Showing posts with label Extremism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Extremism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Conspiracy: one man's truth, another man's lunacy

The collapse of the World Trade Centre was a controlled demolition. The United States government covered up the recovery of a spacecraft containing aliens at Roswell, New Mexico. Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. A secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity, and many prominent figures are reptilian, including George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth II, Kris Kristofferson, and Boxcar Willie.

As I sit here writing this, I pause and turn to look out the window. The sun is shining. I hear birds chirping. There are people walking about and cars are driving by. In other words, all looks right with the world. I turn back to my computer and continue researching various conspiracies and my brow furrows as I make an effort to understand where these ideas come from. I look back out the window. Nope, things still look okay in the world.

Over the years, I have heard about ancient civilisations and the deities they worshiped. Of course, from the position of our modern times with its modern knowledge, the word superstition is often evoked to describe these beliefs. Due to a lack of understanding about the world around them, these ancient peoples invented gods, rituals and the like as a means to both explain life and hopefully better their lot in the form of good crops and good hunting. For me, the curious aspect of this view of these people was that it could very well be applied to all of us in the modern world. Yes, we know more than those who lived a thousand years ago; heck more than those who lived 100 years ago! But in saying that, just what do we know today and are we any less susceptible to "making stuff up" to try and explain what we don't understand?

Part of this also seems to be our inability to accept "random chance" as being the explanation for anything. If lightning strikes somebody dead, is it just random or is there the concept of intent? Did the gods hate that person? Did numerology correctly predict the death? No way could it just be a fluke, a random roll of the dice which turns up that individual's number. There just has to be more to it than that. - Oh wait! Can the government control lightning?

Lies, Myths and The (My) Truth
In my blog posting, I talk about how we are bombarded with information that we ourselves either cannot verify or do not take the time to verify. And if the source of the information is, for instance, a political leader or a supposed expert, we have a tendency of believing the person without doing any fact checking. As a consequence, what we know, what we believe may be inaccurate or possibly not true at all. I cite some examples from both American and Canadian politics but also recount my personal 9/11 story.

My True Story of 9/11
Since 9/11, there have been scads of conspiracy theories about what happened and the biggest revolves around the Bush administration somehow being complicit in the event. One of my favourites is how the World Trade Center buildings had been previously set with explosives and what we all witnessed when the towers collapsed was actually a controlled demolition. I've seen the videos; I've heard so called demolition experts interviewed and... well, there you have it, proof positive.

What's screwball is that flying a fuel laden jet plane into a building had never been done before. - In 1945, a B-25 bomber flew into the Empire State Building but that crash was in no way comparable to what happened at WTC. - Let me repeat: WTC never happened before. There is no other event with which to compare the WTC catastrophe. On top of it, when people point to the film of the popping and the supposed smoke coming out of every collapsing story as the buildings come down as somehow being indicative of a controlled charge going off, they have totally forgotten that the weight of the top part of the structure was so heavy that if the jet fuel weakened the supports on the one floor, that weight falling a mere 10 or 12 feet, the height of a story, would generate so much kinetic energy, that the remaining floors would be in no way able to withstand the force. The puffs were not demolition charges; they were the floors blowing out as this massive weight of the upper part of the building slammed downwards.

Fast forward to the spring of 2010. I am at work getting a cup of coffee in the lunchroom with another colleague whom I'll call Carol. Somehow we got on the topic of 9/11 and the WTC buildings collapsing. Without a blink of an eye, Carol then tells me that the government has all important buildings wired with explosives so that in the event of a war or some sort of invasion, the government can order a building to be destroyed. I stare at her looking for some sign that she is joking: a smile, a wink, a glint in her eyes. Nothing. She is serious. I keep thinking to myself that she couldn't possibly be serious but as I question her I arrive at the unmistakable conclusion that she actually believes this to be true. "You mean that this building, our office tower, has been set with explosives?" Yep, that's what she believes. "So the government is able to give the command and this building will be demolished." Yep, that's it.

I was stunned. This was bizarre. Carol is not some stupid hick, not some Forrest Gump but how could she believe such a thing? Then it occurred to me. Over the years, working in the computer field, I had verified hoax emails for family, friends and colleagues at work who were convinced the emails were true. I remembered people telling me things convinced what they were saying were true when they couldn't substantiate it.  Then I thought of Carol and I realized that the idea of myths, superstitions and rumours was as alive today as it was a thousand years ago. However now, it wasn't so much that we could or couldn't verify if something was true or not, we seemed to deliberately choose to believe. If our leader said it, it's true. If we read it in an email, it's true. If it's on the Internet, it's true.

