Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Thanksgiving History

December 8, 2010

Heroes and Villains

December 3, 2010

We do admire Bonhoeffer but in a sense he acted as a terrorist and outside the framework of due process. And as much as we admire George Washington, he was a traitor in the eyes of King George. Heroes to some are villains to others. I recently saw a 900 page biography of Che Guevara which mentioned in the introduction “I wanted to cut through those hagiographies which glorified Che as a saint and those jeremiads which condemned him as evil incarnate and try to arrive at the real Che. Come to think of it, I know people in the South today who despise Lincoln and even go so far as to call Lincoln a Communist (which to me is absurd) but there you have the incredible spectrum of public opinion. Every Mother Teresa has a Christopher Hitchens just as every Samuel Johnson has his Boswell.

Do not put your head in the sand

November 19, 2010

Please take just a few minutes to read this article and then write a brief message

Be polite and respectful in appealing for the release of Asia Bibi. The messages we send could save a life! Thanks. ~ Sam

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/11/18/pakistan.blasphemy/index.html

I think they look like they want some turkey with dressing. After all, we are all one big, happy family on this planet. We are all decent folks. We must TOLERATE each others beliefs. Why, we all worship the same God! Right? G.W. Bush told me that and he was President. And if there is something which seems, well… rather unpleasant… then we can just ignore it and act as if it isn’t even there. In fact don’t you DARE talk about that unpleasantness being there because… well… then you would be hateful and intolerant and that just would not do at all! If some people begin to feel a bit uneasy why we shall just distract them with hand puppets just the way we distract small children.

I am criticized as follows:

Oh, William, don’t go down that road. I, for one, am an atheist and am not exactly what you would call tolerant of any religion, but I also recognize when I’m standing at the top of a slippery slope. I would like to discuss this more if you’re open to it, but if not, then we can just leave it here for the sake of peace.

Well, I don’t want to get into a battle about which religions are violent (most are), or what their books say, I’m more interested in tolerating other people’s viewpoints, even if you don’t respect them. Personally, I find Christianity kind of odd, it’s like the world’s first zombie and his followers worship him by either metaphorically or in the case of Catholics (so they believe) actually eating his body and drinking his blood. All religion to me seems a bit suspect in the logic/probability department. But having said that, there are evil people of all stripes and that’s what we need to stand together against, is the evil, not lump good people in with the evil because they have the unfotunate circumstance of having been indoctrinated into some religion.

I am not in denial, considering I feel that Islam is no more foolish (or violent) than Christianity which is no more foolish or violent than Judaism … I’m just saying that what ::you:: might consider relevant, others may not. So, let’s back up a little bit and before we get into some muslim bashing, maybe we should look at the people who are making these claims of blasphemy and what their motives are, and I’ll bet you’ll find they have more to do with some petty politics, like back when the colonists burned witches ….

William, you are hell-bent on hating on Muslims so I’m bowing out of this conversation. Peace to you, and may you find tolerance and forgiveness in your heart.

William replies:
I suspect that the Qur’an may contain passages that suggest the death sentence for blaphemy:

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/023-violence.htm

Definitely one finds explicit statements in Hadith which is the redacted oral tradition which came in the century after Mohammad’s death:
Tabari 7:97 The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, “Kill any Jew who falls under your power.” Ashraf was a poet, killed by Muhammad’s men because he insulted Islam. Here, Muhammad widens the scope of his orders to kill. An innocent Jewish businessman was then slain by his Muslim partner, merely for being non-Muslim.

Tabari 9:69 “Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us” The words of Muhammad, prophet of Islam.

Quran (5:33) – “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”
Quran (9:73) – “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.” ……. Quran (33:60-62) – “If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while. Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter.”

The books say what they say, many different translations are available on line, so it is not true that Qur’an/Hadith are free of such things…

The Sikh religion says “sometimes it is honorable to take up the sword” and two Sikhs assassinated Indira Gandhi because she messed with the Golden Temple… so other religions have notions of violence, and the Old Testament says that God ordered the genocide of Amalek and his nation… these books say what they say… no point in denying that

I am not in any battle… I just posted the relevant excerpts from Quran Hadith…. it is foolish to be in denial. Now the Torah of the Jews DOES say an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but Rabbis are quick to point out that never in the history of Judaism has that verse been invoked as law; rather they have always found ways to work around it… IF you were to post that 2 + 2 = 5 …. I would not be in a battle with you…. I would just say 2+2 = 4 and leave it at that… denial doesnt help Muslims and it doesn’t help the non-Muslims … as Salman Rushdie said IF there is reform then it must come from within Islam AND it will most likely start in the diaspora where people are in a multi-cultural pluralistic secular environment

I never said that I disrespect anything,…. I just quoted Qur’an and Hadith… you are the one who is putting the word “disrespect” into my mouth… I am just stating well known facts.

