2010-07-04

The worst thing about us being anti-Islamic bigots

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by Neil Godfrey

From: http://wondersofpakistan.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/how-to-deal-with-americas-empire-of-bases/

As long as we tolerate any public attention directed at the Moslem faith itself in response to terror attacks against our western nations and those our governments support, we will be allowing the real cause of those terror attacks to continue unchecked. We will even be playing into the hands of those responsible for the provoking of those terror attacks. We will be encouraging those responsible for the occupation, dispossession, maiming and murder of hundreds of thousands of people who have the misfortune to have been born in the lands that contain “our” necessary resources and power interests.

Doug Bandow summed it up in a recent Huffington Post article:

Terrorism is not new. It was used against Russian Tsars, the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, and British colonial officials. Algerians employed terrorism against the French and later Algerian governments. Basque and Irish separatists freely relied on terrorism. Until Iraq, the most promiscuous suicide bombers were Tamils in Sri Lanka. In none of these cases did the killing occur in response to freedom, whether in America or elsewhere.

Robert Pape of the University of Chicago studied the most recent cases: “The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign–over 95 percent of all the incidents–has had as its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw.

The full article is found at informationclearinghouse.info and Huffington Post.

The reference to Irish separatists is most instructive. At the time of their terror campaigns there was no nation-wide surge of anti-Catholic fears. The culprits were our own race and we could identify the reasons for their attacks very clearly.

Another article that I would highly recommend as a perfect companion piece to Bandow’s is by Glenn Greenwald in Salon. He addresses a new study by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government demonstrating how “mainstream media” — NYT, Washington Post, NPR — voluntarily fall into line with as mouthpieces of government propaganda. A specific case study addressed was how the media uniformly condemned waterboarding as torture up until the day their own government was known to use it and said it was not torture. The article, New Study Documents Media’s Servitude to Government, is found here, but note also the link to the update at the bottom of it. Anyone following recent mainstream media reports on the apparent alleviation of Gaza sanctions, and the follow-up investigations into the Israeli piracy against the aid ships, and comparing these with the uncensored reports available from other sources, will find the Greenwald article unnecessary reading.

Some people have deplored publications by “new atheists” because of their sometimes crude attacks on religion. I have addressed what I also consider their fanning of anti-Islamic prejudice. Religion has been and remains responsible for both good and evil. I am not the least interested in any notions of religious humanism for this reason.

Studies such as those of Robert Pape’s instruct us that to focus on Islam as a response to terror attacks is about as useful as persecuting Jews in response to the plagues in the Middle Ages.

But this deflection of our focus suits those who profit from our wars. It assures them that they have the “democratic” support for their efforts to continue to control the resources of the Middle East. Oh, and also to support the gradual ethnic cleansing of “Greater Israel” and the genocide* of the Palestinians.

Genocide is defined by a 1948 UN Convention as:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

• (a) Killing members of the group;
• (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
• (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
• (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
• (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Again, I am sometimes met with outrage when I use words like ethnic cleansing and genocide in this context. This is a classic illustration of the findings of the study discussed in Greenwald’s article:

And the ultimate effect of this joint government/media obfuscation is to further entrench the destructive notion that we’re different, exceptional, better, and therefore we deserve even a different language to describe what it is that we do.  This Harvard study documents the exact process by which the political class convinces itself and others that bad and illegal things are, by definition, only what those Bad, Other Foreign Countries do, but never ourselves.


2007-07-27

Violence and (the Muslim) religion — some real data (for humanists) to chew on

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by Neil Godfrey

In 2007 34% of Lebanon’s Muslim respondents to a Pew survey felt suicide bombings could be justifiable.

One in three people sounds horrific, but compare with the survey 5 years earlier.

In 2002 74% of Lebanon’s Muslim respondents to a Pew survey felt suicide bombings could be justified.

The figures are taken from the Pew Global Attitudes report released 24th July 2007. (Interestingly the second largest Muslim population in the world, that of India, is not included in the survey.)

