Archive for the ‘ religion ’ Category

Guest post: RE: “All European Life Died In Auschwitz”


I recently received a chain email entitled “All European Life Died In Auschwitz.”

That’s some title —and not in a good way. This title immediately flags the content up as a hate-filled anti-muslim rant. I read the beginning bit and couldn’t read any more, because it made me too angry. I get sent these chain emails all the time and they always get my goat. The Muslims this! The immigrants that…!

I posted on facebook that no one should send me any more of these poignantly written, but deeply venomous diatribes. And I repeat: I am not interested in your futile hate. It accomplishes nothing but feeding an already frenzied pool of bile.

However, one of the cc’s on the email —Eddy Widdup— did read the whole thing and found it as offensive as me. A few days later I was cc’d with his highly articulate response, which I have reproduced with permission below as it sums up my feeling on the situation, but with more ammunition that I could have mustered:

With the greatest of respect what died at Auschwitz was millions of innocent people. What died in the wars we have fought since then is millions of innocent people. No more no less. Racism didn’t die there and tolerance is a virtue that should be cherished and passed on. Muslim people do not bring intolerance, we are all good at that. Jewish people are not all peace loving innocent as the article would have us believe. Just look at Ariel Sharon and the Hebrew extremism forcing Palestinians from their homes and into Ghettos, no different from what National Socialism did.

Jews may well have given us some of the great minds of the last century but also remember that it was the Saracens who invented particle theory, much of modern medicine and even the parachute.

The article says they bought us stupidity and ignorance. But it was Christians who burnt the library at Damascus during the Crusades, effectively destroying the greatest collection of Ancient learning ever assembled. This included many of the original scripts from the New Testament, which because the soldiers could not read were considered heresy.

Then what about white extremists? Groups like the IRA or ETA? Are we to look at these idiots in a different light as they are white?

It is nonsense to think that Muslims are responsible for the all of Europe’s problems. We have done this before, except last time people donned brown shirts and burnt down synagogues.

It wasn’t Muslims that bought up the worlds food dividends when the property market crashed, callously driving the price of food up world wide. It wasn’t Muslims that gave the 3rd world huge loans then alter the interest rates so they would never be able to pay it back. It is not Muslim economies that are consuming the worlds resources at a rate where most will run out in 50 – 100 years.

The West has caused and will continue to cause the deaths of millions of people world wide, not through religious extremism but something far colder: PROFIT.

Basically what I’m saying is that its very easy to write an article profiling one group as the “cause” of our problems but its far harder to look inside and point the fingers at ourselves.

Sorry mate, but these kind of emails insult me deeply.

Eddy

The original email text is here, should you wish to read it, however it is fairly standard for this kind of thing.

Be sure to read the entire email.
ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ – Please take a few minutes to read this and pass it on.The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodriguez and published in a Spanish newspaper on Jan. 15, 2008.

It doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate the message to the rest of Europe – and possibly to the rest of the world.

REMEMBER AS YOU READ — IT WAS IN A SPANISH PAPER, Date: Tue. 15 January 2008 14:30

ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ

—By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez
I walked down the street in Barcelona , and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz ….

We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims.

In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent.

We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world.

These are the people we burned.

And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.

Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.

We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe .
***********************************

A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves.

Absolutely No Profiling! Pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice test.

These events are actual events from history. They really happened! Do you remember?

HERE’S THE TEST

1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by:
a. Superman
b. Jay Leno
c. Harry Potter
d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by:
a. Olga Corbett
b. Sitting Bull
c. Arnold Schwarzenegger
d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:
a. Lost Norwegians
b. Elvis
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. During the 1980’s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by:
a. The Smurfs
b. Davey Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:
a. Captain Kidd
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
a. Richard Simmons
b. Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
a. Mr. Rogers
b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill’s women problems
c. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by:
a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr Bean
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
a. Enron
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
a. Bonnie and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c. Billy Graham
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

14. And now we can add: In 2009, 31 people wounded and 13 American Soldiers murdered on base at Fort Hood by a Major that was known as…
a: You guessed it – A Muslim male extremist between the age of 17 and 40.

