Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Faith Unto Idiocy


As a sidebar to my previous posts, it must be admitted that it isn't just Arabs who will cling to a precious fanaticism in defiance of facts.  When sufficiently wedded to a self-serving faith, anybody can do it.

Case in point, Megan Kelly -- who has made herself a laughingstock all over the media for claiming it's "obvious" that both Santa Claus and Jesus were/are "White".  In fact, she's only 3/8ths correct, at best.

Let's start with the real, historical Jesus.  He lived and died in first-(obviously!)-century Judea, his parents were Jewish, and so were their ancestors -- as the bible takes pains to point out -- all the way back to King David.  First-century Jews were definitely Semitic.  There are facial reconstructions done on first-century Jewish skulls -- there's at least one on YouTube -- which show that, in life, these folks looked very much like modern Semitic Arabs.  There's no mention in the bible that Jesus looked remarkably different from his cronies and neighbors.  Therefore, Jesus was about as "White" as the average Iraqi cab-driver.

Santa Claus is a different case.  He's based on two sources, one historical and one mythical: the historical Saint Nicholas, and the mythical "jolly old elf, Kris Kringle" who lives at the North Pole and rides around during the Winter Solstice in a flying sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.

Now, Saint Nicholas -- also called Nikolaos of Myra -- was a historic fourth-century Christian saint and Greek (Byzantine) Bishop of Myra, in Lycia (part of modern-day Turkey), who was famous for his charity, especially to children.  That was before the major Arab and Turkish invasions, so the Lycians were somewhere between Aryan and Semitic.  Nikolaos might have "passed" for White, but only if Kelly is willing to be very tolerant and wink one eye at "Mediterranean" types.

The mythical Kris Kringle, on the other hand, has good claim to be not only White but Norse -- very Norse.  Many inhabitants of cold northern countries rode about in sleighs during the winter, but only the Norse, Lapps and Finns trained reindeer to pull them.  The pre-Christian Norse revered the evergreen tree, particularly at the Winter Solstice, when they would decorate a fir or pine with lights, symbolizing the sun -- sympathetic magic, intended to transmit the tree's strength into the weak sun -- and with symbols of good fortune that they wished for: such as snug houses, fat livestock, healthy children, and gold.  The Norse also had a legend that Odin, king of the gods and master of wisdom, would wander the countryside in winter, checking on the well-being of his worshippers, rewarding the good and punishing the bad.  In honor of Odin, they would visit their neighbors and give presents, as well as holding feasts to ensure that everyone in the community had enough to eat.  Sound familiar?  Yes indeed, Kris Kringle was White -- and much older than Christianity.  From grim gray one-eyed Odin the Wanderer to jolly fat white-haired Kris (with both eyes) is a moderately long step, but even a god can mellow with age.

So there it is;  Jesus wasn't exactly White, and Santa Claus wasn't entirely Christian.  Those are the facts, ma'am.  Live with it, or continue to prove you're a self-made idiot.

 --Leslie <;)))><  )O(      



     

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THEY'VE ALWAYS BEEN LIKE THAT

by Leslie Fish

First, let it be understood that "Arab" is not a race – no matter what clever propagandists may tell you.  Along with the usual Semitic/Mediterranen types, there are also tribes of Arabs who have creamy-pale skins, red or blond hair, and blue or green or hazel eyes.  There are also tribes of Arabs who are distinctly Black.

"Arab" is not a religion, either.  There are (or were until recently) Christian Arabs in Lebanon, Pagan Arabs in the Kurd provinces, And even Jewish Arabs near what used to be Babylon. 

"Arab" is not even a language, or language family.  Folk in the middle-east speak more than Arabic;  there's Urdu and Pashti, for example, not to mention the north African languages.

What "Arab" really means is a particular culture.  This culture spreads throughout the middle-east, westward across north Africa, and eastward as far as Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Though it shares various features with its neighboring societies, it's readily recognizable and distinct from them. 

Chief among its distinct characteristics are its constant attitude of self-righteous victimhood, its eager religious fanaticism, its related disbelief in objective reality, and its particularly vicious sexism.  Most scholars blame these on Islam, but in fact they existed long before Islam was invented;  the culture shaped the religion more than the religion shaped the culture.  Note particularly how cultural icons like veiling women's heads, female circumcision, and execution of women for mere suspicion of "adultery", are not commanded anywhere in the Koran. 

