To most people “Quaker terrorists” may seem a contradiction in terms. So we must explain.
To excuse or defend terrorism is to encourage it; to encourage it is to co-author it.
And what is terrorism? It is not an ideology. It is a method, a tactic. It is the systematic use of violence to create public fear. By the targeting of the innocent the fear is spread. Everyone in a certain place, or of a certain race or calling, or in a certain position, must be given reason by the terrorist to fear that he or she, or his or her spouse or child or parent, can be blown into pieces, or be knifed or beaten or shot to death, by complete strangers at any moment. Terrorism is morally indefensible. Arguably the most morally indefensible form of violence that can be imagined. Nothing can justify it. No cause. Nothing.
For centuries the Quakers were a widely respected sect. They were pacifists on moral grounds. Pacifism was one of their founding religious principles. Their name was synonymous with non-violence. In wars, they would serve their country as doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, stretcher-bearers … They eschewed violence even in self-defense. As a sect, they lived up to their principles. That was what they were respected for.
(For the record – in our view a pacifist upholding his principle of non-violence when the aggressors are Nazis or Communists say, while others risk their lives to save him from them, is not admirable. But our task here is to explain the Quaker view, which many hold in high esteem: that it’s wrong to use violence at all. Ever.)
But now the Quakers are terrorists. They are terrorists in that they excuse, defend, and actively encourage terrorism.
Here is the story of how the change, the reversal of their values, came about. We have taken it from the The Tower, condensing the full account given by Asaf Romirowsky and Alexander H. Joffe:
The Quakers — thus named because they tremble or “quake” before God — [is] a Protestant sect founded in England during the mid-17th century. … As part of their beliefs, Quakers oppose violence in all its forms and reject any compulsion in religion. …
The Quakers are also called The Friends. So unthreatening. So simple. So trustworthy. So good.
On April 30, 1917, the Quakers formed The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) “in response to America’s entrance into World War I”.
Challenged by public hostility and government disapproval due to their refusal to be drafted, the Quakers formed the AFSC in order to organize alternative forms of service for its members, such as providing medical aid and other non-violent participation in the war effort.
The AFSC slowly expanded over the years, and by the late 1940s it was an established Christian organization with global experience, recognized by national and international establishments as a major provider of international relief, charity, and aid. …
The dawn of the Cold War, however, proved a turning point in the history of the organization. In April 1947 …
Just thirty years after its founding …
… a faction within the AFSC’s leadership convened a meeting at which the head of the organization, Clarence Pickett, and others argued that tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union had become so intense, and the threat of atomic war so grave, that the AFSC should abandon its long-standing tradition of political neutrality.
The argument was absurd. How by taking one side against the other would they be lessening the tension and preventing atomic war?
It is true that one side of the Cold War was working through agents of influence to get the other side disarmed by public opinion. It paid its agents to organize “Peace” movements. Not because it was for peace, though it pretended to be. Far from being peaceful, it was arming, aiding and abetting proxy wars of “liberation” on five continents. That lying, hypocritical, relentlessly belligerent side was the Soviet Union. And that is the side the AFSC took.
Can there be much doubt that Clarence Pickett, whether personally paid or not, was one of its agents?
Such a stance [of neutrality], Pickett said, could no longer be an article of faith but a crime. The radical nature of this stance was reflected in the words of another participant, who said, “Evolution is too slow. We need revolution in the Society of Friends.”
Hear in that the vocabulary, the phraseology of Marxism.
The organization, Pickett and his supporters felt, should actively spearhead a peace movement that would directly challenge America’s Cold War policies.
Not for a moment did they apparently consider that the American Cold War policies were a direct challenge to the Soviet Union’s hot war ambitions.
This began the AFSC’s transformation from a religious group to, as one Quaker scholar later put it, “just one more pressure group within the secular political community”.
Or in other words, it changed not only from a pacifist to a revolutionary movement, it also changed, effectively, from a Christian sect into a Communist sect.
The AFSC’s newly radical stance took aim at American policies throughout the 1950s and paid little or no heed to repression and terror in Communist countries. This hit its stride during the Vietnam War. The organization bitterly and actively opposed the war throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Its attacks on American policy in Vietnam were furious and wide-ranging, opposing everything from the escalation of military operations to all forms of aid to South Vietnam to the conduct of the war itself. In addition, the AFSC directly violated American embargoes and sent medical aid directly to North Vietnam. These actions proved to be extremely controversial. In one case, the AFSC was accused of revealing to the North Vietnamese that a prominent Buddhist activist was a CIA agent, prompting one prominent Quaker to hold a sit-in at AFSC headquarters in protest.
So some individual Quakers – many, according to the authors – were still true to their founding principles, or perhaps were American patriots.
The AFSC’s activism placed it unquestionably on the side of the American far-Left, where it remains to this day.
The Quakers’ [erstwhile] beliefs in nonviolence have not prevented them from supporting bloody despotic regimes. …
And the hypocrisy was – and remains – blatant:
While still voicing support for pacifism, the organization increasingly aligned itself with violent Left-wing governments and movements, some of which used terrorism to advance their goals.
Many rank-and-file Quakers were appalled at the AFSC’s overt support for such regimes and movements, as well as its double standards … But their protests proved fruitless. The AFSC rejected all criticism as fundamentally illegitimate “red-baiting and McCarthyism”.
“Red-baiting”. Again, the vocabulary of the Communists. Or rather of the Comintern – the Soviets’ ideological club for foreign fans of its appalling system.
… The AFSC’s policy towards Iran is [to demand] the removal of sanctions and [dismiss] concerns about Iranian nuclear weapons.
It is openly, shamelessly supportive of the most terrible regime on earth:
Today the group operates collective farms in North Korea …
And is intimately supportive of at least one of the most savage terrorist groups on earth – Hamas.
Romirowsky and Joffe trace the history of the Quakers relationship to the “Holy Land”, the Palestinians, and Zionism, giving them credit for aiding the refugees more rationally than most other organizations working among them. But …
… after the 1967 Six Day War, the AFSC began to take a more explicit and fervent pro-Palestinian stance, applying its growing radicalism and willingness to accommodate the use of violence to the Middle East conflict.
As the 1970s saw the rise of Palestinian terrorism as a major source of global violence, the AFSC began to take a disturbingly understanding approach to the issue. A 1972 AFSC pamphlet, Nonviolence: Not First For Export told its readers:
… before we deplore terrorism it is essential for us to recognize fully and clearly whose “terrorism” came first, so that we can assess what is cause and what is effect.
It was clear enough that, in regard to Israel the AFSC had no doubts about whose “terrorism” came first. The pamphlet expressed, for example, deep understanding toward the Palestinian Fedayeen — “those who sacrifice themselves” — terrorists whose main purpose was to infiltrate Israel and kill civilians. …
In 1973, the AFSC called for a U.S. embargo on arms and other aid to Israel, and in 1975 adopted “a formal decision to make the Middle East its major issue.” It quickly opened an office in Israel, installed specialized staff members at regional offices in the U.S., and began advocating for the Palestinians in Israeli and international courts. Israeli officials quickly discovered, however, that the new AFSC representative in Jerusalem was attempting to organize on behalf of the PLO. …
The AFSC has moved ever closer to the Palestinian cause since the 1970s. Today, this is expressed through fieldwork, lobbying, and activism, in particular through the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement [against Israel] …
In regard to Hamas’ indiscriminate use of rockets against Israeli civilians, the AFSC simply notes that “it is important to look at the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups in context”, since this is “intertwined” with “ongoing Israeli military actions in Gaza”. …
Military actions which are rare, targeted, and defensive only. While the rockets are constant, indiscriminate, and aggressive.