No, I really don’t see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you?
So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people. They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President’s security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.
________________________________

The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000; that is ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION or 20% of the world’s population. They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1988 – Najib Mahfooz

Peace:
1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat
1990 – Elias James Corey
1994 – Yaser Arafat:
1999 – Ahmed Zewai

Economics:
(zero)

Physics:
(zero)

Medicine:
1960 – Peter Brian Medawar
1998 – Ferid Mourad

TOTAL: 7 SEVEN

The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000; that is FOURTEEN MILLION or about 0.02% of the world’s population. They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

I’ve cut this down for the sake of brevity:

Literature: 10

Peace: 8

Physics: 53

Economics: 13

Medicine: 44

TOTAL: 129!

The Jews are NOT promoting brain washing children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non Muslims. The Jews don’t hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants. There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church. There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people. The Jews don’t traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels. Perhaps the world’s Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems. Muslims must ask ‘what can they do for humankind’ before they demand that humankind respects them.

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel ‘s part, the following two sentences really say it all:

‘If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel .” Benjamin Netanyahu

General Eisenhower Warned Us

It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect: ‘Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened’

Recently, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it ‘offends’ the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. It is not removed as yet. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests who were ‘murdered, raped, burned, starved, beaten, experimented on and humiliated’ while the German people looked the other way.

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be ‘a myth,’ it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people. Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center ‘NEVER HAPPENED’ because it offends some Muslim in the United States ?

Do not just delete this message; it will take only a minute to pass this along.

Now I’m not contesting the numbers —atrocities have been committed and still are being committed on all sides— but unless people on all sides learn tolerance and acceptance, we’re all going to hell/posthumous-penal-location-of-choice in a handcart.

Wake up, people.

Book review: ‘Nation’ – Terry Pratchett


Gary Carr as Mau in Mark Ravenhill's adaptation

Terry Pratchett’s Nation takes place in a world not too different to our own – but it’s not the Discworld either. Hence my misgivings about reading it. Being as my exams are over and I am now ostensibly free to read what I want for a few months, I thought I should probably read it (and give it back to the person who loaned it to me in 2008).

Here’s a rough synopsis of the book from , quite literally, the horse’s mouth:

For a fuller version, Waterstones provide this.

Having just finished it, I have to say my doubts were unfounded. While being set some time in Britain’s past when ‘map-makers would run out of red ink’ and therefore in a pseudo-real-world, Nation retains Pratchett’s style, formula, wit and philosophy. Particularly his philosophy on religion. Much of the book focuses on the protagonist Mau’s changing perceptions and understandings of what religion and belief are and why they are necessary.

Pratchett describes his own beliefs here:

A point of criticism is a lack of differentiation between some of the characters in this book compared with those from his others. Case in point is Mrs Gurgle, an old, mysterious and extremely powerful woman who rings loud bells of Mrs Google in Witches Abroad.

Despite this, Pratchett spins a fantastic yarn which satisfies right up to its unusual ending—  unusual for a Pratchett and unusual for many other books. The two protagonists, Mau and the ‘ghost’ (white) girl Daphne (was Ermintrude) part ways. The final chapter of the book is set ‘today’, with the story having been retold to two young children who protest the unfairness of Mau and Daphne’s parting. The teller helps them come to the realisation that Mau and Daphne had acted in the best interests of their people and not of each other or themselves. This kind of moral is not uncommon in a Pratchett tale, but it’s delivery in this instance is.

Perhaps the message is that the desire to sugar-coat the world is childlike, it is time to wake up.

Overall I was thoroughly impressed by the book, though it does not compare to many of the mid-span Discworld novels.

8/10

In looking for the sleeve image I came across another review of nation on WordPress here.

Power ≠ exemption: arrest the Pope (& the corrupt politicians)


Power should ≠ (not equal) exemption, but overall it appears it does. I read an interesting article on the Huffington Post yesterday which lead with this:

Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, two of the world’s most prominent atheist intellectuals, are seeking means to try the pope for crimes against humanity.

Sounds appealing and ‘just’, right? After all, the pontiff has been reported as heavily involved in the cover-up of sexual abuse within the Catholic church. In lay terms that would be aiding and abetting, a serious offence. The Pope, however, seems immune on the grounds that he is a head of state. Heads of state cannot be tried for crimes? Call me sceptical/uninformed, but that seems a bit bent.

