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Monday, April 10, 2006
 Speaking event Sunday, April 23rd

Topic: Announcements

Fossils, Mythology, and Science in the Ancient World
Sunday, April 23, 2006 at 3:00pm

Recent reexamination of the historical record shows that ancient cultures were aware of fossils and had a general understanding of what they were. New scholarship examines the role that fossils played in the development of Greek mythology, as well as Greek philosophy and science. This presentation will not only examine what the Greeks knew about the fossil record, but why it is that their knowledge was not passed on.

Presentation includes:
 

  • 50 minute showing of "Ancient Monster Hunters"
  • 30 Minute speaking presentation
  • Group discussion

Additional Information

BCC North Campus - Building 47, Room 112
1000 Coconut Creek Blvd.
Coconut Creek, FL

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/fll/


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 11:05 PM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 7:17 PM EDT
Friday, March 31, 2006
 What is Going Unsaid in the Globalization and Immigration "Debate"

Topic: Commentary

Americans love the idea of "free-market" capitalism when it works in their favor, but as soon as someone else starts competing then those "free markets" don't look so good. We saw this with the Dubai Ports deal, the CNOOK oil deal from China, and we see it with American attitudes on immigration as well.

Ironically, blocking China from legitimately purchasing Unocal, an American company that primarily owns oil properties in Asia, only resulted in pushing China more towards dealing with Iran, thereby weakening our national security, not protecting it.

Here is the deal though, Western capital has been going into markets all around the world and in developing countries for hundreds of years. Western capitalists and the Western public have been praising "free-market" capitalism for the past century precisely because the West had all of the natural advantages, and "free-markets" at that point meant foreign countries opening up their boarders and their markets so that the West could dominate them, own their infrastructure, and control their labor markets.

Now that global competition is becoming more equitable, and some foreign countries are now in a position to actually participate in the markets in a capacity other than being taken advantage of, well, now Westerners don't like it so much. It was never really "free-market" capitalism in the first place, it was just imperialism under a false banner.

Look at the immigration issue. Why are so many Republicans, who claim to be champions of "free-market" capitalism, opposing open boarders with Mexico and Canada (and the Caribbean for that matter)? If these people truly believe in free-markets then they should be supporting open labor markets.

The false debate taking over immigration policy in the media is about whether we should "lock down the boarders" or "legalize all of the current illegal aliens".

This is completely bogus, and fails to address the real issue or even recognize why we have illegal immigration in the first place.

There was an interesting phenomenon that took place when Imperial Japan colonized Korea during the first half of the 20th century. Thousands of Koreans fled Korea and illegally immigrated to Japan. The Japanese were killing and enslaving the Koreans in Korea, so its not like the Koreans were going to Japan because they loved the Japanese, they went to Japan because they could earn a better living in Japan than they could in their home country, where they were being exploited by Japan.

Enter NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, backed and signed by the Republicans in the 1990s as a measure of "free-trade".

NAFTA was supposed to be a "win-win" for America, Canada, and Mexico, that would "lift all boats", but since the signing of NAFTA Mexican immigration to America to find decent paying jobs has skyrocketed.

The reason that we have immigration from "3rd world countries" into America and Europe is because America and Europe are exploiting the 3rd world countries. The West enriches itself by underpaying labor in third world countries and essentially stealing their natural resources, so those countries have extremely depressed economies. The depression of their economies is what enables the West to enrich itself. The West is enriched at the expense of the 3rd world, so of course people from 3rd world countries are better off moving here. By moving here they remove themselves from the area of exploitation and go to the area that is on the receiving end of the exchanges.

So, how do we solve the "immigration problem" with Mexico? Well, the first thing to do would be to force American companies to start paying higher wages in Mexico, but the problem that you have there is that we can't only do it in Mexico, because then they will just move operations to Pakistan, or Vietnam, or Indonesia, or China, or wherever, so really, the first step in solving the immigration problem is a global minimum wage for Western countries. In other words, American, European, Australian, Japanese, companies, etc. should be forced into a pact where they have to pay workers in the 3rd world some minimum wage.

