When Saudi nationals perpetrated the September 11th attacks in the United States it did not go unnoticed that there was dancing in the streets in many Muslim nations. It is not a secret that millions of Muslims around the world and even those living in Western countries despise Western values and refuse to integrate into the free and civilized world.
Even today we have prominent American and Canadian Muslim organizations and leaders who are in league with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabi Mullahs of Saudi Arabia and are working tirelessly to destroy the West and every good it stands for.
Not all Muslims are against freedom and capitalism. Not all Muslims are our enemy. But where are these Muslims? Why don’t we hear from them? For the celebrity few who do speak out, like Ayan Hirsi Ali, or Sam Solomon there are death threats and intimidation. Many keep silent for fear of retribution from the greater Muslim community.
I was invited by Salim Mansur, professor of Political Science at Western University and a frequent quest on our show, to attend and video the September 30th launch of a new voice for the many Muslims in Canada who have either remained silent, or who have spoken out with nobody willing to listen to them. The new organization is called Muslims Facing Tomorrow. Salim Mansur is the Vice President of MFT while activist and author Raheel Raza is the President.
At the meeting journalist and television host Christine Williams spoke and the keynote address was delivered by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, ex-USA Navy Seal Lt. Commander and Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).
What I heard at that event is precisely what I had been longing to hear from an organization of Muslims; a call to reject all violence, to embrace Western values and freedoms, including the freedom to offend as with The Innocence of Muslims video trailer.
I did not hear a single note of reticence in their condemnation of those Muslims calling for the curtailment of free speech or any other individual right protected by both the US and Canadian Constitutions. In fact, during the question period one man stood up, gave his name and declared that he was a Muslim apostate and suggested that the crowd give up their belief in superstition. There were no gasps of shock at such an admission, in fact a few people even applauded.
If such a man can stand up in a crowd of about 160 Muslims (by my count) and declare his apostasy without fear then I knew I was in the right room.
While ideas matter it is not ideas which kill people it is people who kill people and even though there are many tenets of what many have come to understand as Islam which are antithetical to peace, freedom and justice it is not the notion of Islam which kills. It is individual Muslims who kill. Those who espouse evil should be routed out as evil and likewise those who espouse freedom and peace should be lauded for their courage to do so.
I have wrestled with the apparent contradiction of what I understand to be Islam and the individual actions of Muslims. That evening I listened as speaker after speaker affirmed that there are many types of Islam. There are Muslims who, much as many Christians do, pick and choose those things attributed to Muhammad in the Koran. Dr. Jasser outright rejected the notion, for example, that Muhammad consummated a marriage to nine year old Aisha. He simply does not believe it. He rejected the call to kill Infidels or Jews regardless of what it says in the Koran. We have seen this before in Christianity as many choose to reject those aspects of the Bible which are inconsistent with civilization and have relegated such passage to history and myth. This may be how a religion reforms itself.
As if in answer to my own thoughts Dr. Jasser also addressed the Muslim notion of al-Taqiyya. He was asked by conservative blogger Dr. Roy Eappen; ‘How does one know that they are not being hoodwinked by moderate Muslims?’ He said that putting his position on the public record and doing it consistently through word and action should be enough to convince people of his sincerity.
When a Muslim stands up publicly to denounce anti-Semitism, misogyny, violence, homophobia, arranged marriages to six year olds and acts consistently to show that he is sincere what more do we need to know to accept the fact that Islam to him is completely different than it is to the Osama-bin Ladens and Wahhabis of the world?
(Originally broadcast on Just Right #270, October 4, 2012.)
On March 22nd, 2012 I sat down with Lord Christopher Monckton for a one-on-one discussion of education, journalism, Catholicism, Islam, conservatism, and philosophy.
Upon first hearing the news of the bombing and shooting in Norway my first thought, as I’m, sure it was the first thought of many, was that this was yet another attack by Islamists on the West. We now know of course that the perpetrator, Anders Breivk, was a Norwegian Nationalist. A Christian, not a Muslim. What a rarity. How unique. This hasn’t happened since when, Timothy McVeigh in 1995?
