judged to be inciting a riot.  Freedom of speech is not guaranteed anywhere else in the world.  There are two artworks that received a great deal of controversy in the late 90s called Piss Christ by Andres Serrano and The Holy Virgin Mary, by British artist, Chris Ofili created using elephant dung.  A great deal of furor was raised and some politicians were catapulted into the public limelight by taking vehement issue with the Serrano work on the congressional floor.  The works were not banned however and have gone on be exhibited extensively and to be referenced in all art history books that deals with contemporary art.  There are others, within the Christian clergy, that defended the Piss Christ work as “profoundly religious,” see Casey, Fisher, and Ramsay at http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/staffhome/dacasey/Serrano.htm
and
http://dlibrary.acu.edu.au/staffhome/dacasey/Casey Fisher Ramsay.html

Challenging the basis and reason for art, these works are obviously associated with religion and religious beliefs. No huge outcry emerged in England with the Ofili work and there are other works of his that deal with human and animal waste.  The disputes are kept civilized.  The point here is that religious disputation must be debated and kept within the religion itself and not in the world of politics.  Religious communities, whether they are western in origin or eastern must stay within the boundaries of its religious dogma and thought.  Imperialism in religions is the cause of wars, death, and destruction and are antithetical to basic tenets of their religions. Intelligent evolution of humankind measures the sophistication with which religions can deal with huge questions about their religion.  It is a sign of weakness that any religion cannot sustain and defend with reason any assault on the dogma or traditional belief system.  Questions reasonably answered only strengthens the foundation of a religion.  Ozark’s concern is obviously about the defensive posture of Islamists.  His points have validity and seem to be an honest attempt to come to terms with what seems a devious protectionism that wishes to alleviate responsibility for unrighteous behavior. There is evidence for his concerns.  We have made the argument on this forum that to modify the first Amendment to the American Constitution would be a dangerous de-strengthening of the protection.  His argument is that “trimming back” the freedom of speech on the world stage sets a precedence to devalue human rights even further.  I think he has a powerful point there.  Although it seems he is making an attempt to step out of that framework, the thing that seems to reduce the strength of his arguments is his attachment to his own brand of fundamentalism.

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By Shenonymous, July 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

Part 1
Taking a counterexample:  Let us suppose that an Islamist, say an Iraqi citizen who is not part of the insurgents, but an ordinary citizen who is very angry with the United States because the US bombed their neighborhood and they no longer have a home, uses the Bible for target practice.  Does the United States then also sponsor a UN resolution about the repression of free speech having taken insult from the Iraqi’s action?  But since the US is a country of many faiths, it might not as a country take complete offense at the shooting at the Bible.  However, burning of the American flag might be akin to the infraction of shooting holes in the Bible.  Americans as a whole are more nationalistic than religious.  So perhaps a resolution from the United States UN representative that proposes criminal acts against countries who harbor American Flag burners, would be reasonable?  Except Americans have been watching the burning of their flag for decades in various countries.  I do not think any resolution against the freedom of speech was proposed to the UN on account of flag burning. Preparing for a discussion with a friend, I was re-reading Satanic Verses recently.  I ran across the following that had to do with a recollection of surviving a fire where, after a great distancing, one friend helped the other:  “love had shown that it could exert a humanizing power as great as that of hatred, that virtue could transform men as well as vice. But nothing was forever; no cure, it appeared, was complete.”  It is that last sentence that seem most important, don’t you think?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is more than an attempt to establish what are universally moral.  The problem is to enforce those rights.

The film, Fitna, the Wilders film, was uneven for me in content.  It was intended to be provocative with the female wearing a revealing see-through gown which would only tend to enrage the Islamist public, especially the clergy.  The fact that the woman committed fornication, which is forbidden by the religion, was also meant to create a riotous response since she would not have been virginal at marriage.  While I personally am not disturbed by either nudity, being an artist and using the nude human figure for decades, female and male, or disturbed by sex between consenting adults, I think to use those two behaviors in order to effect social change in a culture-wide repressive religion is not a smart thing to do.  If it is desirable to change the attitude toward either of those actions, it needs to evolve within the belief system itself for it to become accepted and indelible regardless of how slow the process might be.  Given their penchant for reactive violence, antagonizing the community of Islamists is not useful for the purpose.  All that being said, however, neither of these conducts are violations worthy of the woman being beaten, raped by the uncle, nor being subject to murder, and although a dramatization, I believe this is typical.  While there may be enlightened men in the culture, the general view of women in Islam is uncivilized at best.  But those two things are not really the substructure of the film.  The real motive is to criticize the irrational beliefs of Islam about freedom of speech. While it is almost impossible to impede one’s thought, although the emotion of guilt could be conditioned in the members of a social group for particular kinds of thought (as Catholics do with their corpus on sin), it is possible to prevent and prosecute particular kinds of speech.

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By OzarkMichael, June 30, 2008 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment

A friend communicated to me that the OIC sponsored repression of free speech needs to be understood in light of the insults to Islam. An example is the Qura’n being used by a US soldier for target practice. And then the rhetorical question, “What do you expect the OIC to do, love you for it? be passive? or take actions at the highest level possible?”

A few comments. Once we allow that OIC should take action, a reasonable question arises: ‘what action is appropriate?’ And by what standard are we to judge the appropriateness of the action?

Islamically speaking I figure that the OIC is doing the right thing. Islam deserves respect. Islam means submission. Without the submission there is continual disturbance(fitna). That means that the OIC must resort to some kind of force to compel the desired good behaviour from the un-believers.

The UN action to limit freedom of expression is that force. It is acceptable (Islamically speaking) to punish those who show disrespect to Muhammed and the Qura’n.

So, having here cleared the OIC of wrongdoing(from an Islamic point of view), and acknowledging the pious motivation of the OIC, certainly the fact that they are Islamically correct and pious will put some people’s mind at ease.

The only drawback of this line of thinking that I have taken… What other bad behaviours of ours will prompt a new punishment, or a further trimming back of our freedom? What might they do next which we will be asked to excuse ‘Islamically speaking’? What else might their religion request of us?

Karen Armstrong will not tell you. Either she conceals the information or she just plain doesnt know. Ayaan Hirsi Ali will tell you to the best of her ability. On the basis of that alone Ayaan is worth reading.

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By OzarkMichael, June 29, 2008 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

Here is a report about Geert Wilders, who made the movie Fitna. The court in Jordan has requested he appear there for trial, which he refused to do. From the website ‘Atlas Shrugged’:

Geert Wilders fears he will be arrested soon when traveling abroad, due to his movie Fitna. Jordan is working on an international warrant for the arrest of the PVV leader in order to prosecute him. Last Monday the court in Amman found the complaint filed to be acceptable. Wilders expects that the court will soon appeal for an international warrant for his arrest, reports De Volkskrant. Jordan can possibly make a request through Interpol. Such an appeal can be fought by the Dutch government. It is also possible Jordan will ask individual nations visited by Wilders to extradite him. In any case, the Wilders’ freedom of movement will be severely restricted. Wilders complains about the uncertainty. “One never knows when it will happen. My freedom of movement will be enormously limited and I cannot operate as a politician,” according to Wilders in De Volkskrant. The risks are being mapped by the ministry of Foreign Affairs.

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2008/06/geert-wilders-t.html

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By OzarkMichael, June 27, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

To Shenonymous, and A Reply to Other Friends

While it seems to me that your contrast of two kinds of Islam could be usefully applicable, Humanist/Religious, what is your motive for presenting Ali’s distinctions to us, OM?

I meant to test myself. I needed a variety of leaders of Islam. Ayaan is the only one i could find. I tested my definition on her catagories.

Direct answer: I like her classification. It starts with the opinion that there is a problem, and that the problem needs to be talked about. From this bias she points out who is helpful and who is not helping solve the problem.

Whether her bias is a glimmer of truth or not is something that could be debated. Let me say that debating this would be the best thing! Burying this would be the worst thing. Those who wish to bury her will get their wish eventually, perhaps soon. But her ideas… they cant be killed off. Well, no, that isnt true. Ideas can be censored, perhaps that is what is desired, the death of ideas.

The first thing those who wish to bury a person do(sans a body to actually hack up and place in the ground) is ad hominim attacks. Never never do they discuss or debate the idea, for discussion is the one thing that they are trying to avoid.

Therefor, in leiu of investigating if she is right or wrong, we must first undertake the extra screening process which is selectively applied to conservatives and other dissenters: do we ‘bury’ her opinion? or do we ‘discuss’ her opinion?

Its amazing how many opinions you can turn your nose up at if you develop a selective process. And the best part is we feel SMARTER for NOT reading! I made a ridiculous parody of this by not reading Karen Armstrong, and trying to force you all to not read Gore Vidal. Screening books and screening people is really just a way to screen exposure to ideas which contradict our ideology, is it not?

My hope was that we would all agree to drop the screening and read everything without fear of contamination. Instead, our conversation fractured. I am sorry for it, but the effort had to be made.  That was actually an act of love and respect, although it was taken as hatred and disrespect.

It is not to late for us to drop all the screening crap and regroup. Are we intellectuals? Yes. I have believed it of everyone involved. 

Otherwise, another question comes into view. We must also undertake the extra sceening process and selectively apply it to sources of information. Yes, it has been said here that some sources were verboten. Never mind that without those sources this matter of the UN Human Rights fiasco would never have been brought to your attention. 

Places like Truthdig do not know and ridicule those who do. Your sources have not, are not, and will not report on these things until it impinges on them someday. It impinges on some of my heroes already, it threatens to crush them. Do my heroes have faults? Of course. But so do yours. 

I do not like it that a human being with something to offer leaves the table. They cant be replaced! And I do not like to banish any thinker. I am happy to read Karen Armstrong, the whole thing about her was to make a point.  Let reason, and not prejudice, judge if there is truth in every idea. Do not let a fault of an author be used as an excuse to gag him/her.

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By OzarkMichael, June 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

But why do we not hear more brave speakers from that quadrant of humanity about human rights and protection for them?

If Shenonymous, who is very intelligent, concerned, and aware of events which trouble the world, is only recently hearing about the problem at all, then the problem isnt a matter of receptivity but of the news media.

No news outlet wants to incur the wrath of the multiculturalist, politically correct,  crowd. Who wants to be branded ‘Islamophobic’? American Islamic organizations such as CAIR will label you as a racist.  The Left, including academia, will be on your back if you cross the line on this topic.  Trust me, it wont matter to them how much you have read or thought about the topic. Karen Armstrong would probably say you are ignorant. The government of the USA is passively unhelpful, with its new jargon to win the hearts and minds of Muslims(this might be a good thing, but I worry about the price we pay). The governments of Europe are actively unhelpful. Closer to home, Canada has a ‘Human Rights’ committee(not a court with a judge, just some multiculturalists with the power to punish) which has summoned an author into its lair for a trial over an article about Islam. The author has fled to the USA, but we may adopt similar laws eventually. There are people here who wish we were like Canada.

The two presidential candidates dont talk about it. During the primaries one candidate gave a nice talk about Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The actor-turned-senator, whatever his name is.

Since few people in the land of free speech are willing to stand up, why do we expect people in Saudi Arabia to do so?

But enough about us. To answer your question Shenonymous, there are people in the Islamic world who do speak out. I marvel at their courage. Mostly women. Mostly atheists. Christians in the Islamic world seem to have nothing to say.  I detect two factors. First, an admiration for the orderly peace of Islam. Second, a fear of endangering the rest of the Christian community by speaking out, since criticism of Islam negates the protected status that the community has. Sharia is not so bad for Christians if they keep quiet.

But those atheists. What must their life be like?

They have to deal with the threats of terrorists types who mark them for death. They have to deal with the normal Islamic community which doesnt threaten them with death but wishes to keep them isolated. They have to deal with their governments, which straddle the line between sharia and secular, but to appease the Islamists the government might act against them at any time. Oh yes, and now they also have to deal with the UN Special Rapporteur for Free Speech, a person who should be protecting them but who now has a mandate to drag them into court for insulting Islam. They have all this trouble to bear… plus they get to see our newscasts and books about how Islam is the misunderstood victim, the religion of peace. Support from the land of the free and home of the brave? ZERO.

Surely they must sense that they are on the losing side. The question should be, “Why do they speak out at all?”

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By Shenonymous, June 25, 2008 at 12:35 pm Link to this comment

Not able to watch the UN videos as noted in comment dated June 21 at 10:22pm

I wonder how the public may monitor these meetings?  It seems a more worthy activity than watching sitcoms on tv, which I don’t do anyway.

The fact that “autocratic governments, i.e., Cuba and Myanmar, are treated with a “light touch,” is ludicrous.  Either these UN councils have some utilitarian benevolent function for the oppressed or it is utilitarianly useless.  Particularly a council for human rights!  Either people wherever they exist, have alienable rights, or they are without human status.  Why would countries that have no problems with human rights have need of a council on human rights?  Is that a rhetorical question?

The argument that theistic-based autocratic countries have the right to serve cruel and unjust impositions and restraints, that is behave in totalitarian oppression, is patently egregious.  Those who systematically crush human rights of their citizens are obviously not countries that can be negotiated with for any reason.  Does that threaten warfare?  Humans have to weigh the value of some human lives against other human lives to solve this question since killing would be involved.  Warfare implies people on both sides of the issue.  The question needs to be publicly debated without the violators’ opinions, for to allow them to participate would be like asking a fox to sit in a hen house while the chickens lay their eggs.  Isn’t that a similar argument they are waging about who ought to be able to talk about religion?  Taking the people of Darfur for example, the world sits by and engages in idle talk as they continued to be starved and murdered.  African politics is hideous. 

With Ali’s five kinds of Islam, what is proposed to be done with respect to each?  It is not clear what Ayaan wants the world to do.  It has been suggested that she has baseless ulterior motives for being so vocal.  How do we find the truth in these matters?  Many others have registered the complaints against Islamists and not merely at the terrorist Islamists.  That is not to propose that all of Islam are deserving of censure. Not at all.  But why do we not hear more brave speakers from that quadrant of humanity about human rights and protection for them?  Is that another rhetorical question.

While it seems to me that your contrast of two kinds of Islam could be usefully applicable, Humanist/Religious, what is your motive for presenting Ali’s distinctions to us, OM?  I am trying fervently to understand what non-Islamist and other non-fundamentalists ought to be doing.  I see and feel the strife in all that is being presented from both sides of the issues.  Will check back soon but wanted to get off an interrogative post before a brief lacuna.

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By Shenonymous, June 22, 2008 at 8:12 am Link to this comment

Imperialism of any kind for any reason is a curse and anathema to humankind., whether it is for religious territory or oil.  The felt need to conquer and own others is barbaric at best, by animals destitute of human reason at worst.

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By OzarkMichael, June 22, 2008 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

A good AP article. Were you able to watch the videos? Please report the event at UN Human Rights Council.

Thats a poor attitude by the US to just walk away. Now we have our answer to “Why didnt the US cast a vote?”

Inspiration from the link Shenonymous provided: “On Monday Egypt, Pakistan and Iran angrily protested attempts by a humanist group”...

Why not ‘Humanist Islam’ vs ‘Religious Islam’?

The connotations arent so heavy with approval or disapproval. A link to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, with an excerpt below just in case. Bold print is my comment.

http://www.aei.org/publications/filter.all,pubID.26595/pub_detail.asp

“In the quest for reconciliation between Muslim and western societies, it is important to recognize that Muslims are as diverse as Islam is monolithic. Islam attempts to unify more than a billion people of different geographical origins, languages, ethnicities, and cultural and educational backgrounds into one religious tribe. And while I acknowledge that generally stereotyping believers is difficult since belief is subjective, for the sake of discussion I would like to distinguish between five types of Muslims.

The first group includes those Muslims who leave the faith because they cannot reconcile it with their conscience or with modernity. This group is important for the evolution of the Islamic world because they ask the urgent and critical questions believers usually avoid. Ex-Muslims living in the west are just beginning to find their voice and to take advantage of the spiritual and social freedoms available to them.” Humanist Islam

“The second group is comprised of genuine Muslim reformers, such as Irshad Manji, who acknowledge the theological out-datedness of the Koranic commands and the immorality of the prophet. They tend to emphasize the early chapters in the Koran urging goodness, generosity and spirituality. They argue that the latter chapters wherein Islam is politicized and the concepts of sharia, jihad and martyrdom are introduced should be read in the context in which they were written, some 1,400 years ago.” Humanist Islam

“The third group is made up of those Muslims who support the gradual perpetuation and domination of Islam throughout the world. They use the freedoms offered in democracy to undermine social modernity and, though initially opposed to the use of violence, foresee that once the number of believers reaches a critical mass the last remnants of unbelievers may then be dealt with in violence, and sharia law may be universally implemented. Ayatollah Khomeini used this method successfully in Iran. Erdogan of Turkey is following in his footsteps. Tariq Ramadan, deeply rooted in his Muslim Brotherhood heritage, is devoted to such a program among European Muslims.” Religious Islam

“The fourth group is the most obvious and immediately threatening. In this group we find a growing number of hard-line Muslims who have defined martyrdom as their only goal. This is an army of young men whipped into a frenzy of suicidal violence by power hungry clergy. These clergy have public platforms and work with impunity from institutions untouched and often funded by national authorities.” Religious Islam

“The fifth group is largely ineffective and only threatening in their refusal to acknowledge the truth. Here we find the elite clergy who make a show of trying to reconcile Islam with modernity. They are motivated by self-preservation and have no interest in true reform. They take selective passages from the holy books to make a case for a peaceful Islam, ignoring the many passages inciting violence, such as those verses which command the death of apostates.” Humanist Islam. There are western elites who repeat these selections and use the same bias, I would also consider them Humanists also. They acquire the same ‘ineffective’ label but to the degree they are successful they impower Group Three.