The authors suggest that the Quaker movement now clings to its anti-Zionism as a cause to keep it alive.
It may be that a movement like the Quakers, which has seen its numbers dwindle along with other liberal Protestant denominations, sees anti-Zionism as a last resort; a movement with powerful emotional appeal on which it can draw in order to maximize its power. If so, then it has undone a great deal of the good it once did, and substituted hypocrisy and bad faith instead.
Once a byword for humanitarianism … it has now become, in effect, a brand — one on which the AFSC can trade as it exploits the putative neutrality and pacifism it stands for in order to advance hostility toward Israel and, with its promotion of the “right of return”, an end to Israel itself.
In the end, the AFSC’s story reflects the tensions between pacifism and politics, between aid work and political activism … It demonstrates that small religious movements are susceptible to hijacking by radicals, and suggests that pacifism may inevitably engender its opposite. The organization’s slide has been a long one, and at the moment it shows no sign of or interest in reversing it.
Why do believers ache to argue with atheists? Why does it bother them that others do not believe what they believe? Especially if they have radio shows and can propound their beliefs to their hearts’ content.
Although Dennis Prager is religious (an observing Jew), there was a time when we considered him intelligent – which is a way of saying, he agreed by and large with our political views. Not so lately. And today he has produced an article which has us laughing aloud.
He calls it a response to Richard Dawkins, to statements the scientist made in an interview with CNN. He also intends to make a general answer to atheism. His theme is that “God” is necessary to humankind, because without belief in such a being we would not know good from bad.
We greatly respect Richard Dawkins as a proponent of atheism who is listened to by millions. He has probably convinced many believers that they were wrong. We enormously enjoy his highly readable books on evolution. We do, however, have our reservations about him. We disagree with his ill-thought-out political views – fuzzy leftist notions. We excuse these to some extent on the grounds that he is concentrating on science and so hasn’t bothered to inform himself adequately about political issues. Whether that’s true or not, of course we don’t know. We also think he is under-informed on the religions he has written about. But that doesn’t much matter. (We review his book The God Delusion here.)
Prager complains that Dawkins will not debate with him. Since what follows is Prager’s argument, we can see why. Prager makes no good case to answer. But we will comment on what he says to show what’s wrong with it.
This past Friday CNN conducted an interview with Richard Dawkins, the British biologist most widely known for his polemics against religion and on behalf of atheism.
Asked “whether an absence of religion would leave us without a moral compass,” Dawkins responded: “The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.”
This is the crux of the issue for Dawkins and other anti-religion activists – that not only do we not need religion or God for morality, but we would have a considerably more moral world without them.
This argument is so wrong – both rationally and empirically – that its appeal can only be explained by a) a desire to believe it and b) an ignorance of history.
That’s when we started laughing. Prager the believer, accusing atheists of believing what they do or do not only because they want to believe it!
But on we go:
First, the rational argument.
If there is no God, the labels “good” and “evil” are merely opinions. They are substitutes for “I like it” and “I don’t like it.” They are not objective realities.
That’s the rational argument? It implies that at some point in history – or perhaps at many points – a god has issued definitions of good and evil. Or launched them as forces among us, so they are “objective realities” outside of the human mind.
The religious claim that Jehovah dictated laws, in words, to Moses; that God the Father, through Jesus, gave instructions on moral behavior; that Allah told Muhammad through the Archangel Gabriel all that has been recorded as his will and law in the Koran. What sane adult can believe that such events actually happened? The plain fact must be that, since we have the written laws of Judaism, the records of Jesus Christ’s sayings, and the Koran, at some points in time human beings formulated those statements of morals and law, and wrote them down. To believe otherwise is laughable.
Laws against murder, theft, the breaking of oaths, adultery, defaulting on contract were common around the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor long before the period of Moses. The Hammurabi Code predated the Hebrews’ putative law-giver by at least five hundred years, and while it chiefly deals with punishments for crimes and how disputes should be settled, it assumes the existence of laws on the same moral principles as underlie the laws of Moses. And they were not issued as the commandments of a god. Not to know that is ignorance of history.
Every atheist philosopher I have debated has acknowledged this. For example, at Oxford University I debated Professor Jonathan Glover, the British philosopher and ethicist, who said: “Dennis started by saying that I hadn’t denied his central contention that if there isn’t a God, there is only subjective morality. And that’s absolutely true.”
The ethicist should get out more. If he hasn’t yet become aware of the power of social conventions, cultural pressures, public opinion – all in addition to enlightened self-interest, which very much needs to take account of how other people react to one’s self-will – he has spent too much time closeted in his ivory tower.
And the eminent Princeton philosopher Richard Rorty admitted that for secular liberals such as himself, “there is no answer to the question, ‘Why not be cruel?‘”
Because you may be punched on the nose, Richard. And if someone is cruel to you, you may understand why cruelty is so widely abhorred as to be kept in most societies as punishment for crime or treatment for enemies.
And why do eminent philosophers choose to forget the moral philosophies that owe nothing to religion? The Stoics. The Epicureans. True, some of them were religious, but few were adherents of a moral religion, and their ethics were not ascribed to a revelation from a god. The religion of ancient Greece was not a moral religion. Nor was that of Rome until the 4th century. Marcus Aurelius (121-180 C.E.) was not a Christian. He was a Stoic. Yet Christians admire him as a good man and a good emperor.
Hear Prager again:
Atheists like Dawkins who refuse to acknowledge that without God there are only opinions about good and evil are not being intellectually honest.
None of this means that only believers in God can be good or that atheists cannot be good. There are bad believers and there are good atheists. But this fact is irrelevant to whether good and evil are real.
To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, “Do not murder,” murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies.
The Afrikaner nationalists who imposed apartheid on South Africa, justified themselves with reference to their bible. “The sons of Ham must be the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.” They were most of them devout members of one or another of the Calvinist churches.
The Germans who carried out the will of the Hitlerian regime were almost to a man and woman raised in the faith of either Protestant or Catholic Christianity.
The slave traders and slave owners of Europe and America were Christians. The present slave traders and owners in North Africa and Asia are almost all Muslims, as are honor killers everywhere.
So, then, without God, why is murder wrong?
Is it, as Dawkins argues, because reason says so?
My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins’s reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church’s teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. They reasoned that killing innocent people was acceptable and normal because the strong should do whatever they wanted.
Just as Islamic terrorists do now, shouting “Allahu Akbar!”
And those old tribes were not without their gods. Most gods in those bad old days required human sacrifices.
In addition, reason alone without God is pretty weak in leading to moral behavior. When self-interest and reason collide, reason usually loses. That’s why we have the word “rationalize” — to use reason to argue for what is wrong.
What would reason argue to a non-Jew asked by Jews to hide them when the penalty for hiding a Jew was death? It would argue not to hide those Jews.
In that regard, let’s go to the empirical argument.
