The Marks & Spencer non-scandal.

December 23, 2013

Marks & Spencer have had a terrible week. A Muslim employee told customers they would have to use another checkout, because owing to her religious convictions, she couldn’t serve them alcohol and pork. Marks & Spencer then released a statement stating that staff could indeed refuse to sell items based on their religious beliefs. After an intense public reaction, and a threatened boycott, the company then backtracked and insisted that staff would work elsewhere in the store, if they felt uncomfortable selling certain products. Common sense dictates that the latter should have been policy in the first place.

All in all, the situation was handled terribly by Marks & Spencer. The backlash – especially on social media – has ranged from well considered debate on the nature of personal belief (not just religious) within a secular and professional setting, to the obvious cries of “Islamophobia” from a Galloway-left unable to say much else, to the predictable anti-Muslim bigotry from those who didn’t react with equal vitriol when the Christian B&B owners refused to accommodate a gay couple. Not one to miss a good opportunity for an article, I thought I’d weigh in on the debate.

It seems to me to be largely a non-scandal. It seems to have happened once. The employee in question – by all accounts – was very apologetic for the situation. It isn’t something Muslims are together demanding across the country. It did not need to be blown to this purportion. Christians not wishing to work on a Sunday, are excused from doing so at Marks and Spencer. Jewish people not wishing to work on Saturday, are likewise excused. The problem however, would arise if a Christian came into work on a Sunday of his or her own accord, and then refused to do anything, because it’s Sunday, but continued to be paid. It’s a simple case, to be quite honest. And from my perspective, both the individual and the business share the blame.

The individual must concede that it is their responsibility to work at a place (or a department within a company) that is not likely to compromise deeply held convictions. It is not the duty of a business to inquire into every employee’s deeply held convictions and change policy accordingly. Especially a company with thousands of staff, each with their own beliefs. If I am a vegetarian who doesn’t wish to handle meat, it is unlikely I am going to apply for work at a butchers. Similarly, a key product – especially at Christmas time – at a massive chain of supermarket in the United Kingdom, is alcohol. Unlike a butchers, the supermarket has plenty of different sections, and so if the individual feels confident enough to refuse to serve customers, I’d have to wonder why she didn’t feel confident enough to ask a manager to place her in a different section. If however she did ask to be placed elsewhere, and was refused, then the company only has itself to blame, and the individual cannot be blamed. Furthermore, in that case the company must face the blame for putting an employee in a horrible position in which she would be in the firing line of public scorn.

Ian Leslie writing for the New Statesman makes several errors in his piece on this. Firstly, he appears to be one of those on the Galloway-left who seem to be unable to recognise that any criticism of Islam, is not inherently bigoted “Islamophobia”. Secondly, he exceeds regular New Statesman “Islamophobia” fallacy creation, when he says this:

“On Twitter, Jenni Russell put it to me like this: “Just as Christians can’t refuse to have gays in B&Bs, so Muslims shouldn’t refuse to serve people buying legal goods.” Let’s see: one of them involves denying adults the right to love one another. The other involves denying the basic human right to buy a bottle of Merlot from the first sales assistant available.”

– To use his own logic against him, the B&B owners were not denying adults the right to love each other. They refused to book them a room. If we’re playing the comparison game, then denying the right to love, and not booking them into a room are not comparable either. By Leslie’s own logic on simplistic comparisons therefore, he is Christianophobic and a bigot.

Secondly, If we are to reduce the entire situation down to a simplistic comparison, Leslie is of course quite correct that for we non-believers, denying the basic right to love another human being is not at all comparable to stopping someone buying a Merlot. But for many believers – of all faiths – it isn’t different. The context is the same. Why then accommodate one belief ahead of others? Where is the line drawn? When does that line become “Islamophobic”? That is the delicate challenge. The problem lies in the principle on which accommodating certain beliefs is handled. It is allowing religious belief to dictate policy within a secular framework, and that’s the problem. The underlying issue is the same. The principle is no different. On this occasion, allowing people of certain faiths the right to refuse to serve you, based on their beliefs, is a recipe for disaster.

To be clear, you’re entitled to your beliefs. No one is entitled to tell you not to hold those beliefs. You’re entitled to wear whatever you want, to build private prayer halls, you’re entitled to not handle products that compromise your beliefs. That is your right. But you cannot start dictating where those beliefs are to be held above either secular law (for example, the Christian B&B owners refusing to allow gay people to stay…. bigotry is not permissible) or the policy of the company you’ve decided to work for. You have the right to ask your employer (preferably during an interview phase, or before employment) if you can be placed in a work environment that wont compromise your beliefs. If you do ask to be placed elsewhere, and though the employer does not have to accommodate your request, I would argue that it is common human decency for a company to accommodate those beliefs within a structure that already exists, as best as possible (a vegetarian working for M&S, not being placed on the meat counter, for example). If the employee did in fact ask M&S to be placed elsewhere, and that wasn’t accommodated, then M&S must shoulder most of the blame for this, and for placing her in such a difficult position. But if you are put to work on a section that will almost definitely compromise your beliefs, having not asked to be placed elsewhere, tough. Deal with it, or quit. A Vegetarian who doesn’t wish to handle any meat products, does not get to sit on a till refusing to cash up meat products, if they haven’t asked to be placed away from that situation. If a devout Christian and Muslim were to work in a supermarket, and felt it wrong to serve gay people, tough. Deal with it or quit. If a Catholic at Tesco felt it wrong to serve condoms, and didn’t ask to be placed away from that situation, tough. Deal with it or quit. The same is true in this situation. It’s the primary responsibility of the believer to work somewhere that will not compromise their beliefs, or to ask for certain beliefs to be accommodated as best a company can do within an existing framework. If the company – for whatever reason – cannot accommodate those beliefs, you do not get to invent your own policy.

In this case, the assistant in question was – according to customers – very apologetic. She wasn’t trying to force her faith on the country. She just has very deeply held beliefs, that don’t seem to be held across the Muslim community in Britain. And given the nature of that belief not being widely held even within the Muslim community, the primary responsibility falls on her to ask her employer if it is possible to accommodate that belief, by not working in an environment that directly compromises it. Both she, and Marks & Spencer are the blame. M&S have a PR department to deal with this, the girl in question doesn’t. She’s now in the midst of a horrid media storm, and I can imagine that must be horrible, and I feel for her.

Owing to my inability to Christmas shop at a reasonable time of the year rather than the very last minute, I spent much of today buying gifts. After much hard work looking for gifts but instead settling on vouchers, I felt I deserved to treat myself. So I bought a few bottles of wine for the Christmas period. A couple of Chilean Merlots. The checkout assistant was an older Muslim gentleman. He wished me a Merry Christmas, and happily served me my wine. For most people this is a matter of professionalism, and has never been a problem, for people of any faith. I refuse to call the M&S non-scandal a case of “Islamification” as some are doing. It isn’t. Similarly, those of us who object to the way the employee handled the situation, must not be made to feel as if we fit a simplistic, non-defined “Islamophobic” profile that some seem so joyful to throw about. It is simply a case of someone with deeply held beliefs, not taking the initiative to work at a place – or at least to ask to be placed in a department – where the belief would not be compromised, and a company completely unaware of how to cope with a multitude of beliefs in a plural and secular society.

If we believe absurdities, we commit atrocities…

March 6, 2011

You are perhaps going to have to forgive me for writing a blog that is all over the place, this is a subject that I have tried to grapple with for the past few days, almost non-stop, and so this blog is almost just a bunch of thoughts splashed on a page. It may not make sense.

On Thursday night I went to along to a debate between the Muslim International Public Speaker and Researcher Hamza Tortzis and Atheist Philosopher and editor of the Philosophy magazine “Think“, and senior lecturer at Heythrop College in the University of London Dr Stephan Law.

Allow me to set the scene.
95% of people in the room – Muslim.
5% – Atheist.

The fallacies set fourth by Tortsiz were just too easy to discredit. Law was good, but he didn’t have enough time to really get to grips with the arguments. And he was faced with a room full of people who had already decided he was wrong, before the debate even began.

After the debate I got a few minutes to try to debate with Tortzis myself. Unfortunately he had to leave and so I didn’t get the chance. But he very kindly left me his email address, so that we could carry on the debate via email.

One of his points that I took issue with, was the subject of objective morality. It is widely used by the religious community. Tortzis claimed that one can only have a sense of objective morality through God, because the Bible/Koran are books that anchor morality. I find that claim to be ludicrous. It is ludicrous because if it were the case, we would still be advocating stoning people for working on a Sunday, and selling slaves. We have outgrown religious morality, and so it cannot possibly be anchored, transcending time and culture.

I emailed this:

Firstly I wanted to debate a couple of points you made.
You suggested that we Atheists can have no moral basis, simply because we don’t have a belief in a God. You somehow linked a lack of belief, to a lack of basis for morality, to….. Hitler. As if Scientific rationalism (which i’d even agree, can be flawed) lead to Hitler and the holocaust. You mentioned Hitler and the holocaust in relation to a lack of basis for morality several times. The Pope actually made very similar remarks when he was in England.
Firstly, Hitler was Roman Catholic. He certainly wasn’t Atheist.
Hitler in 1922, said this:
“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. .. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison.”
Hitler in 1933, said this:
“Today they say that Christianity is in danger, that the Catholic faith is threatened. My reply to them is: for the time being, Christians and not international atheists are now standing at Germany’s fore. I am not merely talking about Christianity; I confess that I will never ally myself with the parties which aim to destroy Christianity.”
Hitler, also in 1933, said this:
“We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.”
Hitler in 1934, said this:
“National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary, it stands on the ground of a real Christianity.”

To even have suggested Atheism can lead to the rise of people like Hitler, is a gross manipulation of the historical fact, which shows quite clearly that Hitler’s motives came far more from a belief in organised religion, than it ever did from some sort of Christopher Hitchens style Atheism. It is simply wrong of you to have suggested that, it cannot be presented in any other way.

Another reason why it is wrong to have suggested that it is Atheists who have no basis for morality, is that it would appear you chose to ignore the absolute atrocities committed throughout the history of religion, in the name of religion. Atheists did not imprison Galileo. Atheists did not torture people of other faiths. Atheists did not start a war, killing innocent people, over a piece of land in the middle of the desert. Atheism did not behead, torture, rape, encourage our “brothers” to kill in the name of our religion like the Catholic Church did in the 16th Century, or like Protestant England did around 1534 onwards. Atheism is not responsible for the idea that it is perfectly acceptable for a grown man to suck the blood out of the mutilated penis of a baby boy, like the Jewish Mohel is employed to do. It wasn’t Atheists who called for Salmon Rushdie to be beheaded, simply because he wrote a book. It wasn’t Atheists who burnt down a Danish embassy, simply because a cartoon “offended” them. It wasn’t Atheists who moved to the Colonies of the United States and began the biggest mass genocide up until that point, in history. It isn’t Atheists who shoot abortion doctors in America. It isn’t Atheists who go to Uganda and profess that condoms actually cause AIDs. It isn’t Atheists who torture and kill people in Africa simply for being in love with someone of the same sex, because their vicious dogmatic hatred tells them that is acceptable. It isn’t Atheists who blocked the entrance and constantly picketed and threatened staff at a cancer unity, and made that cancer unit in England give it’s donation back to the writers of Jerry Springer the Opera because they considered it “blasphemy”, thereby depriving that cancer unit of key equipment. Religions claims on morality are bordering on laughable, given the history of it. Where is the morality in that? Those people aren’t Atheists. They are religious, and they genuinely believe what they are doing is right by their God. Christianity even has ten commandments, in which most of them are just rules on how to not make God jealous, rather than something like “do not molest children”. You chose to ignore all of this, and by doing so, presenting just one simplistic version of what morality is, you managed to make a bunch of people who clearly could not think for themselves, sat in front of me, say constantly “great point!! Atheism is fucking nonsense”. And again, for our Atheist debater to have not picked up on any of this, was incredibly frustrating. What you essentially did, was ignore the immorality of religion over the years (which is so vast, I don’t even know where to start) and point to the holocaust, as evidence for where a lack of moral basis can lead, and even that was flawed because as seen, Hitler was Roman Catholic. So that entire five minutes of your argument was just invented history.

