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Sunday, June 29, 2014

...And Sometimes, Someone Does a Nice Thing and Something Perfectly Wonderful Happens

This girl dreams of being a naturalist when she grows up. Note the turtle. 

Sometimes nice people do nice things and something wonderful happens.

Yesterday a very nice person did a very nice thing and I had a great day.

The Obamacare fiasco dominates my days and reduces them to a cold, gray drizzle. I've been fighting since November to regain access to health care lost when Obamacare came in. I've been reassured by my state senator, congressman, and hospital personnel that it's a mere bureaucratic blip and it will all be ironed out with the next submission of the next form.

Not so.

I was allowed to forget all about that yesterday and have a great time with great people and I am very grateful.

I think Jesus was right. Love really is a transformative force that changes all.

***

Back on Saturday, June 7 I received an email from Diane C. Louie, someone I have never met. The email suggested that I attend a formal dinner to honor Pete Dunne, a legendary New Jersey birder and conservationist. Of course I'd want to attend such an event; I was born in New Jersey and I've been an avid birdwatcher for forty years.

Small catch – a ticket would cost two weeks' salary.

I have made it a point to donate to the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the World Wildlife Fund, National Wildlife, the Humane Society, and the ASPCA, even as a low income adjunct professor. Giving is a platform of my Christian faith (Luke 21:1-4). Giving enhances the giver as much as any receiver. But my donations fall in the twenty-dollar range. No way I could afford this dinner.

I responded to Diane's email. I'd love to attend, I said, and participate in honoring Pete Dunne, but it's out of my league.

Diane wrote back. "You misunderstood. You and your companion would be my guest."

Diane explained that she had read something I had written about birdwatching; it might have been this blog post about Garret Mountain. Though Diane had never met me, she offered me this chance to attend the Audubon Society dinner for Pete Dunne.

Well, you could have knocked me over with … a feather.

One of the yellow-shafted flicker feathers I have in the collection of feathers sitting atop my refrigerator. Or the turkey, owl, or wood duck feathers … the blue jay or crow feathers … did I mention that I love birds?

I wanted to cry. All right, I cried.

It's been so long since I had a reason to get dressed up. And I tend to birdwatch in a catch-as-catch-can basis, and I've lived a long time without a car and so trips to birding hotspots have been out of the question, so that means I birdwatch alone. I'd be in a room full of birdwatchers, including the biggest name birdwatchers in the state – the rock stars of birding.

All right, I'm crying right now.

Do nice things, people. You can really brighten someone's day.

***

When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an ornithologist when I grew up.

High school chemistry class was my Waterloo.

I was okay the first couple of months. I wasn't comfortable doing the work, but I could do it.

After that, it was as if my mind could not travel any further on the same route. I could follow the initial steps of a chemical reaction, but after, say, the third step, it's as if someone erased the white board inside my brain.

My teacher was a nice guy. He witnessed this and tried to help. I remember him stopping class one day, looking at me, and saying with genuine kindness, "Do you follow? If not, I can go over it all again."

I realized even then that he could go over it a hundred times and I'd reach that same point where I would just lose the thread, and everything in my head would disappear. I did fail chemistry class. First time I failed a class, ever. Last time, too.

I realized: I'm never going to be the naturalist I want to be.

It was maddening to me that I was so damn good at English. I never did English homework. I never studied for an English test. I could write whatever I was told to write, quickly and effortlessly, and I took the A for granted.

Given that I was so good at English, I could see right through it. I was scandalized by how novelists and poets manipulated their readers and used art to tinker with politics. Hemingway and Shakespeare could lie about women and readers fell for it. Writers were such egotists, and the stuff they made us read in school was never about people like us – working class and ethnic.

I didn't want to be inside reading. I wanted to be outside hiking.

I went to Poland. I fell in love with the country. I decided I had to write something about Poland. I went to grad school and did not study birds, as I had wanted to when I was a teenager. I studied stories, and how crafty storytellers use stories to manipulate audiences. I wrote my dissertation about stories people tell about Poland, not about birds.

I'm a writer and I'm a birdwatcher and I never really wrote much about birds. Nature, to me, is where I lose myself, where I let go of the world's cares, where I forget my vocabulary. Since I regard my writing as work, the last thing I wanted to do is combine nature and writing. That's changing.

My blog post about the snowy owl irruption of 2013-2014 was the first multi-paragraph writing about birds I'd ever done. I followed up with a blog post about why I started birdwatching, why I stopped birdwatching, and why I started birdwatching again.

***

Anna Martinez accompanied me to last night's Pete Dunne commemorative dinner. When I picked her up after work, she was wearing a t-shirt. I wanted to scream. "Didn't I tell you we'd be in a room full of rich people and we have to do this right or they'll peg us as lowlifes from Paterson!"

