Chapel Hill Shooting: Atheists / Anti-theists Are Responsible?

Craig Hicks, charged with shooting death of 3 Muslims in N.C.

Some less than spectacular people out there on the Inter-webs are calling for vocal atheists and anti-theists to own up to the Chapel Hill Shooting being our version of the Charlie Hebdo Massacre. No, we won’t be doing that. At least not at this time. Should the available facts on record change, such as a confirmed manifesto being released, any reasonable person would adjust their views to include this. But what we have here is a horrible tragedy with no clear motives, nothing more. Charlie Hebdo was killing in the name of religion being held higher in importance than freedom of speech and human life; no comparison.

Standards of acceptance of evidence is probably the core difference between atheists and theists. For instance: I don’t see any evidence that is at all compelling for a historical Jesus of Nazareth nor for a God of Abraham. The commonly used “personal experience” routine is crap on multiple levels but mainly because people lie to further their own goals all the time and religious labels don’t instantly cure a person of unethical behaviors.

I’ve studied the Bible at length, researched non-canonical texts, applied the standards of historical veracity to both the Old and New Testaments and none of it amounts to the claims of “divinity” and “divine truth” made by Bible-believers. At the most, and this is being very generous, there was a Jewish rebel priest put to death by the Romans that had a chain of hearsay turn him into a demigod in the eyes of certain men who were all born around a hundred years after his execution.

Islam and the Quran are different in the sense that the central figure is much, much more so a verified historical figure but shares in the same issues of the Torah and the Bible where none of the claims to divinity and ultimate truth are any more compelling than when the Greeks, Egyptians or the Pagans wrote of their mastery of the ethos of life and contemplation. The endless contradictions anyone can find with enough time spent with almost any “holy book” placed to the side, the issue with any form of religious extremism boils down to dehumanizing those who will not conform to the point where an act of torture or murder upon them is not only acceptable but mandated from on high.

Thing to remember here is some people believe in UFOs and anal probes but it’s rare to the point of being unheard of that one of them would go shoot up a skeptic conference in the name of being unhindered to spread the message of the coming alien overlords to the masses. But both radicalized Christians as well as Muslims, and even the heavily pacifist Buddhists, have done exactly these kinds of actions in both isolated and organized acts of violence. All this in recent decades and not even bothering to dredge out old history books citing violence over the centuries committed in the name of religious “purity.”

No respected atheist anywhere is advocating you solve your disputes with acts of murder or that the best way to silence an ideological opponent is to kill them in their home or place of business. But I could troll the right-wing radio Christian waves for awhile and bring back some moron who is doing exactly that and same with the nationalistic Islamic newsgroups and forums. This would not in turn implicate all Christians and all Muslims in those statements but only those who identify with the speaker’s views which is not an easy thing to assess unless someone declares it to be so.

Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

 

As always when I cover tragic stories my deepest condolences go out to the family members and friends of the victims of this horrible event.  I do not speak merely for myself when I say that this man should face the full force of the legal justice system and hopefully this will bring you some measure of peace.

Kira’s Kingdom

We’d be better off if the rotten people died.” – Kira

For those not on board the anime train Death Note is a supernatural suspense thriller in which the main character seeks to create a better world, by killing people. He uses a notebook from a ‘Shinigami’ (“death god”) to write the names of criminals who then die after having their names transcribed in this ‘Death Note.’

Generally speaking I am against capital punishment and using fear to install world peace. However, on any bad day (which today rates rather high on the list) I operate on a very different plane of thought.

Who decides what is justice? Who determines what is moral? You? Some old book that most people never read cover to back?

I have said many times in regards to politics that I don’t care at all the vehicle for positive social change. The Democratic Party, The Republican Party, The Green Party … I really couldn’t care less about the branding. All I care about is results. Any political party or movement that can show me they will affect positive change to serious societal issues has my support.

This same pragmatic approach is exactly why in my dark moments I find myself speaking as if I were Kira. I’ve even been known to throw down some fire & brimstone at the same people who throw it on me. I don’t believe in a Hell outside of this living world, but enough readings of the Bible would make anyone start wanting to shove some sulfur and endless torment on the bullies, stalkers, racists, bigots, homophobes and zealots who make it their business to inform us of their vile nature.

