Islamic Terrorism -- Myth and Reality August 4, 2005 by RedStar2000
Quite a bit of utter nonsense is written on this subject...especially every time a bomb goes off.
Here's my attempt to contradict some of the worst of it.
Your sweeping generalizations, and reductions are a sign of both ignorance and lunacy. Hey knucklehead, the war on terrorism is a crusade, but it isn't because this is a Christianized nation, it is because this nation was struck by terrorists.
quote (Ann Coulter):
We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
If the American government had only the protection of its citizenry in mind, its response to 9/11 would have been both simple and direct -- expel all persons visiting in this country with a passport issued by a predominately Muslim country and refuse to admit any future visitors from such countries.
And further protection could be secured by refusing to admit anyone with a passport issued in an "Arabic-sounding" name. Or allow anyone with an "Arabic-sounding" name to buy a plane ticket in the U.S.
Drastic measures, to be sure, but they could have been done.
No "Patriot Act", no "Department of Homeland Security", and no invasions of anyplace were needed...or have served to do us any damn good whatsoever.
Quite the contrary, Americans are now the obvious and preferred targets of anybody with a gripe anywhere on the fucking planet.
"Protection" of the American people was not and is not the motive of the "war against terrorism".
The Christian fascists -- an important part of the coalition around Bush -- believe that Islam is "idol worship" and want very much to destroy it. The "war on terrorism" is a great "cause" to disguise their real agenda.
Just as it serves to disguise the "neo-con" agenda of conquest and plunder.
You may call me as many disparaging names as you wish -- that has no effect on social reality at all.
First posted at RevLeft on July 23, 2005
Have you ever been to any of the southern bordering states? I have. There are lots of people living there without passports.
Indeed there are...and every last one of them is named Muhammad. *laughs*
Sure...some Muslim terrorists could cross the border illegally to do their "dirty work". But, as it happened, the people responsible for 9/11 entered on tourist visas and mostly with passports from "Saudi" Arabia...all perfectly legal.
How hard do you think it would be for a couple hundred of jihadists to crash the borders?
Very. For one thing, they would need to be fluent in Spanish...in order to negotiate with their guides in northern Mexico -- and also reasonably fluent in English to be able to move freely in the U.S.
I'm not suggesting that it could not be done at all...but it would be extremely difficult and I don't think "a few hundred" could manage it.
Again, these Jihadists are not hiding their agenda at all, they are quite plain about it. Kill Americans, kill Christians, kill Jews. That is the agenda.
No...not exactly. What they wish to do, as far as I can tell, is remove Americans, Christians, and Jews from the Muslim world altogether. No doubt the more visionary of them imagine a "great Muslim Empire" -- a future super-power that might even attempt the conquest of Europe under the banners of Islam.
But right now, they just want our asses out of "their" part of the world.
Do you blame them?
It only takes one to read a few chapters of the "Holy Koran" to get the gist. I wonder if you ever have (read the Koran), or if you are arguing purely from speculation.
I have had occasions to look at portions of the Koran -- like all "holy books" it is full of blood and thunder against the unbelievers. Have a glance at "nice guy Jesus" in the Book of Revelations.
In terms of historical experience, Muslims have been generally less bloody than Christians -- there's no Muslim equivalent (so far) of witch-burning, Auschwitz, or Hiroshima.
Bush responded because they attacked us.
Awww...what a "hero"! Afghanistan did not "attack America". Neither did Iraq.
You call America's acts of criminal aggression against those countries "a response"?
And then call me a "knucklehead"??? *laughs*
If Bush and his ultra-Christians were trying to annihilate Islam, then why the feck are we giving Egypt nearly 4 billion a year in military aid? Oh yeah, cause they (mostly) aren't militant Shiite Muslims looking to destroy the US. Big fucking hole in your theory, try again.
Try and grasp the difference between the "neo-con" agenda and the Christian fascist agenda...and how those two forces shape the over-all American agenda in foreign policy.
"Neo-cons" are imperial realists. They do not give a rat's ass about religion -- they would cheerfully support Osama Bin Laden as "King of Iraq" provided Osama would obey American orders.
Christian fascists see the coming decades as "the end times"..."their last chance" to conquer the world for Christianity -- they've "hitched their wagon" to the American Empire for "spiritual reasons". They believe (quite sincerely) that "God has chosen America to redeem the whole world...and welcome the return of Jesus."
The neo-cons, under Cheney, still dominate American foreign policy...invade, install quisling regimes, loot and plunder, etc. But it is by no means a foregone conclusion that the Christian fascists will always be the servants and never the masters...and if they do become the masters, then, yes, a formal crusade against Islam is both possible and a logical derivative of their ideology.
Onward, Christian Soldiers could become our new national anthem.
[Ann Coulter] is a raving lunatic.
So was Hitler. "Raving lunacy" does not disqualify one for high office in bourgeois "democracy".
These days, it might even be a "plus".
First posted at RevLeft on July 23, 2005
The point is that getting in isn't very difficult.
Then you make it harder...instead of sending troops to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, you patrol your own borders.
That's just if you want to defend "innocent" American lives, of course.
Quit sugar coating it. They don't want to remove us.
Well, that's a testable hypothesis...we get the fuck out of the Middle East and then we see what happens.
If they still come here and blow people up...then you were right and I was wrong.
Someone says "X is terrible" and you say, "well how is y different from x?"
Yes, I do that with considerable frequency.
Because it's a really terrific way to expose hypocrisy.
If you ask me, it is dishonorable.
I didn't ask you. *laughs*
I was talking about destroying terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, and confronting their Taliban about housing terrorists.
But the terrorists did not come from Afghanistan.
Nor was the kind of "training" available in Afghanistan of any relevance to 9/11. The important training for the perpetrators of 9/11 came from instructors at American flying schools.
It is most probable that the people trained in the Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan were (and likely still are) learning how to construct and detonate small bombs...and that Al-Qaeda's real target was "Saudi" Arabia -- especially Americans in that country -- and its current target is American forces in Iraq.
Indeed, I think it unlikely that Al-Qaeda itself even knew that 9/11 was being planned...though they were not shy about taking "credit" for it. There are "a whole bunch" of tiny and apparently autonomous groups operating under the label of "Al-Qaeda"...a reason, by the way, that you will never "catch them all".
