Sunday. The day of rest throughout the Christianized world. Throughout the West.
A day for rumination.
Some of our fellow atheists say that we ought to respect people’s religious beliefs.
But what religious belief deserves respect?
It is obviously wise to treat other people with respect, whatever their beliefs (unless they prove themselves unworthy of it). Politeness is the oil of social relations. And enlightened self-interest tells us that it is intelligent policy.
But beliefs are a different matter. All ideas need to be critically examined. And none so thoroughly as a dogma.
Are there aspects of the three so-called moral religions that can be respected?
Judaism holds justice (or “righteousness”) to be its highest value. That can be respected. (The most sacred thing of Judaism, secluded in the innermost sanctum of the Temple,”the Holy of Holies” where only the High Priest could enter, was nothing but the written law.) But what the old Jewish scriptures declare to be just does not always – or often – seem just to us now. And Jehovah commanded an awful lot of mass murder, even the merciless slaying of little children.
Christianity’s revolution against Judaism lay in new moral commandments: to love everybody, which is not in itself evil, of course, but by ignoring the emotional range of human nature can only promote hypocrisy; and unstinting forgiveness, which is the opposite of justice.
And Islam? Islam forbids and punishes critical examination of its doctrine. That alone makes it entirely unacceptable. It is right and just to abhor and reject it.
Here’s Christopher Hitchens on religion as the source of immorality:
… blessed by the governing elites of Europe and the United Nations?
The supremacist and totalitarian movement called Islam, whose declared intent is world conquest, has become an extremely serious threat.
Its unarmed armies of believers are marching into Europe without encountering the least resistance. Democratically elected European governments have actually invited them in. In Europe they will proliferate, while the indigenous populations shrink, and before long they will be majorities in all western European countries, able to use the democratic process to take over government. Once that has been achieved, there will be no more democracy.
This movement of conquest and total subjugation is passionately encouraged by the UN.
Virginia Hale reports and comments at Breitbart:
The incoming Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) told a room of policymakers in Europe on Wednesday that “migration is not the problem but the solution”, and said politicians should ignore voters.
Speaking in Lisbon at the Vision Europe Summit, António Guterres said European nations have no right to control their borders and that they must instead take in floods of the world’s poorest people.
“The idea that management of migration is a matter of national sovereignty is extremely limited.”
An idea cannot be “extremely limited”. He means that in his opinion the power of sovereign nations to control who comes into their territory ought to be – not just “extremely limited” but – non-existent.
“The truth is that in the meantime, the real controllers of international mobility are the smugglers and criminal organisations. It must be recognised that migration is inevitable and will not stop,” the socialist told the crowd of policymakers and researchers.
Regarding priorities for the UN, when he takes over from South Korean Ban Ki-moon as Secretary-General, Guterres said he already has “several items to put on the discussion table to drive positive developments” with regards to the goal of making Europe accept more migrants.
This will take place in the form of “develop[ing] legal migration opportunities as the only way to fight against criminal networks”, he hinted.
Guterres insisted that every European Union (EU) nation must be forced to “share the burden” of mass migration.
Despite having used the word “burden” to describe giving residence to large numbers of aliens, the 67-year-old went on to declare: “We must convince [Europeans] that migration is inevitable and that it is the multiethnic societies which are multicultural and multireligious who are building wealth.”
The UN’s next head acknowledged he is “not convinced that it will be easy, given the state of [public] opinion”. Calling for politicians to put “tolerance” and “reason” at the heart of their decision making, Portugal’s former prime minister urged lawmakers to prioritise “values” over respecting voters’ wishes.
He stated: “When elected officials hesitate to choose between values and the next election, I would advise them to choose values. If they go for short term [electoral gain] they will lose both, because there will always come a time when they lose an election At that point, it becomes very hard to recover the values that have been abandoned.” …
What “values” would those be? Just one. And not so much a value as a sentiment. PITY. The sentiment at the heart of Christianity – which ruled half the world with utmost cruelty for a thousand years.
And wherever did he get the idea that where the Muslim hordes have poured into European countries, those countries are “building wealth”? What is actually happening is the exact opposite, as the author points out:
Far from being linked to wealth, data from different European countries support the idea that non-European migrants are a net cost to nations’ treasuries. In the Netherlands, 65 per cent of non-European migrants who arrived during the 1990s are still living on welfare.
And Virginia Hale goes on to quote a professor who dares to say that the Muslim populations which are replacing the indigenous Europeans are mentally inferior. He doesn’t use that term. He calls it “lower intellectual competence”, but the two phrases mean the same thing.
The research of University College London psychology professor Dr. James Thompson shows Europe is being harmed by mass migration from poorer countries, as on average the newcomers’ intellectual competence is much lower than that of natives.
Partly as a result of their culture and partly due to genetics, he notes that the difference in intelligence results in migrants having “lower status, lower wages and higher resentment” at perceived differences.
“On the latter point, if the West cannot bear to mention competence differences, then differences in outcome are seen as being due solely to prejudice,” Thompson warns.
Being made poorer and stupider are two of the ways in which “Europe is being harmed” by the immigration of millions from the mainly Muslim parts of the Third World. The vast increase in crime, especially rape, is not mentioned. Nor the appalling terrorist attacks carried out by the Muslim warriors of jihad.
Enforced conformism, harsh subjugation of women, floggings and amputations and stonings to death, all the horrors of totalitarian enslavement are still to come.
About all of which the incoming Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, and the current crop of European leaders such as those of Germany, France, Holland, Sweden, Austria, the EU, are either in denial or unperturbed.
Since America, in it recent elections, rejected the sort of thinking on migration those persons represent, Europeans may be encouraged to use their democratic right, while they still have it, to vote their betrayers out of power.
And after that the Western nations – led, we ardently hope, by President Trump – will destroy the UN.
Islam’s renewed campaign against our civilization is inspired, directed, and carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood and the groups it has spawned.
