Magi Mike's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Neoconservatives

Neoconservative Atheist Christopher Hitchens on Zionism

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Naughty boy British establishment Trotskyist turned celebrity American establishment neoconservative, and professional atheist, Christopher Hitchens died on 15 December 2011 of cancer of the œsophagus. A brilliant wordsmith and controversialist, Hitchens was a consistent anticommunist whose move to the US led to his abandonment of left wing communism in favour of open Bush/Cheney neoconservatism—a common path for Trotskyists in the USA—but he did seem to remain anti-Zionist throughout:

I am an anti-Zionist. I’m one of those people of Jewish descent who believes that Zionism would be a mistake even if there were no Palestinians.

One of the advantages of a Marxist and internationalist training is that it exposes one to the early writings of those Jewish cosmopolitans who warned from the first day that Zionism would be a false messiah for the Jews and an injustice to the Arabs. Nothing suggests to me that they were wrong on these crucial points.

And likening the United States leaders to the shabbos goy, the sabbath day gentile for the state of Israel:

The non-Jew who is paid a trifling fee to turn out the lights or turn on the stove, or whatever else is needful to get around the more annoying regulations [for Jews] of the Sabbath. How the old buzzard must cackle when he sees the gentiles actually volunteering a bribe to do the lowly work! And lowly it is, involving the tearing-up of international law and UN resolutions and election promises, and the further dispossession and eviction of a people to whom we gave our word…

Written by mikemagee

22 December, 2011 at 12:55 am

Only the Rich Witches and Wizards Can Send their Kids to Hogwarts—Lehigh Blog

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Two members of The Economics Society at Lehigh, Anjan Gupta and Dan Maryanovich, run a blog, Centives, a collection of interesting economics studies like the New York Times bestseller, Freakanomics. One post was entitled, How Much Does It Cost to Go to Hogwarts?, one of a series which include also whether law school is worth the price of admission, and the economics of movie theater popcorn.

The authors found that a year at Hogwarts costs approximately $42,752, assuming the price includes tuition, based upon the average cost of England’s top boarding schools (so called “public schools”!) as well as estimated costs for all the items detailed in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, such things as robes, a plain pointed hat, dragon hide gloves and a winter cloak.

After just a few short days online, the blog had more than 18,000 page views and more than 400 re-tweets.

From our point of view, it is interesting. Only very rich people can afford to send their kids to train as witches and wizards, and those people purport to be Fundamentalist or at least Evangelical Christians. But they are just the ones who have tried to use their money and media connexions to run down the Harry Potter series as the stuff of the Devil. If they really believe this, they will not be sending any of their kids to Hogwarts.

One has to conclude that Hogwarts has no chance of opening a branch in the USA. So all the Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and other Right Wing Authoritarians opposed to Harry Potter must be campaigning to stop other people from enjoying a little magic or witchcraft. It is what we can expect of them. They regard it as their right to tell others what to do.

On the other hand, maybe, as followers of Leon Strauss, the founder of Neoconservatism and called by some a “Nazi Jew”, the rich Republicans are only pretending to be Christians for the sake of the ones in the electorate they want to gull into supporting them. Really, they are paying for their kids to get into Hogwarts so that they will have the skills and powers to keep the unwashed masses under control when the revolution comes! Only they have the money to pay the fees so that there is no chance anyone from the working class, or even from the middle classes concerned about whether they will be able to keep their jobs—in other words, the upper working classes!—will ever be admitted into the posh school for wizards.

Hogwarts is a rich man’s exclusive school not a truly public school. So today’s witches and wizards must be rich Republicans. Why then don’t their Christians followers kick them out as the real Satanists instead of harping on about liberals, who are only trying their best to do what Christ would have done?

Written by mikemagee

23 July, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Beck and Barton! Congress Printed No Revolutionary Bible for Schools

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Let’s not confuse history with propaganda.

John Fea, Messiah College, Grantham, PA

The Republican Party mythmakers (more bluntly, liars)—Glen Beck and the “Reverend” David Barton, allegedly the historian of Christian America—pretend that the founding fathers of the US constitution founded a Christian Nation rather than a nation in which church and state was specifically separate, and so open to people of all faiths, or none. Chris Rodda, author of Liars for Jesus explains this in a videoed talk with illustrative clips, and several other informative videos too.

Written by mikemagee

12 May, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Why are So Many Christians Losing their Faith?

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A series of short comments by various professional religionizers at ReligionBlog at Dallas News, attempts to explain why so many Christians are losing their faith. Only two of them mention the loss of core Christian values by the various denominations. Maybe there would be a lot more Christians if the ones there are actually followed Christian morals. Christianity has strayed from Christ’s moral code… if, indeed, it ever had it—for Christ was certainly not a Christian!