For example, since 9/11 American business with Pakistan has increased dramatically due to changes in American import laws. The American government gives millions of dollars a year to the Pakistani government, under the banner of "foreign aid", yet American companies employ Pakistani workers for less than 37 cents an hour, or purchase goods from Pakistani contractors who pay less than 37 cents an hour. Why are we paying foreign aid to a country were we under-pay the workers?!?! Just pay the workers a decent wage and there will be no need for foreign aid, which in reality only goes to government officials and corrupt politicians who keep the people oppressed.

Secondly, to solve the problem with Mexico, instead of wasting money on enforcement programs here, or on building absurd walls and fences, we should spend that money helping Mexico develop its economy.

This should be completely obvious to any sane person.

Why waste resources on something non-productive, like building a wall or getting more patrol officers, when those resources could be used to create more capital? If we help make Mexico more productive then everyone will benefit, mostly the Mexicans, who will then have no reason to immigrate to America in the first place. Obviously Mexicans are hard workers, so there is no problem with Mexican labor or desire. The Mexicans have a very strong desire to work hard and get ahead, much stronger than most Americans, which is why they risk death to come here and work their fingers to the bone.

The solution to the immigration "problem" is to stop calling it an immigration problem and stop thinking about how we "protect ourselves" and instead start thinking about how we can help others. We shouldn't help Mexico just to help ourselves, but in the long run the objective of those people who don't like immigrants will be achieved by helping Mexico.

Trying to "protect America" from globalization and immigration is a fools game and what it really amounts to is trying to maintain an empire of exploitation, but the world is not having it. We can't maintain what we had in the past, because what we had in the past was exploitation.

It's like Whites in the South after the Civil War trying to figure out how they could maintain the standard of living that they had before the Civil War. Impossible. There was a fundamental shift of power. The Whites before the Civil War had a way of life that was supported by the enslavement of over a million Black people. Without that enslavement, without that exploitation, there was no way to maintain the Plantations. There is no way to maintain the American standard of living because the American standard of living is built on exploitation. We better just face those facts and deal with it, because reality is coming.

After the Civil War Whites tried to oppress the Black and keep them down, and what good did that do? For 100 years after slavery was ended Whites worked to keep Black less productive, they didn't help them succeed. As a result the Southern economy was depressed for over 100 years. After the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, however, once we started helping Blacks succeed or at least removing some of the roadblocks, the Southern economy has exploded.

What good could possibly come by keeping a segment of the population oppressed? None, it hurts everyone. Helping Blacks to succeed helps everyone to succeed.

The same with Mexico and with immigrants. We can keep playing this foolish game of trying to keep labor depressed in foreign countries so that we can exploit it, or we can engage in a "Civil Rights Movement" for the world and work to improve wages, living conditions, and technology in Mexico and other developing countries. We have to stop looking at foreign counties as a source of "cheap labor" and start looking at them as partners.

That's the only way to actually solve the "immigration issue", but, of course, none of the people in the media are talking about that...


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 8:04 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, April 5, 2006 8:23 PM EDT
Thursday, March 30, 2006
 It Takes More Than Democracy

Topic: Commentary

The on going controversy in Afghanistan over the fate of an ex-Muslim who converted to Christianity, and has since been charged with apostasy in Afghani court where they were seeking the death penalty under Islamic law, and where the man is still in mortal danger, highlights the fact that democracy itself has nothing to do with human rights.

Since this case has made international news, President Bush and other administration officials have called on Afghani leaders to “follow democratic principles”, but that is exactly what they are doing. All that democracy means is “majority rule”.

Democracy in no way guarantees human rights or even protects human rights at all, and this is one of the major problems with the so-called “Bush Doctrine”, or really the neo-con doctrine, of pushing for democracy in the Middle East.

The neo-cons act as though “democracy” = “human rights”, but his is not the case. Democracy only means that the majority opinion holds power, and if the majority opinion in a country is that people should be killed for leaving Islam then following democratic principles is going to contradict Western ideas of “human rights”.

Of course all of this presupposes that the neo-cons actually even care about democracy at all, which is doubtful, as it is more likely that the whole democracy rhetoric is just a front for the real objective of material conquest and continued exploitation of foreign lands to extract resources, which of course is going horribly wrong because the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing much more than the neo-cons had predicted.