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2008 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

and a couple of website videos of the UN rights council debates at the bottom of the article.  Well, these don’t work!  They are restricted, the public cannot access them.  Why in the world then did the newspaper put them in?  grrrr

but the article is longer than the one in the Pakistani Daily TImes and gives a comment by Amnesty International. 

The article on the Muslim man sentenced to death for tearing a few pages of the Qur’an and saying something against Muhammad tells of a human travesty.  It makes one wonder if this world as a whole entity can ever become civilized.

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2008 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

There is a better article at

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/18/news/UN-GEN-UN-Rights-Council-Religion.php

and a couple of website videos of the UN rights council debates at the bottom of the article.

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By Shenonymous, June 21, 2008 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

I could be in for it but here goes.  Looks like we have two religions where fault cannot be pointed out.  Except while they abhor criticism, the Christian fundamentalists don’t seem to resort to killing or at the least maiming, but their militant branch the Evangelicals would possibly excoriate in their inimitable way, through the vituperation of ultra conservative talk radio and television hosts and printed matter.  Who knows what they might do through the corporate avenues?  But one could physically survive that!  Or commit suicide if it was too bad (and that has happened.) 

Does the same charge of blasphemy hold if one says anything about Islam itself?  Because now for the other don’t-you-dare-criticize-or-you-could-wind-up-dead with no head, or tongue or your entire family wiped out religion and I hope I am not one of those that they would come after!:  We could try some words for the Islam you examine OM.  Let’s forget about Armstrong since she is simply a freelance monotheist historian.  We should work this out on our own since we are the ones totally immersed.  If Nabih wants to smack us he has every right.  I just hope he smacks gently as my puny body can’t take too many blows.

So for the sake of furthering our discussion, how about these bifurcations which would serve the ‘peaceful’ Muslims and those in variance:  Basic versus Incidental Islam or Essential vs. Adjunct Islam, Greater Islam versus Lesser Islam (militants), or Higher and Lower Islam, or Major and Minor Islam, or Significant and Less Significant Islam, guess we’d better watch it here but I could even go for Big Potatoes/Small Potatoes Islam.  What do you say OM?  Or here are a few more:  Standard Islam and Nonstandard Islam, or Canonical Islam or Uncanonical Islam, Concordant and Discordant Islam, Sacred and Unsacred Islam, Obedient or Disobedient Islam, Orthodox and Unorthodox Islam (like the Greek Catholics do), or Sanctioned or Unsanctioned Islam, or Programmed Islam and Non-programmed Islam, or First Islam and Last Islam, or Ordinate or Inordinate Islam, or Honorable Islam and Dishonorable Islam (that one would probably be up for violent reaction) so can’t go there, or how about Conformist Islam and Nonconformist Islam or Common and Uncommon Islam,  and my final suggestion Centric and Eccentric Islam might be just too off the wall.  So here we have a plethora of possibilities.  One just has to put one’s head to it.  I bet you could come up with a few more.  Anything can be criticized.  Isn’t that guaranteed by the First Amendment, no?

BTW:  I am now reading “The Battle for God,” Karen Armstrong.  It has lots of footnotes and references and a very decent bibliography.  I will look at the Pakisani Daily Times for your story.  Your link works fine on my computer (I use Safari browser, other browsers don’t always work with the TD links.  Besides I have PDT bookmarked).

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By OzarkMichael, June 21, 2008 at 3:47 pm Link to this comment

For crying out loud, I cant do a link correctly. Here is the story from the Daily Times 6/19/08

Man gets death sentence for blasphemy

SIALKOT: A District and Sessions court on Wednesday sentenced a man to death on charges of blasphemy. Shafeeq Lateef was charged with using derogatory remarks in reference to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and desecrating pages of the holy Quran on March 17, 2006. District and Sessions Judge Suhaib Ahmed Roomi sentenced Lateef to death for making blasphemous remarks and issued a separate fine of Rs 500,000 for desecrating pages of the holy book. Lateef was arrested from a village near Sialkot and charged under the blasphemy laws. nni

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By OzarkMichael, June 21, 2008 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment

hmm, again a link that didnt work. I try again.


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20086\19\story_19-6-2008_pg7_7

If that doesnt work, access the first link about the UN events, then look in the right hand column for the story about the man who is sentenced to death for insulting Mohammed.

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By OzarkMichael, June 21, 2008 at 3:00 pm Link to this comment

Today I present no answers for any of your questions, Shenonymous. Although I hope to do so in future.

Instead I report to you.  A few days ago at the UN Human Rights Council there was discussion of women’s rights.  Some NGOs had a chance to speak and brought up either ‘honor killing’ or stoning, or female genital mutilation. The OIC was able to silence the discussion since it was or could become ‘critical of Islam’. There is video of this at the Geneva webcast achives, but I cannot play them. Without that and without any official document I can only refer you to this story in the Pakistan Daily Times: 

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008/06/19/story_19-6-2008_pg7_6

the next page of that day’s news has this story about a man who insulted Mohammed.  I remind you that this is not the heretical Saudi version Islam. nor the heretical Iranian Islam, but friendly Pakistani Islam:

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20086\19\story_19-6-2008_pg7_7

We must face the fact that there are several exceptions to the Islam we have learned here. I think we should upgrade these from being merely ‘exceptions to the rule’. At the very least we should acknowledge that they are strong competition against the peaceful Islam which we learned here.

What I notice is something Shen pointed out earlier. This suppression of free speech isnt linked to people who are terrorists. It is what I would like to call a fundamentalism. Except I cannot correctly do that, since the term refers to an American Christian development.

Without the name ‘fundamentalism’, and without any other name suitable, we are left with calling it ‘Islam’. Which seems unfair to the majority of peaceful Muslims. Further, to mention ‘Islam’ in any critical way does not appear to be consonant with Free Speech and Human Rights according to the article.

The result is that I have no word.

Maybe it isnt so bad to have no word, to speak no word, since the topic is no longer to be discussed by anyone except scholars. And by ‘scholars’ think of someone like Karen Armstrong. Is this what Nabih was trying to explain to me all along? It isnt that Karen Armstrong is so smart because she is still on her nose over that Quran quotation, which proved the opposite of the point she was trying to make. It cant get worse than that.

So I suppose by ‘scholar’ they mean one who says kind words, and by this servitude is allowed to continue speaking. Or even better, some ‘scholars’ not only are allowed to be published but they also get showered with money from… but lets not go into that.

Words that cannot be used. A religion that cannot be criticized. The scholars will have their way if something doesnt change in the equation.

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2008 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

part 3
To respond to today’s OM post:  Did I ask that?  What difference does it make if we do better? No, I don’t think so.  Nor did I ask if our understanding has any good in it.  Not even by implication.  The force of my questions are if there could be any affect outside this forum?  That if we are not so arrogant to think that a public forum of this type has any determining factors on enough others as to make any difference in their actions: if there would be any good other than to ourselves as to the content and conclusions we com to about that content?  I think after reading some of the other forums there is a remarkable delusion that they think they are making some significant difference; that Obama is listening, or Bush is listening, or Ahmadinejad is listening and that any or all of them will act on that listening.  If they are not intending that then the commenters are just doing some sort of mentally smug exercise.  There are other words for such self-gratifications. and if they are, then they fool themselves. So it’s a double edged sword.

What we are doing on our forum is an investigation. Even if we deal with such profound ideas as fundamentalism, tolerance, intolerance, fascism, freedom of speech.  It is different in that we are doing this for ourselves and not to “save” the world, although it might wind up that way.  In my case, I want to know more about Islam, fundamentalist Christianity, etc.  While I do not anticipate embracing either, I do not claim to have all the answers in my atheism.  I believe in humanity and humanitarianism.  I believe humans do have value and none ought to be treated as wasteables, none and there are and have been wasted people, untold numbers.  I get upset at the plight of people in the world, when our president doesn’t give a real damn about people floating in the canals of New Orleans, or the millions of Iraqis killed over petroleum, ad nauseum.  I want to know what in Christianity did to our president to make him say that god spoke to him and told him to do all these evil things.  And I want to know what makes Islamist think their way is the right and only way to live.  Will I do anything with what I learn here, damn right I will.  Do I know what?  No.

That’s all

Purist not only has good connotations but it also sounds pretentious.  Why would any one group be more “pure” than any other?  And besides, to what degree of purity could even be meant?  As purity can be divided up into percentages.  100%, 50%, 10% pure?

I understand what you meant in your eliminating conservativism and traditionalism.  Nevertheless, your notion of tendency is not clear either.  Unfortunately one does not own and certain word that is already in common use.  You cannot trademark or copyright the word fundamentalism.  It will always carry with it ties to the other religions.  Yes, you do seem to be the only one working out a trajectory for fundamentalism.

FYI:  Freedom of expression is not in the Constitution:
It is often said that one of the rights protected by the 1st Amendment is the freedom of expression. But “expression” is not used in the amendment at all (See copy of Amendment 1 below). This term has come to be used as a shorthand, a term of art, for three of the freedoms that are explicitly protected: speech, petition, and assembly. While the use of “freedom of expression” is ubiquitous in the common language, it is important to note exactly to what “freedom of expression” refers.

Amendment 1 to The U.S. Constitution
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
But do let’s put some closure on this.

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2008 at 4:18 pm Link to this comment

Part 2 – Trying to stay on task…
OM says of himself back on June 5 that he attempted on occasions to explain the fear that lies within the fundamentalist perspective, but that it was going to take a more propitious [my word] time to do so.  My question is, what would make any time more favorable? 

To restate his fifth point: using the hypothetical, as he put it by implication, if the world only perceives fundamentalism by mistaking a particular individual believer’s place, time, and desires to be the defining characteristics of all of fundamentalism, then shouldn’t somebody (you for instance) show the distinctions?  We on this forum, are a captivated audience, we want to be here, and we want to listen to what each of us says with an open mind.  We, unusually, give each other that respect.  We want to have a proper view.  To not help us out to see what you see would show a smidgen of disdain for us.  Maybe more than a smidgen!

The fact is it is not my intention to challenge anyone’s beliefs.  It is not my intention nor desire to do that.  Some justification for saying what one does here is appropriate regard.  I am willing to listen because listening needs to be done.  It is a hidden contract we have with each other.  And I am willing to explain what I say if what I say is not clear.  As an example, please explain more clearly what you mean by antivalue.  You give some description to the word impinging as an act of resisting [that] impingement unintentionally and that creates an antivalue.  How so?  Further, you speak of the need to “break out of conventional culture.”  I ask, why the need to break out, as if there are chains or fetters, around one’s neck.  I am not sure why you are including atheists in that alleged group.  You accuse that atheists in America have hidden Christianity within them.  If you mean they become atheists in reaction to having been a Christian, maybe some have, I know some, but not all have.  It doesn’t necessarily work that way.  Epiphanies do not have to be religiously reactionary.  I know a few people who say they were born atheists.  They never had any religious training in their families and when they found out about religion they thought it was preposterous.  And these people are humanitarians and actually go out of their way to help poor and sick people.

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By OzarkMichael, June 19, 2008 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

I am so glad you posted, Shenonymous.

I think since the term fundamentalism is in fact a contemporary term with specific meaning and connotation, if you want to use a signifier to describe a preservation of originally established beliefs and values, that the word conservativism is more appropriate as overused as it might be, or if you want, the word traditionalism could also be applicable.

Conservatism is too political. Traditionalism is the antithesis of fundamentalism.

It is of value to describe an instinct or desire in such a way that it encompasses more than one place or one time. American Christian fundamentalism has already changed since the moniker was first applied. In 50 years it wont be recognizeable. I admit that you are teaching me correctly about the etymology of the word fundamentalist, but with the narrow definition of fundamentalism it becomes problematic to transfer it outside its American Christian 20th century home. Yet we already use ‘fundamentalism’ in other contexts(such as Saudi Islamic fundamentalism), so we are already spreading the word around.

If I wish to understand it as a tendency and not just an event, and better yet if i wish to compare it to other events or better yet to understand the likely course of future events I must distill the essential tendency.

Despite occasional plagiarisms, I have presented original thoughts here. I am probably not the only one who works it back in time either. But I think I am the only one who is working out a trajectory.

As far as what is accomplished by us. Yes, true, its just talk, and my study of ‘fundamentalism’ seems to add yet another topic. Shouldnt we be doing something?  Still, I think an idea that is poorly understood but acted upon can become a dangerous one. I also think that our perception of others also needs to be clear. It is terrible to take a ‘stand’ against something without understanding it. It was terrible to go to war, especially when both the idea and the perception werent well understood.

What difference does it make if we do better? (i feel that we are understanding things better, I know at least i am) You ask what good that does? Hmmm. To get to discussing action maybe we should just finish the freedom of expression business. Since we both agree on the meaning of events we could work on what to do. There are things to do, i am sure of it.

The fundamentalist does tie in though. As always, i am happy to go either way. And i could use another term, like ‘purist’, except that has too many good connotations.

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By Shenonymous, June 19, 2008 at 11:05 am Link to this comment

I browsed some TD articles this a.m. and saw that the politico pundit wannabees are still at it.  None seem to have anything substantial to add to the betterment of the world and bickering continues. Sort of like the banter of a New York slum neighborhood. Nice to see, though, that cyrena is using the Chicago Resolutions I sent to her on the 15th.  I doubt if anything about an Iran invasion will be affected by what any city or set of bloggers say.  Actions, in this case will only speak louder than words. If anybody wants to really do something about the impending Iran conflict and conflagration, they will have to get physical and demonstrate out in the open, I suggested Chicago a likely place to start, or march on Washington, or go to Iran and demonstrate in the streets!  Now that is a radical thought!

Of course, here we are, still at our game.  Don’t we all have real non-computerized lives and do this as we can fit it in?  We are an interesting crew and get into some depth of discussion. But are we making any significant difference to anybody but ourselves? I really doubt it.  Will what we assimilate into our own thinking be diasporazed elsewhere?  Probably not.  We are merely doing this for our own amusement, am I not right?  We aren’t under any grander illusions are we?

Before we get on to the topic of freedom of speech, which I admit is provocative, I feel we need to clarify some past comments and dispel the notion that I am a bit flighty and serendipitous in presenting new ideas.  Flattery does not hide accusations!  I refer everybody to Plato’s “Gorgias.“

So OM, because of your last post on the 16th, I want to go back and pick up some birdseed from some previous posts so that we are both (or all who are following this discussion) clear and understand each other.  Going back to your June 5 post about fundamentalism, and the five points you have since acknowledged you came up with, those five factors for fundamentalism.  I think since the term fundamentalism is in fact a contemporary term with specific meaning and connotation, if you want to use a signifier to describe a preservation of originally established beliefs and values, that the word conservativism is more appropriate as overused as it might be, or if you want, the word traditionalism could also be applicable.  Or you might be able to think of something even more impeccable.  I ask this because the five points you gave are too ambiguous for me to understand.  I think it is important for us to speak the same language, since it seems you are have these points in your own mind as an explanation.

For instance, what do you mean by a religion’s initial evaluation?  Then, second point, what might you mean by directness (literalness) implied by that initial evaluation?  I think you mean by your third point when you speak of extensiveness, how far reaching have been the cultural resistance of that fundamentalism, am I correct?  What is an ‘aspiring’ fundamentalist?  Your fifth point is completely confusing, where at first you refer to the fear that I applied to fundamentalism, then you say I am wrong to say that is “the primary motivation of all things religious,” which if you read closer qualifyingly is not completely what I actually said, but nevertheless, in the next phrase you say I am “quite right” about American fundamentalism?  Have I expressed the confusion well enough?

To iterate what I did say about fear and fundamentalism is that it expresses a “fear that blending with modernity will wear away or even obliterate their faith and morality.”

Of course, I know you may not be able to respond immediately, OM, but no matter, take your time. All will come out eventually in the e-wash.  I think we need to tie up all the loose ends so that we do not continue in a frayed condition. I shall continue to vacuum our topics in my next post.

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By OzarkMichael, June 16, 2008 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

As usual, so many good points and good questions which i overlook for the sake of other things.

per Shenonymous about Fundamentalism:

The topic of your post is “Attempting to Reacquire a Religion’s Initial Evaluation.” You say it is not a modern movement and that it has been around as long as there has been religion.  Now either you are making that up in a very creative style, or you have some reference for this.

No reference at all. I gave it some thought about it and came up with the 5 possible factors.

Also you are talking about “the Fundamentalist,” as if there is a paradigm fundamentalist, and if so, then you are postulating a specific “role” that characterization will have in some future culture (not specific which one, though, so again hypothetical, right?).

Yes. The discussion was trying to apply to all religions at all times and not just Christians in the present. As to my goal, I was hoping to define religious fundamentalism so well that when we later applied the definition to Islam in the past and present that Nabih would say, “Thats pretty good, except you don’t account for such and so” and then I would perfect the definition so it worked really well. The definition would become a way to explore history, the present and the future.