Barack Hussein Obama, astoundingly elected President of the United States in 2008, did what he could to empower the Brotherhood, insisting that the organization, banned in Egypt, have pride of place in the audience of his first address abroad as president, in Cairo. He did his utmost to support the Brotherhood when revolution brought it to power in Egypt, and objected furiously when it was overthrown. He went so far as to appoint Muslim Brotherhood personnel as his advisers. The disastrous US policy towards the Middle East, causing war, civil war, displacements of millions, the catastrophic flooding of Europe by Muslim migrants, the death by drowning of thousands in the Mediterranean, the enslavement and mass murder of Christians and Yazidis, is the manifest result of their advice.
What a conjuring act it has been for Obama – to use his power to help the Muslim Brotherhood attain its ends at the same time as having to seem to be the chief guardian of Western civilization and liberty!
The two theorists on whose writings the Muslim Brotherhood was founded were Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb. ISIS, al-Qaeda, their terrorist activities in Europe and America, all spring from the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization that Obama protected, promoted, indulged, and abetted.
Writing in the Guardian, Robert Manne – emeritus professor of politics and vice-chancellor’s fellow at La Trobe University in Melbourne – explains how the Muslim Brotherhood and its “Qutbism” launched the jihad that is being waged against us. We quote his article in part:
During the period of my research, the Islamic State published in several languages, including English, a quarterly online magazine called Dabiq. …
In Dabiq, no theme was more important than the Islamic State’s desire to destroy those it regarded as its historical and current enemies – especially the Shia Muslims, the Rafida; their Syrian cousins, the Alawites or Nusayris; the fallen apostate peoples, the Yazidis and the Druze; the Christian west, the “Crusaders”; and the eternal enemy of the Muslims, the Jews. Despite its intellectual sophistication, each issue of Dabiq contained eschatological articles, concerning, for example, the nature of the Dajjal (the Rafida equivalent of the Antichrist) or the coming battles at the End of Days, from whose prophesied battleground, the town of Dabiq, the magazine took its name.
The magazine had several regular features. Each issue provided details of the military triumphs of the Islamic State and its affiliates, including both the planned operations and the lone-wolf attacks on its Crusader enemies in the west. (It was, however, conspicuously silent about the setbacks.) Each issue contained gruesome photos of the enemies it had dispatched – the beheaded western or Japanese hostages, the immolated Jordanian pilot, and dozens showing the corpses of the captured enemy troops and of the Shias, Alawites or Yazidis it had slaughtered.
Each issue told the story of the noble mujahideen “martyrs”, under the rubric Among the Believers Are Men. In a regular column called From Our Sisters, questions concerning women were discussed – the benefits of polygyny; the merits of sexual slavery; and the mothers’ indispensable role in providing a suitable education for the “lion cubs” – the next generation of soldiers. One of Dabiq’s preoccupations was the horror of life in the infidel (kuffar) societies of the west and the religious obligation of Muslims around the world to undertake migration to the Islamic State (hijrah) now that the caliphate had been established. …
Dabiq contained a regular feature it called In the Words of the Enemy. Here, special pleasure was taken in the comments of leading US generals, politicians or journalists expressing anxiety about the growing strength of the Islamic State and the danger it posed.
The pages of Dabiq express a remarkably consistent and internally coherent ideology, no less consistent and coherent than the Marxism–Leninism of the Soviet Union during the era of Stalin; more consistent and coherent, in my view, than the ideology of Nazism. As one can assume that Dabiq represents the official world-view of the Islamic State, it is surprising how little it has been analyzed by specialist scholars. It has been my primary source for an understanding of the mind of the current leadership of the Islamic State. …
The ideology of the Islamic State is founded upon the prison writings of the revolutionary Egyptian Muslim Brother Sayyid Qutb, in particular some sections of his commentary In the Shade of the Qur’an, but most importantly his late visionary work Milestones, published in 1964.
Qutb argued that the entire world, including the supposedly Muslim states, had fallen into a time of pre-Islamic ignorance, jahiliyya, or pagan darkness. He called upon the small number of true Muslims to form a revolutionary vanguard to restore the light of Islam to the world. …
So powerful was Qutb’s vision that several scholars have termed the ideology that provided the foundation of the Islamic State “Qutbism”. …
The first answer to the question about what was to be done by those who hoped to implement Qutb’s vision came a decade and a half after the master’s death, with The Neglected Duty, the underground revolutionary working paper of an Egyptian electrical engineer, Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj. Faraj called upon Muslims to fulfil their religious obligation of jihad – which he, like Qutb, interpreted as violent struggle in the service of God – and to lay the foundation of a truly Islamic state. His favoured method was assassination of the most important contemporary enemy of the Muslims, the apostate “Pharaoh”, a clear reference to the president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat.
Faraj regarded the “near enemy”, the Egyptian state, as a more strategically significant target than the “far enemy”, the Crusader Americans and the Zionist Jews. In 1981 Faraj’s group succeeded in their plot to kill Sadat. As a consequence, Faraj’s life, like Qutb’s, ended on the gallows. His pamphlet nonetheless represented the beginning of a 20-year era during which Egyptian jihadi revolutionaries, under the spell of Qutb’s prison writings, conducted a prolonged, bloody and ultimately unsuccessful revolutionary struggle against the “near enemy” – with plots to assassinate the apostate leaders, the taghut; to stage military coups; to incite popular uprisings.
A more influential answer to the question of what was to be done to implement the Qutbist vision was provided shortly after Faraj’s death by the Palestinian Islamic scholar Abdullah Azzam. After the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Azzam moved to Peshawar and established an office for the organisation of Arabs who had journeyed to Afghanistan to support the local jihadi fighters, the mujahideen.