On to the subject of Atheist morality itself, you suggested we have no basis for morality. I would argue that my basis for my sense of morality comes from the progress society has made to get to the point we are at now. It is all a process of Natural selection. My basis for morality is the history of morality. We have acquired such “codes” if you will, to survive. The same can be said for religious evolution. Have you noticed that people who have so-called “Conversions” almost always convert to a religion that is predominant in their culture anyway? I never see a person in Leicester suddenly decide they need to convert to Taoism. It is rare to find a person in Leicester suddenly, out of nowhere, decide they had a religious experience in which they saw an elephant with a blue face and several arms, it will almost always, in the West, be a conversion to Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. There will be the odd one or two discrepancies, but if research were undertaken on this, I’m fairly certain we’d find that “conversions” are very much influenced by cultural values already quite strong in whichever area one grew up. This, i’d suggest, is because religion updates with the rest of society. If we were to abide by the Biblical or Quranic “ethics” of 1500 years ago, I cannot imagine we’d all be too happy.

You argued that Atheist morality cannot have objection meaning. Well, nor can religious. Religious people will always argue that their book can be interpreted in many ways, so by definition, it is subjective. An Islamic fundamentalist will no doubt read the Quran far differently to how you do. Does that mean he is wrong? Why is he wrong? He is interpreting the Quran in his own way. He is getting out of the Quran, how his mind interprets it. So on the one hand an Islamic scholar may completely deplore Islamic fundamentalism, and on the other an Islamic scholar elsewhere may condone it. Subjective morality based on apparently objective values. If Christians were to interpret the Bible in the way that early Christians did, then the institute of marriage now would be between a man/rapist/child molester and his virgin woman, another woman, another woman, a few more women, a hostage, a rape victim, and the female children of parents who have just been slaughtered. But never a homosexual, because that is apparently where they draw the line, quite amusingly.
So religion itself can be very subjective, because it rules are ambiguous and in many cases, very out-dated (as of my interpretation, i’d guess you might interpret it differently – proving my point).

To his credit, he emailed back almost immediately with:

Hi Jamie
Thank you for your email
I will read thoroughly and respond appropriately
But one thing you need to understand, I never claimed Atheists have no moral foundation or are immoral, not once did I say this.
What I said was that in absence of God you do not have a conceptual anchor that transcends human subjectivity. In other words there is no foundation for objective morality.
With regards to the Nazi Germany point, I never claimed that Hitler was an atheist! My point was that if we take social pressure as a foundation for objective morality then we cannot fully condemn such atrocities which were the result of social pressure.
You really need to listen to what I am saying, and not skew what I say via your previous experiences with religious people etc.
I will respond in more detail. But in the mean time please read “Ethics” by J L Mackie (who was a leading atheist philosopher) and you will see that according to the atheistic perspective there are no objective morals. They are just relative.
Warmest Regards

I never said I thought he’d told me that Atheists are immoral.
The line:
“My point was that if we take social pressure as a foundation for objective morality then we cannot fully condemn such atrocities which were the result of social pressure.”
…. is a again misleading, because if we take Religion as a foundation for objective morality, we cannot fully condemn such atrocities that are committed by people who genuinely believe what they are doing glorifies God.

Also, the line:
“a conceptual anchor that transcends human subjectivity”
is very unnerving, because a concept, by definition, is surely man made? And so a concept cannot transcend human subjectivity. A conceptual anchor is just another way of saying a theory. A concept cannot be an anchor because it is not, by definition, truth. Surely a conceptual anchor could also be a political theory…….. like Fascism? To its adherents, it transcends human subjectivity.

The greatest adversaries of morality, are those within the religious community, who sincerely believe that the acts of great cruelty and evil that they commit, are permitted and encouraged by their God and that they will be receiving a reward in an afterlife for committing such acts.

If your book of “objective morality” can permit such acts, or be interpreted to apparently condone such acts, then I do not want your objective morality; it’s fucking horrific. I never once claimed, nor do most Atheists, that we base our moral foundation on social pressure. I certainly don’t. I base it on the one rule that outshines every other when it comes to morality: Treat others as you would be happy to be treated yourself.

Are we honestly saying that for hundreds of thousands of years, the evolving man raped and murdered his way across the World, and then, in the middle of the Desert, 1500 years ago, God suddenly said “okay this needs to stop”. How ridiculous.

Surely an objective truth is objective to the person making the moral statement, unless he is lying. So if there is only subjective morality and I say “It is moral to slaughter millions of Jewish people“, that is objective to me, in the same way as a Muslim suicide bomber would argue that it is morally right to fly a plan into a building.

The reliance on a God for the basis of objective morality, is subjective also because one cannot prove, or come anywhere close to proving the existence of God, and so one cannot prove, or come close to proving the existence of objective morality. I have just as much evidence to say that my God is a man with three heads and talks to me when I am asleep, and has told me that it is morally acceptable to kill all men with ginger hair. If we are to take the Theist argument, then that is my new basis for objective morality. You can be as absurd as you wish, and claim that that particular absurdity provides you with a foundation of objective morality, without offering any proof into the existence of the very thing that apparently gave you the morals in the first place.

Moral objectivism is contradictory, because it updates itself when new evidence is presented to the contrary. So it is subjective by nature. Maybe moral conservatism is a better term. If we are the follow the “objective morality” of the Old Testament, we must surely be arguing the case for slavery? Have the moral objectivists succumbed to so-called “social pressure”? Was the “objective morality” of the Old Testament simply “objective morality” within the context of the time period, in which case, it isn’t objective.

Suicide bombing is almost monopolised by religion. Shooting abortion doctors is definitely monopolised by religion. Chopping the foreskin off of a baby is definitely monopolised by religion (it is also a crap argument for design, if you have to cut off the foreskin of a babies penis, had God messed up when he created foreskin?). Marrying off children to older men is definitely monopolised by religion (and the Catholic Church is REALLY trying hard to make paedophilia a monopoly held by religion). “Objective morality” sent by “God” necessarily makes otherwise good people do awful things they would not normally do. Where would anyone get the idea that it is okay to mutilate a child’s genitalia, without their “conceptual anchor” saying so? Is that really what we’re calling a morally superior system?

How are we to judge whether what organised religion tells us is an objectional basis for morality, is moral in itself? How can you say for certain that it isn’t the work of Satan trying to mislead us? How am I to judge the morality of your Holy Book? Where does the objective foundation for my judging your Holy book come from?
It remains, that even if you conclude that objective morality can only come from God (which I absolutely don’t accept), there is no way to know that that basis, is moral in itself, for that you require belief.

Tortzis continued:

Whatever basis you select or decide for our sense of morality it will always render morals subjective, unless its God.

Take evolution and social pressure for instance. They both change and therefore make morals relative to biological or social changes.

Why must moral facts, come from a God? We can, as Atheists, say rationally that causality plays a role in our morality. We can say that by a given action, this will happen, we can deduce a moral judgement. David Kelley in “Logical structure for objectivism” (which I’ve just picked up at the library, for this very reason) states:

” Material needs such as needs for health and food: these values contribute directly to survival.
Spiritual needs such as needs for conceptual knowledge, self-esteem, education and art: these values are spiritual in the sense that they primarily pertain to consciousness, and contribute to survival by helping Reason to function properly.
Social needs such as needs for trade, communication, friendship and love: these values are social in that they occur only through interaction with others. Logically, their status as values is due to the fact that they contribute to the fulfillment of spiritual and material needs.
Political needs such as needs for freedom and objective law, which are needs concerning the organization of society. These provide the context for fulfilling our material, spiritual and social needs”

It is a similar point to what Maslow was getting at. Objective morality, they argue, is based on causality. Like religion though, the basis of that morality is quite clear, whilst the implementation may differ from person to person. My need for love being that with a member of the opposite sex, will be different to my gay friends, but the need for love itself, is objective. This doesn’t then lead us to say that that particular objective structure, could lead to the rise of Hitler or people like Hitler. Because you must introduce context to the action, because context is reality. Killing a snake as it about to bite us and killing someone on the street are two entirely separate things. The state of ourselves, the state of the thing being killed, the action needed to perform the killing, all lead to different results. One way, we are saving ourselves, the other way, we are a criminal who just murdered someone. The Bible states “Thou shalt not kill”. There is no context to that, we just must never kill. So, actually that is not objective, because it isn’t based on reality, because it doesn’t take into account context, and context is always necessary to make moral judgements. Dogmatic subjectivism cannot give moral answers. As we see every day with the way religious people use their religion to carry out horrific acts.

Thomas Paine noted this, two centuries ago:

“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistant that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

Are we to claim that those cruel and tortuous executions, that unrelenting vindictiveness is objectively moral?

So, i’d go one further and suggest that kinship is also a factor. In fact, i’d suggest objective morality is a very deep mental process that cannot be summed up with just “God”. It is a process of learning. It is kinship and the recognition of others right to life as we recognise it in ourselves. It is knowledge, education, health, freedom, friendship and love, and causation, leading to what it is that will make us happy without hurting those around us; treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. If we hadn’t developed this system of “codes”, we would not be here now, we would have been one of 99% of natures victims. If I bring God into the equation, I may treat others as I wish to be treated…. unless they’re Gay, or a non-believer, then I should unquestioningly presume they are going to hell, but just after I have sold my slave.

We have evolved to have certain characteristics; love, aggression, hate, friendship, compassion, anger. We note which ones give a positive response from others, and so that becomes a part of our moral decision making process.

Besides, I think I have found a moral in the Bible, that I actually like:

So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
John 20:25

I interpret this very subjective passage, to mean that one should question everything, until you see what is being fed to you as truth, demonstrated for you. I like that moral. I will stick to that moral, because that moral leads me to logically conclude that the god of the Bible, does not exist.

If we are to accept that the foundations of objective morality come from God, then why worry about anything that He has created? Humans existing and living in parts of the World that are largely uninhabitable? The fact that we have natural disasters that aren’t in anyway the fault of humanity? It’s all part of God’s plan. Why care? Do we have to care for the sake of reward in an afterlife, or fear of punishment? Is that moral? If my boss is saying to me “you either come to work, or you stay at home, but if you stay at home I will sack you”….. then morality suddenly has a context factor introduced, which renders it almost immoral; i.e – I am going to work, because if I don’t, I will be punished.

The morality of the Quran and the Bible seem to be “I, God, made you sick, with a sickness that I created, and now I have given you the chance to be well, but if you don’t get well, I will have you tortured for eternity”. If I were to enact that kind of regime on Earth, I would surely be labelled immoral by many different people, including the religious.