Anna reassured me. "I have a nice shirt on underneath."

Omigod.

She slipped out of her t-shirt. Oh, okay. That IS a nice shirt! Anna cleaned up well.

I wore a blue pastel floral print puffy sleeved blouse that my sister Antoinette sewed decades ago. I have so few opportunities to dress up it's in mint condition.

Anna and I entered a stately room with chandeliers and paneling. Courteous and spiffily attired staff proffered crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms, plump shrimp, lobster puffs, and filo pastries. Anna revealed her level of alcoholic sophistication by ordering "Something sweet." The bartender mixed a cocktail with a nautical name – was it breezy coast or sandy beach or The Hamptons? – it tasted like pineapple. I had seltzer.

Dinner was genuinely delicious. Baby greens with bacon, feta, and cranberries. Roast beef and a delicious fish that was paper white, mild, boneless, and tender. I wish I knew what it was because I'd love to have it again. Lemon cake with coconut and mango accents for dessert. The centerpiece was candles with little bird's nests, complete with tiny eggs.

Paul Winter performed twice. His second piece was inspired by wolf song, and he invited us to howl in salute to Pete Dunne. We did.

The dinnertime speeches, all salutes to Pete Dunne, to birdwatching, to conservation, to man's love for and need of the wild world, even in New Jersey, brought tears. Ted Floyd, editor of Birding magazine, Kenn Kaufman, who, as a teenager, hitchhiked all over North America to see birds, and David Sibley, perhaps the single most famous bird author in the world, offered reminiscences of Pete as a personal friend and as a visionary, mentor and activist of historical importance. NJ Audubon president Eric Stiles was the master of ceremonies.

***

As I circulated throughout the room, I studied nametags. I wanted to see a Polish surname. Anna said something similar; she saw only one Hispanic name. I tend to think of New Jersey as a highly diverse state. I encounter few WASPs in my day to day Paterson life.

There were many in this room.

One could conclude many things about that – one conclusion is that birdwatching will benefit from attracting more black and Hispanic urban youth.

But here's another thing to think about.

Kate Deens took the stage to encourage guests to donate money for NJ Audubon programs that benefit urban youth. There was a computer-driven illustration of a heart behind Kate as she spoke. Kate encouraged dinner attendees to use their cell phones to donate money. Kate listed the programs – through this program we will get kids to an overnight camp – through this program we will get binoculars for kids so they can better observe their natural world – through this program we will get kids into workshops…

Even as Kate spoke, the illustration of a heart behind Kate began to fill up. The well off and mostly WASP guests at that dinner donated immediately, and generously, and they kept donating, till that heart was filled up almost twice over.

I was incredibly moved by this.

I live in Paterson. I see the disconnect between Paterson's residents and the natural world. The other day I was walking across the Broadway Bridge. An old man was walking with a young boy by his side. The boy threw garbage into the Passaic River beneath them. Rather than chastising the boy, the old man actually took more garbage out of his pockets, handed it to the boy, and instructed the boy to throw that into the river, too. The boy did so.

I see, daily, wildlife in this heavily polluted river: catfish, turtles, snakes, great blue herons, great egrets, black crowned night herons, Canada geese, mallards, wood duck, ring-necked ducks, bufflehead, mergansers, cormorants. All these animals have to live with Paterson residents' garbage. In this river there are shopping carts, tires, and computers. People dump them. They are that disconnected from the natural world that surrounds them.

Last night I sat in a room full of economically well off people, many of them WASPs, who unhesitatingly and generously donated large sums of money to connect urban youth to the natural world from which they are so alienated.

And yes I did cry. Again! 
Anna and me
Bird's nest centerpiece. Photo by Anna Martinez
Paul Winter performing. Photo by Anna Martinez
Pete Dunne speaking. Photo by Anna Martinez. 

The heart indicating the splendid generosity of those present. I was so moved I cried. 
Anna got everyone to sign her program! 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Mallard and the Heroin Addict

Terry Sohl Source
Female mallard, next to plastic cup 
Female mallard, next to plastic cup 
I was recently walking along a street in Paterson and the man sitting on the street next to me dropped his pants and began to inject himself in the thigh. I'm guessing that his syringe contained heroin. Paterson is the go-to place for heroin, according to recent news accounts, one of which you can read here.

The whole damn thing pisses me off.

I wish heroin were legal. I wish the state taxed it to high heaven. I wish heroin addicts funded public parks and education rather than evil, slimy drug cartels.

I wish someone would articulate clearly what separates addicts from non-addicts.