In remarkably eloquent speeches, in the articles of his magazine, al-Jihad, and especially in two of his short books, Defence of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan, Azzam called upon Muslims across the globe to defend their nation, the umma, which was now under direct threat. Azzam insisted that defence of the umma through jihad, in the face of the infidel invader, was not a collective but an individual duty for each Muslim, as obligatory as one of the five pillars of the faith, such as praying and fasting. Azzam was assassinated in 1989, nobody knows for certain by whom. But by the time of his death, he had convinced a generation of revolutionary Muslims that the Afghan and Arab mujahideen had been responsible, through God’s grace and through their glorious martyrs’ deaths, for crippling the military might of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Moreover, he saw in the triumphant struggles of the mujahideen in Afghanistan a portent of a worldwide Islamic revival – in the jahili Muslim lands of the present; in his homeland, Palestine, and all other Muslim lands that had been conquered by the Crusaders; eventually across the entire globe.
In Afghanistan, Azzam had worked for a time with a wealthy Saudi of Yemeni background, Osama bin Laden. …
Having absorbed both Qutb’s vision and Azzam’s triumphalism and ambition … in 1988 Bin Laden created in Afghanistan an organisation he called al-Qaeda, which was eventually to become the first global army of jihadis.
In 1996, upon his return to Afghanistan, Bin Laden set his sights on the destruction of the only remaining superpower, the United States. In his view, the US was under the control of the Jews. It had been responsible for inflicting upon the Muslims the cruellest wound, the creation of a Jewish state at the very heart of the umma. It was also the indispensable patron and protector of the taghut regimes throughout the supposedly Muslim world. Perhaps worst of all, since 1990, by invitation from the Saudi royal family after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the US had occupied the land of the two holiest cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina. In 1998 al-Qaeda called upon the mujahideen to kill Americans and Jews.
One of the signatories of Bin Laden’s fatwa was the most influential Egyptian Qutbist revolutionary of the past 20 years, Ayman al-Zawahiri. In mid-2001 Zawahiri led a part of his group, al-Jihad, into al-Qaeda. Their union was consummated with a double conversion. Zawahiri adopted Bin Laden’s concentration on the far enemy. For his part, Bin Laden adopted the tactic that Zawahiri and other Egyptian Islamist revolutionaries had long embraced: suicide bombings, or what the Qutbists now called “martyrdom operations” – a vital tactic in technologically unequal, asymmetrical warfare. The first fruit of their union was 9/11, the attack on the twin towers in New York and the Pentagon.
By this time, Zawahiri was responsible, most comprehensively in his 2001 memoir, Knights under the Prophet’s Banner, for systematising the political ideology founded on the vision of Sayyid Qutb.
The ideology had not yet reached its latest and perhaps final destination. One consequence of 9/11 was the March 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. As it happened, one leader of the Sunni resistance was a Jordanian revolutionary jihadi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had established his own training camp in Afghanistan in 1999 at Herat and then, after the US invasion of Afghanistan and attack on the Taliban, had moved to Iraq via Iran in preparation for the generally anticipated US invasion.
Zarqawi was responsible for adding several new elements to the political ideology inspired by Qutb and systematised by Zawahiri. Zarqawi injected into its heart a sectarian and exterminatory hatred of the Shia.
Drawing upon the strategic theory of Abu Bakr Naji, the author of The Management of Savagery, and the theology of a jihadi scholar, Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir, the author of a work most commonly known as The Jurisprudence of Blood, Zarqawi extended vastly the purpose, the method and the permissible scope of killing. He conducted public beheadings of hostages. He greatly expanded the role of suicide bombings, with increasingly callous theological justifications, targeting not only the occupation forces and their Iraqi allies but also innocent Shia civilians and politically unfriendly Sunnis, earning for himself the well-deserved title of “the sheikh of the slaughterers”.
Before Zarqawi, the creation of an Islamic State, and even more the re-establishment of the caliphate, had been distant dreams of the Qutbists. With Zarqawi they became pressing items of a current political agenda. Before Zarqawi, too, the thought of the Qutbists had been largely unaffected by the eschatological or apocalyptic undercurrents of Sunni Islam. Under Zarqawi these began to rise to the surface. Zarqawi was killed in 2006. Nonetheless, his two successors, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who was killed in 2010, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the first caliph of the Islamic State, embraced fully and even extended the anti-Shia sectarianism, the strategic and jurisprudential savagery, the immediate Islamic state-building ambition, and the apocalyptic dimension that Zarqawi had injected into the political ideology that had grown from the vision of Qutb.
A supporter of the Islamic State, thought to be the Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, captured with admirable precision in a single sentence its ideological genealogy: “The Islamic State was drafted by Sayyid Qutb, taught by Abdullah Azzam, globalised by Osama bin Laden, transferred to reality by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and implemented by al-Baghdadis: Abu Omar and Abu Bakr.”
The good news is that the days when the Muslim Brotherhood could bask in the patronage of an American government are coming to an end. President-elect Trump has said that he will ban it.
Why was Obama, the Islam-loving communist, twice voted into the presidency of the capitalist, Islam-attacked, United States?
Why do most Americans “think” that Obama is doing a good job – though they know the economy is bad, millions are unemployed, businesses are overburdened with regulations, travelers are manhandled and humiliated at airports, an American ambassador was killed abroad with impunity, the Taliban is back in business in Afghanistan, the Middle East is in flames since Obama assisted the displacement of allied rulers with Islamic fundamentalists … and so on and on?
Why do millions of Americans “think” that economic equality is morally desirable?
Why are tens of millions content to live on state support without attempting to improve their standard of living by their own efforts?
Why do millions of university students in America admire intellectuals who hate America, such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and make an icon out of the sadistic mass-murderer Che Guevara?
Why? Because they’ve been told to. They’ve been told that good people do and “think” these things. They want to be good. They believe what they’ve been taught.
The same answer applies to: Why Muslim women believe they must put up with being sexually mutilated and enslaved to men. Why multitudes the world over believe that there was a nation called Palestinians who were driven off their land by aggressive usurping Jews. Why Christians believe that a man who once lived and died lives on as one part of a three-part god. Why Muslims and Christians imagine that when you are dead you are still alive in another place. Why Jews believe that their benign and omnipotent God has some unknowable but just purpose in having six million of them enslaved, starved, tortured and murdered by Nazis.
They believe these things because they were taught them. All this was drummed into them. They were raised to know that that is how it ought to be.