I have already worked out the definition for myself, and it not only accounts for some problems I know about but also opened my eyes to problems I didnt count on.  I dont like some of the future implications for fundamental Islam, and oddly enough, I dont like what it reveals about future implications for fundamental Christianity. How the theories of authoritarianism play into this I have not worked out. Which was the original plan…. sigh.

However, its would be some work to explain it and without Nabih I feel i dont have an anchor to test if the definition is true. For whatever disagreements and upsets we had, I never forgot that he knows some things I dont know. If I continue I have no brake to warn: “It isnt like that”.

Another topic which is in my mind lately is how different people react to the suppression of free speech. Interesting differences arise. About this topic we can chat if you like

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By OzarkMichael, June 10, 2008 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment

Back to Wolin. While I am critical of him, I didnt want to silence him. But his thesis could possibly be correct or at least useful. The problem is he is preaching to the choir. I am not in the choir, and to me the sermon jargon is illogical… but the point of the sermon might still be valid.

If you read between the lines of my critique of Wolin, you can find that the main weakness of liberalism is not its ideals. I appreciate those principles. (I might not agree with the exact priority of those principles) What I certainly disagree with is hypocrisy, which is not an inherent part of liberalism any more than it is of Christianity. Wolin engages in that. Does that make his thesis null and void? Absolutely not. Human beings have faults even when they are on the right track.

Inverted Totalitarianism could be a step towards clarity. Perhaps some truth there. It does show ways in which we are in a different situation that the Nazis, so already there is a sense of comparison even if his goal is similarity. If that difference is only cosmetic, Wolin is right. If it is more than that, he is wrong but maybe still helpful for us to gage the distance. I dont know, I havent worked that out yet.

As for Shen, she has again shown me that she has eyes to see some faults which I percieve. Which amazes me every time. That doesnt mean we have to discard the thesis. Just the opposite. Wolin made a bad start in his introduction.  Shen, on the other hand is the angel at my shoulder, who despite differences is able to see a valid criticism from my point of view. What more can I ask for? To me it means we can go further if you think there is anything worthwhile in what he says. If you see some truth there, well, I trust you no less than before. More, in fact. Nor are you discredited for finding Wolin in the first place. To you everything is an opportunity.

Nor are you wrong for challenging me to critique it, Shen. You find interesting things fast and you almost want others to see something that you didnt catch at first glance. The title ‘explorer’ suites you.  Your obvious sponteneity contrasts to the way I stare at things a long time before I bring them here. Its funny. I followed that UN story for 8 months, and sat on the finale for another month before I hinted at it in the most roundabout way. You say that I provide-what was it?-well, whatever it was I think it is you who provide material and provoke the discussion. ‘cmon, look at what I just found’  is your constant refrain.

Compared to my refrain, “Maybe I’ll show you what I found a year ago after I am finished with it in the lab AND if I think you will appreciate it.”

I have great respect for you. One of us covers a lot of ground and sees many things. It isnt me. 

per shen: a book about the origins of belief titled “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast.”

a nifty connection to Alice!

And cyrena. I read your posts again and they are so friendly and sensible. Having re-read your post I want you to sometime discuss the -Universality- of Human Rights vs the concept of Multiculturalism.

cyrena is probably thinking, “Michael is just now realizing the potential conflict between the two… he thinks it would take me a few minutes to explain it. But it would take hours,(days!) and I have enough assignments to catch up on.”

Ok, not tonite then.

Tomorrow?

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By Shenonymous, June 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

Well egg on my face, that address doesn’t work from TD but it does from Mozilla!  Oh well.  Sorry.  Back later.

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By Shenonymous, June 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

FYI:  The right http is
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200868story_8-6-2008_pg7_14
OM your last post is exact.  The content seems ominous with huge violent threats.  This is not being Islamophobic on my part.  It is in the article.  Wonder what the rest of the world is saying about it.  Will have to check it out. 

WIll get back to everything later.

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By OzarkMichael, June 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

OK. Directly copied from the Pakistan Daily Times:

Sunday, June 08, 2008  

Share this story!       
Pakistan to ask EU to amend laws on freedom of expression

By Tahir Niaz

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will ask the European Union countries to amend laws regarding freedom of expression in order to prevent offensive incidents such as the printing of blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) and the production of an anti-Islam film by a Dutch legislator, sources in the Interior Ministry told Daily Times on Saturday.

They said that a six-member high-level delegation comprising officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Law would leave Islamabad on Sunday (today) for the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and explain to the EU leadership the backlash against the blasphemous campaign in the name of freedom of expression.

The delegation, headed by an additional secretary of the Interior Ministry, will meet the leaders of the EU countries in a bid to convince them that the recent attack on the Danish Embassy in Pakistan could be a reaction against the blasphemous campaign, sources said.

They said that the delegation would also tell the EU that if such acts against Islam are not controlled, more attacks on the EU diplomatic missions abroad could not be ruled out.

Sources said that the delegation would also hold discussions on inter-religious harmony during its meetings with the EU leaders.

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By OzarkMichael, June 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm Link to this comment

Second graders are better at cutting and pasting than i am, Trying again:


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200868story_8-6-2008_pg7_14

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By OzarkMichael, June 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Sometime, if you want Shen, we can review what Tony Blair did towards free speech and why.

You also brought up Somalia. Or that link did. I will delve into it if you like. I occasionally see mention of a see-saw struggle. I have had a suspicion that the U.S. is a player there.

Keeping up with the suppression of free speech. I would like to know what you think of this report from Pakistan about a recent delegation that went to the European Union.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200868story_8-6-2008_pg7_14

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By Shenonymous, June 10, 2008 at 6:54 am Link to this comment

There is no defense of Wolin. I am not enamored with the notion of inverted totalitarianism as I think it is a glamour term.  However, the term “regime” is not and regime change was used as far back as I can recall as 1989 regarding Polish Round Table talks between the government and trade unions.  It is not a word recently come into fashion.  If anything, the Bush administration’s use of the word to describe deposing Saddam Hussein’s ‘regime’ and other Islamic nations, or in Cuba, their plan to bring to an end the Castro ‘regime’ calling for the overthrow of Castro and presidencies such as their intentions throughout the middle east it should not be surprising that the term has been turned back on themselves to describe the “dynastic” flavor of the Republican powerhouse that has had this country in its ironfisted grip for almost a decade.  And yes, they have used the term and used it liberally.  As he prances around like a little prince, whom some call the idiot prince, George Bush has through his devastating economic policies, his “regime” has brought this country to its fiscal knees and we are on the brink of terrible times.  It is not a mirror we are looking at it is direct reality.

And interesting article if you wish to be informed is at:

http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1080&Itemid=135
Interesting article about rendition and regime change as the word is properly used, and with an opinion expressed by Gore Vidal.

Also I am sending you a PDF file you might find interesting which is a review of the book The Bush Betrayal. By James Bovard by Karen M. Hult and Charles E. Walcott, Professors of Political Science at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. This is too long to post at TD ER. I will post the http address if others want to try to get the MUSE file.  It can be costly however.I will be glad to send a downloaded copy of it to whoever is interested.
http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/rhetoric_and_public_affairs/v010/10.2hult.html

Of course buying the Bovard book could be a step in the right direction as well.

The lexicon you present in this last post shall have to be dealt with word by word:  doctrine, zealouos, ruthless, antidemocratic, intolerance, centrism, waniing Leftist influence as you pretend that language in some attempt at tour d’force ought to be suppressed in some way.  How neat of you OM to use the device of definition to try to squash the critics of belligerent Repubicanism.  But I have a medical appointment and have to travel a distance.  So this all will be dealt with later.  Of course Republicans count.  Of course their basic ideology exists and at one time the two party’s ideology kept each other in check.  It is what Republicanism has been prostituted to become that is repugnant.

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By OzarkMichael, June 10, 2008 at 5:37 am Link to this comment

About Wolin. I will approach him polemically and directly but with good humor. Let us question Sheldon Wolin’s Inverted Totalitarianism:

The war on Iraq has so monopolized public attention as to obscure the regime change taking place in the Homeland.

I dont think anyone paid enough attention to Iraq from the day the idea was introduced.

The change has been intimated by the sudden popularity of two political terms rarely applied earlier to the American political system. “Empire” and “superpower”

“Superpower” was a term used to describe both the USA and USSR since WWII. It was meant to differentiate the diplomacy of post WWII from the pre world war I era which involved many Great Powers. 

“Empire”... has this term been used by the Bush administration? No, its used by his critics as an accusation. No different than the 60’s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. The Left has been using this attack for a long time. Which is ok, maybe its deserved. But its not new.

The Republicans have emerged as a unique phenomenon…

why cant we just criticize what we dont like without resorting to this?

...in American history of a fervently doctrinal party,

Doctrine is one of those nasty ‘church’ words, but I wish it were so. To have principles which we stand for instead of just being mush or expediency would be a good thing. But ok, I’ll accept that we are doctrinal. No one else has been doctrinal in American politics?

,zealous, ruthless, antidemocratic and boasting a near majority.

The big fear here is that it might become a majority, which if it did would make the Republicans even more ‘antidemocratic’?

‘Zealous’ is not unique, Meant to bring up more church images. ‘Ruthless’... we dont know what ruthless is. Lenin was ruthless.

As Republicans have become more ideologically intolerant,

Intolerant. one of those really great words. Often used to silence opposition. 

the Democrats have shrugged off the liberal label…

Professor Wolin, this is not new. It was been going on for almost 30 years. And why? because the naughty American people were becoming more conservative. Conservatism isnt part of democracy? But in spite of this its so tempting for the Democrats to want to win once in awhile that they move to the center. (ie Bill Clinton)
Someday the nation will swing back to more liberal. The conservative label will be shrugged off by Republicans as they move to center. It isnt the end of the world either way. 

the Democrats have shrugged off the liberal label and their critical reform-minded constituencies to embrace centrism…

The Democrat power base is ‘reform-minded’ and a very nice ‘constituency’ to boot. This means there is no ‘zealous’ ‘fervent’ ‘intolerance’ or ‘doctrine’ out there on the Left. Just reformers who are good folks. Reformers are important. They are even ‘critical’. Critical to what? The good of the nation I guess. But certainly not to winning elections, because there arent enough of them to win anything (unless someone shrugs off the liberal label) Too many conservative voters in the way.
‘Its antidemocratic’ according to our professor.

Even the dumbest conservative talk show host can jump on this for what it is: liberal elitism, which turns off so many people that the Republicans could keep winning whether they deserve to or not.
 
...to embrace centrism and footnote the end of ideology

wow! Centrism apparently has enough conservative taint that it has no value as a thought or idea. Only the handful of reformers understand democracy. We should let them run things and then it would be true democracy at last. Sheesh.

One more point: How is the waning of Leftist influence the end of ideology? Werent the Republicans ‘fervently doctrinal’ ‘ideological’ just a moment ago? Dont we count? Suddenly we dont exist? This man cannot keep track of the little box he put me in a minute ago.

More next time.

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By cyrena, June 9, 2008 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

Ok well, I miss Nabih, and that makes me extra glad to hear from you two. I’ve made my way over here in a short break, looking for some familiarity, and even the ‘prompt’ that you always provide when I get stuck in my work.

I don’t know, it’s sort of a mental telepathy I think.

So, on the question of a counter-argument to Wolsin. I’ve had Wolsin’s book for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve just not had time to dig into it, beyond the article that Chalmers Johnson did on it. (which was extensive and I got a lot from that) Still, I’d like to be able to read the entire book to actually make any sort of reasoned argument. BECAUSE, I am admitted still confused by the ‘inverted’ property. It’s thrwoing me, maybe because I’m just too ‘theoried out’ with standard version of totalitarianism in the Nazi Germany. I hate to think that I’d have this trouble with something that should be relatively simple to, well..invert. But, it doesn’t seem all that ‘inverted’ to me. What I’m seeing now seems very much like what the experience of Nazi Germany was. First, they had a democracy. Then it was overthrown, and fell victim to Nazi totalitarianism. Now they’ve got a democracy again.

I don’t mean to make this sound like some simple cycle, (and I’m sure you all know that) but so far, I’m not seeing what we have going on here and now, as any ‘inversion’ of that. So, if either of you can help me out with that, it would be great.

No hurry, I’m still just finishing up the genocide stuff, (which is far more like to occur by the way, in these sorts of authoritarian settings - and THAT’s scary as hell) and then I’ve gotta try to work on even MORE ‘theory’. Legal positivism and pluralism.

I swear, I think my mind hurts. This thinking stuff just really can be a chore sometimes. And the theory stuff is the MOST painful of the exercises. It’s like doing push-ups and crunches instead of just taking a leisurely walk down the beach for exercise. I prefer the walk.

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By Shenonymous, June 9, 2008 at 3:11 am Link to this comment

First part of two:
The art of deception takes many forms.  Creating an algorithm to survive the rigors of college life can be one of them. To develop the art of feint, a method to achieve the goal of power by diverting the attention away from your real purposes so that you could influence the way things go, your art of cryptic communication, because you perceived the need to overwhelm the whomevers for the whatevers, becomes a way of life.  You have described this knack you incubated in college life before.  The patronizing act of “letting them think they come up with conclusions” when in fact you fed them hints all along, the personification of Trickster, as you describe, is indeed an act of fury.  Fearful hatred really.  Now did I conclude because you gave me hints at your behavior?  What tricks have you used to “get” me to conclude?  You were quite direct, in fact, in the description of yourself.  And those are a couple of ways how an exchange of minds can happen. 

The question is, what did you, dear doctor, do to remedy what you seem to perceive as faulty behavior.  Or do you continue your “habit?”

I am not so skilled in the art of deception and I am not sure exactly what truth is, but I think it is of two kinds and they have to be understood for what they are:  There is universal truth and there is individual truth.  What each of these are would take some time to talk about. There is no simple answer.  And we have been bantering about them on the forum for some time off and on.  Truth is a human objective extremely important to me.  It is the pivotal basis for trust, sincerity, and authenticity.  Those four things have been the pillars of my life, and precisely the opposite of them even more. 

In trying to address your last post OM on fundamentalism, I have some questions since it is not clear what you mean.  The topic of your post is “Attempting to Reacquire a Religion’s Initial Evaluation.”  You say it is not a modern movement and that it has been around as long as there has been religion.  Now either you are making that up in a very creative style, or you have some reference for this.  I have done some extensive research on fundamentalism and have found at least seven somewhat coherent descriptions for Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, Zorastrianism, Gay and Lesbians rewriting the original Presbyterian declaration of five principles, and the original Presbyterian “five fundamentals.”

These are not all the same but in fact are diverse.  Yours is even more different than any of these and are in fact more abstract dealing with the idea of initial evaluation and implications therefrom, which could be an acceptable way to proceed, but I would like to know how you arrived at these five?  They seem logical.  Also you are talking about “the Fundamentalist,” as if there is a paradigm fundamentalist, and if so, then you are postulating a specific “role” that characterization will have in some future culture (not specific which one, though, so again hypothetical, right?). 

Now you know that I for one am always intrigued by abstract considerations, but usually [unless there is stipulated a game ahead of time and we are just having some fun with our minds and I do really really do love to have fun], it is with some agreed reason I would so engage.  Supposedly there is an agreement, by default, since you are quoting some ascription of mine of a motivation to fundamentalism with respect to all religions being the emotion of “fear.”  While I will hold that opinion firmly, I will add to it a bit, to include the larger motivation for what I see as a motivation for all religion in the first place over and above the reason(s) for fundamentalism with any and all religion.

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By Shenonymous, June 9, 2008 at 3:11 am Link to this comment

Second part of two:
I once read an article about a book that referenced Alice in Wonderland and a scene between Alice and the White Queen about the idea of belief.  Lewis Carol was a genius to be sure, and this is only one of the evidences of that.  Alice says, “I cannot believe in impossible things,” and the White Queen says, “You simply have not had enough practice.  When I was your age, I always did it for half and hour a day (believed in something).  Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  Apparently this small scene was so potent that it also affected a somewhat distinguished biologist from England, Lewis Wolpert to even write a book about the origins of belief titled “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast.” From just reading a couple of brief reviews of the book, because I do not have the book, I think I could agree with Wolpert to a some degree but I don’t think it is a complete theory.  I don’t think that to “believe” in wildly improbably facts one needs just to close one’s eyes.  It is Berkeleyan, that the world disappears when you close your eyes.  Shenonymous whispers, with her eyes closed, where did the world go to?

Could it be true we simply have not had enough practice?  Sometimes reducing something complex to glib simple terms loses what is often said when you don ‘t have command of a specific language that something gets lost in the translation. 

When I said fundamentalism originates out of fear, that notion became clear to me only after reading about a great many instances of its appearances in many religions.  The fear is a fear of infidelity to the distinctions of the original doctrines of a particular religion.

Now the term fundamentalism originally had a narrow scope of meaning, defining a set of beliefs that develop into a movement out of an American Presbyterian Church effort about 1910.  It has been generalized, after currency in our language for sometime now, to mean any set of beliefs that groups, most notably religious groups, strongly adhere to regardless of any criticism.  I am sending to you under separate email a summary of several of these groups five fundamental principles.  It is much too long to post here.