I should be an addict. There was addiction in my natal family. I was an abused kid. I've had two serious health problems in the past two years, a badly broken arm that hurt for six solid months and cancer, and in both cases I took narcotics for a prescribed period and then I stopped taking them and I don't miss them.

One of the weirder aspects of Paterson is that it is an urban environment with all the headaches of urban environments including constant noise pollution and the occasional heroin addict dropping his pants right next to you.

The Passaic River flows through Paterson and it is heavily polluted. Even so, the wildlife on this river astounds me. Just the other day I saw a great egret feeding in the Passaic. I've also seen great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, bufflehead, mergansers, cormorants, wood ducks, catfish, turtles, raccoons … all in that dank soup of urban pollution and mankind's sins against nature.

Garret Mountain is in Paterson and West Paterson, a town that recently changed its name to Woodland Park, in order to escape the stigma of being associated with Paterson. I blogged about my first, awestruck visit to Garret Mountain here.

So the other day I was passing the spot where the heroin addict dropped his pants and I saw a female mallard in just that spot.

She was still there yesterday when I snapped the photos you see, above. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Hilariously Witty, Meaningful, & Surprisingly Easy to Relate To" Anna Skarzynska of Unpleasant Accents Reviews "Save Send Delete"

"I tend to have a personal bias against faith-based literature, if only because I have issues with any material that comes across as preachy or pushy…

But "Save Send Delete" is "hilariously witty…both humorous and meaningful. It brings to light a variety of questions about life and the never-ending journey of faith…it is beautifully relatable."

"I found it surprisingly easy to relate to her own struggles and trials in her faith, despite how vastly different they are from my own. Goska has a talent for composing the emails in such an honest and revealing manner, yet never crossing that line where you have to question if it's really something someone would confess to someone outside of God.

In her emails to Rand, Mira shows just how well-read she is when discussing religions and beliefs. I especially loved how she refuses to judge an entire religious group based on the actions of a few. (Side note: If you do that, you're a dumbass.)

My favorite line in this entire book was, 'People suck, Rand. That's my first noble truth.' I literally screamed in glee at that line, particularly at how perfectly it was delivered in the context of the argument. By the end of the book, I had decided that Mira is worthy to share a bottle of wine with while sitting on my balcony and laughing our respectable behinds off."

Thank you to Anna Skarzynska at Unpleasant Accents for this review!

And – please buy "Save Send Delete"!

If you buy it direct from me it's a tad cheaper than buying it on Amazon. And I can sign it for you. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Catholicism, Women, Men, Priests, and Homosexuals

Jesus. Not exactly GI Joe. 
I believe in gender equality and I believe that God loves gay people no differently than he loves me, someone who is, purely by biological luck-of-the-draw, a heterosexual.

"I believe in" doesn't communicate my commitment to these truths. I would die for them. They've always been self-evidently true to me.

Their opposites – the denigration of women, misogyny, and hatred of homosexuals – are evil. Misogyny is one of the foundational evils, one of those root evils like greed or narcissism that inspires much other evil. If we could uproot misogyny, we'd be so close to paradise we could smell the flowers.

I'm a tomboy. I'd rather be in the woods than just about any place else. I almost never wear dresses or makeup. I hate to shop for anything except food. I'm not afraid of spiders, snakes, or political debate. I've worked as a carpenter, and I own tools. My sister and I joke that we are "the best men we know." We both think it's because our mother had so many boys before us and there was lots of testosterone floating around our first home.

Male bodies arouse me sexually. I'm such a tomboy my own insistent heterosexuality amazes even me. It's pretty obvious. I was born this way. I don't hurt anyone by being this way. Same thing with gays. They were born that way, and they don't hurt anybody by being that way. What's the big deal?

Every now and then Christian Facebook friends, sometimes people who have never talked to me one-on-one about anything else, people who have never talked to me about my own job search or world peace, will send me urgent, private messages.

"Danusha. You say you are Christian. But it's clear from your Facebook feed that you have gay friends. Don't you realize that they are sinners and are damned and you shouldn't be associating with them?"

Oh.

My.

God.

Just once I'm going to write back. "Gee, heck, you're correct. I've got my Bible right here. Leviticus 20:13. I've got a pile of stones. Want to join me in stoning my gay Facebook friends to death? Say, this afternoon around five? After that we can shower and then catch a movie."

***

Yesterday a conservative Catholic conversation about women's status flowed through my Facebook feed.

A male poster mentioned that nowadays people are "tired of crazy sexual politics."

A woman wrote, "We are not equal. We never will be… Please leave Jesus alone. Don't make him wear rainbows or have a woman portray him…Santa Claus is a man not a woman."

A male poster wrote, "You love your children equally even if they're not equal in accomplishments or talent."  