But putting that aside, the belief that “democracy” has something to do with human rights, and that spreading democracy is going to spread human rights, reveals a gross misunderstanding of Western history.

Democracy is not what brought human rights to Western Civilization, Secularism and Humanism did. Democracy was only the vehicle by which secularism and humanism were brought to power.

Democracy resulted in an increase in human rights in Western Civilization not because of some defacto power of democracy to improve living conditions, but because there was a growing movement for secularism and humanism in Western society at the time that was being kept down by theocratic tyranny.

So, when the majority voice was able to come to power, it brought secularism and humanism to power with it. In the Middle East, however, the majority voice is not secular or humanist, instead it is theocratic and fundamentalist, so democracy in the Middle East is not going to yield a peaceful tolerant society, it is going to yield a militant, mobish , theocracy.

Freedom of conscience is not a democratic principle, there is no such thing as a democratic principle, other than “majority rules”. The majority is not always right and the majority is not always good and the majority is not always nice and the majority is not always tolerant, in fact, the majority is often not tolerant.

The reason that the policy of the Bush administration is failing and will continue to fail, is that the policy of the Bush administration, if it even is what it claims to be, only advocates democracy, yet democracy is not what produced the freedom that we have in Western society, secularism and humanism did. Without promoting secularism and humanism, democracy is useless.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:33 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
 Regarding Demise of the Palestinian Left

Topic: Commentary
Demise of the Palestinian left

This is a pretty good article that actually touches on a much boarder phenomenon of the post World War II era.

During the Cold War anti-Leftists in the West supported fundamentalist religious groups as a way to fight against Marxists and other "radical" Leftists. In fact, Hamas was created with the assistance of Israel because the Israelis thought that it would be a good idea to draw support away from the secular PLO and Popular Front.

The same thing took place in Afghanistan with America backing the Islamic Jihadis there in opposition to the Marxist regime and Soviet invasion to support it. On a broader level, this has taken place all across the West, but especially in America, where corporations and political parties supported religiosity to combat Leftist ideology throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

The result is the world that we see today, with growing religious fundamentalism, conflict, and sectarian violence.

The Israelis wish they were still dealing with the PLO or the Palestinian Popular Front. The Leftism of the Cold War era was a Leftism that had developed through The Enlightenment era of Western Civilization. It extended the ideas of The Enlightenment: women's rights, democracy, racial equality, the breaking down of national boundaries, and economic equality.

The big problem was that last one, economic equality. In defense of economic inequality the West was willing to sacrifice everything and collaborate with the most barbaric and backwards of ideologies and cultures.

The conflict of the Cold War was at least a conflict between two modes of thought within the same framework. Marxists and secular Leftists were fighting for equal treatment of women, equal treatment of homosexuals, the end of racism, the end of conflict between nations, the end of religion as a tool for suppression of rights and thought, and the end of economic exploitation.

That was the big fight of the Cold War, to "defeat" the people fighting for these things. Well, now that we have defeated Leftists, now what?

In order to defeat the Left the West has armed and emboldened religious zealots from the Dark Ages, which have now, predictably, turned on the institutions that coddled them and are now raging across the planet attacking the very cultures that armed and funded them. This includes both the Islamic fundamentlaists from the Middle East and the Christian fundamentalists in America.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:30 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 8:27 PM EST
Monday, March 6, 2006
 Understanding Evolution: History, Theory, Evidence, and Implications

Topic: Announcements

Understanding Evolution: History, Theory, Evidence, and Implications

This is an extensive piece that covers the history of evolutionary concepts, conflicts between Christianity and evolution, an explanation of, and evidence for, biological evolution, criticisms of evolutionary theory, and the broader implications of evolutionary theory. Unlike many pieces on evolution that try to dance around or reconcile the conflicts between science and religion, this article addresses those issues head on.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 9:44 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (14) | Permalink
Sunday, February 19, 2006
 Americans now the largest charity case in the world

Topic: Commentary

Though Americans may not realize it, Americans are the largest recipients of financial assistance of anyone in the world. The trade deficit is reported to have hit an all time record high of $725 billion for 2005.

