Their Father Taught Them Well

Some of us wonder what makes people, appearing to be drunk on religious faith, to kill others in the name of their religion. We wonder how someone starts out their day thinking, “This is the day the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad and in it—and kill infidels.”

It’s easy for Western Christians, particularly Christian Right blowhards here in the United States, to point to Muslims, at least those who terrorize others in the name of Islam, and say there is something inherently wrong with that religious tradition, that its unique Quranic theology endorses, indeed, encourages, violence against both non-Muslims and against those Muslims who deviate from a certain fundamentalist form of Islam. Even decidedly non-Christians like Bill Maher, commenting on the terrorist attacks in Paris, says of Islam:

When there are that many bad apples, there’s something wrong with the orchard.

Yes. There is something wrong. There is something wrong with the orchard of Islam. And what is wrong is in the soil.

But the ground from which the Islamic orchard blossomed also produced Judaism, with its murderous excesses chronicled in the Old Testament. And it also produced Christianity, with its murderous excesses recorded in secular history books. The soil in which the roots of these three monotheistic religious orchards have thrived—remember: Islam embraces the Bible, too, calling the Quran “a confirmation of” and “a fuller explanation of the Book”—has been poisoned by the same toxic idea, an idea found first in the Book of Genesis:

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.

Every warrior for Yahweh, every soldier for Christ, every jihadist for Allah, could point to the idea found in that passage and, with a certain state of mind, find a justification for killing the wicked, the faithless, and the infidel in the name of God.

Or they could turn to another episode in Genesis where God destroyed two populated cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, because of their imputed sin and wickedness.

The Massacre of the Innocents - Nicolas PoussinOr they could turn to the Book of Exodus and learn how God punished the Egyptians for the sins of their leader. Their punishment, among other things, was the killing of innocents, the firstborn sons of all Egyptians, of their slaves, even of their cattle.

Or they could turn to the Book of Numbers and learn of the slaughter of the Midianites, whose alleged sins amounted to their women having sex with the men of Israel, which then caused those men to worship the “false God” of the Midianites, which then meant the men were disloyal to the One True God. Moses ordered the death of every Midianite—man, woman, and child—and confiscated their wealth.

After that orgy of inspired violence and murder and plunder—there is plenty more, of course—it is rather easy for a zealous and disturbed mind to find a book-based justification for killing in the name of God, or Allah. All that is required is to determine just who are the wicked, the faithless, and the infidels.

Unfortunately for the world today, there are a few groups of armed extremists who have so determined, and thus are endeavoring to carry on a tradition recorded on the pages of an ancient book, the same book that conservative American Christians proudly tote to church with them every Sunday, a book that both Christians and Muslims believe is the Word of God.

A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall On “The Worst People On Earth”

“Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?
And what did you see, my darling young one?”

“I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin'”

“I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain a-gonna fall”

—Bob Dylan

At times they cut the throats of children, or hang them or shoot them. At other times they, quite literally, saw off with dull knives the heads of men, women, and children, or hang them or shoot them. They rape. They rampage. They slaughter. And they openly teach their own children that such bloodthirsty acts are noble and godly, and a necessary and proper way to praise and honor Allah.

Example:

This photo, of a seven-year-old boy clad in a kids’ Polo golf shirt and struggling to hold up a severed head, was posted on Twitter by a proud dad. That proud dad’s name I won’t share with you. That’s exactly what this sick creep, a loser who left Australia with his family to become a jihadist in Syria, wants. This proud dad represents the kind of people I have described. In a very rare moment of agreement with a conservative columnist, I second Charles Krauthammer:

These are the worst people on earth.

These “people” are, of course, members of ISIL. And as Krauthammer said,

These are not the usual bad guys out for land, plunder, or power. These are primitive cultists who celebrate slaughter, glory in bloodlust, and slit the throats of innocents as a kind of sacrament.

And trust me, after doing some research on what ISIL has done in the past year or so, all of that is a serious understatement.

Speaking more clinically, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently said of these jihadists,

This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of- days strategic vision and which will eventually have to be defeated.

“Eventually” has already started. And those limited U.S. air strikes against ISIL have done a lot of good. More, many, many more, need to follow. And follow.

I heard someone say the other day that, when it comes to going after the ISIL bastards, he would countenance a hefty raise in his taxes. Me, too. I would gladly pay much more in taxes, if I knew the money was going toward missiles and bombs that would rain down hard, like a land-cleansing monsoon of justice, on the heads of these fundamentalist Islamists. On the heads of anti-humans who, in the name of Allah-God, commit intolerable, and I mean intolerable, acts of terror against not only Christians and people of other faiths, but of fellow Muslims.