Years ago, I interviewed Pearl and Sam Oliner, two professors of sociology at California State University at Humboldt and the authors of one of the most highly-regarded works on altruism, The Altruistic Personality. The book was the product of the Oliners’ lifetime of study of non-Jewish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust.
The Oliners, it should be noted, are secular, not religious, Jews; they had no religious agenda.
I asked Samuel Oliner, “Knowing all you now know about who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, if you had to return as a Jew to Poland and you could knock on the door of only one person in the hope that they would rescue you, would you knock on the door of a Polish lawyer, a Polish doctor, a Polish artist or a Polish priest?”
Without hesitation, he said, “a Polish priest.” And his wife immediately added, “I would prefer a Polish nun.”
That alone should be enough to negate the pernicious nonsense that God is not only unnecessary for a moral world, but is detrimental to one.
At this point one might smile, for the irony of it – but it is no joke. Yes, among the Poles who sheltered Jews during the Nazi occupation there were priests and nuns. But has Prager forgotten that for 2ooo years Christianity has been persecuting Jews? That Poland was a land of pogroms? Does he imagine that priests and monks took no part in them? Is this just forgetfulness or – yet again – ignorance of history?
And what of the Papal and Spanish Inquisitions? Has he forgotten that in exactly the same way “God” tells men anything, he told the Inquisitors that burning people at the stake was good?
But if that isn’t enough, how about the record of the godless 20th century, the cruelest, bloodiest, most murderous century on record? [?] Every genocide of the last century — except for the Turkish mass murder of the Armenians and the Pakistani mass murder of Hindus in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was committed by a secular anti-Jewish and anti-Christian regime. And as the two exceptions were Muslim, they are not relevant to my argument. I am arguing for the God and Bible of Judeo-Christian religions.
Only now he tells us that he discounts Islam. Though why he believes the words of Allah are necessarily less true than the words of Jehovah or Jesus he does not say. Nor does he seem aware that much of the moral law putatively taught by Jehovah was discounted or even contradicted by the Christians’ triune God.
And we repeat: the Third Reich was not anti-Christian. And Hitler himself was raised a Catholic. As for Stalin, he was thoroughly instructed in the morality of Christianity when he attended a Russian Orthodox seminary.
Perhaps the most powerful proof of the moral decay that follows the death of God is the Western university and its secular intellectuals. Their moral record has been loathsome. Nowhere were Stalin and Mao as venerated as they were at the most anti-religious and secular institutions in Western society, the universities. Nowhere in the West today is anti-Americanism and Israel-hatred as widespread as it is at universities. And Princeton University awarded its first tenured professorship in bioethics to Peter Singer, an atheist who has argued, among other things, that that “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog or a chimpanzee” and that bestiality is not immoral.
At last we can agree with Prager! Western universities have become moral cesspools. Not because they are secular, but because they teach socialism, collectivism, egalitarianism, political correctness, environmentalism; and because they deliberately misapply the principle of diversity to race and gender and not to ideas.
Dawkins and his supporters have a right to their atheism. They do not have a right to intellectual dishonesty about atheism.
No charge of intellectual dishonesty has been proved against Dawkins with these shallow arguments.
I have debated the best known atheists, including the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss (“A Universe from Nothing”) and Daniel Dennett. Only Richard Dawkins has refused to come on my radio show.
If four smart atheists were unable to reason you out of your irrational beliefs, Dennis, why should another have a go? We don’t expect that you would be persuaded by our arguments even if you read them, which you probably will not. But we want to share our amusement with fellow non-believers.
In a Townhall article today, David Stokes comments on a Time magazine cover story titled “The Child Free Life: When Having It All Means Not Having Children.” The theme is interesting to us – the scarcity of children in most of the First World, particularly in Europe.
The author recalls a speech President Theodore Roosevelt gave in France:
Finally, even more important than ability to work, even more important than ability to fight at need, is it to remember that chief of blessings for any nations is that it shall leave its seed to inherit the land. It was the crown of blessings in Biblical times and it is the crown of blessings now. The greatest of all curses is the curse of sterility, and the severest of all condemnations should be that visited upon willful sterility. The first essential in any civilization is that the man and women shall be father and mother of healthy children so that the [human] race shall increase and not decrease. If that is not so, if through no fault of the society there is failure to increase, it is a great misfortune. If the failure is due to the deliberate and willful fault, then it is not merely a misfortune, it is one of those crimes of ease and self-indulgence, of shrinking from pain and effort and risk, which in the long run Nature punishes more heavily than any other. If we of the great republics, if we, the free people who claim to have emancipated ourselves from the thralldom of wrong and error, bring down on our heads the curse that comes upon the willfully barren, then it will be an idle waste of breath to prattle of our achievements, to boast of all that we have done.
That’s right. Theodore Roosevelt told the French that they needed to keep having babies.
At the time of Roosevelt’s speech, France was a major world power. Today—not so much.
And he ascribes a reason for the numerical decline of the French nation:
There is enough blame for such decline in global influence to go around, but the increased secularism of Europe, with its penchant for socialized everything, has certainly played a role.
By “secularism” David Stokes clearly means the increasing absence of religious belief in states that have long – if not always – been secular. It is the absence or fading of religious belief that he blames (at least in part) for the dying out of Western nations.
Now more than 100 years later, there is an even greater threat to their cherished way of life. If only the French today would rediscover Teddy’s advice and reverse the birthrate trend—they might have a fighting chance. But such is the mindset of secularism, it is all about self and “fulfillment.” Issues of family, not to mention progeny are secondary, if thought about at all. Marriage is deferred—even eschewed. Children are planned—or better, planned around. And over time the birth rate in Europe has fallen far short of what is needed to keep up with the various demands of the future. In other words, the nations are aging. There are fewer children, yet more grandparents—a trend that will continue and accelerate.
All he says about the trend is true, but is he right about the cause?
He goes on, factually correct:
It takes a fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman to keep a nation’s population stable. The United States is drifting away from that. Canada has a rate of 1.48 and Europe as a whole weighs in at 1.38. What this means is that the money will run out, with not enough wage-earners at the bottom to support an older generation’s “entitlements.”
But even beyond that, the situation in France also reminds us of the opportunistic threat of Islamism. It is just a matter of time before critical mass is reached and formerly great bastions of democratic republicanism morph into caliphates. In the United Kingdom the Muslim population is growing 10 times faster than the rest of society. In fact, all across Western Europe it’s the same. The cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam are on track to have Muslim majority populations in a decade or two. A T-shirt that can be seen on occasion in Stockholm reads: “2030—Then We Take Over.”
And he concludes:
A few years ago, Britain’s chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, decried Europe’s falling birthrate, blaming it on “a culture of consumerism and instant gratification”.
“Europe is dying,” he said, “we are undergoing the moral equivalent of climate change and no one is talking about it.”
The Rabbi was right, and so was Teddy.
Was the Rabbi right?
Why are the indigenous peoples of Europe and other parts of the First World dying out?
Why are the Europeans willing to let the Muslims take over their countries?
Is it because of socialism?
On the one hand it can be argued that socialism discourages you from having children because the state – you believe - will look after you in your old age. It will care for you if you fall ill. It will make it easy for you to house and feed yourself because, if you don’t want to work, it will give you money. No need for more wage-earners in the family.