Few if any ideas are easy to spread. To get an idea accepted by large numbers of people takes patience, persistence, conviction, tireless energy on the part of those who want to spread it. The idea need not make good sense, be reasonable, come with proofs that it will work as its advocates say it will. It doesn’t even have to appeal strongly to the emotions. It just needs to become what “everybody” accepts.
If you want your idea to prevail over others, this is what it takes. First the conviction that it is right and everyone should know it. Next, a decision to spread it. Then energy, persistence, patience – and eventually force.
What made Christianity catch on? It wasn’t the life-style – poor, austere, hard, humble. Even the promise of eternal life was not a reliable recommendation as anyone’s eternity could as easily be endless agony as endless bliss (it was and is a 50-50 tossup). The theology was so hard to make sense of that the Church itself to this day has not settled it. And the morality it demanded was against human nature. So what made it succeed? Energy, persistence, patience, indoctrination, force.
See how long it took. From the time St Paul invented “Jesus Christ” to the time the emperor of Rome (Constantine) accepted the new god and the doctrines that had accreted to him, thus making it fashionable to be Christian (just a few decades before force was applied and it became compulsory), nearly three hundred years had passed. Three hundred years of persistent, patient, energetic proselytizing. Even then, it was not securely implanted in the minds of the subjects. One Emperor – Julian – came along and actually tried to reverse the trend by suppressing Christianity and re-instating paganism. He didn’t have enough time. He died in battle, his successors went back to favoring Christianity, and the Emperor Theodosius decreed that Christianity was to be the religion of the state. With him the final phase of force arrived.
Marxist Communism took less time to get a real grip on the minds of multitudes. Means of communications had speeded up considerably between the 4th and the 19th centuries, but still it took half a century (if one arbitrarily dates it from the first publication of Marx’s Das Kapital in 1867 to the success of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917). And still the same method had to be employed: energetic, patient, persistent proselytizing. Much repetition was required. The fever of enthusiasm had to be caught by two generations of intellectuals before the infection became a pandemic. Then came force.
The creed must become the norm. So pervasive must the doctrine be that anybody who does not subscribe to it wholeheartedly will appear egregious; an oddball, a rebel, a danger to everyone else and even to himself. The orthodoxy must be accepted without question as good, so anyone who opposes it is ipso facto a bad person.
By the late 20th century communications had become even faster, so the New Left, rising in 1968, could achieve the peaks of power in Europe in less than thirty years, and in America in forty years. It started as a weak revolutionary movement which brought nothing good with it to Western Europe and America, but much that was bad: recreational drugs, AIDS, and terrorism as self-expression. New Leftists complained that they had too much freedom, too much choice, that tolerance of their politics was repressive. And this irrational case was widely accepted, even while, on the other side of the iron curtain, a young man burnt himself to death to protest against the lack of freedom, choice, and tolerance.
The New Left movement was ignorant, blind, puerile, unreasonable, sadistic – yet it became, it has become, the prevailing belief-system of the greater part of the Western world, and at present in almost all “free” countries the standard ideology (or religion) of the state, no matter what political party is in power. How?
The plan was made. The plan was put into execution. Gramsci supplied the phrase for the overall strategy: “The Long March through the Institutions”. It wasn’t enough that the New Leftists should protest, should threaten and carry out violent attacks, should shout and write and display their slogans. They must take over the institutions of power, everyone of them: the smallest citizens’ groupings – such as library committees – were not too small. But none were too big. Town councils had to be infiltrated and eventually dominated; then newspapers, radio and TV channels; boards of education very importantly; the schools, the universities; the civil service; the law courts; a major political party; then the country’s legislative body, and eventually the pinnacles of power, prime ministerships, presidencies. Police forces and the military were formidable challenges. The tactic was first to discredit them and pressure them from outside by means of public opinion guided by the converted press; then to infiltrate them; finally bend them from within to conform to the doctrine and advance the cause.
Meanwhile books, films, articles, lessons, lectures, systems of reward, prizes must all promote the cause. It took decades, but it succeeded. Even in America now there have been at least two generations raised on New Left doctrine through schools, universities, books, films, the press, and TV.
How otherwise could the free Western world, whose policies and armies opposed the oppressing, enslaving Communist Eastern world, have been successfully converted to the very doctrine that oppressed, enslaved, tortured and mass murdered? It didn’t take reason. It didn’t take persuasion. The idea was no more innately and manifestly true and good than the idea of Christianity. But as in the case of spreading Christianity, it took conviction, decision, planning, energy, persistence, repetition, and finally force.
Only Leftist doctrine – government control of the economy, government provision of welfare, confiscatory and punitive taxation – is politically correct now in America. Collectivist thinking is the norm. Good people vote left. (When, in 2008, a Californian woman came upon a stall set up on a main street to canvass votes for the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, she called the police, and was astonished to learn that to solicit public support for the anti-collectivist Republican Party was not illegal.) Again, as with Christianity, the allegiance to the doctrine has little or nothing to do with its ideas. Most adherents could not explain what the ideas are. But they know that good people find them good, that good people vote for them. And that is all they need to know. Who doesn’t want to think of himself as a good person?
But the question of how did this become the case has not been fully answered. There is another aspect to the story. In order for one doctrine to succeed, it is necessary for other, counter doctrines to fail. If the ancient world had had enough confidence in paganism, enough enthusiasm for it, hadn’t taken it for granted, hadn’t become bored with it, hadn’t ignored the Christian missionaries with their crazy talk, could the weird, obscure, muddled, sorrowful, other-worldly new religion of Christianity have prevailed?