I find it simply absurd, that apologists of organised religion can have the nerve to claim they have a foundation for objective morality, when people within their own faith cannot even agree on its rules. It is a contradiction beyond anything I think I’ve ever stumbled across.
The mere idea of objective morality is just as troublesome, if not more so, than moral relativism.
Perhaps we should call religious “objective morality“….. “non-thinking morality” or “blind acquiescence morality“.

There are actually no amoral primate social groups anywhere in the World. Even Baboons have codes of conduct. The biologist Edward Wilson describes instances where chimps jump into water to save drowning mates. He suggests this is a primitive version of morality.

Michael Shermer, the American scientist has noted that certain traits are noticeable in great apes:

attachment and bonding, cooperation and mutual aid, sympathy and empathy, direct and indirect reciprocity, altruism and reciprocal altruism, conflict resolution and peacemaking, deception and deception detection, community concern and caring about what others think about you, and awareness of and response to the social rules of the group.

This suggests a rather primitive form of moral codes, to aid the survival and progress of a social group.

I would argue that morality is innate, it has evolved along with humanity over millions of years. It is an essence of solidarity and survival. For a good person to commit a great evil, is far more often committed because the person believes they have permission from a God to commit such an evil. Evil people will always do evil things, good people will only do evil things for their “conceptual anchor” be it a political concept or a religious concept. A suicide bomber who blows himself up outside of a hotel or a school, is not necessarily born with the belief that killing innocent people including children is a moral act. Their interpretation of their faith is what guides them to commit atrocities, so how fucking dare the religious apologists try to suggest that they have the monopoly on objective morality, because for too long all it has achieved is the casting of a vicious and violent and hateful shameful shadow over humanity.

I would also go one step further and claim that religion came about as a product of morality, not the other way around. Fear of punishment was a great way to get humanity to obey certain rules of conduct, very similar to how Hitler used the abstract “conceptual anchor” of Nationalism.

Is it true that without a divine dictator, everyone would do exactly as we wished? We would all be murdering our way through life? No. Of course not. Morality is socially evolved, and a product of survival. Nothing else.

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities” — Voltaire

The burden of proof

February 22, 2011

It seems apparent from early on in the history of the Church, that the existence of a Christian God was not disputed. The arguments and the philosophical debate seemed irrelevant. It simply gave many people who were already becoming suspicious of the Polytheistic system forced upon them by Rome, a chance to reassert control over their lives, and a way to escape and hide in a World of their own. A sense of individuality apart from Rome.

Doctrine became more important than spirituality and truth. Bishop Victor of Rome, around 190ad decided when Easter would be celebrated. He came up against opposition from a sect called the Quatrodecimens who insisted on celebrating Easter on Jewish passover. Victor demanded uniformity. The Catholic Church was becoming powerful very early on, and any descent from its ranks, was met with swift punishment and calls of heresy. Many gnostic groups felt the full force of the Catholic Church’s iron fist. The truth was that many different Christian sects existed. Some didn’t even acknowledge the resurrection. Many didn’t believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. There could only be one sect that reigned victorious; not because of any divine power, but because it had friends in very high and rich places. The Catholic Church spread its message violently and with threat of severe punishment, for centuries proceeding the early years of the Church. Islam is experiencing much the same attempts to monopolise knowledge and debate in Eastern Nations now. If you dare to question the tenets of Islam in a Nation like Iran, you better run for your life. That is the only reason organised religion is perpetuated. The existence of God and the philosophical arguments surrounding his supposed transcendental nature, were not explored pre-Enlightenment, through fear alone, not reason.

Anyway, today I had a short discussion with a Muslim guy who told me that as an Atheist, I could not disprove the existence of a God.

There were two problems I can see instantly with this statement.

Firstly, this is entering the realms of Deism. It is true, I cannot disprove a creator. But a creator has no attributes, and so it takes a rather large leap to get from a creator, to the Christian or Islamic God. A creator could be anything; an infinitely good creator, an infinitely evil creator, two creators, a creator whose final act before dying, was to create the universe, a creator that created the universe but then stepped back. This is entirely different from a God of religion. To prove a religion is worthy of public power, it must first prove a creator who is infinitely good, infinitely knowledgeable. And so we are given the old cosmological argument provided by Aquinas, and currently being used constantly by William Lane Craig in every debate he has:
1. Every thing has either been caused to exist by something else or else exists uncaused.
2. Not every thing has been caused to exist by something else.
3. Therefore, at least one thing is itself uncaused.
The problem being, that point two is conjecture, rather than truth. Aquinas’ logic is limited by time itself. If existence is infinite, then everything that exists has indeed been caused by that which came before. Fortunately for those of us who languish in unbelief; not everything that exists, has a cause. On the subatomic level, protons appear spontaneously and cease to exist just as quickly. The entire study of Quantum Mechanics backs this up. Both Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss attest to this.

Even if Aquinas’ logic is applied to the existence of a God, it is impossible to assign the logic to the existence of a God of organised religion, because Aquinas’ God could have been the first cause, but has had nothing to do with existence ever since. Perhaps it was more than one first cause. But obviously this is irrelevant because no philosopher would take the old cosmological argument seriously any more.

There is a more rounded version and a more modern version of the cosmological argument that is early Islamic in origin, though taken from earlier traditions. But even this argument, is weak. The Kalam Argument as it is known states that:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
It is weak because of how it is worded. The language is its downfall. “Everything that begins to exist has a cause“. This places a limit to “everything“. Everything…. that begins to exist. Which automatically excludes the idea of something that doesn’t begin to exist, i.e – a God. It is trying to prove God, by just presuming God already exists as something that didn’t begin to exist, and just existed any way. The Islamic Kalam argument does not point out where the evidence is for that which did not begin to exist. It is trying to persuade the reader that God is already a known. He is transcendental and so already exists. Almost clever, but not actually.

It is also limited by the constraints of time. Something cannot ‘begin’ unless time exists. Since time sprang into existence at the point of the big bang, there is no ’cause’ before. Because before doesn’t exist. The entire chain of cause and effect began at the point of the big bang. So, the premise of the Kalam argument is wrong. It follows then, that the rest of it, is wrong.

On the cosmological argument, the Muslim guy tried to suggest to me, that the Koran offers evidence that science has only just managed to discover. He quoted the Koran:

Then He turned to the sky, when it was still gas, and said to it, and to the earth, “Come into existence, willingly or unwillingly.” They said, “We come willingly.”

Quite how this relates to science is beyond me. As far as I can discern, a God looked at some Gas and said “make the Earth”. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what Stephan Hawking is trying to suggest. It is not a very persuasive argument to say the very very least. Even then, the Koran is saying nothing new. Even for the time period. The Ancient Greeks, 1000 years before the Koran, were theorising about atoms, gas particles and even evolution. The Greeks had guessed that the atom was the building block of everything, long before Islam sprang into existence. It would be wholly arrogant for Islam to take credit for knowledge that pre-dates it, by about a millennium. That being said, the Koran doesn’t mention atoms. It mentions gas (doesn’t go into much detail, unsurprisingly for a Religious text). And so, is wrong. Scientists would be ashamed to call this verse scientific in any way whatsoever.

The cosmological argument, in every way, fails.
Even if it didn’t fail, the cosmological argument does not imply a personal God of any sort. That is problem number one with the statement “Prove God doesn’t exist“.

The second problem and most important, is the burden of proof.
As an Atheist, I did not start by saying “God doesn’t exist“. I simply hear a religious person say “God does exist” and I reject the notion, based on the lack of evidence to support the assertion that the religious person has made.

The burden of proof is not on me to disprove the existence of a God, because it is logically impossible to do so. It would be equally as impossible to ask a religious person to prove that there isn’t a monkey sitting on my head, that turns invisible whenever someone else looks at me. They would not logically be able to disprove it, because it is an assertion that I have made without the use of evidence. The burden of proof is lodged firmly with me. If I am to make an extraordinary claim, and use it to justify horrendous abuses and prejudices (the appalling and frankly moronic and dangerous way religious people treat homosexuality), then they MUST provide extraordinary evidence.

Proof against an assertion with no characteristics or evidence, is logically impossible. I should not be expected to provide evidence for denying an assertion. The person making the assertion should provide the evidence.
So the burden of proof is not on Atheists, it is on the believers. And none of them can offer any proof whatsoever. It comes back round to the original cosmological argument, especially with reference to the Kalam argument. A God that cannot be seen or heard or have any kind of human attributes attached to it, and was the first cause so must exist outside of the realm that He created (if I make a cup, I am not part of the cup, I am apart from the cup), cannot be disproved as such. I cannot possibly, as an Atheist summon up enough arrogance to presume I can disprove something that according to those who make the assertion, exists beyond the realm of human knowledge. We are all subject to the limitations of time and space and we cannot transcend that. That goes for religious people also.

And so it stands, the burden of proof is not on me, it is on the religious person.
Needless to say, the Muslim guy I was speaking to briefly, didn’t answer.

Multiculturalism in England

February 5, 2011

At the Student protest rally in London last November, I saw a group of people marching together; laughing and joking, holding a sign saying “Jewish and Muslim Students Unite“. A Jewish guy was holding the hand of a Muslim girl. Sadly, I didn’t manage to take a photo of those two. But I got a photo of the banner. I cannot think of a better symbol of the success of multiculturalism in this country, than that group of young people. Whilst the older generation (and a few crazed extremists) likes to cling on to some oddly indefinable nostalgic sense of “Britishness”, the rest of us are getting on with each other, just fine.

David Cameron today has claimed that Britain has become too tolerant of extreme Muslims. It is an unfortunate speech because it comes on the same day as the biggest EDL rally in its history in Luton, later today. Cameron’s mistake is that he mentioned Muslim extremism particularly, and not English Nationalism too.

Both are intolerable thugs, yet both are just not important. They should be ridiculed and ignored.

Cameron makes this speech a year after Merkal of Germany made pretty much the same speech in which she argued that German Multiculturalism had failed, and argued for a strong German national identity……… a strong……. German…. national identity…………. I wont point out the obvious flaw there.

He claimed that too many Muslim organisations are showered with public money, without doing anything to combat extremism. The question is, are the extremists part of these groups showered with public money? If they are, then of course they should be trying to combat the extreme element. But if they aren’t, then why should they? It’s like claiming that all middle aged men should be using their time and influence to combat the fact that a large number of paedophiles, tend to be middle aged men.

It would be terribly ignorant to suggest that there isn’t an extreme element of Islam in the UK. There is. Is it a threat? No. It is a fringe group of fundamentalists, just like the EDL, or should not be acknowledged or given a platform whatsoever. When either EDL or Muslim groups start to propagate violence, then it is up to the security services to make sure they don’t make good on their pathetic threats. But whilst they keep talking about “the word of God”, we should shake our heads, wondering how humanity hasn’t managed to progress past the middle ages, philosophically.

There are many many English Nationalist bloggers who blog exclusively concerning Islamic fundamentalism. They never mention violence and racial discourse by English Nationalism, because they are a part of that propaganda machine intended to imagine Englanders as the great victims. It is of course nonsense, but it isn’t just English Nationalists who play that card….

The Islamic Standard takes fairy tale delusions to the next level. It is religious folk like he, that I despise. They are the cancer of the Earth. He states of a soldier who has recently died in combat:

The family said in a statement: “Martin was proud to be in the Parachute Regiment and serving his country. He served three years as a Police Community Support Officer in West Yorkshire Police before joining the PARAs.”

