A chat about atheism, religion, and science. Recorded December 14, 2010.
Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens.
Sam Harris is an atheist. We like a lot of what he writes and says. Just recently one of our readers sent us this statement of his, which we acknowledge, sadly, to be most probably true:
For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way.
We have watched videos of him lecturing. We have read some articles of his. And all with appreciation. So when we were sent his new book for review, we expected to like it.
Do we like it?
To read Jillian Becker’s review of Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion by Sam Harris, click on its title in our margin, under Pages.
As quite often happens, Daniel Greenfield expresses an informed opinion on a headline event so well that we cannot resist letting him speak for us:
The bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers, 16-year-old Naftali who liked to play basketball, 16-year-old Gilad who had just finished a scuba diving course and 19-year-old Eyal with his guitar, will be met by the same ghastly parade of pallbearers who accompany every victim of terrorism.
The reporters will scribble down something about “settlements” and the “Cycle of Violence.” The diplomats will urge restraint and remind everyone that the only solution can be found through negotiations with the terrorists. And the pundits will put it all into perspective burying them under layers of words and weighting their coffins down with stones of forgetfulness.
But all the empty words about the “Occupation” and the “Cycle of Violence,” the invocation of a peaceful solution that is always about to arrive, but never does, and the maps that cede more territory to terrorists are addressing a problem that doesn’t exist.
It’s not about physical territory. It’s about spiritual territory. It’s not about nationalism. It’s about Islamism.
It’s not about the “Occupation.” It’s about Islam.
“I raised my children on the knees of the [Islamic] religion, they are religious guys, honest and clean-handed, and their goal is to bring the victory of Islam,” the mother of one of the Hamas killers said.
Not a Palestinian nation. Not a Two State Solution. Not forty percent of this and sixty percent of that.
The victory of Islam.
Naftali, Gilad and Eyal were murdered for the same reason that countless people have been killed in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Not to mention the United Kingdom and the United States.
They were murdered in the name of a religious war that has been going on for over a thousand years. Muslims did not suddenly begin killing Jews in 1948 or 1929. They did not begin killing Christians over American foreign policy or the oil business.
Muslims did not begin killing Jews and Christians over foreign policy. They began persecuting and killing their Christian and Jewish neighbors because their religion told them to.
Hamas, the terror group that murdered the three teens, is not a Palestinian nationalist organization, though it occasionally plays the part. Its charter begins with Allah and ends with Allah. Article Five of its charter states that the group extends to “wherever on earth there are Muslims, who adopt Islam as their way of life.”
Its goal is to create an Islamic state. Everything else is secondary.
The Hamas charter describes it as part of the worldwide “Muslim Brotherhood Movement”. Brotherhood terrorists kill Jews in Israel for the same reason that they kill Shiites in Syria or Christian Copts in Egypt.
Article Seven of the Hamas charter concludes with the infamous Islamic Hadith which proclaims that the Muslim end times will come only when “Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
Aside from the obvious genocidal bigotry, this is a quote from a text that is over a thousand years old. Its author was not preaching the mass murder of Jews because of settlements in the West Bank. At the time Muslims had subjugated and ruled over the Jewish population of the Middle East. The Jews were no threat to them. The idea of a Jewish army was as ridiculous as traveling to the moon.
The hatred that leaks out of that text has nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with Islam.
The insistence on a foreign policy explanation for Muslim anti-Semitism is as ahistorical as claiming that Hitler only hated Jews because of the Yom Kippur War. Except that at least both of these events took place in the twentieth century. Islam has been hating and persecuting Jews for over 1300 years before the rebirth of the modern State of Israel.
There are two ways of looking at the worldwide plague of Muslim terrorism. One is to treat every Islamic conflict with Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and a dozen other religions as being due to some local political grievance of recent vintage. The other is to understand them as local expressions of a historical religious war and the continuation of the wave of conquests that made Islam into a worldwide religion.
We can be like the six blind men feeling around the Islamic elephant and assuming that its trunk and tusks are entirely separate phenomena. Or we can open our eyes and see the elephant in the room.
Hamas’ charter begins with the Koran’s praise for Muslims “as the best people” and damns Christians and Jews to be “smitten with abasement” for having “incurred the wrath of Allah.”
This is not a statement of Palestinian nationalism. It’s Islamic supremacism.
There is nothing negotiable about supremacism. Supremacism cannot be appeased. Supremacism does not want a piece of the pie. It wants the whole pie. The allies learned that the hard way with Hitler. So did the countless kingdoms that attempted to live in peace with the armies of the Mohammedan conquerors.
If Israel had never existed, Hamas would still exist, just as the other branches of the Muslim Brotherhood exist elsewhere throughout the Middle East. Even if Zionism did not exist, the Muslim Brotherhood would persecute the Jews under its control, just like the Christians in Egypt and Syria.
If Netanyahu, Sharon, Begin and a thousand other Israeli villains of the apologists of Islam had never been born, the followers of Mohammed would have gone on killing Jews just as they had for over a thousand years.
If the blue and white had never waved over Jerusalem, if Jews had remained as downtrodden and persecuted in the lands of Islam as the Copts and the Zoroastrians, Naftali, Gilad and Eyal would still have been murdered by two killers who were raised by their mothers to usher in “the victory of Islam.”
There is no political solution to a supremacist conflict.
If a thousand years of Jewish humiliation and persecution did not satisfy the ancestors of the murderers of those three teenagers, how will handing over part of Jerusalem do the job?
Solutions begin with truth. The truth is that Islamic violence against Jews is not recent or exceptional. The murder of Jews by Muslims, whether in Israel or Belgium, is not any different than the Muslim butchery of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and even minority Muslim splinter faiths. These conflicts cannot be resolved through appeasement. They can only be addressed through resistance.