What this means, exactly, is that Americans received 725 billion dollars of "aid" in 2005 from the rest of the world. The $725 billion is essentially a loan that has gone out to the American public. This loan comes out to an average of $2,448 per person in America, but that doesn't really tell the picture because that is based on dividing the total deficit by the total population. Obviously children don't directly purchase goods, so the cost can't accurately be distributed among them, and not every individual has received an equal distribution of this aid. I don't have the data needed to determine who, exactly, has received more of this aid, but obviously those who have purchased more have directly received more aid than those that don't purchase much.

That doesn't give the whole story either however, because sellers of goods are also indirect beneficiaries of the aid as well. In this case, individuals take on the loan, but sellers get compensation.

Here is the bottom line, however: Americans receive more financial aid from the rest of the world than people in any other country. Americans are bigger receivers of "charity" than the poorest people of Africa or South America.

Additionally, many people have claimed that the cause of the trade deficit has something to do with the way that China values it's currency, or the fact that wages are so much lower in developing nations, etc., but in 2003 Germany became the world's leading exporter and has gained in its lead in that position for the past 2 years. German wages and compensation to workers are higher than the compensation to American workers. Additionally, many have claimed that the problems facing the US auto industry are because of unions, wages, pensions, and healthcare coverage, but auto workers in Japan and Germany have more job security, higher compensation, and better retirement benefits, yet Japan is consistently expanding its market share and efficiency. "Incidentally", the ratio of executive compensation to "blue collar" compensation in Japan is much lower than it is in America. In other words, executives get less pay and workers get more pay in Japan than they do in America. In 2000 the ratio of executive compensation to worker compensation for American executives was  475 to 1, for Japanese executives the ratio was 11 o 1.


source: http://www.uaw.org/publications/jobs_pay/00/0700/jpe04.html

So, what is going on here? America is becoming increasingly less competitive economically, yet the leaders of our economy are being paid orders of magnitude more than the leaders of the economies that are out competing American companies. American workers are increasingly living off of global charity as the products of their labor are also increasingly being redistributed to executives and shareholders. Ultimately, workers from around the planet are subsidizing both American workers and American executives and shareholders, but by far executives and shareholders are getting the better deal. Not only are they getting the better deal, but the they have been able to transfer the debt load onto the American working class, as corporations now have record levels of cash on hand while American families now have record levels of debt.

Compare the trade deficit to the donations given by America. In 2002 charitable giving from the United States hit a record high of $241 billion overall. This figure includes both private and governmental giving. I don't have the latest data for 2005, which may have set a new record, but its safe to assume that the figure is less than $725 billion. The United States government gives about $15 billion a year in foreign aid, but most almost all of this aid goes to other governments, and much of the money actually works against the interests of citizens, therefore harming people more than helping them. This is part of the point, though. America foreign aid is like money from lobbyists, and there is indeed a link between our trade deficit and our foreign aid. Just like lobbyists pay politicians millions to receive hundreds of millions in benefits for their interests (there is an average rate of return of $100 for every dollar spent on lobbying), the American government pays other governments to receive aid as well, and this is indeed a part of how the American people, but more importantly American corporations, get such huge financial assistance from the world.

The American way of life is heavily subsidized by the global population, and indeed American foreign aid should be seen as a type of lobbying of foreign governments to get benefits for America from the populations that the governments rule. The biggest delusion, however, is that Americans give charity to the rest of the world. In fact, the world is giving charity to America. The American trade deficit exceeds all charitable giving from America to the rest of the world and that doesn't even begin to explain the issue. That doesn't even touch on how much America underpays foreign workers or the deals by which America is able to acquire raw materials such as oil, metals, and timber from countries at below market values.

Overall, total American giving to the rest of the world is a small fraction of the financial assistance given to America by foreign peoples. In fact, America could stop all foreign giving, both public and private, and lift much of the world out of poverty if Americans would just pay off debt and give foreign workers fair compensation. Why does the American government give foreign aid to countries where American corporations pay workers fifty cents a hour to work? Simply paying the people decent wages would alleviate the need for the foreign aid... but then, that's really what the foreign aid is buying after all, the foreign aid is paid to the governments to help secure beneficial economic agreements for American corporations.

Corporations lobby the American government with millions, causing politicians to spend billions lobbying foreign governments with "foreign aid" on behalf of American corporations, who in turn give favorable terms to American corporations and enforce laws that protect American corporate interests at the expense of their own local populations and workers.