And the success of Leftism now – would it have happened if the conservative Right had been paying attention? Remember that old saying that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”? Well, the Right was not being vigilant. It didn’t bother to argue against political correctness. It disregarded the cynical shenanigans going on in the United Nations as if it were nothing but a zoo housing many clamorous beasts who were safely confined and could in no way threaten American life, liberty or happiness. If it was made to feel now and then the bullying, deceitful, sly, sometimes violent tactics of the Left, it shrugged them off. Conservatives went on being civil and preferring honesty when the world’s mood had changed to favoring lies and abuse. They put their confidence in the fact that America had been founded as the political embodiment of the idea of personal freedom; had demonstrated to the world – forever, they believed – that freedom brought prosperity and might and stunning innovation. They assumed that the rightness of individual liberty, the capitalist system, and government by the people had been established forever. So strong and free a country could afford to be tolerant. Let some wild, immature, misguided persons preach despotism (Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Greenism, whatever), the system was strong enough to be hospitable to alien ideas, and to allow dissent or even rebellion. Tested, it would prove itself inviolable. It could not only withstand opposition, it could absorb it and dissolve it. No special effort was required. American history was on the side of those who would defend freedom and the constitution. The separation of powers would protect them. The free press would dilute propaganda. Open enquiry in the academies would ensure that all points of view were argued and the most rational, the most humane, would persuade serious scholars. But they were wrong.
In their complacency, conservatives did not even notice the Long March. They could not mark its stations of success. Even now there are deluded Republicans who have not absorbed the fact that most Americans like collectivism; that they don’t object to electoral fraud; that they accept a failing economy; that many would rather live on government handouts than become rich; that being rich has become a morally bad thing; that it’s okay for foreign powers to develop weapons that can kill vast numbers of Americans; that the press does not report what is happening in the world but only what it wants to happen; that courts of law are willing to prefer foreign law to the Constitution; that it doesn’t matter if American representatives abroad are attacked and murdered; that freedom has become a term worthy only of contempt; that American history is a trail of shame; that a cruel religion is being allowed to seep through the body politic, and is protected and advanced by the government itself.
But now millions of conservatives are waking up and are asking, how did this happen? It happened because people patiently, energetically, persistently planned it and made it happen.
What can we do about it, they ask themselves and each other.
What they have to do about it is change the minds of the people. First they must be sure that they want the free republic the founders established; that they want to maintain free markets; that they don’t want a welfare state; that they do want to preserve national defenses; that they want indoctrination in the schools to stop; that they want to forbid the application of foreign law; that they do not want to go on funding an institution – the UN – that consistently works against their interests. Then they must decide that their political philosophy is right, uniquely right, and must be implemented at any and all costs. Then they must start teaching it. With energy, persistence, patience and fiery enthusiasm. It will take time. But that is the only way. Teach, preach, argue, use every method that works. Give up the idea that it’s better to be gentlemanly than to sink to using the methods of the opposition; that if you do as they do you will have betrayed the very values that you are fighting for. They have made the fight low and dirty. Get down in the dirt and fight it.
How badly does the conservative right want to win power in America? How important is it to them that they should?
If it is important, tell the voters, tell the children that the free market is the only means of creating general prosperity, and why. Tell them that central planning of an economy cannot work, and why. Tell them why competition is good for everyone, producers and consumers alike.
Tell them what profit is and why it is essential for ensuring abundance.
Tell them that only where people are free can there be discovery and innovation, improvement in everyone’s daily life, better technology, the advance of civilization. Explain why. Show them the proofs of history.
Tell them the truth about life in the Third World. Not politically correct sentimental drivel, but the actual awful facts about life in most other countries.
Tell them why impartial judgment is the only means to justice; why all sane adult citizens must be treated equally by the law; why people must be judged by their actions, not their intentions or feelings.
Tell them why government should be kept small and its powers limited. Tell them what the essential tasks of government are: protection of the nation, of the individual, of liberty, of the rule of law itself. And why governments should not be allowed more power and money than it needs to fulfill its few essential functions.
Shout down the shouters. Tell Muslims what is wrong with their creed and why American secularism is better. Don’t allow them to build a protective wall around themselves to shut out criticism of their absurd and savage beliefs.
Tolerate only the tolerant and tolerable.
It will take time. Start now. Stop short of force. But tell them.
Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu, known as “Mother Teresa of Calcutta”, is now a Catholic saint, having been canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday September 4, 2016.
Here is Christopher Hitchens on the woman and her work.
Although we disagree with his passing criticism of President Reagan, and with his use of the word “conservative” as a pejorative (revealing a political bias which changed as he grew older), we think Hitchens makes a solid case against the saint.
This essay, repeated here almost in full, was first posted on June 11, 2011.
In the new Alternative Right there are many religious believers. The argument for conservatism without religion is the same for the Alternative Right now as it was for the old right then.
(Also see our post, Religion is the problem, April 5, 2016.)
Most (American) conservative writers take it for granted that those who share their political opinions also share their religiousness, and are surprised, even shocked, that some conservatives are atheist.
We look at the matter the other way round. It is a perpetual puzzle to us why so many persons who are clear-sighted and rational enough to be conservatives yet believe in the supernatural.
Writing in the American Thinker, Lloyd Marcus opines:
Without beating around the bush, I believe the battle being fought in America today goes beyond politics; right vs. left. It is a spiritual battle; good vs evil.
We agree that the battle is between good and evil. We think the Left and Islam – in alliance with each other at present – are evil.
But what do the religious mean when they use the word “spiritual”? We understand “spirit” to be adverbial: one does this or that in such and such a spirit. They believe that spirit is a noun, identical with the “soul”. And what is the soul? It’s the ghost inside “you” which will continue to live when “you” die. Christians believe that it will live forever in “heaven” if it was good on earth, and will suffer forever in “hell” if it was naughty.
As if to strengthen his argument, Marcus quotes a passage from the Epistle to the Ephesians, ascribed to St. Paul, but of disputed authorship. Whoever wrote the epistle put into it one of the most egregiously Gnostic passages in the New Testament, and that’s the one Lloyd Marcus quotes:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Ephesians 6:12*
In Gnostic systems there were layers of heavens between the ascending spirit of the Gnostic and the highest sphere of the good God. In them dwelt powers called Aeons (heavenly beings and ages in time) and principalities (Archons). A low-dwelling, evil god, identical to Jehovah the god of the Jews, created this world and ruled it with his own set of Aeons and Archons.