I am in favor of trained assassins, specialty units, to remove terrorist training camps, hide outs, etc.
Ok...but remember that anyone who they assassinate "will be" a "terrorist" without regard to the facts of the matter. And anyplace they blow up "will be" a "terrorist training camp"...again regardless of the facts of the matter.
A word of friendly advice: don't attend wedding parties in Afghanistan or Iraq...only "terrorists" go to them now. *laughs*
This is the sort of conclusion one would draw when they think that Ann Coulter represents the heart beat of contemporary Christian consensus.
She is embarrassing, isn't she?
Just goes around blurting out what so many "in high places" think but would rather not publicly disclose at this time.
Perhaps you'd find this fellow more acceptable...
quote (Denver Post):
Tancredo won't back down
No apology for discussing retaliation on Muslim holy sites
Washington - Rep. Tom Tancredo refused Monday to back down from his statement Friday suggesting that the United States might respond to a radical Islamic terrorist attack by bombing Muslim holy sites.
Tancredo is a member of the House International Relations Committee.
Bombing Mecca is not really necessary, of course. Just occupy it for a couple of days, remove the "holy meteorite" (by cargo helicopter), and drop it in the Indian Ocean.
And bombing the "Dome of the Rock" could cause difficulties for the Israelis...it's in the middle of Jerusalem.
Just ask the Israelis to demolish it. *laughs*
You have some very interesting "friends".
Notice that you have the Deity exacting revenge, not the adherents. The distinction is important.
No it isn't. Those who massacre "in the Lord's Name" can always claim to be "doing what God would do"...if he was not busy elsewhere. *laughs*
Otherwise, why is the history of Christianity a history of massacre?
Muslims have not been less bloody.
Deny it if you wish...but it's the simple historical truth.
The biggest murderers of the 20th century were atheists.
You are an ignoramus.
First posted at RevLeft on July 24, 2005
However, you are presupposing that playing defense is the correct prerogative...
Indeed I am...that's what it means to "defend the safety of innocent Americans".
That, in fact, is not the agenda of the Bush regime...and is almost an irrelevant consideration.
The "neo-con" agenda (including nearly all of the Democrats) is, as I noted, conquest and plunder. The Christian fascists -- that is, the real Christians -- want to go even further.
I'd attack them where they sleep.
But since you don't really know who "they" are, you'll just kill some people while they're sleeping and afterwards label them "terrorists"...fabricating such "evidence" as you think appropriate.
Like cops do.
Killing thousands of civilians on the other hand calls for action in my book.
Otherwise? Your "manhood" would be in question, perhaps?
I agree, we will never catch them all, but sometimes if you remove the head, the snake dies.
Problems with metaphors, eh?
Snakes always die when their heads are removed.
Political groups frequently wither if their leadership is removed...though that's not always the case.
Spontaneous movements are almost totally unaffected by "leader removal"...they don't even have "leaders" in the sense that you're using the word. You could catch Osama Bin Laden and shoot him immediately...and he would instantly become the most famous martyr in the Muslim world. People would name their kids after him.
And unfortunately for you, some of those kids would grow up and do their very best to live up to their names.
So, when was the last time that they attacked our civilians after the "war on terror" began?
For all I know, 10 minutes ago. But they did it in the Middle East where there are plenty of American civilians available for targeting.
Redstar, I really (not for the sake of argument, but for the sake of enrichment) want you to understand that lunatics exist with or without religion.
That's not controversial...although the correlation between "lunacy" and religious belief is probably quite high.
But do you really just dismiss the authors of religious massacres as simply "lunatics"? After all, you must be pretty highly esteemed among both your peers and your supporters to order a massacre and have people carry it out. You don't look "like a lunatic" to them.
And by the way. Hitler may have been raised Catholic, but had abandoned religion (strongly due to Darwin and Nietzsche) by the time he won the election.
No, Hitler did not "abandon religion", he abandoned Christianity. He was, like many leading Nazis, a monotheist -- a believer in a "God" that rewarded demonstrated "racial" superiority. It is quite true that his views were influenced indirectly by Darwin and Nietzsche...through his readings not of the originals but the primitive racialist and anti-semitic "interpretations" made available to him during his late youth in Vienna. It's rather unlikely that he ever even saw any of Darwin or Nietzsche's books...much less read them.
Nietzsche, for example, despised anti-semitism and German nationalism. Darwin did believe in superior and inferior "races" but I don't think he was ever "on record" in favor of "Aryan" supremacy...and he may even have never heard of the idea. (In Darwin's time, I believe "Aryan" was still a linguistic term for Sanskrit and its daughter languages.)
And [Hitler] talks about religion a lot like you do redstar. Actually, he is less aggressive. He just wants [it] to die a natural death.
No, his comments are all related to the death of Christianity, not religion in general.
And his motives are clearly very different from mine.
First posted at RevLeft on July 25, 2005
How would you defend the earth from a comet if we knew it was going to collide with us in its next pass?
A comet is simply responding to gravity; I don't think there's any real parallel between such a natural event and Islamic fundamentalism.
The mind-set of the people who join Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-inspired groups is obviously as alien to me as it is to you...but it does not look as if "pre-emptive strikes" have any effect on them. Or at least not the kind of effect you're looking for -- to make them "afraid" to attack America or Americans.
From what they say, martyrdom for Allah is something they consider desirable...and their actions seemingly confirm this.
When you really think about it, that's the only way that "suicide bombing" makes any "sense" at all.
Thus the invasion of Afghanistan (or anyplace else) will not do anything to "stop terrorism"...these people "don't think in those terms".
Which makes them, by our standards, "lunatics".
Now, are they "rational lunatics" or not? Would they be content, as I think, with American withdrawal from the Muslim world? Or would they, as you appear to think, press their attacks...dreaming of conquering "the whole world" for Islam?
As I said earlier, I have no doubt that their more visionary adherents might well dream of a great Muslim Empire that could contend with the U.S., the E.U., and China for global supremacy. But surely they must grasp the fact that such an empire cannot be built with car-bombs and suicides.
They must begin by winning power in a number of Muslim countries, merging them into a "new caliphate", etc. This means a furious domestic struggle for them...which we have seen in a number of Muslim countries already.