So not only was he in it for the money like many soldiers, but actually believed in this war against Islam and though anyone can change whilst still alive and become a better person, I can’t help feeling the world is a better place without this nationalistic enemy of Muslims on the planet.

One wonders why he thinks we should be a “friend” of his brand of Islam, when he preaches the total overthrow of our entire culture, and replacement by his.
It’s an ugly sentiment. It makes me angry to read it. But knee-jerk reactions, to Religious Fascism is what leads to the rise of National Fascism, and that’s fucking horrendous too.
It is ironic that he uses the term “nationalistic”. Nationalism is the mirror image of Religious fundamentalism. Both are fighting for a silly little concept, an outdated, human invention. A non-divine, delusion. He lives in a Country that allows him the freedom to wish death upon anyone who isn’t the biggest fan of his fairy tale delusion, and yet he condemns it. As an Atheist, I do not condemn him to death, I do not want to impose my ways on him. I’m sure he can be a nice, civilised, loving person, when he isn’t being a massively racist thug. Whether the man who died was a soldier or not, is irrelevant to Islamic Standard, because in his “about” section, he states:

We also don’t condemn our brethren who do violent acts in the UK, they have their evidence, we have our’s and we love them for the sake of Allah, they are our brothers and sisters and we would never agree to hand them over to the kufr Taghoot authorities and believe to side with the Kuffar, aid them in their war against Islam by either spying on the Muslims or joining their crusading armies and police forces are acts of Kufr Akbar (major disbelief).

– He does not condemn terrorism. He loves them, actually. For the sake of a fairy man in the sky, he loves terrorists. But he doesn’t love Western terrorism. The terrorists have to be Muslims. Violence and murder is perfectly acceptable, as long as you’re slightly Arabic. Because his God apparently differentiates between the skin colour or culture of his murderers. He condemns Western aggression throughout the World (which I do too), but he does not condemn Muslim extremism, when its aim is to install its punitive religious bullshit on those of us who would rather drink our own piss than submit to religious “values”. What if his “brethren” (a word that always makes me laugh, a product of religious delusion) who “do violent acts” kill a child? Is that not condemnable? What about an innocent old lady (I know extremists like to try to justify their inherently violent nature, by suggesting that no one is “innocent”, but that’s a cop out)? is that okay too, because it’s a fight for a massively overrated religion?
He, in short, is a thug.
But he is entitled to his bullshit, in this country. I entirely disagree with him. I find him a virus that the immune system of humanity should be intent on weeding out with logic and reason. But I will always defend his right to be a Fascist, in the same way that his mirror image – the EDL have the right to believe the bullshit that they believe. They are a very small minority who do not condemn violence against those who entirely disagree with them, but want others to understand, believe and treat them like our superiors. It isn’t ever going to happen from me. He condemns me for who I am. He condemns me, because I am not a Muslim.

Cameron argues that Multiculturalism has failed.
He’s wrong.
It hasn’t failed.
Thirty years ago, the Tories ran a campaign in Birmingham with a leaflet stating “If you want a nigger as a neighbour, vote Labour”. Thankfully, that sort of far right Nationalist bullshit is past us. Now, your kids could be white and Christian, playing football in the street with their black, Muslim and Sikh friends. My dad coaches youth cricket teams; the young players are all very very good friends, and are all mixed culturally. Cultural integration is a slow process that takes a generation or two to take hold. This new generation of children are far more culturally aware and integrated that we ever were. Cameron’s speech is inflaming a culture of suspicion of the “other” that until now has been left to the idiots on the far right. He is giving a credible face to that intolerance, especially by not referencing the anti-British values of the EDL.

That being said, I am no fan of organised religion, and if I had my way, no religious organisation would be receiving public funds, and I absolutely wouldn’t tolerate religious schools. I do not want Christian influence on politics and law, just like I don’t want Islamic influence on politics and law. I do not want fairy tales to influence reality. Cameron would do us all a credit, if he is taking a swipe at Islam, to also take a swipe at extreme Christians. Contrary to Christian belief, Western law is not based on Christian reasoning. It is based on social evolution and common sense. Law should be based on irrefutable fact, not on largely discredited miserable fairy tales from 1500-2000 years ago, in the desert. Whilst religious people like to suggest that homosexuality is unnatural, I would suggest that religious belief, is the most unnatural and vicious pessimistic invention humanity has ever had the misfortune to invent. The moment we no longer need such bullshit, is the day when we have evolved to the level that we can truly call ourselves civilised. Fundamentalist Islam, like Nationalists in the EDL are not civilised. They are barbaric thugs and nothing else. Do not let them convince you otherwise.

Multiculturalism has not failed.
The experiment of Nation States has failed. The experiment of one overriding National identity has failed. The experiment of organised religion has failed.
Nation States are a left over from Colonial days. They have nothing but a violent history. They are like a market place, always looking for resources to plunder. It doesn’t matter if it is Western Nations or Middle Eastern Nations; the rich ones always want more. It isn’t Islam vs Christianity. It is the rich vs the poor. Always will be. Religion is used as a way to separate the poor Westerners from the poor Easterners, when actually they have more in common with each other than they think. They should be joining hands and fighting back. Racism has always been used as a divisive tool to stop popular uprisings.

We are all a product of multiculturalism. A British identity has always been a little bit obscure. For most of our history, since the year 0, we were a Catholic country, in which the majority of our citizens considered themselves loyal to Rome before loyalty to the Nation. Protestants and Catholics fought for their vision of what it meant to be British. The English fought the Scots. The Royalists fought the Republicans. The Enlightenment thinkers struggled against the “traditionalists” of the elites. Darwin struggled to find a time to reveal the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, in the face of religious fundamentalists, so backward in their thinking, so dogmatic in their delusions, who would have liked him to have been silenced. We are a land of multiculturalism. I guarantee my idea of what it means to be British is far away from what David Cameron thinks it means to be British. Perhaps, in a very broad sense, we can deduce that to be British, is to believe in Democracy, the rule of secular law, and socially liberal values of acceptance. And tea drinking. Lots of tea drinking.

I have always argued that mass migration is linked entirely to global inequality. We, as a Western State had a foot up the ladder of global Capitalism long before Middle Eastern countries started to climb. We used our days of Empire to secure great wealth, that has kept us relatively privileged ever since. We pillaged the World and then blocked our borders to them. We stole resources and labour supplies, and gave nothing back. Now we are complaining that the people we left behind, want a better life for themselves and their families in the UK. That to me, is irrational. The balance has to be tipped toward the centre economically. Flooding the World with American and British multinational companies, is not fair. It is perpetuating the problem, it results in war and in hatred. Always will do. Especially when mixed with religion.

Fundamentalism in religion, is built on a bedrock of intolerance, hate, violence, delusion, anger, and whilst their mindset is undoubtedly influenced by their religious beliefs; they also must have psychological issues in the first place, to allow themselves to condemn large sections of humanity, who have done nothing personally to upset or hurt them, to a violent, miserable death. This is the legacy of religion. To call any religion, the “religion of peace and love” is a contradiction in terms.

George Bush said he had heard the voice of the Christian God, who told him to go to war in Iraq. Absolute madness. And very very worrying, that a man who has such strong delusions can acquire the position of the most powerful man in the World. It is the 21st Century and our leaders are no different from the 16th Century European leaders who were raging wars based entirely on religions. It is almost beyond comprehension that our history for the past 2000 years has been plagued by the dictatorship of a work of fiction. Christian fundamentalism has been the driving force behind the power of the Catholic Church for decades.

If those of us who are sensibly minded, and optimistic for the future of humanity, those of us who are not infected with the disease of organised religion, all accept that it isn’t Islam itself or Christianity itself that are the problems, that they are just systems for spirituality; and we accept that it is indoctrination into extreme tendencies that are the problem, throughout the World of organised religion, we are sure to prevail. Logic, reason, and fact always prevails.

Moderate Christians, Muslims, Jews, English, Middle Eastern etc should be banding together, and enjoying each others company, learning from each other, and progressing. We should not be suspicious of each other, and we should not be condemning each other, purely for the beliefs one has.

Be black, be white, be gay, be straight, be Muslim, be Christian, be Jewish, be Atheist, be female, be male, be fat, be thin, be happy, be miserable, be sporty, be artistic, be eccentric, be philosophical, be left, be right, and live together.

I do not want to see people as being Muslim first. David Cameron is pointing and saying “look, a Muslim, be suspicious“.

America’s tortured brow

September 13, 2010

– Reagan meets the Taliban and refers to them as Afghanistan’s founding fathers, despite their remarkable ability to deny even the most fundamental of human rights.

Prior to 1986 the UN’s judicial wing, the International Court of Justice was supported by the United States. However, all that changed in 1986. In that year, that fantastic year (my birth), Nicaragua became indescribably pissed off with the US’s involvement in supporting Right Winged terrorists in their country, that they bought a case against the US, to the Court of Justice. The charge was, that:

(a) That the United States, in recruiting, training, arming, equipping, financing, supplying and otherwise encouraging, supporting, aiding, and directing military and paramilitary actions in and against Nicaragua, had violated its treaty obligations to Nicaragua under:
Article 2 (4) of the United Nations Charter;
Articles 18 and 20 of the Charter of the Organization of American States;
Article 8 of the Convention on Rights and Duties of States;
Article I, Third, of the Convention concerning the Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife.
(b) That the United States had breached international law by
1. violating the sovereignty of Nicaragua by:
armed attacks against Nicaragua by air, land and sea;
incursions into Nicaraguan territorial waters;
aerial trespass into Nicaraguan airspace;
efforts by direct and indirect means to coerce and intimidate the Government of Nicaragua.
2. using force and the threat of force against Nicaragua.
3. intervening in the internal affairs of Nicaragua.
4. infringing upon the freedom of the high seas and interrupting peaceful maritime commerce.
5. killing, wounding and kidnapping citizens of Nicaragua.

The US defended itself, not by denying any of the above, but by suggesting that everything it had done in the region, all the terrorist activity and the dead civilians and the economic warfare, and the torturing, was justified because it was preemptively “exercising a right of collective self-defense” for the benefit of other Latin American countries.

As proceedings were clearly going against the US, the lawyers for this new Roman Empire, who answer to no one but themselves, decided to throw their toys out of the pram, by suggesting (and being the only Country to ever suggest) that the International Court of Justice is “semi-legal, semi-juridical, semi-political body, which nations sometimes accept and sometimes don’t.” This obviously setting themselves up to say that when the court inevitably finds in favour of Nicaragua, the US wont listen. And so that is exactly what happened.

The Court found that the US was guilty of attacking key infrastructure in Nicaragua, and arming, training and financing Right Winged terrorists in the Country, although admits that the US probably wasn’t directing the operations of the terrorists. They simply picked them, funded them, armed them, and then said “okay….GO!“. The court also found that the Nicaraguan government had absolutely no part in any arms flow between Nicaragua and insurgents in other Latin American Countries. It found that no Latin American Country had asked for US support in these matters.

The judgement reads:

“Decides that the United States of America, by training, arming, equipping, financing and supplying the contra forces or otherwise encouraging, supporting and aiding military and paramilitary activities in and against Nicaragua, has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligation under customary international law not to intervene in the affairs of another State;”

Decides that, by laying mines in the internal or territorial waters of the Republic of Nicaragua during the first months of 1984, the United States of America has acted, against the Republic of Nicaragua, in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State, not to intervene in its affairs, not to violate its sovereignty and not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce;

Finds that the United States of America, by producing in 1983 a manual entitled “Operaciones sicológicas en guerra de guerrillas”, and disseminating it to contra forces, has encouraged the commission by them of acts contrary to general principles of humanitarian law; but does not find a basis for concluding that any such acts which may have been committed are imputable to the United States of America as acts of the United States of America;

Decides that the United States of America, by the attacks on Nicaraguan territory referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof, and by declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua on 1 May 1985, has committed acts calculated to deprive of its object and purpose the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956;

The list goes on.