On inverted totalitarianism:  A provocative idea to liken United States and Nazi Germany in an inverse ratio. Does he join the Chicken Little crowd with his ideas of managed democracy and Superpower in opposition to democracy and constitutional government?  Is it true we no longer have a democracy?  Did we ever have one?  If anyone can counterargue against Wolin, I would certainly like to hear it.

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By Shenonymous, June 8, 2008 at 5:35 pm Link to this comment

The whole site has been changed.  Modified.  No longer are back pages listed, and a double post that showed up yesterday, has been edited out probably by the TD staff.  Also there is no longer the Reply to feature and one must add a whole new comment at the bottom of the page.  I think the latter system is best as the scrolling up and down the forum required to find people’s posts was insane.  The way it is now was the way it was originally, then sometime down the line the Reply to thing was factored in.  However, the loss of back pages I think is unfortunate, but you all know I have an archive. At least I learned how to make italics and bold text, ha! 

I will deal with all of the latest posts tomorrow.  If the site is still here!

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By OzarkMichael, June 8, 2008 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

per Shenonymous: I do want to say also Michael, I too have noticed that you have changed from the first time I encountered you.

Thank you. Credit goes to you for the example you set and the practice we have had here. Credit also to my daughter, who for the last year has been teaching me how to write.

But back to you… and this is the major credit, really… it is a matter of trust.  For now I admit that I am not self-censoring or hinting quite so much anymore. Trust, which took miles of patience and effort on your part to build. Admiration is part of trust. Yes, i admire you.

Let me just say that in the face of unthinking prejudice, one learns the habit of never stating conclusions. Even if the conclusion is desperately needed by the listener, it will be ignored (at best), rejected, or met with fury (at worst) and why does the fury happen so often? Why does the single person who reacts in the meanest way influence everyone else? It has to do with power. Within the fortified camp of academia, which is one of the few places liberals have power, one is viewed as the ultimate enemy. So one must create the conditions where the conclusion could later be understood. One learns the art of cryptic indirect communication. One learns the art of amusing the audience, which is the art of the fool or clown. Because if one’s adversaries happen to have a sense of humor then survival becomes a possibility. So instead let them figure it out from the hints, and when they come up with the conclusion themselves it is their own idea. 

Out of nowhere it occurs to me that this might be what it is like to be a minority. I am thinking of American black people. Even though no-one can claim to be more American(as in USA), even though no one understands the essentials of the USA, its pitfalls and potential(having suffered and enjoyed both)  yet for all that ‘we’ placed ‘them’ as outsiders. We view the people we need to listen to most as a threat, and nearly succeeded in making it so. There is no conclusion(no matter how true and helpful) they could propose without being ignored at best or met with fury at worst. It has to do with power I guess.

So what I thought was just a fault of non believers, turns out to be a much more commonly practiced fault. It is probably human nature.

Well, it stinks anyway. To punish the evil ‘them’, we force ‘them’ to choose between their love for us and their own integrity. We make it impossible for them to keep both, unless they play the clown. Since all art is an indirect communication, the ultimate artist is… of all people…the clown. Whose every word is poetic, whose expression is a constant painting, whose every stance is sculpture. I am a poor clown by comparison.

The clown maintains his integrity by stating the truth indirectly, edging ever closer to the conclusion. But the clown cannot ‘get’ the joke for you nor tell the truth to you, but if you laughed at the joke you might also understand the real conclusion.

The clown may eventually lose his love, but some maintain love. Think of Louis Armstrong, who never stopped smiling, who genuinely loved the people he performed for even while they as a matter of course discriminated against him. Or Sammy Davis Jr, who edged a bit closer to the conclusion. Or Richard Pryor, closer still. And then a flood of entertainers. But my favorite will always be Louis Armstrong, who suffered the most but also loved the most. For this reason he is the clown without a drop of despair. How he did that I do not know. Love gives the whole world back to the very people who would withold it. But for all that only at the end of his life can Mr Armstrong express his conclusion: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnRqYMTpXHc

Yeah, Pops, with people like you, it sure is.

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By Shenonymous, June 5, 2008 at 9:08 pm Link to this comment

TD site is acting up.  This might be a double post. 
I watched Submission.  It was very uneven on and off on and off.  It was very distracting.  So was Fitna.  The youtube vids just don’t work well on my iMac.  The filmed confessional of promiscuity, forced marriage, then repeatedly being raped by an uncle seems to be the common fate of women in Islam.  I was reading the entire article on the Ayaan Hirsi Ali website.  Broadcasting the crimes against Islamic women in books and film is in its infancy stage.  It reminds me of women’s suffrage in the United States in the early 20th century and the protests that were going on in Japan in the later part of that century.  But of course, the the Muslim women as well as women in India are all treated like chattel and physically damaged almost beyond belief.  It is said that Islam ought not to be criticized because it is the radical few who do these things, but I don’t think so.  I think it is a male mindset.  Sort of like the character in Seven Beauties view of women, how almost all Italian men viewed and still view women.  I know this from first hand experience!  But it is not restricted to Arabs nor Italians.  Women are abused within every ethnic group.

I happened upon the following from February 7, 2006 at
SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL:
In a long article on Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses,” this question and answer appeared:  Should there be legal limits to free speech such as Tony Blair’s recently failed legislation that would have banned religious hate speech? Failed because some say the law in its original form might have made it illegal to satirize religions.  Looks like these censuring and banning free speech has been a burning issue for a long time.  I find it interesting that Tony Blair would have proposed this kind of legislation. 

I will read your latest posts and think about them for a while before replying.  I know there is never any rush!

Tomorrow is another day and the hour is late here in Texas too.

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By Shenonymous, June 5, 2008 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

I watched Submission.  It was very uneven on and off on and off.  It was very distracting.  So was Fitna.  The youtube vids just don’t work well on my iMac.  The filmed confessional of promiscuity, forced marriage, then repeatedly being raped by an uncle seems to be the common fate of women in Islam.  I was reading the entire article on the Ayaan Hirsi Ali website.  Broadcasting the crimes against Islamic women in books and film is in its infancy stage.  It reminds me of women’s suffrage in the United States in the early 20th century and the protests that were going on in Japan in the later part of that century.  But of course, the the Muslim women as well as women in India are all treated like chattel and physically damaged almost beyond belief.  It is said that Islam ought not to be criticized because it is the radical few who do these things, but I don’t think so.  I think it is a male mindset.  Sort of like the character in Seven Beauties view of women, how almost all Italian men viewed and still view women.  I know this from first hand experience!  But it is not restricted to Arabs nor Italians.  Women are abused within every ethnic group.

I happened upon the following from February 7, 2006 at SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL:
In a long article on Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses,” this question and answer appeared:  Should there be legal limits to free speech such as Tony Blair’s recently failed legislation that would have banned religious hate speech? Failed because some say the law in its original form might have made it illegal to satirize religions.  Looks like these censuring and banning free speech has been a burning issue for a long time.  Is it interesting that Tony Blair would have proposed this kind of legislation? 

I will read your latest posts on fundamentalism and think about them for a while before replying.  I know there is never any rush!

Tomorrow is another day and the hour is late here in Texas too.

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By OzarkMichael, June 5, 2008 at 8:35 pm Link to this comment

Fundamentalism: Attempting to Reacquire a Religion’s Initial Evaluation

Fundamentalism is misunderstood if it is only taken as a modern movement. It has been around as long as there has been religion.

The nature of a particular Fundamentalism is determined by five things. First, and obviously, the details of the Religion’s initial evaluation. Second, the directness (or ‘literalness’) implied by the Religion’s initial evaluation. Third, the extensiveness of the Religion’s initial evaluation and/or the extensiveness of historical attempts at fundamentalism. Fourth,(perhaps unbeknownst to the aspiring Fundamentalist): the nature of the current culture which the Fundamentalist lives in. And Fifth, the anticipated role(if any) that the fundamentalism will play in the future culture.

My Fifth point is Shenonymous’ first one, where she ascribes a motivation to fundamentalism. Fear of the future, etc.  Shen is, I think, wrong to go to ‘fear’ as the primary motivation of all things religious. But in this case, especially in America today she is quite right. 

Every fundamentalist, including myself, does have this motivation, perhpas among other motivations for the future. Exactly what fundamentalists are afraid of about the future and whether those fears are well founded is another question. 

To speak of myself: from the beginning of my stay on this forum I have at times moved towards explaining this fear, but the time wasnt right so I aborted the effort. I hope someday I will get back to that. 

But what a particular believer in a particular place and time is afraid of or wants to accomplish in the future is not usually a big part of fundamentalism. It might be the only thing that the world percieves about the fundamentalism(which tells us that the world does not understand more than a fraction of what is going on), so i include it as my Fifth point, a “Fifth” of the equation.

I will keep working backwards. The Fourth point that determines the nature of a fundamentalism: current culture. The truth of this is both remembered and forgotten by the fundamentalist. ‘Remembered’ because the fundamentalist knows he has to scrape away all the encrusted traditions that have been added to the Religion since its inception. ‘Forgotten’ because he cannot scrape away himself. There are so many hidden assumptions within the self which come from contradictory sources, and also from outside impinging upon the self… The self in a society which praises certain virtues, hates certain vices. The self in society in history. The self in society in an even larger world. Strange to say, even the things which the fundamentalist identifies as impinging- the very act of resisting that impingement unintentionally creates an antivalue, an effect the fundamentalist cannot avoid and isnt aware of. 

But please do not laugh at the fundamentalist, because the same applies to anyone who attempts to break out of any conventional culture. Including atheists. Especially atheists in America. There is so much hidden Christianity in the American Atheist, as well as identified impingement that creates antivalue. Just as there is so much hidden secularism in the American Christian Fundamentalist, etc. But in spite of this we think that what we have is our own thing. Maybe we should laugh after all.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the fundamentalism is effected by its current culture. This is one of the factors which accounts for changes in a particular religion’s fundamentalism over time and place. But it can only change so much. We have 3 points still to cover and they are very stable over time and place. 

But I digressed, and now its late. More tomorow or saturday at the latest.

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By OzarkMichael, June 5, 2008 at 6:18 pm Link to this comment

per Shen: That is why it is extremely important to do as cyrena mentions, it is necessary to be EXACTLY CLEAR, only in this case it is about what history is.  Scribblers even the ancient biblical ones and Qur’an ones (as Mohammad did not really write the good book himself either) but supposedly he did dictate it to those who did), had to have gotten it right, right?

Right! or are you being ironic?

Your post on fundamentalism was quite good. I will encorporate it into my version. Here I have an advantage which I want to employ for us.

Again, we are going to miss Nabih for this reason: when we are finished with this phase, if Nabih agrees, ‘well, in the end you actually describe the situation correctly’, I would know for sure we got this right. And then if we later propose a solution he might have quite a bit to add to that process.

per Shen:Perhaps Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s and the murdered van Gogh’s film will be shown one day. 

here is that short movie Submission Part I. I dont think there will ever be a Part II. the subtitles are Dutch, but fortunately most of the dialogue except for the Arabic prayer is in English. There are so many things offensive about the movie ‘Submission’. That was van Gogh’s way.

http://ayaanhirsiali.web-log.nl/ayaanhirsiali/2005/04/view_the_film_s.html

there is a place on the website where you can “listen to Ayaan” talk about whether it is good to criticize ideas, or even religion, or Islam particularly. The last sentence in her talk is chilling.

There is a place on her website to see Geert Wilder’s “Fitna”, and her review of it. You can see on her link the original Fitna with the ORIGINAL Danish cartoon at the beginning of the movie. Unfortunately Fitna is in Dutch here. I will find an English subtitle version later.

Here is a BBC report on ayaan this past february. One effect of Safeguard is that the EU is less likely to help her.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7245729.stm

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By Shenonymous, June 4, 2008 at 6:50 pm Link to this comment

The mandates of the Special Rapporteur are for three years and for Myanmar and Somalia are extended for one year.  In 2009 and 2011 there will be another vote.  We should watch very closely how it goes for these time periods.  Last night I read every members’ rationales on how they were voting or abstaining or withdrawing altogether.  It is very telling.  Too much to deal with on this forum. I suggest everyone read all of the reasons for the votes.  Then if there are questions we can be more particular. Also, I am not clear what the UN would do even if the Rapporteur makes a negative report.  What are their powers to do anything anyway?  Maybe cyrena knows this? I registered as a member and will be getting emails about different goings on.  I will definitely become a watcher.  I suggest you all do the same.

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By Shenonymous, June 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm Link to this comment

To my mind, the term fundamentalist is understood today as expressing a fear that blending with modernity will wear away or even obliterate their faith and morality. This concern occurs almost correspondingly among Fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims The term is usually used to refer to the most conservative wing of the religion, eg., fundamentalist Christianity described as the conservative aspect of Evangelicalism. The term is also used to refer to conservative Catholics who oppose and reject contemporary changes and fight to retain traditional beliefs and practices.

Fundamentalism in Islam does not really refer to terrorists who happen to be Muslim.  Similar to other religions, the conservative effort in Islam wants to precisely follow the teachings of Muhammad, be involved in reading the Qur’an, and attend the mosque prayer meetings.  But they do believe that Islam must be forced on the people and would use violent action if necessary.
It is this aspect that frightens the westerners to thinking there is the terrorist element at work within Islam.  There are jihadists who are at the ready to do damage to westerners.  The element of jihad does originate in the Qur’an. 

The word political is overused and has too broad a connotation in the public.  Perhaps partisan Islamism could work or something like that.  I would stay away from words like militant, since the terrorists are the militant faction.

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By Shenonymous, June 4, 2008 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, the Oh Yeah is one of my favorite lines of all time, as I can see it used for every Truthdig article that gets its turn for blog fame.  And almost every news report on the media.  And for your amendment to the UN resolution (not yours really, but the one you are holding up for inspection and rightly so!).  Good analysis, yes, the film is a metaphor for Italy and Germany on one scale, but humankind on a larger one.  You are kind to call her a lady, the Nazi succubus.  Yes there are all kinds of prostitution, and we see it in our own government officials and religious leaders from major denominations.  We only have our history books to refer to the past, as once the past has passed into oblivion, no one remembers.  That is why it is extremely important to do as cyrena mentions, it is necessary to be EXACTLY CLEAR, only in this case it is about what history is.  Scribblers even the ancient biblical ones and Qur’an ones (as Mohammad did not really write the good book himself either) but supposedly he did dictate it to those who did), had to have gotten it right, right?  Even if the ones from the NT were goat herders, or were merchants in the other bunch. 

Another movie that is worthwhile, is the Kingdom of Heaven about the Crusades.  Based on history, of course it also takes story-telling license as do all historians and the filmaker’s eye. If I watch the Message again it will be in tandem with Kingdom of Heaven.  Then I have to read Infidel to really put things back in perspective!  Perhaps Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s and the murdered van Gogh’s film will be shown one day. 

If it cannot be shown in a theater, it ought to be distributed DVD.  The world must see it!  Must see why a man was murdered by insane religious zealots!

Of course we could start our own library of totalitarianism.  1984, Farenheit 451, there are a few I would (and do) have.  Seven Beauties belongs right there on the shelf with George Orwell and Ray Bradbury, and of course Kurt Vonnegut whose keen insight into the horrors of war are etched in our minds.

Using visual aids to put our discussion in perspective is not such a bad thing.  We talk of abstractions, totalitarianism, authoritarianism and think we have a ‘handle’ on how they operate in real time.  Movies may not be in real time but they represent real time which in the final analysis is all we are left to work with anyway: Representations.

You OM are very close to what Aristotle says about being ready for ethics.  Your questions are to the point and I share them.  Where is the media on this question of Islamic criticism?  Where is Truthdig? CommonDreams?  Nary a peep!  We of course can bring it to the tables ourselves by inserting the question in Truthdig article blogs!  They seem to get side tracked anyway.  But before going ahead, we need to be precisely clear what we are talking about lest we get tripped up on our own tongues.  Yes Nabih would be a balm to all of this. 

I do want to say also Michael, I too have noticed that you have changed from the first time I encountered you.  I find you are more articulate, more orderly in your logical presentation of your ideas.  I find I want to hear what you have to say, I am interested in what you have to say and look forward to your views. 

To see how the puzzle pieces fit together, we need to look at the other end of the comparison, the philosophy of religious fundamentalism.  I do not think we came too close to that topic.  Too busy trying to pin down fascism and its brethren.  What I think fundamentalism is will be in the next post.

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By OzarkMichael, June 4, 2008 at 4:41 pm Link to this comment

cyrena, will you have some time to look at the UN page that Shenonymous managed to successfully link(the 2nd link) and then peruse that section and the subsequent amendment to it? Because I would like your broader Human Rights backround to make sure we are understanding this correctly.

For example, I think the Human Rights Council is a select group. It is not the entire UN, but only a few nations which sign up and take their turn there. The U.S. was not on that Council at the 7th session. Next years session(8th) begins soon.

Shenonymous, I promise to work with you on ‘what should be done’. Rest assured I have studied(and you have too) several role models and in time we will examine each as an option. And even Seven Beauties teaches something. But at this moment I am still trying to make sure I understand what happened and why. Nabih might have been a help in this. I also wish that dreadnaught was here. She spots the weakness in my arguments better than anybody. Because we do need some brakes on ourselves. And then the big question still sits there. Now that I understand what authoritarian and totalitarian and fascism are, the next piece of the puzzle is how does the philosophy of religious fundamentalism hook into that? How does a religious temporal power fit into that?