So where did this peculiar cultural pattern come from? 

The answer stretches back over 4000 years, which explains the common assumption that Arabs have "always been like this".  It goes back before the beginnings of literacy itself, which is why the evidence has been dug up by the archeologists more than historians.  The earliest writings, though, include accounts of earlier myths -- which contain tantalizing hints of an earlier culture which was far different.

What we have managed to learn in the last century is that the first civilizations were matriarchal.  Before about 4000 years ago, humans didn't realize that it was sex that caused pregnancy;  people thought that women made babies by themselves, by magic.  Therefore, the only bloodline was the mother's;  all inheritance of property or rank went through the mother's line.  From a "great mother" ancestor of a tribe, to a divine Great Mother of all humanity, to a Great Mother Goddess of all life were easy steps.  Artistic images of Great Mother Goddesses have been found all the way from Britain to Mongolia, Scandinavia to Africa, dating as far back as 25,000 years. 

Between 4000 and 5000 years ago, it changed.  Humans learned, most likely from observing domesticated animals, that sex is necessary for breeding – therefore, males had a share in the next generation too.    

How people reacted to this knowledge varied widely.  Some cultures moved smoothly toward ambiarchy, steadily giving men – and male gods – more social standing.  Others insisted on turning their societies upside down, elevating males above females and reversing the previous moralities;  where the matriarchies had been largely peaceful, increasing their wealth and influence with trade, the new patriarchies became fiercely warlike and imperialistic.  Over the course of nearly 2000 years, the warlike patriarchies conquered their neighbors and enforced their New World Order on most of Europe, Asia and north Africa.  The history of this conquest was brilliantly revealed and detailed in Merlin Stone's classic book, "When God Was A Woman".

Until about 30 years ago, archeologists assumed that the cultures which chose warlike patriarchy all came from the Aryan tribes along the northern tier of Europe and Asia;  Dr. Marja Gumbatas even traced the pernicious attitude to the Kurgan culture of eastern Russia.  Further diggings since then, however – including the famous Grave of the Amazon Queen found in western Mongolia – show that this wasn't the case.  The northern Aryan cultures were ambiarchal down into historical times.  The warlike patriarchies which swept down into Greece, Crete and Mycenae were "northern" only in relation to the Mediterranean, having come the long way around the Black Sea.  The warlike Aryans who swept into India around 1700 BCE were likewise "northern" only in relationship to India.  The Hyksos who conquered Egypt came primarily from the east.

It turns out that the real epicenter of warlike patriarchy was a place called Eridu, just east of the juncture of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in present-day Iran.  However subsequent capitals of empires shifted, the center of the warlike patriarchal culture was in the heart of the middle-east.  There it has remained to this day.

This explains much about Arab culture ever since.  First gods dethroned goddesses, then eliminated them altogether – culminating in the institution of a single all-ruling god who demanded his worshipers conquer/convert the world for him.  Women were progressively stripped of all social rights, ending as chattels – even regarded as soulless animals, who could be slaughtered at will.  War was valued higher than trade, to the point were trade came to be regarded as only a subtle form of warfare.  The need to justify the almost-frantic sexism in the face of facts led to the assumption that the laws of nature are not fixed – the foundation of science – but only the whim of the ruling god, who can change his mind if bribed with enough prayer, piety, and human sacrifices.  Likewise, when the world, and the facts, refuses to go one's way for all one's piety, it must be somebody else's fault – and thus the sense of outraged victimhood, which in turn justifies any action against that perceived somebody else.  Historically, all these elements where already present in Arab culture before Mohammed was born;  the religion he invented only gave them all a unifying excuse.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Progressive Failure

I've posted this before, but I think it needs to be posted again -- if only because I have some following ideas.

*****


How the naïve flaws in the great Progressive Ideal have led to bad political decisions in the modern world.

Have you ever heard of the Progressive Ideal?  You should have.  Progressivism is the ancestor of modern Liberalism, Globalism, Socialism, and its bastard grandchild Communism.  Progressivism was invented in the 19th century, as an antidote to the blatant self-serving Imperialism of the age.  It inspired the great reform movements of the past hundred years, and much fine literature and music.

Unfortunately, it also inspired much dangerous stupidity in politics and economics, which plagues us to this day.