America of course disagreed and ignored the verdict. Nicaragua took it to the UN Security Council, asking for all members to respect international law. The US Vetoed it. Because the US don’t like being told what to do. It is the equivalent of a murderer being found guilty, but then walking out of the court because he doesn’t like the verdict and saying “Yeah, I don’t really take it seriously now, i’m going home” and being allowed to.

Nicaragua then took it to the General Assembly, who passed the Resolution by 94 votes to 3. The 3 anti votes, being obviously the US…….. of course you can guess the second….. Israel, and the third being El Salvador, who at the time were the recipient of huge US aid, to fight the Left Wing uprisings in the Country. The US then tried its hardest since the decision, to discredit the ICJ for being a “hostile forum”, simply because the decision went against the US. I wonder if they’d have followed the same path of trying to discredit the ICJ, if the decision went their way. Something tells me they wouldn’t. And so Nicaraguans had to deal with even further American involvement in their Country. Reagan imposed tougher economic sanctions, and denounced the elections in Nicaragua as suspicious, despite the fact that Canada, Ireland, the European Economic Community and religious groups sent to oversee the elections all said that they were perfectly fair and free.

The US Congress then banned all funding to the Right Winged terrorists in Nicaragua, the Reagan administration carried on covertly. They did this by selling arms to Iran and sending the money gained, to the terrorists in Nicaragua. In 1996 it was revealed that the Reagan administration used money raised through drug trafficking to support the terrorists in Nicaragua. And today, those very same conservative Americans who masturbate furiously over the mere mention of Reagan, are claiming Obama is the one pissing on the Constitution, by trying to improve the Healthcare system. Fickle, despicable, moronic; the American Right Wing.

This is why it amazes me, that it was the Middle East that lost it’s mind first, and began fighting America. Muslim Extremists are the equivalent of the barbarians that sacked Rome. Pissed off at their treatment by this wretched superpower, but just as pathetic, barbaric, and evil as the bastards they are fighting.

Two days ago, marked 9 years since the September 11th 2001 terrorist atrocity in New York City. It was unquestionably one of the most vile and senseless attacks the World has witnessed. The inhumanity was beyond comprehension and it strikes me as utterly counter to human compassion and decency, to assume such an attack is justifiable. That being said, I cant help but wonder why we in the Western World are only ever exposed to this one side of the story.

Almost 3000 people died that day in 2001. Since then, and because of that act, 2071 soldiers have died in Afghanistan, 4736 soldiers have died in Iraq, 14,240 civilians have died in Afghanistan, and as many as 104,595 civilians have died in Iraq, with thousands upon thousands more displaced, starving, and living in poverty that they were not in prior to US led military action. One wonders what this has achieved? One also wonders why we never hear about those deaths? Why is a declaration of war considered a legitimate and almost entirely ethical justification for the deaths of almost 200,000 innocent people? Why are America not considered far far worse than the terrorists who attacked on 9/11? 3000 people is one building. 200,000 people, is an entire city. Imagine waking up, in your city, and finding everyone dead. Children included. How is that in any sense justifiable?

Does anyone in the West know the significance of the date April 28th 2003? I doubt it. It was the date that the Americans imposed a curfew on the people of Fallujah (if Iraqis invaded America and demanded people stay in their homes after a certain time, would Americans agree? No, of course not). The people defied the curfew, and the 82nd Airborne shot and killed 17, and injured over 70. Two days later, a protest in Fallujah against the shootings took place. The US shot two people dead. American terrorism and imperialism at its finest. The documentary ‘Fallujah: The hidden massacre’ gives compelling evidence of an even greater evil, committed by the US against ordinary civilians in Fallujah, including children. It shows footage of White phosphorus being used in residential areas, which breaches human rights conventions. It then shows us footage of children and other victims of the attacks, in the areas in which the White phosphorus was used. Ex soldier Jeff Englehart backs up the claims and the evidence by admitting the use of the banned substance. A Labour MP Alice Mahon pressured the British MOD to respond to the claims. The MOD then confirmed that US forces used MK77 during the invasion. The US defended its actions by saying they gave civilians enough time to evacuate. Overall, 39,000 homes were badly damaged and 10,000 destroyed, along with 60 schools, hospitals, and 65 mosques in Fallujah, by the US, in 2004. They have not been reconstructed. 32,000 compensation claims altogether. It is now 2010, and only 2,500 have received any form of compensation. Is America still convinced these people simply ‘hate our freedoms’?

We as a species seem to have instilled in us, a sense of revenge, as well as an impulse to assume we are the ones hard done by. American governments, including the Obama administration, play the innocent far too often. The usual story across the World, from Latin America, to Afghanistan, is America attempts to control a Country for resource purposes, the people fight back, America refers to them as evil, they refer to America as evil, America attacks and refer to themselves as freedom givers, the locals attack back and America refer to them as insurgents and terrorists, America attacks again, the locals attack again, and so on. All the time, Americans are shocked that anyone could dislike them for any reason, after all they assume quite amusingly that they are the beacon of hope and freedom. And so the cycle goes on. What does it achieve? Nothing.

Right now, the Muslim World assumes it is entirely innocent, and America assumes it is entirely innocent. Both are not innocent. Do I consider America to be terrorists? Damn right I do, quite horrific terrorists too. What is unnerving, and deeply regressive in terms of the history of humanity, is that both sides assume they are fighting a morally just war, for their own abstract concept; One side is fighting for their religion – a man made concept, something that doesn’t exist, a fairy tale. The other side is fighting for a Nation State – again, a man made concept that has no scientific or empirical worth, is not biological, is an archaic throw back to Colonialism, and is simply a social construct that certainly is not worth killing or dying for. It is unbelievably short sighted, because it will never end. America as a Nation are never likely to admit they have been utter bastards across the World for the past 50 years. Islam as a religion is never going to accept it has anger issues and takes its fairy man in the sky a little too seriously.

One problem, from a Western perspective, is that since 9/11 at least, we have had this us VS them mentality. We believe the West is right, and the Muslim World are evil bastards who we tried to help, but were beaten down for it. It emanates from America. We never hear stories of American terrorism; of which there are countless examples. We are made to believe the Office of President of the United States of America is an honourable office. It REALLY isn’t. It’s like the office of Roman Emperor. It means you have the power to impose your will on much of the World, through force if necessary and build a public reason for it, but keep the real reason private. It is an office of criminals. Very little more. The castle of the Presidency is built on pillars of sand, not rock. They will not talk about the fact that when Reagan was President, he helped to create the Mujahideen as an anti-communist force, despite the fact that they were also a very violent human rights abusers. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an ex Prime Minister of Afghanistan is currently on the run from America, who have him labelled as a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist’. This man is responsible for countless deaths. Yet, conversely. according to the book ‘Afghanistan, the bear trap: defeat of a superpower‘, Hekmatyar was the recipient of the most US covert funding (thought to be around half a billion dollars…….. apparently Tea Party activists didn’t really care about this) ever, and total immunity from the CIA for his role in the Drug trade.

During the Afghan-Soviet war, America funding the creation of over 35,000 religious schools throughout Afghanistan, in order to help train people against Soviets by teaching an extreme form of Islam in the hope that what the crazed Muslim extremists are doing now to America, would be aimed entirely at the Soviet Union. When their anger was aimed at the Soviets, America referred to them as Freedom Fighters. The moment that anger spilled over in the direction of America, they suddenly became known as terrorists. But, the Americans created the problems. They didn’t care if terrorism that they funded was being aimed at Americas enemies. They didn’t care how many people would die, from funding the creation of the monster of Islamic Extremism. It suited their needs, so it was fine. Now it is going against them, and they suddenly find it to be an evil that needs to be defeated.

President Eisenhower famously used his farewell speech to warn the US that the ‘Military-industrial complex’, in other words, private military and arms manufacturers, as a concept, runs entirely at odds with the objection of peace. That when a situation arises in which certain people and groups have material interests in being continuously at war, there can never be peace. Eisenhower said:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Today, this is more crucial a point, than at any time during the past fifty years. A fifty years in which the US has never had a moment where it has not been involved in the affairs of other Nations. The vast economy of the military machine, is the very source of international terrorism, and it is based entirely in the US. Eisenhower recognised it. I think we are all beginning to recognise it. Especially after Iraq.

There will never be an end to terrorism. Because terrorism is not limited to extreme Muslims. Terrorism takes on many forms, and one of them includes direct funding from the very superpower that in public appears to be so anti-terrorism, it goes beyond the realm of hypocrisy and becomes laughable. Whilst money exists, whilst Nation States exist, whilst America exists, and whilst Religion exists – terrorism will also exist.

My favourite Bible stories

September 7, 2010

A line in a wedding ceremony I recently attended, read by the Priest was: “God loves those who fear him“. This made me feel a little uneasy. It is from Psalms, and it is a little unnerving. It suggests in order to be in favour with this maniacal overlord, you must be fearful of him. You must be frightened. God wants your love, through fear, God Corleone is probably a more apt name.

Opening any page of the Old Testament seldom produces anything other than shock and disgust from those of us who are not indoctrinated by its bullshit. The God of the Old Testament is merely a dictator of the most evil variety, with a number of genocides that would make Polpot stand in awe. A Stalin-esque figure demanding nothing but intense loyalty and the unquestioning acquiescence of ‘his’ people. A figure who wishes you to obey his every command, NEVER question him, and is even in control of the way you think. He demands you put all morality to one side, and put him above it. If you have no problem with homosexuality, and just wish that you should be happy with whomever you fall in love with; tough. God says it’s wrong, if you disagree, you’re going to burn in the pits of hell for an eternity of pain and torture……. but he loves you.

A totalitarian dictator, straight out of Orwell’s 1984, who, not content with inventing the concept of ‘sin’, and forcing upon an entire planet, even as innocents at birth; He decided that the only way to cleanse the World of a concept that He created in the first place, was to have His ‘son’ brutally murdered. The logic is ridiculous. An Ancient logic that deserves no sympathy or credence in 2010.

The idea that this God gave us all the gift of Free Will is inevitably problematic for the believer. Usually they worm their way out of an explanation, by inventing reasons why the situation regarding Free Will is as it is. They offer no proof, but then Organised Religion, and evidence don’t exactly mix very well anyway. Take the story of Abraham. In Genesis 17, we find Abraham at 99 years old, being told by God that he shall have a Son. Abraham had no choice in this. Nor does he have the freedom to call God an absolute maniacal despot when God tells Abraham that he is to cut the skin off of the penises of all who live in Abraham’s house, when they have reached 8 days old. Those children don’t have a choice. They haven’t asked for this. Why is it even necessary? Why can’t they just swear an oath, if God is really that paranoid that they might not believe in his laws? It is senseless. It is the work of an evil ruler, not an all loving God. The suggesting that God demands all of this because he loves us, is eerily familiar to when a wife cries and claims that her husband beats her, because he loves her. It is a mental illness. If a ruler today told all his people that in order to prove their loyalty, they must cut a bit of skin off their cock, surely he would be seen as a little over tyrannical? In any case, the idea that God gave His people Free Will whilst at the same time demanding innocent children be mutilated, and given no choice in the situation, is a little bit of a contradiction. No doubt Christians will find a way to squirm out of it.