Yes. Once that truth is fully accepted, the only remaining question is, what form should the resistance take?
Our answer is: military force wherever it can be effective; and everywhere, at all times, a de-Islamization campaign along the lines of the de-Nazification campaign pursued intensely in Germany after the military defeat of the Third Reich.
Islam needs urgently to be criticized; constantly, relentlessly, daily; in schools and academies; by the mass media, on all the social media. It should be so denounced and reviled that if anyone chooses to adhere to it he would feel it necessary to do so in secret, furtively, surreptitiously, in shame and fear of being found out.
Islam is an ideology as evil and destructive as Nazism.
All religion is a drag on enlightened civilization. Islam is the only religion now that is actively destroying it. Islam itself must be defeated – not only on battlefields, but with argument.
It is the ideology, not the people (except those actively engaged in jihad), who must be boldly attacked.
The ideology called Islam is a lethal disease. The human race must be cured of it.
In plain reason –
Those who say they believe in freedom of speech cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in freedom cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in equality of the sexes cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in “the golden rule” cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in “diversity” cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who hate cruelty cannot tolerate Islam.
Those who believe in tolerance itself cannot tolerate intolerant Islam.
Know it, understand it, loathe it, despise it, talk about it incessantly, forbid it, exclude it, abolish it.
Is there any other way?
The Darkness of This World
Our Gnostic Age
New Age religion is – according to taste and judgment – a rich diversity of “spiritualities”, or a junk-heap of irrationalities.
It arose in the West as an unplanned rejection movement against reason, science, capitalism, Western political institutions and cultural norms, often to the point of antinomianism. It started as a counter-culture, but many of its beliefs and practices have come to be accepted as normal. Most obviously it impacts the lives of almost everyone in developed countries through Environmentalism, one of the most successful of its superstitions.
New Age includes mythical, mystical, and simply fantastical cult ingredients. Its theorists draw on the occult and witchcraft; on religions of the Far East ; on the modern mystic faith of psycho-analysis (in particular the theories of C. G. Jung); on Richard Wagner’s mythology and mysticism ; on UFO legends; on “alternative” Western religious cults and systems – Scientology, Mormonism, Hare Krishna, Shamanism, pop-Kabala, Environmentalism. Among its assorted mysticisms and occultisms are: astrology ; fortune telling by tarot cards, I Ching, Ouija boards; spirit guides; processes of faith healing or imaginary empowerment through the use of crystals and pyramids; chanting, dancing, meditation, Yoga exercises. It was partly inspired by the hundred-plus years old, Orient-derived, Theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, and its offshoots, including the Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner with their theories of education, art, agriculture, and health.
As a religion rather than a life-style movement – which it has primarily become – New Age is loosely likened to the Gnostic sects of the 2nd century and the Middle Ages because it is mystical, esoteric, and challenging to the “revealed” religions. There are also specific similarities.
First, like the Gnostics of old, New Age acolytes revile the “God of the bible” (whatever they conceive him to be – Jehovah, “God the Father”, or the Trinity), and they “know” the “true God” by innate knowledge.
Second, as in the Gnostic cults, there is a hierarchy of classes in New Age doctrine. The divisions are according to “spiritual” ability. The highest class is that of the adepts, the Masters, who have attained “cosmic consciousness”. They know they possess the innate knowledge (gnosis) of the real God. Below them are Disciples, whose minds are open to New Age teaching but have yet to master it. At the bottom are the rest, “animal men”, unenlightened by the faith.
Third, those who have the gift – the Masters – can release, or bring to consciousness, or make effective, or bring into being (all of those effects are stated or implied at different times), the “divinity” they “know” is within them by achieving a state of ecstasy. And like the Gnostics of old, they do this by taking drugs and indulging in sexual libertinism. Each New Age participant’s “divine blood” asserts itself as the right guide to human thought and action. In a New Age orgy, “group-consciousness” reveals itself and exerts its will.
Fourth, in New Age as in old Gnosticism, believers rebel against ethical norms by reversing conventional values: what is generally accepted as good is held to be bad, and vice versa.
But in one important respect there is a difference between old Gnosticism and New Age. To almost all the old Gnostics, this earth and everything on it (except their inner spark of Knowledge) was evil, the creation of an evil God, so they were defying evil by doing what the ignorant masses called sinning; defiling their bodies to express scorn for the dirt they were made of . But New Age holds the earth sacred, and sensual experience is a sacrament in itself, often the supreme sacrament.
The old Gnostics, to defy the Creator God, would destroy his earth to save man – or at least themselves. The new Gnostics claim to be God, at least potentially, and would destroy man – or at least a lot of other people – to save the earth .
Being a hotch-potch of beliefs – belief in almost anything that reason rejects – New Age religion inevitably contains contradictions. For instance, while some of its authoritative theorists hold that the divine dwells within the human species (even in the “animal men”, the general theory implies) , the earth is an external and separate goddess, “Mother Earth”, identical to her whom the ancient Greeks called Gaia. She has suffered “ecological wounds” through human industrial activity (thus the specie-sin of “anthropogenic global warming”), and she needs to be “healed”.
These different attitudes to nature between the ancient and the new cults entail different attitudes to sex. To the ancient Gnostics, everything material, including the human body, was evil, so they indulged in sacramental orgies of conventionally forbidden sex in order to defy the Creator God of this world and his commandments. But New Age orgies – similarly considered to be sacraments – are performed as acts of Earth worship. They celebrate the physical, not scorn it.  Sensual pleasure is a good in itself. The performance of communal rituals – chanting, dancing, sado-masochistic sex, all-gender-inclusive sex (with male homosexuality particularly stressed by Matthew Fox ) – advances the coming into being of a new synthesized God: “I” become God; “we” become God; Man, God, and Nature become One, and the one is the universal God, the “Cosmic Christ”.