Intellectuals Dawkins and Hitchens, both ardent atheists, evidently feel the same and are attempting to do something about it. Hitchens is quoted as saying:

“This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalized concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment.”

But as a fellow student, Craig Spence, noted:

[It’s] never going to happen, can you imagine the uproar it would cause in mainland Europe? particularly Italy, not to mention all the so called “Irish Catholics” in the states. What the UK should do is ban him from entering the country, make it clear that we don’t agree with his conduct.

Now, I like that idea, but I am holding out hope that he gets arrested — it might give my faith in ‘justice’ a much needed pep. In truth, however, I seriously doubt either action will be taken. There’s too much pressure on the government as it is and in the run up to elections I very much doubt that the government is going to alienate all the Catholic voters. Convenient timing really.

The point is this: conduct such as his (and that of other priests) should not remain unpunished and he should not be exempt just because he’s the Pope, just as politicians should not be exempt from fraud charges over the expense scandal. In any other business, theft on such a scale would have had serious repercussions.

People in positions of power should be as culpable as anyone else.

Evolution, creationism, intelligent design & the huge lack of proof for any of it.


Or more accurately:

Evolution, creationism, intelligent design and the huge lack of proof —as far as any layman can understand— for any of it.

I recently read a Guardian article by Oliver Burkeman about how the way we live our lives now may have an effect on the longevity of our descendants. However, the article was interestingly couched in the Evolution versus Creationism debate and it sparked my interest. Burkeman describes the incident in 1960s Maryland, at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in which, having found a day missing, thousands of years in the past, one of the astronomers remembered a passage from the bible where Joshua asks God to stop the world for a day, which God —being the thoroughly good egg that he is— obliged. This, of course, proved the existence of God and his omnipotent powers of creation and, indeed, cessation.

So the Adam & Eve thing—and I understand this may be opening a can of worms here so feel free to correct my patchy knowledge. God creates a man (simples) and a woman (no mean feat) and everything’s wonderful until Lilith (the woman) wouldn’t ‘lie beneath him’. I’m lead to believe that this is both metaphoric and literal. So she gets packed off for having to much free thought and possibly a more exciting view of sex than St. Peter (the alcoholic woman-hater responsible for the transcript of some stories passed down orally—chinese whspers, anyone?— for 200 years that regular folk call ‘the Bible’). So God, not wanting the only man alive to be lonely or possibly for the purposes of procreation, makes Eve from one of Adam’s ribs, conveniently giving Adam the option to blow himself should Eve decline (at her own peril, evidently). Anyway, skipping to the end part, Eve persuades Adam to eat the apple of knowledge, God throws his toys out of the pram and exerts his almighty autorita to kick them out of Eden. At which time the only man and woman created stumble ashamedly into a village full of people, who probably also had clothes on.

‘Nough said.

Now, the Big Bang Theory (which is explained in great yet understandable detail here), that’s science, right? (As opposed to psyience perhaps). We’ve all heard of e=mc2,but to the lay person, the average joe who is not so good at maths or algebra, let alone physics or astrophysics, it’s about as much mumbo jumbo as Adam & Eve. Of course, there’s Evolution too. Dinosaurs and such. But seriously, for the layperson, that too is a lot to get your head around. A rather amusing video regarding what is termed ‘the Atheist Delusion’ is here. It puts in perspective the whole debate, assuming it doesn’t offend you first.

Natural selection is simpler. As Oliver Burkeman puts it:

In the way it’s generally understood, the whole point of natural selection – the so-called “modern synthesis” of Darwin’s theories with subsequent discoveries about genes – is its beautiful, breathtaking, devastating simplicity. In each generation, genes undergo random mutations, making offspring subtly different from their parents; those mutations that enhance an organism’s abilities to thrive and reproduce in its own particular environment will tend to spread through populations, while those that make successful breeding less likely will eventually peter out.

…From two elementary notions – random mutation and the filtering power of the environment – have emerged, over millennia, such marvels as eyes, the wings of birds and the human brain.

Simples?

Not any more, apparently. Research has now shown that the relationship between genes and the environment is not actually one-way, i.e. genes produce random mutation>  the mutation is either suited to the environment and stays or unsuited to the environment and gets the boot. As David Shenk points out, according to new research, it is two-way. Environments can shape genetics too, such as the viruses that make up part of the human genome.