And there is a strong streak of anti-human life in the ideology of the far left. Among environmentalists in particular. They say that there are too many people on the planet - and angrily deny that the numbers are declining. Some even want there to be no people on the earth at all. They maintain that the absence of human beings would be better for shrimps and reptiles.
On the other hand, the socialist welfare state pays people to have children. In America, for instance, millions of women can have children without having a husband or wage-earner to help keep them because with every baby they get more money from the state. And the state also pays for the children’s education.
But then again, socialist economics don’t work. Sooner or later socialism brings an economy to disaster. Is it anticipation of dire poverty that keeps people from breeding? About half the voters in most western countries regularly vote for socialism, so that can’t be a compelling reason.
All this considered, the argument that socialism is to blame for the suicide of the West is not convincing. It may account for an eventual death by inanition, but not for the slow suicide.
Is it because of “consumerism”?
Perhaps. But what proof is there? Do anecdotes about individuals and couples saying they prefer to use their money for a high standard of living – cars, travel and so on – rather than on raising children, prove the case? Not unless they reflect the decisions of a majority, and who has collected and counted them?
By “consumerism” (the preferred term now for what they used to call “materialism” or “conspicuous consumption”) its critics mean comfortable living, good cars, travel and so on. In other words, they ascribe the fall in the birth-rate to prosperity.
Did prosperous people in past times not have children, or choose to have only a few? Not as far as we know. In Victorian times most families, rich as well as poor, were large. And since those who owned much had much to pass on and keep in the family, wealth may have positively stimulated reproduction.
But of course in the days when wealthy families were large, parents had servants to look after their children. Most people now, even if they can afford live-in servants, do not have them. So perhaps it’s not so much the desire for more luxurious living but the desire not to be “tied down” by children. Having to stay in with them at night. Not being able to go on holiday when you choose because of their school schedule. Not being able easily to part from their other parent when you’re sick of him or her.
Implied by the word “consumerism” is another word: “capitalism”. Though not all who condemn consumerism may be aware that the one word is haunted by the other. As David Stokes’s column appears at Townhall, we may reasonably assume that he’s a conservative. American conservatives are not consciously against capitalism; they are against socialism, as we are. But too many of them are religious. Too many of them are Christians. It is Christian puritanism that inspires the strange prejudice - if not against prosperity as such, against the signs of it: high living standards, costly cars, expensive travel and so on. Only in theory, we observe. We confidently expect that most religious critics of “consumerism” have – or aspire to have – a high standard of living for themselves, own costly cars, and jet to their summer vacation on a cruise-ship or a multi-starred hotel. They are seldom in fact less materialistic or less self-indulgent than the “secularists” they scorn. And they are not against having children. The American fertility-rate – which is the measure of population stability, or increase, or decrease – has until very recently been stable while Europe’s declined.
But what of religion? Is its absence the cause we are looking for?
Is it because of “secularism”?
By “secularism” David Stokes clearly means the fading of religious belief in states that have long – if not always – been secular. And it is the absence or fading of religious belief that he blames for the dying out of Western nations.
Such is the mindset of secularism, it is all about self and “fulfillment.”
Is there no self-fulfillment in having children? Don’t many feel that having a child is more self-fulfilling than anything else?
It does seem to be the case that fewer people are religious, or most people are less religious in Europe now. How did religion formerly keep the birth-rate up?
The mainly Catholic countries used to have bigger families because birth control was forbidden by their Church. So perhaps now that the Roman Church has lost much of its power, more Catholics use contraception. But that explanation doesn’t affect the traditionally Protestant countries of northern Europe, and there too the indigenous populations are shrinking. (And one thing Christians who bemoan the dearth of children seem to forget is that St Paul recommended celibacy. Marry if you must, he taught, but it is better to remain unmarried and chaste like him and Jesus Christ. Not a formula for re-populating Europe.)
The bible states that Jehovah enjoins the Jews to be fruitful, to multiply. And Israel is one of the few Western countries where the population is increasing – although Israel is a secular state. Perhaps the old religious injunction continues to have a subliminal effect.
So if socialism is not the reason why the people of the West are ever more unwilling to have children, nor “consumerism”, nor “secularism” – what is?
We don’t know. Nobody does.
But if the suicide of the West means the loss of our civilization – which it very well may – it will be a great tragedy. One of the greatest tragedies of history.
The very good ranter named Fred Reed (with whom we don’t always entirely agree) rants well and justly about the treatment of women in the past, in the Third World, in the folds of religions – and about the ignorance of feminists:
Oh, sigh. One grows weary, or at least I do, of feminists who complain constantly of imaginary discrimination. It makes no sense. They are in almost the only place and time in which women are not mistreated.
Indeed, Western women – at least those of the prosperous classes – have, as a group, for the last hundred years or so, been the most protected, indulged and generally advantaged of human beings in all history.
Those who do not read history may not know the extent to which women really have been — tired word, but accurate — oppressed. …
In general women were nonentities. Men had life-and-death power over their wives and daughters, meaning exactly that: they could kill them if they so chose. It was not a theoretical power, but one at least occasionally exercised. To an American man in 2013 this seems insane …
The pattern holds with variation in details almost everywhere. American Indians, savages but hardly noble, subjugated women utterly.
Foot-binding, as lunatic a practice as the mind of man has conceived, was common among China’s upper classes.
In India women were kept in strict isolation in purdah and, should their husbands die, expected to immolate themselves on the funeral pyres. What all of this was supposed to accomplish, I cannot imagine.
So much for the idea cherished in semi-literate courses in Women’s Studies that non-Western cultures have been female-friendly. They have not.
But in this feminists are right: The three mid-Eastern religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, do indeed have a ghastly record. The Jews I think were least bad, subjugating their women but not waging actual war against them. Christianity was hideous. The Catholic Church for three centuries practiced systematic sadism against witches, torturing and burning alive uncounted thousands of women. Torture meant crushed bones, dislocated joints, molten lead, and other pleasantries ordained by the Vicar of Christ.
Today the [Catholic] church has softened. It has given itself to the minor consolations of pederasty and to urging women who can’t afford them to have large families. This is an improvement.
Islam, intractably primitive, follows still the old ways. Girls in many places are not allowed to learn to read. Horrendous genital mutilation is horrendously common. Why the world puts up with this is a mystery. If I had been the British administrator of colonies practicing such mutilation, I would have had the fathers strung up naked on the town square and castrated with a blowtorch. Barbarous? Yes. But the cutting would have stopped in about ten minutes.
Feminists are ill-informed, absurdly self-pitying, and compassionless.
Curiously, in America more fury arises from the suggestion that men may be better than women at mathematics than from tens of millions of bloody clitoridectomies practiced on screaming young girls. … Feminists [do not make] an issue of it. This too is beyond my comprehension …
So why have misogyny and subjugation of women — these are not quite the same thing — ceased in much of the world, and very much so in America? Said subjugation has been so widespread through all time that one might suspect it to be a trait genetically determined. But it isn’t. In Europe, North America above the Rio Bravo, Australia, and New Zealand among others, women are fully integrated into society. …
Feminists believe that they brought about the change by a valiant struggle against long odds and awful men. (By which they seem to mean all men.) Not so, quite. Powerless groups seldom rise unless those in power decide to permit it.
(It should, however, be noted that power itself is not something you can be given but something you take. If you cannot, and do not, you will not have it. Margaret Thatcher seized it. In general, at present, men are allowing women as a class the illusion of political and economic power).