IN FACT right after Cat Stevens converted to Islam, there is an interview in which he is questioned about the death penalty for insulting Mohammad and he says right on camera that he agrees that such a person should be put to death… I viewed the interview myself… and it was long before 9/11.

How can you even talk about the “strict sense of Islam” ? Have you READ the Qur’an? Have you READ Hadith? I doubt that very much. The state of Texas is very Christian and the New Testament does not talk about the death penalty, but Texans are very enthusiastic about capital punishment. The European Union becomes less religious and more secular with each passing year and yet they forbid capital punishment (although they are indifferent strangely enough with regard to the abortion issue.)

@William: Last Thanksgiving dinner I had a Muslim student from DC, a reformed Jew from the Naval Academy and a couple of Catholic friends at my home for dinner. (I’m Presbyterian.) We had an incredible discussion and understanding. It was a great American Thanksgiving.

@Sam, you can do all sorts of lovely things, but that has no bearing on what the text of the Qur’an and Hadith says, or the Torah or the Talmud or the Adhi Granth. I mean a lot of people like to sweep things under the carpet where no one sees them, but that doesnt mean they have a clean house.

90 percent of all Roman Catholics arnt very Roman Catholic. 90 percent of all Muslims aren’t very Muslim or observant and will have a beer with you or eat some pork. 5/6 of the Israel Knesset is secular non observant… more than half of Israel is probably non religious… and they can all have great Thanksgiving dinners and parties… but that doesnt mean a thing… and it is the 10 per cent of each religion who is serious and does practice and determines what the nature of that religion is… The ostrich stick its head in the sand and thinks that no one sees it… but we all see the ostrich..

I have NEVER ONCE used the words HATE… you are putting words in my mouth. I dont think you have the background to even understand the history of Islam. I have friends who are Muslims. I can speak a little Arabic… I can have these discussions with Muslims who will agree with me and say “yes the Qur’an does say these passages.” You have to read and do your homework if you want to discuss things intelligently. The problem with American RIGHT NOW is that a huge number of people who rarely read a book and love watching Dancing with the Stars are enthusiastic about a media ho like Palin who QUIT her post as Governor because she could make more money with books and reality shows, and that is what people are turning to to run the nation. I dont want to be mean, but if someone wants to discuss these things they have to have some education, read some books, and do their homework. You cannot come to Show and Tell unless you have done all your homework. That is just the way life is.

Sam just posted a video of an entire town raising their hands and saying “Yes the woman should be executed for blasphemy.” Do you people even BOTHER to watch these video clips? I am not bashing anyone or hating anyone … It is a fact that Texas is in favor of the death penalty. GW Bush signed more death warrants than governor in a long time. That is not “bashing” Texas or bashing Protestant Christianity or hating anyone… it is simply a fact. Kurt Vonnegut pointed out that Bible belt folks are always anxious to put up a monument to Moses 10 commandments but no one EVER wants to put up a plaque to Jesus’ beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount. Kurt Vonnegut was not “hating” or “bashing” anyone. He was just stating an ironic fact. There is a huge segment in America who INSIST that the founding fathers loved the Bible and wanted this to be a Christian nation. They condemn abortion and stem cell research. The only thing they DONT try to outlaw is DIVORCE and that is one of the few things that Jesus bothered to condemn: DIVORCE – that you should not put away your wife except for reason of ADULTERY. Now I am not hating or bashing America or Christianity if I simply point out the irony that no one wants to criminalize divorce in America yet divorce is one of the FEW things that Jesus openly condemned. I am not bashing or hating Switzerland when I state the fact that euthansia and heroin use is legal in Bern and not criminalized. I am not hating or bashing the European union when I say that they allow abortion but forbid capital punishment. I am just stating well known facts.

I just now wondered if perhaps the source of those quotes was biased so I went to a different site which seems unbiased and gives even STRONGER reasons why the blasphemer should be condemned.

At least Philip Combs agrees with me.

You can all have a shot at tolerating Cat Stevens in this interview. Perhaps Sam if you have that Pakistani town over for Thanksgiving you can get them to lighten up a bit

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

Neanderthal and Anarchy

November 17, 2010

Noam Chomsky remarked in passing that Neanderthal were on the earth a total of 400,000 years and as far as we know their form of government was anarchy (which does not mean shear chaos but rather loosely associated tribal groups similar to the town in the opening scene of Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” and similar to tribal regions in Pakistan and Afghanistan today.) Our ancestors, the Homo Sapiens have only been around about 200,000. The complete Neanderthal genome has actually been constructed from fossil DNA. No Neanderthal artifact has ever been discovered which could not have come from farther than 50 miles of the camp site. Neanderthal tools never changed. The Neanderthal ate only meat and burned about 5,000 calories a day. A Homo Sapiens has a hard time burning more than 4,000 calories a day (I think.) All male Neanderthal skeletons show multiple healed fractures. Neanderthal used a short heavy spear which could not be thrown and so they had to get quite close to their prey. It has occurred to me that some spirit of charity towards wounded hunters was a survival advantage to the group. Groups who were selfish and refused to nurse an injured hunter back to health probably died off.