Hmmm, curious. Then again, as I reflect while starring at the ceiling, do I myself have things that I believe to be true when in fact I may not have the facts to back up what I believe? Probably.

Faith
In looking at the idea, it is interesting how the definition itself of the phenomenon includes an inability to accurately and definitively prove something. You and I are sitting in Starbucks having a nice cup of Java when the topic of conversation turns to the question of faith. Prove that God exists or prove that He doesn't exist. I can't. I can reach inside my pocket and prove conclusively that I have a ten dollar bill in my possession but I can't prove God exists and I can't prove God doesn't exist.

Put any subject you want on the table. Did the Twin Towers come down due to a controlled demolition? Is the government hiding aliens in Roswell? Sitting in Starbucks, anything is up for grabs. All statements are unverifiable. Heck, maybe Xenu was here 75 million years ago. I can't prove otherwise. Now, I choose to believe otherwise but you have to admit, I can't prove that Xenu was not here. (see my blog Scientology: Tom makes good movies)

Now we arrive at what I think is the funnier part of the whole idea of conspiracies or any belief system for that matter. It's a question of faith. It's not science with the idea of producing verifiable results. You cross a line and from that point onwards, it's faith not fact. Believe in God. Believe in Raël. Believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Sometimes these beliefs are innocuous but sometimes these beliefs push people to do things which are not acceptable by the rest of us. - Kool-aid, anyone? - Then we raise the issue of judging whether the faith in question is well founded or just plain nuts. Southpark had a good time with Xenu (see Trapped in the Closet) but admittedly there are believers who are die-hard fans of Ron. However let me be fair, I could easily go after many of the mainstream institutions as being just a nutty as anything else.

"The U.S. Cardinals said they are going to develop a code of ethics to help them deal with the sexual scandal. Wait a minute, I thought there already was a code of ethics, it's called the Bible." —Jay Leno

Back to conspiracies
Was the government complicit in 9/11? If you mean were they unprepared, ill-informed and maybe just stupid when it comes to gathering and analysing intelligence, then yes, they were complicit. But if you mean there was some diabolical plan to orchestrate the event to justify invading Iraq, [chuckles] I think you give the government far too much credit. These guys can't balance a budget, win a war or successfully respond to a hurricane crisis yet you think they could carry out a nefarious plan to topple WTC without anybody ever divulging such a plot to the press? Heck, the prez can't even get a B.J. in the Oval office without the entire world finding out about it. How could you possibly imagine something like this could be kept a secret?

Fixation
What would Freud have to say about this? You get fixated on an idea or a theory, then you set out to prove it's true. Now it's no longer a question of rationally and objectively weighing the evidence, you seek what proves your point. However unlike something as concrete as whether or not I have a ten dollar bill in my pocket, the issue may be something vaguer like the existence of God or something in the past like the assassination of Kennedy. Whatever the issue, there is the inability to objectively measure the facts as those "facts" may be out of reach or no longer available. There's the guy on the corner with a megaphone yelling at you about Jesus while handing out his Chick tracts. There's a woman saying you need to get "clear". There's David Icke writing hundreds of thousands of words about the Reptilian Brotherhood taking over the planet. Somebody declares that feminism is a Marxist strategy designed to undermine the family and all other traditional institutions so that the primary relationship individuals have is ultimately with The State.

Final Word
Is my glass half full or half empty? Well, that seems pretty easy to answer; I only have to look at my glass. Now is my glass only half full because the government has a secret plan to divert the other half of my glass of water to off-shore tankers to sell to desert sheikdoms in exchange for oil? And has the government laced my water with some mind altering drug so I won't notice they have taken half my glass of water or so I won't care if they do? Okay, I'm going to have a bit of time trying to refute that one. However, to any of you chuckling away at such an idea being absurd, let me throw down the gauntlet by offering you this challenge: Prove me wrong!


References

Wikipedia: Conspiracy Theory
Conspiracy theory was originally a neutral descriptor for any claim of civil, criminal, or political conspiracy. However, it has become largely pejorative and used almost exclusively to refer to any fringe theory which explains a historical or current event as the result of a secret plot by conspirators of almost superhuman power and cunning.

Wikipedia: List of conspiracy theories
The list of conspiracy theories is a collection of the most popular unproven theories related but not limited to clandestine government plans, elaborate murder plots, suppression of secret technology and knowledge, and other supposed schemes behind certain political, cultural, and historical events.

Wikipedia: 9/11 conspiracy theories
A poll taken in 2006 by Scripps Howard and Ohio University showed that, "More than a third of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East." The most prominent theory is that the collapse of the World Trade Center and 7 World Trade Center were the result of a controlled demolition rather than structural weakening due to fire.