It is odd that in America, where women enjoy historically unprecedented rights and opportunities, often greater than those of men — who don’t have affirmative action — feminists complain of oppression. It is fantasy. …
But one mustn’t speak of this. If you speak unfavorably of the ill-breeding and obnoxiousness of professional feminists, they say that you hate women. …
We live in the middle of a social order that is, so far as I know, entirely new. To those who have grown up in it, it seems normal and, now, is. Seen against the backdrop of three thousand years, the merging of women into the polity is astonishing. How it will shake out in the long run is uncertain, but it seems to work well enough. Spare me the nineteen-year-old bimbos in Women’s Studies at Dartmouth telling me how oppressed they are, on daddy’s dime.
There may yet be women inventors. But not many, we guess.
Women, we conjecture, would never have invented an impersonal judicial system: the rule of law, regulated courts, argument in defense, standards of proof, juries, condign punishment consistently carried out. However many female lawyers, judges, and lawmakers there may be, they are not natives in the realm of objective judgment.
Note: We are indebted to our reader Frank for referring us from time to time to an engaging column by “Fred”, including this one.
Bill Warner speaks at a conference in Nashville, Tennessee, sponsored by the Tennessee Freedom Coalition, on Islam as the political enemy of our civilization, and how it can be defeated – in the first place by knowing the facts about its ideology, and applying critical thought to them.
(Our thanks to our commenter Student of Islam for bringing the video to our attention)
We need to engage the argument raised by Mark Tapson in a review article titled Christianity, Islam, Atheism. It is also the title of a book he is reviewing. We have not read the book, and we trust him to be giving a fair representation of what the author says in it. We examine the ideas as Mark Tapson presents them to us:
Now that the Boston bombers have turned out, contrary to the fervent hope of the left, to be not Tea Partiers but Muslims, the media are spinning the terrorists’ motive away from jihad and shrugging, helplessly mystified, about the “senseless” attacks. And so our willful blindness about Islam continues. Nearly a dozen years after the 9/11 attacks, too many Americans still cling to militant denial about the clear and present danger of an Islamic fundamentalism surging against an anemic Western culture. What will it take to educate them? And once awakened, what steps can we take to reverse the tide?
The vicious Boston attack makes these questions and William “Kirk” Kilpatrick’s new book Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West all the more timely. [The book is] intended not only as a wake-up call to the West about Islam, but also as a practical guide, especially for Christians, to push back against its spread and to countering Islam’s Western apologists.
Christianity, Islam, and Atheism opens with a section titled “The Islamic Threat,” in which Kilpatrick describes the rise of supremacist Islam and our correspondingly tepid defense of Western values.
It is true that supremacist Islam is rising, and that the West is defending its values only tepidly.
Our collapse in the face of Islam, he says, is due in large part to our abandonment of Christianity, which has led to “a population vacuum and a spiritual vacuum” that Islam has rushed to fill.
None of that is true. The West has not yet “collapsed in the face of Islam”, it has just ceded too much ground. By “population vacuum” we suppose he means the shrinking populations of the European countries, which are importing population (the wrong – Muslim – population) to compensate for a shortage of workers, but whose socialist economies cannot provide enough jobs for the immigrants once they’re there.
As for “a spiritual vacuum”, it exists only in the eyes of these Christians who notice that once-Christian Europe has become largely non-religious. Europeans who still want to believe in a skylord have not shown a new fascination with Allah; most of them have stuck to Jesus or the Trinity.
It seems that a lot of prisoners convert to Islam. Some say that’s because they get better food and other privileges that the European authorities have been intimidated into conceding to Muslims. It may be, of course, that the cruel and blood-thirsty god Allah* exerts an irresistible pull on villainous men, but it’s a bit of a stretch to call that “filling a spiritual vacuum”.
“A secular society… can’t fight a spiritual war,” Kilpatrick writes. Contrary to the multiculturalist fantasy dominant in the West today, “cultures aren’t the same because religions aren’t the same. Some religions are more rational, more compassionate, more forgiving, and more peaceful than others.” …
That depends on what historical era you are looking at. Today most Christian sects are usually peaceful. But that hasn’t always been the case, and may not be the case in the future.
As for Christianity being more compassionate, sure it is in theory but again has not always been in practice. And whether compassion is as desirable a value as Christianity insists it is, remains philosophically open to question.
The same can be said of forgiveness. In our view forgiveness is not a very good idea. First, it makes no difference to what has been done. Second, and more important, it is contrary to justice.
As for some religions being more rational than others, all religions depend on faith, not reason. It is impossible to argue that one irrationality is superior to another.
Kilpatrick notes that Christians today have lost all cultural confidence and are suffering a “crisis of masculinity,” thanks to the feminizing influences of multiculturalism and feminism. He devotes significant space to encouraging Christians to, well, grow a pair, to put it indelicately, in order to confront Islam, the “most hypermasculine religion in history”:
“On the one hand, you have a growing population of Muslim believers brimming with masculine self-confidence and assertiveness about their faith, and on the other hand, you have a dwindling population of Christians who are long on nurturance and sensitivity but short on manpower. Who seems more likely to prevail?”
We take his point. We would be happy to see well armed muscular Christian men marching to war – literally, not figuratively – against Islam.
Kilpatrick devotes a chapter to “The Comparison” between Islam and Christianity, in which he points out that Christians who buy into the concept of interfaith unity with Muslims would do well to look more closely at our irreconcilable differences instead of our limited common ground; he demonstrates, for example, that the imitation of Christ and the imitation of Muhammad lead a believer in radically different directions.
Again, not always. Leaving aside the question of whether Christians killing other Christians and non-Christians believed they were acting as their Christ would have acted in the same circumstances, there were centuries during which multitudes of Christians “imitated Christ” by rejecting this world and deliberately seeking hideous martyrdoms. Some still do. As Muslims do.
In “The Culture War and the Terror War” section, Kilpatrick notes that Christianity is on the losing side of the many fronts of our own culture war, and this doesn’t bode well for the West’s clash with a resurgent Islam. An obsession with the shallow, ephemeral distractions of pop culture isn’t helping to shore up our cultural foundations. “Our survival,” he writes, “hinges not on generating a succession of momentary sensations, but on finding narratives that tell us who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going”:
“Our ability to resist aggression – whether cultural or military – depends on the conviction that we have something worth defending: something that ought to be preserved not only for our own sake but also for the sake of those who attack us.”
Yes. But that something doesn’t have to be the irrational beliefs and moral sentimentalities of Christianity. It could, for instance, be one’s country. And for Americans that could mean the high values that America was founded to embody, above all individual freedom under the law.
In the section “Islam’s Enablers,” Kilpatrick addresses the multiculturalists, secularists, atheists, and Christian apologists for Islam whose intellectual influences have contributed to the moral decline and Islamization of the West. In a chapter with the great title “Multiculturalists: Why Johnny Can’t Read the Writing on the Wall,” Kilpatrick comments on the indoctrinating impact of multicultural educators and their whitewashing of Islam and denigration of our own culture:
“[O]ur students would have been better served if they had spent less time studying the Battle of Wounded Knee and more time studying the Battle of Lepanto, less time understanding the beauty of diversity and more time understanding the misery of dhimmitude.”