And then I wonder, if the OIC did push a ‘Safeguard’ amendment successfully, why didnt Truthdig report it? Or the media? Or even Fox news? In other words, where are we in the West when it comes to relating to Islam? Are we in the US feeling so guilty that we are going to be cowed into silence? Or are we aware of our ignorance of another culture so we arent ready to criticize it yet? Do we identify Islam with a race, and so to Americans it smacks of racism to criticize Islam? Because frankly, our methods change if people arent ready to listen. If people arent ready to hear what you have to say then you might as well not say it. Instead you wait for an event that most definitely highlights the values you want to stand for and the wrong you want to stand against. In other words we pick the fight where it is most educational.

And the other question is about the US Government. There is a new policy: “Dont call the terrorists jihadist, or Islamic, that only justifies them to Muslims” I am not sure this is good. Is it? If so, do we follow their lead? Do we need another name for what we want to fight against? I was thinking ‘political Islam’ might be better.
 
Meanwhile the US is still in Iraq. What impact did this have on what the OIC was able to do at the UN? In other words, what stupid things are we doing that make overturning ‘Safeguard’ amendment to Free Speech harder? I am not in any way excusing the OIC.

And the circumstances of this 7th session for the Human Rights Council. Did the OIC sort of pack the session with members?  Did they do vote trading for another issue? Is it temporary?

I do not expect or need all questions answered but I would like a better idea of where we are, because I do not understand much of this yet.

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By OzarkMichael, June 4, 2008 at 10:52 am Link to this comment

The film meant many things to me, yes it was art!

But if you werent my friend i would have not been patient enough to get through the opening scenes. The opening litany, with each line ending with ‘oh yeah’ was preachy turn-off material.

The film is often comedy for the first half of it, progressively becoming more serious, then at the very end it becomes so worthwhile, and the artful intention is revealed. The comedy suddenly is understood to have served a purpose.

Pasqualino was (at first) operating under the ancient Italian honor system. His family honor, his organized crime rules of honor, even his personal “I will not pretend i am crazy” honor. He shot the criminal in the head but it was an accident, and almost comical.  The very strange mafioso honor…

boss: ‘you should have let him get his gun before you shot him”

pasqualino: ” but he couldnt find his gun, and I only had one gun”

boss: “in our business we must always be prepared. You should have given him your gun first and then somehow subdued him”

At the time i thought it was weak screenplay. But they were trying to show that there are levels of badness. pasqualino is nowhere near the bottom.

The issue of prostitution was also intentionally overplayed at first, because later Pasqualino will do the very same to survive.

Then the artistic balance. He again shoots a man in the head(his friend). But how differently. This time with plenty of time, calculation, and deliberation. and only to save his own neck. Where is the honor now? Not a shred left.

Punishment for his crime? None. Except note that his mom and his wife keep saying, “What is wrong pasqualino? We live, lets forget the past” and pasqualino does not seem to do this. The best he can do is not be a hypocrite about his beloved’s prostitution, and try to regain a piece of italian honor code(lots of kids) he obviously learned something about levels of badness.

I think the movie is about Italy and the natural human badness expressed in every culture(in this case Italian) which seems comical and almost innocent in comparison first to its time of fascism and then to its time of relation with Nazi Germany.
Pasqualino is italy. the insane institute is living in the period of fascism of Mussolini, the tied down girl who is crazy is the personal embrace of Italian fascism because he wanted to take advantage of it- (that didnt work out for him did it?) The concentration camp lady is the last step into hell: the relationship to the camp commandant which represents subservience to nazi germany. realize that pasqualino did not seduce her. Not at all. She had her plan to ruin him as a lasting vengence. She sees herself as his superior(“Strange that we Nazis are going to be destroyed while macaroni like you are going to survive”) She makes him keep his promise to survive at all costs(how did she know he made that promise? heres how…she sized him up expertly in every way!) and teaches him what that really means. Her last evil act which remains even after she is defeated. Hitler had that effect.

The movie in the end also accurately portrays the dilemma that happened in the camps(I have read much about them in the Soviet Union) People in camps either said, “I am going to live at all costs” which led to becoming evil. Or the person drew the line somewhere. They usually died for it, but not always. Solzhenitzyn was a survivor who amassed thousands of such stories, trying to preserve some fragments of the humanity he saw perishing around him.

Thanks for a great movie, Shen. In the end Seven Beauties rings very true and very artfully. To me, its subject is the levels of badness which a human being (and Italy as whole) went through, but at the same time it expresses the individual dilemma of survival under Totalitarianism when it has you by the throat. And you have to wonder what you would do if you were him at the end. And then more questions come up. Thanks again.

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By Shenonymous, June 4, 2008 at 7:40 am Link to this comment

Yes, we are on the same page OM.  I thought it was obvious from my last post???  Okay?  Now that we are looking at the same thing, now what?  What shall we do with it?  We don’t have a rat’s ass chance in a trap full of velveeta cheese of doing anything about it.  Shall we just file it away in our minds?  The United States is not even on the docket of voting for against or abstaining!  That just makes me furious, but what does my fury do except get my bile all stirred up?  I am already taking high blood pressure meds!

Yes, Seven Beauties, about the flagrant malignant fascism in the most artful way Wertmuller could say it, through the eyes of a gorgeous criminal, for the Quixotic Pasqualino is a criminal, a murderer even if the victim was a criminal too.  What do we say of morality here?  It is shown as a larger-than-life pie chart, with the fascist Germans having the biggest ugly piece of the pie.  The anarchist realizes the futility of the world and drowns himself in the latrine!  Seven Beauties is left to execute his best friend, who implores him to do it!  He is permanently damaged.  What kind of life ought we to imagine he has with his child prostitute bride?  Is her resort to prostitution excusable?  Is everything excusable during the time of war?  Aren’t we in a state of war now?  Is everything we do excusable?  Does Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the right to do anything in the name of their gods?  What about survival in a world of evil, and even if there is a small ray of beauty as exemplified by the young prostitute forced by circumstances to be a prostitute? Is that small vignette of beauty worth the rest?  And he wants to have 20 children!  How naive!  Will he forget the utter evil after, say, the 10th child?  How do we make our world a better place?  Do we just concentrate on our own small turf?  What of the rest?  Is it only through art that humans can understand vile human behavior?  Can art really compel us to action?  Let’s do try to answer some of these questions in a holistic way.  And what of friendship?  What does it mean to be a friend?  I used to think I knew.  But I am now questioning my thinking.  Perhaps it is too easily a word slipped through our mouths?

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By OzarkMichael, June 4, 2008 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

per cyrena: It was like she was gonna FORCE these ‘services’ on them/us, and it just really pissed me off. Anybody with even an iota of professionalism is/should/would be overwhelmingly conscious of the fact that it’s the exact OPPOSITE of what elder care should be..providing for independence for as long as possible.

cyrena, that is so hard to deal with. Mom is needing help(thats plenty to deal with) and then some agency, instead of helping, begins to read you what sounds like your miranda rights. the laws and regulations which are supposed to help with healthcare are so convoluted that ‘professionals’ either need a lawyer beside them all the time to inform them what they should do, or ‘just to play it safe’ the professional will simply play the role of whistleblower all the time. If they have any suspicion of trouble they will start an unpleasant process.

I am exaggerating, yes, but please deal carefully with people like that. Dont say anything independant or proud. The trick is to get them on the same page with you. Then they actually start helping. I have to add thats the rules for elder care are not certain to maintain independence. They do what is cheapest or safest. Also, the government has been known to suck all the money out of mom and dad before the government pays the way it should. 

Shen, somehow you got on the same page. this is the right summary page that you listed:HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES ON FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION, RACISM AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, SOMALIA AND MYANMAR
28 March 2008

Scroll down 3/4 of the page till you see this underlined:

Resolution on Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development

Now you are there! and the paragraph opens:

“In a resolution (A/HRC/7/L.24) on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression…”


so finally we are on the same page, and in the paragraphs below that the story of the day unfolds.

I do want to at least be looking at the same thing.

I finished Seven Beauties. What an ending.

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By cyrena, June 4, 2008 at 1:31 am Link to this comment

Thanks for this shenon. I remember being censored myself over a year ago. It lasted for about 3 or 4 wees, and I never knew why.

Thanks as well for the email address. I didn’t have it from before. I’ve not heard back from Nabih yet, but it could be because it’s past his bedtime as well.

I’m hoping to wrap up some papers this week, that are actually left over from last term. At that point, I’ll concentrate on the move. I think I’ve got a place lined up that sounds perfect. A house to share with two other grad students in downtown SB. (which is the ONLY way I’d ever have such a ‘prestigious’ zip code attached to my address. wink ). So, the challange now is to come up with the outrageous move-in costs, which aren’t much different than what used to amount to closing costs on a standard home purchase. Hell, in some cases, it could be a DOWN PAYMENT. But, I guess those days are long gone.

Meantime, my mom is really declining at a rapid rate with the Alzheimer’s, and so that’s probably the most urgent issue at hand. Daddy can’t do it all alone, (even though he’s always been determined to before) and I think I’ve finally convinced him to allow a professional to come in full time. So, the search is on for that. There ARE providers available, but it means a very close search. I spoke to one today that I was ready to whack. It was like she was gonna FORCE these ‘services’ on them/us, and it just really pissed me off. Anybody with even an iota of professionalism is/should/would be overwhelmingly conscious of the fact that it’s the exact OPPOSITE of what elder care should be..providing for independence for as long as possible.

You’re right. Life can be very hard, but we have to “DO” it anyway, right?

OK. I’ll add you to my list and contact you directly when there’s more time, and hopefully I’ll hear from Nabih when he has time as well.

Best,
Cyrena

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By Shenonymous, June 4, 2008 at 12:11 am Link to this comment

Well I don’t know what is happening to this forum.  I just made two posts, one to cyrena, the other one about a censored word in my post about Nabih walking and they both disappeared!  maybe they will show up tomorrow morning as I’m way past bedtime! Maybe this one won’t show up either.

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By Shenonymous, June 4, 2008 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

See the word [removed] in the second paragraph above?  That word was ‘expression’.  Also there is a posting problem in that once you Submit, then the site goes to the select to review page, your post does not show up!  But if you hit the back button twice you will be returned to the forum and there is your post right where it ought to be, and your comment is still in the box at the bottom of the page!  Weird.  Ghosts in the machine?  There seems to be an automatic censor scanner, but why would the word expression be censored out?

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By Shenonymous, June 3, 2008 at 11:56 pm Link to this comment

cyrena, I tried to contact Nabih a couple of times and offered to help him contact you, and get registered, but you have already solved the email problem but I swear I cannot figure out what the problem is with his registration.  I thought we had it solved, he was in for a couple of posts, then back to being unregistered!  Weird.  He has not answered my emails.  I hope he is all right. 

I don’t know what NonCredo got himself into as I have just about withdrawn from all other forums except this one.  (He does have a way about him that can be upsetting.  But so do a lot of people!  I’ve had a few heated arguments with him in the long ago past, and sometimes we were even able to resolve our issues!)  I believe in freedom of [removed]the very topic we are talking about here on this forum) and that we adults ought to be able to counterargue anything he or anybody might have to say!  Otherwise take a hike!  There are some puny and pukey people who show up on these forums but we normally just shunt them off.  He should nevertheless have the right to say it.  I just hate the way TD censors the forums.  They kicked a few of us off several months ago, and they allowed us back in for some reason.  All of it was mysterious.  We all did write to TD so maybe if a writing campaign happened he will be allowed back in???  It makes it a ridiculous and hypocritical way for adults to interact.  If you notice that at the bottom of each post where the “Reply to this” statement is located there is also a little phrase “Report this.”  So maybe someone had a snit and reported NonCredo for something???  I’d be glad to add my voice to giving him a place back on TD if I knew what forums are in question. Then I could take a look to see what I might be able to say.  You have to be very specific with TD I have found.  I also offered an email address earlier in this thread for anyone to contact me and you are most welcome at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  If you do indeed contact Nabih, please ask him to reply to his emails! and I thank you ahead of time.  I hope your moving effort is going all right.  Life can be very hard.

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By Shenonymous, June 3, 2008 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, I just spent hours navigating around the United Nations sites and was unable to find your particular paragraph anywhere!  I did find the following two sites.  The second one seems close.  I tried every possible combination.  You must be missing something. 

http://www.unog.ch/80256EE60057F2B7/postSearch?CreateDocument

http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/DB737FD5DF7AAB53C125741A006CC861?OpenDocument
All this notwithstanding, based on the paragraph from the Pakistani representative on this site seems to support what you are saying at any rate. 

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES ON FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION, RACISM AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, SOMALIA AND MYANMAR
28 March 2008

FYI:
IMRAN Ahmed SIDDIQUI (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, introducing L.39, which was an amendment to draft resolution L.24, said although the sponsors supported freedom of opinion and expression, it was nevertheless their belief that rights carried within them an inherent responsibility and should not be used for negative objectives. The reprinting of insulting and racist caricatures and the making and screening of a racist documentary pointed to a disturbing new trend. The amendment requested the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression “to report on instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constituted an act of racial or religious discrimination, taking into account articles 19 (3) and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and General Comment No. 15 of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which stipulates that the prohibition of the dissemination of all ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with the freedom of opinion and expression”. The maximum of hatred for a minimum of effort started with inflammatory words. All those whom were behind the racist caricatures and the hate documentary had cited their right to freedom of expression. They must not let hate and mischief overtake the right to freedom of expression.

I see your alarm and understand what you are saying.  I have and have read the book Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and I am shocked at her story.  I was shocked at the murder of Theo van Gogh and shocked that no will show the film.  She is one brave woman against the tyrannically suppressive assemblage called Islam today.  If Islam was once devoted to the promotion of human welfare, it for the most part is no longer today.  The insane doctrines of Islam, whether they are written expressly in the Qur’an or not ought not to be supported as they are barbaric and uncivilized!  I have now read tons of pages on Islam and much of the Qur’an and while there is much that is worthy in the original intent, there is a great deal that is contradictory and oppressive as the world experiences it today.  Quoting myself to a friend the other day, I said, “Ayaan’s story is one of horrible mutiliation by an insane doctrine against the value of Womankind.  And a life of being absolutely terrorized.  Armstrong has nothing of that magnitude to stand on or offer.  For all her historical credentials, Armstrong became fascinated with Islam.  Not that she is Muslim, as she claims to be atheist:  A reformed Catholic nun.  Perhaps, but she is a biased atheist, does that make her a bit of a hypocrite?  She fails to evaluate what she discovers and fails to criticize (no wonder seeing what happened to van Gogh and Ali and almost what happened to that teacher from England and the teddybear episode!)  Am I even in danger here making even this “slight” criticism?  What can we do about the amendment to the resolution at the UN?  Is there anything we can do?  Where was the United States in all of this? Checking the votes for, against, and abstained. they are sorely absent!

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By cyrena, June 3, 2008 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

Dear all, another check-in, as I work along with you on this, being certain to repeat Shenons statement here, that it is necessary to be EXACTLY CLEAR about what is desirable, AND achievable.

And this post is yet another very necessary reminder of that.

On a different note, I’ve learned from another thread that Nabih is (or effectively has I guess) provided some farewells to us.

He is very distraught about the banning of Non Credo from the site, more because he (along with the rest of us) do not understand WHY this has occurred. Additionally, (and from the same thread/story about Israel’s self-destruction from within) many comments by other posters have been deleted. (ALL of Non Credos have).

This is distressing of course, at least for those of us who choose to gain knowledge and perspective from each other, and I am particularly saddened by Nabih’s decision to discontinue his posts as a result.

However, that has been his decision and I respect it.

That said, he did inform me on another post that he needed a contact for me, which I’m glad to provide for him as well as you here. Since he is not registered, there is not a way to utilize the Private Message system that Truthdig has here, (if I even knew how to generate one). Nabih suggested that I check the archives, because at one point, he had apparently included his e-mail address in a post. Thing is, that could take forever. (my research and investigative skills are not that advanced)

So, instead, I’ve created another e-mail address where I can be contacted, and while it is not my primary address, I can receive any messages here, and then reply directly to you with the other information.

Please feel free (any of you) to contact me at:

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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By OzarkMichael, June 3, 2008 at 9:11 pm Link to this comment

Doh, I give up. Hopefully you all can find that report on your own at the Geneva site. It is not possible to link directly to reports or searches there

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By OzarkMichael, June 3, 2008 at 9:07 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, I cant get that link to show up correctly here.

The name of the report found at the UN in Geneva site is:

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES ON FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION, RACISM AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, SOMALIA AND MYANMAR
28 March 2008

Copying the link directly wont work. here is the link to an index page which i hope will work, find the 28 March entry and click on that.

http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpPages)/CBD301FF98AF69B980256EE700376D86?OpenDocument&expand=5.4&count=10000&unid=CBD301FF98AF69B980256EE700376D86&year=2008#1.5.4

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By OzarkMichael, June 3, 2008 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

For the last link, which I repeat here, you have to copy the whole thing and not just click on the red part.