Their analysis seems to be a correct one...they cannot win "at home" until the American imperialists and their lackeys are driven out of the Muslim world.
If that's the case, then bombing New York or London is simply a "symbolic attack" -- they don't want to conquer the U.S. or the U.K., they just want us to clear out of "their turf" so they can struggle directly against "bad Muslims".
As soon as we leave, they will lose interest in us entirely...we will cease to be "their main enemy".
But as long as we stay, we will be their main enemy...they have to get rid of us before they can "reform" the Muslim world and return it to "the pure faith".
"That is, the real Christians"
You don't like that phrase...why not?
The real Christians are Christian fascists just as real Muslims are members or sympathizers of Al Qaeda, the mullahs in Iran, etc.
These are the people who take their religion seriously.
Many and perhaps most Christians are not serious about their religion at all. I've seen plenty of them come to this board and reveal outstanding ignorance of their own "holy book". A real Christian not only "knows his Bible" but believes it fully, defends it vigorously, etc.
Just like a real Muslim does with the Qu'ran.
You think they are "lunatics" -- and by rational standards, they certainly are.
Religion is not rational, by definition.
So when you hear someone who claims to profess this or that faith and then starts babbling about "tolerance for all faiths", etc., then you should know that they're faking it. Probably unconsciously...but still a fake.
A "true believer" in any religion is always ready to convert the heathen...or kill him.
I am stating that we are justified in attacking hostiles that have attacked our civilians.
If your government could be depended on to accurately distinguish between genuine "hostiles" and innocent bystanders, then perhaps you'd have a point.
But your government can't do that...it just murders a random selection of people and afterwards says they were "hostiles".
The whole world knows it ain't so.
Again, I am not defending the Bush administration's efforts, I am defending the position that we are entitled to fight back justly.
The people directly responsible for 9/11 are all dead. Who are you fighting against?
Again, I think that Kerry had some good ideas on how to handle the situation.
Kerry promised to send 40,000 more troops to Iraq.
You are desensitized and bitter.
I plead extenuating circumstances though -- a whole lifetime in imperial America.
you are claiming that Islamic Jihad is a spontaneous movement?
Pretty much, yeah. Hundreds of small groups, no central structure, no "chain of command", located all over the Muslim world with groups in Europe as well...it might as well be spontaneous.
Additionally, Islamic reactionaries are an inherent part of Islam.
Just as Christian reactionaries are an inherent part of Christianity.
But I'm not worried about "Islamic Jihad" in the United States -- I'm much more concerned about Christian fascism here. They are the ones knocking on the doors of power in this country.
You know as well as I do that most massacres are the result of antagonism.
Yeah, but I don't see how that helps.
It's an "antagonistic world", right?
If we are going to discuss massacre, then we have to be specific...who killed who -- and why?
But, you have to admit, Darwin is sort of embarrassing isn't he?
Not to me. He lived in a specific place at a specific time...and while he overcame much of the nonsense of his era, he did not overcome all of it.
Nor did Marx. Nor did Newton. Nor did Einstein.
Nor have I. Nor will you.
First posted at RevLeft on July 26, 2005
Pre-emptive strikes are beneficial. Although it may not thwart their ability to conspire violently, it does have quite the effect financially.
Nothing they've done suggests "serious money". I recall someone suggesting that 9/11 cost them less than $200,000. Car bombs/suicide bombers must cost far less than that.
If they still bother with bank accounts at all, the amounts available for seizure are likely to be trivial.
Whereas, if the attacks went unretaliated, maybe even more would join because it is "no risk".
No, you missed my point entirely. Their tactics are 100% risk -- they know that they will die...and regard that as desirable.
I know it "sounds crazy"...but all the evidence suggests that to be an inescapable conclusion.
It isn't just our military presence that they want gone, but any support of countries/regimes that they oppose.
Agreed. They want to "purify" the Muslim world of non-Muslim influence entirely.
And if you think that the US is gonna stop capitalizing on the middle eastern resources, you are crazy.
I agree that U.S. imperialism is unlikely (*laughs*) to voluntarily retreat from the Middle East.
But imperial powers can and have been defeated...or at least convinced that trying to "hold on" is a losing proposition.
You should be careful of the "unconscious assumption" that the U.S. is "the greatest power in history" and "never loses".
Hell, l look at what they have done to western India, and Pakistan, these used to be nearly 100% Hindu.
No, the area that is now Pakistan was always nearly 100% Muslim...though ruled by Hindu princes. And India itself remains almost entirely Hindu.
There is a distinction between being a hard universalist, and being a murderer.
Yes there is...it's called opportunity.
What a seriously religious person will do to "advance the faith" and "smite the heathen" depends on opportunity.
Can he do it and get away with it? Or even win wide-spread public approval for his acts?
And sometimes even that doesn't stop them. I believe that three doctors who performed abortions have been murdered by Christian fascists...though I don't know the details of the cases. There is (or was) a website that displayed pictures of doctors who perform abortions -- complete with names & addresses. Each picture had the crosshairs of a rifle sight overlayed...so the believer would have no doubt about what was expected of him.
...in fact I cannot think of one time where Jesus gives his adherents specific instruction to murder heathens who reject him as Messiah.
Yes, he was prudent...understandable in the conditions of Roman-occupied Palestine. But he drops hints now and then...
10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.
10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
19:27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
There are alternative interpretations of these verses, to be sure.
And we have no direct evidence of anything that "Jesus said" -- the "authentic" letters of Saulos of Tarsus ("St. Paul") are the oldest documents in the NT and were all written more than 20 years after the crucifixion.
The earliest "gospels" were written after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem...more than 40 years after the death of "Jesus".
Still, you can hardly deny that Christians have acted and act to this day "as if" these were literal instructions from the mouth of "Jesus" himself.
I am worried about atheist reactionaries in the process of communist revolution.
Well, perhaps I can set your mind at ease -- I don't really expect communist revolution to be "on the agenda" in the U.S. for a very long time...say 2090-2110.
First posted at RevLeft on July 26, 2005
It has been suggested time and time again that Bin Laden has such a robust rogue army as a result of us funding him in Afghanistan.
It may have been suggested "time and time again"...but the suggestion is a poor one...and obsolete as well.