There certainly is no doubt, America is the largest charity case in the world. Of course life is great in America, every American today is receiving thousand of dollars a year in financial assistance from the rest of the world.

For further details see:

Mind the record trade gap

Trade gap: Blame exporters?


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 9:49 PM EST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, March 19, 2006 8:22 AM EST
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
 Glory to Peaceful Islam!

Topic: Commentary

We have all heard many times, I am sure, that Islam is a peaceful religion, and that Muhammad is a man of peace and honor. We have repeatedly heard imams who have claimed that to fight and show violence is an offense against Islam, and that thus the terrorists and rioters and suicide bombers are actually desecrating Islam by going against the teachings of Muhammad.

Furthermore, they go so far as to write children's books about how loving and peaceful Muhammad was and they introduce teachings about Islam in the schools in the name of "multiculturalism". Let us reflect then, on the peaceful, tolerant, teachings of this "most humble" religion:

The Noble Qur'an

2:193: And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)

9: 12: But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion with disapproval and criticism then fight (you) the leaders of disbelief (chiefs of Quraish - pagans of Makkah) - for surely their oaths are nothing to them - so that they may stop (evil actions).

9: 13: Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths (pagans of Makkah) and intended to expel the Messenger, while they did attack you first? Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are believers.

9:14: Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people,

9:26: Then Allah did send down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquillity and reassurance, etc.) on the Messenger (Muhammad), and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers.

9:29: Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

47:4 So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allah's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost,

47:5: He will guide them and set right their state.

47: 9: But those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), for them is destruction, and (Allah) will make their deeds vain.

47:10: That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down (this Qur'an and Islamic laws, etc.), so He has made their deeds fruitless.

47:11: Have they not travelled through the earth, and seen what was the end of those before them? Allah destroyed them completely and a similar (fate awaits) the disbelievers.

 

As you can see, the reaction to the Danish cartoons has everything to do with the teachings of this religion. For those who have claimed that the reaction has nothing to do with the religion, but rather that it is purely a product of Western imperialism, it is plain to see from a reading of the Qur'an that the violent actions of Muslims around the world over the years is according to the teachings of Islam.

Why doesn't the mainstream media publish these quotes from the Qur'an when they cover stories about Islam? Why have these passages not been used as a reference to understand the reaction to the cartoons? Clearly, these passages help us to understand the reaction to the cartoons. Will the "moderate Muslims" be offended because we quote their holy book word for word?

Why do "moderate Muslims" continue to say that Islam is a religion of peace? Are they themselves misled? Have they themselves not read the Qur'an? Do they actually not understand their own religion? Are they just fooling themselves? Are some of these "moderate Muslims" just being selective and only choosing to follow the teachings that they like, or are some of these "moderate Muslims" a front for the further infiltration of secular society with a violent, bigoted, and warlike religion that demands fearful obedience and preaches hate to all that to not believe in "Allah"?

I suspect that it is a mix of all these things, but one cannot be concerned with what Muslim believers are or are not doing and why they are doing it, what non-Muslims should be concerned with is what we are doing. Continuing to give cover for this religion or to allow it to further infringe on open and secular culture is only inviting more violence, more domination, and more calls for social regulation.

Tolerance is a two way street. Islam is a religion founded on the idea of intolerance of others. There can be no tolerance of intolerance.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 7:21 AM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (24) | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 4:56 AM EST
Monday, February 13, 2006
 Thank goodness for "moderate" Muslims...

Topic: Commentary

Much has been said in the recent American press about the "civilized" and "peaceful" response of American Muslims. The credit for this "moderate" Muslim response in America is partly due to the fact that none of the cartoons have been published by major American news agencies.

Basically what this is stating is that there is no reason for American Muslims to be upset since Americans have censored themselves to the wishes of Muslims in the first place. Of course there are probably some war-time considerations at play, but nevertheless this is not really much of a "win" for Americans.

Meanwhile, American Muslims have received praise because they didn't march in the streets with banners calling for the destruction of Israel and Europe and they didn't burn down buildings. What these "moderate" Muslims have said, however, gives plenty of cause for concern.