New Age writing is full of vapid declarations expressed with stirring passion rather than semantic sense. It is verbal impressionism. Matthew Fox, for instance – one of the most widely read New Age writers, blends “the Cosmic Christ” with “Mother Earth”. The Cosmic Christ is an eternal Being who became incarnate in Jesus – so far in tune with at least some long-established Christianities – but is also (if not exactly “incarnate” by the actual meaning of the word, “made flesh”), one with Mother Earth. She is crucified like Jesus; and as such she is a symbol of the incarnated Cosmic Christ, or of the Cosmic Christ as Jesus crucified; or Jesus crucified is a symbol of Mother Earth crucified:
The appropriate symbol of the Cosmic Christ who became incarnate in Jesus is that of Jesus as Mother Earth crucified yet rising daily … like Jesus, she rises from her tomb every day [so not quite like Jesus] … wounded, yet rising, Mother Earth blesses us each day. 
New Age has had an effect on conventional religious institutions. Some of the established churches, Catholic and Protestant, have picked out bits from New Age to add flavor to their own offerings  – which may indicate how weary, stale, flat and washed out they must feel their own faiths to be. As for social and political effects, New Age cults contribute cumulatively to the character of the times, but most of them have had little or no effect on major events.
There are two exceptions. One is Liberation Theology (an emulsion of two opiates of the people, Marxism and Catholicism), which has had an historical effect in South America as an ideological cause of the rise of terrorist organizations.
Marxism comes into our purview. New Age harmonizes with Marxism easily, both being collectivist ideologies. In almost all its manifestations, New Age requires group practice. Its ultimate vision is of a single shared human consciousness (rather like the imaginary alien species called the Borg in Star Trek, whose every individual is one with the “hive mind”). The Catholic writer Teilhard de Chardin had a strong influence on New Age theory. In his book The Future of Man, he foresees “the end of a ‘thinking species’; not disintegration and death, but a new breakthrough and a rebirth, this time outside Time and Space. Man would at some future time ‘form a single consciousness’.”  ). New Age goes further yet: humanity will share its communal consciousness with the Earth. 
Marxism and magic (and pacifism and feminism), came together in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), starting in Britain in 1958 and continuing through the next three decades. Most of the CND protestors did not know that their leaders received funding from the USSR; they were simply the “useful idiots” of Lenin’s famous phrase. In the early 1980s a Women’s Peace Camp was set up on Greenham Common in Berkshire to protest against NATO cruise missiles being deployed at the RAF base situated there. The women would hold up mirrors to “reflect the evil” of the weapons back over the fence.
The other exception is Environmentalism, which has entranced half the population of the First World and pesters the whole human race.
Other than these, New Age cults, though numerous, are for the most part comparatively harmless and few will be mentioned in these essays. Most New Age leaders and followers don’t think of themselves as doing evil, only redefining what good is. Homosexuality was bad until the 1960s; so to New Age devotees it was super-good. Alternative medical practices were bad; so to New Age devotees they were super-good. One of the most egregious examples of New Age success, of how it has penetrated even some institutions that by their nature should be impregnable to cults of unreason, is that practitioners of “alternative medicine” are working alongside physicians and surgeons in Western hospitals. They may do harm, but they probably do not intend to.
What these essays are concerned with is the deliberate choosing of evil. They are not about common crime, nor the immoral things everybody does from time to time. They are about evil intended as such, and the intended evil is the willful harming of human beings. The doing of it is advocated by a self-elected elite – intellectuals who claim to have a vision beyond the understanding of the rest of us – with verbal violence to scandalize the conventional. They often rationalize it with sophisticated philosophical excuses, arguing for instance that it is necessary for the attainment of a “higher good” for the whole human race, including the uncomprehending masses. The “higher good” is different now, the excuses more sophisticated, more subtle and complicated than they were for the Gnostics of old. The sins are less ingenuous, the evil more profound and more extensive. In sum, the new Gnostics are far more dangerous and destructive than the old.
Not only is evil preached, simulated in theatre or performance art, solemnly celebrated in religious or quasi-religious ceremonies, it is also done in reality. While most of its priests and shamans confine themselves to gestures and make-believe, others do it.
Jillian Becker September 5, 2013
1. The re-interpreted oriental religions are chiefly Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Hinduism, and in particular the doctrine of reincarnation. The re-interpretations were brought to the West by Indian gurus (such the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, popularized by The Beatles). Some Westerners took themselves to the East to garner its wisdoms and returned home with a new name and guru status (such as Richard Alpert, a Bostonian psychologist who journeyed to India and returned as Guru Ram Dass – see Understanding the New Age by Russell Chandler, Word Inc., Dallas, Texas, 1988, p 63).