The excuse is that Christianity has had to adapt to social change, an argument that assumes morality to be purely arbitrary—in short, relativism, something Christians are supposed to abhore. Yet human morality has evolved with the evolution of social animals. For a solitary animal, notably those that just lay eggs and leave them to their own devices, only sexual attraction distinguishes animals of the same species from any other. Any other animal is a potential rival, prey or predator. Animals that live socially must have morals! They have to have sufficient “regard” for the others in their group to allow the social group to cohere, and that “regard”, however it manifests, is morality—it is absent in relationships between solitary animals.

Religion began as that aspect of human culture that strengthened group living, and therefore morality. The human animal has the need for morality above all other animals because its societies are all the more complex, and because we are aware of morality, and have codified it to an extent. The codification of aspects of morality can change with time and place, but the core of human morality is an instinct bred into us to preserve the societies upon which we now depend for our very humanity. Regretably, religion introduced spurious additional functions and purposes, confusing its core aims.

Now it has has been made an excuse for capitalism, and, particularly in the USA, the protector and defender of it and its antisocial ideology of right wing libertarianism, promoted by neoconservative “pastors”, who know nothing of Christianity or history and sociology, like David Barton. Christ didn’t have a dime. He had to ask to borrow one to show the crowd Caesar’s head on it. Ministers today do not ask for pennies, they own TV stations and ask on them for thousand dollar donations to make them richer than they already are. And people send them the money, thinking it is Christian charity! Then the unscrupulous ministers claim God has made them rich as proof of His blessing, though God blessed His own Son with poverty.

It is hardly surprising that many want no part of this corrupt pseudo capitalist apology of a Christianity. Real Christians are leaving, or not joining in the first place, leaving the ones still within the ranks of Christianity as fools or fakes. Only they think greed is good, that God rewards liars, and that it is Christian to murder our fellow innocent human beings, thousands of miles away, in God’s name as acts of arbitrary vengeance.

Supposed Christian confidence tricksters betray themselves by rarely citing the words of God uttered from his own lips when he incarnated on earth because they stand for a morality that they abhore—the morality of helping others, not tricking them out of their own possessions and killing them. Instead they go back to the Old Testament for justification in the earlier and more barbaric image of God of more primitive times and peoples.

Christ taught an altogether different God from the vengeful ogre of the Jewish scriptures. The Christian God is a God of love. Christians are therefore meant to love others. Only a remnant does. Now the whole Jewish saga—for the large number of Christians who have not read it—was one of the mass straying from God’s law of the Chosen People—the Jews—and their suffering exile and destruction as a punishment. All but the remnant who remained righteous. They were preserved.

All those right wing authoritarian “Christians” baying for blood and revenge, while thinking they are saved just for their so-called faith, should really make sure they understand their bible first, and not just what their money grubbing pastors—priests of the Antichrist—tell them. The Antichristian pastors feed the lambs what they want to hear, not what Christ taught—salvation is easy, just have faith, greed is ok and riches are God given, and murderous revenge is only human. Christ taught salvation was hard, it was not only a matter of faith but required effort and will, the poor not the rich are blessed by God, and judgement is God’s prerogative only.

Christian Saint Condemns Warfare as Wholesale Murder

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Murder, which in the case of an individual is admitted to be a crime, is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not on the plea that they are guiltless, but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale.

S Cyprian (d 258 AD), Epistle to Donatus

More evidence, should it be needed, that our Christian leaders know so little about Christian morality that they can have no claim to be Christian. Bush and Obama in the US, and Blair, Brown, and now Cameron, in the UK, have all “committed wholesale” murder and perpetrated “cruelty on a grand scale”, apparently believing they are entitled to do it with impunity because it is virtuous in the eyes of God. This Christian saint, who presided over seven Church Synods, so must have known something about Christian moral dogma, begs to differ from today’s smug and mendacious paragons.

Written by mikemagee

11 April, 2011 at 12:55 am

Empathy: the Universal Solvent

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Clint Witchalls writes in the UK Independent that a woman and author of two books on childcare, made two girls and a 21 year old woman, whom she had brought from Nigeria, toil for 21 hours a day in her London home and tortured them when their work did not satisfy her. The were her slaves. The youngest girl was 11 years old. She was Lucy Adeniji, an evangelical Christian. The judge sentenced her to eleven years in jail, describing her as…

…an evil woman. I have no doubt you have ruined these two girls’ lives. They will suffer from the consequences of the behaviour you meted out to them for the rest of their lives.