+++++

well, think of the times when people negotiate and talk of a “win win” compromise. That Indian may have had some fierce sense of morality which compelled him to purchase the trinkets with the pelts. But, also, he may have had the entrepreneurial insight to realize that if he gave something to the strange new white people, then they might further benefit him. You know how they say “there is no such thing as a free lunch” and “if it’s too good to be true then it probably isn’t true.” I mean, try to think of a purely selfless action done with absolutely no hope or expectation of some “quid pro quo” return. Some people might point to a Socrates or a Buddha or a Jesus but even in those extreme situations it is still possible to see some kind of “quid pro quo” at work. I could be totally wrong and I often am. Just saying. But when Pres. McKinley agonized over the ethics of invading the Philippines it is said that he knelt in prayer and SUDDENLY the Lord answered him with the realization that it was kind of his “white man’s burden” to civilize these distant savages (even though they were and are deeply Roman Catholic and were under Spanish rule for over 300 years.) But when the Lord Almighty shined the light of understanding into the heart of Pres. McKinley he was able to sleep like a baby! —- Also, it has to do with that selfish gene business and the unselfish gene, the more rotten S.O.B’s simply died off because there is some quid pro quo advantage of natural selection to being “a nice guy.”

Give Peace a Chance

November 7, 2010

Spock, Rev. Coffin and “Hanoi Jane” were so despised during the Vietnam era but the ended up being admired for the courage of their convictions. Of course they did not have the patriotic courage of McCain who blanket bombed women and children from 30,000 feet. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Joni Mitchell sang “we didn’t give peace a chance.”

Zionism, Antisemitism and the Ottoman Empire

October 15, 2010

William:

After some reflection it occurs to me that Judaism is about observance of religious laws and so therefore a Jewish state such as Israel ought to require citizens to observe the Jewish law BUT since barely 1/6 of the population of Israel is observant in the traditional sense THEREFORE establishing an independent nation of Israel must be about something entirely different from Judaism or religion.

Daphne:

Judaism is not just about religion in the strictest sense. To many of us it is about ritual, history, values, storytelling, and identity. Like all human endeavors, Judaism needs to adapt or die.

Ariel: Israel was formed in response to antisemitism.

William: My understanding was that England and France wanted to weaken the already crumbling Ottoman Empire. The first official mention of the creation of Israel was in the Balfour letters:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration_of_1917

Ariel:
I’m talking about why Jews embraced Zionism. My point is that religion was not the main motive for the emergence of Zionism.

Barbara: We spent an awful lot of Sunday School time growing up arguing is Judaism a race, a nation, a religion, or a culture. Like proper rabbinic thought, I don’t remember us ever coming to a decision. And the Ottoman Empire was pretty long gone in 1948.

William: Ah, but talk of Zionism began in the 19th century, no? I am not certain.

Barbara: Herzl wanted to put a Jewish state in what is now Uganda, yes. I believe the outcome would have been much the same. He was motivated by the Dreyfus affair. That European nations had multiple agendas in the age of their crumbling, competing, and reviving empires is really no surprise. Oh, and bowing to those who would have Israel exist in observance Jewish law is 9/10 of Israel’s current intransigence. It’s not where I would take this argument if I were you.

William:
If the creation of an Israel was a mistake in the 20th century then it remains a mistake in the 21st century. There are some mistakes we simply live with and there are other mistakes that we die for. What more can I say? I certainly don’t have any answers or solutions.

Personally I think that both the Jews and the non-Jews alike wanted to create Israel for the wrong reasons and it is a mistake that we will one day die over (but then what do I know?)

Ariel: While I am critical of many of the paths that Israel has taken and am aware of the great injustices that were done to Palestinians, I also know that after the Holocaust, it is not suprising that many Jews felt a desperate need for a state and all of the protections and powers a state can provide. Mistake seems to me a misleading word to describe how Jews turned to Zionism. A better way of understanding this history is that Israel has contradictions. It is both a deeply liberating development for many Jews and a source of domination and oppresion for many Palestinians.

William: With all due respect, I am calling it “a mistake” in the same spirit with which Gandhi called it a mistake but I may totally misunderstand what Gandhi meant. I am simply saying that if something is a mistake, in history, it remains a mistake throughout history in spite of attempts to white wash it. Masada was, as we all know, a mass suicide. One may see genocide as suicide turned inside-out. Each Israeli soldier swears an oath of allegiance at Masada that such will never happen again. Both suicide and genocide make “the enemy” disappear (go away.)