2. Wagner’s myths – Lohengrin, Siegfried, Parsifal – were superficially Christian and his heroes Christ-like redeemers. But he dilates at length in his massive prose writings on what is wrong with Christianity and Judaism, especially Judaism and even more especially Jews. He was of the opinion that Jews could only be redeemed by annihilating themselves. The Germans, he declared, needed to be “emancipated from the Jews”; “redeemed” from them by a real-life Parsifal. He praised pre-Christian polytheism. He praised the ancient Greeks for being “intuitive” – which means he loved the savage rites of their Dionysus worship, but ignored their fertile use of reason, their invention of logic and science. Reason, he opined, was a Jewish thing. He drew mostly on Nordic legends, which he considered quintessentially German. Among the ideas he passionately promoted were these: German heroes act out of feeling, not reason, being moved by “the god within”; the only god dwells within us and within nature; there is a “world spirit”, the quintessence of Being, which is within both Man (Germans, that is) and nature; “We are God” and “to become God we need only instinctive Knowledge of the Self” – the indwelling divinity; the taking of hashish releases the feeling of being divine. As poet-priest and prophet, he looked to the coming of a German leader – a Führer – who would mount a “destructive revolution to destroy our civilization”, a civilization which he despised as weak, unheroic, built by Jews. He died before his prophesied Führer was born, but Hitler was intensely inspired by Wagner’s operas from the age of twelve, when he saw one for the first time. It was Lohengrin. And there is a portrait of Hitler as Lohengrin, not (disappointingly) mounted ludicrously on a swan as the knight is in the opera, but on a black horse, in white Medieval armor, carrying the Nazi flag, his head in profile, scowling, unmistakable with his little brushy mustache.) The echoes of Wagner’s ideas in New Age are loud and clear. To hear a full discussion of them, go to a YouTube video titled: Wagner’s Musical Religion: Art, Politics, Genocide, in which two authorities on Wagner, Margaret Brearley and Robert Wistrich, lecture on his life and works and quote his words.
3. Astrology and the signs of the zodiac feature large among New Age superstitions. The New Age is also called “The Age of Aquarius”.
4. One exception among the old Gnostics was Epiphanes. He contradicted the usual Gnostic belief that this world is evil. All creation, he taught, belongs to all mankind. In his rituals, sexual intercourse was performed publicly as a sacred rite and called a love-feast. Drugs, especially aphrodisiacs, were routinely used. When he died at the age of 17, the islanders of Cephalonia, where his mother came from, built a temple to him and proclaimed him a god. His memory was also honored there with a museum which housed the many books he had found time to write in his short life. We have been protected from them by the Christian Church; but the Church Father, Clement of Alexandria, who was allowed to read them before they were destroyed, has left us brief summaries of their contents. Clement’s account shows Epiphanes to have been full of “back to nature” idealism; a lover of animals; an aesthete moved by the beauty of the earth and the starry skies, rather than one who condemned this world as a place of darkness. God lets the light of the sun and the stars, Epiphanes said, fall equally on all human beings. Even the beasts are blessed by the light. Each man and beast takes his enjoyment of it without depleting it for any other. The sun causes the earth to be fruitful and the fruits of the earth are for all. Beasts are exemplars of communitarian life, and being so they are righteous. Together they graze, equal, harmonious, and innocent. And so would we be had not the Law made transgression possible. The Law “nibbled away” the fellowship of nature. Righteousness lies in fellowship and equality, in sharing and caring, which is to say in mutual and general love. Into every male God put vigorous and impetuous desire for the sake of the continuance of the human race. No law can take that away. It is right and good for a man to enjoy sexually every woman he desires. That a law should say ‘Thou shalt not covet’ is laughable. And the very idea of marriage is absurd since all women naturally belong to all men. (For more see Erotic religion, The Atheist Conservative, January 24 2010.)
5. The anti-human campaign among Environmentalists will be the subject of a later essay.
6. In some texts it is “within everything”.
7. “All worship leaders need to be instructed … in body awareness and awakening’.” The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance by Matthew Fox, Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1988, pp 216f – quoted in Matthew Fox and the Cosmic Christ, an essay by Margaret Brearley in Anvil, Vol. 9, No 1, 1992, p 44. I have relied on Dr Brearley’s meticulous scholarship, and with her permission taken my examples from her papers on New Age – and Matthew Fox in particular – so avoiding the punitive labor of reading more than a very few New Age texts myself. Most of the words and phrases marked as quotations come from this source.
8. “In practice Fox demands: worship in circles, ‘preferably on the soil of Mother Earth’ (Fox p 217); the centrality of Eros; and the breaking of divisions between body and mind using ‘rituals of the native peoples’. These would include sweat lodges in every church and synagogue, Sun dances with drumming, moon rituals, drinking the ‘blood of the cosmos’ and radically replacing the existing liturgical calendar. Fox seriously suggests, for example, that each Sunday could be devoted to celebrating a different organ of the body.” (Brearley, p 46]. “Fox cites the Hindu god Shiva, the creator and destroyer [as saying]: ‘The phallos is identical with me …. The phallos is … the symbol of the god’, and adds: ‘This is Cosmic Christ language …. There alone will men recover active respect and reverence for their own amazing powers’ (p 176). Fox teaches that one must ‘recover the sense of sacred phallos … by way of drumming, dancing and entering into the irrational processes … puberty rites … celebrating one’s chthonic wholeness in the company of male adults’ (p 177). ‘Love beds are altars’ (p 177) and the sense of lust should be recovered as power and therefore as virtue: ‘it takes courage to be lustful.’ (p 178) Mystical sexuality is an ‘important base for cultural renewal and personal spiritual grounding’ (p 179). … ‘[G]ay people need to lead straight people.’” (Brearley p 45)
9. Fox p 145 (Brearley p 44)
10. Although Matthew Fox writes such predictions as this: “Christianity as we know it now will not survive …. The issue is the survival … of Mother Earth” (Fox p 149) [Brearley 54], New Age doctrine has made “inroads into the Protestant and Catholic Church worldwide” and “creation liturgies inspired by creation spirituality are increasingly being used in cathedrals and churches”. (Brearley p 53)
11. Teilhard de Chardin, trs. N. Denny, The Future of Man, Collins, London 1969 p 302 (Brearley p 46).
12. Another leading New Age writer and spirit medium, David Spangler, also visualizes a “planetary spirituality” which “will be holistic, affirming interconnectedness and Gaia; it will be androgynous, mystical, global – with ‘world communion’ -, and will seek synthesis of person and planet. Above all, the New Age is a spirit, a ‘presence made up of the collective spirit of humanity, and the spirit of our world, of Gaia’.” [D. Spangler, Reflections on the Christ, Findhorn Publications, Findhorn 1981, p.84. [Brearley p 52]
L is for Leftism … M is for Marxism and Misery … R is for Religion, Radicalism, and Revolution … S is for Superstition, Socialism, and Serfdom … T is for Tyranny …
But that is not what children are being taught.