Wikipedia: South Park, episode #148: Mystery of the Urinal Deuce
"Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" is episode 148 of Comedy Central's South Park which first aired on October 11, 2006. This episode focuses on the 9/11 conspiracy theories, which is brought up by Eric Cartman.

Wikipedia: 9/11 Truth movement
9/11 Truth movement is the collective name of loosely affiliated organizations and individuals who question the accepted account of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Wikipedia: September 11 attacks

Wikipedia: Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories
Stop it! He's Christian!

Wikipedia: Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories
Stop it! He's American born!

Wikipedia: Roswell UFO incident
The Roswell UFO Incident was the alleged recovery of extra-terrestrial debris, including aliens, from an object that crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in June or July 1947.

Wikipedia: David Icke
What David may lack in believability, he makes up for by volume. This man has apparently written 18 books to substantiate his claims.

Wikipedia: Linda Thompson (attorney)
Linda is a great and wild woman with one of the most active imaginations I've seen in a long time. This is a great conspiracy theory.

2011-02-16

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Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Extremist In All Of Us

Have you ever gone a little nutty? Off the deep end? You've been bitten by the bug and everybody around you looks at you with the raised eyebrow that says, "What's gotten into him/her?" I'm certain that we all have our moments of enthusiasm when we first discover something and our rapture with this "thing" may take over our lives by being a tad obsessive. Ooo, do we need to hold an intervention?

Recognising a problem is the first step in solving the problem as I've heard it said. Of course, the word "problem" here is something of a personal nature and not the usual kind of problem like getting the top of a new jar of peanut butter or booking your flight to Rome. Am I lacking in self-confidence? Do I drink too much? Can I get along with the opposite sex? Am I obsessive compulsive? These are the types of problems where the aphorism of "recognising the problem is the first step" is applicable. Although, I guess recognising you can't get the top off of the jar of peanut butter is also the first step in solving the problem. Ha! Yes, if there's no problem; there's nothing to solve. If I didn't have this damn jar of peanut butter... :-)

For a long time I did not realise how much of an extremist I am. Now, reflecting on my personality and my history, I like to define extremism or my extremism as: All the way is not far enough. Sounds humorous and I mean it to be so. After all, how can anybody go farther than the maximum distance? How can anybody get more than 100%? Everything is everything; there's no everything plus one. [chuckles] But that has never stopped me from trying!

There is, however, a serious side to that statement and this serious side may conjure up all sorts of negative images which are probably associated with addiction. Alcoholic? Drug addict? Gambler? These are 3 types of behaviour which would very much fit with the idea of not knowing when to quit. Extremism can certainly be defined as not knowing when to walk away; everybody else has gone home but you just have to stick around for "one more time".

A curious thing about "one more time" comes to mind. That can also be associated with the idea of persistence. Yes, those who persist have something of an idea of "I'm not going to stop until I succeed". Now think about that one. If I'm trying to take the top off the jar of peanut butter and I say "one more time", it's persistence but if everybody goes home and I point to my glass and say to the bartender, "one more time", it's addiction. Well, at least it's something negative like extremism. I'm not calling another drink persistence! :-)

So, extremism is bad; persistence is good. Both have the idea of not quitting, of continuing when others have stopped. It seems that the result determines the quality, the good or bad of the activity. You try to swim the English Channel; you're tired; you can't go on; you continue; you drown and... well, that's bad: you should have known better and bowed out earlier. You don't stop trying to get the top off of the jar of peanut butter; you do eventually get the top off; that's good... and you now have peanut butter to eat!

Hmmm, continuing to do something and succeeding is persistence while continuing to do something and failing is extremism.

Music
A man I'll call Rick has been bitten by the bug. At the age of 56 he "discovered" the Irish fiddle. I have heard the stories and witnessed this myself how every waking moment has been taken up with playing the violin. Get up in the morning, get a cup of coffee then go play for 30 minutes to an hour. Get breakfast then go to work. Come home, play for an hour. Dinner. Clean up then more playing. Weekends there is even more time to play and of course, week nights may also involve a lesson and even jam sessions. Keep in mind that Rick is married with 3 now grown-up kids and holds down a full time job.

Everybody, family and friends sort of look at him askance wondering why out of the blue, from zero to sixty in 5 seconds flat, he has gone from nothing to an almost religious obsession with the Irish fiddle. Normal? Odd? Do we need to hold an intervention? For the moment, let's say he's having a great time with a wonderful hobby.

