There’s been a bit of commotion lately at the University of California at Davis, following the recent approval of a resolution to divest from companies that profit from Israeli apartheid. A barrage of hateful, Islamophobic and racist attacks have been launched against Arab and Muslim students – including a student senator. When there’s an outcry over… Continue reading “Fox News Conflates Sharia Law With Swastika Graffiti At U.C. Davis” →
I’d say at least 99.9% of the people I encounter daily have absolutely zero concept of the difference between Sunnis and Shi’ites; and that’s being generous. Iraq once was a nation that was fairly secular and not terribly fundamentalist in any way. The United States brilliantly marches in carrying freedom fries and liberty bells and voilà! The two warring sects of Islam are now at each other’s throats. When fundamentalists feel their religion is being mocked or modified in any way, like the Benghazi mastermind admitted after recently being captured by US Special Ops, they react with extreme fervor. Let’s go back to 2003 when 2008 GOP Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain offered this brilliant prediction of future sectarian violence in Iraq:
“There is not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shi’as so I think they can probably get along”.
Never have a group of people gotten things so wrong on EVERY issue and yet their opinion is sought for “news” programs. It’s astonishing. They invaded a country with no consideration for consequences, cost, loss of human life or a basic understanding of the complex history of the region. Let me try to elucidate the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.
The Sunni branch believes that the first four caliphs–Mohammed’s successors–rightfully took his place as the leaders of Muslims. They recognize the heirs of the four caliphs as legitimate religious leaders. These heirs ruled continuously in the Arab world until the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following the end of the First World War.
…Shiites, in contrast, believe that only the heirs of the fourth caliph, Ali, are the legitimate successors of Mohammed. In 931 the Twelfth Imam disappeared. This was a seminal event in the history of Shiite Muslims. …Shiite Muslims, who are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon, [believe they] had suffered the loss of divinely guided political leadership” at the time of the Imam’s disappearance. Not “until the ascendancy of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1978” did they believe that they had once again begun to live under the authority of a legitimate religious figure. Another difference between Sunnis and Shiites has to do with the Mahdi, “the rightly-guided one” whose role is to bring a just global caliphate into being. The major difference is that for Shi`is he has already been here, and will return from hiding; for Sunnis he has yet to emerge into history: a comeback v. a coming out, if you will.”
They simply disagree with each other like the Scientologists disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses, like Mormons disagree with Catholics etc. etc. etc. The difference is the American presence in the region made the two sects more extreme in their fundamentalist differences and created the violence that plagues the region. Religions, none proven by science, are beliefs. As the great Christopher Hitchens asserted:
We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.
Perhaps, some day man will understand much of the world’s injustices, abuses and atrocities are carried out because one group believes their god is better than the other group’s deity. Most importantly, one must understand religious differences do exist and potential volatility is inevitable if these differences are not understood.
The politics of the Middle East has been exploited by the petrol-pushers, affecting people of all religions. The plutocrats knowingly tap into, inflate, and take advantage of the masses’ religious beliefs for their own hidden, greedy purposes. Generally, the “believers” don’t even have a clue of how they’re being used, naïvely thinking that they are fulfilling the will of “Allah” or “Yahweh” while the corporate oligarchs line their pockets.
Israel was given to “us” by God Himself. This statement has been uttered by the followers of all three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but lately the conflict lies with the Jews and Muslims. The definition of religion is itself laden with the shunning of logic and reason: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal god or gods. The Torah, Bible and Quran are all works of fiction with a deliberate disregard for scientific principles. In the twenty-first century, modern science has opened our minds to a vast array of evidence that counters claims in mythological Holy Books. Geopolitical boundaries are traditionally formed by topography, culture or language. The tiny desert region has a long history where the Israelites, Hebrews , Romans and scores of other Empires lay claim to the narrow strip of arid land. In modern-day Israel, it seems odd that a belief in a supernatural deity is the accepted means of designating these arbitrary borders. By doing this, Israel ensures a future of endless conflict, because every religion claims to be “the only true faith.”
As stated previously, I do not subscribe to the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent deity. The motives behind the formation of the current nation of Israel are always assumed to be religious freedom and are never questioned here in America. Our ally is always held in high regard because Americans see it as the quintessential religious epicenter, even though we allegedly separate “church and state.” There is a lingering question I have with regards to Israel, many theists would find this the greatest form of disrespect, but I must ask: if a group of people assert that their right to possess a piece of land was bestowed upon them by a fictional deity… isn’t the right itself fictional? The Jews, persecuted for their faith historically, deserve a homeland free from religious persecution, as do ALL human beings. But truly, why there? Why settle in the a land in the midst of so many Muslims who will never peacefully coexist?
Perhaps Israel is not situated in its historically volatile location because of the spiritual significance of the land. The economic value of its location is far more paramount. We should acknowledge that man has always perpetrated the fallacy the almighty dollar is interchangeable with the will of the “Almighty.” Money and petroleum have fueled Israel since its inception. Multinational corporations have supported a warmongering Israeli government (much like our very own US Military Industrial Complex) to monitor and put a check on all the oil-producing nations of the Middle East. The ruse of Jewish or Islamic nationalism is a front for the profit to be made off the natural resources, which are far from infinite.