Another male poster wrote, "the idea of female priests is ridiculous because the priest is standing in for God and in that relationship God acts as the bridegroom and the church (all of us) are the bride and therefore female. Having a woman do it destroys the symbolism of god giving and us receiving."

I said that I am Catholic and I wish we had women priests.

One of those discussing the matter called me "diabolical."

This conversation upset me because it was cake icing on a cake baked with cyanide.

The invocations of God and virtue are the cake frosting. Misogyny is the cyanide.

None of it is biblically supportable. In fact the insistence on gender stereotypes uber alles is entirely Pagan.

"God wants women to be fluffy and nurturing and bad at math. God wants men to be gruff and to eat barbecued ribs while watching the Super Bowl. And that's why only men can be priests" So says chapter one verse one of the Book of … wait. No Biblical verse says any such thing.

I'm sad that some think that God took on human form and suffered crucifixion just to keep women in their place. Jesus really didn't have to do that. The Ancient Pagan world was a highly gendered place. The Roman paterfamilias, or father of the family, had the power of life and death over his own children. Women were to be unquestioningly obedient and to stay at home. Pagan religious rituals were highly sexed; temple prostitution was a frequent method of connecting with the divine. If God really was so invested in docile, obedient, domestic women, manly men, and biologically gendered church services, He had that in the Ancient, Pagan world.

What Biblical evidence do we have that God wants to make sure that male babies wear blue and that female babies wear pink? And never vice versa?

Not much. Jesus was a gender outlaw. He never married or had children, requirements for Jewish men. He took money from Mary Magdalene, who supported his ministry financially. Jesus described himself as a mother – Matthew 23:37 – and he washed his disciples' feet, a very feminine, caretaking thing to do. It was, previously, a woman who had washed his feet. Jesus described himself as shattering traditional family life – Luke 14:26

The early church had women preachers and apostles, like Junia. Early Christian women, moving from Paganism to Christianity, described that move as one from a Pagan world where gender roles were strict and their status as female was all that mattered, to a world where a woman was, above all, an equal child of a loving God in whom "there is no male nor female." Galatians 3:28. The Acts of Paul and Thecla describes this move vividly. Thecla was a Roman virgin who felt stifled by her Pagan milieu. She became a Christian and felt liberated.

The Bible describes the perfect woman in Proverbs, chapter 31. The perfect woman is a mover and shaker. She buys and sells, she makes and does, she teaches and inspires. She is strong.

The belief that God is deeply invested in people conforming to gender stereotypes has inspired great crimes. Think of the martyrs to that worldview. People like Alan Turing, who played a huge role in helping the good guys win the good war. Turing was a code breaker. "Winston Churchill said that Turing made the single biggest contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany" (Wikipedia). Turing was tortured – by the very good guys he helped win – for being gay. He killed himself.

Think of people like Mother Theodore Guerin. Mother Guerin founded an order of nuns in Indiana. When she left her post on a business trip, Bishop Célestine de la Hailandière ordered Mother Guerin's nuns to elect someone else as their leader. They, defiant, re-elected Mother Theodore. The bishop then denied Mother Guerin permission to enter her own convent. At one point the bishop locked Mother Guerin in a room to prevent her from being who she was. Her crime? She was an effective leader Рso much so that she is now a saint.

And of course some women have simply been burned at the stake for violating gender norms, like Joan of Arc, a transvestite, a bossy female, and a great saint.

I suggest to those who oppose women priests – Okay, let's start now. Let's get rid of the women priests we have now.

We have women priests now?

Because of the priest shortage, women in the Catholic Church now do almost everything male priests do, except consecrate hosts and accept the status that accompanies the priesthood.

Women in the church minister to the sick, read from the altar, teach, preach, and conduct the day to day running of the church.

If women priests are such bad things, let's get rid of the women doing a priest's work right now.

Except we can't. Because without women functioning more or less as priests, the Church would grind to a halt.

Bottom line: there are very few male priests, and there numbers are getting smaller every day.

There is a crisis in the Catholic Church. We have few to no priests. There are thousands of parishes worldwide that have no priest at all. The number of priest-less parishes is increasing rapidly. The ratio of Catholics to priests is also increasing rapidly. There are over a thousand Catholics to each priest in America today.

We Catholics feel the priest shortage in our day to day lives. I have repeatedly attempted to make contact with a priest, including right before surgery that might very well have ended my life. No priest would minister to me before this surgery. I was seen by a New Age freelance minister, a wonderful woman. As much as I appreciate her services to me, I would have preferred to encounter an equally loving person of my own, Catholic faith. There was none.

The crisis of priest-lessness does not exist in Protestant denominations that allow female and married clergy.