Evil is a loaded word whether used as a noun or an adjective. It relates to the work of the Devil, implying wickedness beyond redemption. In modern American usage it implies that nothing less than death is a suitable punishment. For Bush, the Evil Empire had to be bombed into submission. Its evilness justified the killing and destruction, and so it was that a million or so, mainly innocent Iraqis died. The Taliban in Afghanistan are evil, so they can be bombed in the same way, and pilotless drones can penetrate into Pakistan—another evil place for many Americans—killing innocents, and sometimes an intended target, if we believe that the innocents are not intended as targets.

Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge, argues in Zero Degrees of Empathy: A New Theory of Human Cruelty, that the term evil is unscientific and unhelpful. “Evil” is not an explanation of wrongdoing. Science provides a more satisfactory explanation for evil and that explanation is lack of empathy. Evil is “empathy erosion”. People who lack empathy see others as mere objects. Baron-Cohen writes:

Empathy is our ability to identify what someone else is thinking or feeling, and to respond to their thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.

Baron-Cohen has found that empathy, like IQ, is normally distributed in human populations—that is, it is a bell curve. Most people have a typically human level of empathy—the peak of the bell shape, and less have greater and lesser levels of it. At the extremes, few people have none or excessive amounts of it. Using standard deviation from the mean, the curve can be split into six sections, and these Baron-Cohen lists as the degrees of empathy. Using a questionnaire, everyone can be classified on the EC (Empathy Coefficient) scale. People with zero degrees of empathy will be at one end of the bell curve and those with six degrees of empathy at the other end.

Being at the ends of the curve—extremely high or extremely low empathy scores—does not have to be pathological. Someone with zero degrees of empathy may not be a murderer, torturer or rapist:

Someone who’s very gifted at physics and focused on doing physics might not be interacting much with other people, but they are interacting with the world of objects. They might have low empathy but it’s not interfering. In that respect it’s not pathological and they don’t need a diagnosis. They have found a perfect fit between their mind and the lifestyle that they have.

People with autism or Asperger’s syndrome are zero-positive in Baron-Cohen’s terminology—there is something positive in their lack of empathy. They have zero empathy but are drawn to patterns, regularity and consistency, and so follow rules and regulations like the patterns of civic life. Others are called “zero-negative” because they have no such positive aspects. Zero-negative people are the pathological group—people with borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder (psychopaths) and narcissistic personality disorder. They are capable of inflicting physical and psychological harm on others and are unmoved by the plight of those they hurt.

Zero degrees of empathy means you have no awareness of how you come across to others, how to interact with others, or how to anticipate their feelings or reactions. It leaves you feeling mystified by why relationships don’t work out, and it creates a deep-seated self-centredness. Other people’s thoughts and feelings are just off your radar. It leaves you doomed to do your own thing, in your own little bubble, not just oblivious of other people’s feelings and thoughts but oblivious to the idea that there might even be other points of view. The consequence is that you believe 100% in the rightness of your own ideas and beliefs, and judge anyone who does not hold your beliefs as wrong, or stupid.

Did people with these personality disorders lose their empathy or were they born that way? There is a hormonal link to empathy. One of Baron-Cohen’s studies showed that the more testosterone a foetus has in the womb, the less empathy the child will have when born. Excess testosterone correlates negatively with empathy, and testosterone is obviously more common in men than women. Men therefore score lower on empathy than women. Moreover, another study revealed four genes associated with empathy—one sex steroid gene, one gene related to social emotional behaviour and two associated with neural growth.

Even so, John Bowlby, the British psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, showed that children with “insecure attachment”—a lack of opportunity to form a strong bond with a caregiver—are more at risk of delinquency, personality disorders related to lack of empathy leading to an excessive self centeredness.

Psychopaths and narcissists each are less than one per cent of the population, but many people, close to the majority, supported or at least did not oppose the big atrocities of history like the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, the slave trade, Stalin’s purges, Rwandan genocide, apartheid, and so on. Beliefs seem to be a bigger cause of evil than biology. Negative propaganda spread by church or state about an outgroup thoroughly dehumanises them, leaving them open to inhuman violence. Baron-Cohen says;

Whatever your causes of loss of empathy, it’s the very same empathy circuit that would be involved when you show empathy or fail to show empathy.

So, not everyone who has low empathy will act cruelly. There is more to behavior considered as evil than a zero degree of empathy, and improving empathy by treatment does not seem to have much effect. Psychopaths are notoriously untreatable, as are children who have callousness/unemotional (CU) trait. Increasing the empathy of sex offenders is also difficult. Although zero degrees of empathy seems necessary for callousness, several additional factors and experiences also may lead to cruel or callous acts.

Nevertheless, science is beginning to unravel the mystery of why some people have less empathy than others and the implications are potentially far reaching, not least for the criminal justice system:

Empathy itself is the most valuable resource in our world. It might even have relevance for politics and politicians, so that when we try and resolve conflict, whether it’s domestic conflict or international conflict, issues about empathy might actually be useful. Given this assertion, it is puzzling that in the school curriculum empathy figures hardly at all, and in politics, business, the courts or policing it is rarely if ever on the agenda. We can see examples among our political leaders of the value of empathy, as when Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk sought to understand and befriend each other, crossing the divide in Apartheid South Africa, but the same has not yet been achieved between Israel and Palestine, or between Washington and Iraq or Afghanistan. And, for every day that empathy is not employed in such corners of the world, more lives are lost.

Simon Baron-Cohen

Baron-Cohen adds:

The hallmark of a compassionate and civilised society is that we try to understand other people’s actions, we don’t try to simply condemn them. There is even a question about whether a person that commits an awful crime should be in a prison as opposed to a hospital. When people commit crimes, there may be determinants of their behaviour which are outside their control. No one is responsible for their own genes.

The punitive right wing Christian will argue that God gave us free will, and so we are all able to make moral choices. Lack of any sense of empathy is no excuse. But it is rather like expecting someone who is red-green color blind to press the red alert button when danger threatens. There is indeed a choice, but they cannot distinguish the right one. Of course, most neocon Christians are so lacking in empathy themselves that they cannot comprehend that their perpetual habit of attacking foreign people shows their utter lack of empathetic feeling of any kind. They are zero negative—psychopaths—but think they are quite normal, even special in God’s eyes!

Empathy is like a universal solvent. Any problem immersed in empathy becomes soluble. It is effective as a way of anticipating and resolving interpersonal problems, whether this is a marital conflict, an international conflict, a problem at work, difficulties in a friendship, political deadlocks, a family dispute, or a problem with the neighbour. Unlike the arms industry that costs trillions of dollars to maintain, or the prison service and legal system that cost millions of dollars to keep oiled, empathy is free. And, unlike religion, empathy cannot, by definition, oppress anyone.

Simon Baron-Cohen

Sources: the Independent and the Observer.

Written by mikemagee

10 April, 2011 at 1:03 am

Is a Neocon Catholic Christian Lawyer a Contradiction in Terms?

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Christians are having a lot of fun at the expense of the Richard Dawkins Foundation. An example is some US lawyer who describes himself as a neoconservative Catholic.

He has a blog in which he and someone else sneer at atheists by featuring Richard Dawkins’ US associate, Josh Timonen, whom the RDF is suing for stealing its funds. The person in question denies the allegation, but will have the chance to demonstrate in court an innocent explanation of where the money has gone. Until he is unable to do so, he is legally considered innocent, and the charges are allegations, not affirmed facts.

Is the neoconservative Catholic author really a practising lawyer? Maybe. He is careful to use the adverb “allegedly” while speaking of the supposed theft, but his guest or partner whom he allows to speak in his own right on the same blog, assumes that Mr Timonen is guilty, despite his plea of innocence.

Of course, we have seen under the Bush years that neoconservatives haven’t a clue what legality means—torture is legal as long as it is suitably defined, international law does not exist being simply what Bush and the neocons say it is—and nor do they know what Christianity means for that matter. Bush and presumably all of those Christian neocons who supported him, and still support the far right of the Republican Party, think Christ said things like:

  • if someone steals your coat take his life in revenge
  • if a man hits you on the cheek blow out his brains
  • if someone forces you to walk a mile, cut off his legs
  • if you find a foreigner laying senseless on the ground, take the chance to rob him of his wallet, go rape his wife and daughters, kill them all, burn down his house, and blow up his village.

They are proud to torture and kill people without any process of law whatsoever, apparently because they know their Christian judgements must be right, so law is the Devil’s work, meant to interfere with God’s own Christian justice. Neoconservatives do not have suspects because to be suspect means to be guilty.

If they are serious about salvation, and they most probably use the whole notion of religion only to gull the gullible Christians who believe them, then they should go back and read the Christian gospels for themselves.

If they then seriously think that God, if that is who Christ is, approves of neoconservative ideology, then they truly are unfit to be lawyers because they plainly cannot comprehend English.

Written by mikemagee

31 October, 2010 at 10:34 pm