Abraham is then told to kill his son. He doesn’t argue. He doesn’t say “Hang on a minute, i’ve chopped half his cock off, why do I have to kill him?” He just goes along with it. But our sneaky God doesn’t REALLY want Abraham to kill Isaac. So when Abraham has lured his son on a fake hunting trip, tied his son down to a stone, and held a knife above him, about to kill him, an angel stops him. God only wanted to test Abraham. He was perfectly happy to put Isaac through one of the worst ordeals he’s ever likely to face, by making him believe his dad is about to stab him to death on a stone block, just to prove to his rather paranoid and jealous self, that Abraham is willing to go that far to glorify this fickle dictatorial lunatic in the sky. This lovely little story features just after the story of Lot’s daughters who get Lot drunk and fuck him, because he’s all alone, after God, in an act of pure genocide, wipes out Lot’s entire city.

Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha. The Festival of Sacrifice. A celebration of the fact that Abraham was willing to kill his son. Now, in this modern age, if a man were to lure his son to an opening in a desert, struggle with him, fight with him, in order to subdue him and tie him down whilst he doubtless screams for his life, and the man then attempts to kill the boy, but stops at the final seconds because he claims an angel told him to; he’d be judged insane, he’d be thrown in prison. The child would be scarred mentally for his entire life. We’d celebrate the fact that the child survived such an horrific ordeal at the hands of a monster. Why isn’t Abraham, or God for that matter, considered a monster? I consider them both to be horrendous monsters. The same God, who, instead of fighting against child molestation, or poverty, or appalling disease and malnutrition, instead instructs his followers to build temples in which they can worship him and his oversized narcissism. This is not a God I want anything to do with.

It all appears in Genesis. Way before God gives Moses a bunch of pointless commandments and a few obvious commandments. Not that we needed to know not to murder people. We managed to get through thousands and thousands of years without destroying ourselves. In fact, the most violent section of the history of man, must be after Christianity is founded, and usually, due entirely to Christianity. The first few commandments, are all about trying to appease a jealous God. Do not have any other Gods. (That free will thing is slowly eroding again). Don’t make false idols. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. Keep the Sabbath day holy. What a waste of commandments. Why not, Do not rape. Do not molest children. Do not keep slaves. Do not exploit people for money. Vindictive, jealous, dictatorial and monstrous – the God of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Jesus supposedly died to save us. Firstly, why did he have to die? Why did God, who is in control of everything, feel it necessary to brutally murder someone, simply to rescue humanity? What kind of sadistic mind comes up with that idea? And secondly, what did he save? From Jesus’ death until now, we have had countless religious wars, atom bombs, genocide far worse than anything in the Ancient World. Perhaps God was a little premature in sending us his Son. All Jesus’ death managed to create, was a far worse World than before, thanks entirely to the very fact that he was born in the first place. Did God not foresee the problems it might cause, creating this religion called Christianity? He is solely responsible for the mess Religion has created. For the people who have burnt to death for believing something different, for the limits placed on scientific advancement, for the religious wars. God is responsible entirely. And you can’t blame people. God knew people were flawed and full of Sin, not only that be he knows all; the past, the present and the future, and so knew exactly what was about to happen. God, is evil. Although, this of cause, is all conjecture… because God doesn’t actually exist. A fairy tale, to indoctrinate those less intelligent and easily suggestible section of humanity, who cannot think for themselves. A relic from an archaic time. Nothing more.

People who chose to believe in this God, or have been brought up in the faith, are not free. They have a need to be controlled. They need to be told what is right and wrong, rather than using their own intuition. They need a dictator full of rage and anger, and call it ‘love’. America is a country that prides itself on freedom, and yet paradoxically it is one of the most Christian nations on the Planet. Lives are ruled by a book written four thousands years ago, and with absolutely no evidence. They live their lives on fear and subordination.

I cannot, and will not ever submit myself to such an evil and vicious concept, as that of Organised Religion.

The wonder of Fox News

August 25, 2010

Fox News, and News Corp in general provide quite the amusing slant on World events. We in the UK find it an endless source of hilarity and bullshit all rolled into one. We understand that much of America actually takes Fox News seriously, which amuses us even further.

During our UK election, they announced that the result was the UK’s total rejection of Socialism. Which of course was nonsense. Our Conservative Party, whom Fox News supporter, told the electorate that they would look after and protect our single payer Health Service, making the Conservatives evil Socialists in the eyes of right winged America. Fox News also failed to point out that more people in the UK voted for Parties on the Left and Centre-Left than they did for those on the Right. So actually, it was far from a rejection of Socialism. I blogged on Fox News calling the UK election, here.

But the stupidity doesn’t surprise me. In the past two years they have labelled President Obama a Marxist, Communist, Fascist, American hating Muslim, Foreigner with terrorist sympathies who hates White people. I give it a week before they ask if he is actually a homosexual transvestite. It stinks of bitterness. A torrent of hate and bullshit. They labelled the anti-Iraq war protesters as ‘un-American’ whilst those who protested the Health Care Bill were labelled Patriots. But they assure us that they are not bias. They assure us they are in no way a rallying point for all single brain celled racists Right wingers across America.

On The Daily Show two nights ago, Jon Stewart, once again, made Fox News appear fools. For weeks Fox has been drawing weak links between the Muslim Centre near Ground Zero with funding from shady characters with Terrorist ties. The guy they point to as helping to fund the project is a man named Al-Waleed bin Talal. He is a member of the Saudi Royal Family. He has invested more than $300,000 in projects for Feisal Abdul Rauf, the principle planner of the Muslim Centre near Ground Zero. This is one of the guys that Fox refer to as a shady character. What Fox failed to point out is; Al-Waleed bin Talal owns 7% of News Corp and so owns 7% of Fox News. News Corp (Fox News) owns 9% of Al-Waleed bin Talal’s entertainment company Rotana. Al-Waleed bin Talal is part of the Carlyle Group, which has business deals with the Bin Laden family. So, by association, Jon Stewart pointed out that Fox News is funded by those linked to terrorism, if we are to use their logic. Stewart ended quite brilliantly, by saying that if “We want to stop funding terror, we must as a Nation, together………… stop watching Fox. IT’S THE ONLY WAY!!”. The stupidity of Fox is outstanding.

It is almost as ridiculous a situation, as the time that The Simpsons ran a mock Fox News on one of it’s episodes with the news ticker running along the bottom, proclaiming; “Do Democrats cause cancer? …………… Rupert Murdoch: terrific dancer……………. Study: 92% of Democrats are gay………… Bible says Jesus favoured Capital Gains cut.” Fox News took exception to this, and threatened The Simpsons with legal action. The problem is, that The Simpsons is owned by Fox. So effectively, Fox were threatening to sue Fox. Fox backed down and didn’t sue Fox for mocking Fox. Fox now has a new rule stating that The Simpsons cannot do the news ticker any more, (I promise I am not making this up) because it might confuse viewers into believing it is the real news.

I will leave you with that thought. I don’t think much more can be said. Fox News is an embarrassment all by itself, it doesn’t need those of us on the Left point it out, although it’s much fun to do.

I support the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’.

August 23, 2010

“bringing back the atmosphere of interfaith tolerance and respect that we have longed for since Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in harmony and prosperity eight hundred years ago.”

– Cordoba Initiative Mission Statement.

America has an odd obsession with freedom. It usually involves freedom for White Christian Americans but no one else. It usually involves labeling any one who isn’t in tune to their massively hypocritical version of freedom, as freedom-haters. This week has been no difference.

You would have thought that with their obsession with free market enterprise and freedom, they would have welcomed the news that a Private firm have bought a plot of land two blocks from the World Trade Centre and plan to build on it. But no, the slightly vacant, miserable excuses for human beings; the American Right Wing is spending its time protesting against the building and suggesting that it pisses on the memory of those who died on 9/11, and that ground zero is a sacred site. They apparently have no problem with the strip bar that exists a stones throw away…… but then most Republican Americans spend their time in places like that, so it’s no surprise. And anyway, Masjid Manhattan, a Mosque in New York, is right next to the site, and has been since the 1970s. But then Fox News hasn’t built up hype around Masjid, so it’s nauseatingly stupid viewers have no reason to protest.

The ignorance is astounding. Their are countless facebook groups dedicated to being against building of what they call the “Ground Zero Mosque”. NO! They state quite viciously. Muslims are all evil radicals intent on killing Americans and raping their children. The Mosque would be their headquarters, at Ground Zero!!!! The only problem is……….. it isn’t a Mosque, and it isn’t at Ground Zero.

It is two blocks away from Ground Zero. I am curring in Australia, two blocks away from the nearest super market. I wouldn’t claim to currently be in the supermarket. It is therefore reasonable to say that the Ground Zero Mosque is not at Ground Zero. So, that leaves the word ‘Mosque’.

It is called the Cordoba Center. It will include a Theatre, a Performing Arts centre, a Basket Ball court, Bookstore, Child care, Prayer space, Restaurant, culinary school and fitness centre. It is already being used as a place of prayer for Muslims, and has been for quite some time. There is nothing that honours the victims of religious intolerance more, than a center dedicated to building relations, and showing that there does not have to be such separation, anger and fear. A symbol of the coming together of Islam and the West, and particularly Islam and America is a stage in contemporary times that we REALLY need to get to, and this Centre is an attempt to provide that link. We should be celebrating it. We should be celebrating that we are trying to move away from the past decade. We no longer want people like Palin and Bush and Cheney making sure fear is the order of the day. Innocent, decent Muslims are no different to innocent, decent Americans.

And yet a large number of Americans believe this to be an insult to them.

It defies logic.
America has sent thousands of troops to their deaths in wars built on the idea that oil revenue is worth far more than human life. They have seen a decade pass in which they were the most hated Nation on the planet, for the entire reign of George Bush. And they have the fucking nerve to suggest that it is a Mosque that pisses on the memory of 9/11 victims? No. Bush and the entire Republican faithful pissed on their memory years ago. One continuous piss, that continues to this day.

Over 300 Muslims died on 9/11. Not only that, but whilst the overweight American Right Wing sits basking in a sea of its own inherent racism, complaining and protesting against anything that isn’t White, Christian, and American; many more Muslims put their lives on the line fighting for America every single day. Mohammad Khaled, during 2006 endured heavy gone fire, fighting for a Country that now considers him insensitive if he wishes to practice his faith anywhere near the location of 9/11, committed by the very same terrorists he has vowed to fight against. Khaled left the U.S Armed Forces in 2006, because he was left stranded in Iraq whilst trying to protect three children from persistent gunfire. There are many more just like him. If I were Khaled, I would find it ridiculously difficult not to spit in the faces of every Right Winged American who puts me into the same category as a bunch of terrorists. Khaled, and others like him are better than that. They are better than Right Winged America. They deserve our respect above the Fox News brigade.

There can be no logical argument against the building. It is ludicrous to even try. It will always end up being a torrent of putrid racist anti-Islamic conjecture based on no logic or fact, and when you start to reason in that way, your argument becomes intensely invalid. The Economist magazine, a magazine I usually wouldn’t pay any attention to because we differ on our economic opinions, quite rightly said:

“Every single argument put forward for blocking this project leans in some way on the misconceived notion that all Muslims, and Islam itself, share the responsibility for, or are tainted by, the atrocities of 9/11.”