Maybe that's why – thank you God – most Catholics aren't like the conservatives I ran into yesterday. Most American Catholics want women and married priests. A recent poll by The Saint Leo University Polling Institute reports that approximately sixty percent of Catholics want women priests and married priests. You can read results of that survey here.

But Catholics are not getting what they want. And they are leaving their church. My beloved Church is hemorrhaging members. One third of Pew Forum survey respondents who say they were born Catholic no longer are. That's huge. That's heartbreaking. Only immigration from Latin America keeps Catholic Church doors open – and those immigrants often leave soon enough, as they assimilate and their ties to Catholicism weaken. No, our church should not be a popularity contest. At the same time, any of us who chooses to ignore the hearts of the faithful is a traitor to his church.

Finally, if our goal is to be a member of a religion that really keeps women in their place, why not go all the way? Let me close with this youtube rendition of "No woman no drive" from the singing sheikhs of Saudi Arabia.



Friday, June 20, 2014

Stop Blaming Obama and Look in the Mirror

Americans enslaved by Barbary Pirates. Wikipedia
Monks buying the freedom of Christians slaves from Barbary Pirates. Wikipedia 
Silk Road in red; Spice Road in blue. Wikipedia 
Listen, sweetheart. You and I are old friends. I can speak honestly to you.

Stop blaming Obama. You want to blame somebody? Look in the mirror.

Let's go back to before you were born, America, to your conception.

Let's go all the way back to 1492.

Why did Columbus, no fool he, travel west to reach a destination Europeans had been traveling east to get to? Why would a European travel west to get to India and China, which are east of Europe?

Columbus traveled west to get to the east because the routes Europeans had been taking east for centuries – The Silk Road and The Spice Road – had come under the control of Muslims hostile to Europe.

Constantinople fell to Muslim Turks in 1453. These Muslim Turks were anti-Western. After 1453, they blocked European access to the Middle East, North Africa and the Red Sea. This blocked the trade routes east.

This spurred the age of exploration. That's why Columbus went west to go east.

Oh, but that's a long time ago, you say.

Okay, let's fast forward to 1785. At that time, America, you were only nine years old.

You were fighting your first war with a country other than England.

The Barbary Pirates were kidnapping and enslaving Americans. These pirates kidnapped and enslaved over a million Europeans. European coastlines between Venice and Malaga became depopulated. "There was no one left to capture any longer" (source).

Sidi Haji Abdrahaman explained to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams that "It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise."

You could have gotten it then, America. You could have figured out that there is a certain amount of tension in international relations and you need to be cautious.

You had a major wake-up call with the 1967 Oil Embargo, begun by Arab countries to deter support for Israel. You had another major wake-up call with the 1973 Oil Crisis which was, again, begun by Arab states to stop support for Israel.

This crisis had a huge impact in the US. You could have gotten it. You could have figured it out. Did you? No.

Instead you continue with what some have called the biggest wealth transfer in history. You create wealth, and you crate that wealth and ship it off to corrupt sheikhdoms.

Saudi Arabia is rich and powerful because you made it rich and powerful.

America, your presidents have to kiss Saudi sheikhs; your presidents bow down to Saudi sheikhs, and you tremble every time they raise the price per barrel.

America, you are not at your best when you bow down to Saudi sheikhs.

America, you were at your best, your most admirable, on D-Day, storming those Normandy Beaches.

What face do you show the Muslim world? The face of an addict. An addict who will do anything for his fix of petroleum.

I teach young Muslims and I love them. I honor their thirst, as all young people thirst, for something to believe in, to be part of something bigger than themselves, something that means something.

America, the best of what you offer – liberty, self-reliance, respect for the individual – THAT should be their beacon. Do you show young Muslims that?

No, you show them your addiction to oil, and military invasion.

I weep.

Not all Muslims are the same, America. My Muslim students are horrified by the abuses of the Saudis. The Saudis ordered a man to be flogged because of a blog post; they import Third World women to use as sex slaves; they tinker with lives and armies in oil-poor Muslim countries – stuff like this horrifies my students.

They see America bowing to Saudis, kissing Saudis, shaking hands with Saddam Hussein, financially supporting countries like Pakistan, droning the occasional "collateral damage."

And, America, when you refuse to learn, you agree to support bad wars.

Back in March, 2003 when George Bush was selling the Iraq War to you, one of the "thinkers" behind that war, neocon William Kristol, made the following statements:

"We talk here about Shiites and Sunnis as if they've never lived together. Most Arab countries have Shiites and Sunnis, and a lot of them live perfectly well together."

"I think we'll be vindicated when we discover the weapons of mass destruction and when we liberate the people of Iraq."