The funds that the U.S. provided to Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan were used to purchase weapons and ammunition for their war against the Russians...and then against each other. I imagine it was all spent long ago.
Bin Laden comes from an extremely wealthy family in "Saudi" Arabia...and how much of his personal fortune remains hidden is speculative. It is quite possible that other wealthy fundamentalists in "Saudi" Arabia are also "funding terrorism"...there's just no way to know.
Banks in that country are quite beyond American scrutiny...even if we had Arabic-speaking accountants to examine their books.
But to those who are less committed, they will become decreasingly willing to participate as danger increases.
Perhaps...but recall that the danger of American retaliation is utterly random -- like terrorism often is. Sure, the Americans can bomb a house in Baghdad or Kabul...and maybe there are some terrorists there -- or who used to be there or who once visited there or who never came within a dozen miles of there.
The risk to those who don't do the actual bombings is probably like the risk of getting hit by lightning. It happens...but it's pretty rare.
The dangerous part is when the Americans level a city -- like Fullajah. Then nearly all the terrorists are killed...and also a huge number of others. Those others have friends and relatives...who will not look kindly on what you have done.
Expect the worst.
What, were they Islamic then?
No, the people there converted to the conqueror's religion.
Just like the people in South America converted to Catholicism.
I know plenty of hard universalists that would strongly disagree...
No doubt. Not every Christian is a Christian fascist (yet).
Capitalism, at its roots, is secular...and that has done much to constrain the ambitions of the seriously religious.
So the question reduces itself to: has Christianity "really changed"?
Frankly, I don't think it has.
Further, I don't think it can. If Christianity "is true", then you have a "divine obligation" to use every weapon at your disposal to "conquer the world" and destroy all forms of heathenish "worship".
If there are weapons that are temporarily unavailable, then you "use what you have" until those weapons become available.
The big mega-church in Colorado Springs can't burn anyone for witchcraft (yet). But if they learn that someone is a practitioner of the Wiccan religion, they send a bunch of church members to that person's house and "pray for the witch" on the sidewalk in front. After this happens a few times, the "witch" sells her house and moves to another town.
The conversion methods of every faith I have studied are non-violent to this point, and all of my personal experience can corroborate that (with the exception of Islam).
The conversion to Christianity of South and Central America? Of Africa? Of the Philippines? Of Polynesia? Of Spain itself???
You have a curious notion of "non-violence".
The bloody story of how Spain became Catholic is particularly instructive -- not just war but ethnic cleansing and torture were also involved.
Most of Spain was once Muslim and among the most civilized portions of the earth at that time...until the Catholics took over.
I can say myself that I would never "smite a heathen".
Not even a "Muslim heathen"? Not even a "terrorist suspect"? *laughs*
You know very well that a majority of Christians disapprove of that sort of behaviour, as would the founder of the ideology, Jesus.
But, you see, the Christian fascists would say that "the majority" of "Christians" are not really Christians at all.
And as for what "Jesus" intended, who knows? I'm sure you must be aware that there's no contemporary evidence that "Jesus" even existed outside of the NT itself. It's true that the "gospels" are plausible accounts of that period -- they are much more realistic than much of the OT...which is nearly all legendary and poetic.
Nevertheless, trying to argue from a position of what "Jesus" really meant is a course fraught with difficulties.
Consider the arguments among Marxists about "what Marx really meant" -- and he, after all, was a well-documented living man who wrote an enormous amount of material explaining his own views.
I think, if you were being honest, you'd find that most faiths are peace loving, and that most cases contradicting that are examples of lunatics misrepresenting that idea.
No, I don't think that most (or even any) faiths are "peace loving"...though most of the faithful might be inclined in that direction.
Most people -- even atheists -- are generally "peace-loving". Even, yes, Muslims.
But that's not really what we're confronting here, is it?
The people who seem like "lunatics" to us are the ones who actually rise to power in vigorous religions -- the ones who seek out and find those "embarrassing quotes" in the "holy books" and embrace them.
"Tolerance of a false religion," they thunder, "is an abomination unto the Lord!"
When things get really bad, the faithful listen...and make things even worse.
You are predicting a 20 year span? I am curious how you came up with this numbers. Again, I am not cornering you on this one, I am interested.
Happy to explain.
Hypothesis: a religious proletariat is unable to make an enduring communist revolution.
Data: religious belief in the U.S. is declining at a rate sufficient to reduce it to less than 1% of the proletariat by 2105 or so.
Conclusion: by the end of this century we will have a working class that is capable of making an enduring communist revolution.
(The positive reason for doing it then is that I expect capitalism to self-destruct by that time if not some decades earlier.)
First posted at RevLeft on July 27, 2005
For every single example that you pull up of someone abusing the ideology, I can bring up some cruel fucked up atheist.
Well, no, you can't actually.
We have all of recorded history from which to gather examples of religious atrocities in general and 1,700-1,800 years of Christian atrocities in particular.
Atheists are not in the same league...having only been around for some 200 years.
It would take us thousands of years just to "catch up" with religion...and that's assuming that religion suddenly stops committing atrocities -- of which there is no sign whatsoever.
In addition to which, your argument is flawed at its base. Christians obviously must maintain that being a Christian makes one "a better person" than not being a Christian. They, in effect, invite us to compare their behavior with that of non-Christians.
But when evidence is presented that Christians behave just as badly as non-Christians, then they fall back on the excuse that those "sinners" were "not real Christians".
You want to "take credit for the saints" but retroactively drop the "sinners" out of the sample.
(All religions do this, not just Christians, by the way.)
Ok, what about Stalin? What about Mao? What about Pol Pot?
Well, what about them? Did they deliberately or inadvertently kill a lot of people that they shouldn't have?
Does that make them "not real communists"?
No...they all sincerely thought that what they were doing was necessary to achieve communism. They happened to be mistaken...but they all thought they were doing "the right thing".
Was it "the right thing"? No, there was actually nothing they could have done to "create communism" in their backward countries -- something they would have understood had they understood Marx himself.
Should modern communists emulate them? No.
Should we feel "embarrassed" about them or "ashamed" of them? Likewise, no.
However reprehensible their deeds, their motives were the same as ours are now: to put an end to class society on earth.
Their methods reflected the fact that they did not know any better!
