Biting Us in the Ass

Remember the torture report and all the horrible things it turned out we did? Remember me saying that was going to come back to bite us in the ass? Guess what happened today?

A “radical cleric” named Anjem Choudary has posted up an op-ed for <em>USA Today</em> where he basically says that if you mock Mohammad or any other prophets (a group which includes, btw, Abraham, Moses and, yes, Jesus), then you deserve whatever happens to you

In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Actually, it is neither increasingly unstable nor insecure, and it’s worth noting that, at least as far as the USA is concerned, what instability and insecurity there is comes large from “the Muslim world”. But let’s ignore that nonsense for a moment and focus instead of what he says toward the end of his commentary.

The truth is that Western governments are content to sacrifice liberties and freedoms when being complicit to torture and rendition — or when restricting the freedom of movement of Muslims, under the guise of protecting national security.

Or to put it another way, “Chomp”. That’s the sound of our actions biting us on the ass. I also notice that one the one hand, he seems to be completely ok with the idea of Muslims taking violent action against people who “offend” their religion, but complains about countries subsequently viewing Muslims with greater suspicion. You can’t have it both ways, pal.

This guy is an ass-hat of the first order, and I hope he goes away soon. But…he is annoyingly correct that we haven’t as much of a leg to stand on as we used to, not now that we know we’ve used torture in the recent past and aren’t doing anything to come to terms with that fact.


When is a Christian Not a Christian?

Not a true Christian.

When he’s Anders Breivik. He says he’s a Christian, and fundamentalist one at that. A “Christianist” as Andrew Sullivan calls him. But according to the Fox News crowd, he’s not a Christian, because Christians don’t go around shooting up people (well, unless they’re Scott Roeder), and detonating terrorist bombs (well, unless they’re Eric Rudolph). Actually, I’m inclined to agree with them. Anyone who goes around killing people is not a true Christian in the sense that they haven’t absorbed the whole “do unto others” and forgiveness thing. They’re especially not true Christians if they kill people in the name of Jesus. This applies not only to Breivik, Roeder and Rudolph, but also to historical terrorism as practiced and preached by many of the Popes, kings, queens, emperors, Crusaders and the like.

Not a true Muslim.

So I’ll agree and I’ll stop calling him a Christian, but only if the same people who get their panties in a bunch about people calling him a Christian also stop referring to terrorists like the ones who attacked us on 9/11 and hit London on 7/7 as “Muslims”. After all, they aren’t true Muslims. The Muslim faith preaches that Allah is all-compassionate and all-forgiving. It explicitly states you shouldn’t make war against the innocent. Saying that it’s ok to go around killing large numbers of people in the name is Islam is no more mainstream than it is to say that it’s ok to kill large numbers of people in the name of Christianity.

So if Breivik wasn’t a true Christian, that’s fine. But if that’s the case, then the various terrorists in the al-Qaeda vein aren’t true Muslims.

To Any Fans of Islam

I am confused by something. I am doing homework on Islam for a religion class, and I’m reading something about Muhammad’s last sermon. In the article I’m reading every time they say his name they add, “Peace be upon him.” I’ve seen this in other places, too, like conversations on Wikipedia pages.

What’s the deal with this? Surely if he was the Prophet of God he’s in Heaven, right? Wouldn’t peace be pretty much automatic at that point? I understand it’s probably custom to add, “Peace be upon him” or “PBUH”, but just why? Can anyone clear this up for me?

It’s Just a Fucking Book

A couple days ago, a jerk pastor in Florida set fire to a copy of the Koran. The guy’s a total idiot, and is best ignored. However ignoring him is not what a group of people in Afghanistan did. No, instead they went on a rampage, tried to find Americans to kill and failing to do so, they attacked a United Nations building instead, killing a bunch of people.


You know what? I’d never burn a book. There’s two kinds of people in the world. Those who would burn books and those who would not, and I’m firmly in the “not” camp. I don’t care if there’s a million copies laying around, I still wouldn’t burn one. It’s just not done in my world.

But I’ll tell you this: human life is more important than any book. If I were somehow in a situation where someone was going to be killed unless I burned a book, I’d ask for some matches and lighter fluid. Hell, if I was in a situation where someone was going have their arm broken unless I burned a book, then just call me Torchy McBurnburn. It goes without saying that were I in a situation where I was about to freeze to death and had some matches and a copy of The Origin of Species, well, I’m sure Darwin would understand.

The irony of this is that the people rioting in Afghanistan likely wouldn’t have a problem with Bibles being burned. Hell, they’d probably be quite happy were someone to set fire to Darwin’s masterwork. They just get touchy when someone dares to burn their book. You know, the one that there’s only several hundred million copies of.

To Muslims: I understand that it’s a book you feel is important, but is a single copy really more important than someone’s life? If it is, what does that say to you about your religion? What would God say to you? Would he say a single copy of a book is more important than life?