While the mainstream media in America declined to publish either the cartoons or to run truthful stories about the fact that there are thousands of images of Muhammad in Islamic society, CNN did show a blurred out image of Muhammad during a part of its coverage of the story.

In response to this a local Ohio newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal, published a cartoon making fun of CNN's blurred out image of Muhammad. The cartoon showed a blurred out image of Muhammad.

In response to this, "moderate Muslims" had the following reaction:

A.R. Abdoulkarim, Amir of the Akron Masjid, applauded newspapers that decided against running the cartoons, but condemned those who did. The Beacon Journal, he said, was in a class of its own.

"They take the prize for being the most ill-intended, irresponsible property group," he said. "Allah curses and condemns them and every Muslim in this community should curse and condemn them."

Julia A. Shearson, director of Ohio's Council of American-Islamic Relations, said they want the Beacon Journal to apologize for running the "unethical" cartoon and want the paper to publish their letters to the editor.

After yesterday's press conference, Bok met with several leaders. The cartoonist said he drew the cartoon to take a shot at CNN for "distorting a distortion" and not at the prophet or Muslims.

Reaction to the Cartoons Descends into Unintentional Self-Parody:

Thank goodness these "moderate Muslims" are only cursing and condemning the newspaper for making a social commentary on censorship instead of issuing death threats or burning down their building.

Of all the Danish cartoons, this is the one I actually like the best:

The point that this cartoon makes is obviously very relevant, and indeed it still applies to America as well. Despite the praise of Islamic "moderation" in America, the fact is that fear of Islamic persecution is just as high here as it is in Europe. We have avoided Islamic persecution in America by simply bowing to Islamic fear.

Nowhere, however, is there as high a fear of Islamic persecution as there is in the Middle East. What has been so obviously left out of the discussion of the cartoons is the fact that the people living in the greatest fear of Islam are the people living in "Islamic societies".

Nowhere is the fear of Islam greater than it is in the Middle East itself. It should not be forgotten that Islamic fundamentalism has actually been increasing in the Middle East over the past 90 years, in part as a reaction to Western imperialism. But nevertheless, there is a significant portion of Middle Eastern society that does want to join the modern secular world, and it is these who actually have the most at stake with the "cultural clashes" that have been taking place. Middle Eastern secularists have more to gain or lose than anyone in the West, and yet they seem to be completely forgotten by the mainstream media, Western multiculturalists, and Western politicians.

Unlike some, who see the "cartoon controversy" as highlighting a "clash of civilizations" between the "Muslim World" and the West, the real clash goes way beyond regional boundaries and is between secularists and those who would use religion to silence criticism. Many religionists from all walks of life would rather join forces to ban all religious criticism. There are many religionists in America today who would rather side with Middle Eastern Muslims on the issue of blasphemy than their next door neighbors who want free and open discussion of all matters, including religion. And thus, we see that this issue is not really about "East vs. West", its about theocrats vs. secularists.

There are theocrats all across the West, especially in America, who are now building coalitions with the Muslims to help throw up new barriers to religious criticism. There are millions of Christians who wish that their religion were as well protected as Islam is, and there are many who are no doubt willing to work with Muslims to create new protections for all religions.

This is why it is of importance for secularists to come into contact with, cooperate with, and help secularists in the Middle East, the ones who are currently living in the greatest fear of Islam.

There are secularists groups all across the Middle East, who recognize the need for the liberalization of Middle Eastern society, and the development of an open Middle Eastern culture. While so many Western leaders have been eager to appease Islamic intolerance, there must be a recognition for those in the Middle East who have been working, and are working, to combat Islam at the heart of its base.

I urge you to visit the following links and learn about Middle Eastern people who are themselves struggling for secularism against Islam:

Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq

Iranian  Secular Society

Tariq Ali


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 10:26 PM EST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2006 6:37 AM EST
Sunday, February 12, 2006
 White House misused Iraq intelligence... DUH!

Topic: Commentary

On Friday February 10, 2005 the Washington Post reported that ex-CIA analyst Paul Pillar had released a report stating that the Bush administration had misused intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq. Once again, the media acted surprised.