That is not orthodoxy to any Christian sect. Christians are hard put to interpret the passage in their terms, which is probably why some argue that St Paul didn’t write it.
But Marcus means that flesh and blood Democrats are the “powers and principalities” he and his fellow Christians are wrestling against, and the Senate and the White House are his “high places”. In other words his battle is within the realm of politics. He just vaguely supposes that good and evil are terms that belong only to religion, so quotations from his scriptures leap to his mind:
The mindset of the American left is a spirit of Antichrist which is man making himself God.
Before writing me off as a Bible nut, please hear me out. Understanding this reality will explain much of the left’s behavior. Because they believe man is God, in their insane arrogance, the left think they can fix everything; legislate equal outcomes and even save or destroy the planet.
Now we agree with him that lefties arrogantly “think they can legislate equal outcomes and even save or destroy the planet”. And we know they cannot. Not because they lack divine power, but because equal outcomes cannot be legislated, and because the human beings who “infest” the planet (as H. L. Mencken once put it), cannot affect the thing to any significant extent.
What the religious right cannot or will not see, is that you can believe in the market economy, small government, low taxes, strong defense, individual liberty under the law – all the important conservative ideas – without believing that they issue from, or are sanctioned by, a supernatural source.
Marcus defends Sarah Palin:
Make no mistake about it folks, we are in a spiritual battle. Ask yourself. Specifically, what about Sarah Palin inspires such visceral hatred from the left? The word is “wholesome.”
We agree that she is wholesome. We like her wholesomeness. We like her decency and probity and patriotism and moral strength. We like what we have gathered are her favored policies. We agree with Marcus that the Left hates her for the very things we admire in her. And we are willing to disregard her religious views, as we have to disregard the religious views of all possible presidential candidates because the time has not come when a self-confessed atheist will stand a chance of being elected to the White House. (We suspect, however, that many a presidential candidate is a secret atheist – and perhaps a few presidents have been too.)
Our point is, good values make good sense and don’t require the sanction of a Nobodaddy-in the-sky. All moral ideas, all ideas proceed from the minds of human beings. A person who knows this to be the case is not one who “thinks he is God”; “God” is superfluous to him or her.
Marcus holds that without God to tell us what to think, none of us would ever get it right.
Because liberal elitists think man is God, they assume moral authority to confiscate as much control over our lives as we simple-minded god-fearing peons will allow them, including procreation. I picked up a government-funded brochure at my local library which basically said birthing babies is an irresponsible abuse of the planet.
Folks, this is leftist control-freak hogwash!
Yes it is.
The seven billion people who live on the planet could fit in Texas enjoying about the same amount of living space as residents of New York.
True. But he adds:
God said be fruitful and multiply. But then, what the heck does God know?
Sarcasm of course. But what the heck does “God” know? If there is a being who knows more than man, how can man know that he does?
The rest of the article (see it here) rambles on about this and that – “Christianity only religion not respected, Jesus is divine, true Christians trust God, zz-zzzz” – the points being tied together only by the buzz in his head that they all represent aspects of wrong guidance by “the Antichrist”.
Like an episode of Star Trek, the left believes universal peace can be achieved via America apologizing and admitting to the world that we suck, surrendering our power, signing treaties and singing a few verses of Kumbaya. They believe the greatest source of evil in the world is warmongering Christian white guys like George Bush. If only Bush had “Given peace a chance.” Liberals always cater to man’s lowest base instincts. They hate standards for behavior, labeling all rebuke of bad behavior as being intolerant and judgmental.
We don’t argue with that. But this follows:
And yet, they believe without divine influence, man is capable of someday achieving universal peace. Totally absurd.
Has he not noticed that a great many wars have been fought over religious issues? What has “divine influence” ever done for peace?
Christians believe that though we strive to do the right thing, the heart of man is critically flawed which is why we were in need of a savior, Jesus Christ.
And just when will his “savior” remove the flaws in the human heart?
*From this quotation, the title “The Darkness of This World” was taken for 3 sets of essays under Pages in our margin.
Today we post on our Pages (find the category in our margin) Jillian Becker’s review of The New Testament.
Here is part of it:
The New Testament is a work of fiction, based on the life, death, and oral teaching of a Jewish hasid (pious man) who, according to its chronicles, lived between the reigns of the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius.
Almost all its contents were originally composed in a demotic Greek known as koine, but it has been translated into most other languages. (Quotations in this review are taken from the King James authorized version.)
A compilation of writings by many authors, only one of whom is identifiable with any certainty, and all of whom were long dead when the anthology was first published in the late 2nd. century C.E., it is a tendentious production, its chief purpose being to support the contention of the Catholic Church that the pious man it names “Jesus”, was “God” incarnated as a human being.
Although the collection is purported to be a factual record, the documents were not selected for their quality of research, accuracy of reportage, or their credibility, but to serve this purpose. So the book is full of contradictions, and transparent distortions of known history. The strain this puts on a critical reader’s credulity is such that he must soon realize how impossible it is to distinguish any facts it might contain from the mass of obvious fabrications, though some of the contradictions give hints of truths covered up, and plausible guesses have been made by historians as to what might actually have been done and said by the characters whose existence is recorded. Some historians have used this useful formula: if a passage goes against the manifest purpose of the authors and compilers, its retention in the narrative might be because it was too well known to be omitted, and so has a higher probability of being an authentic quotation or recollection.
It would be a tedious task (and would take volumes, as it has) to point out all the contradictions, inconsistencies, and multitudinous implausibilities in the assembled documents; but some are so egregious that they may easily be spotted by an attentive reader, and few could escape a skeptic’s cold eye. … [A few examples are given.]
The Catholic Church made and published the book when it did because one of its many rival Christian Churches – led by Marcion, a rich ship-owner with a following possibly equal in size to its own – had gathered documents written in the late first and early second centuries – ten “letters of Paul” and most of the gospel of Luke – and published them in or about 140 C.E. as a testament of the faith. The Catholic Church regarded the Church of Marcion as heretical, but understood how powerful the existence of such a testament could be, and so produced its own orthodox version: the same “letters of Paul” and all four gospels at first, and a little later, around 200 C.E., more of the letters written by Paul or attributed to him, and the Acts of the Apostles, and an “Apocalypse of Peter”. It wasn’t until 367 C.E. that the twenty-seven “books” of The New Testament were recorded by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, as being as they are now, in the same order – which is not the order in which they were produced.