@Ariel – As I reflect upon your interesting post it suddenly occurs to me that rather than the Holocaust being the cause creating the nation of Israel it might possibly be the case that Herzl and the Zionist negotiations of the 19th century helped to further fuel the fires of Antisemitism which contributed to the Holocaust. I was surprised years ago when I randomly opened Tacitus to the history of Jerusalem and saw ancient expressions of Antisemitism. Perhaps you have seen that Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners” which in its opening page points out that kristallnacht (the first open violence against Jews) was orchestrated to occur on Martin Luther’s birthday. That book describes Luther’s Antisemitic pamphlet condemning the Jews. At first Luther had hoped that the Jews would receive him with open arms much as Mohammad had expected a warm reception but both became bitter when their expectations were disappointed.

Ariel: I actually think that Zionism as a movement had nothing to do with the coming of the Holocaust. I think that the Jews had the misfortune to be a visible minority in the aftermath of WWI and the depression which swept Europe. In a similar manner, the Roma also were a visible minority. Both suffered astonishingly brutal consequences for their marginal status.

Barbara: Do you really want to go down the path of blaming people for their own genocide? Zionism offended no one until there was actually an Israel.

William:
@Barbara – The world is driven by rhetoric. Your own comment is rhetoric. I am not arguing one side or another of any issue. I am just looking at alternative possibilities. Barbara if ANYONE is blaming people for their own genocide it is you, right now, since you couched it in such terms, but you want to make it look as if I said it. Since you are so educated and credentialed why not step out from behind the spin and rhetoric game and make your own stand as to how you interpret the past. Did you really earn all your fancy degrees so you could ask little questions out of context? If anyone should have some real concrete answers it should be you. Why don’t you step out from behind your mask and say what you really think (whatever that might be) and not try to connect it with me or with anyone else but simply stand on your own two feet. Now that is something I could respect. Why don’t you write a paper on the history of the entire matter? I can tell you one reason why you might not. Every professor (perhaps with the exception of Chomsky) is bullied by their employer to remain politically correct because whatever they publish reflects upon the employer. This means that whatever does reach print may be whatever is convenient or politically correct or popular or flattering and not necessarily what is penetrating or revealing. The problem I have with you Barbara is that I do not see you saying something of substance yet I am sure you are capable of that but all I see are coy little remarks that seem to put words in my mouth. Let’s hear the words in your mouth and the thoughts in your scholarly head. The world looks to its historians for answers and I am no historian.

Barbara:
You sound very angry. I do not think I’m being particularly coy; I have mixed emotions about Zionism and the State of Israel, as do a lot of Jews. The only reason I don’t write a paper on the subject is because it is very far from my area of expertise, and believe it or not, writing history is a lot of hard work. If you think Zionism led to rising anti-Semitism before 1948, support that claim with evidence, not conjecture.

William:

@Barbara: Look at your own words! TWICE you say “Do you really want to go down the path” and “It’s not where I would take this argument if I were you” which suggests to me that you care more about the consequences of one’s reasoning and public opinion (praise and reward or blame and punishment) RATHER than a dispassionate desire to uncover the truth and a martyric resolve to suffer whatever consequences might result from stating your views. And YET, Barbara, you clearly state “… those who would have Israel exist in observance Jewish law is 9/10 of Israel’s current intransigence” which would seem to suggest that you are willing to lay some blame upon Israel for whatever results from their intransigence.

So I am perfectly justified in interpreting your statement “Do you really want to go down the path of blaming people for their own genocide?” as follows:

1.) You AGREE that the Jewish people are in part to blame for the persecutions you suffer BUT…
2.) You do not want to suffer the adverse affects of stating your views and so
3.) You caution me that I too should be hesitant to publicly state views which might have adverse consequences…

Now it seems obvious to me that throughout history whenever there has been ANY martyr who is offered a choice between compromise (and life) vs. steadfast obstinacy (and execution) then it is perfectly reasonable to lay the CAUSE of their execution upon the martyr since they had a choice. The story of the Maccabees is one of many examples. The mother was exhorting her children in her native language and her persecutors assumed that she was pleading with them to compromise and spare their lives but she was actually encouraging them to stand firm in their intransigence.

By the way (@Ariel) I do not think it is obvious that the Zionist movement was PURELY religious in motivation for the simple reason that in the 19th century a majority of Rabbi’s opposed Zionism on religious grounds and to this very day there are anti-Zionist Jews who refuse to use Hebrew for anything but worship and refuse to return to Israel until G-d (Hashem) shall raise up some obvious sign that they may return.