Ex-CIA Official Faults Use of Data on Iraq - Intelligence 'Misused' to Justify War, He Says

The Washington Post reported on Pillars assessment:

"Official intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs was flawed, but even with its flaws, it was not what led to the war," Pillar wrote in the upcoming issue of the journal Foreign Affairs. Instead, he asserted, the administration "went to war without requesting -- and evidently without being influenced by -- any strategic-level intelligence assessments on any aspect of Iraq."

"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," Pillar wrote.

The fact is, however, that this was really clear three years ago during the lead up to war with Iraq in the first place. How is it possible that so many people failed to either recognize this, or to act on the recognition of it? The people I am questioning are the Senators and military leaders, the journalists and news agencies, and, most importantly, the American public.

Is blindly falling in line patriotic? When doing so allows the country to be taken down a path towards destruction, as offensive war often does, I think the answer is clearly no, falling in line and trusting the president is not patriotic, it is a form of treason.

When I originally wrote This War Is About So Much More back in March 2003 I asked the following question:

President George W. Bush Jr. has lied to bring us to war with Iraq. Whether this war be right or wrong, and whether its immediate consequences be good or bad, there can be no denial that the nation was moved to war with lies. So what does that mean?

I also stated repeatedly that it was clear that the Bush administration had already made up its mind to go to war with Iraq prior to making their public case for war; indeed I contended, and still contend, that the Bush administration had plans for going to war with Iraq before Bush was even elected in 2000.

The report by Paul Pillar is just one more confirmation of the fact that the Bush administration was able to manipulate the American public into war, and the American mainstream media aided the Bush administration in its deception of America and the world. During the time when questions should have been raised, the American mass media fell in line behind the president and became an instrument of State propaganda. There should be no mistaking the fact that the so-called "independent media" in America, i.e. the monopolistic corporate media that is in bed with the American government, played a vital and critical role in helping George W. Bush lead Americans into a poorly planned and ill conceived war that is now having, and will continue to have, grave implications for this country. The ones who called themselves patriots for waving the flag and "supporting the president" must also be held accountable for their role in further undermining American interests and the interests of the global community as well.

Not only have thousands been needlessly killed, but America is in a weaker military and diplomatic position because of this war, is less capable of dealing with the threat of Iran and North Korea, and has further tarnished its image internationally in ways that have undermined the long term security of the country and the global community.

As I stated originally, this war is about so much more, it's about the fact that the American public doesn't know how to distinguish lies from reality and doesn't exercise independent analysis and judgment of things that they are told by leaders, be they corporate leaders or government leaders. Americans in general truly are an easily manipulated people.


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 5:51 AM EST | Post Comment | Permalink
Saturday, February 11, 2006
 Western Leftists Show They Have Lost Their Way

Topic: Commentary

There have been recent claims by certain Western Leftists that the cartoons of Muhammad are an example of anti-Arab racism, and indeed that such imagery is a part of Western imperialism.

This is absolutely absurd and yet another example of how Leftism has become a confused and tangled ideology in the post WWII era.

Fritz Kuhn of the German Green Party has stated that "[t]he (cartoons) are racist and dangerous."

Prophet Mohammed cartoons 'racist': Green MP

Worker's World, which uses the Marxism slogan "Workers of the World Unite", has stated that the cartoons are an example of "imperialist racism".

Islam bashing part of racist war for empire

Both statements are ridiculous, although the socialist admonition against imperialism does have some merit.

The Dutch cartoons had nothing to do with imperialism. If anything, the Dutch cartoons were a response to the domestic immigration of Muslims.

I find it odd that a Marxist based organization would come to the defense of oppression in the name of religion when indeed Marxism views religion as one of the main instruments of the oppression of the working classes.

There is merit, of course, to the idea that many of the problems that we identify with "Islam" are really a product of Western imperialism in the Middle East. We can see clearly that settled Muslims in Western countries are not mounting violent protests. It is true that Islam has become a rallying movement of opposition to Western imperialism, there can be no doubt about this, but that does not, in any way, validate the beliefs and actions of radical Muslims.

The fact that Muslim radicalism has arisen in part as a reaction to Western imperialism does not mean that it should be tolerated, even by opponents of Western imperialism. There should certainly be support for Middle Eastern and Asian peoples in their struggle for rights, fair treatment, and fair compensation, and it is true that with fair treatment and fair compensation the radicalism of people in these countries can be expected to decline, but this alone is not the problem.

