There is nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain…
There is nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain…
“Muslim Americans fear their religion will be demonized and Islamophobia will spread after a young Muslim couple was accused of carrying out one of the bloodiest mass killings in the United States.”
Those words introduced a recent story stating, rightly I grant, that most Muslims reject terroristic violence and do not support such activity.
Fair enough, even though if one grants the truth of that claim and accepts the sincerity of its proponents, it remains shallow and useless on its face.
There is no such thing as Islamophobia, Islam is the problem. Which is not to say all Muslims are a threat mind you, the spectrum of adherence to Islam among Muslims is probably much like the degrees of seriousness with which Christians at large adhere to Christianity.
But Islam clearly does call for the subjugation, one way or another, of all non-Muslims. It does classify women as second-class citizens at best, and mere chattel most often. It does demand the death penalty for gays, apostates, and blasphemers. It sanctions, by the example of its prophet, the marrying off of mere children to old men, effectively resulting in rape.
I would suggest that Muslims who are truly worried about their faith’s image must do more than merely lament the violence of terrorists, they must actively work to change their faith, including many of its foundational tenets. Plainly speaking, Islam as it exists today is incompatible with peace and civilized society and will forever remain so.
There are two things many people get wrong about ISIS, and these misunderstandings could produce failure in the West’s efforts against it. The frustrating thing about this is that the facts are readily available if we simply read what its founders and leaders have written and said, and take them at their word.
The information I reference above is readily available, although our President, along with many other government officials in our nation and others, doesn’t seem to get it. Which is why a year of flailing at windmills has achieved nothing but the strengthening of ISIS’s hold in Syria and Iraq. (The lone exception to this sad state of affairs seems to be the Kurds, whose Peshmerga have sought to engage ISIS fighters and drive them from territory they hold.)
I do not, before I am so accused, suggest sending American ground forces to undertake this task. France, Turkey, and Iran, among others, are far better suited, and have more at stake at this time, than do we. But, sooner or later it will need to be done, and it would probably be best if it were done before the number of fighters under ISIS’s command is in the hundreds of thousands.
My favorite memories of Allen Patterson include neither politics nor beer, even though we engaged in a reasonable amount of both over the course of the decade I knew him.
I cherish most the 30 minutes or so Allen and I spent discussing Lucretius, sitting outside a hall where Gary Johnson was holding forth. We’d both heard Gary’s stump speech numerous times, and a few weeks earlier I had given Allen a copy of The Swerve, a book about how Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things had been rediscovered, copied, and preserved by a former Papal secretary.
The book had motivated Allen to read On the Nature of Things, and we spoke about how that work’s preservation had contributed to the Enlightenment and Western thought. We shared our wonder as to how a Roman devotee of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, sometime around 70 B.C., could have hypothesized on the existence of atoms, and a limitless universe, while finding no need for the supernatural to explain the world he observed. If we had only had a sixpack, we may have talked all night.
Then there was the time Allen, guitar in hand, pulled me aside to sing and play a song he was writing, a song that expressed humorously his meandering journey to Atheism. He wanted me to hear it because he felt comfortable opening up to me about his beliefs, or lack thereof, due to knowing I had traversed the territory he was exploring several decades earlier. I smile every time I remember that.
Allen was the kind of guy you didn’t have to spend a great deal of time with to create lasting memories. He was warm, kind, and funny.
I miss him already.
As I age, I become increasingly concerned for the America my grandchildren will inherit. An exploding national debt which, when combined with astronomically high unfunded liabilities, can never be repaid and which already is destroying growth and future prosperity, combined with a policy of perpetual warfare, makes their futures far less promising then mine was at their age.
In addition to the very real threat referenced above, I am disappointed with:
* Political leaders, who continue to not only stand by while our Constitution is shredded, but at times gleefully assist in its shredding;
* Business leaders who, rather than innovate and battle competition, continually turn to government for protection, favors, and taxpayer subsidies;
* Religious leaders who, rather than celebrate their freedom to worship as they see fit, seek to impose their own interpretation of ancient books on their fellow citizens, thereby denying them the very liberties they claim for themselves;
* A citizen population that intentionally remains blissfully ignorant of its heritage and the basic workings of economics and finance, preferring to trade personal responsibility and even liberty for unattainable levels of security mixed with unparalleled access to the intimate details of celebrities’ lives.
* But what disappoints me most, is the present generation of college students/graduates (and professors), who no longer rally in support of such (classically) liberal ideals as equal rights, peace, or free expression, but instead wallow in self pity or even outrage over being exposed to ideas they don’t like or with which they don’t agree. College used to be an opportunity for growth, for exploring differing, even contradictory, ideas, and for learning the critical thinking skills necessary for sorting through them and arriving at truth. Sadly, no more.
The following is based on a usenet posting by Robby Berry more than two decades ago. I have shortened and brought it up to date, but it rings as true today as when first published.
I’m glad Christians have found the courage to stand up and speak out about all the ways that America discriminates against them. The anti-Christian bias in our society has reached absurd proportions, to wit I offer the following 108 proofs:
In the Spring of 2016, American Atheists and a dozen or more other secular organizations will hold Reason Rally II in D.C.
In 2012 I had the privilege of attending the first Reason Rally with my son and roughly 20,000 of our closest friends. Of all the great speakers and entertainers who participated that day, perhaps the one who stood out to me the most was Tim Minchin, largely because he enunciated best a key reason why I am an Atheist. Instead of telling you however, why don’t I show you…
BTW – We didn’t realize it but Tim was trying this song out on us before including it in his 2012 tour, which included performances at the Sydney Opera House.