President Obama, very soon, needs to address the country and make the case that the United States should, along with the Iraqi military who would provide the foot soldiers for such an effort, make a decisive war on the so-called “Islamic State.” We should also undertake air strikes in what used to be Syrian territory in order to hit ISIL there. No need to worry about borders at this point. They have essentially been erased. If other nations around the world want to join us, and they should, that would be better still. If they don’t, if they continue to tolerate these barbarians and continue to pay them ransoms for hostages or otherwise support them, then to hell with them. We can still act.

I would ask my fellow liberals again, many of whom are confidently balking at such a move by President Obama, just what the hell is our military for, if not to protect the interests of our own citizens right now—one of the best of them was just openly and barbarically beheaded by these bastards, after a failed mission to rescue him—and in the future, when a stronger ISIL may in fact, rather in the poisoned imaginations of these jihadists, actually have a real state? Not to mention help protect the interests of our friends, the Kurdish people? And help protect the rest of the Iraqis, to whom we owe at least something, after we destroyed their country and raised up and supported Nouri al-Maliki, who then helped make Iraq a place where ISIL could do its demonic work? And, finally, what is our military for if not to help ensure that the word civilization retains its meaning in this century?

Now is the time to rid the world of these, its worst people.

Second Amendment Jihad Comes To Jasper County Missouri

In what may be a futile exercise, Democrats today introduced legislation to bring at least partial sanity to our gun laws.

But because of the gun manufacturers’ outsized influence on our politics, only the mildest of reforms are expected to have even a chance of becoming law. Gun manufacturers are, of course, the reason the National Rifle Association now exists, an organization that has abandoned common sense in favor of a religious zeal normally reserved for jihadists across the sea.

If you doubt that “jihad” label as applied to the NRA and its mission, then you missed what an NRA board member, Ted Nugent, said recently:

I’m part of a very great experiment in self-government where we the people determine our own pursuit of happiness and our own individual freedom and liberty not to be confused with the Barack Obama gang who believes in we the sheeple and actually is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we escaped from in 1776. And if you want another Concord Bridge, I got some buddies. 

That reference to Concord’s north bridge and the beginnings of the Revolutionary War is nothing if it isn’t a zealot’s call for a holy war. Nugent—a tough-talking gun-toter who wasn’t so tough when it came time to serve in Vietnam and face gun-toting communists—also said:

…here is what is wrong with America today. We have a president, and everybody better write this down, and memorize this. The president of the United States goes to the Vietnam Memorial Wall and pretends to honor 58,000 American heroes who died fighting communism and then he hires, appoints and associates with communists. He pretends to pay honor to men who died fighting communism, and then he hangs out with, hires and appoints communists. He is an evil dangerous man who hates America and hates freedom. And we need to fix this as soon as possible.

How NRA board member Nugent intends to “fix” the fact that President Obama has four more years of governance isn’t exactly clear, but he does have “some buddies” — mujahideen?—with guns, so draw your own conclusion.

And speaking of jihad, here’s how jihad-friendly Breitbart.com reported on a peculiar speech by the NRA’s chief fanatic, Wayne LaPierre, speaking before something called the Weatherby Foundation International Hunting and Conversation Dinner on January 22:

lapierre

The Breitbart article explains (italics in the original):

Of these rights–the right to keep and bear arms and the right to self-defense–LaPierre said: “No government gave [them] to us and no government can take them away.”

LaPierre made it clear that Obama doesn’t like to hear this because it shows that the 2nd Amendment is not in flux but is fixed, and the rights it protects are beyond the reach of government.

It might surprise some folks that God—who for his mass-killing normally prefers fire and brimstone over, say, semi-automatic assault rifles—actually endorses a view of the Second Amendment that would allow human mass-murderers to get their hands on killing machines and high-capacity magazines that most Americans believe ought to be banned.

And it might surprise a lot of local readers that the view that God is a supporter of people-killing guns is shared by at least one local cop, Sheriff Randee Kaiser:

I can assure you that as sheriff of Jasper County, I will be an advocate for the sacred rights of citizens of this county.

Sacred“? Hmm. Definition: “dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity.” Gotcha, Sheriff.

Joplin mostly sits in Jasper County, where Sheriff Kaiser, moonlighting as a theologian, essentially pronounces that the Almighty has ordained,

Thou shalt bear arms!