"There's been a certain kind of pop sociology in America that, you know, somehow the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular."

Today, under ISIS, Sunni are mass murdering Shia in Iraq. They are establishing a fundamentalist regime.

Bill Kristol was a criminal liar and idiot. Like all the neocons.

America, you didn't know enough about Islam to realize that.

Here's a thought. Before you invade a country, at least learn the basic facts about that country. Is that too much to ask?

And now you want to blame Obama for the rise of ISIS in Iraq?

It's not his fault. It's not Bush's fault. It's not Clinton's or Reagan's or Carter's fault.

Look in the mirror, America.

You had plenty of experience to teach you, if you had been willing to learn, that you need to be prudent, informed, and prepared when interacting with the Muslim world.

You also had plenty of warnings that your profligate use of petroleum without any alternatives or backup plan was leading to trouble.

"We need a Manhattan Project for energy independence," you say over and over. There's even a bill with the name.

America, it's not too late.

Educate yourself.


This blog post is dedicated to two Americans posting on Facebook who said over and over that education is unnecessary in understanding what is transpiring in Iraq. 



Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hatemongering Lies from the Politically Correct: Dana Milbank, Brigitte Gabriel, Saba Ahmed, and Heritage Foundation's Benghazi Panel

Damn those evil, scary, white American men!
Brigitte Gabriel
Politically Correct people hate their boogeyman, the white, heterosexual, Christian, English speaking, capitalist WASP American male.

This boogeyman is responsible for all the evil in the world.

He is responsible for evil retrospectively. Right now ISIS Sunni are murdering Shia in Iraq. In the mind of the Politically Correct, the white, Christian, American man is responsible for this, even though this killing goes back 1400 years, to power struggles during the foundation of Islam.

It's all George Bush's fault.

Because this boogeyman is so evil, and hating him is so necessary, PC people ritualistically stir up hated against him on a regular basis.

Yesterday, influential Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank did his religious duty and fomented hatred against the evil white man. Except in this case the evil white man was a tanned, Lebanese-born woman, Brigitte Gabriel.

The Heritage Foundation held a panel on Benghazi. An audience member, Saba Ahmed, a woman with an interesting past, asked a question. Gabriel responded.

Dana Milbank reported all this in the Washington Post as a lynching. Gabriel ganged up on, hated, bullied, and almost lynched the Muslim woman.

One problem. None of this ever happened. Dana Milbank lied in one of the most influential newspapers in the world.

How do we know?

Youtube. Someone filmed the event and posted the film.

And Google. People googled Saba Ahmed.

Everyone there was perfectly polite to Ahmed.

This relatively small event matters.

PC thought police monitor what we can and cannot say. They ruin careers and demonize innocents on the basis of PC ideology, an ideology immune to facts.

"Truth is that which serves the party."

Even when there is a camera present.

There's an excellent summary with links here

You can watch the event Dana Milbank lied about here

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sunni v Shia in Iraq; "The First Victims of Jihad are Muslims"

Source
Source
It's an oft repeated truism: the largest number of victims of Islamic terror are Muslims.

No one knows if this statement is true. No one is operating an abacus that is tabulating all the deaths.

But Muslims are victimized by jihad.

Right now Sunnis are fighting Shiites in Iraq.

The rift between Sunnis and Shiites goes back 1400 years, to the founding of Islam.

After Mohammed died, there was a power struggle. Some wanted his relatives to rule Muslims. Others wanted a non-relative to be in charge.

There was killing over this question.

Sunnis align themselves with Muawiyah. Muawiyah killed many of Mohammed's companions. Some say Muawiyah even killed Aisha, Mohammed's widow and favorite wife.

Ali ibn abi Talib, Mohammed's cousin and son-in-law, was Muawiyah's competitor for leadership of Muslims. He was killed. Shiites align themselves with Ali.

This old, old struggle between Sunni and Shiite is reflected in geographic splits. Saudi Arabia, an Arab country, is largely Sunni, and backs Sunni terrorists like ISIS.

Iran, formerly Persia, not an Arab country, is largely Shiite, and backs Shiite terrorists like Hezbollah.

The competition between Arabs and Persians goes back centuries. Persians speak an Indo-European language. They are not Arabs. They had an empire that ruled their part of the world for hundreds of years. They invented Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion that influenced the Jews. They tend to view Arabs as Johnny-come-latelies to the civilized world.

Reports say that right now Sunni ISIS is committing mass murder of Shiites in Iraq.

Men have been lined up in ditches, hands tied behind their backs, and shot in the head. ISIS has posted graphic images of this slaughter.

These Sunni-on-Shiite massacres are one of the reasons why outside observers say that the biggest victims of Islamic jihad are Muslims themselves.