Then you have to scroll 3/4 of the way down and look for the underlined heading about the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Speech etc.

http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/DB737FD5DF7AAB53C125741A006CC861?OpenDocument


http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/DB737FD5DF7AAB53C125741A006CC861?OpenDocument

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By OzarkMichael, June 3, 2008 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment

We could trace the OIC activity in the UN regarding the ‘defamation of Islam’, which follows the same logic that Nabih has presented, namely: that criticism of Islam is equivalent to racism and Islamophobia. Such talk or cartoons or movies become criminal acts. An essential part of the strategy is to make criticism of Islam into a type of racism, which builds a stronger case against anyone who would question it.

At the UN it was a long and mind numbing process for the last 10 months. Let us just say that even in the face of this, people in the West(such as the Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who made the movie ‘Submission’) would continue to claim they have the right to make such criticism of Islam thanks to Freedom of Expression.   

So instead of looking at the months long battles(which we can if you like, it is exhausting but revealing) which started in sept 2007, I will just supply below a quote from(and then the link to) the resolution on the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

The amendment to the draft mandates the Special Rapporteur, in addition to its “traditional” functions, to report on any instances of “abuse of the right to freedom of expression that constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination.” Many States opposed this amendment, arguing that it would unduly change the focus of the Special Rapporteur from the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of expression to a regulation of that right, and that the amendment alters the fine balance between freedom of expression and other human rights found in several international human rights instruments. Despite these concerns, the amendment and the amended draft resolution were adopted by a vote, the first time that the Council had to vote on an amendment to a resolution. 


http://www.un-ngls.org/site/IMG/doc/7th_Session_of_the_Human_Rights_Council.doc

To see the details, use the link below. Scroll down until you come to the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. The reactions of various nations are extremely helpful in understanding what is at stake:

http://www.unog.ch/unog/website/news_media.nsf/(httpNewsByYear_en)/DB737FD5DF7AAB53C125741A006CC861?OpenDocument

Suddenly the OIC closed the free speech loophole. This is the ‘Safeguard’ concept, which we know suppresses free speech in order to deflect criticism of religion. If it is suspicious and the alarm bells go off if Christians ‘try’ to do such a thing, the same alarm bells should certainly go off if Muslims actually succeed in doing so.

Atheist/Humanist NGOs saw this coming for some time and tried to stop it but failed. We can trace that out if you like. For once in my life, I was rooting for the Atheists.

As the OIC succeeds, they put more pressure on all nations to suppress those critics who lampoon Muhammed, criticize the Quran, etc.

Because now the nation where the critic lives cannot say, ‘But we have free speech in our country, people can criticize religion if they want to.’ No. The nation will be pressured by an instrument of the UN which is supposed to protect freedom of speech ...to silence its citizens who criticize Islam.

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By Shenonymous, May 28, 2008 at 5:15 am Link to this comment

What is higher than divine?  And then what is higher than that?  The fatal infinite regress question.  Of course in the conduct of human affairs, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the highest of the high.  Those of us who truly care about humanity at least on this forum, believers in religion or non-believers alike have been saying that since the beginning.  And here is where I believe we most come together, anathema as that might be felt in some quarters.  And we cannot allow with our very lives if necessary any erosion of those guarantees or commandeering by any self-serving group.  These rights are beyond borders and beyond the boundary of any agency.  What we think are inalienably guaranteed are not!  They are assailable by the very species of humans that thought they were necessary to spell out.

I direct you to especially Declarations 18 and 19 (please navigate to http://www.unhchr.ch/udhr/lang/eng.htm

Too often when speaking of the “all” we speak out of turn.  The all is not as coagulated as some might think.  Therefore, we need to speak for ourselves and convince others to join the rational humanists.  Yes, it is necessary to be exactly clear about what is desirable….and achievable.

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

Part 1 of 2
OzarkMichael,

Your communication DELIGHTS me! Take no offense when I say this, but I just see so much GROWTH in you since we all began our chats here. I think Shenon has brought out the best in you! (and all of us). I couldn’t help but grin at your anticipation of Shenon’s rolling eyes and the inevitable question…”But how often is it actually true?” wink It reminds me of a former colleague who has since moved to Washington DC. She would listen to people describe, declare, explain, or whatever, (and very respectfully I might add) and then she would frequently ask/respond, ( with an equally respectful tone) “Do you know what you’re talking about?”

Meantime, I agree with Nabih that Human Rights are in fact DIVINE! The various ideologies of Authoritarianism (be it Totalitarianism, Fascism, Theocratic, etc, etc) are the epitome of the OPPOSITE! In the authoritarian mindset, the ‘individual’ is non-existent. Even the classes become the faceless masses. So, that’s certainly how our discussions on these connect.

And yes, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights certainly does uphold the freedom of expression. Actually, there is a relatively new addition to the commitment, in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This has been over 25 years in the making, and was only just adopted last September. In part, it guarantees the rights of Indigenous Peoples to retain and practice their cultures and traditions which incorporate their religious ceremonies, languages, and all of the rest. Here’s just the beginning of that document, and a link to the remainder:

•  “United Nations adopts Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples

13 September 2007 –The General Assembly today adopted a landmark declaration outlining the rights of the world’s estimated 370 million indigenous people and outlawing discrimination against them – a move that followed more than two decades of debate.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after 143 Member States voted in favour, 11 abstained and four – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – voted against the text.

A non-binding text, the Declaration sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues.

The Declaration emphasizes the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.

It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them, and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development.
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23794&Cr=indigenous&Cr1;#

Now I must advise that it is no ‘accident’ that the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand refused to adopt it. THAT would be because of the very large population of Indigenous Peoples in those nations, who might finally have a vehicle by which to regain at least a portion of what has been stolen from them. Specifically….the LAND. That’s why it took them so long to come up with this.

Meantime, as with everything in reference to the Universal Rights of Humans, there is the inevitable human contradiction to freedom of expression. It IS a RIGHT. However, is there ever a point, (and this is the devil in the details) when MY freedom of expression might intrude upon YOUR Human Rights, or vice versa? These are the inherent things that bedevil us, unless we all have the same understanding of what these rights entail –for all-!

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 11:50 pm Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2
This is of course the huge problem that scholars of the international order often face in situations like genocide. All too often, in instances of this horrific practice, this occurs within a nation state between groups of that nations peoples’, and is often viewed by outside nation states as a ‘civil war’ within that sovereign nation state, and that others have no right to interfere in the internal businesses of that state. But as a general rule, the genocide actually INVOLVES the government of that state, as one of the perpetrators. Sometimes the ONLY perpetrator. So, what do we do? Do we violate one law of respect, (to respect the sovereignty of the nation state) in order to uphold another, (the right of humans to be protected from genocide)
The same questions bedevil us right here on the domestic front. Do we allow for the state, (the police) to interfere in family affairs when there are those within the family who are being abused by others in the family? These are not easy questions, and these issues tend to arise more frequently it seems, in cases where the perpetrators and the victims are involved in a domestic relationship, and normally an authoritarian relationship. It could be within a tribe, or a clan, or a family, or citizens and their state government. More often than not, religion or race/ethnicity is involved. Class struggles are involved.

We saw an example of this recently with the polygamist sect that had all of the children who were removed from the premises in Texas. I wondered to myself, exactly how that was going to be decided based on the laws, and sure enough…a judge finally determined that in respect to the judicial question, the state was in violation of the laws in removing those women and children.

Of course this is not the first time such a confrontation has occurred, between the state and it’s citizens. We have, (by nature of a democracy) law ‘on the books’ and law ‘in action’. They don’t always satisfy our needs. This sect believed itself to be perfectly within its own rights to establish whatever type of an arrangement it chose. On the other hand, our society, (as a general rule) does not accept polygamist unions, or sex with minors. This is not so very different from the situation that occurred at Waco with the Branch Davidians, or the many other sects of some Mormons that indulge in the same. And, we have this practice as accepted in Islam as well. And while I don’t believe that this is practiced any more frequently among Muslims than it is among the sects of Mormons, it is still a practice that some religions and cultures have embraced. 

So I guess to clarify my point here, the respecting of the other’s human rights, is not always so cut and dried, and it remains the stuff of much soul searching, as we ponder it all. It sounds easy enough to simply say that freedom of expression should be granted to all. But if, in my freedom of expression, I cause pain to someone else, then that can of course be a failure to respect the human rights of that individual.

So you see how complicated it can become, eh? On the brighter side though, I DO believe these complications are resolvable, as long as most of us can have a clear idea of exactly what it means for ALL of us to have these same rights, and that they really ARE –Universal-!

Meantime, I’ll let you know the latitude and longitude of my yacht location, which will actually be an inner tube, with possible upgrade capabilities which might one day allow me to expand it to a life boat type thing. (like those ones they keep on the airplanes in case of emergencies – maybe I can find a now defunct airline auctioning some of those things off)

All they need is air. Once I have a relatively firm location, you can mail me the film. (one of the mail boats can deliver it to my inner tube PO box.) Oh my, it’s such a treat when I can entertain myself with my own silliness. smile

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By OzarkMichael, May 27, 2008 at 4:38 pm Link to this comment

I want to say that reading the circumstances and stories of your lives is a pleasing past time. My lack of comment on that is because I am focused on making something better happen between Nabih and myself. In my opinion his participation is vital. I happen to think my participation is also vital, yet I, like most men, have that opinion of myself most of the time.

I can see Shen rolling her eyes and asking, “But how often it is actually true?”

Dont answer that, lets not burst the bubble.

Shenonymous, I should not have brought you into the row, and I dont think Nabih or myself in any way blame you for it. Just because I used your statement as an opportunity to clarify something about Islam in no way pins any blame on you.

You have said much more good than bad about Karen Armstrong’s work. Which perhaps you are right about. I figure you give a balanced review. This is one of the reasons I put myself in the position of being ‘forced’ into buying one of her books.

There is no American Safeguard Amendment. I used it and Gore Vidal to get us all on the same page about freedom to criticize religion. Which, by the way, may be very uncomfortable when aimed at me but I even so, I wouldnt dream of criminalizing criticism of Christianity. I never met or heard of anyone who wants to. 

The idea of criminalizing the criticism of Islam is bad business. It is no better than my hypothetical Safeguard to criminalize the criticism of Christianity.

I would appreciate Cyrena, since you are a ‘Human Rights wanna-be’(oh, I hope someday you are a Human Rights *star*- monitoring and standing up for Rights, which as Nabih says, are so important and good that they are DIVINE), and since you love the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that you would add your growing knowledge and opinion to the study we might have here. Shenonymous already made a strong start. I dont expect you to keep up with her, but I get the feeling you have the backround knowledge that years of study provide. Correct?

Freedom of Expression is perhaps the most important Universal Right, because it is the true Safeguard of all other Rights. It is not a good thing to tamper with it. Nabih, Shen , Cyrena, do you agree?

I did not know the difference between authoritarian and totalitarian, but now i do. Both of you make the definitions easy to understand.

I hope as both women make moves, that the new place is better than the old.

I will watch Seven Beauties this week. When i am done I could mail it to Cyrena’s yacht.

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By OzarkMichael, May 27, 2008 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

per Nabih: I have chosen the above quote to stress the fact that as far as am concerned whatever claim is said about Islam, if it is not written in the Qur’an is not Islam even if the claim claims that the Prophet had said it in his hadith. The criterion I follow is what inscribed in the Qur’an. Nothing else. All hadiths are open to question as to their integrity, authenticity.
The same I can safely say about sharia’s laws,the test of time has proven that many of them were
inscribed by corrupt clerics to serve certain agenda demanded by a king,a sultan or a ruler of some sort.

Nabih, this is certainly understandable. It is the essense of fundamentalism(by my definition) to disgard the traditions and focus on the pure original ideas. I mean this in a positive way. It is noble.

However, even you have dug into some hadith and tradition to explain the nicer parts or meanings or to get backround of Qur’an. Once we start going to that source(hadith) for the good things, we have opened hadith scholarship as part of Islam. I agree with you, it is wisdom and hopefully ‘mainstream’ Islam to set aside any bad things in hadith, but not every Muslim does that. Some set aside the good things instead. The power of these people, with their different sort of fundamentalism, is not to be neglected or given protection. The influence of the ‘bad’ fundamentalism cannot be combated or even understood if the defamation flag is going to be waved as soon as Westerners ask about it. 

Nabih, I do not defame Islam by pointing out what this sort of Islamic fundamentalism is saying. In fact, the attempt to hush up criticism by calling it defamation is the completely wrong thing to do. It unintentionally protects the problem. Wouldnt it have been better to expose this problem from the beginning of our conversation? Our conversation is a microcosm of the wide world.

The conversation is not going well. There is an attempt to hush up criticism on a global scale. Nabih, if you have any love for Islam you should be very upset about what the OIC did at the UN.

This is a learning process for me. I did not know that you split off Saudi Arabia as following a heretical type of Islam.

Yes, you once mentioned that Saudi Arabia was ‘an exception’... I thought you wanted to create an exception for Muhammed’s homeland but i was afraid to ask, for fear of offending you. See where this defamation talk gets us? If i asked the question it would have helped us progress. I should have just asked “What do you mean by exception, why should there be any exception?” I would have found out what you really meant. You meant it is an exception in a bad way, which perhaps now i will understand and maybe agree with. That agreement brings up new questions but perhaps it is too late to ask them.

I hope you can see Nabih, that less questions and less communication creates more misunderstanding. This accusation of ‘defamation’ of Islam is hurting our conversation. You are the only one here who has any life experience in Islamic culture. We lose not only a friend, but also a knowledgeable person if you dont participate.

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 2:09 am Link to this comment

Part 1 of 2

I’m just checking in again to let you all know that so much has transpired just since I last posted, but to also let OM know that I don’t think he’s an idiot, and to let Shenon know that I am really am trying to keep up, so that she doesn’t have to deal with you two guys all alone.  (since she’s protesting).

Now, here’s the deal on the Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism. I haven’t read the Gore Vidal work on it, so I have that to get up to speed on that. So, tell me if you think this is gonna help me with this paper that I’m dealing with on the subject, because otherwise, I’ll have to put it off for a week or so. It doesn’t sound like it, since Shenon agreed with me that in looking at my direction and sources, I’m not much considering the religious angle to this particular work. I’m trying to figure out the politics that, as Shenon said, have simply prostituted religion for their own means. STILL, since you all have read it, if you think it’ll help, I’ll get it tomorrow and that way, I sort of kill two birds with one stone.

Otherwise, I might be slightly out of pocket for a bit, as I try to wrap up this assigned work. I still have a jillion papers to come up with, (well, maybe not that many…but it seems like it). Now I’ve gotta get going on my genocide work. It’s not like all of this stuff doesn’t have a depressing tone to it, but hey…I’m the Human Right’s advocate wanna be, trying to figure out what went wrong (when these carefully constructed Treaties and Conventions fail to prevent such atrocities) and to maybe come up with some suggestions on how to prevent them in the future. The language is there. The interpretations are clear. The deals are made. Politicians ignore them; generally corrupt and evil politicians ignore them.

Meantime, I know you’re right about the foundational ideologies of Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism - power and wealth, but I’m trying to fine-tune it. Like, why did Hitler and Stalin process so many human beings through concentration camps and gulags, which I’m connecting to the Cheney-Rumsfeld set-up for thousands of Muslims? Hitler had his ‘perfect race’ experiments, so his was mass death to all that he considered to be anything other than perfect. Stalin didn’t so much do mass murders by gulags, but rather simply killed them all by neglect, after rounding up anyone who had the least bit of individualization about them, including their minds. So, like Nazism and Communism, I need a word for whatever the same thing is that the DC thugs are doing now. Their ideology can pretty much be tracked to the PNAC, (and the Clean Break paper that came before it) but that’s what I meant when I said I was trying to figure out the specific ideology for this particular exercise of Totalitarianism, since that’s exactly what it has become, at least in my opinion.


Now believe it or not, I actually HAVE spent some time studying Islam, both in my Middle Eastern studies, and in my Law and Society studies. Admittedly, it was only the basics, (though my Law and the Middle East courses got real involved with a lot of specifics…it was mind boggling). So, I do have a Qur’an, but it doesn’t much help me, since it’s in Arabic. I’ll get the one that Nabih recommends. I actually have had an opportunity to learn many of the hadiths, because those were all translated for my Law & Society material. (and, I’m sort of particular about where the translations come from, because I’m not so likely to trust Americans or white people on that, no matter how well they seem to know the language). For instance; that Noah Feldman character. I particularly don’t like him, and when I get around to it, I’m gonna write a scathing critique on some of his stuff. It would be helpful though, if I knew a bit more of what I was talking about myself. I HAVE read some of Karen Armstrong’s work, though I haven’t checked to see if this is the same.

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 2:07 am Link to this comment

Part 2 of 2

Now on a more personal note, (the lake trip sounds wonderful Shenon) I also have to move out of my space here, and find another…space that is. Ostensibly, (according to changing policies that resemble the current administration in DC) there is some sort of a policy that limits occupancy in this Univ. owned and operated housing, and they tell me that my time is up. As I mentioned, these ‘policies’ seem to be determined quite arbitrarily, and applied just as arbitrarily. However, when I sort of pointed that out, it apparently pissed them off, and like I said, this is the ‘ostensible’ reason for my needing to vacate the little dump. I’ve yet to figure out what the REAL agenda is, and having already spent far too much energy on trying to figure it out, I’m just going to accept it as some sort of a blessing in disguise, kind of like when I finally got out of Texas. It’s unlikely that I would have made the move on my own, despite how horrible it was there. Maybe I was in denial, but more than likely, I just didn’t want the hassle and the chaos that comes from all this moving around. It was fine when I was younger. I could pack up houses and apartments, and zip around with ease. (I packed up an entire apartment 10 days after the C-section I had with my daughter…but that was a stupid thing to do).