John Perkins, Author of Economic Hit Men, saw exactly how the international financial industry made obscene fortunes: the population is exploited and saddled with deficits while a very small group profits. The growth of Gross National Product may result even when it profits only one person, such as an individual who owns a utility company, while the majority of the population is burdened with debt. He said, “the United States is a nation laboring to deny the truth about its imperialist role in the world.” He quit his work as a liaison for the IMF, and other global financial institutions in the 1980’s because morally and ethically, he felt it was wrong to play such a key role in creating world empire at the expense of the less advantaged. He understood Israel’s strategic significance as a watchdog over the oil producing nations, no matter how difficult such a position will be for the citizens of both Israel and the neighboring nations. It serves international plutocrats very well to stir up trouble in the region. The war business is very profitable.
Constant conflict with Iran seems to drive Israeli, American and Saudi Arabian policy. Just this week, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, through diplomatic means, were able to put a check on the Iranian nuclear program. Much to the dismay of the hard-line Right Israeli and U.S. politicians, President Obama’s team succeeded diplomatically and the administration was only panned for their success. If such a feat was accomplished by the Bush Administration, the media would herald it as the greatest diplomatic success in history. But President Obama is not AIPAC’s guy. He wants to harbor peace in the region, unlike his predecessor. War is the only acceptable option according to the pro-Israel lobby, who favor the more hawkish U.S. Representatives.
Make no mistake, Israel is where it is and who it is not simply for religious reasons, but for its strategic location as an installation base to keep Western eyes on a region rich in the fuel we are dependent upon. The dependency of our country on fossil fuels is another matter entirely, as production of renewables has been discouraged by those who profit from petroleum. Some day, we will run out of oil and all this will change. But for now, we are guaranteed a bloody fight for what powers our lives. We Americans are equally stupid to not see through the façade and just keep filling up at the gas pump. What about our so-called political leaders? Mere puppets who were bought off with campaign donations long ago, and thus whose strings the oligarchs are yanking.
Irony can be defined by the incongruity which occurs when actions of a group mirror the behavior of a people whom they fear and despise most. Following the 9-11 tragedy, our united front was focused mainly on eliminating the terror breeding grounds established by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Taliban imposed a form of government that was unacceptable and offensive to most Americans. Absence of democratic process, equality, Islamic law and the utter subjugation of women in their culture were the antithesis of what we deemed a free society. Their total domination of media, organized rebellion against a government they considered tyrannical and Islamic ideological purity seemed so unpalatable to the Christian crusaders of the mighty USA and the George W. Bush military machine.
Yet, as the Republican Party slides down the slippery slope towards Old Testament principles, the Conservative movement mirrors the Taliban more than they realize. The Teaparty can often be referred to as the Tealiban
The dangerous policies and religious doctrinal mandates are far more similar than either group would willfully acknowledge. In the areas of vaccination and vital medical care, religious denial of science and the subjugation of women and the proclivity towards a culture obsessed with guns, American Fundamentalists and Taliban Extremists are hardly discernible.
The Koran and the Old Testament treat women as sinful creatures by nature. The image of Eve as temptress in the Bible has resulted in an extremely negative impact on women throughout the Judaeo-Christian tradition. All women were believed to have inherited from their mother, the Biblical Eve, both her guilt and her guile. The Koran has many quotes such as this Al-Tirmidhi 3272 – “When Allah’s Messenger was asked which woman was best he replied, ‘The one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command, and does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property by doing anything of which he disapproves’.”
In the eyes of the Draconian religious zealots, women are simply vehicles for reproduction, and should only provide enjoyment and servitude for men. The unbelievably chauvinistic and restrictive fundamentalist laws of both the Taliban and the disregard for equal protection for American women by Judicial Magistrates are becoming hard to decipher.
The American Fundamentalists are very much against science and medical progress much like the Islamic government of Afghanistan. Recently, a Pennsylvanian couple who believe in the power of prayer over medical care lost their second child by eschewing medical attention. States like Washington and Oregon are seeing a resurgence in Pertussis due to a fundamentalist-driven hysteria against vaccines. The fallacy of autism being caused by vaccines plus the unwillingness to interfere with god’s plan are beyond dangerous and should never be acceptable in modern America.
Because women are simply unclean and sinful beings, they have far less protection than men in Taliban society. Laws regarding the healthcare and well-being of Afghan women are so restrictive, they suffer much higher mortality rates due to pregnancy and childbirth. In Afghanistan, perhaps the only thing more dangerous than being a woman is being a pregnant woman in need of medical care. A 2002 survey counted 1,600 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. The cause of death was most often hemorrhaging or obstructed delivery, both preventable if skilled health care is available.