And we do.
How does this compare to religion? The motives of Stalin, et.al., were ultimately rational. The motives of religious atrocities are always irrational...by definition!
From the standpoint of the terrorists, 9/11 was a "soul-saving" mission. Removing all forms of U.S. influence from the Muslim world is "necessary" as a prerequisite of returning all the Islamic peoples to "the pure faith" and thus "saving their souls from Hell".
A medieval Catholic would have grasped this idea instantly.
So do modern Christian fascists.
First posted at RevLeft on July 28, 2005
So religion has a head start, but none the less, quantifying the differences is something like saying"my dad can beat up yours".
I quite agree, actually. Few things are as boring to me as "body count" arguments...no one really knows the numbers, all the estimates are problematical at best, etc.
Even right now, no one knows (or will ever know) "how many" Iraqis have been murdered by U.S., British, and other occupation troops or by the quisling forces under their command.
I saw a Catholic site once that went to considerable lengths to reduce "Saint" Loyola's personal body count to "less than 8,000" (or "4,000" -- can't remember which)...without ever discussing the real atrocity -- the murder of people for a stupid and irrational reason.
To "save their souls".
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
To be sure...but then what of all the verses that exhort Christians to "do good works" and "avoid sin"?
If simple belief were all that's required (John 3:16), then all the other stuff would be superfluous.
The question of "faith & works" is a heated one among Christian theologists because the NT is on both sides.
Christians, at least as you would put it, "real Christians" are are not supposed to think themselves better than others.
But they do. The smug and sanctimonious atmosphere that surrounds them is insufferable to any decent person, atheist or not.
(This is also true of serious followers of other religions. Who could stand the company of the Dalai Lama for more than 15 minutes?!)
Why is it that man, atheist or religious, tends to do that which he wishes not to do, and does not do what he wishes?
I can't speak for "man" (an imaginary concept) but I can speak for me. I do what I wish to do unless objective reality prohibits it.
I always have. The concept of "sin" is without meaning to me...though of course I regret my mistakes -- acts which were not thoroughly thought through and led to unintended and undesired consequences.
The only thing that you have proved by making repeated cases against religious people is that people are selfish and sinful.
But if religion were "true", then that shouldn't happen.
Whatever the "true faith" was, people born into it or converted to it should evidence by their behavior their "superior relationship" with the divinity.
They ought to act better than followers of "false religions", agnostics, atheists, etc.
If they do not or can not -- and, indeed, act worse -- then what's the point of religion at all???
It's useless...and, in fact, an obstacle to the improvement of human behavior.
Recall your own case against Islam -- it "preaches war" to spread the faith. So does the OT. And even if "Jesus" nowhere specifically exhorts his followers to "conquer for Me"...neither does he specifically repudiate any of that OT stuff.
When there was something in the OT that he disliked, he spoke up freely against it.
Violence against the heathen didn't qualify.
My point is that it could be argued that because of man's depravity, the dissolution of religion would not result in the end of lunatic butchers.
No, maybe it wouldn't...but it would certainly deprive them of a historically useful excuse.
In the meantime, let us put it to the test of experiment and see how we do.
Interesting you keep talking about all religions, yet I have repeatedly invited you to engage me in a wider range of beliefs, and yet you just keep making cases against Christians. You either a) assume I am Christian...
I don't know if you are a Christian...but I think it's clear that, at a minimum, you have been one.
In addition, as products of "western" culture, Christianity is the religion that we and our readers are most likely to be familiar with -- so "examples" that we produce to support our positions will make sense to most of our readers.
The case against Christianity is fundamentally no different than the case against other religions -- there's plenty of irrational superstition accompanied by atrocious behavior to go around.
And always has been.
I bet you don't know shit about most religions, and your arguments show it.
That's not a very Christian thing to say, is it? *laughs*
Okay, and Machiavelli is back.
I wasn't aware that he'd left...but on what grounds do you attribute "devious" or "covert" purposes to Stalin, et.al.?
Do you think they were "just plain evil"?
IT IS A HUMAN PROBLEM.
Only insofar as humans are ignorant.
But here's the thing. Atheists who "do evil" can learn from their errors. Godsuckers can't do that -- they are bound by "the Word of God" to "do evil" over and over again.
Sure, any individual believer can grow weary of the screams and the blood -- and here and there you will find tiny sects that basically just ignore their "holy book" entirely except for a few scraps that they've "cherry-picked".
Some of them have abandoned "earthly concerns" altogether and others silently witness to their own piety and the sinfulness of everyone else. But they are trivial.
The "big dogs" are serious. Christianity must prevail. Islam must prevail. Both Hinduism and Judaism have developed their own fundamentalist variants...and they are "not nice".
A fresh edition of militant Buddhism has not yet emerged (to my knowledge) in our time...but I would not be at all surprised to see a cult of "warrior monks" pop up any day now.
The "big picture" is one of superstition of every kind correctly feeling that it is "under attack" -- not only by rival superstitions but, far worse, by the advance of real knowledge among humans.
Religious terrorists of all varieties understand this very well...and are determined to stop it.
But in the long run, they cannot prevail.
First posted at RevLeft on July 28, 2005
I'm an atheist but I've been reading the Qu'ran quite a bit lately and am going to see about becoming a Muslim...but that has NO BEARING on my position politically...why should it? Why should what I believe in have any influence on how I want life in general to be run?
It's interesting how people ask this question over and over again -- as if they have these air-tight compartments inside their brains: there's the "religion compartment" and the "politics compartment" and they are completely sealed off from each other.
The reason that "what you believe" has a decisive "influence" on how you want "life in general to be run" is that religion is, by definition, a "theory of everything".
It is a "cosmology" that tells you "why" the universe exists and what you are expected to do if you want the "divinity" to have a "good opinion" of you.
Since you are flirting with Islam, you should have learned that Islam is particularly proscriptive -- it includes an entire "theory of government" that is completely opposed to communism. Its "laws" regarding the social status of women and the expression of female sexuality are notoriously barbaric. As to gay people, Islam just executes them...no fooling around.
In Islam, the world is divided into two parts: "the world of Islam" and "the world of war". Jihad against the heathen is a duty for the truly pious Muslim. (That doesn't mean you have to become a "terrorist" -- if you write a book that condemns "western secularism", that counts as "good Jihad".)