The event lasted just three hours but the political fallout has only just begun. Over the past few days the pundits, radio talk show hosts, newspaper editors and journalists have all tried to make sense of such a heinous act and they have come down on two sides. The established liberal media have tried to paint Breivik as a typical member of the burgeoning right wing movement in Europe which they claim is against multiculturalism, islamophobic and nationalistic. The conservative media, pundits and talk show hosts have immediately taken issue with the labeling of Breivik and have, quite rightly, tried to paint him as a lone criminal not at all representative of those who are in favour of restricting Muslim immigration into traditionally non-Muslim countries.
One of the conservative pundits, Mark Steyn, said it best when he said “So, if a blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavian kills dozens of other blonde blue-eyed Aryan Scandinavians, that’s now an “islamophobic’ mass murder?”
Quite telling of the double standard of the liberal press is an article in the American Spectator which juxtaposed the headlines of the New York Times for the Norwegian massacre with their headlines of the Ft. Hood massacre in 2009. To recap, the Ft. Hood massacre was carried out by Muslim Nidal Malik Hasan who described himself as a ‘Solder of Allah’ and shouted “Allahu Akbar” before killing 13 and wounding 29 US servicemen on the Army Base in Texas.
The headlines for the Norwegian Norway massacre are:
“Oslo suspect wrote of fear of Islam and plan for war
“Norway attacks put spotlight on rise of Right-Wing Sentiment in Europe
“Killings in Norway Spotlight anti-Muslim Thought in U.S.
“As Horrors Emerge, Norway Charges Christian Extremist
“Right Wing Extremist is Charged in Norway.
Here are the headlines for the Ft. Hood massacre:
“Army Doctor held in Ft. Hood Rampage
“Mass Shooting at Fort Hood
“Little Evidence of Terror Plot in Base Killings
“Major is arraigned in Fort Hood Killings
The bias is stark. No mention is ever made by the New York Times of the Ft. Hood mass murderer being Muslim and shouting “Allahu Akbar” before his rampage while within hours of the Norway massacre the perpetrator is labeled as Christian, Right Wing and islamophobic.
The real Islamophobe is the newspaper editor who refuses to mention that a terrorist is a Muslim, Why? Because he fears retaliation. He fears Islam. This makes him the islamophobe.
Unless the West, and the rest of the civilized world, comes to grips with the overwhelming violence committed by Muslims in the name their religion the carnage will continue. Not the kind of carnage that Anders Brievic inflicted on his young, defenseless victims, which although horrific to contemplate, is an aberration and pales in comparison to the continuing carnage and atrocities carried out daily by Jihadists.
I would ask you all to consider how many deadly Islamist terrorist attacks have occurred worldwide since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Don’t count attacks in combat such as in the Afghanistan war. Don’t count incidents of ordinary crime involving Muslims killing for money or some other non-religious motive. Only count terrorist acts committed out of religious duty designed specifically to instill terror.
Do you think it might be 10 or 20 or even 100? As of two days ago there have 17,506 Islamic deadly terrorist attacks worldwide. Just last week alone there were 40 attacks resulting in 101 deaths and critically injuring 264. Last month alone there were 184 attacks in 18 countries resulting in 930 murdered and 1,527 critically injured.
This data comes from a web site called thereligionofpeace.com which has kept records of Islamist attacks worldwide since 9/11. Since Breivik’s attack there have been at least 15 Islamic atrocities committed around the world resulting in 47 deaths, with almost no press coverage in the West.
We in the West seem to have been inured by Muslims killing people. That is what makes the Norwegian massacre noteworthy. A white man, a Christian has murdered other white people in a politically motivated bombing and shooting spree. This is a novelty. This is news.
When a Muslim does the exact same thing every day all over the world we dismiss it. The question is why. What would happen if we publish a You-tube video of the Taliban hanging an 8-year old boy in order to punish his father for not joining their organization? What would happen in the West if we were inundated daily with pictures and videos of the daily beheadings of infidels like us, of the daily bombings, of the splashing of acid in little girls’ faces for daring to go to school?