The religion of the Left has many names: Collectivism, Statism, Socialism, Communism, Progressivism, Marxism …
It is inculcated into children from their infancy, just as the various Christianities, Islamic faiths, Judaisms, Hinduisms, Buddhisms are drummed into little heads.
Where the Left is in power, the inculcation begins in kindergarten. At least in California.
No separation of church and state there. The Left will not admit that it is itself a religion.
This is from Townhall, by Kyle Olson:
Is your three-year-old preschooler chanting “union power” these days? She might, if author Innosanto Nagara has his way.
Nagara wrote A is for Activist, a book supposedly geared for the children of the “99 percent.” In other words, a new vehicle has been developed for leftists to begin indoctrinating children.
“It’s pretty awesome to hear a three-year-old saying ‘union power,’” Nagara said …
But union power and student activism aren’t the only goals. Consider these other letters and how they are applied in the book:
B is for banner, as in a protest banner hanging off a construction crane
L is for LGBTQ, as in Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered and Queer
T is for Trans, as in transgendered
Z is for Zapatistas, as in Mexican revolutionary leftists
Heady stuff for preschoolers, but the indoctrinators believe the tikes are old enough to learn the basics of revolutionary thought.
Nagara’s A is for Activist has been heralded by the likes of Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin, who said, “Many a thousand young activists bloom!”
“This is an amazing book for toddlers,” wrote Oakland teachers union activist Mary Prophet.
The Radical teachers group Rethinking Schools gave the book its hearty endorsement, offering it on its resources page.
“This beautifully illustrated alphabet reader brings a whole new vocabulary to board books,” the organizations wrote about the book. “For example, ‘Kings are fine for storytime/Knights are fun to play/But when people make decisions/we will choose the people’s way.’ As a spirited and humor-filled introduction to progressive values, A is for Activist is a book to grow on, and return to again and again for many years. It could also be used as a prompt for older students to create their own alphabet books with a conscience.”
One might ask how anyone with a conscience could even think about exposing little children to this sort of political garbage, or how any parents wouldallow it.
East Bay Express – an “alternative” Oakland news outlet – said the book is for “grooming your future activist.”
“Children’s entertainment comes with no shortage of messages: disobedient princesses learning to obey their parents; giant red dogs urging teamwork; purple dinosaurs imparting the wisdom of just being yourself,” the newspaper wrote. “But with a few exceptions, kids’ books, movies, and music highlight only a narrow range of voices and viewpoints. Most are an implicit endorsement of stratified wealth. … There’s an acute shortage of voices from queer folks and people of color. Many have outmoded gender norms.”
Who knew Barney [a purple dinosaur on a TV children’s program] was endorsing the perpetuation of “stratified wealth”? …
There is a war on for the minds of our future leaders. And judging by Nagara’s book, they’re targeting children at younger and younger ages. …
As a parent, do you know what your student is learning?
From Bare Naked Islam:
58 Hindus were killed and 43 injured when Muslims attacked the Sabarmati Express and set afire four of its coaches at Godhra railway station in Gujarat on February 27th, 2002.
Hindu children killed by Muslims with machetes
Find more pictures of such atrocities committed by Muhammad’s faithful followers in the name of Allah the Merciful here – if you can bear to look at them.
Religion is the sickness of the world. It is a destructive force, profoundly evil.
If there was an excuse for dogmatic superstition in ages past – say, as an explanation by which people tried to understand and influence the forces of nature – there is none now. Irrational belief can only be harmful.
History is hugely about the clash of religions. And in our time millions of people are experiencing an eruption of religious strife as widespread and catastrophic as any that has ever occurred, possibly the worst ever considering the numbers involved. Right now religion is the major cause of wars, massacres, and vast movements of desperate refugees.
Islam, the most belligerent of the world’s religions, is waging war fiercely on the rest of the world. Its methods are savage and cowardly. Wherever the faithful of other religions are weakest and most at their mercy, Muslims are torturing, burning, dismembering, raping, and slaughtering them.
Most of their victims (other than fellow Muslims of a different sect) are Christians. In Arab lands, Christians are being forced to flee or die.
In particular the Coptic Christians of Egypt are victims of the Muslim revolutionaries who rose demanding “freedom” for themselves, but are unwilling to grant it to the Copts.
Barry Rubin writes at PajamasMedia:
Christians in most of the Arabic-speaking world may be on the edge of flight or extinction. All of the Christians have left the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip which is, in effect, an Islamist republic. They are leaving the West Bank. Half have departed from an increasingly Islamist-oriented Iraq where they are under terrorist attack. …
In Lebanon while the Christians are holding their own there is a steady emigration. …
Egypt has more Christians than Israel’s entire population. There have been numerous attacks, with the latest in Cairo leaving 12 dead, 220 wounded, and two churches burned. …
We of this website do not mourn for the buildings, only the people. To us, every church, every mosque, every temple is a monument to intolerance, oppression, persecution, and massacre.
The Christians cannot depend on any support from Western churches or governments. Will there be a massive flight of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Christians from Egypt in the next few years? …
Very likely – but where will they go? What country will grant them asylum?
Up until now, the strength of the Muslim Brotherhood has been badly underestimated in the West. But increasingly it is also apparent that the strength of anti-Islamist forces has been overestimated.