We wholly agree with this statement. We too see multiculturalism as as an evil. We see Christian apologists for Islam as fools. But how are secularists and atheists – as such – contributing to the moral decline of the West? Mark Tapson does not tell us, and we wonder if the book does.
Finally, in “The Cold War with Islam,” Kilpatrick is pessimistic of our desire to win the hearts and minds of “moderate Muslims.” He examines at length just what that label actually means, and then notes that such a strategy isn’t an especially helpful one:
The promotion of the moderate myth is counterproductive because it misleads the West into thinking that its problem is only with a small slice of Islam and because it strengthens the hand of traditional Islam, which is the source of radicalism, not the solution to it.
Again,we secularists-and-atheists agree.
Then comes this:
What are his recommendations for mounting a defense of our values against the aggressive spread of Islamic ones?
Reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values for starters, and then, “instead of a constant yielding to Islamic sensitivities, it may be time for some containment. Sharia… should not be allowed to spread through Western societies.” He touches on immigration, noting that it’s a problematic issue but suggesting that it’s reasonable to question the motives and agendas of immigrant groups. The message we must send? “Islam will not prevail. The West will not yield. You must accommodate to our values and way of life if you choose to live among us.”
As for going on the offensive, “instead of making excuses for Islam… we should be devoting our energies to exposing its hollowness,” relentlessly sowing the seeds of doubt among Muslims and encouraging them to abandon the faith.
In all of which we heartily concur except “reviving the commitment to our own Judeo-Christian values”. To which we will return.
Finally, there is this:
Taking that to the next level, Kilpatrick urges Christians to undertake the daunting task of mounting a widespread evangelizing of Muslims, luring them to Christianity with the liberating message of the Gospel. He concedes that this is a long-term strategy and we have no time to lose, but “both Islam and the left stand on very shaky ideological ground… Christians should take courage from knowing that in this war of ideas, all the best ideas are on their side.”
Yes, Islam and the left do stand on very shaky ideological ground. But so does Christianity. Its theology to start with is so super-absurd that it’s a wonder the early Christians managed to sell such a bill of goods even to ignorant slaves and women in the declining years of the Roman Empire.
But what are the moral-philosophical ideas of Christianity? Let’s look at a few of them, the ones that contemporary Christians commonly say they hold.
To love all mankind? Impossible. An encouragement to hypocrisy.
Forgiving wrongdoing? Unjust. Kindness to the guilty is cruelty to the righteous.
Loving the sinner while hating the sin? A refusal to hold individuals responsible for their actions.
Acting humble? Self-abasement is an act of pride, not humility. Pride is not bad, but dissimulation is.
Teaching Christian theology and mythology as “the Truth”? Not only wrong but self-defeating, as doctrines were never even settled, disputes over them being the cause of wars and persecution throughout Christian history.
Omitted from the discussion in the review article is the fact that multitudes of Christians are also devout leftists. While it is true that the left is coddling and kow-towing to Islam, it is also true that Christian churches are teaching Marxism, often under the name of “liberation theology”.
To speak of a “Judeo-Christian” tradition is to ignore the hideous fact that Christendom has been actively persecuting the Jews from the time its gospels were written. What is meant is that Christianity, after some initial hesitation, accepted part of the Jewish moral code. But citing a “Judeo-Christian tradition” ignores the fact that Christianity was a revolt against Judaism, and owes more to Greek mysticism and cosmogony, Greek other-worldliness, and Greek religious rites – the unrespectable side of classical culture – than it does to Judaism. It also ignores the thousand years of darkness that Christianity brought down on Europe. Europe owed its greatness not to a “Judeo-Christian” tradition, but to the classical enlightenment Christianity eclipsed, and its eventual rebirth.
We too would like the West to be true to the values and practices of its highly evolved civilization, which we would name not as compassion, forgiveness, charity, love, but as freedom, democratically elected government, law and order, tolerance, reason, the pursuit of science, and an endless striving to make human existence happy, long, informed, exploratory, and innovative.
Its passed time that those old bug-a-boo superstitions, shrouded in the cobwebs of the ages, were swept away.
Enough of Jehovah, the sometimes over-vengeful, sometimes just, tribal-chief type of tyrant.
He was dropped by the Christians, though they might pretend that he somehow weakened and mutated into their God the Father or dissolved into the whole of their mystical Greek-style Triune Godhead. As God the Father he’s been so inconspicuous as to be best pictured dozing if not comatose these last two thousand years. Enough of him.
Jesus the Christ, whether as plump European baby, or as golden-curled Caucasian male model in a full-length white nightgown, or as a tortured body executed for sedition by the Romans on a wooden cross, or as well-nourished judge seated on a stump with a cloud for a footstool condemning multitudes to Hell, has nothing of interest to offer enquiring minds. Enough of him.
As for Allah with his side-kick Muhammad – the savage bully and his mouthpiece – he could be dispelled with more certainty and speed if the West would give up religion, and all respect for religion as such.
The downfall of the gods began quite some time ago and is overdue. (No nod to Nazism-inspiring Wagner should be inferred.) They – the gods – should all have disappeared in the Enlightenment. But they’ve been allowed to hang about far too long. Away with them.
Let the West defend itself with confidence in its intellectual, secular-moral, economic, and military superiority; with guns, drones, Specter bombers, and nuclear war capability; with science, technology, intelligence, and the Constitution of the United States; and always above all with unrelenting critical analysis of all ideas.
* Quotation from the linked source: “There are 493 passages that either endorse violence or talk about the hatred of Allah for the infidels, meaning all non-Muslims. The Quran is a book mainly concerned with how Muslims are to think and act towards those outside of Islam; that is, either kill them or force them to live as second-class citizens and pay [special punitive] taxes (Jizya).” It explicitly commands Muslims to “kill the infidel” (eg. Koran 9:5). It prescribes atrocious punishments for such “crimes” as adultery, homosexuality and apostasy. It is a manual of instruction in barbaric aggression.
Here’s a splendid piece of stupidity. A collector’s item:
Boys and girls at an Alabama elementary school will still get to hunt for eggs – but they can’t call them “Easter Eggs” because the principal banished the word for the sake of religious diversity.
“We had in the past a parent to question us about some of the things we do here at school,” said Heritage Elementary School principal Lydia Davenport. “So we’re just trying to make sure we respect and honor everybody’s differences.”
Television station WHNT reported that teachers were informed that no activities related to or centered around any religious holiday would be allowed – in the interest of religious diversity.
“Kids love the bunny and we just make sure we don’t say ‘the Easter Bunny’ so that we don’t infringe on the rights of others because people relate the Easter bunny to religion,” she told the television station.
After the laughter, let’s consider: what do we know about Easter – the word and its associations?
From bill casselman’s words of the world:
All Hail, Eostre!
Eostre was a Germanic goddess. In all the lovingly museumed depictions of ancient British, Celtic and European deities, we have no surviving image of Eostre and she is mentioned only once in ancient literature, in the writings of the always pious Venerable Bede. But Eostre’s name tells us she was a Teutonic goddess of dawn. Her name originated in Old Teutonic, from austrôn- dawn. Austrôn can evolve into Eostre. What we know with certainty is that the Christian Easter celebration took its name from Eostur-monath, the Anglo-Saxon word for the month of April, literally Eostre-month.