The issues go well beyond simple imperialism, these are issues that are endemic in Islamic society and go back over one thousand years. These are problems created by religious fanaticism. Regardless of the cause of the radicalism, even if we can honestly attribute some of it to a reaction to imperialism, we still cannot tolerate it's spread.

The cartoons themselves, however, are clearly not racist, they make valid critical points.

On the other hand, however, there is a virulent current racism within many Islamic groups, even outside of the Middle East. Both Asian and Middle Eastern Muslim leaders are on record making extreme anti-Jewish remarks, many of which bring back pre-World War II propaganda.

As a further example of this the Iranians have published anti-Jewish cartoons in response to the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Can anything better illustrate the intense racism and anti-Jewish sentiments in elements of Islamic society?

Jews were not even involved in the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons, and yet in "retaliation" an Iranian press has chosen to publish offensive anti-Jewish cartoons. In order to challenge the idea of "total freedom of speech", the Iranians have published three anti-Jewish cartoons, claiming that no Western paper would dare to publish them because there is only "selective" free speech in the West, and that the West would not dare to "offend the Jews".

Hamshari newspaper plans cartoon response

The Iranian cartoons, however, make no valid points, and only demonstrate the pure hatred and malice of anti-Jewish elements in Islam. One cartoon, shown below, depicts Hitler in bed with Anne Frank after having just "fucked" her.

What possible value does this have? What statement is this trying to make? What, exactly, is the point? There is no point, it's just an attempt to be offensive for the sake of being offensive. Nevertheless, I see no reason why such a cartoon couldn't be printed in the West. It is certainly not an example of equal treatment however. The Danish cartoons were a reaction to real violence that was being brought against Europeans in the name of Islam.

The other two cartoons published by the Iranians are Holocaust denial cartoons, that imply that the Holocaust never happened. Again, this advances nothing and only shows how out of touch these cartoonists are with reality. That Iranians would use this as their big attempt to "counter the Danish cartoons" only shows just how depraved these people are. They fail to even understand the issue being brought to the table and can't see past their own blinding racism and hate.

Further more, many in the Middle East clearly don't understand the concept of a free and independent press. This is because the presses in the Middle East are run by the State, and the States are theocracies. They can't figure out that it makes no sense to ask the Danish government to apologize for something published in an independent newspaper. They can't figure it out because the newspapers in the Middle East are run by the governments, which also tells us more about the anti-Jewish cartoons published by the Iranian press. Those cartoons, unlike the ones published in Denmark, do reflect the ideas of the Iranian government.

The reaction to the Muhammad cartoons should certainly cause people to think more deeply about what a nuclear Middle East means. Hundreds of millions of Muslims all over the world have marched in the past week to the shouts of "Death to Israel", "Death to America", "Death to Europe", "We will defend the honor of Muhammad with our blood", "We will die for Muhammad", etc., etc.

There can be no mistake, the cartoons of Muhammad are not an example of racism, they are not a product of Western imperialism, they are not senseless blasphemy; they are legitimate and typical statements that are often made in Western Civilization, and they must be defended as valid and appropriate forms of free expression.

Western Leftists should recognize the reaction to these cartoons as a reaction of the radical Islam Right. Clearly the opposition to these cartoons is a far-right reaction. Not to recognize the political and cultural movements of others cultures is foolish. What about the interests of moderate secularists in the Middle East, are they to be abandoned by the Western Left in order to satisfy the bloodlust of Islamic conservatives?

Some Leftists seem not to understand that the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Yes, there is Western imperialism, and yes we should be opposed to Western imperialism and the war in Iraq, but that does not mean that we support radical right-wing Islamic dictatorships, who themselves are also oppressors of the working classes in the Middle East. You have only to look at the Saudi Arabian theocracy, where it is illegal to display a Christian Cross or Star of David, to see that Islam is used as a tool, not only to spread hate against the West, but also to oppress the people of the Middle East as well.

For more on racism and oppression in Iran in the name of Islam see:

Iran Focus


Posted by rationalrevolution.net at 4:06 PM EST | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, February 12, 2006 6:01 AM EST

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