Anyway, I have to vacate this place, and I haven’t found a new one yet, but I’m just trying to think on the positive side of things. Maybe this is like my ‘big chance’ or something, and somebody will gift me with a yacht that I can just park down at the water. Then I can use it to live on, and have the same to escape in, if things get much worse. (this was another good reason for returning to California…the Ocean allows for a great escape route, even though I’m not pretending to know anything about navigating on the water. (how much different can it be from the air though?)


Well, that was just a day dream, and a used RV is probably closer to reality, even if it doesn’t run. We’ll see. So that’s just a forewarning that I’ll be a bit more ‘mobile’ in the upcoming weeks and months. I am prepared for it though. I’ve invested in one of those wireless gadgets that I can plug into my laptop, and hopefully soon, I’ll have saved enough for one of those niffy new (and far too expensive) wireless readers. Have you all heard about those? (I’m such an electronics junkie). Well, this thing will download full sized books, all for the same price..$9.99) and wirelessly. Takes a minute or less to download the entire book, from wherever one might be.  It stores a 160 or so, and there’s another card that can store even more. So, you just have this one light gadget, that reads like a paper book, that you can carry around anywhere, and have a good sized library stored in it. It highlights and bookmarks, and all of that too. Hot dog! What more could a soon-to-be-homeless, middle aged scholar want? I’ll feel like a princess.

So, we’ll just think of this whole thing as an adventure, and I’ll be back in regular touch as soon as I get..well, out of here. (one thing that isn’t so great is having possessions stored all over the country though…especially with gas prices being what they are) It’s time to divest myself of some of that old stuff. I just can’t bring myself to part with any of my books or rugs though.

Ok…that’s it for the moment. I’ve just made a new pot of coffee, since I’ve still got this genocide to deal with.

Best to you all,
Cyrena

PS..

Shenonymous, thanks ever so much for the distinctions (Auth/Total) by the way, and the additional resources for my work. I’m getting to that next, and I’ll share what I come up with. I’m in the midst of setting up a blog so that I can post the text and/or links to larger projects. Better for us maybe. We’ll see.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2008 at 11:22 pm Link to this comment

I will accuse Christianity of equal violence and even worse atrocities.  Judaism has had its bloody history but I have not ever seen the Jews attempt to convert anybody.  But they were complicit in the violence set upon them in the 7th century.  All this being said here is what I have found:
http://www.iranchamber.com/religions/articles/zoroaster_zoroastrians_in_iran.php
Zoroaster and Zoroastrians in Iran by: Massoume Price
Yazdegird III the last Sassanian king met his death in Merv in 652 AD. The Arab invasion of Iran was utterly different from that of Alexander. The attack on Persian and Byzantine territories by the newly converted Muslims was carried out in the spirit of Surah 9.29 of the Quran. “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the last day and do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden-such men as practice not the religion of truth, being people of the book-until they pay tribute out of hand and have been humbled”. ‘People of the book’ or ‘dhimmis’ (Zamis) in Quran are named as Jews, Christians and Sabians, who had adherents among the Arabs. To them Muslims presented three choices, death, conversion or the payment of tribute (jizya). To other infidels including Buddhists and followers of other religions two options were offered death or conversion to Islam. Zoroastrians theoretically belonged to the second group, however because of their sheer numbers Muslims were forced to regard them as dhimmis.

So once the conquest was over, with its slaughter, enslavement, looting and destruction, local terms were agreed on and the Muslim rulers collected tributes. In one account people of Ray and vicinity had to pay 500,000 dirhams but managed to keep what was left of their temples. The Sassanian tax system was taken over and ‘jizya’ was made an special poll tax on non-Muslims and since the Surah 9.29 had mentioned ‘humbling the non believers’ special provisions were made to make sure that the non Muslims were humbled at the time of paying taxes. “The dhimmi has to stand while paying tax and the officer (emir) who receives it sits. The dhimmi has to be made to feel that he is an inferior person when he pays. http://www.wikiislam.com/wiki/History_of_Jihad_Against_the_Arabs
History of Jihad Against the Arabs
How Islamic Jihad originated 1400 years ago and how the nature and idol-worshipping pre-Muslim Arabs were the first to be traumatized by Islam: The Arabs were the only people who were not given the option of paying Jaziya and remaining non-Muslim, a courtesy that was later extended to all non-Muslims. The only choice for the nature and idol-worshipping pre-Muslim Arabs was between Islam or death. Hence there are no surviving nature and idol-worshipping non-Muslim Arabs today, a point missed by many Arab and Western historians.
http://www.jcpa.org/phas/phas-duker-fishman-f05.htm
Forced Conversion of Jews to Christianity
On 31 May 632, apparently under the influence of these churchmen, Emperor Heraclius took the unprecedented step of issuing a decree of forced conversion of his Jewish subjects to Christianity.2 This edict encompassed the areas of Asia Minor (now Turkey), Syria, Palestine, Greece, Egypt, and the Balkans. Although it was not implemented, the decree alienated the Jews, many of whom had allied themselves with the Persians earlier in the century. Longstanding discriminatory policies and laws influenced Samaritans and non-Orthodox Christians, along with Jews, in favor of the Arab invaders.

More tomorrow or even later as I am dead tired.  I think this was really over the edge and unnecessary.  But the air needed cleared and I prefer to keep this forum going.  But if neither of you wishes to do so, then I’ll say my good byes too.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2008 at 11:21 pm Link to this comment

Also, with regard to the amalgamation of politics and religion for Islamists, within the very same paragraph you pointed out, Armstrong says “Politics is not extrinsic to a Muslim’s personal religious life, as in Christianity, which mistrusts mundane success.”

I have no quarrel with you Nabih, and if I say or imply anything that is counter-to-the-truth, I am glad that you point it out.  My point is that the reason why Islam is far and reaching in the world is because they won wars to get the territory and did not always win, or won then lost as they did in Spain.  It is not my intention to debate the verity of Armstrong’s histories.  It would take me the rest of my life to show one way or another whether everything she says is true or not.  That is not the way I want to spend the rest of my life.  And I do not even believe it is necessary.  So as I come across ideas that are questionable, it is then that I will research and conclude.

I hope it is agreeable to you and but I want to continue to discuss the meanings and relevance of totalitarianism and authoritarianism with respect to the previously ongoing conversation regarding Gore Vidal.  Ozark, you initiated this discussion and I would hope you wish to have some resolution regarding it.

Reply to Nabih regarding monotheism comments.  I understand clearly what you meant by Trend Theory.  You gave a sufficient set of examples and I agree about giving those who violate the First Amendment enough of that metaphoric rope to hang themselves!.  And may the Greek goddess Rhamnousia (AKA Nemesis.  The name Nemesis means “to give what is due) who was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris and was vengeful fate personified as a remorseless goddess act with divine purpose Sambethe goddess of ropemakers.  I love mythologies and making some up to suit my (our) purpose.

It looks as if the conversation reduced itself down to the two men.  Somewhat limiting to this woman. I protest!  I have been doing a great deal of reading and thinking and writing but it seems as if it is to no avail.  The conversation seems to have been hijacked by some emotional temperament somewhat like an emotional boxing match.  I am quite surprised at what I have had to read today.  I had had such a nice day until returning home and to read what has transpired.

To clarify.  I have returned to all my books because it seems that a comment I made may have turned this forum upside down because OM must have found some countervailing information about Muslims forcing conversions.  At first I thought I was hallucinating since I was unable to find in the Armstrong books the information about the forced Islamization of Arabs, Jews, and Christians.  But I recall reading it. So I started on a new hunt.  It has taken be hours and hours.  I am not here to breach and friendship I have with you Nabih, and I do not want to seem as though I am taking any large issue with Islam as I think Islam is in the same boat as all the other religions. But I did have a basis for making the statement I made.  The following websites will give me credence but these are not where I first saw the accusations.  I will keep searching for that but this will have to do.  If this ruptures our speaking relationship, I would be very very sorry, but I would not have been able to avoid it any more than I am by saying it is not my intention to give any disrepute to Islam.

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By Shenonymous, May 26, 2008 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment

I see the crucifixion bag of nails is out again.  My hands really cannot stand being hammered, my bones are too small!. 

This post will have to be in parts too.  Seems like I want to say more than the 4000 character limit…again.  Life happens.
But first I will say something about my day!
What a boon!  A friend called to see if I wanted to go over to the lake.  I said What?! Lake! Are you crazy?  We’ve got class today!  No! was the resounding answer!  No school, today is a holiday!  Good Grief Charlie Brown, have I lost my compass?  Of course a trip to the lake was much more preferable than the classroom.  So off we went to the lake.  It was such a beautiful day.  They stock the lake with large and small mouth bass.  I didn’t take my fishing poles, but I watched as others delighted in their catch.  While at lakeside I read more about totalitarianism and authoritarianism.  I will recommend some articles once I organize all the papers. I have printed out so much that my mind is boggled.  What you folks do to me!  It is almost criminal.  Well I am a participant in the demise of my own senses.  So you all are forgiven.  It was such a wonderful day that I almost forgot about my dad’s march up through Italy in WWII.  He was at Anzio.  He was not the best soldier, but then most were not.  He did what he was told, most of the time, so I’m told.  He was an Army boxer and hence was a bit of a celebrity in his Company (E), 351 Reg., 88th Division. He was a PFC.  I am honoring him by writing about him in my comments to you all. I don’t know if he actually killed anybody, he never said, he didn’t talk much about combat except to tell me about carrying a buddy once for a few miles.  He was injured, shot in the left hip, my mom told me.  So much for Mussolini’s War.

I read the passage in Armstrong’s book, p. 159, Nabih.  I had read it before, and carefully.  I don’t understand your comment about my believing the credibility of Armstrong’s writing about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.  Seems I have repeatedly said her scholarship was just fine.  I would like for her biography of Muhammad to have had an index, it would have been extremely helpful, but I have had other reference texts that did not have an index.  I also like to see bibliographies, which Armstrong does not always include.  Even so Armstrong appears to be an expert among those in the field.  I have no usual reason to doubt her.  What I would have liked more of out of her was more assessment and analyses.  She does seem to favor the east over the west.  It is reasonable for her to take a favorable view after the number of books she devoted to the history of the Middle East.  I do not care if she does have more sympathy as there have been few from the west who have.  I am interested in her histories as they are comprehensive and as I have time and ability to find them, I will read others’ histories and assessments.  But for now I will rely on Armstrong.
A couple of sites I found in my travels on the research trail for the history of Islam may be found at:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/sbook1d.html#Islamic Expansion and Empires - to 750 CE
numerous references at IMS Internet Medieval Sourcebook – Islam  

And for even further research, try the Online Reference Book (ORB) site at http://the-orb.net for The History of Islam 39 references
I would also point to the paragraph just preceding the one to which you directed my attention. The one that ends with the sentence, “Under the Ummayads, however, the expansion continued into Asia and North Africa, inspired not by religion so much as by Arab imperialism.”  Perhaps so, we have to always remember that community for the Muslim is first and foremost and is commanded by the Qur’an.  Hence, there is no actual separation between their religion and their society or government. (please see p. xi of the Preface of the same text.)

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To:OzarkMichael

You have asked me to answer whether the three options
you have cited and have claimed that Islam gives to
non-Muslims true or false.The three options are:

(1)Convert to Islam.

Or

(2)Pay Gizieh.

Or

(3)Be killed.

All above are false.I will not just stop here by only
telling you that they are false,but I will give you three big reasons:

(A)the biggest reason of all is the Qura’n.There is no such thing in the Qura’n.Islam is the Qura’n,not the hadith,not the Sunnah,not the Shiah,not the Wahabism and not any other Islamic sects,not the
dictate of Muslim and Arab kings and Munach.You can say that is debatable as long as you want .The fact is so clear to any body who cares for facts.

(B)Another big reason is the fact that the number of Christians who live in the the Muslim World including
the Arab World are in the millions.None of them were converted.They were not required to pay Giziah.And
they are not killed and still living and working
there.They are required to pay taxes like any other Muslim who lives there.

(C)Another big reason is me,Nabih Ammari,well known
among Muslims as Christian then and who went to Church with his wife on the Sundays when he was not
traveling outside Amman,Jordan.I have never been dictated either to convert to Islam,or to pay Gizieh or be killed.NEVER,NEVER and MORE NEVER.I lived there
for more than 20 years.And here I am,still alive.

OzarkMichael,if all of the above is not good enough to persuade you that you are and the sources you consult are wrong,then there is nothing left for me to continue this endless and hopeless exchanges with
you.You,Shenon,dreadnaught and possibly cyrena seem to get along better and also seem to dialogue and exchange views better than I can.Besides,I really have much more important obligations to attend to.
I do wish you the best,OzarkMichael.Good luck and
take good care of yourself and your family and do not let my posts,the writings of Gore Vidal and Chris Hedges bother you.If you can do that you will be a winner.Salam,Shalom,Peace,friend.MAY your God bless
you.And once again.farewell,friend.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Subject:Final words before taking rest for a while

I lived in Amman,Jordan and covered the whole Middle
East including Iran(until the demise of the Shah in
1978-1978),and including tiny Cyprus and tiny Malta as part of my responsibility,working for an American
multi-national corporation for 20 years plus.Most of the people and their governments are Arab Muslims of
a population of 300 millions.Among them there live roughly around 10 per cent.That means there are roughly 30 millions Christians,composed of all kind of different Christians denominations such as Catholic,Greek Orthodox,Coptic,Armenian Orthodox, Baptist,Maronite Catholic,Eastern Catholic and traces of Re-born Again Christians.

Those Christians scattered through out the whole Arab
World with the exception of Saudi Arabia where the
rigid Wahabism sect in control there.Here,I remember
the Christian Inquisition and the Crusades.

During all those 20 years of living there I have not heard of and seen a single Christian got killed for being Christian,nor did I ever heard of any Christian
paid any Geziah for being Christian who lived there
like his ancestors who lived there since time immemorial.I have not heard any of the Jews who refused to ever migrate to Israel ever got killed or
paid Geziah to the Moroccan and Syrian governments
where they lived.All Christian Arabs and Jewish Arabs
are considered Arab citizens,carry the passports of the countries where they were born and lived.They pay
taxes to the government as their fellow Muslims do.
No Gezieh and killing and no such crap exist.Such crap only exists in the minds of the professional defamers and chronic haters of Islam.

Either you convert or pay Giziah or be killed is just
crap.And I challenge the whole evangelical world and
and Zionist world to show me one-just one single surah or one single verse in the Qura’n that dictates on the non-Muslims to either convert,pay Geziah or be
killed.If it had,somehow,had happened in the past,it
certainly no sign of it now in any Muslim Arab countries I had covered in the seventies and eighties
not even in the theocracy of Iran.

The Holy Qura’n is the beauty,power and greatness of
Islam.Nothing else.And let the defamers defame and haters hate from here till eternity,and the Islam I
know will remain the Islam I know and spent years studying its purity,appreciating its linguistics beauty and developing a sense of humility whenever I
succeeded in interpreting some of its verses correctly. 
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By OzarkMichael, May 26, 2008 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

Lets all pretend that everything is fine so that Cyrena wont think i am an idiot.

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By OzarkMichael, May 26, 2008 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

darn italics. No offense meant to any eye-talians out there!

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By OzarkMichael, May 26, 2008 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

per Shenonymous: At first Islamists did not require the conquered to become Muslim, but over time they changed and you either changed or you died.

I explained that Muslims did not insist on ‘convert or die’, they have a much better rule than that to follow. Convert/submit/or die. Nabih, I was elevating Shenonymous’ understanding of Islam.

per Nabih: to see OzarkMichael,jumping to his usual accusation of Islam of which Islam as written in the Qura’n was/is totally innocent of.

That might be dabatable.

per Nabih: Such malicious accusations are found in the trashy books of Robert Spencer.

Let us assume that my statement was made with hate(although it was not), and let us even say that it is painful and offensive for you to read it… the statement still might be true.

What difference does it make who else says it? Or even if I quoted Robert Spencer?(although I wrote the statement myself) No matter, the statement stands or falls on its own merit. Is it true or isnt it? Isnt that what counts? Invective hurled at me will not prove the statement false. You leaving will not make it false either. I want you to stay and prove the statement wrong if it is wrong.

Please agree with me about one thing, Nabih: It doesnt matter whether a statement is offensive to Christians, or to Muslims, or to atheists. What matters (or what should matter) is whether it is true.

My statement: “the Muslims offered three choices”
True? or False?

Please read the following… 

They gave the people three choices: to accept Islam freely, which would mean that they join the Muslim community and become part of it; or to pay the jizyah, or tribute, to indicate that they will live in peace with the Muslims continuing to follow their own religions. If they accepted neither course then the only way left was to fight. This was the case throughout Muslim history.