It is being built by the Cordoba Initiative. The initiative was set up, purely to help build stronger relations between the West and Islam. God knows, there needs to be some sort of relation healing between the West and Islam after Bush’s reign. However, it only works to help American’s innate fear of anything that isn’t American, grow larger. First it was the Communists. Anyone slightly Left of Reagan is accused of trying to bring Communism to America. And now it is Islam. Anyone who isn’t Christian is apparently attempting to ‘Islamify’ America. Which is ludicrous. When a Catholic Church is built, there is never any suggestion that there exists a Catholic conspiracy to pass all lawmaking of America to the Papacy in Rome. That is because it is ludicrous. But America always needs an enemy to fear, even if that enemy simply doesn’t exist. Today it is Islam. Tomorrow, it could be sweet old ladies.

There must be a distinction between law-abiding individuals who happen to have a personal belief in Islam, and the fundamental nature of Islam itself. Those who follow the fundamental doctrine of Islam, have failed to evolve with time, and have instead become what Christopher Hitchens so rightfully calls it ‘Islamofascist’. It is true, that these people are dangerous and that Islam has a lot of growing up to do. But individual Muslims, are not at fault.

Obama remains weak, and eerily silent. He is clearly worried about upsetting the anti-Islam right winged morons who inhabit his Country, given that this week a poll revealed that 18% of Americans believe Obama is a secret Muslim. Why aren’t Progressives everywhere standing up to these people. Islam is not the blame for the friction between themselves and the West. Fear across America is to blame. It is supplemented by Fox News and its associates in the Republican Party, because without fear and without someone to hate and invent bullshit about, the American Right Wing including Fox and the Republican Party, are nothing. A remnant of a past in which humanity is constantly fearing the ‘other’. An ‘other’ that simply doesn’t exist.

Abe Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League quite pathetically and hypocritically (you’ll see why in a second) fanned the flames of bigotry with this:

“Ultimately this is not a question of rights, but a question of what is right. In our judgement, building an Islamic centre in the shadow of the World Trade centre will cause some victims more pain – unnecessarily – and that is not right?. If you want to heal us, don’t do it in our cemetery.”

Normally I’d respect his view, despite how pathetic it is. However I can’t bring myself to do that, given that Abe Foxman recently seemed more than happy about the proposal to build a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ by an Israeli group in Islamic Mamillah Cemetery in Jerusalem. Oh the hypocrisy.

Supporters of the project include families of those who died in the 9/11 attacks. Donna O’Connor, whose pregnant daughter died on 9/11 said:

“This building will serve as an emblem for the rest of the world that Americans … recognize that the evil acts of a few must never damn the innocent.”

Very wise lady.

Terry Rockefeller whose sister died on 9/11 said:

“This doesn’t insult her at all. This celebrates the city she loved living in. It is what makes America what we are.

Sue Rosenblum whose sister died on 9/11 said:

“What are we teaching if we say you can’t build here? That it’s OK to hate? This is a country based on freedom of religion.”

Daisy Khan, who is working on the project quite rightly said:

“The presence of … mosques like the one planned near Ground Zero, which will be an educational center as well as a place of prayer, is one good way of transcending … ignorance.”

She is correct. The only way to defeat the ignorance of people like the American Right Wing, and Islamic Extremists, is to join the moderates on both sides together. Projects like this, acts to knock down the barriers that the Bush Administration thrived on, and what Sarah Palin continues to need in order to survive politically because without fear and hate the American Right Wing really is nothing.

Cordoba is run by Feisal Abdul Rauf, who spent weeks after 9/11 reaching out to the West and condemning all extremists. He is known for spending his life trying to build bridges between Islamic World and America. He has written countless books, and appealed to the U.S Government to fight Islamic terrorism by changing its foreign policy. He is a good person. The Centre, two blocks away from the site of the World Trade Centre has absolutely nothing to do with extremism or terrorism. The Centre is going to include a restaurant Americans seem unable to distinguish between Islam and terrorism. Yet, they seem perfectly able to distinguish between Christianity and Terrorism.

Army Of God, Christian Patriot Movement and Christian Identity are all terrorist Christian organisations operating around America. I presume I can count on the support of Sarah Palin, and the Fox News worshiping lunatics who are protesting against this Islamic Centre in New York, whenever Christians wish to build a Christian Church, or school, or centre, anywhere near the spot in which an abortion clinic was targeted by Christian terrorists?
1984 – Abortion Clinic in Pensacola, on Christmas Day bombed by Christian fundamentalists who called the attack a gift to Jesus on his birthday.
1993 – Shelley Shannon convicted of shooting Dr George Tiller, and later convicted of bombings and arson against Abortion Clinics. Three more people shot dead by Christian Fundamentalists. Dr David Gunn and Dr George Patterson shot dead by Christian Fundamentalists.
1994 – Two receptionists at Clinics in Massachusetts killed by Christian Fundamentalist. Five others wounded in attack.
1997 – Dr Gandell of New York is badly injured by glass when his home in New York is fired upon by Christian Fundamentalists.
1998 – Bomb in clinic in Alabama kills Security guard Robert Sanderson and blasts one eye out of a nurse named Emily Lyons…… by Christian Fundamentalists. Three people badly injured when acid was poured into the entrance of a Clinic in Miami. Dr. Barnett Slepian shot to death at his home, by Christian Fundamentalist.
2000 – Clinic in New Hampshire set on fire, causes $20,000 worth of damage. Thankfully no one injured.
2001 – Planned Parenthood Clinic in South Dakota set fire to by Christian Fundamentalist. The Clinic also received a letter with white powder in it, with the message “You have been exposed to anthrax. … We are going to kill all of you.”
2005 – Molotov Cocktail thrown at Clinic, everyone managed to escape unharmed. Christian Fundamentalists to blame.
2006 – David McMenemy drives his car into Edgerton Women’s Care Center, which he wrongly believed was performing abortions; he then takes hostages and douses the lobby in gasoline, setting it on fire.
2007 – A huge bomb is placed in a clinic in Austen, Texas. A Bomb disposal team manage to secure it, and no one is injured. Christian Fundamentalist to blame.
Since 1977, Christian Terrorism has claimed seven lives, 17 attempted murders, three kidnappings, 152 assaults, 305 completed or attempted bombings and arsons, 375 invasions, 482 stalking incidents, 380 death threats, 618 bomb threats, 100 acid attacks, and 1,254 acts of vandalism, according to the National Abortion Federation. Where is the outrage? Why aren’t Americans worried about this? Because they’re fickle, hypocritcal, fear mongering imbeciles. That’s why.

Given that Republicans voted down a bill that would provide funding to help 9/11 first responders who now suffer from respiratory health problems and cancer because they are, well, I don’t know why they did it. I presume it’s because they are scum; it is highly rich of them to now pretend they care about 9/11 victims. The entitlement was designed to help those who now have severe health issues because they were quick to respond to help during 9/11. The Republicans say it will kill jobs because it is being paid for by closing a tax loophole for the rich. So, to sum up, being able to avoid tax is far more important than helping those who now suffer from cancer. Why do these people have any say over the way the most powerful country in the World is run? It is so dangerously unnerving.

Perhaps they should honour Ground Zero in real American fashion. Erect a statue of Rupert Murdoch, under a big McDonalds M and then a Temple dedicated to the worship of Ronald Reagan, whilst sacrificing a Latin American person in his honour. The land of the free.

The London Bombings

July 22, 2010

I am not one for conspiracy theories. I don’t buy the theories that the 9/11 attacks were inside jobs; I merely think the Bush administration were incredibly weak and moronic and did not bother to read up on the intelligence they were getting. They then needed to appear strong, and made the international terrorism problem 100 times worse, by waging illegal wars on the basis of lies, for which both Bush and Blair should be in prison for right about now.

I do not want to come across as a sensationalist, when it comes to theories. I should let it be known, that I have no theory of my own on this particular subject, merely that I find certain pieces of the official story to be somewhat contradictory and inaccurate. The Government’s refusal to accept calls for an independent inquiry into this subject, is dubious in itself.

That being said, i’ve been reading up on the profiles of the men responsible for the London 7/7 bombings, and in particular, the apparent ring leader, Mohammad Sidique Khan, whom exploded the bomb on the Tube train that had just departed Edgeware Road Station, and I can’t quite seem to accept the official line that he was a crazed Muslim extremist hell bent on destroying the West. I know that the video shows him denouncing the West and our atrocities across the World, and that we deserve to be punished. But it still doesn’t seem to add up. Across his community, he was considered a role model, and didn’t seem to care too much about his religion. And yet, the Home Office described him as “serious” about his religion.

The official line, from the Government inquiry is that the bombers boarded the 7:40am train from Luton to London on 7/7/05. The problem was that the 7:40 was cancelled that day. The Government inquiry clearly didn’t inquire very substantially. After concerns about the timings were raised, the official line changed, and the Government then said the bombers caught the 7:25am train. This caused a new issue, because they had just released the CCTV footage showing the bombers with heavy back packs outside Luton station with the time frame saying 7:22am. This means that for the report to be accurate, the bombers, with heavy back packs, casually strolled through Luton Station unaware that their later train was cancelled, then when they realised it was cancelled, ran to the ticket desk, bought all of their tickets, and got onto the train, all within about two minutes. Having done that same thing at Leicester station, which is considerably smaller than Luton, I can promise, it’s not a plausible scenario. The only other train from Luton to London on that morning, was the 7:30, which arrived in London, according to Luton Station reports, at 8:39 because of massive delays, by which time the Tube trains that were to be bombed, according to the Tube reports, had left the stations. The timings of the train, is one of the most intriguing parts of this entire story. The Home Secretary at the time, John Reid had to admit the official report was wrong in front of the entire House of Commons, and revise its original findings to this new set of just as implausible timings, which sees the bombers enter the station, buy tickets, cross the platforms and board the train, all within two minutes. Either way, it’s all we have, so we have to assume it is correct.

They then made it into London at 8:23am, and made it through hoards of commuters at Kings Cross from the Thameslink line station within three minutes to arrive at King’s Cross at 8:26am. A group calling for an independent inquiry has noted that on a clear day with very little people, it takes at least seven minutes to get from Thameslink to King’s Cross. No CCTV has been released to prove the Government line is the correct one. We just have to accept it.

In fact, the only CCTV image of the bombers, is a hazy screenshot, in which the bombers are all wearing baseball caps, you can’t make out it is them, entering Luton Station earlier that morning. Given that London is the most watched city in the World, I would have expected at least one CCTV image or video to have been released showing they were exactly where the inquiry tells us they were. But no, no CCTV footage from London has ever been released, even though it remains one of the most horrendous attacks on British soil. I am not going to give any credit to the suggestion made by conspiracy theorists that the bombers were not on the tube, and that they were tricked and part of a larger conspiracy, and killed later that day; although I still can’t figure out why the bombers all bought return tickets to London, when they didn’t plan on coming home. What I will say is that if such easy mistakes were made by the official Government line, it suggests the inquiry was flawed, and the public deserve a full clear and honest account of the day’s events. Why are the Government refusing to allow an independent inquiry?

The Luton Station CCTV footage, here, shows the four bombers outside the station. It also shows the bomber with the white cap, apparently with the third bar down, of the railing behind him, cutting through his mid-section.