Kaiser has his reasons for opposing those who would attempt to bring common sense to our gun laws:

Passing new gun laws only affects those who follow them. As we have seen from recent violent incidents involving guns, the people who engage in these horrific acts have not been identified as law-abiding citizens.

Let me see. We shouldn’t pass new gun laws because only the law-abiding will follow them, which suggests that all laws are really unnecessary. I wonder if the good sheriff thinks that way about, say, murder laws?

I have an idea: Let’s get rid of our laws against homicide! After all, as the Jesuitical Jasper County lawman said,

Passing new [insert here your law of choice] laws only affects those who follow them.

Yes! Holy anarchy!

Allahu Akbar!

Time Will Tell

“We don’t know what the outcome will be.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

I remain agnostic about the wisdom of the United States—even with the United Nation’s resolution and international, including Arab, cooperation—intervening in Libya. 

At this time, there is no way of knowing whether what we are doing is the right thing to do.  In fact, we may not know for many, many years whether it was wise or foolish of President Obama to join in—lead, really—the international military operation against Gaddafi, and anyone who says they do know is not telling the truth.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen said on CNN this morning:

How this ends from the political standpoint, I just can’t say.

Of course not.  And here’s why:

…on a per capita basis, no country sent more young fighters into Iraq to kill Americans than Libya — and almost all of them came from eastern Libya, the center of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion that the United States and others now have vowed to protect, according to internal al Qaeda documents uncovered by U.S. intelligence.

That troubling bit of information was advanced in an article by David Wood, a seasoned journalist who has covered “military issues, foreign affairs, and combat operations” for Time and the Los Angeles Times, among others. 

Here is the title of his piece:

Anti-American Extremists Among Libyan Rebels U.S. Has Vowed To Protect

Wood references the Sinjar documents, a collection of al Qaeda computer data captured by Americans in 2007 in a predawn raid near Sinjar, Iraq, six miles from the Syrian border. The documents included background information on around 750 foreign fighters, who migrated to Iraq to kill American soldiers, many of those fighters coming from among the very people we are now pledging to protect. Wood wrote:

Almost one in five foreign fighters arriving in Iraq came from eastern Libya, from the towns of Surt, Misurata and Darnah.

On a per capita basis, that’s more than twice as many than came from any other Arabic-speaking country, amounting to what the counter terrorism center called a Libyan “surge” of young men eager to kill Americans.

Wood also notes:

Eastern Libya has been described by U.S. diplomats as a breeding ground for Islamist extremism. In diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, the region’s young men were said to have “nothing to lose” by resorting to violence. Sermons in the local mosques are “laced with phraseology urging worshippers to support jihad,” one diplomat reported.

As Wood is careful to point out,

extremist elements make up only a portion of the resistance to Gaddafi and have been present in every popular uprising in the region stretching from the Iranian revolution to the Egyptian people’s overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

So it would be inaccurate to say that it necessarily follows from the continued destabilization of Libya that some kind of anti-Western coalition is waiting to replace Gaddafi. But it would be equally inaccurate to say a Western-style democracy will emerge.

The truth is that especially in that part of the world, no one knows what effect our action or inaction today will have on events tomorrow.  After all, it was just five years ago—five years ago—that the Bush administration normalized diplomatic relations with Libya and rescinded Libya’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress at the time:

We are taking these actions in recognition of Libya’s continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism and the excellent cooperation Libya has provided to the United States and other members of the international community in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 1, 2001.

Who could have predicted all the events that have happened in North Africa and around the Middle East since Rice’s announcement to Congress in May of 2006?

Not one pundit or politician, that’s who. The same number who can’t predict future events today.

Obama’s action is risky and only time will tell if it was worth the risk, but unlike the invasion of Iraq in 2003, this time there will be no ground invasion of Libya and thus no occupation.  However, if there ever were to come such an invasion and occupation, then the future following that decision becomes quite foreseeable.

Indeed, we can see it in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

Obamaphobia: A Memetic Plague

Liberals just have to face it.  A lot of folks over there at the Republican “News” Channel are just plain sick, when it comes to hating President Obama. 

I mean, it’s not just about the right-wing political philosophy that the channel pushes 24-7.  That’s bad enough.  But that in itself doesn’t make them sick.  It’s more about the strange way in which people on that “news” channel interpret even the most innocuous events, if there is a way to interpret them to bring condemnation on Mr. Obama.