Like most Western commentators, Professor Rubin nervously makes a distinction between Muslims and “Islamists” – by which he can only mean more actively jihadist Muslims, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
I have noted that even Amr Moussa, likely to be Egypt’s next president and a radical nationalist, has predicted an Islamist majority in parliament. That should be a huge story yet has been largely ignored.
He is not creating his own party, meaning that a President Moussa will be dependent on the Muslim Brotherhood in parliament. Rather than the radical nationalists battling the Islamists these two forces might well work together.
And who will they be working against? …
Christians certainly. Christians everywhere in the Muslim world. But not only Christians. No non-Muslim is exempt from Muslim animosity.
So what does the Western world, where the children of the Enlightenment have a civilization ordered by reason, try to do about it? How do Western leaders diagnose the problem? If they will not consider that religion itself might be the cause, what do they prescribe for a cure?
First they hold a discussion.
That could be a good start, if opinion would eventually agree on the real cause of the disease.
We confidently predict that will not happen.
At Front Page, Faith J.H.McDonnell writes:
On April 29, 2011, the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) co-sponsored a 2011 Hours Against Hate event. Hosted by George Washington University, the event was billed as a “Town Hall Discussion on U.S. efforts to combat discrimination and hatred against Jews, Muslims, and others.” Hopefully, the 100 million-plus Christians experiencing persecution around the world today, along with Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’i, etc., are included in “and others.” The IRF office should be reminded that advocates for persecuted Christians played a major role in its creation, along with the creation of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Both were mandates of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).
Though outspoken in their denouncement of hurtful language, the folks at Foggy Bottom have been silent about the massacre of hundreds of Christians in Kaduna State, and several other states in northern Nigeria that took place after Nigeria’s federal elections last month. Angry that Christian President Goodluck Jonathan defeated Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari, Islamists in the Shariah-ruled north began rioting on Monday, April 18, 2011, after preliminary results of the April 16 election were announced. Soon newspapers featured grisly photos of charred bodies lining the streets.* Hundreds of churches were burned and thousands of Christian-owned businesses destroyed, according to the Christian human rights group, Open Doors. And International Christian Concern reported that the Kaduna-based Civil Rights Congress was still “discovering more details of massacres that have been carried out in the hinterland.” Upwards of 40,000 Christians have been displaced in the past few weeks.
In its comments about the situation in Nigeria, the U.S. State Department disregarded the religious aspect of the post-election mayhem. Secretary of State Clinton’s April 19 statement on the elections (available in Arabic as well as English) “deplored violence,” but ignored the targeting of Christians. …
Although some, including U.S. State Department officials, would paint the post-election violence as purely political, the head of the advocacy group Justice for Jos, attorney Emmanuel Ogebe, refutes this claim. … [He] says that for the Islamists in northern Nigeria, “anything is used as an excuse to kill Christians — beauty pageants, lunar eclipses, school exams, political elections….” These are the sundry reasons in the last dozen years alone that have sparked violent, deadly attacks against Christians. …
Strikes on Christians took place simultaneously in rural districts of a dozen Nigerian states … Some initial attacks took place in the middle of the night, when the Christians were least able to defend themselves. And anti-Christian sentiment was inflamed in many of northern Nigeria’s mosques … Victims were made to quote the Quran, not identify for whom they had voted. …
Pastor Emmanuel Nuhu Kure … demanded, “How would you explain a spontaneous call to prayer on most of the loudspeakers of the mosques across the city at the same time, at 9 p.m. or thereabout in the night, with a shout of ‘Allah Akbar’ as Muslims began to troop towards the mosques and designated areas, to be followed at 10 p.m. with another call on loudspeakers – this time with a spontaneous shout of “Allah Akbar” from the mosques and most of the streets occupied by Muslims and the burst of gunfire sound that shook the whole city?” Kure said that these actions were repeated a few times, and then “the killings and burnings began.” And … Bishop Jonas Katung, national vice president of the North Central Zone of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, stated that the post-election attacks “were ‘a descent into barbarism’ in which northern Christians were targeted and subjected to horrendous and relentless acts.”
After performing the obligatory “deploring” of “the violence” in an April 28 press briefing, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson assured the media that “the president and the main opposition candidates both called on their supporters to not support violent activities and to work to restore peace as quickly as possible.” Yet the media has reported in the past that Buhari told his supporters “never again allow an infidel to rule over you” …
The US State Department, and the governments of the Western world generally, are propitiating Islam. That’s like treating the plague with soothing syrops. Islam is a symptom. The sickness is religion itself.
*For a picture of the lined up bodies of Christians burnt to death in Nigeria, see our post Acts of religion, November 6, 2010.
In his speech to a largely Muslim audience at a Ramadan dinner at the White House on Friday August 13, 2010 [transcript here], Obama stressed points of US law and the values that inspired them to justify his support for the building of a mosque at the site of the 9/11 attack in New York. The speech was a ringing endorsement of religious tolerance. These are some of the statements he made:
Thomas Jefferson wrote that “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.” The First Amendment of our Constitution established the freedom of religion as the law of the land.
Indeed, over the course of our history, religion has flourished within our borders precisely because Americans have had the right to worship as they choose – including the right to believe in no religion at all. And it is a testament to the wisdom of our Founders that America remains deeply religious – a nation where the ability of peoples of different faiths to coexist peacefully and with mutual respect for one another stands in contrast to the religious conflict that persists around the globe.
As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.
This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.
He implied that Islam shares the American value of tolerance, custom of “diversity”, and principle of mutual respect:
Tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity.