It’s a false paradise bathed in blood. Beyond that once the new world was founded, Kira must then die. He could never live as the ‘god’ of his kingdom for he would be a collection of more mass genocide on his hands than could ever be tolerated in the this new utopia.

But my mind wanders on these topics at times, even without the aid of gothic anime shows.

Would this world founded on fear and death be so vastly different from our world of today?

People decide every day that life in this world is not worth living.

Would Kira’s Kingdom truly be so awful to live in that people would continue to see existence as vile and loathsome?

There is no question in my mind that true peace is not founded on a pile of corpses.

But how long must the world sit bleeding and dying in wait for true peace?

In my experience reality is not a decision between ideology versus ideology, but rather between a destructive status-quo versus a catastrophic realism.

“Two wrongs don’t make a right.” But this supposes there is anything but “wrong” in the world in the first place. If everything in the world is nothing but “wrong” to begin with then “two wrongs” is just nothing more than the world in motion, and the question becomes only what world will we be left with after the actors have played their parts and exited the stage.

Translation of lyrics from Death Note’s closing video:

This single page,

Forever depressing,

A fleeting tactic in the eyes,

Without petition,

Evil against the law,

Chain it in a prison,

Poison in the notebook,

Fear the lust,

Delusion of being deceived,

Perpetually drooling,

Judgment is “crime control” they driveled,

Who has the Rx for that?

A decriminalized world,

A sanctioned world,

Taking heat just like “Pirates of Death,”

Atone with the game of laws,

Billy in despair,

Now it’s time for ethics,

Now the unstoppable Eraser Rain,

Billy in despair,

Now it’s time for ethics,

Now the unstoppable Eraser Rain,

The unstoppable Eraser Rain.

Neither A Dove, Nor A Hawk

I realize I am casting myself unto outcast island with my support of the Afghan Surge, but this was exactly the policy I was advocating the president take in the first place. A increase in troops only under the predication of a withdrawal time line and clear goals set that are attainable. In essence the nation building that they do, that they don’t want to call nation building, needs to be either stabilized or abandoned. That is the hard truth of the matter, like any other war that we start as a nation we must come to bring it to an end-point.

It sounds rather strange, but I reject the rejection of the proposed draw-down in 2011 as being nothing but a smoke-screen or a political ruse on the left. Even in the announcement of this policy it sparked immediate reaction from President Karzai in terms of a statement about not being ready to handle security for “fifteen years.” That, of course, is absurd but it proves that much needed pressure is being applied for Karzai to take up a stronger level of national security in Afghanistan. There is also the larger foreign policy issue in terms of the surrounding regions being aware that the US is there to fight, but not there to stay on into infinity. Senator John McCain, who aspired to the highest office and did not take the seat that would have made this very decision, disagreed on this point of the Obama war policy utterly and advised against it in his “wisdom.” Then finally we have the matter of simple follow-through in terms of the campaigning in 2008 over Afghanistan being the “right war” from the Obama camp.

Many view it as Obama has placed himself in a box of being trapped to deliver on campaign promises, but I believe his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize was by far the most important and the most revealing speech of his entire political career. He placed himself on one side of an old argument started long ago by Saint Augustine as to if there is such a thing as a “just war” and I happen to be of the view that there is no such thing as this. However, if you remove that element of theological disagreement between President Obama and myself then I believe this speech answers almost every point of contention coming from the left toward the Afghanistan war policy.

This not the policy of a dove, any more than this is a policy of a hawk.

What we must avoid is creating the power vacuum of our sudden absence but at the same balance that fact that you and me everyone else is sick of war and just done with it for no real reason beyond just that. Which is good! But let’s do it right. Let’s bring about an actual “end-game” to this war and if deadlines are extended and we are left with “half a war” as we have in Iraq then I say that it still better than the McCain / Bush policy of “muddling through” in Afghanistan.

I am far from beating the war drums over here and as I have stated before my heart just cries out to “bring them home now!” but there is element of rationality that needs to be applied here to anything that is within the realms of war policy discussions. I am yet another of these “not a dove, nor a hawk” individuals who seek balance out an ugly reality against desires for peace. My support of “troop surges” and “soft power solutions” dissolves quickly as deadlines become discarded like the public option or when the troop increases become “like a drink of water” but as this policy stands I believe that we have to give these strategies a chance to work in order to ensure a future that might finally see an end to the war.