Please pray for peace in Iraq. In Jesus' name amen.

Source

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I'm Glad the Comanche Lost and Other Things You Are Not Supposed to Say about Native Americans, Their Marketers, Scholars, and Fans

Quanah Parker, Last Chief of the Comanche Source: Wikipedia 
I used to, on some level, accept the popular notion that Native Americans were more spiritual and in tune with nature than European Americans, and that it was European Americans who brought war, sexism, and environmental degradation to an otherwise innocent, peaceful and Edenic Native America.

As a kid I bought slim paperbacks from the Scholastic Book Club that taught me that Native Americans planted dead fish in their agricultural fields in order to fertilize them. I learned that North American Indians didn't have the wheel, bronze, iron, or steel, or writing. They cooked acorns by dropping hot stones into holes dug in the ground and filled with water. The acorns had to be soaked in advance in order to leech them of toxins. I thought of how cumbersome and time-consuming that cooking method would be, and how bland a meal a soaked acorn would provide.

In popular culture, Native Americans were the spiritual and natural corrective to modern Americans, who were seen as greedy and divorced from nature. On TV, Iron Eyes Cody witnessed American pollution and a visible tear flowed down his creased and weathered cheek. Of course Iron Eyes Cody was actually Sicilian but hey. The commercial meant well.

Chief Seattle was alleged to have given an eloquent speech about protecting the environment. He compared the Native American harmony with nature and the White Man's greed. Chief Seattle's environmental speech is a hoax. The version most people know was written by a white, Christian man from Texas.

My environmentalist and Politically Correct friends were deeply offended by the "kill theory" of megafauna extinction. How did wooly mammoths and saber toothed tigers disappear? Native Americans probably wiped them out. That's one theory, the "kill" theory. Other theories are the "chill" theory – cold weather killed the megafauna, and the "ill" theory. They died from disease. The kill theory depicted Native Americans as just like all other humans – not "in harmony with nature" but eager to exploit nature and heedless of the long term consequences of such exploitation.

Christy Turner is a forensic anthropologist specializing in teeth. Native Americans have different teeth than European Americans. Their teeth are shovel shaped.

Turner was working his way through a box of bones in an Arizona museum in the 1970s when he said to himself "Holy Smokes." He suddenly realized that these human bones were the remains of a meal. These Native Americans had been butchered, cooked, and eaten. The bones showed typical evidence like cutting at key points to remove meat from bone. Diners had lopped off the tops of human skulls and placed them, face out, around fires in order to cook up and gain access to tasty brains. Before eating these peoples' brains, the diners had gazed at their agonized, slaughtered faces staring out at them from the cook fire.

Turner dated this horror repast, this cannibal cafeteria, between 900 AD and 1150 AD – three hundred years before Columbus arrived in North America. He found seventy-two sites with cannibal remains. Tons of human meat.

At one site, the cannibals slaughtered a family, butchered them, cooked them, ate them, and then crapped their remains out into the most sacred and beloved spot in a home – the family hearth – the source of heat, light, sustenance, and companionship. A coprolite, or fossilized feces, was found in the family hearth. It contained human remains, proof positive of Turner's cannibalism theory.

Turner published his research. He called the cannibals "thugs" and "Charles Manson types"

He was demonized. How dare you, you nasty white man named "Christy" as in the evil Christian Church (yes Turner's critics did say things like this), how dare you vilify Native Americans? Turner is hated to this day.

I was shocked when I read Turner's research. On some level I really believed that Native Americans were kinder and gentler and more spiritual.

I went to the National Museum of the American Indian run by the Smithsonian Institution. I learned there that Pizarro was able to conquer the Inca Empire with fewer than two hundred Spanish soldiers. Native American soldiers fought with him against the Inca. There must have been some mighty hatred for the Inca on the part of their Native American neighbors.

The Aztecs bragged of sacrificing 80,000 victims at the re-consecration of Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan in 1487. A review of a museum show of Aztec art called it "chilling" and "terrifying." Writing in "The Guardian," journalist Laura Cumming called Aztec art

"the most alien of all art. There are no images of moving animals, as in the caves of Lascaux. There are no accounts of great deeds, or commemorations of great leaders as in the art of the Pharaohs. Unlike just about every other culture in history, the Aztecs did not represent women, or women with babies, or, indeed, children at all. Nor, to be fair, did they ever depict men except as priests or warriors half-skeletonised in the jaws of death.

If they had any interest in the human spirit, in friendship, sex or emotion, then they certainly never showed it. The last thing you would expect from them would be anything as human or intimate as a portrait…As far as I can see, pretty much the entire purpose of Aztec art was to scare the living daylights out of everyone who saw it…Even the flea is monumentalised in stone because it lives by sucking blood.