To make matters worse, foreign aid administrators, who provide vital vaccinations are treated with suspicion and unwarranted violence by the Taliban. Ten foreign medical workers were murdered because they were believed to be spies, while simply trying to administer polio vaccines to the very poor. Americans simply choosing to ignore the proven scientific benefits of vaccines and willfully putting their children and others at risk is certainly a step in the wrong direction as well. If vaccines and science are viewed as suspicious and interfering with “god’s will,” society is well on its way to massive medieval medical malpractice.
The American leaders of megachurches and fundamentalist sects often rally against their perceived threat of a tyrannical government by encouraging more gun ownership within their congregations. “Blessed are the Peacemakers? Absolutely. Make mine a .45 Colt with a 5 1/2 inch barrel.” This comment and many like it have been commonly overheard in sermons all over the Bible Belt where guns and god go hand and hand. The Taliban often sacrifices children by using their religion to justify violence.
I’ll just say it in plain English. Most of all the world’s plight of inequality, violence and atrocities committed against humanity are attributed to RELIGION. The societies who enjoy the highest standards of living and happiness are the LEAST RELIGIOUS. As a country founded upon the principles of separation of church and state, one of the most important steps to averting misery in this country is to stop kowtowing to the demands of fundamentalist insanity and stop the madness of Biblical thought that so greatly resembles those who we are fighting against halfway across the world.
As a woman fortunate enough to have had an upbringing where I was always taught that women and men are equals, I’d like to presume the First Lady of my country would instill similar values in other American girls. If her speech at the Republican National Convention showed her true feelings on the matter of feminine equality, it’s painfully obvious Ann Romney believes a woman should know her place, which is in the role of dutiful wife and doting mother. She firmly believes in the supremacy of men just as her adopted Mormon cult dictates. After all, a Mormon woman can only enter the gates of the celestial kingdom with the consent of her husband. Any woman exhibiting desires eschewed by the values ascribed by the Mormon cult is simply anomalous to her entitled and privileged way of life. She is perhaps the worst spokesman for the twenty-first century American female there ever was.
Ann Romney firmly believes a woman should unequivocally be a partner to a man, both in this life and the still unproven hereafter. Not only did she fail to acknowledge women in ANY professional capacity in her RNC speech, she failed to
acknowledge single, lesbian or childless women (to name a few) as integral female members of a productive society. She’s so averse to answering questions regarding her own professional aspirations , she cancels any interview inquiring on the matter. Although raised largely without formal religion, (Episcopalian with a touch of atheism) she believes what the Mormon scriptures profess: By bearing and nurturing children, women are saved because they have learned to perform Heavenly Mother’s work. In other words, women truly have no other earthly function than to serve the man and bear him children. This is very similar to the Muslim faith. The role of the Muslim woman is clearly defined and outlined in Islam. In short her primary role is with the upbringing of her children and in being a dutiful wife. A woman’s job, in her worldview, is to be simply a mother and wife above all things. Funny how similar the two faiths are, much to the disapproval of unbeknownst Republicans. Ann’s very own atheist father Edward Davies was baptized into the Mormon Church posthumously, something he would definitely have objected to while alive. Her arrogance and presumption prevent her from seeing just how offensive this is.
She serves her husband also by staunchly defending his right to leading a privileged and entitled existence, free from the customary scrutiny thrust upon the life of a presidential candidate. “Have you seen how we’re attacked?,” Ann Romney said in an interview in mid August, hitting the table with her hand for emphasis. “Have you seen what’s happened?…. “It will just give them more ammunition.” These are the words of a wealthy corporate wife who is outraged her husband is under the microscope while running for the most powerful elected office on earth. She’s assuming they’ll be attacked further if they release more, so that pretty much means there’s something in those returns that’s worthy of “attack” — at least by folks who are paying taxes at a much higher rate, who are perhaps keeping their monies in these United States. “Stop it. This is hard, you wanna try it, get in the ring,” she whined earlier this week following the legendary Mother Jones video of Mitt Romney showing a rare candid example of the contempt he shows for low income Americans and the futility of garnering their vote. She was quoted by a few ladies close to her as having said “My horse has more style and more class in its hoof than they (Democrats) do in their whole deal.” Clearly this couple cares little for the middle class and their disdain is starting to manifest itself everytime they open their mouths.
Willard Romney believes his wife is his spokesperson for “what women want”. Unfortunately, women are not the monolithic wealthy, corporate white woman Mitt believes Ann is a typical representative. Perhaps Willard’s experience as a fairly omnipotent LDS “prophet” throughout much of his life has shielded him from the reality that the world is nothing like his sanitized view of entitled corporate personhood. It is very apparent she too doesn’t see the forest through the trees when it comes to women’s real world issues. Not every girl aspires to be a stay at home mom, not every girl can be that person for a myriad reasons. Frankly, this woman becoming First Lady is a gigantic leap backwards of all the progress women made in the twentieth century. Actually, given the obvious Republican war on women, what better representative for their antiquated Puritanical views on women than Queen Ann? If America elects this entitled couple it’s because of one of two reasons: they’ve suppressed the vote sufficiently or we’re so unbelievably ignorant as a people, we deserve this impending nightmare.