I’m certainly willing to admit to a possibly overly optimistic view on the matter, but I think this was the right policy for Afghanistan as the situation stands now.

Obama Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech pt.1pt.2pt.3

Bigots Against Islam Run The Republican Party

The hatred of others based on their faith is the favored tactic of the Anti Obama Republicans in this current political climate. If this hatred was directed at another religion the whole of the American public would reject this bigotry as unpatriotic and down right sick. This propaganda and lies about Islamic faith is tolerated by Republicans because many Americans chose to believe lies, such as the misnomer that the majority of Muslims are in fact terrorists, in place of speaking with their fellows whom may be more directly connected to the truth of the matter than a pack of lying pundits.

Racism against Arabs and bigotry against Islam seems perfectly acceptable to millions of Americans, while racism against Blacks and bigotry against Christians or Jews is downright unacceptable. These Republican Americans and their conservative counterparts seem to believe that civil rights extend only to certain colors and certain faiths.

These disrespectful and partisan Americans put into question their dedication to the principals of non-discrimination in our society. Until major representatives of the Republican Party denounce this bigotry and racism in their ranks they remain in my mind a continued threat to peace and national security in the United States of America.

If Women Ruled the World…

’Women’s Liberation’ Aims to Free Men, Too

 Gloria Steinem, The Washington Post, June 7th, 1970

“Simply Incorruptible”

“ONE FINAL myth that women are more moral than men. We are not more moral; we are only uncorrupted by power. But until the old generation of male chauvinists is out of office women in positions of power can increase our chances of peace a great deal.”

“I personally would rather have had Margaret Mead as President during the past six years of Vietnam than either Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. At least she wouldn’t have had her masculinity to prove. Much of the trouble this country is in has to do with the masculine mystique: The idea that manhood somehow depends on the subjugation of other people. It’s a bipartisan problem.”

***

I do not fully subscribe to Steinem’s logic that women are uncorrupted by power. I believe absolute power corrupts absolutely, with no exceptions. However, it may very well be true in the time the words were first spoken that if the so dubbed ‘masculine mystique’ were removed from the scenario that many atrocities committed in Vietnam might have been averted.

The greater issue, in my mind, is always resources and the means of production. Such matters supersede the confines of gender and gender roles. I am, however, quite willing to commit to the idea that if only women were allowed to hold administrative offices that there would indeed be far less warfare in the world as a whole.

Ultimately, there would be no end to wars and subjugation of one over the other. I envision a world of more practical wars and even more decisive moves than those we see in leaders both of the past and today. The War Machine would continue, but take a form it has known before. A much more humble machine.

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Gloria Steinem is a free-lance writer and a contributing editor of New York Magazine. The accompanying article [above quote] is excerpted from a commencement address at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Miss Steinem says that it “was prepared with great misgivings about it’s reception, and about the purpose of speaking at Vassar.”

 

http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/aims/

Cast The First Stone

You may hear those of good-nature and even many secular-types say this:

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

While the message is of the highest importance to us as a people I believe much of this is lost in the changes of how we speak and write and even think in this modern world. The language of our forefathers resonates with some but not with most.

So the greatest of messages of our history are lost to time and to society. I am about to use a modern version of that common quote and I don’t want to be accredited but rather want you to use this on someone to make a better impression if ever in the situation where you might say the line above.

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“Let the perfect person among you throw the first stone.”

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Sin’ is not’ in’ if that makes sense to you at all. The word itself has almost no weight, at least compared to the centuries prior. ‘Perfect’ however is something that anyone can wrap their head around in terms of something that no one actually has about them as is the idea that we are all with some element of imperfection about us no matter what we do. The concepts of Original Sin and the Fallibility of Man were so common in the past that they were assumed to be understood in many messages.

I am only attempting to show why we keep missing the message in this national discussion of gay-rights, same-sex marriage and equality under the law.


Eric Lightborn
http://americapress.wordpress.com
December 26th 2008