Marcion was a devotee of Paul, the originating author of Christianity, and like the antinomian Paul he wanted the Jewish scriptures – containing the Law which the coming of the Christ, in their conviction, had superseded – to be consigned to oblivion, and any connection between Christianity and Judaism to be buried. But the fathers of the Catholic Church came to realize that their religion could not do without that much older compilation of fictions, the Jewish bible; could not do without the moral law that it contained, which they separated from its ritualistic observances; and as Jesus was their “Christ” – that word being the Greek translation of the Hebrew “Messiah” – they needed the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming.
But Jesus, they believed, was much more than the Jewish idea of the Messiah. He was what Paul had said he was: the immortal “Son of God” born as a man “to save mankind from sin and death”. That was and is Christian doctrine. The Jews believed their Messiah would be a mortal man of great power, an anointed king who would free them from foreign subjugation and restore them, “the Children of Israel”, to independence and glory as in the days of David and Solomon. Jesus was obviously not their Messiah since he had come and gone without their being freed from Roman rule; and far from being restored to independence and glory, they lost their country, were scattered over the known world, and forever thereafter cruelly persecuted by all and sundry – especially the Christians.
How does The New Testament characterize God Incarnate as a teacher and preacher? Its portrait of Jesus places him on the sentimental side of rabbinic tradition. He is given nothing to say that was new except a mystical statement that bread is his body and wine his blood (a harking back to paganism that occurred to St. Paul as a revelation). He tells, as was the rabbinic way, fables with moral messages. Some of the messages are unintelligible (Matthew 20:16,, “So the last shall be first and the first last.”; Matthew 13:12, “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath”. ) He utters no profundities – nothing comparable to numerous utterances of the Stoics, for instance – and falls far short of the intellectual stature of such rabbinic thinkers as his near contemporary Hillel and the second century Akiba. (Hillel was the gentle carpenter rabbi who turned the idealistic Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you”, into the far more practical rule not to do anything to any one else that you would not want done to you. That, he said, was the whole essence of the Law. Akiba’s insistence on free will – that you are always free to choose between good and evil – is a direct contradiction of the Christian doctrine of Original Sin.) But Jesus’s lack of profundity is not surprising. His authors were not men with great gifts of the mind, and they could not endow him with a genius that they themselves did not possess.
To the extent that Jesus is made to vary traditional Jewish moral teaching it is to shift its stress. Where the most important value in Judaism was justice (or “righteousness”), in Christianity it is love. The mission of mankind was changed from the necessary moral task of trying to be just to all equally, to the impossibly idealistic one to love all equally. The change softened and sentimentalized the theistic idea. This was a God who suffered; a God in the form, for a time, of a dependent infant; a God who forgave without limit. Most of the authors wanted to present him as a preacher of peace, though this aim is undermined by his saying (Matthew 10:34) “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” – one of the statements that may be genuine precisely because it does not accord with the intentions of the Church. And one of the great inconsistencies of the new doctrine is that this forgiving, pacific, loving, merciful God, contrasting himself to the vengeful God of the Jews, will yet be the ultimate judge of everyman, and condemn sinners to the eternal anguish of a Hell more terrible than anything Judaism had envisaged.
All in all, there is little to recommend this book in itself: it testifies to absurdities; much of it (especially the Epistles and The Acts) is pedantic and tedious; it prescribes behavior contrary to human nature and yet declares failure punishable by an eternity of agony; and it provides no important insights. It lacks, or has very little good poetry (just one chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, is a fine poem, and certainly not written by the pedantic St. Paul to whom it is ascribed!), the quantity and excellence of which is the redeeming feature of the so-called Old Testament. Its most impressive part, if judged as a work of literature, is Revelation, which seems to have been inspired directly by the vivid fantasies of the Old Testament’s book of Daniel.
But – mirabile dictu – it has had, and continues to have, an immense effect in the real world. Millions still believe its narratives to be true and its teaching to be superlatively good. Untold numbers have died in the last nineteen hundred years defending interpretations of its messages. It has contributed importantly to the culture of the West, and not only the West. Whether its contribution has been more enriching than detrimental remains a matter of controversy, but either way it cannot be ignored, and should be read by all who would count themselves educated.
But then again, you hardly need to read it if you live in the Western world. You cannot easily escape it. It is with us whether we like it or not.
In the year 1857, at the summer assizes of the county of Cornwall, an unfortunate man, said to be of unexceptionable conduct in all relations of life, was sentenced to twenty-one months’ imprisonment, for uttering, and writing on a gate, some offensive words concerning Christianity.
Today offensive words against Islam is a crime in Britain and most of the countries of the European Union.
Within a month of the same time, at the Old Bailey, two persons, on two separate occasions, were rejected as jurymen, and one of them grossly insulted by the judge and by one of the counsel, because they honestly declared that they had no theological belief; and a third, a foreigner, for the same reason, was denied justice against a thief.
This refusal of redress took place in virtue of the legal doctrine, that no person can be allowed to give evidence in a court of justice, who does not profess belief in a God (any god is sufficient) and in a future state ,,,
Meaning an afterlife in a Christian heaven or hell …
… which is equivalent to declaring such persons to be outlaws, excluded from the protection of the tribunals; who may not only be robbed or assaulted with impunity, if no one but themselves, or persons of similar opinions, be present, but any one else may be robbed or assaulted with impunity, if the proof of the fact depends on their evidence.
The assumption on which this is grounded, is that the oath is worthless, of a person who does not believe in a future state; a proposition which betokens much ignorance of history in those who assent to it (since it is historically true that a large proportion of infidels in all ages have been persons of distinguished integrity and honor); and would be maintained by no one who had the smallest conception how many of the persons in greatest repute with the world, both for virtues and for attainments, are well known, at least to their intimates, to be unbelievers.