Why is the press afraid of telling the truth and letting us see the horrors of this cultural war we are in. Why? Because it would fly in the face of their cherished beliefs that all cultures are the same. That we can all just get along if we only held hands in some grassy meadow and sang Kumbaya. Well we can’t.
People like Breivik must be brought to justice for their actions. The light of day should be shed on his motives, as much as they can be determined. But just as we do with Breivik we must also do to the thousands upon thousands of Muslim Breiviks of the world who continue to kill and maim in the name of politics and religion. Every death of an innocent is tragic and must be accounted for whether he is a white-skinned Christian child in Norway or a dark skinned Muslim child in Darfur. The killing of innocents must stop and all terrorists, whatever their religion, their politics, or their skin colour, must be held accountable for their actions. If the press and the other media refuse to do it then who will?
(Originally air on Just Right #210, July 28, 2011)
Jerry Falwell came to prominence in 1979 with the creation of the so-called “Moral Majority.” A group of evangelical Christians whose aim it was to influence the politics of the United States in such a way as to have society conform to their notion of what was moral.
The target of this group was the Republican Party and in 1980 it was credited by some with getting Ronald Reagan elected President.
The one defining characteristic of evangelicals that is crucial to understanding how they influence, not only the conservative right wing in the United States but also the newly created Conservative Party in Canada is their literal interpretation of the Bible as the word of their Abrahamic God. Evangelicals believe that their God created the Earth in seven days. They believe in Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood and they believe that the world is about 6,000 years old. Most importantly they believe that everybody must be “saved” by recognizing Jesus as their personal “savior.” To this end they have become involved politically in an attempt to change the laws of the US and Canada to lead the population out of their “sinful” ways and into a path more “moral” whether we choose it or not.
I have written before about how alike the Conservatives are to the Liberals in their economic policies. They are both socialists. Up until the early 1990s there was little difference between the two spectra of the left wing; Conservatives were interchangeable with Liberals. With the alienation of Western Canada by the Mulroney Conservatives in the 1980s we have seen an attempt by the evangelicals to infiltrate the halls of Parliament Hill through the creation of the Reform Party, then the Canadian Alliance (for which I ran for as a candidate) and now the Conservative Party of Canada.
On many of the issues of personal behavior we can see a clear difference between the new Conservatives and the Liberals. Examine this list of issues and consider how a Conservative might approach the issue versus a Liberal.
- Assisted Suicide
- Embryonic Stem Cell Research
- Gay “Marriage”
- The Death Penalty
- Sunday shopping laws
- Human Cloning (if such a thing were possible). and
- The teaching of creationism in schools
Evangelicals, believing that your body, being a gift from their God, belongs to their God and that you should have no choice in tampering with their God’s creation. You cannot take your own life, you cannot adulterate your mind with drugs, you cannot tamper with natural reproduction etc.
A liberal, on the other hand, is more prone to allowing us a choice when it comes to our actions. This difference is due, in part, I believe from their religious beliefs, if they exist, of Liberals versus the religious beliefs of Conservatives (at least contemporary Conservatives). The following comparison of the professed religions of party leaders should illustrate what I’m talking about:
- Louis St. Laurent – RC
- Lester B. Pearson –United Church (which does not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible)
- Pierre Trudeau – RC
- John Turner – RC
- Jean Chrétien – RC
- Stephane Dion – RC
- Paul Martin – RC
- Michael Ignatieff – Russian Orthodox
Here are the professed religious beliefs of some recent conservative Leaders
- Joe Clark – RC
- Brian Mulroney – RC (which brings us to 1988)
- Preston Manning = Christian and Missionary Alliance
- Stockwell Day = Pentecostal
- Stephen Harper = Christian and Missionary Alliance
All three of the past conservative leaders since 1988 profess religions which are evangelical.