Communism, as everyone knows, is "godless". So any attempt by you to try and merge communism with Islam is going to be condemned by all your co-believers...and they may even put a price on your head.
Also, keep in mind that there's more than one kind of Islam...and they don't have a high opinion of each other.
And remember that signing up with Islam is like signing up with the mafia -- quitting is not an option. The "informal" penalty for leaving Islam is death. If you move to a predominately Muslim country, you must remain a Muslim "in public" for as long as you live there.
In the realm of superstition, "what you believe" has a decisive bearing on what you may do and what you are not permitted to do.
Communism is not permitted.
First posted at RevLeft on July 30, 2005
Have you even read the Qur'an?
Portions. Like all "holy books", it's basically unreadable.
Have you even discussed it with a Muslim?
Women in Islam
Islam is not in conflict with communism in theory...
Yes it is. Communism is "godless", remember? It is in conflict with all forms of superstition.
Nasser was a socialist...
No he wasn't...he was a left-bourgeois despot.
Rather like Saddam Hussein, in fact.
What religion is kind to gay people?
Good question! But you should reflect: if all religions persecute gay people, doesn't that suggest that all religions are therefore barbaric monstrosities?
Islam forbids the imposition of your beliefs on other people. Coercion in matters of faith is STRICTLY prohibited.
Yeah...that's the "official" line.
But think about it. Your country has just been conquered by a Muslim Army and all the positions of power are now in the hands of Muslims. Now, if you have any ambitions to get somewhere economically, then doesn't it make good sense to convert to Islam?
You don't "have to"...but wouldn't it be "a good career move"?
I would suggest reading Battle for God by Karen Armstrong.
I've added it to my list -- I'm always glad to receive book title suggestions.
Such statements that religion as a belief should be abolished, etc., will only make us more enemies and is quite a fatalistic way of thinking.
No, superstition is an intransigent enemy of rational thought itself.
We cannot become "fully human" -- rational -- until we eliminate superstition altogether.
I don't see anything "fatalistic" about this view...perhaps you meant to use a different word.
First posted at RevLeft on July 31, 2005
Well, then unless you read it in its entirety, you will get [no] understanding of what it's about.
Don't be silly. You know the really serious Muslims insist that you "can't understand" the Qu'ran unless you learn Arabic and read it in the original.
Believe that one?
Ohh...a link. what's that prove?
It proves that I have discussed the Qu'ran with a practicing Muslim. I posted it in answer to your question.
But since it was a female Muslim...perhaps that "doesn't count". *laughs*
In fact, if you study Islam, you will find that Islam is supposed to change with the times.
What "heretics" have you been listening to?
There are many verses in the Qu'ran that condemn the idea of innovation in principle.
Islam is "an old-time religion" if there ever was one.
No, just because religion persecutes gays doesn't make [religions] monstrosities.
Why not? Is persecuting gays "ok" because all religions agree that it's "ok"?
Are you prepared, as a "good Muslim", to kill someone because they are gay?
Think carefully before you answer that.
I respect their right to exist even though I may not like it.
That's very kind of you. You "wish" they wouldn't exist but, since they do, you grudgingly "respect" their right to go on existing.
But then you're not really a serious Muslim yet, are you?
Well, if you change your religion on those lines then there is no real faith, then we have nothing to worry about.
For most people, there isn't. Every religion is run by a clergy (of some kind) and a relatively small group of serious believers. Everyone else just "goes along" because it's easier to do that than to do otherwise.
Science and scientific thought flourished.
Yes, Islam's "golden age"...ended by the Muslim Turks in the east and the Christians in Spain.
It showed promise...no question about it. But it didn't last very long and never revived.
Perhaps had the Arabs invented the printing press...
...but humanity isn't about science or rationality, it's about freedom.
But without science and rational thought, one can only be a slave to ignorance and superstition.
The very word "islam" means submission...an unusually appropriate choice of terminology.
First posted at RevLeft on July 21, 2005
In fact in Islam, reading it merely in Arabic without understanding is useless...
No...you are encouraged to learn Arabic in order that you may read the Qu'ran in its original language and thus understand it fully.
Did she discuss the theory or the practical application of those laws?
Why don't you click on the link and read for yourself?
Again its interpretation by fundamentalists fucks things up.
Fundamentalists are the "real Muslims"...they are the ones who really take Islam seriously.
Why is it so difficult to grasp the fact that people who take their religion seriously are always fundamentalists?
You want your ham sandwich and a beer "with a side order of Islam"?
I do not condone homosexuality personally, not because of religion, but because of a scientific standpoint. Homosexuality serves no purpose and is biologically incompatible. Procreation is not fulfilled. It serves absolutely no purpose. From that standpoint, I don't agree with the concept of homosexuality but I don't condemn them to hell or anything like that.
Curiously enough, neither does the Qu'ran...at least in so many words -- I looked for a verse and couldn't find one.
Nevertheless, it's pretty clear that "Allah" doesn't like gay people much -- the story of "the destruction of Sodom by heavenly fire" is so relished by Muhammad that he repeats it in four different chapters. It's hard to believe that "Allah" wouldn't "follow through" and send all the "Sodomites" to "Hell".
As to your own "scientific" position, are you arguing that one should not have sex unless one intends to conceive a child? Or that sex for pleasure is "ok" between men and women but "not ok" between women and women or men and men?
Not that it really matters; such puritanical notions are only significant when supported by the police.
It is historically and practically impossible for such a vast institution to survive thousands of years run by only a handful of people, with no faith on the part of the general population.
Why? Most people go through the socially accepted rituals with little or no thought to the matter...until something happens that threatens the whole paradigm.
Then they re-evaluate.
If you are a rational person, then you realize that "profession of faith" means very little to one's real material concerns...except in unusual situations.
By that logic, then everybody should renounce their faith every time something catastrophic occurs; quite on the contrary, historically, adversity only serves to entrench faith more deeply.
It depends, I think, on the nature and the duration of the catastrophe. A flood or an earthquake are brief...the dead are buried and forgotten. A series of severe epidemics are more serious; one could make an argument that the European "black plague" was, in part, responsible for the crisis of Christianity that led to the Protestant Reformation. (The Roman Empire also suffered from severe epidemics during and after the 2nd century...which may have assisted the rise of Christianity itself.)