In my "crazy twenties", I wanted to be a musician, a serious musician as in making my living. I had passed my teens in various rock bands playing guitar but my twenties saw me become serious after discovering my parents piano. I practised a lot and I do mean a lot. I studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto as well as at the University of Toronto; I even spent some time at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. However, by the end of the decade I realised I had a number of things going against me: late start (20 years old), limited talent (you need to start the piano when you're 5) and focal dystonia. I quit and set off in another direction. If I had fully understood earlier in the game the limitations of what I brought to music, I never would have attempted to do it full time. I would have left it as a hobby and gone off to make my living in some other fashion.

As such, I've always summarized this attempt at a musical career like this: if you continue and succeed, it's persistence. Since I continued long past the expiration date and ultimately failed, this was extremism.

It's an odd situation to be in. When should you quit? When should you continue? Anybody trying to be a good motivator would add something like, "If you want the peanut butter bad enough..." leaving the rest of the sentence unsaid: You won't quit until you get the jar open. The other side of the coin however is knowing when the risk of failure is high and why waste your time doing something when success is unlikely if not impossible?

Fail Early
Years later I ran across a lecture on I.T. project management which espoused the idea of "fail early". In a nutshell, the author was simply stating that by recognising as early as possible the failure of a project, one could minimize one's losses. This lecture was specifically about projects relating to technology, building a piece of software, for instance but the idea of fail early is certainly applicable to just about any project.

Example: You start building a house. After spending $100,000, you discover the house is right over a fault line and there's a risk of a quake and the house disappearing into a sink hole. You could shore up the house, attempt to compensate in some way or you could get out now. Invest another $300,000 and always face the risk of a quake or get out now and lose $100,000.

Example: You invest $100 in the stock market then the stock goes south and you end up with quite a bit less. You could invest more in the hope of recouping your losses or you could get out and minimize your losses.

Great idea. In looking back at my own experience of the failed career in music, I recognise now that I did not recognise then my inability could not be overcome by throwing more work at it. It wasn't a question of a little more effort would get the top off the jar; it was a question of building on a fault line. But there was that extremist in me: All the way is not far enough.

Afterword
I've never played the piano again and it's been 30 years since I got out of music. My left hand has gradually gotten worse. While I used to be able to type with 10 fingers, many times I type with the 5 fingers of my right hand and just my index of my left. If I go very, very slowly, I sometimes can type with some of my fingers but if I ever speed up, my entire left hand locks up and I completely lose control of it. It's the oddest sensation. I could almost equate it to those times I've woken up after having laid on my arm and the blood flow has been cut off to the point where I literally can't move my arm. I roll out of bed and my arm just flops over and no matter how much I concentrate, I just can't move it at all. Ha! Very strange. I know I've got these appendages; I can see them but they just refuse to cooperate.

[sigh] But one must be philosophical about these changes in life. C'est dommage mais c'est la vie! (It's too bad but that's life!)


References

my blog: Irish Fiddle: Heaven or Hell?
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/06/irish-fiddle-heaven-or-hell.html

Wikipedia: Focal Dystonia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_dystonia

my blog: Poor Me
I write about the unbelievable turn of events which dramatically changed the life of one 21 year old girl. When I heard this story, I realized I should never complain about my circumstances.
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/06/poor-me.html

... Hé ! Hé ! Toute la distance n'est pas assez loin !

2010-09-26

Monday, 13 September 2010

Extremism: I'm right and you're wrong.



"We have met the enemy and he is us."
- Pogo by cartoonist Walt Kelly (1913 - 1973)

As I scan the news as of late (September 11, 2010), I am inundated with reference after reference to a right wing, conservative, religious fundamentalist extremist point of view. There is no middle ground; there is no compromise; I'm right and you're wrong. In fact, I'm far right and you're dead wrong, emphasis on dead.

Just what the heck is going on in the world? Have we all gone mad?





Princeton University's on-line dictionary WordNet defines
  • extremism : any political theory favoring immoderate uncompromising policies
  • right wing : those who support political or social or economic conservatism; those who believe that things are better left unchanged
  • conservative : a person who is reluctant to accept changes and new ideas
  • fundamentalism : the interpretation of every word in the sacred texts as literal truth

All extremists should be taken out and shot.
- Anonymous but repeated by comedian Steven Wright

Over and over again I am hearing a rallying cry for God and country which seems possess an underlying tone exemplifying the idea of "It's us or them." This isn't a question of getting to the bottom of a problem; this is more a question of seeing anybody who isn't part of our immediate group whether that group is white or Christian or American as the cause of the problem and hence, "the enemy". This is a form of xenophobia, a narrow minded myopic view of the world where all problems stem not from a legitimate cause but whatever looks out of the ordinary when we look around the room. However, with our culture becoming more and more diverse, with countries like the United States and Canada becoming more multicultural, our focus on "the enemy" can quite easily turn into our focus being on our very own neighbours, the people living right next door to us.