It should come as little surprise that the majority of Liberal leaders were Catholics. The Catholic believes that in order for an action to be moral the person must have made the action freely without compulsion. He must have had a choice. This tenant of Catholicism is partially responsible, I believe, for the relaxing of personal behavior legislation beginning with Trudeau. For example the abolishment of the death penalty which occurred under Trudeau but was attempted to be brought back in by the Conservatives under Mulroney. But Mulroney being a Catholic himself allowed a free vote and the attempt by the more evangelical Conservatives failed.
From the rise of the political evangelical movement in Canada beginning in 1987 to the recent majority government of evangelical Stephen Harper Canadians can expect, at the very least, a continuation of restrictions on personal freedom such as our repressive drug laws. We can expect some private member’s bills in the next five years attempting to roll back the clock on legislation which had gotten the government out of the bedrooms of Canadians. Look forward to a renewed effort to censor adult content on television, look forward to a crack down on prostitution and teenagers smoking pot.
Thankfully since many of the newly elected Conservatives are not of the evangelical persuasion the likelihood of these motions passing are slim. Especially given that Harper, evangelical or not, who no doubt wishes to be reelected will not give his support to this Conservative hidden agenda. The genie of personal freedom has slowly been let out of the bottle, thanks mostly in part to the courts and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to put it back in will mean that the Party that does so will be quickly relegated to the left side of the house.
(Originally broadcast on Just Right #200, May 19, 2011)
Before I get into this I better clarify what I mean by the terms science and religion. The word science comes from the latin “scientia” meaning “knowledge” and science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on a method of gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning.
Religion is a bit more difficult to define succinctly because it can mean different things to different people but by religion I mean the belief without evidence, that there exists a personal God who created the universe and takes a direct interest in the goings-on of everybody on this planet.
Recently, we have seen attempts by both sides to blur the lines between the two views.
In an article in the Globe and Mail Saturday, April 3rd, by Erin Anderssen entitled “Scientists investigate if atheists’ brains are missing a ‘God Spot’” we find that
An international scientific network has been formed to collect research on atheism. Pitzer College in Los Angeles is expected to announce the first secular studies department in the world this spring.”
It would seem to me that any University is a place of reason, insight, research, rationality and therefore is almost by definition a place of secular study. To have to actually set up a department of secular studies only goes to highlight how universities are failing us and have, to an increasing degree, become places of mysticism and irrationality. The lines are blurring.
From the same article
Last December social scientists gathered at the University of Oxford for a conference on atheism.”
It is well worth noting here that the vast majority of scientists are atheists. Fully 93% of members of the Academy of Sciences in the US are atheists (meaning they don’t believe in a personal God which interacts directly with human beings).
During this conference they posed the question, “If religion or spiritual belief is the human default position, how does atheism happen?” This question can only be gotten away with in Universities of today. If there is a “default” position at all it is atheism. A child is born with no inherent, or default, knowledge of any religion, God, or spirituality in a religious sense. Newborns are cognitively tabula rasa. They may, as they grow, develop a sense of wonder and awe at the world around them but that is not the kind of spirituality these scientists are questioning. A child must be taught about a God. Quite often religion is taught in a disciplined environment where any contrary beliefs are punished either physically or psychologically, for example you try to understand and adopt the beliefs of your parents in order to please them. So religion is NOT the human default position. To put It briefly we are born atheists and the majority of us are quickly indoctrinated into a religion by mere happenstance of where we are born.
With this faulty premise in hand the social scientists are asking such questions as “Do atheists’ brains work differently?; Are atheists smarter than people who believe in God?; Is religion innate?” These questions point to a complete lack of understanding about epistemology. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy which deals with the science of knowledge and how we know what we know. Higher order concepts such as God, religion, or spiritualism do not come from any special part of the brain. There is no ‘God Spot’ any more than there is a Liberal spot or a Santa Clause spot.
This kind of research, while scientifically futile, is also understandable because it has happened before. There has always been research to try and prove neurological differences in the races or the sexes. Some of the research is actually valid but to suggest that that atheists’ exist because they lack a ‘God Spot’ in the brain is a futile attempt to dismiss the different philosophies without looking into why people believe the things they do.