And yes, Barbara, I am very angry, not with you personally but over a number of things over the years, two of which I will mention here. 1.) A PhD in Clinical Psychology told me how his years of thesis writing were driven by a weekly committee who would haggle over every paragraph and every sentence until they arrived at the lowest common denominator of what all could accept for a publication which would represent the academic institution. So, this doctoral candidate simply suffered through the experience in order to gain his professional credentials. 2.) I once mentioned to a tutor that SJC should make some effort to create podcasts or transcripts of one or more seminars each year and place them in public domain for the benefit of those who desire such an educational experience and yet lack the means. I shall paraphrase the tutor’s response in my OWN words as I understood it: “Whatever we say in seminar is private and not for public scrutiny and should we allow transcripts and student papers to be made public then they might be used against the college in some way (e.g. the controversy which occurred over Leo Strauss.)

Regarding Antisemitism it is obvious that SOMETHING was going on all the way back to the time of Tacitus and perhaps much earlier. It is not difficult to see hints of Antisemitism in the Qur’an and in some of the writings of Martin Luther. If Zionism did play some role in Antisemitism it was certainly only a small part. Perhaps there were non-Jews who welcomed the notion that there would be some distant place to send all the Jews and such a sentiment would certainly be an example of Antisemitism which lead to a pro-Zionist opinion among non-Jews. I am reminded of America creating Liberia as a place to send former slaves.

Anyway, Barbara, I commend you on your equanimity in the face of what must seem like a harsh response.

Barbara:
+++++
And I don’t think Israel’s current intransigence has anything to do with earlier persecution. I think chronologically. I mean, “results of your reasoning” is often simply “that’s a very middle-class model of masculinity.”

William:

George Soros may be guilty of being male in gender but he is hardly guilty of being middle-class. Soros is mentioned in the following link. I am going to look around in Google since that is my only resource. There are interesting questions.

1.) What is the earliest known example of Antisemitism prior to Tacitus?

2.) What is the history of Antisemitism?

3.) In what ways did Antisemitism persuade people to endorse the Zionist movement?

4.) In what ways (if any) did Zionist efforts increase Antisemitic sentiments.

5.) What is the relationship between Israel as a state with foreign and domestic policy and Judaism (in all its manifestations) as a religious practice.

http://www.rense.com/general45/anati.htm

Excerpt:

Jewish billionaire George Soros was criticized recently for saying that Israeli policies provoke anti-Semitism. Yet it is well known that Zionist extremists like Ariel Sharon have fomented anti-Semitism over the years for one fundamental reason – Israel needs more Jews.

“There is a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe,” Jewish billionaire George Soros told the Jewish Funders Network (JFL) in New York on November 5. “The policies of the Bush administration and the Sharon administration contribute to that,” he said. “If we change that direction, then anti-Semitism also will diminish.”

++++

I googled on : francis nicosia zionism antisemitism Germany

and came up with this preview (not that anything on the Internet PROVES anything … I don’t think we ever really CAN prove anything beyond the shadow of a doubt to everyone, but still it is to our advantage to keep thinking and trying to learn and expressing ourselves and such links are food for thought.)

http://books.google.com/books?id=JTtGXWzfD10C&printsec=frontcover&dq=francis+nicosia+zionism+antisemitism+germany&source=bl&ots=VCvaneq-7f&sig=kTX_w091_J9DQkPANUxj6nTZf5Y&hl=en&ei=hIK4TMGsH8H-8AbckPnFDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=francis%20nicosia%20zionism%20antisemitism%20germany&f=false

Here is a review of the above book. I have chosen these totally at random. I have no real deep knowledge of such history and anything one chooses may well be fraught with controversy so may I say that I have no particular “agenda” or “axe to grind” other than to see what is out there:

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2010/02/review-francis-nicosia-and-zionist.html

Howard Zinn Legacy

September 16, 2010

http://thevillager.com/villager_384/outingaims.html

Excerpt: Howard Zinn’s legacy of exposing the injustice inherent in America’s social and foreign policies is deeply threatening to right-wing
ideologues. They are delighted by any opportunity to impugn Zinn and his legacy. In a post-Dubya, post-Iraq, post-Katrina, post subprime meltdown, post-Sarah Palin world, one would hope……

Erik: The writer asks a putative rhetorical question, “But the bigger question is, why bother calling him a Communist?”

…then, answers that question indirectly, “The basis of the article was Zinn’s F.B.I. file, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Let me answer it directly. The F.B.I. files were released about a month and a half ago, so the reason why one would “bother calling him a Communist” is that, according to the raw intelligence within the files, he was believed to be a communist.

Let me pose a question: Why shouldn’t historical accuracy concerning public figures matter?

William:
Good point, Erik! I am sure there are those who very much want to know the gender of Shakespeare and the sexual orientation of Lincoln or Plato. I will have to re-read the link to see if there is a statement that historical accuracy does not matter. It is one thing to have some tangible connection to Communist such as membership in a Communist party. It is another thing to admire some principle such as “production according to the means of each and consumption according to their needs” and it is yet another thing to admire some Communist ideal but see it as doomed to failure in practice.