Foreign conquest by followers of a different faith seems to be especially damaging. Most of the places that were conquered by Islam were Christian...and yet nearly all of the native inhabitants converted to Islam over the following century or so. There are small Christian minorities still scattered about the Arab world today...remnants of what was once the dominant religion in that part of the world.
Well then, the very fact that that 'golden age' existed contradicts your point that with the presence of religion no progression is possible.
No it doesn't. The 19th century was very religious in Europe and North America...and progress was made on a very large scale. But the more progress was made, the less religious people became.
And note also that after 1850 or so, religion was a declared enemy of further progress. It was "getting out of hand" and people were "leaving the churches".
This will happen in the Muslim world (and the Hindu world) as well. When people are really "into" making progress, they just shove religion out of the way.
And the fundamentalists try very hard to stop that from happening.
But, in the long run, they'll lose.
Without the freedom to ponder not only on the practical but also the spiritual aspects of ourselves, we [are] denying the concept of being human; and [that] serves only to make us automatons of logic.
There's no such thing as "the spiritual aspects of ourselves"...that is meaningless babble.
And "automaton of logic" is just rhetoric -- all it means is that we are free (at last!) to engage in rational thought about things that are real.
Islam does not mean 'submission' but means 'surrender to god'.
I am not a student of Arabic, but as I understand it, the word "islam" does mean "submission" and the word "muslim" means "one who submits". The "to God" part is understood when the words are used for a follower of Muhammad.
First posted at RevLeft on August 1, 2005
Thus learning Arabic is encouraged, but there is no compulsion involved.
Which is exactly what I said. If you are really going to be a serious Muslim, then you are supposed to learn it.
But it is indeed "not compulsory".
Seems to me the main gist of her discussion concerns not the laws themselves but how they are put into practical use, and distorted by fundamentalists.
Well, she explicitly said that she admired Iran...that it was much closer to what an Islamic regime under Islamic "law" should be like than "Saudi" Arabia.
Presumably she "would know" better than a "disbeliever" like me. *laughs*
That's a simplistic thing to say.
Sometimes things are "simple". The people who read their "holy book" and assume that it means exactly what it says are clearly far more serious about their religion than people who create a pleasing costume, elaborate makeup, flattering lighting, etc. to make a particular religion "more socially acceptable".
Isn't that what "interpretation" of a "holy book" is all about? The effort to take some blunt and unpleasant statement and say, in one sense or another, "well, it doesn't actually mean that."
The fundamentalist replies, "Yes, it does mean exactly that!"
Gods and prophets know exactly what they are saying and mean every word of it.
How could it be otherwise? A "holy book" is a HOLY BOOK...it's either the "Word of God" or it's a pile of crap.
"God" forbids you to "cherry-pick" the stuff you like and ignore all the rest.
Communism urges us to think in a rational and scientific way. Scientifically it leads nowhere. But that's just me.
More specifically, it's your failure to think in a rational and scientific way about these matters.
Why you would actually prefer to wallow in medieval obscurantism is simply unknown to me...perhaps you suffer from some organic problem in your brain -- one that makes rational thought unusually difficult for you.
If that's the problem, then I really can't help you.
Calling me puritanical, comrade?...This is just a side-issue that divides leftists further.
No, it's not a "side-issue"...it speaks directly to the quality of life in post-capitalist society. If you do not grasp the liberating effect of wiping out all forms of puritanism (religious and secular), then the "new society" that you would create would be just about as bad as the one that exists right now.
That's not what I want and, therefore, at this point we are divided.
Then why go through with it if there is no perceived benefit? Because it's spiritual.
No...for most people, they "go through with it" because it's socially acceptable behavior. It's a token of "membership in the group" -- like wearing the proper clothing.
When society is entirely atheist, most people will never miss religion at all...any more than we miss wearing the clothing of Shakespeare's time.
The Muslim conquests were mainly in pagan lands.
No...all of the Middle East except Persia was Christian and so was all of North Africa and Spain. Of course, if you're talking about Afghanistan or Indonesia or someplace like that...well, you may be right. I have no idea what they believed.
Fundamentalism arises when a perceived threat is facing the religion (in this case the western powers and Israel).
No doubt. The fundamentalist sees that his faith is "weakening", becoming diluted with foreign ideas and customs, etc. He calls for a return to the principles of the "true faith" and the removal of all the "patches" and "add-ons".
You can make a strong argument that "Jesus" was a Jewish fundamentalist...who fiercely opposed the Graeco-Judaism of the Jerusalem hierarchy.
Muhammad was obviously familiar with portions of both the Jewish and the Christian "holy books" -- his own new religion was really a fundamentalist variant of those older faiths.
Along with the stuff that he borrowed from the pagans, of course...like the "holy meteorite" in Mecca.
Why shouldn't people be free to hold religious beliefs in the privacy of their homes?
I've never proposed that they shouldn't be.
But consider. Should people be "free" to be illiterate? Should they be "free" to eat spoiled food from a broken refrigerator? Should they be "free" to suffer illness without modern medical care?
As a matter of common decency, should we "tolerate" our fellow humans being victims of superstition? If some poor sap insists on "his right" to be stupid...well, then it can't be helped. But shouldn't we make an effort to pull people out of the shit?
First posted at RevLeft on August 1, 2005
Just like learning Latin is not the mark of a 'serious' Christian.
Up through the 19th century, it was indeed one of the marks of a serious Christian to learn Latin...but Greek even more so (the books of the New Testament were all originally written in Greek). The especially dedicated learned Hebrew. (!)
I can't answer for her nor ponder as to why she admires Iran, suffice it to say that I don't.
Well, that's good to hear. But is it because the mullahs "fucked things up" or because you are more inclined to the Sunni version of Islam than the Shiite version.
Of the two, the Sunni version is, of course, much more fundamentalist.
That depends which view you would rather listen to. The fundamentalist view (so popular nowadays) or the moderate view. The fundamentalists are not the true representatives of the faith...
Why do you assert, over and over again, that the very people who make the most effort to stick to the literal "truth" of their revelation (whatever it might be) "are not" the "true" representatives of their faith?