I’m not the sort of person who burns books, but I am the sort of person who is willing to make a somewhat lazy protest. I took a picture of my left shoe sitting atop my personal copy of the Koran and thought about posting it, but then I thought, naw, what’s the point? Why make it more important than it is?

It’s just a fucking book, people. Get over it.

That Wacky Newt!

She turned me into a Newt!

So Newt Gingrich is under the mistaken impression that he can get his party’s nomination for President in 2012. It is to laugh. This from a man who has had multiple affairs, been married several times and served one wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital. Yes, he’s a quality example of modern Republicanism in action.

But, hey, to be fair this is the same party that thought Sarah Palin was a dandy choice for VP back in 2008. I thought the same, but the difference is, I can admit I was wrong. So it’s entirely possible they might nominate him for President. But should that happen, I’ll welcome it. Imagine the glory of a campaign where the GOP candidate is an adulterous, multi-divorced, heartless bastard running against a Democrat in a happy, stable marriage to his first wife. Hilarious!

Anyhow, in addition to his now famous flip-flop on Libya, Newt said something entertaining recently about the future of America.

“I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9,” Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. “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.”

This is very telling. First off, he seems to think that a “secular atheist country” would be one that’s dominated by a religion. A slight contradiction there, I feel. Logically you can have or the other, not both. I suppose it’s possible you could have a largely atheist country where the largest religious denomination is a radical version of Islam, but I think that’s somewhat unlikely, especially given that Muslims in this country constitute somewhere around 1% of the population. In a country of about 300 million people, that would be three million. And of those, I strongly doubt that more than 1% would be so-called “radicals”. That gives us about thirty thousand. Out of three hundred million. Yeah, I don’t think we have much to worry about there.

Second, and more interesting, is what this says about Newt’s view of Christianity, particularly his version of it. He believes it’s so weak, so powerless, so unable to survive in the marketplace of ideas, that it will eventually be supplanted by atheism and radical Islam. Now as it happens I agree that it will eventually collapse and atheism will become dominant around the world, but that is, as mentioned, somewhat different from any version of Islam.

Of course what Newt is really trying to do is prey on people’s fears of Islam. The crowd he preaches to (and believe me, it’s preaching), is one that’s predisposed to believe that Islam is a horribly evil, foreign religion, not at all like Christianity, which is 100% American. It’s the same view Americans used to hold of Catholicism, which is rich, given that Gingrich is a Catholic.

So, anyhow, yeah, this guy is a joke. I hope the ticket consists of him and Palin running together because, really, I want to make the 2012 election as easy as possible for Obama.

Also, this article officially begins my “Campaign 2012” category. Enjoy!

Badger’s Bible Project – Judges 9:1 – 12:15

Well, I bet you thought you’d never see one of these again! What can I say? I spent the day working on my Judaism homework for my religions class and got inspired. So here we are. And for the record, the hard part of these is not writing. It’s actually having to read the Bible, the worst, most obnoxious book I’ve ever read, and I’ve read Anthem.

This portion of Judges begins with the rise of Abimelech. Now he’s an unsavory character who decides he wants to take the throne. He does this by wading through the sort of rivers of blood we’ve come to expect from the Bible. He kills all of his brothers (seventy of them), bar one, a fellow named Jotham who is able to hide from the wrath of Abimelech. He tries to warn the people that supporting Abimelech is a somewhat bad idea. They ignore him and make Abimelech king.

Abimelech is clearly a wicked, evil man. Naturally God won’t allow him to remain on the throne that represents his kingdom on Earth, no sir! This is a man who killed his own family to get to the top. If this were a crappy fantasy novel he’d be known as Abimelech Kinslayer, or something equally pretentious and stupid. So of course God doesn’t want this man ruling and decides to do something about it right quick!

“After Abimelech had reigned over Israel for three years…” – Judges 9:22

Ok, so perhaps God’s eye was on the sparrow at the time.

Anyhow, God finally acts against Abimelech and of course a war ensues. Naturally. Abimelech behaves like you’d expect. He goes around raping and pillaging, slaughtering civilians and butchering entire populations. That shows he a bad guy. Unlike, say, Joshua who went around raping and pillaging, slaughtering civilians and butchering entire populations but did so because God wanted him to. That’s how you know he was moral!

He's not quite dead!

Eventually a woman fatally wounds Abimelech who has one of his toadies off him so that no one will say he was killed by a woman. Which of course everyone does. Whatever. Anyhow, here’s the moral we’re supposed to learn from this:

“Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers.” – Judges 9:56

Excuse me? Excuse me?! God repays this wickedness by allowing this man to be on the throne for three years, then lets him go on a killing rampage through the Levant, and this is is some sort of punishment against Abimelech?! I’m very confused here. Surely this would be more of a punishment against the several thousand people he had killed? That also ignores the fact that the sin Abimelech committed wasn’t against the people or against his seventy brothers, but rather against Abimelech’s father. Gotta love Bible morality.