One might say that the historical accuracy of Ram or Buddha or Jesus is not really important with regard to the ability of such a personality in narrative to inspire or empower actual people in real life. It would be curious to learn that there was never actually a “good Samaritan” who aided a wounded stranger on the wayside and yet that historical fact would have little bearing on all the good things done throughout history in the spirit of being “a good Samaritan.”
+++++
D.b.:

What if there was one bit of dubious evidence that he was
a communist? Given the deep and scholarly legacy he left
behind in which he wrote at length about the democracy, civil disobedience and people’s right’s , how could he be discounte…d
or discredited? And if you’ve not explored his writings, how could you really contextualize his leanings and associations?

William:

Oddly enough this is the only link I found and it is not even Wikipedia (sorry Ruth):

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jeremy-d-boreing/2010/08/04/howard-zinn-hollywoods-favorite-communist-historian

Here is a lengthy excerpt from the above link which I post not to “win” some kind of argument or argue for or against Zinn the man but simply to explore.

(excerpt)

To prove that Zinn was a member of the organization during this period would go a long way toward validating the animosity and distrust the right has for Zinn’s work, both as an anti-war activist, influential author and professor, and sainted historian of the left.

But it is a mistake to focus too closely on Zinn’s status as a member of CPUSA.

Proving it is difficult, and even if it could be proven – what does it prove? Undoubtedly many people in their twenties made poor choices and joined organizations that as adults they would shun. To judge Zinn’s life and career by how he spent his youth, the Eddie Vedders and Danny Glovers of the world would argue, ignores the larger question of how he spent the rest of his life.

And it is that question – how Howard Zinn spent his life – that the right should desire.

The left undoubtedly loves dancing around such myopic questions as, “Was Zinn a member of the Communist Party,” expressly because it detracts from the larger question of, “Was Zinn a communist?”

Did Howard Zinn espouse communist philosophy? Did he openly sympathize with America’s communist enemies? Did he seek to use his influence in academia and the media to convert America’s young to the cause of communism?

These questions do not require the kind of definitive proof the left can demand of the more precise issue of Zinn’s actual political affiliation. They only require the smell test, and Howard Zinn cannot pass the communist smell test.

From his well-known early work on behalf of infiltrated, trans-national labor and civil-rights organizations, to his radical anti-war activism, his seminal and revisionist historical work, The People’s History of the United States, and his lesser known entries into literature, the theater, and television – like his play Marx in Soho, or The People Speak – Zinn continually championed a view of America, capitalism, and the west in general that was utterly sympathetic to the views of Marx and Lenin.

(end of excerpt)

Rise and Fall of Nations- Repeating Cycles

August 18, 2010

I am amazed by 14th century North African polymath North African polymath — an astronomer, economist, historian, Islamic jurist, Islamic lawyer, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, hafiz, mathematician, military strategist, nutritionist, philosopher, social scientist and statesman. Ibn Khaldun’s ideas were not absorbed by his society, nor were they carried forward by its future generations. Concerning the discipline of sociology, he conceived a theory of social conflict. He developed the dichotomy of sedentary life versus nomadic life as well as the concept of a “generation,” and the inevitable loss of power that occurs when desert warriors conquer a city. Perhaps the most frequently cited observation drawn from Ibn Khaldūn’s work is the notion that when a society becomes a great civilization (and, presumably, the dominant culture in its region), its high point is followed by a period of decay. This means that the next cohesive group that conquers the diminished civilization is, by comparison, a group of barbarians. Once the barbarians solidify their control over the conquered society, however, they become attracted to its more refined aspects, such as literacy and arts, and either assimilate into or appropriate such cultural practices. Then, eventually, the former barbarians will be conquered by a new set of barbarians, who will repeat the process. Some contemporary readers of Khaldun have read this as an early business cycle theory, though set in the historical circumstances of the mature Islamic empire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibn_Khaldun

9/11 and Turning the Other Cheek

August 5, 2010

There are many tin pot dictators in the world. If it was GOOD to execute Saddam then why doesn’t America proceed to execute every dictator that it deems evil?

Should America be the world’s policeman or executioner?

I suspect that the Bush family had a personal vendetta with Saddam and that is why he got executed. But what does Saddam or Iraq have to do with the 9/11 attack? And no one is answering my question: WHAT is the WORST thing that might have happened had we done nothing but “turn the other cheek” and forgive our enemy which seems me what Jesus would have advised. Bush in particular and America in general seem to pay so much lip-service to Christianity and yet so seldom display Christian teachings in their actions. I am just curious to see if anyone who follows this thread has some interesting and serious response.

Neanderthals RULE!

August 2, 2010

http://article.nationalreview.com/438941/ban-the-burqa/claire-berlinski?page=1

I am pro burqa and pro yarmulke – Excerpt: …she had experienced a religious revelation. She described this in terms anyone familiar with William James would recognize. She began veiling to affirm her connection with the Ineffable. “Every time I look in the mirror,” she said, “I see a religious woman looking back. It reminds me that I’ve chosen to have a particular kind of relationship with God.”

