Why ISIL is Different

November 29, 2015

As opposed as I have been to military action in the Middle East, I am wondering if it might not be warranted against ISIL. This group is very different from other terrorist gangs, such as al Qaeda or The Muslim Brotherhood. The crucial difference is that ISIL adheres to an apocalyptic vision of mission, whereas all other Islamic extremists have a more provincial, and political vision.

ISIL believes that it can call out the Mahdi, a kind of second coming of Mohammed, by slaughtering all unbelievers. Their goal is not a limited Caliphate, but a world-wide reset of humanity through violence. While we could negotiate with al Qaeda or other groups by finding mutual interests (and we have in the past), there is no mutual interest with ISIL. They have only one goal – to kill. They believe that only by killing can the Mahdi arrive, and the more killing they do, the sooner he will come. Other terrorist groups have been seeking nuclear or biological weapons as a negotiating tool, or for limited use in Western countries to gain political capital. ISIL would have no hesitation to use the weapons anywhere, simply to cause death.

For you Islamophobes, ISIL and its apocalyptic vision has plenty of Christian corollaries in history, and Christian cults like this still exist. This is why we should consider ISIL a unique threat. We know how dangerous these types are (ref. Jonestown). Military solutions alone will never defeat ISIL, doctors and teachers are just as valuable assets as bombers and tanks. This means a real commitment of resources that might dwarf Iraq. Ugggghh!

Duggan Shows Courage

November 25, 2015

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan showed what a politician with courage and leadership does in times of turmoil. He announced that Detroit would accept several hundred Syrian refuges. He pooh-poohed the concern about security, noting that screening measures already in place have been very successful for years and that simple humanity demanded action. It was the morally correct thing to do.

So, while Governor Snyder and his Republican nabobs in Lansing sit cowering in their offices afraid of their own shadow (or cynically acting out of political calculus), Mayor Duggan has emerged as the leading political figure in the state.

Hopefully, Democrats in Lansing and D.C. will begin to show the same courage as Mayor Duggan and take a lesson from the French: don’t allow fear to cause you to lose sight of your humanity, or of common sense. Be prudent, be defiant, and be strong in the face of terrorism. In other words, live up to the spirit that made this country great.

Demagoguery in History: A Brief Primer

November 24, 2015

Given the flood of xenophobic rhetoric from GOP candidates recently, it might be a good idea to get some historical perspective. November is the month of “Kristallnacht” of 1938, so why not start there…

Donald Trump (November, 2015)

“The United States has no choice but to close down Mosques where some bad things are happening.”

“We should consider registering all Muslims in the United States to register in a database… I would implement that immediately… absolutely.”

Nazi Declaration of Nov. 9, 1938 

“All Synagogues shall be closed permanently as the centers of anti-government plots and conspiracies …”

Nazi Declaration of Jan. 1, 1939

“All Jews shall register with the state and obtain identification cards to be carried at all times … No Jew will be permitted to change their name to disguise their identity as a Jew.”

Ben Carson (October, 2015)

“I guess it depends on what that faith is,” he said. “If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”

Asked whether he thinks Islam is consistent with the Constitution, Carson said: “No, I don’t, I do not.”

Nazi “Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” April, 1933

“Jews are politically unreliable to hold governmental and political office and are forthwith banned from holding all civil service offices.”


Islam and Idiots

November 24, 2015

The argument about the inherent violence of Islam might have some validity if the same critics would just admit the same inherent violence in Judaism and even Christianity. Judging religions on the basis of the behavior of their proponents could be misleading, but not really. Their scriptures do justify violence on various criteria. Certainly Islamic terrorists justify their barbarism with their scriptures in the same manner that Zionists justify stealing Palestinian land or lives, or the way Christians have for centuries. You could point to as many barbaric practices demanded in the Old Testament as they claim exist in the Quran. And last anyone counted, Christianity has been used to justify the genocide of millions more women, children, Native Americans and African slaves than Islam.

The violence of Zionists or of Christians isn’t just a distant genocide away either. Consider Ben Carson’s justification of torture such as water-boarding (something Christians invented and perfected during the Inquisition), or Trump’s call to register all Muslims (including American citizens) echoing the Nazi Party policy of the past. Then again, all the assertions that this is a “Christian country” might be accurate if you consider that there are now more mass murders committed in one year than there are days in the year, but what we should REALLY be concerned with is the possibility of an Islamic terrorist? You have more chance of being killed by someone calling themselves a Christian than a Muslim on the streets of Detroit.

An accurate reading of religion and the history of their proponents might justify the claim that all religions are inherently violent (even Buddhist monks have been on a killing rampage in Myanmar), but not of the inherent violence of one over the other. Or one could wistfully claim that religion is a path to peace, until humans get involved.


History, Reality and “Socialism”

November 23, 2015

Bernie Sanders has been running on a policy platform of increasing taxes to the rich, raising the minimum wage and breaking up the big banks. Conservatives call it “socialism” and say it’s certain to lead to economic ruin (something they know a lot about having engineered the three worst economic periods in our history – the Great Depression, the recession of 1973-75 and the recent Great Recession). The idea that taxes and livable wages would lead to economic ruin has been debunked many times, but the myth of “trickle down economics” persists.

Take a look around the states for which ones are doing the best and two immediately stand out: California and Minnesota. Look at the worst and it’s basically Kansas and the entire South. Both California and Minnesota raised income taxes on the highest income brackets and increased the minimum wage. They both implemented laws reinforcing equal wages for women. Both now have not only led the nation in creating new jobs, they also have budget surpluses. Contrast their achievements with Kansas or Wisconsin, both home to conservative Republican governors and legislatures: budget deficits (even with massive defunding of education and public works) and near the bottom of job creation.

Reality is a hard pill to swallow, especially when the Fox News Cable and other conservative media produce an endless stream of fantasy, fear and Reagan nostalgia. The strange thing is that it is nearly impossible to argue facts and reality to Republican voters who have the most to gain from rejecting their own party’s platform, primarily because they have been convinced by fear that their already tenuous economic state would be destroyed if they joined a union, or accepted a living wage… Living in America.

…In the Land of the Fear and Home of the Afraid

November 20, 2015

It’s amazing to see the difference between how the French government and our own government responded to the terrorist attack in Paris. France has announced that it will accept 30,000 more Syrian refuges SINCE the attack and encouraged their citizens to go out in public even more than they would in defiance of the attempt to terrorize. The cafes and other public venues in Paris have been overflowing with Parisians. The French also increased their bombing of ISIL, which they have been doing for years.

Compare the French reaction to the American. The Republican Congress and every GOP candidate for President are stumbling over themselves to ban refugees. It’s not just the GOP, who have been more focused on Mexicans lately. A significant number of Americans polled agree. And it’s not just about refugees, the fear mongering includes registering all Muslims, including American citizens (where in history have we heard about registering all members of a religion before?). Watch Fox News Cable and you would have to believe that we should be loading up on ammo and staying behind locked doors.

For years now the French have been the butt of jokes about their lack of willingness to fight, simply because they refused to join the war in Iraq since there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. They were the first Western power to bomb Syria and their response to their own “9/11” recently shows an admirable courage, while American politicians and citizens are cowering behind closed doors. On the other hand, our response is cowardly, immoral, and is surrendering to ISIL. Refusing desperate refugees out of fear is giving the terrorists exactly what they want: a citizenry full of fear and acting irrationally.