Dr. Jordan Grafman, a neuropsychologist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. has actually done research on believers while they prayed and found that the areas of the brain involved were the expected areas of memory and feeling; no special section was suddenly activated. In other words there is no ‘God Spot’ no special part of the brain which distinguishes believers from non-believers. Of course once you consider that since there are atheists who once believed in God and likewise believers who were once atheists you quickly realize that you could have easily predicted the outcome of Dr. Grafman’s experiment.
The question “is religion innate?” is interesting because it is not simply asking about belief in a God as such but in the common observation that people want to attach some kind of meaning to phenomena we can’t explain. Of course it is only natural to want to attach meaning to the unknown and before science and reason it probably would have been natural to consult a priest, shaman or soothsayer to come up with the answer. Before priests and shamans in would have been common to concoct some other fictional character as a causal factor in unexplained events like Apollo, Zeus, the angry volcano spirit.
Today of course science has provided us with many of the answers to many of our questions and has, as it should, come up with many more questions for us to answer. But today we no longer find it natural to turn to mystics for answers but to science. At least I would hope so. Religion has historically been an invention of man to establish an order to society; to group individuals under a common set of values and moral codes in order to facilitate community. For this I say that religion has served a useful purpose. But to continue to use religion as a social ethical glue is no longer necessary and given our understanding of science and reality can be harmful.
Ayn Rand said that “Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. But you must remember that religion is an early form of philosophy, that the first attempts to explain the universe, to give a coherent frame of reference to man’s life and a code of moral values, were made by religion, before men graduated or developed enough to have philosophy. And, as philosophies, some religions have very valuable moral points. They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very —how should I say it? — dangerous or malevolent base? On the ground of faith.”
Current statistics on the growth of atheism prove that man can live moral, peaceful, cooperative lives without belief in a deity.
5-9% of Americans
If there is anything to learn from the growth of science and the increasing number of atheists it is that as a species we are evolving. We are maturing philosophically.
Science trumps religion as a means of discovering the universe. Religion is static, unyielding, resolute, fixed. Like the 10 commandments holy books could be written in stone. While certainly there are many Christians, Muslims and Jews who interpret ‘sacred’ writings in different ways there are billions of human minds closed off to science and discovery because they take the words in these books to be the ultimate in truth. There is no room for discover, inquiry, or growth.
Religious people often describe atheists are being arrogant, know-it-alls who think they are superior and more intelligent than people who have faith in a personal God. The exact opposite is true. For any scientist to continue to go to work in the morning it is with the belief that they are ignorant, they lack knowledge, they have yet to answer a question, and they have yet to discover something. This is a form of humility. Contrarily there are legions of religious people who make it a career to preach to people, to convert, to proselytize.
(Originally broadcast on Just Right #146, April 8, 2010.)
My first recollection of Star Trek wasn’t its philosophy or its depiction of a positive future of heroes and adventure. It was being frightened at the image of Balok in “The Corbomite Maneuver”. I was only six or seven years old after all.
Despite that I was an avid fan of the show since it first aired I have seen every episode of the original series too many times to count. But as I grew up I began to be just as much a critic of the show as a fan. Sure it was great entertainment, projecting a positive sense of life into our homes on an almost daily basis (once it was syndicated) but it was also full of contradictions. It is, after all a TV show and the writers are just that, writers, not philosophers or great intellectuals, but writers for television with the goal to entertain and sell a script. There are bound to be inconsistencies and contradictions.
Some of more glaring contradictions involved the show’s treatment of deities in such an advanced society.
God and religion featured prominently in many episodes of the Star Trek canon. The second pilot to the series, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” had crewman Gary Mitchell develop the powers of a God only to be killed by Captain Kirk. In “The Paradise Syndrome”, Kirk himself fancied himself a God (Kirok) when he lost his memory among a tribe of North American Indians. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the Bajoran’s have their Prophets with Captain Sysko as their Emissary. The Jem’Hadar and the Vorta regard the Founders as Gods. In Star Trek: The Next Generation the Edo of Rubicun III worshipped an orbiting lifeform as their god. The Klingons killed their Gods as they were “more trouble than they were worth.” The Starship Voyager was considered a god called the “ground shaker” to Kelemane who offered it fruit in the hope that the “God” would stop shaking the ground.
