911 Dichotomy

I don’t have an interesting story about what I was doing 10 years ago today. I wasn’t in New York or D.C. I didn’t have family or friends in harm’s way. I was 21 years old, driving a sandwich truck in Cleveland, gathering bits information from construction workers as I went from site to site.

The chaos and tragedy of the news I was hearing stood in stark contrast to the mundane nature of my life and that day, making it particularly surreal. The day stands as a vivid memory of a foggy experience. I imagine this is not an unusual recollection of September 11th.

10 years later we are all looking back on that day and it’s important not to oversimplify when reflecting on the role religion played. Like with most things, we see a division between the left and right—one insisting that Islam is not to blame for the attacks and the other holding all Muslims responsible.

They’re both wrong. At least on those two points. And, in other ways, both sides are right. Do we really need  fall into one of these camps? Can we not say that, yes, the attacks were carried out because of Islam, and no, the Muslim family down the street are not terrorists?

Of course it would be unjust to hold all Muslims responsible and of course the blame should be laid with the disgusting perpetrators, but to suggest that the September 11th attacks were not religious or that Islam was not the driving force. And please, let’s avoid making false Scotsmen out of Osama Bin Laden and friends by claiming that they are/were not “real” Muslims.

Even President Obama, speaking to the nation after killing Bin Laden, sought to downplay Bin Laden’s religious motives, if not eliminate them. Could anything be more vile than to create a fiction about such an important event and attempt to sell it to the victims’ families just to avoid saying anything critical about any religion at any cost?

To say that Islam was not the driving force behind the attacks is to rationalize to the point of self-delusion. The Quran is filled with verses explicitly instructing Muslims to slay the unbelievers. Read them. Read them in context. See the mental gymnastics involved every time the mantra Islam is peace is uttered. Hearing what Bin Laden has said in countless interviews, fatwas, and grainy videos, can anyone really say that his actions do not stem directly from Islam and the Quran? The following are just a few kernels I picked out of the bag of Bin Laden references to God:

I’m fighting so I can die a martyr and go to heaven to meet God. Our fight now is against the Americans. (Wikiquote)

Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God. (PBS)

For this and other acts of aggression and injustice, we have declared jihad against the US, because in our religion it is our duty to make jihad so that God’s word is the one exalted to the heights. (PBS)

The flip-side is that some use the undeniable blood on hands of Islam as justification for bigotry.

It is not bigotry to speak ill of Islam, especially considering the harm it has done. It is not bigotry to be fearful of someone or something, whether it be justified fear or not. It is bigotry to discriminate against innocent individuals for simply belonging to a group, to deny those people the rights we all enjoy, to commit violence against them.

The controversy that arose following news that an Islamic Center was being planned to go up on privately owned property in the general vicinity of Ground Zero is an easy example of a blatant attempt to take away the rights of others. Do we really want to start ignoring the right of the people to freely exercise their religion? (I ask this mainly of the majority Christians that made up the outspoken opposition.)

Islam is the problem. Some Muslims are the problem. I see no reason to shy away from saying this, and no reason to exaggerate it.

Bin Laden Not a Muslim Leader? Obama, Please.

I’m not going to write about Bin Laden’s death or the political ramifications of it. Nor will I write about the conspiracy theories I’m starting to find among my Facebook network. Instead, I want to take issue with one little part of Obama’s little speech.

“Our war is not against Islam, because Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer of Muslims”

Really? Interesting.

Should we forget that Bin Laden declared jihad—defined as a holy war undertaken by Muslims—on the U.S.? And that he opened said declaration with:

It is God that we thank and it is God whose help and forgiveness we seek and whose name we uphold against our own evil and our wrongdoings. Whoever is guided by God cannot be misled and whoever misleads can find no guidance. I declare that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his subject and messenger. (FBIS Report)

Should we forget that Bin Laden saidthat “Muslims need a leader who can unite them and establish the ‘pious caliphate’.”?

Surely he doesn't mean the Muslim version of paradise...

Should we forget that 30 seconds on Wiki-fuckin-pedia—as Tim Minchin might say—should make it obvious to anyone who can read that Al Qa’ida is an Islamic organization that was headed by Bin Laden?

Should we forget that Joseph Stalin was a Soviet leader and a mass murderer of Soviet people, and accept that because Bin Laden was a mass murder of Muslims that he was not a Muslim leader?

Should we forget Obama’s blatant dishonesty and continual pandering to the religious and reelect him anyway? Well, yeah, I guess the answer is unfortunately “yes” on that last one.

FU Friday: Newt Gingrich

Today’s FU Friday comes on a Thursday—deal with it.

Former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has been saying some awful and just plain strange things about non-Christians lately. Here is John Stewart’s take:

In case you’re outside the U.S. and can’t watch the video, here’s what Newt said:

I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9.  I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.

A week or so before expressing his worries about atheist jihadists, Newt was already barking at the same tree. He conducted an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network to speak about his past indiscretions, the coming presidential race and the threat to “Judeo-Christian society.”

I’m pretty sure you can all see that video. If not, let me know.

I’m not sure why he seems hell bent on associating atheists with Islam. I’m pretty sure the two groups have as much contempt for each other as they do for Christianity. Yet he wants to include Jews in his club with the meaningless term, “Judeo-Christian.”

Let’s be honest here, Newt. If your contention is that America has a “Judeo-Christian civilization” because it was founded that way, you’d be wrong, but you’d also have to drop the “Judeo”; I don’t think there were a whole lot of Jewish founders and, more importantly, our founding documents don’t say anything about Judaism (or Christianity for that matter).