It is interesting to note that William James was the last world renowned pre-Freudian psychologist. His brother was the famous novelist Henry James. Teachers used to smirk and observe that William James was the better writer and Henry James was the better psychologist but I think they said that just to be cute. Sometimes people do that sort of thing, I mean, say something not because it is true or because they believe it but simply because it is different and controversial.

Also, William James observed that more alcoholics have been redeemed through religious programs (like AA’s higher power, but AA did not come into existence until 1935 after William James death in 1910) than by any medical or scientific or psychoanalytic means.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholics_Anonymous

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_James

Speaking of morally superior, I think GW Bush would have been morally superior if he and followed that Jesus fellow’s advice about loving one’s enemy and turning the other cheek rather than declaring war on terrorism. And I think it would be morally superior to not make a fuss about how many Mosques are built and where. I mean we are supposed to practice freedom of religion and separation of church and state. So if everyone decided to convert to Islam tomorrow and amend the Constitution to allow sharia law, then that would be as American as apple pie.

France is outlawing burqa, crucifix, veil, turban, yarmulke,… I sure see a lot of turbans and yarmulkes in NYC.

The Truman doctrine was supposed to stop the spread of Communism. That worked out well, didn’t it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truman_Doctrine

Ruth:

I’m just addressing the issue in general, I think of interest to others. Some years ago, I noticed something very significant in a church magazine, in an article about history. It said that in 1790 or so, the Presbyterian Church here in America rewrote its official doctrinal statement and removed a phrase that really summed up the last few hundred years of what had been learned in Europe. In a list of “sins,” they took out “tolerating error.” Error itself might still be a sin, but to allow your neighbor to err was no longer a sin.

It struck me as significant because the last rounds of that battle of conscience had been fought here in the colonies, when the Puritans of New England and the Anglicans of Virginia both persecuted Quakers, who settled in the middle to try to create a buffer zone. The Constitutional Convention was held in the capital city of the Quakers, and they were very influential. I think that it was their pressure that created this final victory of the idea of tolerance. It took European Christians about a thousand years to come to that conclusion, and after a lot of religious wars. We’ve fully believed in religious tolerance ever since.

But Islam didn’t go through the same process and while many individuals are very tolerant, of course, the official doctrine hasn’t changed. We’ve got to be careful of applying the same rules of perfect openness to a culture that will outlaw ours if given the chance. It’s like the Moriori people who didn’t believe in warfare, and were slaughtered or enslaved by the invading Maori. We believe in ordinary warfare, but not in intolerance, and yet without some defense, we’ll lose the right to be tolerant entirely. A real cultural dilemma.

William:

I don’t believe in much of anything. I will be dead soon so it doesn’t matter much to me what happens. I know that our sun will become a white dwarf in 500,000 years and when it does then everything disappears; Plato, Shakespeare, Marx, Jefferson, the whole works. So once that happens and it will happen, then what did it all mean?

I think the Neanderthal had it right for the first 400,000 years with anarchy and green technology but homo sapiens came along and messed everything up.

If everyone decided to convert to Islam TOMORROW, then our policy of religious freedom should give them freedom to do so, and if they wanted to gradually change the laws to conform to sharia then our government “of the people and by the people” would certainly allow that. I mean we outlawed alcoholic beverages and then we un-outlawed it. The way I see it America pioneered in the technology of mass destruction. Dresden was genocide. Hiroshima, Nagasaki was genocide. Just google on TOM TANCREDO NUKE and watch the 30,000 links that pop up.

I don’t think it makes any difference if someone builds a mosque near ground zero. America can’t even rebuild ground zero after a decade.

If America were really a “Christian Nation” then the one thing they would outlaw for certain is divorce, because Jesus specifically said that a man shall not put his wife away except for reason of adultery.

Ancient Rome was shocked to see the state religion abandoned for some new-fangled religion called Christianity and even believed that such impiety was causing the fall of the empire which I assume is why Augustine wrote “The City of God” to explain that the empire was not crumbling because the ancient gods and goddesses were being neglected.

If Islam is really an ideological threat then the only permanent solution is genocide. But I honestly believe that if tomorrow you got rid of all religions and ethnicities except for ONE (for the sake of argument lets keep the Catholics, or if you prefer, the Unitarian Universalists.) I say that within a century or two they would have sectarian divisions like the big-endians and the little-endians of Jonathan Swift’s Gullivers Travels and we would all be killing each other all over again.

I figure this world and humanity is doomed. I think that global warming is irreversible. I think that a shortage of water will soon be a bigger problem than a shortage of fossil fuels. And I think that human beings will never stop killing and torturing each other long enough to unite and solve any real problems.

But, perhaps I am wrong.