After 9/11, the president George W. Bush went out of this way to emphasize that America was declaring war on terrorism, not on Islam. On September 20, 2001, Mr. Bush addressed a Joint Session of Congress. During his speech, he said, "The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics--a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam."

From that point up until 2010, Islam was considered a religion, Osama was considered a terrorist. What took place in 2010 which would explain this growing vilification of the entire Muslim religion? President Barack Obama provided a good explanation.

2010 and the growing hatred of Muslims
An obscure pastor, Terry Jones of a small church of a congregation of 50 in Gainesville, Florida has captured the attention of the entire world by declaring September 11, 2010, the 9th anniversary of the 9/11 attack as "Burn the Quran Day". While Mr. Jones' purpose in such a provocative action is to expound his own dislike of a religion which he sees as responsible for not just 9/11 but many other ills of the world, he has inadvertently exemplified a growing movement within the United States and elsewhere of a general distrust if not outright hatred for Muslims as a whole. Osama is not just a terrorist; he is a Muslim terrorist and people are more and more taking on the idea that terrorism and Muslim are synonyms. Terrorism is not the characteristic of a fringe, right wing extremism; terrorism is now an integral part of the entire Muslim religion. If George Bush emphasized the distinction between terrorism and Islam right from the outset after 9/11; what has taken place in America since then to see a public more and more making this link? After all, the so called Ground Zero Mosque was off everybody's radar for years when somewhere around May or June 2010, the entire issue hit every headline and was run up every flagpole as an affront to everything decent and moral in the America landscape. Why now? What the heck happened?

During a press conference on September 10, Obama was asked that very question.

Q: Nine years after the September 11th attacks, why do you think it is that we are now seeing such an increase in suspicion and outright resentment of Islam, especially given that it has been one of your priorities to -- to improve relations with the Muslim world?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I think that at a time when the country is anxious generally and going through a tough time, then, you know, fears can surface, suspicions, divisions can surface in a society. And so I think that plays a role in it.

One of the things that I most admired about President Bush was, after 9/11, him being crystal clear about the fact that we were not at war with Islam.

We were at war with terrorists and murderers who had perverted Islam, had stolen its banner to carry out their outrageous acts. And I was so proud of the country rallying around that idea, that notion: that we are not going to be divided by religion; we're not going to be divided by ethnicity; we are all Americans; we stand together against those who would try to do us harm.

And that's what we've done over the last nine years, and we should take great pride in that. And I think it is absolutely important now for the overwhelming majority of the American people to hang onto that thing that is best in us: a belief in religious tolerance, clarity about who our enemies are -- our enemies are al Qaeda and their allies, who are trying to kill us but have been -- have killed more Muslims than just about anybody on Earth.

You know, we have to make sure that we don't start turning on each other. And I will do everything that I can, as long as I am president of the United States, to remind the American people that we are one nation, under God. And we may call that god different names, but we remain one nation. And, you know, as somebody who, you know, relies heavily on my Christian faith in -- in my job, I understand, you know, the -- the passions that religious faith can -- can raise.

But I'm also respectful that people of different faiths can practice their religion, even if they don't subscribe to the exact same notions that I do, and that they are still good people, and they are my neighbors and they are my friends, and they are fighting alongside us in our battles. And you know, I -- I want to make sure that this country retains that -- that sense of purpose, and I think tomorrow is a wonderful day for us to remind ourselves of that.

Q: I wonder if I can get you to weigh in on the wisdom of building a mosque a couple of blocks from Ground Zero. We know that the organizers have the constitutional right. What would it say about this country if they were somehow talked out of doing that?

And hasn't the Florida minister's threat to burn a couple hundred copies of the Koran -- hasn't the threat itself put American lives in danger, sir?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, on the second -- on your second question, there's no doubt that when someone goes out of their way to be provocative in ways that we know can inflame the passions of over a billion Muslims around the world, at a time when we've got our troops in a lot of Muslim countries, that's a problem. And it has made life a lot more difficult for our men and women in uniform, who already have a very difficult job.

With respect to the mosque in New York, you know, I think I've been pretty clear on my position here. And that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal, that they have certain inalienable rights; one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely. And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.

Now, I recognize the extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11. You know, I -- I've met with families of 9/11 victims in the past. You know, I can only imagine the -- the continuing pain and anguish and sense of loss that they may go through. And tomorrow, we as Americans are going to be joining them in prayer and remembrance.

But I go back to what I said earlier: We are not at war against Islam. We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts. And we've got to be clear about that. We've got to be clear about that because, if we're going to deal with the problems that Ed Henry was talking about, if we're going to successfully reduce the terror threat, then we need all the allies we can get. The -- the -- the -- the folks who are most interested in a war between the United States or the West and Islam are al Qaeda. That's what they've been banking on.

And fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving, are interested in the same things that you and I are interested in: how do I make sure I can get a good job, how can I make sure that my kids get a decent education, how can I make sure I'm safe, how can I improve my lot in life. And so they have rejected this violent ideology for the most part, overwhelmingly.

And so from a national security interest, we want to be clear about who the enemy is here. It's a handful, a tiny minority of people who are engaging in horrific acts -- and have killed Muslims more than anybody else.

The other reason it's important for us to remember that is because we've got millions of Muslim-Americans, our fellow citizens, in this country. They're going to school with our kids. They're our neighbors. They're our friends. They're our coworkers. And, you know, when we start acting as if their religion is somehow offensive, what are we saying to them?

I've got Muslims who are fighting in Afghanistan, in the uniform of the United States armed services. They're out there putting their lives on the line for us. And we've got to make sure that we are crystal clear for our sakes and their sakes: They are Americans. And we honor their service. And part of honoring their service is making sure that they understand that we don't differentiate between "them" and "us." It's just "us." And -- and -- and that is -- is a principle that I think is -- is -- is going to be very important for us to -- to sustain. And I think tomorrow is an excellent time for us to -- to reflect on that.


Extremism is everywhere. Extreme times bring out the extreme elements. A caution we all must heed is to not let ourselves be swayed by our emotions, by “ unlevel” heads and cast our vote for the hasty and sometimes easy solutions which may in the end bear no connection to the actual problem. We may think that extremism is what we see elsewhere: in the terrorist movement, in the radical groups, in the fundamentalist ideology bent on winning no matter what. But what we must realise is that extremism lives here, at home, amongst us. We must not forget that the enemy is not just “over there”, the enemy is also here. That enemy is extremism in any form, in any color, in any political slant.


Newt Gingrich and Dearborn, Michigan
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/08/dearborn-michigan-watch-out-for.html
Dearborn has hosted for 15 years an Arab festival celebrating food, fun and culture; a family day which is completely non religious. Every year some Christian groups set up booths to proselytise, to send out their message of Christianity. No problem has even been recorded.

This year, an extremist so called “Christian” group was arrested for disturbing the peace. A Christian missionary from another group called in the complaint to the Christian Dearborn police. The Christian police chef supported by the Christian mayor sent the Christian force to investigate and in the end, Christian officers arrested the group.

Upon hearing about this, Newt Gingrich issued a statement, "This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to shari'a's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam."

Mr. Gingrich’s statement is utterly false, a total misrepresentation of the facts and an exposure of his obvious biased view of Muslims. The only thing Muslim of the whole incident was that it happened outside an Arab festival. What would Mr. Gingrich have said if it was a Catholic festival or a Jewish festival? Such irresponsible statements by leaders only serve to further fan the flames of prejudice and hatred.

Freedom of Speech
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/08/freedom-of-speech-freedom-to-say.html
The American 1st amendment right about freedom of speech permits one to say anything... supposedly. But along with the right to say anything comes a degree of responsibility in what one says and what one does choose to say reveals a great deal about the individual. What is their view of the world? How has that view been formed by their education, their experiences and their travels both domestic or foreign?

Antisemitism
You think this issue is now a non issue? Think again. While the mainstream has moved away from "Jew bashing", there is still an undercurrent in various circles which continue to expound a litany of ills all attributable to the Jews.

http://www.subvertednation.net/the-real-reason-for-the-holocaust-hoax/
Why would I call for a “final solution” of death to all jews and followers of judaism, cabala, and the like?

Anti-Black or anti-non-white
http://www.kkk.bz/hello.htm
...individuals with a Marxist agenda have waged an attack upon the consciousness' of white Christians... those who hate white Christian civilization have chosen to desecrate anything which might cause a stirring of loyalty and heritage... in fact all white Christian civilization is in jeopardy.

Anti-women
http://www.avoiceformen.com/2010/07/20/jury-duty-at-a-rape-trial-acquit/
Jury Duty at a Rape Trial? Acquit!
...
Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.
...
Women lie about being raped, judicial politicians make careers off of putting away sexual offenders, and a brainwashed public cheers it all on.
...
Better a rapist would walk the streets than a system that merely mocks justice enslave another innocent man.


Pamela Geller and the Ground Zero Mosque
Pamela Geller is a blogger who writes Atlas Shrugs. What is her credibility in the world?

From the Huffington Post of August 20, 2010, an article titled “Pamela Geller, 'Queen Of Muslim Bashers,' At Center Of N.Y. 'Mosque' Debate”:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/20/pamela-gellerqueen-of-mus_n_689709.html
Postings on "Atlas Shrugs" have included a video suggesting Muslims have sex with goats, a doctored picture showing President Obama urinating on an American flag, and a fake image of new Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in Nazi garb.