The basic tenets of the Progressive Ideal start with simple truths, but then elaborate into  unfounded fantasies that warp out of sync with reality.  These include:

1)      All Men (and Women) Are Created Equal.  To Progressives, this means that all people are basically the same.  They all think and feel alike, and all want the same things.  There's no such thing as a bad person: only a dissatisfied or, at worst, a sick one.  Give everybody a good education and income and healthcare, says the Progressive, and everybody will happily join the great worldwide community of civilized people, and there'll be no more war or crime;  therefore it's the duty of all civilized people to guarantee a good education and income to “disadvantaged” people the world over.

2)      All cultures have something to contribute to the human experience.  Therefore, Progressives conclude, all societies are equally valid.  There's no such thing as a bad culture: only an ignorant one. Give all societies good educations, and they'll all become equally enlightened – and they'll happily join the great worldwide community of civilized nations, and... etc. Therefore, Progressive theory claims, it's the duty of all civilized societies... etc.

3)      People who live in privileged societies are often ignorant of the condition of other societies or blinded by their own prejudices.  According to Progressive thought, this means that nobody from a wealthy, free, generally happy society has any right to judge other societies, or the people in them. However, people from “disadvantaged” societies are never ignorant of the condition of their privileged brethren, or blinded by prejudices, and can see the sins of the privileged clearly;  so, the Progressive believes, they have a right to judge the privileged people and their criticisms must always be taken seriously.

4)      Economics is a powerful motivation.  Therefore, Progressive thought holds, all people are moved by the promise or lack of money above everything else;  give people – or societies – enough money to satisfy their needs and wants, and they'll happily join in the great worldwide community of civilized nations, and so forth.

5)      Nobody likes to get hurt.  From this the Progressive philosophy concludes that nobody in his/her right mind wants to commit violence themselves;  therefore, the only reason that anybody really wants to commit violence on somebody else is that this somebody else must have committed some terrible outrage against him/her.  Thus, if somebody complains furiously against you, and is willing to shoot or throw bombs at you, the Progressive assumes that the guilty party is you;  you must be guilty of some outrage or other against the bomb-thrower – and therefore must do your best to compensate/placate the poor outraged victim.
     
     6)    Everyone deserves justice.   Therefore it's the duty of better off individuals and societies to help their less fortunate neighbors.  Progressive theory holds that one should give to the poor until the better off is no better off, and both are “equal” – in wealth, freedom, or anything else worth having – or in the lack thereof.

The starting truths are valid, but the idealistic elaborations are just plain wrong, and that was clear even 100 years ago.  That’s what inspired the famous comment, variously attributed to Shaw and Clemenceau:  “He who is not a Socialist at 20 has no heart;  he who is not a capitalist at 40 has no head.”  It also inspired Gilbert and Sullivan to add to their “little list” of people who never would be missed “The idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, /Every century but this one, every country but his own.” 

Let's take these six tenets and their elaborations in order.

First, “equal” does not mean “same”.  All men are not brothers;  ‘cousins’ is more accurate – and not always first cousins, either.  All people do not think and feel alike. 

Likewise, all societies are not equally valid;  there are some which cause misery and ruin to their own people, not to mention their neighbors. 

Third, advantages make you smarter;  people who have access to thorough educations, honest information and the ability to travel and check facts for themselves are a good bit less likely to be blindly prejudiced or ignorant than people who don't have those advantages. 

Fourth, there are some motivations stronger than money, and you cannot bribe people into being Good. 

Fifth, there really are some people and some cultures that run on arrogance, bloodlust, envy and spite;  they'll use some minor or even fancied slight as excuse to kill their neighbors – and, incidentally, loot the dead for whatever they can get. 

Sixth, a healthy, wealthy, honest and free person or society does not have a duty to become just as diseased, poor, corrupt and tyrannized as his/her/its neighbors.  Sharing a cup of poison with your neighbor does not do you or your neighbor any good.   

In brief, yes we do have the right to study, judge and criticize other societies.  Yes, there are some objective standards by which we can judge the success and value of a society.  And no, all societies are not equally “good” by any objective standards.   

What makes the difference is culture.  Now ‘culture’ doesn’t mean just the theater and the opera and the ballet, nor even clothing styles, popular music, crafts and cuisine and current TV shows.  A ‘culture’ is the way an entire society thinks, and there are some societies which think very badly.