We can only achieve “liberty and justice for all” if we live by that one rule at the heart of every religion, including Islam—that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
That’s the so-called “Golden Rule”, holy writ for Jews and Christians. It’s also a sound principle for all civilized people to revere – and perhaps even to try and live by. But we doubt that you could find it stated or suggested in the Koran or any authoritative source of Islamic belief.
Obama, however, is not alone in alleging that the laws and values of America are compatible with the sharia law of Islam. One Muslim who supports his view, at least to some degree, is Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is planning to build the mosque at Ground Zero.
In his book What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right With America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West, Chapter 3, America: A Sharia-Compliant State, Rauf writes:
What I am demonstrating is that the American political structure is Shariah compliant.
The principles of the Declaration and Constitution are consistent with divine ordinance, the particular method of government and a particular scheme of sociopolitical cooperation that follow from it are thereby invested with divine sovereignty and command an authority that comes from God.
But the claim is exposed as fiction by Dr Jal Maharaj. He has devised a questionnaire for Muslims seeking U.S. Citizenship, which illustrates the essential difference between American law and sharia. He lists the contradictions, and at the end of each item asks the imaginary Muslim applicant, “Do you repudiate this verse in the Qur’an [which contradicts US law]?”
Here is an abridged version of his document:
1. The Constitution of the United States requires equal legal rights for men and women. [Sharia does not.]
Qur’an, Surah 2: 282 says, in part: “call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses…” This is the basis for Shariah law which holds that in all cases of law the testimony of two women is necessary to equal that of one man.
2. US Law does not tolerate wife beating and regards it as a crime [while sharia orders it].
Qur’an, Surah 4: 34 says: “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded. But as to those women on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them …”
(3) Cruel and unusual punishment is illegal by provisions of the US Constitution.
This includes such retribution as physical mutilation and injury to the body.
Quran, Surah 5: 38 “As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. … ”
Surah 5: 33 “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land:”
(4) The age of marriage varies by state, but in all cases requires that a wife should be of child bearing age, that is, she should be post-pubescent, generally 15 or 16 years of age minimum, 17 or 18 in other jurisdictions.
Qur’an, Surah 65: 4 “As for your women who have despaired of further menstruating, if you are in doubt, then their waiting period is three months as well as those who have not yet menstruated. As for those who are pregnant, their term shall be the time they deliver their burden. Allah will ease (matters) by His order for whosoever fears Him.”
As a Muslim scholar named Maududi has said in his official [and incomprehensible! – JB] interpretation of this verse:
“Therefore, making mention of the waiting-period for girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl at this age but it is permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Qur’an has held as permissible.”
(5) The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution explicitly outlaws slavery in all forms, male or female.
Qur’an, Surah 4: 92 “And it does not behoove a believer to kill a believer except by mistake, and whoever kills a believer by mistake, he should free a believing slave, and blood-money should be paid, but he who cannot find a slave should fast for two months successively.” As scholars have pointed out, this verse assumes that Muslims will own slaves, or a significant number will, as did Muhammad, who owned slaves and bought and sold them. This is just one verse out of dozens that approve the institution of slavery and present in as an eternal condition of humanity.
(6) Hate speech is objectionable in American culture, and federal law regards such language as legally actionable, deserving punishment.
Qur’an, Surah 5: 60 – 65, says in part, speaking specifically of Jews as verse 59 makes clear, “Those whom God has cursed and with whom He has been angry, he has transformed them into apes and pigs, and those who serve the devil”
This is the source of Muslim demonstrators’ signs and chants that Jews are apes and pigs — the Qur’an itself. There are still other passages in Muhammad’s book which also are anti-Semitic — as the term is generally used in America to refer to anti-Jewish bigotry.
(7) War or any acts of physical violence, or threat of violence, with the intention of forcing people to convert to a religion is utterly abhorrent to American law and is explicitly outlawed by the First Amendment.
Qur’an, Surah 8: 12 “Thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Muslims, I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Smite them on their necks and cut all their fingers off.”
This is one of 164 jihad verses in Muhammad’s book. Of this number approximately 100 are commandments to able-bodied Muslim men to physically fight against non-believers.
There is no reasonable doubt that the meaning of the 100 jihad verses in question all promote violence against people of other faiths. The main objective is conversion but also important is terrorizing others so that they fear the wrath of Muslims.
(8) The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion to all US citizens. No-one may prohibit someone from changing religion, or ceasing to belong to a religion. No-one may prohibit someone, in any appropriate setting, from seeking to convince someone else of the rightness of his or her faith and seeking to win converts. No believers of any faith are exempt from this provision of the First Amendment.
Qur’an, Surah 4:88-89 “Then what is the matter with you that you are divided into two parties about the hypocrites? Allah has cast them back (to disbelief )… Do you want to guide him whom Allah has made go astray?… They wish that you reject (Islam), and thus that you all become equal (like any other faith). So, take not… (friends) from them, till they emigrate in the way of Allah (to Muhammad). But if they turn away (from Islam), take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them.” One of several verses which deal with what Muslims characterize as apostasy. The penalty for what Americans insist is a God-given right, to free choice in religion, is death in an Islamic context.
(9) In America, free speech is sacrosanct and, while a people have the right to object to criticisms of their beliefs, and while others must obey libel or slander laws, everyone who so desires is free to make any criticisms of religion he or she wishes to make.
Qur’an, Surah 4: 140 “Allah will collect the hypocrites and those who defy faith – and put them in Hell.” This is one verse which is foundational to Shariah law penalizing all forms of what Muslims characterize as “blasphemy.” Depending on the “offense” and what country such law is enforced in, the punishment may be anything from jail time or banishment, to death.