Had Lebanese Muslims become any less devout between 2002 and 2007? That is what some popular literature against religion, and the Moslem religion in particular, would lead us to logically infer.

Rather, as I have attempted to point out in some of these posts, religion is a Protean beast that adapts itself to the social and politico-economic issues of the day. I recently wrote in The Problem with Some Muslims something like:

Christianity has both practiced and condemned slavery and racism, supported and fought against war and oppression of women and children, argued both sides of capitalism and socialism, according to the time and society in which it found itself.

Could it be the same with the Moslem religion? Continue reading “Violence and (the Muslim) religion — some real data (for humanists) to chew on”


2007-07-09

Doctor terrorists: Comparing media treatment of the Arab and American Jewish varieties

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by Neil Godfrey

In 1994 a “Jewish Settler” walked into a mosque and gunned down Arab worshippers. Media generally referred to Dr Baruch Goldstein as a “Jewish Settler” or a “crazed gunman”. One can still find old media references to him on the net. His doctor status was shocking but it was not the main thrust of the media labels at the time.

In July 2007 news headlines spoke of non-white terrorists with medical qualifications as:

Doctors caught in UK terror plot net (Sydney Morning Herald)

An Iraqi Doctor was led into court . . . (CBS)

We all know from near daily reminders that the horror of these men is that they are “doctors” — sworn to do no harm to life.

Yet one must question why the doctor status of the white American Jewish terrorist and mass killer was not so forcefully accentuated.

One is reminded of the Children Overboard mendacity of a few years ago — the Howard government finding a ready reception among the larger population to think of Arabs as somehow beyond the pale of humanity — without any of the normal standards of decency.

A Jewish killer is primarily a crazed gunman or jewish settler and his doctor status is secondary, almost apologetically applied; an Arab killer, if a doctor, is an Arab who knows no normal bounds of ethics — he is all the more evil for being a doctor.

As long as the western media continues to be oblivious to its implicit racism towards much of the Islamic world it will be supporting the imperialist attitudes and policies that are now after about a century are finally beginning to “blowback” on us.


2006-11-26

The end of faith: religion, terror, and the future of reason / Sam Harris. (Norton, 2005) Review

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by Neil Godfrey

This is a disturbing book principally for its ignorant tirade against Moslems. As an atheist myself I had hoped for something more rational and informative given the enormous popularity of this book in the U.S. but find Harris here is too often little more than a mega-mouthpiece for Western (read American?) ignorance of Moslems and the Moslem world outside the U.S. borders. Continue reading “The end of faith: religion, terror, and the future of reason / Sam Harris. (Norton, 2005) Review”


2006-11-21

The end of faith: religion, terror, and the future of reason / Sam Harris. (Norton, 2005) Review

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

This is a disturbing book principally for its ignorant tirade against Muslims. As an atheist myself I had hoped for something more rational and informative given the enormous popularity of this book in the U.S. but find Harris here is too often little more than a mega-mouthpiece for Western (read American?) ignorance of Muslims and the Muslim world outside the U.S. borders. I expected to read along with a like-mind since I also see religion and religious faith as a net negative left-over from our evolutionary past that needs to be eradicated just as acceptance of rape as a natural means for reproduction has been eradicated. But I found points of agreement only at a superficial level. It is bad enough that he blames religion as the principle or fundamental root cause of suicide terrorism: he says it was religious belief, belief in a blissful life after death, that enabled the 9/11 hijackers to commit their atrocity. What rot. A slight amount of reflection and simple logic would inform him that if religious belief were the root enabler of suicide terrorism then we would surely have had suicide terrorism for as long as we have had such beliefs in any religion. Pape’s “Dying to Win” is a scholarly research work that amply demonstrates that suicide terrorism is a function of national identity humiliation brought about by foreign occupation and that perpetrators of this form of terrorism since the 1980’s have included both the religious and non-religious and secular, Christian and Buddhist as well as Muslim. Pape’s research pulverizes Harris’s ignorant diatribe. Continue reading “The end of faith: religion, terror, and the future of reason / Sam Harris. (Norton, 2005) Review”

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