All men – and women – may be created equal, but all cultures are not.  If you want a religious excuse for this, you could say it’s because human beings are created by God, who is perfect, but cultures are created by human beings, who are…not.  In spite of the Progressive Ideal, there really are downright evil cultures – and downright evil societies, and governments, and even individual human beings – judged by the simple standards of long-term survival. 

What would you say about a culture that has produced marvelous food and music and art and architecture – but which condones or actively encourages dissociative psychosis, the rape of children, and the burning to death of women?  What would you do with a culture that produces wonderful music, dance and poetry – but which treats women and children as livestock, and assumes it has a duty to conquer the world?  How would you evaluate a culture which assumes that political and economic corruption is as common as air, and that you can never trust your neighbors, friends, or even families, but must always be prepared to backstab the other guy – with outright warfare, with subtle economic warfare, or by selling him poisoned goods – before he can do it to you?  I name no names, but these are not healthy or successful societies. 

The societies I've just described have managed to survive for centuries on the sheer inertia of their large populations, but they've been repeatedly conquered and tyrannized by other cultures with better standards.  In fact, these societies have been pulled into the modern age, and into a few better habits, largely by the charity – or practical greed – of their conquerors.   

Yes, it’s true that all cultures have something to contribute to human knowledge – arts and crafts at least – but it’s also true that a stopped clock is right twice a day;  that doesn’t make it something worth keeping.

Yes, good people can live in bad cultures, but they don’t survive easily and they don’t have much influence.  An evil culture can – and often does – sweep its population along with it, whether they will or no, at which point all a decent person can do is run.  This accounts for a lot of immigrants who’ve come to America over the past two centuries. 

You can tell who those immigrants are by the way they wanted to become Americans, and assimilated as fast as they could.  In other words, no matter how much sentimental fondness they might have had for the Old Country, they recognized that not just the economy but the culture Here was better than it was back There.

Here's where the Progressive Ideal collides with itself.  The people who judged that one culture can very well be superior to another, and that the culture Here is superior to the cultures There, are those same “disadvantaged” – the poor and the powerless – whom the Progressive Ideal claims to be the only fit judges.  So, are all cultures equally valid, or are only the “disadvantaged” virtuous enough to judge them?  You can't have it both ways.

When faced with this little logical contradiction, people who are passionately devoted to the Progressive Ideal will all too often choose to jettison Progressive Assumption #3;  they assume that the poor and powerless may be virtuous and innocent, but they're also ignorant, and must be protected and guided by their intellectual superiors. 

At this point the Progressive Ideal tilts over into elitism and tiptoes toward tyranny.   It's only a short step from “protecting and guiding the innocent” to lying to them outright: teaching them only “what's good for them to know” and censoring the rest.  The next step after that is locking people up “for their own good”.  Thus the Progressive Ideal progressed into the great tyrannies of the 20th century.

It's far wiser to get out of the logical contradiction by admitting that all cultures are not created equal, that some societies really are worse than others, some governments are downright dangerous, and when they start encroaching on their neighbors there's no choice but to go to war.

Political philosophers throughout the 20th century have bent over backwards trying to find workable alternatives to war, but history has shown that the only real alternatives to war are to surrender or run away.

Running away requires the means to travel far and fast – and some safe place to run to.  It's no accident that for the last two centuries the safest place to run to has been America.  That's how various groups of ideological pacifists, like the Amish, wound up here.  The Amish came to the US from Switzerland, fleeing religious persecution;  here they thrived – but you'll note that there are no Amish in Switzerland now.

Surrender can mean danger worse than war.  In World War Two the US lost over 400,000 men in just under four years of war.  That's a sobering number, but it doesn't compare with the nearly 20,000,000 helpless people killed in the death-camps by the Nazis.  It doesn't even compare with the 2,000,000 people killed in Cambodia when Pol Pot took over.

The grim truth is that there is something worse than war – and that is to be killed in vast numbers without even a chance to fight.  This is why wars will, and must, continue so long as there are honestly bad cultures, societies and governments in the world.

Still, the Progressive Ideal insists that all people and all cultures are not only equal but basically the same, and they should all join together to create a happy one-world economy, society and government.  People who believe this blithely overlook the fact that many cultures – and societies – in this world are not something we want to add to the global mix.  You don’t make a healthy drink by mixing milk with poison.

No, we can’t have One Glorious World Order until a lot of just plain bad cultures have changed beyond recognition.  This won't happen while the Progressive Ideal, with all its dangerously naive flaws, still rules our political thinking.


                                                            --END--