In the original series episode “Bread and Circuses”, the crew find themselves on a world identical to earth where Rome never fell. Some of the inhabitants describe themselves as Sun worshipers and we are led to believe that they are actually deifying the sun in the sky. As the show ends, though, Uhura lets the Captain know that it wasn’t the sun up in the sky that they worshipped but the son of God. “A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood” says Dr. McCoy. Well I don’t know where he got that notion but if you ask me which one I would I rather worship, the sun in the sky or the Abrahamic God in whose names millions have been killed and tortured to this day, I’ll take the sun in the sky please.
The crew of the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation would more objectively and correctly consider primitive alien cultures who worshipped deities as just that, primitive. This was a refreshing treatment of the supernatural which most likely arose with the easing of sponsor censorship and a liberalization of our society’s approach to religion.
If anything, these little morality plays certainly would make a person reconsider their notion of the God concept and I believe that Star Trek is probably responsible for a great percentage of atheists in the world; if not atheists then certainly a great number of skeptics and free thinkers. This is a remarkable accomplishment.
If only the writers had a better grasp of Capitalism. Their first attempt to portray what they regarded as a race of pure capitalists was the Ferengi, an ugly goblin-like, squat race of deceiving, conniving, untrustworthy con-artists who brandished whips and kept their woman naked and at home. Around the same time we had Captain Picard declare that
“People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of ‘things’. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. “
From what I saw, Picard possessed a lot of ‘things’ from the clothes on his back to a saddle, to a star ship. Apparently, everyone in the 24th century is on the dole.
Once again Star Trek contradicts itself in DS9 when we see that the Federation actually used a system of ‘credits’ or gold-pressed latinum to trade with.
I may be nit-picking, but sometimes when a great show like Star Trek comes along you expect perfection and forget that thousands of different people from all kinds of philosophies and backgrounds came together over the last 40 odd years to create this epic. It could never be perfectly consistent.
Some of the things you might think we would all agree on I have my doubts about. What about the Borg? Nasty, right? Who would want to be a Borg? Well really if you think about it the only thing about the Borg which was frightening was the lack of choice when it came to being assimilated (no trifling item to be sure). But I was thinking the other day (when I went and bought a bluetooth earpiece for my cell phone so as not to run afoul of the new law banning hand held devices while driving) that we, as a culture, appear to be getting closer and closer to the technology of the Borg. We were glasses to improve our vision; we have headphones to talk to almost anyone in the world at any time; we have prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants, artificial hearts, and the Kindle and iPad which allow us to carry a good chunk of the total knowledge of our species in our pockets. In many cases, at least with the bluetooth earpiece while driving, resistance is futile.
Here is another little contradiction in Star Trek. In the episode called “The Savage Curtain” Abraham Lincoln calls Uhura a charming Negress but is ashamed when he realizes that he might have offended her. She replies that people in her time have learned not to fear words, and yet Captain Picard gets a dagger through his heart in the episode “Tapestry” when he takes on a Nausican for calling him a coward. Didn’t he watch the original series before he joined Star Fleet?
I could go on. I haven’t even mentioned “Spock’s Brain”.
All in all there have been 726 episodes of Star Trek (if you include the animated series) over 30 seasons. There have been 11 feature films (If you include Star Trek V which I would really rather forget). If you sat down and watched everything Star Trek from “The Cage” to the latest film, 24/7, and didn’t take a bathroom break (remember there are no toilets on the Enterprise) you would spend over 30 days glued to the tube. Anybody who has seen all the episodes at least once is going to be altered by what they have seen; some for the better, those who are comforted by the show’s acceptance of atheism, and some of for the worse, those who believe the show’s definition of capitalism. It is no doubt great entertainment but we should view it critically and in the immortal words of William Shatner we should “Get a life.”
(Originally aired on Just Right #129, November 19, 2009)