The quote and article was not written by me or Spencer or Bostrom. Nor by a hater, nor an Islamophobe, nor a racist. It came from this article

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=5&section=0&article=103612&d=22&m=11&y=20

Note especially where the teacher proves his case with Quran 8:39. He concludes that all must submit to Islam so that none are oppressed. No one is forced to convert. This is the method of good governance that Islam aimed for.

I was not trying to be offensive, nor malicious. Neither is the Arab Muslim teacher who wrote the article and quoted the Quran to prove his case. The Three Choices I presented look like the honest truth so far.

But if the Three Choices arent true, then reason will have to be your method to make me see it. Otherwise the Islamic Safeguard is kicking in, as if I am defaming Islam and need to be punished.

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By OzarkMichael, May 26, 2008 at 6:15 pm Link to this comment

per Shenonymous: At first Islamists did not require the conquered to become Muslim, but over time they changed and you either changed or you died.

I explained that Muslims did not insist on ‘convert or die’, they have a much better rule than that to follow. Convert/submit/or die. Nabih, I was elevating Shenonymous’ understanding of Islam.

per Nabih: to see OzarkMichael,jumping to his usual accusation of Islam of which Islam as written in the Qura’n was/is totally innocent of.

That might be dabatable. Let us assume that my statement was made with hate(although it was not), and let us even say that it is painful and offensive for you to read it… the statement still might be true.

per Nabih: Such malicious accusations are found in the trashy books of Robert Spencer.

What difference does it make who else says it? Or even if I quoted Robert Spencer?(although I wrote the statement myself) No matter, the statement stands or falls on its own merit. Is it true or isnt it? Isnt that what counts? Invective hurled at me will not prove the statement false. You leaving will not make it false either. I want you to stay and prove the statement wrong if it is wrong.

Please agree with me about one thing, Nabih: It doesnt matter whether a statement is offensive to Christians, or to Muslims, or to atheists. What matters (or what should matter) is whether it is true.

My statement: “the Muslims offered three choices”
True? or False?

Please read the following… 

They gave the people three choices: to accept Islam freely, which would mean that they join the Muslim community and become part of it; or to pay the jizyah, or tribute, to indicate that they will live in peace with the Muslims continuing to follow their own religions. If they accepted neither course then the only way left was to fight. This was the case throughout Muslim history.

The quote and article was not written by me or Spencer or Bostrom. Nor by a hater, nor an Islamophobe, nor a racist. It came from this article

http://www.arabnews.com/?page=5&section=0&article=103612&d=22&m=11&y=20

Note especially where the teacher proves his case with Quran 8:39. He concludes that all must submit to Islam so that none are oppressed. No one is forced to convert. This is the method of good governance that Islam aimed for.

I was not trying to be offensive, nor malicious. Neither is the Arab Muslim teacher who wrote the article and quoted the Quran to prove his case. The Three Choices I presented look like the truth to me.

But if it isnt true, that would be a matter of research and reason and persuasion.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Subject:Enlightenment about the Hadith in Islam.

Since there are currently attempts by evil forces to try to convince non-Muslims that all the evil forces trashy prints against Islam are taken from the Hadith and they claim that the Hadith is more important than the Qura’n (a fraudulent lie),the following quote is taken from a review of book entitled"Islam and Liberty"by Muhammad Charfi who clearly provides,in my opinion,just the correct information and importance of Hadith in Islam relative to the Qura’n:

Quote
======
It was only a century after the Prophet’s death that the task of compiling the hadith was undertaken.There
is not the slightest doubt about the integrity and authenticity of the Koran.One cannot say that of the
hadith.The Prophet died at the Medina on June 8,632.
Al-Bukhari,a man of piety and compiler of the most
respected of the hadith,was born in the ninth century
(194 of the Hejra,he died in 256).He was methodical.
Having collected 600,000 hadiths,he retained only
7,257 omitting 4000 repetitions.

Thus less than two centuries after the Prophet death
there were already already 596,725 false hadith.
Al-Bukhari told off a king who wanted him to read some excerpts in private.“Go” he told the emissary,
“tell your master that I hold knowledge in high esteem,and I refuse to drag it into the antechambers
of sultans”.Islamic history would have been different
if others have his integrity.

Unquote
========

I have chosen the above quote to stress the fact that as far as am concerned whatever claim is said about Islam,if it is not written in the Qur’an is not Islam
even if the claim claims that the Prophet had said
it in his hadith.The criterion I follow is what inscribed in the Qur’an.Nothing else.All hadiths are
open to question as to their integrity, authenticity.
The same I can safely say about sharia’s laws,the test of time has proven that many of them were
inscribed by corrupt clerics to serve certain agenda
demanded by a king,a sultan or a ruler of some sort.

The only people who really understand the purity
and power of Islam are people like me,who went through considerable personal investment in time and
frustration for just interpreting a verse here and
a verse there and so on and on and on.To me,the
gullibility of some people to believe anything negative about Islam is totally astounding.

Anyone who cares to get objective and more information related to the above quote,please Google
the following:

Islam and Liberty by Muhammad Charfi

Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

Note:Perhaps,this is the last post I am going to post on this thread for a while,since my wife is returning home after spending the Memorial day week-end with our grand children.When she is home,attending to her needs comes first.Why do not you guys find a common ground for exchanging your views with one another? Remember that:“only the truth will set you free”. Believe me,nothing else.

Still,
Nabih.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Convert,Die,or the Middle Option May 26

Ozark Michael,

I thought you guys were/are still debating the basic
definitions that were/are available for the two words:

Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism

to see OzarkMichael,jumping to his usual accusation of Islam of which Islam as written in the
Qura’n was/is totally innocent of.Accusation without solid proof based on the content of the Qura’n would
not and will not hold water in the court of law.I
wonder how could it hold water when the accusation deals with a great religion like Islam.Such malicious
accusations are found in the trashy books of Robert
Spencer.If one chooses to believe them that is certainly one’s right to do so,but not to use them
carelessly as tools to defame a great religion whether it is Islam,Christianity or Judaism.That is not the way to help reach acceptable conclusions,not
about Islam alone,but also about Christianity and Judaism.

OzarkMichael,based only in the aggressive tune of your post that all what you are concerned about is
defaming Islam without a slight reference to an
equivalent comparison in Christianity and Judaism.
Remember,you and Shenon and myself have agreed that
Gore Vidal meant in his essay all three religions.
We either stick to what we agreed upon or I would stop right here, because I could not accept to go through such baseless and shallow accusations all over again.The Zionist new campaign to make the
Hadith more important than the verses of the Qura’n,in order to inflame non-Muslims against
Islam and Muslims,seems to me to be succeeding in the evangelical environments.May your God help all
evangelicals to find the right pathway to come just close to the TRUTH. 

Per your request,the following quote is from Karen
Armstrong book’s"A History of God”,page 159 soft
cover:

Quote
======
Nobody in the new empire was forced to accept Islamic
faith,for a century after Muhammad death,conversasion
was not encouraged and,in about 700,was actually forbidden by law:Muslims believed that Islam was for
the Arabs as Judaism was for the sons of Jacob.As the
“people of the book”(ahl al-kitab)Jews,and Christians
were granted religious liberty as dhimmis,protected
minority group.When the Abbsid caliph began to encourage conversion,many of Semitic and Aryan peoples in their empire were eager to accept the new
religion.The success of Islam was as formative as the
failure and humiliation of Jesus have been in Christianity.Politics is not extrinsic to a Muslim’s
personal religious life,as in Christianity,which mistrusts mundane success.Muslims regard themselves
as committed to implementing a just society in accord
with God’s will.The ummah has sacramental importance
as a “sign” that God has blessed this endeavor to redeem humanity from oppression and injustice;its political health holds much the same place in a Muslim’s spirituality as a particular theological
option(Cathlic,Protestant,Methodist,Baptist).If
Christians find the Muslim’s regard for politics
strange,they should reflect that their passion for
abstruse theological debate seems equally bizarre
to Jews and Muslims.

Unquote
========

Ozark,as you well know by now that I do not believe in any religion.Period.What I wish you understand that when I defend Islam I defend the pathway in
order to come just CLOSE TO THE TRUTH;;and to a lesser extent I am defending the years I spent on my own,trying to understand Islam in comparison to Judaism and Christianity.As a result,I ended up Agnostic.Therefore,if you want to carry on a productive dialogue with me,I suggest that you leave your evangelical belief at the steps of your church’s
door.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By OzarkMichael, May 26, 2008 at 12:01 pm Link to this comment

First, I have the film Seven Beauties, will watch it this week.

Second, Nabih or Shen or dreadnaught: Please supply the whole statement by Karen Armstrong unless it is too long for the effort. I am curious.

Third, Islam does not usually offer ‘covert or die’. The three options are well established (offered automatically to Christians and Jews, I wont comment about others) and the options have not changed from the day Mohammed enforced them:

1. Convert willingly to Islam

or

2. Submit to the rightful rule of Islam, which basically means accepting a second class status in exchange for protection. This protected person(called a’dhimmi’)must pay a tax(called jizyah). 

or

3. Be put to death.

Like everything else in Islam, the choices offered were actually advanced at the time. To restrain the hands of all Muslims against all the submissive dhimmis(Jew or Christian) was incredibly benevolent and no easy feat to accomplish. Mohammed restrained all Muslims by these rules and they are fixed forever, which compared favorably to the arbitrary decisions that individual Christians made on the spot for how to treat any given Muslim.

Advanced as it was for its time, the three options become problematic for later Muslim societies. To understand these problem one must understand the nature of religious fundamentalism. I should define fundamentalism, and I will do so later.

But for now a digression: If you care know… there are rules for submissive dhimmis to follow which were culled from the Hadith or tradition, such as: the dhimmi can be forbidden to wear the same type of clothing as Muslims(for example the dhimmi might have to wear special shoes with upturned toes, or a special hat) dhimmi’s must never ring church bells, must not sing hymms loudly, must move to the side of the street if Muslims are coming through. But this aspect of dhimmi laws varied from place to place, and seems to be enforced during times when the dhimmi community was being punished or broken in. 

There are some traditions which are more consistantly applied today, such as: dhimmis can not preach to Muslims. Muslim women can not marry dhimmi men. Dhimmis can not criticize the Prophet Mohammed. Dhimmis can not criticize sharia.

I will make my own definition of fundamentalism next post, and leave that up to you to work that towards the authoritarian/totalitarian ideas.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Welcoming words to cyrena.

Dear cyrena,

I am very pleased seeing you back posting on this thread.

Please accept my heart-felt welcome.I am very sure
that your intellectual contributions to the already
extensive knowledge embodied in this forum will be
significant from beginning to end.In fact,your posts
about the definitions of Authoritarianism and
Totalitarianism along with Shenon’s definitions have
already been significant.You have already saved me
considerable amount of time that I have to spend searching the internet,articles and books;just to find comprehensive definitions.Many many thanks to you and Shenon.

Very most welcome,indeed.

Best Regards,
Nabih

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 2:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Re:Islam is the second largest May 25

Shenonymous,

Will you please see the middle of page 159 of Karen
Armstrong’s “A History Of God”.Soft cover.

The middle of the page,paragraph,starts with the
following words:

“Nobody in the empire etc…”

Of course,if you do not believe in the credibility
of what Armstrong writes about Islam,Christianity and
Judaism,please ignore this suggestion.Thank you.

Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Nabih Ammari, May 26, 2008 at 1:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Trend Theory and Give Them Enough Rope…

Shenonymous,

Since I am the one who has suggested not to wage war on the monotheists but to “give them enough rope to hang themselves by themselves”,I do feel I owe you an
explanation of just what I have really meant.Please bear with me my unintentional ambiguity.I always attempt to be straight-shooter,but it seems that I do fall in the trap of ambiguity,once in a while.

First and foremost,I must make it clear that I have
NOT meant by"give them enough rope to hang themselves by themselves” based or because of their religious
beliefs.That absolutely was not,is not,and will never be my intention whatsoever.My intention has to do with the realm of politics,as religions are mixed with politics,the whole community,nation or world gets chaos,
contentions,strife and possibly war.These negative trends are brought about unintentionally or obvious intentionally by specific leadership in the Christian
World(USA),Islamic World(Iran,Lebanon,Saudi Arabia) and the World Zionist Organization(Israel,USA,UK) which has exploited the fine teachings of the Torah for their evil political agenda in Palestine.

Some people attribute the current entropic political,
economic,financial and military chaos on one conspiracy theory or another.I do not belong to such crowds.I do believe,however,in what I personally
call"Trends Theory” which simply means that one single trend occurs,either by design or by an event beyond the control of decent,sensible and peaceful  
men/women.Again,by either design or no design,one trend becomes the nucleus of larger and many other
trends until a community,a nation or the whole world
is being engulfed into.This can happen in any society inhabited by people;good or bad.In one post I had
posted on fascism,I called such accumulation of trends around a nucleus,“COAGULATION OF FASCISM”.It is really the same system of thoughts.I think the term “Trend Theory” is easier to remember and easier to comprehend,instead of hardly used word such as
“coagulation”,in the normal discourse.

As the “Trends Theory” evolves and eventually hits the common people lives,people of conscience usually make their move,either thru open rebellion or strike
or disobedience or through open rejection or peacefully by sheer weight of their votes at election time.Example of Two Trends and their ultimate collapse:

Trend One:Senator John McCain implored and received the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee,a Zionist Christian(that is exactly what he described himself)
who had/has influence on 30,000 members congregation,
in West Texas.The whole endorsement was done in such
a fan-fare.

Trend Two:Not to be out done,Pastor Rod Parsley of
Columbus,Ohio,who has influence on 12,000 members
congregation,quickly had endorsed John McCain,again in well publicized fashion.

At this point,McCain appeared to be in his way to get
bigger trends of endorsement from the evangelicals
who keep insisting in mixing their religious beliefs
with politics,in direct violation of the Constitution
of the U.S.If their religious beliefs and religious
influence on their congregations are kept at a distance from the political arena,there should be no
endorsement to any political figure/nominee.And no need to use such a metaphoric statement as mentioned
above. 

As people of conscience could take it NO more;and
hence exposed the real John Hagee and the real Rod
Parsley,John McCain had no other alternative except to reject both endorsements of Hagee and Parsley.They overplayed their hand and were rejected. 

That is exactly what I have meant by the Metaphoric statement,“Give them enough rope to hang themselves by themselves”.I do hope that all of the above is of some help for clarification.
Sincerely,
Nabih Ammari
An Independent in Ohio.

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By Shenonymous, May 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

Islam is the second largest religion in the world.  Second only to Christianity.  Islam did not get to be so huge by sitting in the mosque and reading the Qu’ran.  They got it through the usual imperialist means.  They conquered parts of the world most of because of sheer want, they wanted the land and resources just as all conquering empires did.  A lot of killing went on.  Not that Christianity did not have its blood baths, but their atrocities do not absolve the Muslims.  Af first Islamists did not require the conquered to become Muslim, but over time they changed and you either changed or you died.  Your explanation of the sky-god religions and prophets is not quite on the mark.  They are not as close as you imagine.  True, the three modern ones (those in the last 4 millenia) are all based on Abraham and all three depended on revelational experiences, but they are as different as bananas, apples, and oranges.  Those all grow on trees true, but they are quite different fruit. These three perceive their old man in the sky quite differently.  Actions are directed differently as well. Personally I think they are all mental aberrations but that is because I am an atheist.  But I am a humanist atheist meaning I give respect to those who follow the spirit of their religions if they are to do good for humanity.  Using religion for any other reason is in my mind criminal.

cyrena, I suggest reading more history of Islam and the history of the belief in god.  Nabih recommended we read a few of Karen Armstrong’s books, which I have and although there is a tiny question about the number of references she used in one of her books, I found that for the most part (I now have six of her books), her references are excellent in five of them and one should have had more, but that’s life.  OM did not think she reported accurately nor concluded truthfully.  That is up to others to decide.  With my historian’s research experience, I did not think her scholarship was all that much lacking.  But she is not the only author of Islam.  I looked up her references and bought a few of those on the list after checking them out on the Internet. I also suggest buying a copy of the Qu’ran. The Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation is one that even Nabih okays.  The thing that holds me up on Armstrong is that she seems to be only reporting not analyzing.  I want to know what the truth and morality is of the actions of men.  I realize much of what I want would have to be science based and morality is a system of values and hence psychology-based, but I want at least the tough questions asked. I do not simply accept the fundamental tenets of any of the revelational religions as fact.

It would appear that religion doesn’t have any ‘logical’ thing to do with state authority, or Arendt’s Banality of Evil, but just a quick look at those who have been in charge for the last few decades and they look like ordinary people. For the most part ordinary people just accepted what was going on in Washington.  I would say the same thing about the Islamic world.  Ordinary Muslims allow their fanatical leaders to do whatever.  The march to nuclear armaments is an insanity. Yet there are countries in the middle east that think they must have such weapons. There is the huge argument that the west has them. I would be glad to participate in that debate but we are not about that in this forum.  At least not at the moment.  Who knows what turn it will take?  I would like to get more resolution on the problems we have been working on. 

I am not sure why the ideology that is guiding the regime of strength here in America is such a mystery?  It is always wealth and power, whether religion is prostituted on its behalf or not.  The dynamics of the ideology is as old as the cave. 

No pizza for me tonight, but extraordinary baked fish and veggies was great, with my regular cup of rooibos tea. Now it is beddie time as there is teaching to do tamarra.  Glad to see you back cyrena.

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