Who then was this fair goddess Eostre? A coy and modest damsel tiptoeing in divinely sequined velvet slippers through vernal dells, all the while sprinkling with dew yon awakening posies? Probably not. She was more likely The Wanton Slut of the Spring Rut, a lubricious deity who smiled upon and encouraged the potent surge of returning fertility. The Anglo-Saxons celebrated her lustful advent at the spring solstice, the vernal equinox, as part of the worship of a pagan deity who brought teeming uberousness back to the land and to the groin after a morose winter of vegetal and bodily moping. …
The name Easter may have been adopted during a time when Christians were attempting to convert new followers by highlighting the similarities between Christianity and pagan religions. The story of Christ’s resurrection, the focal point of the Easter holiday, has much in common with the rebirth stories of pagan tradition.
The most sober and linguistically compelling root word of Easter is however probably a source based on Germanic forms of East, forms like Ost, Osten, the Germanic Easter word Oster and Old High German ostarun which means literally “easterly celebration times”. The sun rises in the East. In many languages the word for dawn, daybreak, even daylight stems from a word meaning “east”. The sun returned in glory during the spring. What better time of year then to celebrate “eastern springy stuff”.
A Proto-Germanic root for east is cognate with many other east/dawn words in other Indo-European languages. For example, all the PIE dawn words like Latin aurora (think of aurora borealis, literal meaning “northern dawn”), Epic Greek ἠώς and Attic ἔως eos “dawn”. Think of English scientific words like palaeozoology’s name for the earliest horse, eohippus “‘dawn-horse”, or the Eocene era. Sanskrit for “dawn” is usas and Avestan is usah. …
What of the word paschal? It was -
… borrowed directly from the Hebrew word for Passover, pesach. Consider Greek pascha, Latin pascha, French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, Spanish Pascua and Dutch pask. English has a technical adjective from theology, paschal [meaning] “of Easter”.
A delightful Old English term named the paschal lamb, ostarfrisking.
This questing etymologist looks at the classical Greek word oistros, not for an origin, but for a cognate, that is, a word born from the same Indo-European root as Eostre then Easter.
Oistros was a large European horsefly whose painful bite drew blood and caused cattle to run wild, even stampede. The insect’s Victorian zoological name was Tabanus bovinus, where tabanus is the Latin word for horsefly or gadfly. Today Oestrus is the genus name of the common botfly, a similarly nasty little insect whose larvae are parasites in mammal tissues and body cavities, mammals such as humans, horses, and cows.
English-speakers know the ancient Greek word in more familiar dress as oestrus or estrus, its Latin forms. In modern physiology, estrus is the female equivalent of the word rut. When a female animal is “in heat” it is in estrus. In Classical Greek oistros meant “frenzy”, “sexual rage”, “ravening, slavering female lust”. It described, for example, the scary maenads, drunken women running wild over the Greek mountains, spring-moon-mad in their ecstatic worship of Dionysus, futtering [?] the night away in unholy orgies of forbidden lust, catching a male “chase animal”, ripping his body apart, and devouring his oozing gobbets of flesh. …
The Greeks thought you could catch such sexual ardor from being bitten by a gadfly. Oistros meant “gadfly” too. More to the point, Herodotus (Histories ch.93.1) uses oistros to describe the desire of fish to spawn. So its root meaning is probably “rage” with a later semantic overlay of “raging, powerful sexual urge”.
That’s something pagan peoples celebrated every spring, the upsurge of sap in tree and plant and human. The Anglo-Saxons’ Eosturmonath was Sex Surge Month, not as dainty as April perhaps, but much more to the pagan point.
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?
We argue against all religious belief. We reiterate that religion is historically and presently the cause of much human suffering. And we declare Islam to be the greatest menace to civilization in our time.
As much as we speak against religion, we speak up for its victims, whether they are religious or not.
We post, with indignation, news of Muslims persecuted by Muslims.
And we post, also with indignation, news of Christians persecuted by Muslims.
A Christian writer, Lela Gilbert, recently wrote this in her book Saturday People, Sunday People*:
On October 31, 2010 … eight [Muslim] terrorists stormed into the Assyrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. … The total death count was 57 … [An American soldier] was close enough that he was able to go in [to the church] immediately after the massacre… [and took photographs of the victims]. … It was horrifying to see babies in puddles of their own blood. Their mothers were next to them … There were old men, middle-aged women, pretty young girls and little children. And there were the [two] priests. Some of the bodies were intact, some mutilated. … I never saw those photographs on any media sites; I tried sending them to people but almost nobody responded. … Jillian Becker … a writer on counterterrorism, has a website called The Atheist Conservative. She posted several. Otherwise they never, to my knowledge, appeared.
See our post Holy slaughter, December 20, 2010.
We are happy to have the acknowledgement, and we share Lela Gilbert’s dismay at the unconcern of the Western media and Christian churches over the fate of Christian victims.
Among the victims of religious persecution, the Jews have the most appalling history. Hatred of the Jews is the longest, the most intense, and the most spuriously rationalized. And today antisemitism is as real as “Islamophobia” is phony.
Recently there have been a spate of articles about antisemitism in Britain. Some argue that there is no future for Jews there.
The admirable Douglas Murray writes in the Spectator (UK):
What sort of future is there in Britain for Jews? I would submit that there is a future. But what is becoming increasingly clear is that the price of that future is that Jews will increasingly be expected to distance themselves from Israel. There is a fair amount of evidence from the Jewish community suggesting that this process is already underway. Once it is complete then those ‘good’ anti-Israel Jews will be able to proclaim victory. But the same force that they encouraged to come for their co-religionists will then just as surely come for them. And then where will they hide?
Among the many comments on Murray’s article is one by C. Gee (co-editor of The Atheist Conservative), who writes:
Antizionism is antisemitism. I have read nobody – especially in these comments – who “criticizes” the actions of Israel who cannot justly be labelled antisemitic. Of those who regard the state of Israel as an abomination, only the ultra-orthodox Jews can escape being called antisemitic.
Since 1967, British opinion has been steadily reverting to the antisemitism of the 1930s. It has not mattered whether a right or a left wing government has been in power in Israel. When the right wing is in power, the British left feels safer in asserting that “zionism is racism/nazism.” Netanyahu, Shamir, Begin – are really Jewistic Jews, zionistic zionists. Any “criticism” that assumes that Israel occupies stolen land, that it (and not the Arabs!) intends ethnic cleansing or apartheid, that it has not negotiated in good faith for a two state solution (but the Arabs have!), that it has genocidal plans for Arabs (but not the Arabs for it!), that it (but not the Arabs!) commit war crimes, that it is a colonialist power, that its citizenship rules are racist – is, by definition, antisemitism: the irrational hatred for and calumnious criminalization of Jews collectively or individually for being Jewish. Each of those criticisms is the modern form of the older poisons: German eugenics, Tsarist Protocols, medieval blood-libels.
But, really, does any such critic of Israel actually mind being labelled antisemitic? Who does he think he’s kidding? The critic believes that any offense Jews might take at being called thieves and murderers is a fraud – after all, they are thieves and murderers – emanating from that Jewish need to control the world, in this case, the “debate.” No, being called an “antisemite” gives the Israel critic a frisson: it shows he has caught the whining bugger being a Jew.
* Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the eyes of a Christian sojourner by Lela Gilbert, Encounter Books, New York, 2012
In a discussion of a book titled Christianity, Islam, and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West by William Kilpatrick, this passage occurs:
Some atheists have called for a humanitarian response to Islamic violence. For example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke against harsh Muslim practices that defy “universal rights” and called for “promotion of freedom, equal opportunity, and secular values for all.” However, Kilpatrick points out that secular values simply cannot stand up to a totalitarian Islam because the fruits of the Enlightenment (free speech, free press, democracy, reason) depend on the Christian roots. Atheists often claim religion causes the world’s problems and removing such “superstition” will increase respect of humans.
Kilpatrick’s own conclusion is that “ultimately only Christianity can stop Muslim growth”.
To prescribe one religion as a cure for another is like infecting a person with measles to cure his mumps.
But that is not the issue we are engaging now.
The notion that “the fruits of the Enlightenment (free speech, free press, democracy, reason) depend on the Christian roots” is what concerns us here. It has become a standard assertion of Christian apologists, needled by the secularist contention that the Enlightenment was the bright morning come at last after the centuries-long night Christianity had brought down on Europe.
To support the claim, its advocates insist that Christianity stands for and has always stood for individual freedom, hence for free speech and freedom of the press.
Its assertion that all persons are equal “before God” implies – the Christian argument goes – an endorsement of democracy.
As for reason, they claim that although their creed is to be accepted on faith and not subjected to rational analysis, to believe in Christian doctrine and to act according to Christian teaching is reasonable.
It is not hard to dispel these rosy fancies in the court of an impartial judge.
Individual freedom? The medieval Catholic Church was as totalitarian in its tyranny as it could possibly be in its long age of power; and the Calvinists, Lutherans, Anabaptists, Puritans … the Protestant churches in general, crushed and punished the expression of free thought wherever their power was established, as zealously and cruelly as the Catholic Inquisitors. Calvin, for instance, declared: “When the papists are so harsh and violent in defense of their superstitions, are not Christ’s magistrates shamed to show themselves less ardent in defense of the sure truth?”*
Equality in Christendom? Not on the earth of Europe. It wasn’t even thought of.
In terms of power:
[T]he lawlessness and disorders of the Dark Ages led churchmen first to collaborate with secular rulers, and then to seek their subjugation. … [The] Vicars of Christ became indistinguishable from the nobility.**
In terms of wealth:
The everyday dinner of a man of rank ran from fifteen to twenty dishes. … [For the peasants] the years of hunger were terrible. [They] might be forced to sell all that they owned, including their pitifully inadequate clothing, and be reduced to nudity in all seasons. In the hardest times they devoured bark, roots, grass; even white clay. Cannibalism was not unknown. Strangers and travelers were waylaid and killed to be eaten, and there are tales of gallows being torn down … by men frantic to eat the warm flesh raw.***
Reason? As it is not rational to believe in a superhuman Lord of the Universe, it is not reasonable to trust the teaching of his priests.
Furthermore, for centuries -
The Church encouraged superstitions, recommended trust in faith healers, and spread tales of satyrs, incubi, sirens, cyclops, tritons, and giants, exlaining that they all were manifestations of Satan. The Prince of Darkness, it taught, was as real as the Holy Trinity.**** [With that last sentence we concur.]
The Enlightenment, far from being a product of Christianity, was its antidote. It was a revolt against the intellectual arrogance of the Christian ages.
It was a revolution: the quietest, the most important, and the most successful revolution that ever happened. It was a movement of intellectuals who dared to challenge orthodoxy by questioning the dogmatic “truths” of the Christian Churches. Its defiant values encouraged dissent – to the acute chagrin of the Christian powers. It revived classical doubt – the very essence of reason – in European man, and so began the revival of scientific enquiry and experiment. And it inspired the founding of a new nation in America where all citizens would be equal and free under laws they made themselves.
Only where there is doubt is there tolerance. And where there is doubt there is questioning of authority – of popes and cardinals and kings.
Christians argue that American law enshrines laws which occur in the “Christian bible” (by which they mean the Jewish bible, where the proscriptions against murder, theft, and perjury were listed, and which the Church adopted after some initial reluctance). Therefore, they say, this is a debt that the secular law owes to Christianity. But in fact such laws are much older even than the legendary Moses and his engraved tablets (circa 1250 BCE). They are assumed, for instance, by the Code of Hammurabi (circa 1770 BCE).
If the apologists want to sweep all that aside and base their claim on a pure Christianity that pre-dated the corrupt pontiffs, their case is still hard to defend. To quote from our own post, Tread on me: the making of Christian morality (all sources provided in the notes to the essay):
Briefly, but including all salient points, here is Paul’s moral teaching [and thus the first recorded moral teaching of his invention, Jesus Christ, later interpreted and elaborated by the gospel writers]:
We are the filth of the world, the scum, the muck that is scoured from things. The lowest of the low.
Let us abase ourselves; be fools; be humble, and associate with the lowly.
Do only the most menial work for a living.
Bear affliction with patience, even with joy.
You must consider all others to be greater than yourselves.
Love one another, love all. Then you will be harmless and blameless. That is what I ask you to do to make me proud of you.
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice. Bless those who persecute you. Let them do the most evil things to you, and return only good to them. We glory in our suffering. However hard your life is, rejoice and give thanks. Never seek revenge.
Obey the government. Pay your taxes.
Women, be silent in church.
Marry if you must, but I would rather you remained unmarried and chaste as I am.
Pray constantly. Never feast or carouse, and stay sober. Do not commit sexual immorality. Attend quietly to what you must do, and mind your own business. Be patient always, even when you need to admonish those among you who do not work hard enough.
Share all you have so that you’ll all be equal in worldly possessions.
Do all this for the sake of Christ. Because he died for you, because he suffered on the cross for you, you must bear all things for his sake. You belong to him because he bought you for a price.
This comment follows:
It is a morality that demands and glorifies self-abasement and self-abnegation, as a perpetual repayment of a debt imposed on all humanity by Jesus’s “self-sacrifice”.
It scorns talent, disregards personal ambition, forbids individual self-fulfillment.
So when conservative Christians claim – as they often do – that Christianity initiated and promotes individualism, they are plainly wrong. To the contrary: from its inception Christianity has been the enemy of individualism.
It planted the perverse value of subservience in Western culture; a value that was to re-emerge as an ideal in other collectivist ideologies. Paul’s idea that it was greatly good for the individual to subjugate himself to the community contributed even more profoundly to the ideology of Communism than did his doctrine of sharing and equality [in possessions, subjugation and abasement].
A morality that makes cruel and unnatural demands on human nature will nurture hypocrisy and breed despair: hypocrisy because sustained self-denial is impossible, so lip-service is substituted for obedience; and despair because to strive for the impossible is to ensure failure.
Of course there was a backlash against the Enlightenment. The ever present tendency in human nature to let emotion overrule reason asserted itself early in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, father of Romanticism, grandfather of Socialism, and great-grandfather of Environmentalism. It is through those channels that Christian values flowed into the age of reason, and survive, along with a decrepit Christianity itself, to trouble us now.
* Quoted in translation by William Manchester in his book A World Lit Only By Fire, Back Bay Books, Little Brown, 1993, p 190.
** Manchester pp 40-41
*** Manchester pp 52, 54
**** Manchester p 62
Jillian Becker January 22, 2013