It sounds to me like your "personal vision" of Islam is like a social democrat's vision of "Marxism". You pay lip service to the Qu'ran but shrink from actually carrying out what Muhammad told you that "God" wanted you to do.
Nothing wrong with that, of course, in the case of religion...the less serious about it one is, the better things are for all the innocent bystanders.
But your personal distaste for the rigors of fundamentalist Islam should not blind you to the fact that they are the seriously faithful.
...look at all the crap the mullahs are saying and doing, that means that the religion MUST be bad.
Yes, that's what it means.
And it's not just the mullahs, either. There are serious Muslims all over the Muslim world and even in Europe who echo the mullahs. There was a well-known Muslim in Spain last year who wrote and published a book on Islam which included appropriate instructions for wife-beating. This caused a "big fuss" in the Spanish press -- but I don't remember any Muslim "moderates" denouncing him.
In fact, I've never heard of a prominent Muslim teacher/preacher coming right out and publicly saying "don't hit women", period.
Because if they did that, then that would be saying that the infamous verse in the Qu'ran is just plain wrong.
And they can't say that because the Qu'ran is the "literal word of God".
The mullahs have no authority under Islam to impose their views.
Technically speaking, you are probably right about that. But in practical terms, religions always develop a de facto clergy...people who have "intensely studied" the "holy book" and who are widely regarded as "authorities" on its content and meaning.
A rabbi is not a "clergyman" in the Christian sense; he is a "teacher" and "interpretor" of the "Law", that's all. But when the rabbi speaks, serious Jews pay careful attention.
...in fact Islam does encourage pondering on facts of life and applying your own thought to religious doctrines.
I'm not aware of any passage in the Qu'ran that encourages this sort of attitude.
You do have some latitude; if you are very poor or disabled, you may skip the pilgrimage to Mecca, for example. If there is no water to wash your hands before prayer, you may symbolically cleanse yourself with dirt or sand. Allah accepts pious intentions and does not demand the impossible.
But here is something here you have not considered. Muhammad, speaking with the "voice of Allah", repeatedly commands the pious not to make friends with disbelievers and to avoid them whenever possible.
So here you are on a lefty message board -- with an overwhelming majority of "disbelievers".
How can you "justify" this? When you appear "before Allah", are you going to say that you were just here to "save souls"?
How can you be part of a movement of "godless communists" when you've been commanded by Allah to do no such thing?
Either you are with or against us. Not much room left.
It's interesting how so many people balk at that phrase...perhaps the only time in George W. Bush's life that he has ever made a true statement in public.
And it is a true statement. When it comes to Bush, I am against him...across the board.
When it comes to all forms of superstition, puritanism, etc., I am against them...across the board.
I am against capitalism in all its forms...including the "socialist" ones.
I am, I suppose you would say, a "fundamentalist commie"...I take it very seriously indeed and am in no mood for "fooling around".
You still haven't given me a proper answer, how does it benefit society?
How does what benefit society? Rational and scientific thinking?
Are you serious?
But isn't communism about class struggle? Doesn't it advocate that once the working class is liberated, then all those oppressing structures of society would vanish?
The answer to your first question is yes.
The answer to your second question is, indeed, controversial among communists. Marx and Engels did think that all the "derivative" forms of oppression would "wither away" once their material foundations had been removed.
But experience has taught us a different lesson; that "all the old shit" doesn't just "go away quietly"...it has "historical inertia".
If we want a new society free from racism, sexism, homophobia, puritanism, superstition, etc., then those things must be struggled against right now...as an integrated part of what it means to struggle for communism itself.
If we fail with regard to any of those things, then the outcome of our struggle will be grim indeed. Those reactionary views are fully capable of subverting the entire communist project and bringing about counter-revolution itself.
For the first world maybe, but here in the third world, religion does play a part in every day life, not purely cosmetic.
Well, backward countries are indeed oppressed by wide-spread superstition. People take it far more seriously than in the "west". Nevertheless, we know from history that when a people of one religion is conquered by people of a different religion, then waves of conversion to the religion of the conquerer do emerge...and eventually prevail.
The holy meteorite was placed there at that time by Abraham himself. Not pagan at all...
Yes, but Muhammad made that up. The meteorite was worshiped by pagans for many centuries before Muhammad incorporated it into Islam.
So in other words YOU view religion as stupid, so the world has to accept that?
The rational world is accepting that view anyway. A mere 300 years ago, you would have been hard pressed to find a living atheist anywhere on the planet.
Now some 15% of humanity has abandoned the gods for good.
The end of religion does not mean the end of all stupidity...but it does mean the end of a particularly cruel and vicious stupidity.
Anything I can do to accelerate this process strikes me as "a good thing to do".
First posted at RevLeft on August 2, 2005
At a meeting in Bankstown earlier this month, an excerpt of which was broadcast on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program last Sunday, US imam Sheik Khalid Yasin said Islamic law prescribed the death penalty for gay sex.
“The sharia is very clear about it, the punishment for homosexuality, bestiality or anything like that is death. We don’t make any excuses about that, it’s not our law — it’s the Koran,” Yasin was quoted as saying.
Yasin, who is understood to be visiting Australia at the invitation of a Sydney mosque, also said young Muslims should avoid attending university because it was a “gateway for deviation”.
"Moderate" Muslims predictably denounced the statement, of course.
But one of them was imprudent enough to reveal the real motive for the denunciation...
And while Islam did not condone homosexuality, Yasin’s anti-gay remarks were still unwelcome, Mehboob said.
“I don’t think Sheik Yasin’s comments in this environment have helped the debate in the right direction. It has only caused undue conflict and divisions in our society,” he said.
In other words, Yasin was "making unnecessary waves" and "causing problems" for Islam...in Australia.
It's not that Yasin was wrong...but rather that he was indiscreet in blurting out the truth in an inappropriate location.
First posted at RevLeft on August 2, 2005
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A New Type of Communist Organization October 5, 2003
The "Tools" of Marxism July 19, 2003
Marxism Without the Crap July 3, 2003
What is Socialism? An Attempt at a Brief Definition June 19, 2003
What is Communism? A Brief Definition June 19, 2003
A New Communist Paradigm for the 21st Century May 8, 2003
On "Dialectics" -- The Heresy Posts May 8, 2003
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