It is impossible to look at all these objects without seeing them as the emblems and tools of a vast, putrid slaughterhouse. Nothing in Aztec art speaks of humanity or beauty. There is no attempt to inspire the sacrificial victim with rewarding images of the afterlife or to celebrate the gifts of the gods."

Obviously Ms. Cumming did not receive the memo on Political Correctness or Cultural Relativism.

Some promote Native Americans as gender heroes. The idea is that sexism is a modern invention, or that Christianity is to blame, and the further one gets from civilization and Christianity, the better things get for women and homosexuals, or "two spirit" people or berdaches.

Others acknowledge that it's not that simple. The Amazonian Yanomami is one of the most remote tribes on earth. They are very violent, including towards women. Gang rape is a fact of life. Husbands beat and burn their wives to establish dominance. According to David Good, who was born of a Yanomami mother and an anthropologist father, the language has no word for "love." When his anthropologist father left the village, his mother was gang raped by over 20 men. She had no husband to protect her.

I recently re-watched John Ford's classic 1956 western "The Searchers." The film is so rich whenever I watch it I simultaneously google various features of the story. "The Searchers" depicts settlers in 1860s Texas. Comanche warriors raid a homestead, murder four family members and kidnap the youngest, Debbie, to raise as one of their own and eventually marry her off to Scar, the chief. The plot is inspired by the kidnapping of Cynthia Ann Parker who was the mother of Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanche.

Every American knows how we are supposed to react to "The Searchers" now. Back in 1956, when it was first made, Americans were supposed unquestioningly to accept the film's depiction of the Comanche as scary warriors who did horrible things to captives, especially women captives.

Now we are supposed to doubt and mock that official narrative. We are supposed to understand the Comanche as noble warriors defending their homeland against white, Euro-American Christians, who are supposed to be the real savages.

That's not what I found out through Google. What I found out through Google was pretty nightmarish.

The Comanche were no more native to Texas than the European Americans. They had started out in Wyoming. Europeans brought horses to the Americans, horses that had previously been driven to extinction in North America by kill, ill, or chill.

The Comanche adopted the horse and a mentality of "total war." They made furious war on other Native Americans, including the Apache, whom they "nearly exterminated" according to S. C. Gwynne, author of "Empire of the Summer Moon."

In "The Searchers," John Ford never shows or tells exactly what the Comanche did to their captives and their slaves. One can find out, though, through a Google search. I read material that utterly shocked me. The Comanche did things that even the Nazis, as far as I know, did not do. I don't want to repeat the worst things. I'll just repeat one death – they took a white slave captive's baby, tied a rope to him, and dragged his infant body through cactus plants until he died.

One sixteen year old captive was repeatedly burned over eighteen months until her face was roasted away and her body was covered with bruises and burns.

One captive, Rachel Plummer, turned on her tormenter and began beating the Comanche. Once the captive had the upper hand, she nearly beat the Comanche to death. She reported that other Comanche stood around and watched their fellow tribeswoman being beaten to death by a white captive, and enjoyed it as an entertaining spectacle.

Once the captive had defeated the Comanche woman and she lay prostrate, no other Comanche would help her. The white captive did so, dragging her to a shelter and dressing her wounds. Plummer reported that beating a Comanche nearly to death earned her status in the tribe, and after that she was treated as an equal. S. C. Gwynne characterizes the Comanche as possessed of a "demonic immorality." Their enthusiastically sadistic rapes "border on criminal perversion if not some very advanced form of evil."

After reading about the Comanche, I had a taboo thought. "I'm glad the Comanche lost."

Mind. I'm not saying that the conquest of the Americas was not a bloodbath initiated by Europeans on less developed and often defenseless Native Americans. Of course I acknowledge the massive human suffering and injustice. And most tribes were not the Comanche or the Anasazi cannibals or Aztecs.

But in this one case, the case of European settlers in Texas v the Comanche, I'm glad the Comanche lost. If their way of life is accurately depicted in the accounts I read, a way of life in which constant war, enslavement of non-Comanche, rape and torture were central features, I'm glad that that culture was defeated.

This conclusion is totally at odds with the Politically Correct worldview that insists that Europeans and Christians as the source of problems like sexism, cruelty and war. It's totally at odds with the centuries-old concept of the Noble Savage.

David Good, the son of an anthropologist father and a Yanomami mother, reports an anecdote.

"I remember the wife of a very prominent anthropologist — I was 12 or 13 at the time — asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I said, 'A Nintendo 64 with Super Mario Bros.' She looked at me in horror and said, 'Oh, my God. You're a typical American kid. I thought you'd be different.'"