I beg your pardon? This is a credible source of information? This is a worthy opinion in the din of many voices?

The supposed Ground Zero Mosque has been a non issue for years. The people involved, the building, the plans have been a part of the New York landscape for quite some time without any fuss until Pamela Geller started a campaign to publicize the view that this was something bad. Her organization has sponsored anti-Muslim ads in several American cities; she has started the idea that Muslims are insulting America by building the mosque; she is whipping up the frenzy about this mosque is a triumph for Islam over America. Pamela Geller has pretty much single handily turned a non issue about religious freedom into one of the biggest conspiracy theories since 9/11 itself. There is a Muslim plan for world domination? The objective in building a mosque is to spit in the eye of Americans everywhere?

The insidious nature of specious argumentation is that after a while nobody can tell fact from fiction and many of us look to our leaders, look to somebody for guidance on various matters. Whoever shouts the loudest; whoever “sounds” convincing; whoever looks good wins the day and the hearts and minds of those who are ready to believe even in the face of absurdity.

Pamela Geller and her associate Robert Spenser put together supposed compelling arguments with documentation to support their views based on an interpretation of the Muslim religion and the Quran. How many of us have read the Quran? How many of us could claim to have any degree of expertise in interpreting the Quran? In light of that, I see both Pamela Geller and Robert Spenser can say just about anything they want and nobody could argue against them. Unfortunately, everybody has completely forgotten how easily it is to interpret the Bible and end up being able to prove just about anything, to support just about any theory. “In the name of God…” ah, how those words glided off the tongue of countless individuals to justify the most hideous of acts.

How do I know this? What proof do I have? Where’s my evidence to contradict Ms. Geller?

Simple. 42.

Yep, just 42. And here's my (tongue-in-cheek) explanation:

The Hitchhiker’ s Guide to the Galaxy
This science fiction comedy was created by the English writer Douglas Adams starting as a radio show in 1978. In one of the more humorist “ bits”, somebody asks a super-computer for the “answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything”. After a long time, the computer responds with “42”. Of course, everybody in the story is confused by this answer and from there, we have the humor of the answer: the meaning of life is 42.

Over the years, all sorts of people have analysed the number 42 upsides down and backwards finding hidden meaning in the number’s connection to other things in life including to God and the Bible. However, the truly amusing thing about this search for meaning is that Douglas Adams admitted he arrived at the number 42 by chance; he randomly selected the number 42 with no thought at all of some hidden meaning, some connection to something else; he did it thinking the number seemed “funny” .

Does that stop anybody from looking for meaning? No. It is just too difficult or impossible to believe that Adam’s choice could be completely random without more significance. And therein lies the rub. We cannot accept things as is; we look for meaning and sometimes we look so hard, we start making stuff up. What's truly funny? 42 is a random selection but we refuse to accept that this may be random and we set out to "find meaning" by inventing connections to things when there is none.

You think I'm out to lunch about this idea? Think about Jim Jones and the Jonestown massacre. Think about David Koresh and Waco, Texas. Think about Charles Manson and the Manson family. People found meaning where they shouldn't have. Sometimes 42 is just a number.

The Quran and the Bible
Ms. Geller and Mr. Robert Spenser go to great lengths to analyse the Quran and conclude all sorts of nefarious objectives of this religion. The wealth of documentation, the convincing nature of the argumentation would lead one to conclude we are all under assault by one of the world’s major religions and we all need to take up the declaration of war for a fight to the finish.

In reality? The sky is not falling. It is merely a question of interpretation. A good interpretation leads to good things; a bad interpretation leads to bad things. Nothing more complicated than that. If anybody thoroughly looked at Christianity and how its interpretation of the Bible over the years has lead to unbelievably horrendous crimes against nature and mankind (humankind?), they would realize that strength and weakness of any religion lies in those who interpret and act upon the Good Word.

I know Muslims. I work with Muslims. I just see people who are basically like me trying to find their way in the world; struggling to make sense of it all in the hopes of arriving at a point of peace, love and understanding. I do not see an insidious plot to take over the world. I do not see an attempt to enact Sharia law all over the place.

But I do see the struggles between the old world and the new world. I do see the struggles between traditions and modern life. I do see the same problems in Islam that I see in Christianity where the interpretation of the religion is not necessarily in sync with mainstream thought or practices.