And here again we have a lot of confusing evidence that as laypeople it becomes hard to understand. It comes down, perhaps, to who you trust, what makes the most sense to you, the individual. After that, it’s just getting on with it. However, in the light of the studies mentioned in the Burkeman article, it’s worth remembering that the effects your environment has on you does not extend just to you. Stressed chickens whose abilities are impaired breed chicks with those impaired abilities, even when they’re raised without stress.

In the words of David Shenk:

If a geneticist had suggested as recently as the 1990s that a 12-year-old kid could improve the intellectual nimbleness of his or her future children by studying harder now, that scientist would have been laughed right out of the hall.

Not so now. Although on the brightside, your grandchildren won’t have these traits/impaired abilities as they are only affective of the first subsequent generation.

So think happy thoughts:):-

The atheist delusion video


Many thanks to Peter Harrison for [en]lightening my day today :):-

“Homosexuality is wrong, kids, God says so.”


happy to hate

Rachel Williams reported in the Guardian about the so-called U-turn performed by the government regarding sex education in faith schools, i.e. allowing Catholic schools to teach that homosexuality is wrong and ‘discourage’ the use of contraception.

What I’d ike to know is, how has this been passed? Religious freedom notwithstanding, surely it’s better to teach kids all sides of something and let them make their own minds up. Teaching that homosexuality is wrong because ‘God said so’ (aside from the ambiguity of the actual ‘truth’ here) is just going to perpetuate and exacerbate hate [crimes], misunderstandings and inhibit diversity.

In the words of Stonewall:

Some people are gay, get over it.

In addition, does the country need any more breeding teenagers, really? With very few exceptions, having a baby young is a waste of the lives of all concerned – the teenagers who don’t get to have a life until they’re in their 30s, the kids raised by kids who haven’t probably learnt some of the most valuable lessons to pass down.

A spokesman for the Dept for Children, Schools and Families, has said

“…schools will be required to teach full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the bill, including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free to express their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.”

However, this translates to ‘a Catholic school will be required to teach the factsabout contraceptives and contraception, but would be free to contradict it all by foregrounding and reinforcing their views on the subject.

The question remains: who ensures that a balanced message of tolerance, objectivity and free will is  getting across?

Equality Bill beeswax & Pope Benedict


In response to the BBC News article on Pope Benedict’s attack of the UK government over Equality Bill…

Just a few things,

1) “The taxpayer in this country is going to be faced with a bill of some £20m for the visit of the Pope – a visit in which he has already indicated he will attack equal rights and promote discrimination.”

Fantastic! Who agreed to pay for this hate peddler? Do only Catholics have to pay for this visit?

2) Religious leaders have voiced concern that the Equality Bill could force churches to employ sexually active gay people and transsexuals when hiring staff other than priests or ministers.

The question here is why would actively gay people want to be employed by organisations that don’t agree with them?

3) Peter Tatchell said the Pope’s comments were a “coded attack on the legal rights granted to women and gay people… His ill-informed claim that our equality laws undermine religious freedom suggests that he supports the right of churches to discriminate in accordance with their religious ethos… He seems to be defending discrimination by religious institutions and demanding that they should be above the law.”

But Catholic MP Ann Widdecombe said: “This isn’t a debate about homosexuality, this is a debate about religious freedom.”

Now, if this was coming from a Islāmic voice, how would we feel about that?

4) Widdecombe goes on to say  “If a faith teaches, as major faiths do, that something is wrong, then quite clearly you cannot have somebody who believes that it’s right actually occupying a very senior position… That we have accepted as natural justice for a very long time.”

The counter here is threefold:

the first is as above in point 2)

the second is a disagreement with the ‘inclusive ‘we” of her statement (although it’s acknowledged that this may have been taken out of context)

the third is ‘natural justice’ – what is this natural justice? Darwinism? God’s Law? Accepted for a long time? Hmm, the Luddites spring to mind. That said, faith is faith, you believe or you don’t. Surely there are enough fragments and divisions of the church by now to accommodate all – gays included. Perhaps gays shouldn’t attempt to force the ‘anti-gay’ divisions of the church to accept them and find a division that does and the Pope who is “not getting into party politics” –or the running of a(nother) country?– should do as he claims.

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