What I really think is that males should be forbidden by law from going topless in public. It is shameless the way males expose themselves and it offends the Almighty! Democracy demand equal treatment under the law so if females cannot go topless then males cannot go topless.

But it you think it will help you can outlaw the yarmulka and turban.

I have suddenly had a flash of illumination! We are all in essential agreement. The New Testament says the world will end. The Old Testament says the world will end. The Qur’an says the world will end. The Hindu scriptures say the world will end. The Buddhist scriptures say the world will end. Stephen Hawking says the world will end. We all believe the same thing! We just can’t agree on a dress-code.

There is actually something called “The Sayings of Mohammad” and I have a paperback copy. I can find it and give you the ISBN number. These are not in the Qur’an but are preserved in oral tradition. Mohammad said that one day the Ka’aba will be destroyed by an Abyssinian called “old skinny legs.”

The Romans destroyed the one and only Jewish temple in Jerusalem and subsequently Judaism evolved and changed. So, if the Ka’aba is destroyed then the fifth pillar of Islam, the Hajj, will be impossible and then Islam will change and evolve just like Judaism did. And since Mohammad predicted it, it must be halal.

Oscar Wilde can resist everything but temptation and we can tolerate anything except intolerance.

++++++

There is only one question you can hear which will guarantee your safety. If the day comes that you can go anywhere in the world and say “Islam, Muslim, Qur’an” and everyone looks at you in puzzlement and says “What’s that?” then and only then will you be safe. Well, at least, you will be safe from the ideological threat of Islam until some other religious or political extremism arises. If you simply outlaw burqa and mosque it will all simply go underground and while underground it will organize a resistance and wait for a time to strike back with an even greater vengeance.

I can imagine an amusing tale of a town which is regularly attacked by packs of rabid dogs so they decide that the solution is to outlaw barking and growling. But of course our town is a very proper democracy so the barking/growling ordinance is only passed after much due process with many stump speeches.

It is utterly amazing that the greatest superpowers in the world deploying the most advanced weapons have not been able to conquer Afghanistan. Some suspect that Russia used neutron bombs. Osama bin Laden is still free even though there is a huge bounty on his head.

The BBC produced a television drama of terrorists exploding a dirty bomb. At the end of the movie they confront one of the captured terrorists and show him photos of his wife and children, pleading for some information. He had a great answer. He said something like “these reprisals only make you grow weaker but they make us grow stronger.”

Karen Armstrong’s paperback “A Short History of Islam” shows that in only a century after the death of Prophet Mohammad Muslim forces had reached Jerusalem. The crusades could not save Constantinople from becoming Istanbul. Afghan goat-herders keep superpowers at bay.

I honestly think Islam has a chance at world domination by a process of gradual attrition over centuries, one suicide bomber at a time.

Just suppose for the sake of hypothetical argument that I am right and that Islam will triumph over all in a world wide Ummah under Sharia law. Suppose the only alternative is genocide, ethnic cleansing, using some new environmentally safe weapon of mass destruction which can totally wipe out an entire nation of people but leave the environment unharmed. Then would you play the ethnic cleansing card. I mean one decade of unspeakable heinous sin will buy you a 1000 years of peace and human progress. Now the since of the fathers are not visited upon the children so the future generations of that peaceful 1000 years would look back on the world’s terrible sin, shake their head, and say “yes it was brutal and unforgivable but it does seem that the end justifies the means.”

Or, suppose a virus could be genetically engineered to be specific only to those who lack something that is common to the Arab genome. The virus would not kill but merely renders its victims sterile. In fact, there are no outward symptoms of this virus except that its carrier victims are now infertile. Or if you prefer the virus would be specific only to those who POSSESS the Arab genetic trait. Such a biological weapon could be used by the Muslims against the infidels or by the infidels against the Muslims. This would be ethnocide without genocide. There would be no pain, no suffering, no murder. In 50 or 60 years the opposition would simply fade away.

Or, we could simply allow burqas and mosques and just wait patiently and see what happens. Perhaps they will all be seduced by the lure of Revlon and Jack Daniels and join our side!

++++

A Roman Catholic priest once asked a crusty old Irishman “What is your religion?” The old man replied “My religion is the oldest religion in the world. I try to be a nice guy.”

Moses said it all in a nutshell when he said “This day is placed before you good and evil, life and death. CHOOSE therefore life!” It is left to us as a choice.

Once an Imam was asked the following excellent question: “If Allah already knows from before the creation of the world which souls shall believe and be saved and which souls shall be damned, then why bother with the creation of the world? Why not just place the saved souls in eternal paradise and the damned souls in eternal torment?” The Imam explained “IF Allah were to place the damned souls directly into eternal torment they would complain for all eternity saying ‘But IF you had given me a chance, I would have become a believer.’ Hence it is necessary to allow the souls a time in the world so that their actions and deeds will convince them that they have earned their place in hell.”