And I’m not talking about the recent hysteria caused by false claims on the right that Obama’s trip to Asia was going to cost more money than Fox spends on Glenn Beck’s hypnotist (to train him to keep a $traight face, as he $uggest$ the End of America for the gazillionth time).

No, I’m talking about this morning for instance.  On “Republicans and Friends,” the popular morning show on the Republican “News” Network, there was a segment on President Obama’s rather thoughtful answer to a question from a student in Mumbai, India.  The question:

Q: Hi, good day, sir. Hi, my name is Anna and I’m from St. Davis College. My question to you is, what is your take on opinion about jihad, or jihadi? Whatever is your opinion, what do you think of them?

Now, before we get to Mr. Obama’s answer, let’s look at a couple of screen shots from “Republicans and Friends” this morning:

 

President Praises Islam” and “President’s Remarks: Refuses to Condemn “Jihad” While in Mumbai.”  Okay.  With such captions, and given the discussion during the segment, one would think Obama had joined in on a jihad against America.  But, again, before we get to his answer, let’s look back a bit.

In 2005, President George W. Bush gave a Veterans Day speech, just one speech among many he gave during his presidency.  But remember:  This one was on Veterans Day.   The speech was commemorating our veterans.  And in that context, Mr. Bush mentioned jihad and the need to see it not as “madness” or insanity, but as “a clear and focused ideology“:

Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; and still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism, subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Hindus and Jews — and against Muslims, themselves, who do not share their radical vision.

Get that?  Mr. Bush, in the context of a Veterans Day speech, told us not to confuse “Islamic radicalism” with “the religion of Islam.”  He went on to say this:

Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses.

Here’s how earlier this year the Associated Press reported on the difficulties of using appropriate language related to our war against radicals, who in the name of religion wish to do us harm:

But the Bush administration struggled with its rhetoric. Muslims criticized him for describing the war against terror as a “crusade” and labeling the invasion of Afghanistan “Operation Infinite Justice” — words that were seen as religious. He regularly identified America’s enemy as “Islamic extremists” and “radical jihadists.”

Karen Hughes, a Bush confidant who served as his top diplomat to the Muslim world in his second term, urged the White House to stop.

“I did recommend that, in my judgment, it’s unfortunate because of the way it’s heard. We ought to avoid the language of religion,” Hughes said. “Whenever they hear ‘Islamic extremism, Islamic jihad, Islamic fundamentalism,’ they perceive it as a sort of an attack on their faith. That’s the world view Osama bin Laden wants them to have.”

Okay.  Now, we can get to part of Obama’s answer to the jihad question and the weird but predictable reaction to it on the right:

Well, the phrase jihad has a lot of meanings within Islam and is subject to a lot of different interpretations. But I will say that, first, Islam is one of the world’s great religions. And more than a billion people who practice Islam, the overwhelming majority view their obligations to their religion as ones that reaffirm peace and justice and fairness and tolerance.  I think all of us recognize that this great religion in the hands of a few extremists has been distorted to justify violence towards innocent people that is never justified.

Wow!  How could President Obama say such things, especially since George W. Bush had already said them time and time again?  What was he thinking?

Sean Hannity:

Why couldn’t he just say, ‘Jihad killed 3,000 Americans, it is the belief or the false use of God to justify killing and murder and war’? Why didn’t he say that?

Bill-O:

So once again, Mr. Obama dodged the girl’s question and failed to answer about the jihad. Whenever, whenever the president is faced with the worldwide problem of jihad, Mr. Obama delivers platitudes.

Newt Gingrich:

I think this administration is in such total denial about who’s trying to kill us and what their motives are that it’s dangerous to the country. And the president today, in this particular performance, was following up on this continuous denial.

Continuous denial“? “Dangerous to the country?” The truth of all this is that many folks on the right-wing do have a sickness.  They hate President Obama so much that it affects everything they see and hear. 

Despite the fact that Obama is pursuing a much more aggressive war than President Bush pursued against the extremists who did us harm on 9/11; despite the fact that he is fast dissipating his moral capital through an exponential increase in drone attacks in Pakistan—sometimes killing innocents—and despite the fact that his answer to that question on jihad would be heard by countless Muslims around the world; people like Newt Gingrich can say that the President, “is in such total denial about who’s trying to kill us and what their motives are that it’s dangerous to the country.”

Well, no, it isn’t Mr. Gingrich. But what is dangerous to the country is that disturbed people like you and Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and other Obama-sick commentators are spreading a memetic plague to millions of Americans every day.

%d bloggers like this: