Posts Tagged ‘Jihad’

Hope Not Hate’s 10 Reasons to Oppose Paul Nuttall

November 28, 2016

After the Resistible Rise of Benjamin Netanyahu, here’s another Arturo Ui figure in this country, whose racial populism should be opposed. Paul Nuttall, who looks to me like Ade Edmondson as the stupid, vulgar and violent hooligan Eddie Hitler in his and Rik Mayall’s comedy series, Bottom, has just become head of UKIP. And Hope Not Hate have today put up ten good reasons why decent people should oppose him and his party. Here’s their list of 10 reasons, with a few of my comments underneath.

1. He has strongly supported Farage’s ‘Breaking Point’ billboard. That was the party’s advert that showed a line long of immigrants supposedly queuing up to get into Europe. It aroused strong criticism because it was almost identical to a Nazi poster, showing the lines of eastern European Jews, who they accused of threatening to overrun western civilisation.

2. He believes there is a secret coordinated Muslim plot to become a majority in Europe.
The Islamophobic right has been claiming that this is the case for years, despite demographic evidence to the contrary. It’s called ‘Eurabia’, and is based on the belief that Muslim birthrates are so far ahead of White European population growth that within one or two generations we’ll be a minority in our own countries. It’s a nasty, vicious lie, and one that has been exploited by the hatemongers in the Fascist right. There’s a propaganda movie on YouTube that shows pictures of street fighting and a Europe in flames, which claims that this is what will happen to Europe by the ’20s, when there will be a civil war between Muslims and their Leftist allies on one side, and ‘patriots’ – read: Nazis, on the other. There was a scandal in Wiltshire about a year or so ago, when one of the Kippers in that county made a speech, or series of speeches, claiming that this would happen. This was rightly greeted with so much outrage that the politico had to resign.

3. In a speech in the European Parliament, Nuttall labelled the response of the EU to the refugee crisis as “freedom of movement of Jihad”.
Which is the same argument Trump uses to support his ban on Muslim immigration: some of them might be terrorists. Despite the fact that, as they’re refugees, jihad is the reason they’re fleeing the Middle East.

4. He wants to ban the burqa.
One of the reasons this needs to be resisted is that it gives the state the power to dictate religious observances, which should be a matter of individual choice, contravening the human right to freedom of religion. And if it can be done to Muslims, it can be extended to other religious or philosophical groups.

5. Nuttall has called for the NHS to be privatised.
To support this, the article in Hope Not Hate has a link to this video below, by the National Health Action party, where Nuttall calls it a ‘monolithic hangover from days gone by’. This alone is an excellent reason for shunning Nuttall and his wretched party.

6. He wants a 31% flat rate of tax, meaning the rich pay far less.

7. He wants prison conditions to be made deliberately worse and the 1967 Criminal Justice Act to be abolished.
Despite the constant refrains of the likes of the Heil and Express, prisons are grim places. The Mirror this morning carried a report on the rising number of suicides in British prisons, which are far more than those outside. And Private Eye has regularly carried news stories in its ‘In The Back’ column about young offenders committing suicide, or being beaten to death by the other inmates, sometimes in adult jails. Does Nuttall really more useless and avoidable deaths in prison? It’s also unsurprising that he also wants the return of the death penalty, which Hope Not Hate points out would mean that Britain would share the same attitude towards crime as Belarus, a military dictatorship.

8. Nuttall believes climate change is a “hair-brained theory”.
It’s also not going to surprise anyone that he’s also another supporter of fracking.

9. Was one of only 14 MEPs to vote against a crackdown on the illegal ivory trade.
People have been concerned about the devastation of elephant populations in Africa, thanks to the illegal ivory trade since at least the 1990s. A few years ago I think one of the royals even suggested that objects made from ivory before the international ban date should be junked as a deterrent to the poachers by making ivory absolutely unsaleable. Clearly, this view is not shared by Nuttall, who obviously is no fan of conservation and protecting the environment.

10. Opposes same-sex marriage.
This seems to be the bog-standard, default position of the majority of Kippers. Or at least, those who open their mouths.

See: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/ukip/10-reasons-to-oppose-nuttall-5075

All of this just shows that, not only is Nuttall deeply bigoted, and his party opposed to many of the institutions, not least the NHS, which have made Britain a healthy, tolerant society, but it also bears out what Tom Pride and many other bloggers have also shown: that the Kippers aren’t offering anything new, or different, but are the extreme right of the Tory party.

Advertisements

Hope Not Hate: Neo-Nazi Group to Goose-Step in Bristol this Saturday

January 28, 2016

Hope Not Hate, the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism organisation has reported on their website that the New British Union will be holding a demo in my fair city this coming Saturday. The NBU are an outfit that parties like it’s 1939: they march around in an approved uniform of black slacks, tops and caps, waving banners with a lightning bolt symbol not too far removed from that of the British Union of Fascists. How they get away with this I don’t know, as I understood that political uniforms were made illegal when the government cracked down on Mosley and co.

Hope Not Hate says not to worry too much, as they only have 11 members, one of whom lives in Cyprus. They also speculate that another two may be members of Zionist organisations seeking to disrupt them. That’s also likely to be true. I did wonder, however, if it was a general excuse these organisations make when they fall out with each other. It’s not over ‘ideological’ differences, but because there are ‘Zionist’ spies in their ranks.

The stories at: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/blog/insider/bristol-and-bust-4719 Go there for more information and pics of the Mosleyite wannabes.

I’m not actually very sure what they hope to achieve. Bristol’s got a very ethnically mixed population, with sizable Black and Asian minorities. Like other cities of this type, it’s got its racial strains and there is a branch of SARI in St. Paul’s, I believe, for the victims of racial attacks. But mostly, touch wood, it’s a cool place. If you go down to the centre, you’re far more likely to be faced with charity canvassers, the homeless selling the Big Issue, and the normal run of buskers, than fiery-eyed maniacs preaching jihad or race war or whatever other bloody nonsense.

The EDL also turned up here a few years ago, and there was trouble then. It annoyed my mother to think that they could campaign successfully in Bristol, and cause trouble. My own feeling is that there could be trouble due to this bunch of morons, but most likely they’ll be treated the way they should – and ignored, leaving them to slink back to wherever they came from, shamed at not being able to get even a rise out of the people of this great city.

Young Turks: Terrorists More Motivated by Politics than Religion, Study Finds

December 15, 2015

This is another video from The Young Turks, which is extremely relevant as it takes apart the view that terrorists and suicide bombers are motivated solely or mainly by religion. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago, and the founder of that university’s Centre for Security and Faith, studied the motives of suicide bombers and other terrorists going back to 1980. He found that in 95 per cent of cases they were far more motivated by politics, and particularly the desire to retaliation after a military intervention, often a military occupation. The attacks were an attempt to take or retake territory that was important to the terrorist. This was the dominant motivation for terror attacks, including the recent massacres in Paris.

Uygur and Iadarola point out that suicide bombing are the tactics adopted by the losing sides. America doesn’t use suicide bombers, because it has the advantage of drones, tanks and aircraft. The Japanese also turned to using suicide tactics in World War II – the Kamikaze pilots – when they were losing, not when they thought they were winning, as at Pearl Harbour. The same is true of other organisations using suicide bombers, like the Tamil Tigers.

They also make the case that while religion is part of it, like Christian fundamentalists, who hate gay people, this is more of a case of someone looking for and adopting a worldview, that confirms their existing beliefs. They also cite Lydia Wilson, a journalist for The Nation, who also interviewed ISIS terrorists. She found that they had a ‘woeful knowledge’ of even the basic tenets of Islam, and had difficulty answering questions about sharia law, jihad, or even the caliphate. But such knowledge wasn’t necessary to support the ideal of fighting for the caliphate. As could be seen from the actions of one British ISIS fighter, who ordered ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon.

The Turks compare their ignorance of Islam with that of Dear, the right-wing fundamentalist Christian, who shot staff and patients in an attack on Planned Parenthood. They also point out that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings have been carried out by secular organisations and individuals. The Turks also point out that military intervention is not necessarily a bad thing. The Korean War succeeded in keeping South Korea free of Stalinism, and World War II was, obviously, a military intervention, that was exactly the right thing to do. Suicide and terrorist attacks do not necessarily make the original military action wrong. They’re just something to be expected as a consequence.

This report sounds pretty much spot on, from what I understand about terrorism. Bassam Tibi, the German-Egyptian writer on Islam and the problems it is experiencing through modernisation, states in his book Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change states that the Egyptian Islamist terrorist he personally interviewed in Egypt had only a superficial understanding of Islam. A few years ago, the anthropologist Scott Atran also pointed out that violence and terrorism were not solely the product of religion. He pointed out that the organisation that had made the most use of suicide bombings was the Tamil Tigers, who were secular organisation. Atran himself is an atheist, and he made this point as a rebuttal to the claims that religion was mainly responsible for such violence by members of the New Atheism, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

A~s for reading one’s own political views into a particular religion or holy book, that’s always been a problem. It’s called ‘elective affinity’, and sociologists of religion have acknowledged and studied its importance. One example I was taught at College was the declaration by a 19th century British Tory that ‘the Bible is Conservative through and through’. It’s a classic example of the way a person with strong political opinions believed he had found them in his holy book through projecting his own prejudices and opinions onto the text.

As for the political motivations of many terrorists, there’s an interesting review of a book on the Lobster site by Carol Shaye, one of the officials involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Shaye has since become extremely cynical about the whole process because of the massive corruption at all levels of Hamid Karzai’s regime. She found that the Taliban fighters she interviewed almost exclusively joined because they felt it was a solution to this problem.
Of course, the Taliban isn’t. It is, however, a brutal and murderous collection of genocidal maniacs and mass-murderers. But the point remains.

Letters from French Jihadis Desperate to Leave ISIS and Return to France

April 7, 2015

This is yet another video from The Young Turks about ISIS. I know I’ve post a lot of ’em recently, but they are relevant to what’s going on in this country. ISIS are trying to recruit Brits as well as other Westerners. These videos show the brutal reality behind the militant propaganda.

In this clip, John Iadarola and Cenk Uyghur talk about letters from French recruits to ISIS, that were published last year in the respected French newspaper, Le Figaro. The letters were from kids, who’d joined the terrorists, only to find it wasn’t the glorious band of holy warriors they expected. They were now disillusioned, miserable, and desperate to get back to France.

A couple of the complaints are by guys disappointed that they didn’t get to do any fighting. Instead, they found themselves doing the laundry, distributing food and clothes, cooking and cleaning and generally doing the menial jobs. One of the jihadis complained about the opposite. He was afraid they were going to send him into battle, and he didn’t know how to fight. The Turks make the obvious point that if he felt that way, he should have stayed well clear of the Middle East and not gone to a war zone.

One of the complaints is spectacularly, hilariously petty. That particular wannabe jihadi was miserable, because his iphone didn’t work.

Another was far more serious. That jihadi was disappointed as he thought when he went that he would be preaching Islam and enforcing the sharia, only to find that there was none of this.

The example of the fate of one of the disillusioned fighters also show the immense risks if the authorities and commanders find out their western recruits want to get away. One of the French recruits told the emir, the military commander, that he wanted to go back to France. So they executed him.

The clip also quotes a French lawyer, who stated that the longer French jihadis were out there and exposed to violence, the more radicalised they would become, until they posed a real threat on their return to France. No-one, however, wanted to take the risk of letting them back in.

The Turks make the point that of the 100 that have returned, 75 have been thrown in jail. They consider this better than what would happen if they tried to return to America, where it would have been 100 per cent, and they’d stay in there for a very long time.

They consider that the motives driving these guys to join ISIS is political and economic frustration in the Arab world, as well as sexual repression. They’re angry, and joining ISIS offers them the chance at glory by becoming a valiant warrior. And then they get frustrated when they find out this ain’t true.

Some of these issues have been dealt with in British TV reports. It’s been reported in the British press that many of the Western recruits won’t be let anywhere near the fighting, but will be given menial tasks like cooking and cleaning instead. The commanders don’t think they have the necessary skills or training to be effective soldiers. It isn’t just recruits from France, who are going to have to go out and clean the latrines.

Similarly, some of the British Muslims, who went out to Afghanistan to join the Taliban there also complained that when they arrived, they weren’t fighting to defend Islam but against other Muslims. One of the Beeb’s female reporters in From Our Own Correspondent on Radio 4 described an interview she had with a British Asian man she talked to in an Afghan prison. He’d gone to Afghanistan to fight in the jihad against non-Muslim – I can’t remember whether it was the Western forces, or the Soviets. Instead, he found out that the Taliban were intent on fighting other Muslims for control of the country.

As for allowing the jihadis to return to the West, this is a problem. Many would not wish to see them return at all, and with good reason. They left their countries in order to provide material aid and assistance to a genocidal, brutal regime. Nevertheless, the longer they are out there, the more radical and dangerous they will become. The Young Turks have suggested that they should be allowed back into the country, but subject to some kind of prosecution, at least in the girls who fled to become jihadi brides. The Danes, however, seem to have solved the issue by allowing them to return, but they have to go through a process of de-radicalisation and debriefing, giving the authorities information on ISIS and its activities. That way, the former converts to ISIS can be used to gain valuable knowledge, knowledge that hopefully can be used to defeat them.

In the meantime, the video shows that despite the propaganda videos, it’s actually a very bad idea to join them.

Hoisted by their Own Petard: Tories Embarrassed by Food Banks and Muslim Alienation

June 12, 2014

A few days ago, Mike over at Vox Political reported that attack on food banks, and the religious organisations that ran them, by Nick Couling. Couling is one of Iain Duncan Smith’s underlings over at the DWP. According to Couling, the rise in food banks was not due to an increase in underlying poverty. No! It was all due to Christian evangelisation, as the Christian charities and churches that run them attempt to use them as a tool for reaching out to the wider, secular community. Mike said in his article that it was a peculiar attitude to take, considering that RTU Smith himself strongly connected his welfare reforms in quasi-religious terms with his own Roman Catholicism. And going further, David Cameron managed to cause outrage at Easter by trying to give his ‘Big Society’ policies are religious justification, not least amongst Christians objecting to the Tories’ increasing impoverishment of millions of citizens through wage restraint and their programme of savage cuts. However, the religious motivation behind the government’s programme of increasing benefit cuts and the dismantlement of the welfare state goes all the way back to that icon of modern Toryism, Maggie Thatcher.

The French researcher, Jean Kepel, in his book on the rise of militant, fundamentalist religion, The Revenge of God, notes that one of Thatcher’s reasons for attacking the welfare state was to strengthen organised religion. She wanted to counter increasing secularisation and the drift away from the churches by cutting down on state welfare provision. This would, she believed, result in the poor and needy having to turn to religious organisations – the churches – for help instead.

And this has indeed occurred, to the great embarrassment of the Tories. The numbers of people using food banks, and the amount of food and meals they provide, are an independent source of statistics for the massive growth of poverty in this country. The unemployment figures can be massaged and doctored by the DWP, which only counts those in receipt of particular types of benefit, while ignoring others. Similarly, Kittysjones in an article, which I reblogged earlier this week, showed how Cameron used the Gini Coefficient to manipulate the figures on inqueality of wealth, and so purport to show that this was a less unequal society than it is. And if that doesn’t work, you can always block the publication of statistics altogether, as RTU has done with the number of people, who’ve died since being assessed as fit and well by Atos. He won’t release the information, and petulantly denounces anyone who demands it as ‘vexatious’, as Mike and the other welfare activists have repeatedly found out.

As Mike reported this morning, IDS tried it on the Trussell Trust back in 2011. The Trust’s head got a phone call from someone in his office stating that Smith was very angry with them. It was another attempt to silence an independent, embarrassing source of information.

It didn’t work. And so this week, after trying to promote themselves as pillars of Christian morality, Couling and his masters apparently decided that they were all militant Dawkinite atheists, determined to protect secular Tory Britain from the march of evil, Left-wing Christian evangelism. Presumably they’ll all go back now and try to erase the bits where Thatcher prates in her speeches about ‘Judeo-Christian values’, and show her instead meeting A.C. Grayling and brandishing copies of Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

That’s determination to strengthen religious organisations through the destruction of secular alternatives is also, according to Kepel, one of the factors in the growth of Islamic Fundamentalism in the UK. It’s not the only, or main one by any means. For Kepel and other researchers into the emergence of militant Islam in the UK, the immediate catalyst was the Satanic Verses controversy in the 1980s. The sense of outrage at the book’s perceived blasphemy shocked and infuriated a very sizable proportion of the country’s Muslim community, and allowed a platform for some deeply intolerant and violently bigoted religious leaders, as well as ordinary, far less radical Muslims, who simply found the book immensely offensive. Kepel notes that what Thatcher failed to appreciate, was that the Muslim community would be in a better position to provide these welfare services than the Christian churches. One of the Five Pillars of Islam, the fundamentals of Muslim faith and practice, is the zakat, or alms tax. Muslims are expected to give a tenth of their income to the mosque, which in turn is supposed to distribute this money to the community’s poor. The Muslim community thus possessed as an integral part of their faith an independent source of support for their community. As a result, as state support was cut down and removed, many Muslim communities became more inward-looking and alienated as their poor turned to this and other more traditional forms of support.

And so it gave yet greater impetus to the kind of militants, that have now surfaced allegedly trying to undermine secular education in Birmingham through ‘Operation Trojan Horse’.

Of course, that isn’t the only assistance Maggie gave to the bigots and fundamentalists. Some of the worst firebrands were deliberately allowed to enter Britain as a reward for their services in resisting the Russians in Afghanistan. This included one deeply unpleasant mujahid, who blew up an airliner carrying military staff from Afghanistan back to Moscow. The plan also happened to be full of schoolchildren, heading back to Russia for the vacation. But this atrocity was perfectly acceptable to Thatcher, because, after all, Communist Russia was ‘the evil Empire’.

And so the poverty, despair and alienation caused by Thatcher’s attack on the welfare state has come back to haunt them. Not that his will cause any embarrassment for the Tory leadership, who have a time-honoured policy of blaming anyone and everyone but themselves. And so the widespread use of food banks is blamed on Christian evangelism – no, but that is party what Maggie wanted – and is silent on their role in promoting and giving material assistance to militant Islam.

And before people start blaming the Muslim community as a whole, just remember that in many cases the authorities repeatedly ignored the warnings of moderate Muslims, shocked at the intolerance and violent hatred coming out of the radical mullahs. The police were repeatedly tipped off about the nature of the Finchley Mosque and its preaching of the jihad by an Algerian Muslim, but did nothing until it became unavoidable. Probably because this would cause official embarrassment and contradict Maggie’s own policy. And so the country’s own security suffered, because Maggie wanted to bring down Communism.

The Sacrifice of Isaac: Francis Wheen Spouts Mumbo Jumbo

June 3, 2013

You may remember that way back in the last decade there was a spate of sceptical books attacking what their authors saw as pseudo-science. These included various New Age beliefs, and very often also Creationism and Intelligent Design. These books included Bad Science, by the Roman Catholic writer and science jounralist, Ben Goldacre, and How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World, by Francis Wheen. Wheen’s a left-wing journalist, who has, I believe, written for the Guardian. He is a frequent guest on the News Quiz, a satirical panel show about the news on BBC’s Radio 4. In his introduction he stated that part of his purpose in writing the book was to defend the Enlightenment. These revivals of what he considered irrationalism threatened it. He confessed his admiration for the Enlightenment and its values, including its secularism.

Strange Days and Paranoia, Terrorism and Psychiatric Abuse of Dissidents in the 1970s

Now Wheen is an excellent writer. His book on the paranoia and chaos of the ’70s, Strange Days Indeed: The Golden Age of Paranoia, is very good. It begins with Nixon and Watergate, and expands to include the fear surrounding Mao and the Gang of Four. He traces the way Mao’s doctrine of guerilla warfare formed the template for that decades western urban terrorists, including the Provisional IRA in Britain, the Rote Armee Fraktion or the Baader-Meinhof Gang in Germany and the Maoist terrorists in France. These latter emerged following the failure of the 1968 uprising to topple French capitalism, and drew intellectual inspiration and support from radical academics. One of these latter appears to have done little except march around his university campus disrupting the classes of other lecturers he considered to be bourgeois and reactionary. He also discusses the murky events surrouding Harold Wilson’s prime ministership and the preparations to remove him in a coup by those who suspected him of being a KGB agent. One of the most fascinating, and relevant pieces in the book is his description of how Soviet psychiatry came up with a new mental illness that would justify the forcible incarceration of dissidents. This was done under the pretext that they must be insane to challenge the great, Soviet workers’ paradise. The Soviet political abuse of psychiatry strongly influenced the BBC SF series, Blake’s 7. In the series, the totalitarian Federation used mind control, including drugged food and water, and the conditioning, brainwashing and psychiatric brutalisation of dissidents to maintain its brutal and corrupt rule. This particular episode in Soviet history should be particularly alarming and provide a stark warning to people of faith concerning some of the pronouncements made by contemporary atheists. Some of the New Atheists, like the Rational Response Squad, made it clear they thought religion was a psychiatric disorder. Even now some professional neurologists have stated that they look forward to the day when neuroscience will be used to cure radical or dangerous religious beliefs. Blake’s 7’s fictional federation also closed churches. Science Fiction has been described as the literature of warning, and Blake’s 7 provided a fictional treatment of the Soviet psychiatric persecution of dissidents. The Soviet medicalisation of religion as a psychiatric disorder is one that some atheist scientists now seem to be following on their own. They’re either unaware of or unconcerned by their totalitarian predecessors.

Wheen’s Mumbo Jumbo and the Sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis

Much of Wheen’s book on ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ is unremarkable. It tackles some of the bizarre New Age beliefs. It shows his own left-wing views in criticising Thatcherism and her pursuit of the free market. Wheen is, however, an atheist. Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, to which Wheen has contributed, has joked about how Wheen called him an ‘irrational theist’. The book makes it clear that Wheen views religion as not just wrong, but dangerous. It shows the effect of 9/11 and the subsequent jihadi attacks on atheist opinions towards religion in general. Wheen does not consider them the action of just one religion, or even or a movement within that religion, but due to religion as a whole. He specifically blames the patriarch Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, Isaac, for causing suicide bombing. God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is, in Wheen’s view, a demand for the blind faith and for believers to give up their lives in the service of their God. It is the origin of the blind faith of the suicide bombers. He then rants about how Abraham was a barbarian who should be excluded from the tables of civilised people.

This is profoundly wrong. Wheen misses the point about the sacrifice of Isaac completely. His Comments do, however, say volumes about received atheist opinion towards religion. Mostly, this is that many prominent atheists actually aren’t concerned about the basic facts behind religious events and phenomena before they utter their opinions.

Abraham and God’s Mercy: God Unlike Pagan Gods, Does Not Demand Human Sacrifice

For Jews, Abraham is not a symbol of fanaticism and blind faith, but mercy. This is shown by his conversation with the Almighty concerning the number of good people, who would have to be in Sodom before the Lord destroyed the city. This goes down to about ten, showing that even if only a minuscule number of righteous people are present in a place so steeped in evil that the outcry against it goes up to the Lord Himself, God will withhold His anger from it. As for the sacrifice of Isaac, that has to be seen in the context of the pagan religious practices of the Ancient Near East. Human sacrifice was an accepted part of the ancient Near Eastern religions. It’s found in the law codes of the Hittites. In ancient Phoenicia, Canaan and Carthage infant children were burned alive as sacrifices to the pgan gods. The tophets, the sacrificial altars on which these poor mites were killed, have been found in the remains of Carthage itself. The remains of these sacrifices have also been found in ancient Canaan. The point the story of God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac makes is that the Lord does not want people to sacrifice humans to Him. Yes, He rewards the faith that makes people wish to fulfill His commands, even to death, but does not want them to make that sacrifice. Abraham does indeed make the pyre and prepare to sacrifice his son, but this is halted by God sending a ram, caught in a thicket, for the patriarch to sacrifice instead. The whole point of the story is against suicide bombing.

Wheen Ignorant of Scholarship on Ancient Paganism and the Meaning of Isaac’s Sacrifice

Few people are experts in Ancient Near Eastern culture. But you don’t have to be. I remember studying the sacrifice of Isaac in RE (Religious Education) at my old Church of England School. Wheen went to one of the British public schools, which in this case, for transatlantic readers, means that he went to an elite private school. Despite having a very expensive education, he clearly either didn’t study this part of the Bible in RE, or simply wasn’t paying attention when they did. Even if they didn’t study that part of the Bible, Wheen could still have tried to understand it simply by consulting a commentary. There are a number of good commentaries on scripture, some of which are available online. But Wheen didn’t. He simply assumed that the apparent message he read into the text was the correct one. His failure to consult a commentary or what Christians and Jews actually historically believe and say about this event also shows a completely dismissive attitude towards their beliefs. He appears to beleive that traditional Jewish and Christian views of scripture are of so little importance, so automatically wrong, that an atheist should not even remotely consider studying them before making their pronouncements.

The Marxist Origin of Suicide Bombing

As for suicide bombing, although this is now a favourite weapon of militant Islam, it was first used by the Tamil Tigers. As Marxists, they were atheists, who clearly wre not following a divine command, still less of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus Christ. But this is not mentioned by Wheen. Possibly he didn’t know about it. It does, however, show the deep antipathy of part of the atheist Left towards Judeo-Christian religion. There’s also an element of the secularist belief that all religions are somehow the same. If that is true, then therefore all religions must be equally violent. Thus Wheen sought to find the ultimate origin of the contemporary jihadist attacks not in today’s politics, or the violent theology and ideology of the terrorists themselves, but further back in Abraham’s lifetime, so he could blame and disparage all of the three Abrahamic faiths. Wheen’s other book are well worth reading, and much of his book on Mumbo Jumbo is too. Rather than being a product of reasoned thought and careful consideration, Wheen’s views on the sacrifice of Isaac in the Old Testament are merely the product of atheist ignorance and anti-religious bigotry.

The Religious Origins of Totalitarianism and Tyranny

April 1, 2009

One of the other articles at the Butterflies and Wheels site that Wakefield has also mentioned as requiring critique and discussion is Christopher Orlet’s attempt to claim that religion, and particularly Christianity, was the cause of the totalitarian dictatorships and murderous tyrannies of the 20th century. The article is entitled ‘Lessons of Atheist Dictatorships, and it is at http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=298’

Orlet’s article is basically an attempt to rebut the accusation by Christian and other religious apologists that atheist regimes have committed more and greater atrocities than Christians and members of other religions. Orlet instead argues that Christianity and other religions have also supported murderous tyrannies. He further argues that when atheist regimes have committed massacres and other atrocities, it was for purely political reasons, rather than because they were atheists. The attempt by Christian apologists to blame the horrific atrocities committed by Fascist, Nazi, Communist and agrarian utopian regimes on atheism ‘shows only a sad and unwitting lack of scholarship’.

Orlet notes the support given by the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches to Fascist regimes in Europe, including Italy, Croatia, Romania, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Austria and Slovakia. He states that the Papacy viewed Hitler as defending Europe against Communism, and did not comment or condemn the Holocaust because the Nazis were useful attacking the Red Army. After the War, senior Vatican clergyman with Fascist sympathies, such as Bishop Alois Hudal, who was a supporter of Hitler and friend of Pope Pius XII, arranged for the escape of Nazi war criminals to South America. Other leading members of the Vatican also arranged for the Fascist dictator of Croatia, Ante Pavelic, who was responsible for the organised massacre of Serbs and other nations in the former Yugoslavia, to flee to Peron’s Argentina. Ortel further claims that, with the exception of Hitler, the vast majority of the Nazis were devout Roman Catholics, like the infamous ‘butcher of Lyons’, Klaus Barbie. Ortel also quotes the various references Hitler made to God in his speeches. He does, however, consider that Hitler was a Pagan, rather than a Christian.

Ortel then goes on to state that when atheist regimes did commit their atrocities, it was because of their political ideologies, rather than because of their atheism. He states that Marx believed that religion, although originally harmless, was now an ideological instrument of the ruling class, but would eventually disappear after the working class had gained power. He notes that the French Revolutionaries had similar views on the way religion was used by the ruling class to support their power and subordinate their peoples. He discusses the attempt of the French Revolutionaries to abolish Christianity, and replace it with a cult of the Goddess of Pure Reason, and the Terror and anticlerical massacres that saw 200 priests put to death. Orlet considers that they were executed, not because the regime was atheist, but because Christianity and the Roman Catholic Church was associated with the oppression of the Ancien Regime which the Revolutionaries had overthrown. He states that Stalin committed his atrocities, including the artificial famine in the Ukraine, which was intended to destroy Ukrainian nationalism, not because of his atheism, but because he wished to establish and fulfil the Communist programme of mass nationalisations and the collectivisation of agriculture.

He also states that until the 20th century, the leaders of most nations would have been religious. This did not prevent them from committing horrific atrocities, such as those committed by the Mongols in China, Hungary and Russia. He states that the Armenia massacres committed by the Turks in the 1920s was committed as a jihad, and also states that the genocide in Rwanda was also partly the result of religious motivations, and the various churches either did not attempt to stop, or actively participated in the atrocities. He also states that Mao Tse Tung attacked Christianity as part of a wider campaign against traditional influences in Chinese society, including Buddhism and Taoism. Orlet also states that Pol Pot gained his ideas about the suppression of personality and total allegiance to a cause from the time he spent in a Buddhist monastery. His murderous ideology, however, was the result of the Marxism he learned in Paris and by the agricultural society of the non-Buddhist Khmers. ‘It was an anti-Western, anti-urban and pro-nativist ideology that defined the Khmer Rouge, not atheism, which was but one aspect.’

Ortel ends his article by comparing the attitudes towards religion in Poland and Albania. In Poland, the Roman Catholic Church remained separate from the state after its partition by Prussia, Austria and Russia, and so enjoyed the support of the Polish people, and acted to defend them against the oppression of both the Nazis and then the Communists. In Albania, however, before the Communist revolution the country was ruled by a Moslem ruling class who possessed vast estates and governmental powers in the administrative system of the Ottoman Empire. As a result, religion was extremely unpopular, and the Communist authorities officially abolished it after they seized power. He therefore concludes that America is a profoundly religious country because of the separation of Church and state, and that the attempts by the Religious Right to unite the two would destroy the popularity of religion in the US.

Now let’s examine his arguments.

It is indeed true, and disgusting and horrific, that a number of Fascist regimes across Europe enjoyed the active support of the various churches. There were a number of reasons for this. After the French Revolution and its attack on Christianity and the Church, the Roman Catholic Church became extremely hostile to democracy and preferred to support traditional, autocratic monarchies, which would support the traditional social order and the Church. After the Unification of Italy by Garibaldi, the Church was also strongly opposed to the new Italian state because of the incorporation of Rome and the Papal States, with the exception of the Vatican, by the Nationalist forces. While few of the founders of the Italian state were atheists, most were anticlerical and successive governments after the Unification launched various campaigns against the Church. Many convents and monasteries were closed, and there were attempts to limit or outlaw the immense influence members of the clergy could play in education and the political beliefs of lay Italians. One of the reasons why the Papacy eventually supported Mussolini’s dictatorship and signed the Lateran Accords recognising both the Italian state and the Fascist regime was that the Fascists, in their turn, promised to support the Church in contrast to the opposition of parts of the traditional Italian state.

Many of the Fascist regimes in central Europe – in Germany, Austria and Hungary – arose as part of a reaction to the Communist revolution that spread throughout these countries in 1919, and which was only suppressed through extreme Right-wing paramilitary groups, such as the Freikorps in Germany and the Heimwehr in Austria. Religion was an integral part of these societies, which felt themselves threatened both by militant Communism and the development of modern, mass industrial society. Many of the Fascist regimes, such as those in Hungary and Romania, viewed the religious beliefs of their peoples as one of their defining characteristics, and so attempted to promote these religious beliefs and their various churches. In some of these countries, Fascism received widespread support due to the perceived failure of democracy. In Italy, for example, effective government of the country was prevented by the existence of various factions and parties, none of which had a sufficient majority to govern unaided and most of them refused to co-operate with each other in forming an administration. The Liberal Party, for example, which had previously been the leading Italian political party, was split into four different factions around four leading politicians all competing for power. In Bulgaria in the 1930s, the political scene was similarly one of increasing fragmentation as parties split and refused to co-operate with each other in the government of the country. The result was that leading politicians and public figures in these nations supported Fascism as a way of governing their countries effectively, while democracy has only produced political stagnation and controversy.

One of the political parties Ortel states supported the Fascists was in fact divided in its support for the regime. The Italian Populist Party – PPI – was founded as a Christian, Roman Catholic political alternative to socialism by an Italian layman, Don Luigi Sturzo, who had received permission to do so from Cardinal Pietro Gasparri. It supported democratic, secular reform, the defence of the family, the creation and protection of small, independent farms, the right to form unions, local government, women’s suffrage, the independence of the Church, proportional representation and the League of Nations. Although the party entered Mussolini’s cabinent in 1923, Sturzo himself was profoundly hostile to Fascism. The Vatican forced Sturzo to resign as the party secretary in 1923. During the 1924 elections, the Popolari were frequently the victims of Fascist violence, and leading anti-Fascists, such as Don Giovanni Minzoni, were murdered. Minzoni was a Roman Catholic clergyman, who had been elected as archpriest of San Niccolo in 1916, and served as military chaplain in the First World War. After the War he returned to that part of Italy, and devoted himself to political activism, setting up Roman Catholic co-operatives and trade unions. He supported the Roman Catholic daily paper, Il Popolo, and was also active in the Roman Catholic youth organisations. He founded a local branch of the Roman Catholic youth organisation, the Associazione degli Esploratori Cattolici, which aroused the vehement hostility of the Fascists. The Vatican supported the Fascists against the Populists because it considered them too radical, particularly as they were not under the control of the bishops. Sturzo was forced to leave Italy in 1924, and his successor, Alcide de Gasperi, resigned in 1925. The party was suppressed in 1926 by the Fascists after the promulgation of the Exceptional Decrees.

As for Fascism itself, this was a mixture of various, and frequently contradictory ideas and movements. The Fascists were essentially extreme nationalists, and took their ideas from both the extreme Right and extreme Left. Mussolini had been a radical Socialist, although he later joined the extreme Right in opposition to socialism, liberalism and democracy. Initially Mussolini kept the Fascist programme vague, in order to gain the support of the different sections of Italian society, and Fascist ideology regarded morality and ideology itself as relative and subject to change as the occasion demanded. Although he allied the Fascists with the Church, many Fascists remained strongly anticlerical and the Roman Catholic Church strongly disapproved of the non-Christian elements in Fascism, such as the Fascist calendar that dated everything from the year of the Fascist revolution, when Mussolini gained power.

Similarly, while the Nazis also had the support of parts of the Church, they were also hostile to Christianity. Alfred Rosenberg, one of the leaders of the Nazi party, wrote The Myth of the 20th Century, which was so strongly antichristian that Hitler was forced to withdraw it and apologize. Hitler did indeed attempt to present himself as a pious German defending Christianity against Communism, but the Nazis themselves attempted to control and suppress the churches. Hitler himself hoped that Christianity would eventually disappear, and his hostility to Christianity was certainly not confined only to him.

As for the Roman Catholic Church, in 1937 Pope Pius XI published the encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge – ‘With Burning Anxiety’ denouncing Nazi racism. Up until 1933 in various parts of Germany members of the Roman Catholic Church had been forbidden to join the Nazi party, and the Nazis were similarly prohibited in participating in Roman Catholic ceremonies, such as funerals. Although hostile to Nazism, Pius XI signed a concordat with the Nazis as part of an attempt to gain recognition for the Roman Catholic Church in Germany and other European nations, such as Poland and Romania, that been continuing since 1922. While there were many senior members of the clergy who did support Nazism, the Church was largely afraid of a new struggle with the German authorities and the possibility of overt persecution. Pope Pius XII made a number of speeches, which, although not specifically mentioning Nazism, were certainly viewed as criticisms of that regime. In a 1939 speech he discussed the ‘law of human solidarity and charity that is dictated and imposed … by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, regardless of the people to which they belong.’ The New York Times reported the speech under the headline ‘Pope Condemns Dictators, Treaty Violators, Racism; Urges Restoration of Poland’. He made a similar speech intended for the Poles in 1943, and in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi. In 1942 his expressed his sympathy for those ‘persons, who, through no fault of their own and by single fact of their nationality or race, have been condemned to death or for progressive extinction’. This infuriated Mussolini and the Nazis viewed it as an attack on them on behalf of the Jews. Pius XII’s closest official amongst the German clergy was the anti-Nazi Cardinal Konrad von Preysing, and the Pope himself agreed to act as an intermediary with the West on behalf of a group of German generals who planned on assassinating Hitler in 1939. During the War, he opened the Vatican to give refuge to 5,000 Jews. When the Nazis attempted a round-up of Jews in Rome in 1943, Pius XII protested and it was halted. The papal nuncio in Bucharest openly protested in August and September 1942 against the deportation of Jews from Romania. He also granted money to the Jewish rescue organisation, DELASEM, and supported the work of Father Anton Weber to assist Jews to escape Europe and Father Pierre-Marie Benoit, who aided French Jews to escape to North Africa.

Moreover, although Pius XII hated Communism, he nevertheless did not view the Nazi campaign against the USSR as a Crusade, according to the Roman Catholic historian, Pierre Blet. When the Italian ambassador to the Vatican attempted to gain official Roman Catholic encouragement for the war against the Soviet Union, the secretary of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs rejected his request, stating that ‘the swastika is not the cross of a crusade.’ The Pope never explicitly attacked Nazism or called Roman Catholics in Nazi-occupied territories to resist it, because he feared losing what little influence the Roman Catholic Church had with the Fascist authorities and the possibility of the persecution of the Roman Catholic Church. While the Allies would have preferred the Pope to have explicitly denounced Nazism and Fascism, they understood why he didn’t.

As for the French Revolutionaries’ campaigns against Christianity, although they hated Christianity and the Church because of its position within the ancien regime, as part of what they considered to be a feudal and oppressive social order, Deist and atheist criticisms of organised religion and specifically Christianity appeared in France long before the Revolution. One of the most influential of the late 18th century atheist works was D’Holbach’s Le Systeme de la Nature of 1770. There were a group of atheist writers actively challenging and attacking religion at this time, including Boulanger, Naigeon, Charles Francois Dupuis, Sylvain Marechal and Jerome Lalande, amongst others. Naigeon was the successor to Diderot and the author Recueil Philosophique ou Melanges de Pieces sur la Religion et la Morale of 1770, which collected a number of previous attacks on religion. D’Holbach, however, was probably the most prominent of the French atheist writers. He hated religion, not just because he, like the other atheists, considered it oppressive, but because he also considered it to be false, and so demanded the destruction of Christian civilisation because it was constructed on such a false view of the world. Now it’s probably true that many of the French Revolutionaries who attempted to abolish Christianity were motivated because of their hatred of the French Church’s part in the oppressive feudal regime of pre-Revolutionary France. Nevertheless, French atheists also attacked religion and demanded its destruction, and that of the Christian civilisation that was based on it, because they felt that religion was wrong and by its very nature oppressive.

Similarly, it is also true that the Communists committed their atrocities from a desire to establish a Communist social and economic order, rather than simple atheism. Nevertheless, they were atheists, who attempted to explain and reform human society on the basis of philosophical materialism. Communism was considered to provide an objective, scientific explanation of the economic forces that influenced and defined the forms of human society and culture, in contrast to other views and models of society, and humanity’s progress from feudalism to bourgeois democracy and then eventually to Communism was considered as occurring according to objective, scientific sociological laws. Thus, while Marx considered that eventually religion would wither away as true Communism was established, rather than be forcibly abolished through revolutionary action, nevertheless atheism was indeed a profound part of Communist ideology. It is therefore true that while the Communists attacked the Russian Orthodox Church, and then the others religious faiths because they viewed them as part of an oppressive and exploitative social system. However, they also considered religion itself to be profoundly wrong, and that society could only be reformed through the construction of a social and economic system based on what they considered to be the principles of scientific law, which was held to be opposed to religion and its influence.

As for Mao Tse Tung and his campaign against religion, it is indeed true that he attacked not only Christianity, but also Taoism and Buddhism. Furthermore, in traditional Chinese religion, the Emperor possessed a strongly religious role, as he was responsible for performing a number of rituals and sacrifices so that the gods would grant his kingdom peace, harmony and prosperity. Now while the important place of the emperor as the intermediary between Earth and the gods in Chinese religion might explain why the Chinese Communists were so hostile to religion, because of the way it formed part of a traditional, oppressive social order, this does not alter the fact that they actively campaigned against religion as a whole as part of an attempt to create a Communist society based on Mao’s own interpretation of Marxism. Similarly, even if Christianity was only one of a number of religions, which the Communists in China and elsewhere attempted to destroy, nevertheless it still remains that the Communists attempted to destroy religion using force and violence. Orlet considers that Pol Pot learned about the suppression of personality and the breaking of personal ties, which became integral parts of his own revolutionary beliefs, at the Wat Botum Vaddei Buddhist monastery, rather than in the pages of Das Kapital. However, absolute dedication to the cause of the Revolution had been a feature of the Russian Revolutionary tradition since Chernyshev in the 19th century, and was stressed by Lenin himself, who incorporated it into Soviet Communism. Thus while Pol Pot adopted this aspect of Buddhist practice, it seems likely he used it as part of a revolutionary ideology and worldview based on important elements of revolutionary Communism. How Communist the Khmer Rouge actually were, is a matter of debate. One book on that horrific part of Cambodia’s history reviewed a few years ago in the Financial Times concluded that they did not possess a coherent ideology, and that the sheer corrupt pursuit of personal power and wealth amongst the ruling elite, including expensive consumer items, such as western motorcycles, was an important part of the personal motives of its leadership alongside any ideological notions. Nevertheless, the sheer brutality of the regime demonstrates that its leaders had rejected traditional religious values such as compassion and respect for human life in the belief that they could create a totally new society. This aspect of the Khmer Rouge certainly places them in the modern tradition of political activism that began with the French Revolution and its belief that a new, rational society could be created through the use of force directed against those who were perceived as enemies of the state.

Now the Armenian Massacres were indeed carried out as a jihad, a ‘Day of the Sword’, which affected other eastern Christian communities in what is now Iraq and Iran. However, while there certainly were religious elements involved in the genocide, it was part of a wider situation of nationalist violence with the Turkish Empire as previously subordinate nations in the Balkans and the Caucasus attempted to gain their freedom. Traditional Islam does not distinguish between the religious sphere and that of the state, and so, when the subject Christian peoples of the Ottoman Empire rebelled, there was certainly a religious element in the military response by the Turkish authorities to suppress them. However, contemporary historians of the Balkans have suggested that the violence involved in the various Balkan wars was the product of nationalism, rather than religious causes, and the massacres of the Armenians and the other Christian communities in the Middle East would also appear to be a product of extreme nationalism. There are passages in the Qu’ran that explicitly prohibit the killing of women, children and non-combatants in war, and so the destruction of entire communities and peoples in Armenian Massacres was in direct opposition to Shariah law.

As for the religious and political system in Albania, while the country was indeed ruled by Muslim Turkish feudal lords, who owned vast estates across the country on which most of the population worked as peasants, about 2/3 of the population generally was Muslim, so that the majority of the Albanian population shared their religion. This does not, however, mean that the feudal landlords necessarily were responsible for the enforcement of the law. Although they were responsible for the government of the country as a whole and the administration of their estates, the feudal lords were not necessarily responsible for maintaining the legal system. This was under the control of the qadis, judges appointed by the state. However, the ulema, the Muslim clergy, tended to distrust the state and did not wish to become involved with it, as they view the state as founded on oppression and its funds raised through extortion. Thus, while some of the Communists’ attempt to abolish religion in Albania may have been based on their hatred of a feudal system, in which power was held by a Muslim aristocracy, part of Albanian Muslim society was strongly opposed to the state because of what it considered to be its essentially oppressive nature. Thus the Communist campaign against religion in Albania appears to have been part of the general Communist attempt to destroy it, rather than necessarily reflecting popular attitudes to the religious aspects of Albanian politics and society.

Regarding the involvement of the churches in the Rwandan genocide, while this is disgusting and shameful, like their support for the Fascist regimes. However, their involvement was the result of human weakness and the power of personal, tribal and corporate motives over the demands of Our Lord to protect the weak and powerless against brutality and atrocity.

Now I do think that Orlet is probably correct in that part of the continuing popularity of Roman Catholicism in Poland may have been due to the Church’s role in defending and protecting them after the country was divided between Russia, Prussia and Austria, during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War and then under Communism. It is also possible that America remains a religious nation because the separation of Church and State has prevented religion from becoming unpopular due to its involvement as a formal aspect of the state. Much of the American political system is based on Christian principles, developed by radical Protestants during the British Civil War and the Commonwealth during the 17th century. Indeed, historians consider that one of the major factors in the development of democracy in America was the Great Awakening, when ordinary people challenged the colonial authorities and the position of the established Church and founding their own churches and religious organisations to look after their spiritual needs, rather than simply accepting the spiritual leadership of the existing hierarchy. This became part of the general tradition of American political democracy by encouraging and establishing the right of the people to decide issues for themselves, rather than simply submit to the traditional, British aristocratic social order. As for the separation of Church and State, this was based on the ideas of the 17th century Puritan minister, Richard Baxter, who argued for it in his book, The Bloudy Tenant of Persecution and demanded freedom of conscience during the Civil War in Britain. He based his arguments for religious freedom and toleration on Scripture, and believed that when governments interfered in religion, they acted against it and became oppressive. Thus, America may be a religious country because much of American democracy is based on Puritan, Christian religious principles.

Thus, although the Church and religions generally have supported oppressive and murderous regimes, this has frequently been through secular concerns and motives, often against the tenets of the religions themselves. In some instances, however, members of the Church have acted to oppose tyranny and oppression in ways that the article has not recognised. Moreover, while atheist regimes have largely campaigned against religion because of the strong role it played in oppressive political and social systems, these regimes have also campaigned against religion because they also believed it was false and so should be destroyed. While atheist dictators and tyrants committed their crimes in order to create a new society, rather than simply from their atheist beliefs, nevertheless they believed that they acted according to objective scientific, societal laws in an ideology that explained the structure of society and demanded the abolition of religion as a false ideology. Furthermore, these atheist regimes were part of the tradition of revolutionary activism that began with the French Revolution in their belief that a new, rational society could be constructed through the use of force and violence. America may remain a religious country because of the separation of Church from State, but much of the American political system, including democracy, is based on 17th century Christian principles.