Anyhow, moving on we come to a jolly story about a fellow named Jephthah. Yeah, there’s a name that doesn’t have it’s teeth in. He’s born of a harlot, from what I can tell, l but goes on to great things, eventually becoming a great military leader. At one point he decides to make a promise to assure victory for his side.

“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If you will indeed deliver the peoples of Ammon into my hands,
“then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” – Judges 11:30 – 31

Well, there’s no way that could possibly backfire. So let’s see what happens, shall we?, when Mr J comes back home.

Jephthah, about to have a very awkward conversation.

“When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timberells and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her had neither son nor daughter.
“And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it!'” – Judges 11:34 – 35

Well, what the hell was this idiot expecting? Was he keeping chickens in his house, and expecting one of those to come out joyously greeting him? Cows, maybe? Most likely he had slaves, and perhaps expected one of them to come running to say hello, which is a pretty grim thought all on its own. Instead out comes his only child and his reaction is not, “Oh, crap! You have to die, you poor child! My heart weeps for you!” Instead its “Well, my life sucks!” What a prick. A stupid, bloodthirsty, prick.

As for his daughter? Well, her reaction is interesting.

“So she said to him, ‘My father, if you have given your word to the Lord, do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, because the lord has avenged you of your enemies, the people of Ammon.’
“Then she said to her father, ‘Let this thing be done for me; let me wander alone for two months, that I might go and wander on the mountains and bewail my virginity, my friends and I.’
“So he said, ‘Go.’ And he sent her away for two months; and she went with her friends, and bewailed her virginity on the mountains.” – Judges 11:36 – 38

“Bewailed her virginity”?! What the fuck?! Her own father is about to butcher her for God and her first thought is, “Well, I guess I’m not going to be getting laid now.” I mean, look, I like sex an awful lot, but I think in that case my least reaction would be “I don’t want to die a virgin”. I think it would be “A two month head start? Hot damn! How far is it to China?” And seriously, if I was that concerned that I wasn’t going to get laid, I’d find the nearest Israelite shepherd boy and take him to the Promised Land. It reminds me of something Pauline Kael once wrote about the potential virgin sacrifice in Dragonslayer, where she wondered why the young maiden in question didn’t work with the hero to get herself disqualified on technical grounds.

But this girl is apparently as stupid as her father, for rather than fucking the nearest shepherd boy and making for China, she instead goes back home to be murdered. Possibly she’s hoping that God will pull a divine “You been punk’d!” as he did with Abraham and Isaac. If so, she’s seriously out of luck as he father lives up to his promise and murders her for God.

Well, how delightful.

This raises the question of exactly why God let him go through with it. Perhaps God wanted to teach Jephthah a lesson about making unwise promises? Perhaps he really wanted the girl dead? Perhaps he just didn’t care? No matter what his reason, the fact that he let it happen adds further evidence to the fact that, as far as fictional characters go, God is about one of the most evil there is, especially since he knew what Mr J would see upon returning home (omniscient, remember?). But he let it happen anyhow. What a charmer.

But lest you think we’re done with Jephthah, think again. He goes back on the road, killing as he goes. Eventually he runs afoul of a group called the Ephramites. When they try to escape from him he sets up a simple little trap. Anyone who can successfully say the word “Shibboleth” is clearly not an Ephramite, as they pronounce it as “Sibboleth”. Indeed. Now it could just be me, but let’s say I’m an Ephramite and I see my friends going forth and trying to say “Shibboleth” and screwing it up. I think I’d spend the next several days learning how to make the “sh” sound. Maybe some of them do that and get through, but most of them don’t. How many?

Forty-two thousand.

Careless talk may indeed cost lives, but it’s pretty clear that even a basic speech impediment, while it might make for great cinema, can be fatal as well.

Next time! We finish up this horrible book with the story of the Bible’s biggest moron, Samson!

A Fun Thought Experiment

Let us travel to an alternate reality for a moment. In this reality Jared Lee Loughner is exactly the same as he is in our reality. He’s just as barking mad, just as strange and just as American. But in this alternate reality his name is Ali Mohammad al-Fasal, and he’s a Muslim. Assume everything else is exactly the same as it is in our world, except the name and the religion. Now, given that, what do you expect the right wing would be saying right now?

This is just a guess based on things that have gone before, but I’ll wager they’d be calling it terrorism, and loudly making verbal attacks on all Muslims while quietly emphasizing that not all Muslims are to blame. They’d call it a violent religion and cherry-pick lines from the Koran while of course ignoring all the violent lines in the Bible (many of which would likely be the same, since they are both based off Judaism). They’d certainly loudly and vocally decry any efforts by the left to calm things down and they’d likely start continue to refer to the ACLU, CAIR and anyone else who isn’t on their side as traitors. The Becks, the Limbaughs and the Palins of the world would have a field day.

It’s an interesting thought, what the differences would be had the man’s name and religion been just slightly different.