The rule, besides, is suicidal, and cuts away its own foundation. Under pretense that atheists must be liars, it admits the testimony of all atheists who are willing to lie, and rejects only those who brave the obloquy of publicly confessing a detested creed rather than affirm a falsehood.
A rule thus self-convicted of absurdity so far as regards its professed purpose, can be kept in force only as a badge of hatred, a relic of persecution; a persecution, too, having the peculiarity, that the qualification for undergoing it, is the being clearly proved not to deserve it. The rule, and the theory it implies, are hardly less insulting to believers than to infidels. For if he who does not believe in a future state, necessarily lies, it follows that they who do believe are only prevented from lying, if prevented they are, by the fear of hell.
The quotation comes from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, first published in 1869.
New curbs on free speech (see the post immediately below) are taking the people of the West in the 21st century back to the 19th century.
Will the unaccountable passion among Western rulers and legislators for protecting the appalling ideology of Islam from criticism, take us all the way back to the time of Calvin’s Geneva and the Catholic Inquisition?
The answer has to be “all too possibly”.
Although we are atheists, we’re happy to bring our readers John Cleese’s persuasive recruiting ad for his new Christian church, because we are also capitalists:
Dennis Prager writes at Townhall:
One of the many remarkable traits of the progressives is their lack of self-awareness.
This trait was on display last week in the media and Democratic Party’s characterization of Donald Trump’s acceptance speech – and the entire Republican National Convention – as “dark”.
For the left to dismiss other Americans as having a dark view of America is preposterous.
Because no one – not Trump, not the Republican Party, not any conservative – has nearly as dark a view of America as does the left.
Across the board – from the universities to the media to the Democratic Party – the left, around the world and in America, has an unremittingly dark view of the United States.
Here’s a brief glimpse.
- Racism “is part of our (American) DNA”, President Barack Obama said in 2015. Is there anything Trump said in his acceptance speech that is as dark about America as that?
- On July Fourth weekend, Vox published a long column arguing “3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake”.
- The most widely read historian in American high schools and colleges, the late left-wing professor Howard Zinn, was asked (by me) whether he thought the United States had done more good or more bad in the world. “Probably more bad than good,” he answered.
- The left regularly characterizes the United States as a sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist and bigoted country.
- Our wars are wars for imperialist expansion, driven by material greed.
- The top 1 percent relentlessly exploits the other 99 percent.
- America is rigged against blacks, Hispanics and the 99 percent.
- Cops kill unarmed blacks proportionately more than they kill unarmed whites because so many cops are racist.
- About 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted on campus.
Is there anything in Trump’s speech that can match any of those left-wing views of the United States for “darkness”?
Moreover, every one of those leftist critiques of America is false.
Nevertheless, we are in a dark time in America. In fact, Trump didn’t make the case for America’s darkness nearly effectively enough.
- Our universities – outside of the natural sciences – are being destroyed as learning institutions. They close minds, censor speech and indoctrinate rather than educate.
- Blacks have more anger toward whites and America than at any time since the civil rights era.
- American students are learning less while being indoctrinated more. They graduate high school barely able to write a coherent essay with proper sentence structure, grammar and spelling. But they know all about the existential threat allegedly posed by fossil fuels.
- According to a recent Gallup Poll, fewer young Americans than at any time since polling began are proud to be Americans.
- A greater percentage of Americans are dependent upon government for their income and even for food than at any time in American history.
- The American national debt is the highest it has ever been. And it is increasing at a rate that can only lead to an economic implosion.
- A smaller percentage of Americans are married than at any time in American history.
- Americans are having fewer children than ever.
- Fewer businesses in proportion to the general population are being started than ever before.
- Sectors of major American cities are essentially killing zones.
Is that dark enough?
And the list is only a partial one.
Moreover, every one of those dark facts is the result of left-wing policies, left-wing politicians, left-wing writers, left-wing professors and the left-wing party, the Democratic Party.
If all Donald Trump did between now and November were to delineate the darkness created by the left and the Democrats, he could potentially win in a landslide. But, for reasons that elude me, he won’t, just as no Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan has. In the same way that Democrats won’t identify America’s international enemy – Islamic terror – Republicans won’t identify America’s domestic enemy, the left.
And until Republicans do, the darkness won’t recede.
We agree with his diagnosis – except for one item we removed from his own list of truly dark facts about contemporary America. We removed it because it is not a dark fact at all.
It is this:
Fewer Americans than ever before believe in God, go to church or affirm Judeo-Christian values, the basic moral code of America’s founding and of Western civilization.
The basic moral code of America’s founding was NOT that two-headed chimera “Judeo-Christian values”. The Constitution of the United States embodies the values of the Enlightenment.
Jewish values and Christian values are essentially different. Judaism holds justice to be the highest value. (Which was a good idea; only exactly what those men of old who wrote the Bible considered just was often not good at all.)
Christianity holds love to be the highest value. Love granted unconditionally. Even to the sinner; even to those who do evil to others; so mandating hypocrisy – which provides cover for every imaginable cruelty. And it is the opposite of justice.
Furthermore, Christianity brought a thousand years of darkness down on Europe; a darkness that was only finally dispelled by the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment set reason above faith, and enshrined liberty as the highest value. Protecting the freedom of each individual became the duty of the state. Under the rule of law, “justice” applied to the individual; only to the individual.
It is real progress if “fewer Americans than ever before believe in God and go to church”.
The churches did a terrible job when they had power. Let’s have no more priests ordering our lives. How about electing a businessman to lead us?
No matter what he says for political convenience – Donald Trump is not a religious man. And for us that is a definite plus.
He believes in his own ability to bring new opportunity for wealth and joy to all Americans.
He is a capitalist. Wherever true free-market capitalism flourishes, freedom flowers and happiness becomes visible.
His speech was not dark. It was a promise of a new dawn.
A promise he might fulfill if he becomes the next president of the United States.