If your contention is that Jews and Christians make up a majority of Americans, fine, but you’re forgetting about the non-religious who make up more than 10% of the population compared with the minuscule 1.7% Jewish, according to Pew Forum statistics.

Or perhaps you include Jews because they have similar values—they share one of your holy books and worship the same god. Well guess what, Newt—those Muslims you hate so much share with you two books and a god!

Bottom line is you can say, “Deio-Christian,” “Atheo-Christian,” or my personal favorite, “Judeo-Christo-Islamic,” and still make some sort of sense, but not, “Judeo-Christian.”

Dr. Jihad

So I’m sitting here at the doctor’s office waiting to find out if I have the flu, bronchitis, whooping cough, or if I’m just a baby with a cold (probably the latter). My doctor is some sort of Middle Eastern, as are many patients. I haven’t quite been able to pin down a nationality, but I normally pass the time by reading a newspaper that is half English half Arabic. Besides, my knowledge of that region’s nations, ethnicities, races, and religions is confused at best.
It normally doesn’t take much effort to avoid seeing all these patients as terrorists when they are mostly families with kids and just generally non-threatning.
But today is a challenge. I was just on Twitter completely ignoring the Arabic conversations going on around me, whe a certain word jumped out and slapped me in the face–“jihad.”
Perhaps I misheard, and the context is completely unknown to me anyway, but it was enough to freak me out a bit.
Does that make me some kind of -ist?
Anyway, I thought I would make my first mobile post.

FU Friday: Ahmadinejad

Today’s FU goes to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, after having the gall to criticize Gaddafi for using violence against protesters in Libya. I can’t say enough words about this one, so I just made a video instead:

This coming from the guy who had protesters in Iran killed, then made their families pay for bullets.

Fuck you, Ahmadinejad.

Here’s what he said:

It’s hard to imagine there’s a person who can kill his own people or bombard them. That’s really ugly. I advise strongly that everyone should allow their people to talk, and reply to their demands. They lead these people. How can a ruler bombard his own people then say, “if anyone speaks out, I’ll kill them”? This is not acceptable. People should have freedom and decision making powers in their own future. This is their right. I think everyone in the world is very shocked at what’s happening in Libya. It’s really bad. I think they should heed the demands of their people. But of course, as we know, anyone who doesn’t respect the will of their people—well, their fate is written.

Dear Red Cross,

Here is a short article from the Associated Press, found on this website:

Red Cross seeks to provide kosher meals for disaster victims

When the next disaster strikes, whether you are religious, atheist or just a vegetarian, the Red Cross will have a meal for you.

By The Associated Press

The American Red Cross has been looking at ways it can improve its response to the next disaster and it’s found some surprising answers. Joel Sullivan, CEO of the Middle Tennessee chapter of the American Red Cross, said changing demographics have led to a demand for food that meets the specific cultural and religious needs. The Red Cross is looking for vendors that can supply vegetarian, kosher and halal meals.

The Tennessean reports that Muslim leaders have also asked the charity to look into providing separate spaces for men and women at their shelters.

Dear Red Cross,

I commend you for your efforts to provide appropriate meals for victims with “specific cultural and religious needs.” I hope you will consider accommodating my beliefs as well, should I be in the unfortunate position of requiring your aide.

As a follower of the religion of Atheism, I require that my meals contain only meat that comes from tortured baby humans. Torturing is essential in preparing my meals. There are also very important rituals that must be performed, including the dancing of the Macarena by all those involved in the raising of the mini humans or the preparation and handling of the tiny baby human meat. Oh, and I require ice cream cake with every meal.

And see if you can’t make separate spaces for old, white, male intellectuals and those who are not old, white, male intellectuals in your shelters—we wouldn’t want any mixing of ideas going on.

Thank you for your time,

Concerned Atheist

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Militant Atheist, Religionist Attacks on the Rise

"Death to Israel!"

Though religious and atheist violence has been around for centuries, recent studies show that militantism among atheists and the faithful is on the rise.

One needs to look no further than the headlines in any daily newspaper to find evidence of this unfortunate trend.

Last year we saw Hindu “morality police” beat young women in India for drinking alcohol.

In that very same year, militant atheist Richard Dawkins wrote a book about evolution.

"I strongly disagree with some things!"

In the near-decade that has passed since the Muslim terrorists flew jetliners into the World Trade towers and the pentagon, intelligence agencies have uncovered numerous Al-Qaeda plots to bomb buildings and planes in many different countries.

But they aren’t the only ones plotting.

It has been reported that dozens, if not tens, of militant atheists were found to have sinister plans to write books. Books that express opinions different than those held by most people.

With God all things are possible.

In recent weeks the FBI has executed a series of raids on a Christian militia that plotted to murder police officers and set off a bomb at a funeral. And of course the Lord’s Resistance Army continues to reek havoc across Africa.

This outrageous behavior could be seen mirrored in Christopher Hitchens, perhaps the most militant of all atheists, as he called for the capture and prosecution of high-ranking catholics who aided in the cover-up of child rapes.

"I have a different opinion—and I'm not afraid to use it!"

But perhaps the most heinous crimes of these zealots has been the incitement of others to commit violence. Like the Muslim group that offered a $100,000 reward for killing a Swedish cartoonist ($50,000 bonus for slaughtering him like a lamb).

Militant atheists have also used this tactic of incitement recently. Two of the so-called “Four-Horsemen” were seen doing just that—both during moderated debates with theists.

Daniel Dennett was reported to have stroked his manly white beard while simultaneously grumbling as an opponent began speaking of free-will.

And in perhaps the most blatant act of militantism, sources reported to have seen Sam Harris, in response to Pascal’s wager, raise a single eyebrow.

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