What qualifies as blasphemy? A few examples–criticizing Islam making jokes about Muhammad or the Qur’an criticizing the Qur’an, … criticizing Muhammad, especially perceived insults of Muhammad criticizing such Muslim practices as saying prayers 5 times a day, … reporting objective facts that embarrass Muslims, such as the fact that Muhammad married Aisha, a girl of 6 and consummated the “marriage” when she was 9, creating an image of Muhammad or portraying him with an actor in a movie or stage play …
(10) The First Amendment guarantees freedom to worship any deity of your choice. Or freedom to be an Agnostic or Atheist. You may worship 100 Gods or Goddesses, or just one, or none at all. All US citizens accept this principle but are free to express their opinions if they think someone else’s beliefs are wrong.
Qur’an 4: 116 “Verily Allah does not forgive setting up partners in worship with Him. But He forgives whom he pleases, sins other than that.” To be devoted to a Goddess, in other words, is, in Islam, the unforgivable sin. Also extremely serious is 2: 28, “How do you disbelieve in Allah, seeing that you were dead and he gave you life! Then he will cause you to die…”
In other words, Goddess worship [as in Hinduism] deserves death according to Islam, and Atheists also deserve death.
Dr Maharaj adds:
There are numerous other morally reprehensible passages in the Qur’an, all of which contravene American law and the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.
And declares that in his opinion:
Islam should be recognized for what it is, a subversive and criminal religion that functions in outright defiance of American law and which is based on principles which are totally incompatible with the US Constitution.
Quod erat demonstrandum.
Easter in our day disguises with its bunnies, prancing lambs, and chocolate eggs, an ancient savage ritual of religious superstition, when the fertility gods were propitiated by the sacrificial spilling of blood, so that the earth would yield crops to sustain human life. The living beings sacrificed were variously animals, children, priests who represented divinities in human form. The Christian idea of a god-man sacrifice in the Easter season is far from unique.
In 1875, Kersey Graves, a teacher and farmer born of a Pennsylvanian Quaker family, published a book titled The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors. He rejected Christianity but did not become an atheist. The book is not a scholarly work, but a literary curiosity.
Among his “sixteen crucified saviors”, the one whose legend bears most resemblance to that of Jesus Christ is Krishna – which he chooses to spell “Chrishna” in order to make it look more like “Christ”. He lists hundreds of similarities between the stories of Chrishna and Christ, among them these:
- Each is miraculously born of a virgin (Mary, Maia)
- Both have an adopted earthly father, in each case a carpenter
- Each new-born child is visited by shepherds and wise men, directed by a star
- In each story a tyrant orders all first-born sons to be put to death (Herod, Cansa)
- In each story mother, child, and adopted father escape by fleeing out of the tyrant’s reach
- Both in early youth dispute with learned men and win the argument
- Both when grown retire to a wilderness
- Both are baptized in a river
- They preach similar sermons about love, forgiveness, and humility
- Each has a favorite among his followers (John, Arjoon)
- Each heals a leper and many others
- Both cast out devils
- Both bring the dead back to life
- Each performs miracles including enabling his disciples to net a harvest of fish
- Both denounce wealth
- Both have a “last supper”
- Both are put to death by crucifixion as an atoning sacrifice (nailed to a cross, nailed to a tree)
- Both are crucified between two thieves
- In both legends the earth is darkened when they “die”
- Both resurrect and ascend to heaven
- Each is the cult figure of a new religion and declared to be a savior of mankind
- Both are believed by their followers to be God incarnate
One of the amusing parts of the book, and suitable for today – this being “Good Friday” – is his chapter on The Atonement, in which he writes:
No innocent person has a right to suffer for the guilty, and the courts have no right to accept the offer or admit the substitute. An illustration will show this. If Jefferson Davis had been convicted of the crime of treason, and sentenced to be hung, and Abraham Lincoln had come forward and offered to be stretched upon the gallows in his place, is there a court in the civilized world which would have accepted the substitute, hung Lincoln and liberated Davis? To ask the question is but to answer it. It is an insult to reason, law and justice to entertain this proposition.
In addition – we say – to its being a really nasty thing to do: to make others feel guilty by inflicting agonizing punishment on yourself when it is they whom you accuse of doing wrong.
Kersey Graves goes on:
The doctrine of the atonement also involves the infinite absurdity of God punishing himself to appease his own wrath. For if “the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ bodily” (as taught in Col.ii.9), then his death was the death of God – that is, a divine suicide, prompted and committed by a feeling of anger and revenge, which terminated the life of the Infinite Ruler – a doctrine utterly devoid of reason, science or sense. We are sometimes told man owes a debt to his Maker, and the atonement pays that debt. To be sure! And to whom is the debt owing, and who pays it? Why, the debt is owing to God, and God (in the person of Jesus Christ) pays it – pays it to himself. We will illustrate. A man approaches his neighbor, and says, “Sir, I owe you a thousand dollars, but can never pay it.” “Very well, it makes no difference,” replies the claimant, “I will pay it myself”; and forthwith thrusts his hand into his right pocket and extracts the money, transfers it to his left pocket and exclaims – “There, the debt is paid!” A curious way of paying debts, and one utterly devoid of sense. And yet the orthodox world have adopted it for their God. We find, however, that they carefully avoid practicing this principle themselves in their dealings with each other. …
But we find, upon further investigation, that the assumed debt is not paid – after all.
When a debt is paid, it is canceled, and dismissed from memory, and nothing more said about it. But in this case the sinner is told he must still suffer the penalty for every sin he commits, notwithstanding Christ died to atone for and cancel that sin.
Where then is the virtue of the atonement? Like other doctrines of the orthodox creed, it is at war with reason and common sense, and every principle of sound morality, and will be marked by coming ages as a relic of barbarism.
We hope so. But let’s keep on with the chocolate.