And here is a zoomed in version.
Now whilst I’m clearly suggesting the picture could have been tampered with, I don’t necessarily believe that to be the case. I accept that that pictures like this, go through a lot of compression and processing before they are released. The image may have been touched up to help identify the suspects. I accept that. My main issue, is that this is the only CCTV picture of the bombers on that day. Given that anyone can be tracked throughout their day in London, from the shop, to their front door, it strikes me as amazing that this is the only image of the bombers, and that it isn’t even in London. Their is a slight curiosity to that, which I’d like to have cleared up.

One theory I quite like, but have no proof for, is intriguing whilst pretty far fetched. A year before the attacks, almost a year to the day in fact, the BBC showed a documentary about what would happen if London were attacked, and bombs exploded on the Tube and on an above ground vehicle. They used Muslims who were well known in their communities, to advise them on how they’d cope with the aftermath within Muslim communities. The documentary showed a post-bombed London, and the panic on the streets. A year later, it came true. Almost identically. The theory says that the four bombers were told another documentary was to be made, and they were to be enlisted as helpers and advisors for the day. The credit behind this theory, is that Peter Power, the former Scotland Yard detective, said that there were plans being made for a mock terrorist attack on London………. on that very day, 7/7/05. What are the chances of that? Power himself is a little bemused by the situation, stating:

‘At half-past nine this morning we were running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.’

The theory then continues. The anti-Western video that Khan was on, so the theory goes, was made for the documentary they were told about, to make it seem real. The BBC had just shown a similar documentary about the day George Bush was assassinated. It included very realistic videos. The theory states that all of this, was done so that the bombers thought they were part of a documentary. Hence the return tickets. In fact, it wasn’t a drill or a documentary, it was the real thing. The problem is, the theory doesn’t suggest who then might have been behind the attacks if it wasn’t the Khan clan. There is no evidence, except the very circumstantial. And so whilst I like the theory, and whilst it is filled with holes; so is the Government’s line. I take neither seriously.

The apparent ring leader, Mohammed Siddique Khan is a very intriguing man. On the day of 7/7/05, Khan’s wife stated that he did not seem any different from any other day. He didn’t bid her and their daughter a fond farewell, he didn’t wish them well, he didn’t cry or do anything out of the ordinary. He said he was just going out with his friends for the day. For all intents and purposes, he acted like he would be home later. He then bought a train ticket, to be home later that day.

According to documents released recently, Khan was on an MI5 watch list, as early as 2003. American intelligence apparently thought he was planning to blow up Synagogues on US soil, and FBI banned him from entering America because they were worried he actually might carry out his threat. Not only that, but they suspected he had traveled to Israel and planned attacks there too. That is the media line, and that’s the story were all know. Sidique Khan in this version of his life, was a maniac, that America thought too dangerous to let enter the USA, yet the UK just kind of ignored. Surely if he was that great a threat, the UK would have monitored him a little?

However, that wasn’t Mohammad Sidique Khan. All of that intelligence, all of that worry and paranoia, all of that scare tactics actually turned out to be against a man named Mohammad Ajmal Khan; a British born Muslim involved with a Jihad movement in the USA, and whom is currently in prison in the UK. There was suggestion that Sidique Khan’s movements and correspondents had been traced to a Jihad movement in the USA. Again, it turned out to be Ajmal Khan, who admitted that he provided funding and weapons to a group called Lashkar-i-Toiba, whom were fighting against India in Kashmir.

There is absolutely no evidence, that links Sidique Khan to any Muslim extremist organisation. He was not banned from America. He was not on an MI5 watch list, and he had not planned attacks in Israel.

On Radio 4, a few months after the attacks on London, Khan’s friends were interviewed. Both of them were White Brits and considered good friends of Khan. They told Radio 4 that Khan was a half-arsed Muslim, who didn’t really frequent his Mosque, and was obsessed with all things American; music, film, TV, dress etc. They told Radio 4 that Khan actually liked to be called by a Western name; Sid. His friend Ian Barret said:

“The other Pakistani lads would have to go mosque because their families would say ‘You’re going to mosque.’ But Sid didn’t go,” says Ian. “He didn’t seem interested in Islam and I don’t ever remember him mentioning religion.””

Another friend, Rob Cardiss said:

“He was very English. Some of the other Pakistani guys used to talk about Muslim suffering around the world but with Sidique you’d never really know what religion he was from.”

It doesn’t sound like a man who suddenly decided, out of the blue, that he was going to blow up 53 people and injure hundreds more in a senseless act of extreme violence. Khan worked for Youth programs, helping young people with problems get back on the right track. His job application for a Youth program was published by the Independent regarding a potentially dangerous situation, it read:

“I have an excellent rapport with the youth community so … I targeted the ringleaders and spoke to them, calming them down and offering sympathy as well as empathy. We then approached the teachers and as a large group casually walked together up Beeston Hill which defused the situation.”

According to The Times, the head teacher at a school at which Khan volunteered as a mentor, said:

“He was great with the children and they loved him. He did so much for them, helping and supporting them and running extra clubs and activities.”

Whilst at that school, Khan produced a leaflet on the dangers of drug use. According to a few friends who helped with the project, Khan had insisted that, and they quote: “The British flag must be part of it. I was born here and I am proud to be British.

When Khan and his wife moved house, they became friends with their local MP. This happened, because Khan started working at a new school, and the head teacher was married to the local MP. They were invited around the Houses of Parliament as a guest of the MP John Trickett. Whilst living here, Khan made a positive impact. The Guardian states:

“Few men were more popular on the streets of Beeston than the 30-year-old family man. Recognised by his sensible sweaters and neat, coiffeured hairstyle, Khan’s respectability peaked nine months ago when he visited Parliament as the guest of a local MP. There he was praised for his teaching work. Even now, those who hang about Cross Flatt’s Park describe him as their mentor. He remains the man who coaxed them back into the education system; the bloke who took them on canoeing and camping trips to the nearby Yorkshire Dales; the man who bought them ‘loads of extra bullets’ when he took them paint-balling. Hussain and Tanweer were among those who idolised Khan from his days as a youth worker in Beeston when he had nurtured their love of cricket and football.”

After the attacks the Home Office reported that Khan had worked at the school, but had not been reliable in the slightest. They say:

“More problematic was his increasingly poor attendance record. ”

Yet, the head teacher of the school, after the 7/7 attacks said of Khan:

“Sidique was a real asset to the school and always showed 100% commitment.”

A Freedom of Information request recently showed that between early 2001 and mid 2003, Khan’s attendance was perfect. He later resigned because he had taken an unauthorised absence in December 2004, but between mid September 2004 and November 2004, he took sick leave and provided adequate documents as to why. He seems to have resigned, because he didn’t know when he’d be able to be back 100%.

Khan handed in his resignation, in writing, to the school, on December 7th 2004. That is what the headteacher, and the school have reported. Yet, the Home Office, in paragraph 43 of its report stated that Khan left the country on November 19th, returning to the UK on February 8th 2005. So, whilst Khan was apparently in Pakistan receiving crazed Jihad training, and also being monitored by US intelligence agents who were in fact actually monitoring a totally different Khan, he was also in the UK penning his resignation letter. What is clear, is that the week following his resignation, Khan traveled to Pakistan, citing family reasons. The Home Office report has absolutely no proof, and offers absolutely no evidence to suggest he was receiving militant training. The report simply states that they “assume” and “we have no firm evidence” before suggesting reasons why Khan was in Pakistan. The report does admit that trips to Pakistan among British Muslims, to where extended family live, is very very common. Khan had family in Pakistan.

The BBC then reported, after a lenghty investigation apparently, that Khan had traveled to Malaysia and the Philipines, and had met with high ranking Muslim terrorists responsible for the Bali bombings, and received training along the way. They suggest that his work as a care assistant was merely a “strong cover” for his extreme activities elsewhere. The problem is, the Home Office report stated that:

“There were media reports soon after the attacks that Khan had visited Malaysia and the Philippines to meet Al Qaida operatives. These stories were investigated and found to have no basis.”

According to a man named Martin Gilbertson, who worked with Khan, and had also worked with Muslims who are very radicalised, in the area he lives, Khan was:

……..the one who had to be ‘re-converted’ or ‘reverted’ – as they say – back to Islam first….. he wasn’t the ranting type; what he seemed to want was kudos within the group, and among people on the street outside. Khan’s way was to be a ‘cool dude’; it was all about kudos in the Muslim community”

In another interview, with the Guardian, Gilbertson appears to reveal new information, and totally ignores the suggestion, that Khan was actually a well respected man in his community, by saying that he first met Khan in 2001, at a “at a party in Beeston to celebrate the September 11 attacks.” Gilbertson then claims he was forced to make anti-Western literature and videos for extremists including Khan, when they all worked at a book store together. Not only that, but Gilbertson claims that a 16 year old boy named Tyrone Clarke was stabbed to death because he insulted islam, by one of the bookstore associates and fellow 7/7 bomber Shehzad Tanweer who was then questioned by police in 2004 over the killing. However, Tanweer’s father absolutely denies 100% that his son was questioned, and sources within the police force told the Yorkshire post, that neither Tanweer or Khan were questioned nor even suspected of the killing. Out of nowhere, and totally contradictory to everything his friends had said about him, and totally contradictory to his mannerisms and his actions over the years preceding 7/7, Khan is now being painted as very religious, very anti-western, and a Jihadist. It just doesn’t add up. It seems like a bit of a smear campaign, backed up by absolutely no evidence.

It is amazing, that this man, who apparently traveled to Pakistan for sinister reasons, was partying to celebrate 9/11, and was hanging around with known crazed anti-Western Muslims, was not so much as glanced at by the security services. In fact, the Yorkshire Post discovered in June 2006, that whilst security services were trying to convince us that Khan was actually known to them, Khan’s car had been bugged by security services…..after 7/7. Khan’s family, according to the Telegraph wanted a second post mortem on his body, by an independent pathologist. The request was turned down, on the basis that tests have already been done to establish how he died, and what kind of explosives he used, and no new information could possibly be found now. Yet, the Home Office is still, to this day, five years later, clueless as to what explosives the bombers used, still believing them to be cheap homemade explosives.

The two conclusions I’m lead to come to, are either:
1) Khan and the others were part of something far larger, and given that they brought return tickets that day, and given that Khan especially seemed a very Westernised man; thought they were all going to come home again that day. They did not give their families one last goodbye, and they all bought return tickets from Luton. They were easy targets, because they were Muslim.
2) Khan was a very very clever terrorist agent. He had a brilliant cover working for disadvantaged youths. He used his money to fund this attack, which would have had to have been planned years in advance, given the expense needed for the training and the equipment. He deceived his closest friends and family. He adopted Western mannerisms, and acted as if he loved our culture, whilst all the time plotting an horrendous and grotesque attack against Britain. If that were the case though, why did he use shit home made devices? And why not a bigger target? If you have spent years planning, traveling between continents training, spending every last penny you have, and you’re a muslim extremist who wishes to cause as much damage and casualty and panic as possible, surely you would aim higher than less than 100 deaths? You would aim for a 9/11 of your own, or even bigger, surely?

What I would like to see, is an independent inquiry that focuses on the exact movement of the bombers, that interviews people they knew, family, friends and associates, that tracks their movements on CCTV, that unearths incompetencies within the security services and the mistakes made by the government inquiry. Only that way will the public be satisfied, and only that way can steps be made to tighten security around those who are suspected of terrorist involvement. The inconsistencies and the unanswered questions should have been a priority to answer. They weren’t, and that is overwhelmingly shaming for the previous government.