I also see the right wing fundamentalist groups in Islam like the ring wing fundamentalist groups in Christianity as being extremist in their views with an attitude of “It’s us or them”. There is no willingness to compromise; we’re right; everybody else is wrong. Islam wants to take over the world? I have to laugh as Christianity has been and still is one of the most imperialistic religions of all time. Christians are scared of Muslims? Heck, has anybody thought about why Muslims might just be a tad suspicious of Christians?

Terry Jones
Terry, your 15 minutes are up. But your legacy will live on.

To celebrate the 9th anniversary of 9/11, Mr. Jones, the pastor of the small, non-denominational Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida declared September 11, 2010 as “International Burn a Koran Day”. The outcry, the protest against his actions temporarily raised him onto the international stage bringing down upon him a deluge of condemnation from all directions: religious leaders, politicians, media, etc.

Was Mr. Jones angry about 9/11? Yes, he was. However, Mr. Jones like many others including all those who protest the Ground Zero Mosque has confused the issue. The perpetrators of 9/11 were Al Qaeda not the Muslim faith. The guilty are from an extremist group who happen to be Muslim. Islam did not crash those planes into the Twin Towers, Osama Bin Laden did.

George W. Bush said this from the beginning. Unfortunately, many have not heeded the call and continue to blame Islam and Muslims everywhere for the evil of a small group. Do we collectively paint everyone with the same color? Is every German a Nazi? Are all Japanese guilty of Pearl Harbor? Do all pastors from Gainesville burn books they have never read?

Baruch Goldstein
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Goldstein
Baruch was an American-born orthodox Jewish Israeli physician who in 1994 perpetrated the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, killing 29 Muslims and wounding more than 125. He was a member of the Jewish Defence League, a militant organization founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, an ultra-nationalist. The FBI has stated that "The Jewish Defence League has been deemed a right-wing terrorist group".

Camp David Accords
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_Accords
The Camp David Accords, signed in 1978 by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin seemed like an unbelievable breakthrough in the Middle East. Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by right-wing elements in Egypt.

Oslo Accords
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_Accords
These accords were signed by Israel and the PLO in 1993 in the presence of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. I thought these would be another breakthrough. Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Israeli radical.

Extremism is everywhere
Christian or Muslim, Palestinian or Israeli, white or black, woman or man, all groups no matter how moderate and supposedly level headed have fringe elements, extremists who follow the party doctrine to the letter and beyond with no room for give and take. All or nothing. Us or them. Dangerous times call for dangerous measures?

Call me naïve. Call me dumb. I still like to think that in general, people are good but there are admittedly bad elements we must all worry about. We can’t tar and feather an entire group because of a couple of bad apples. As I’ve said elsewhere:

Stop. Think. Reflect. If you are about to rise up against your neighbor, something is very, very wrong.



References

Wikipedia: Pogo (comics)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_%28comics%29

John Cleese explains extremism and its advantages
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLNhPMQnWu4

Wikipedia: Antisemitism in the United States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism_in_the_United_States

Encyclopædia Britannica: George W. Bush: Declaration of War on Terrorism
http://www.britannica.com/presidents/article-9398253

CNN: part 8 of Obama's press conference
He answers a question about the Ground Zero Mosque.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A_8R9UuMhE&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_326470

text of Obama's press conference
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/10/obama-news-conference-pre_1_n_712058.html

My blog: Dearborn, Michigan: Watch out for extremists!
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/08/dearborn-michigan-watch-out-for.html

My blog: Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say "anything"?
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/08/freedom-of-speech-freedom-to-say.html

Wikipedia: Pamela Geller
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamela_Geller

The Huffington Post – August 20, 2010
Pamela Geller, 'Queen Of Muslim Bashers,' At Center Of N.Y. 'Mosque' Debate
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/20/pamela-gellerqueen-of-mus_n_689709.html
Postings on "Atlas Shrugs" have included a video suggesting Muslims have sex with goats, a doctored picture showing President Obama urinating on an American flag, and a fake image of new Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan in Nazi garb.

Wikipedia: Robert Spenser
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Spencer_%28author%29

Wikipedia: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

Wikipedia: Phrases from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrases_from_The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy

Douglas Adams: Why 42?
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.fan.douglas-adams/msg/d1064f7b27808692?dmode=source&pli=1

Wikipedia: 2010 Qur'an-burning controversy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Qur%27an-burning_controversy

Wikipeda: Baruch Goldstein
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Goldstein

My blog: Hate! Hate! Hate! Kill! Kill! Kill!
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/07/hate-hate-hate-kill-kill-kill.html

my blog: Dearborn, Michigan: Watch out for extremists!
Check out people went nuts in Dearborn. Mislead by extremists, they attacked their own neighbors.
http://wqebelle.blogspot.com/2010/08/dearborn-michigan-watch-out-for.html

2010-09-13

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Dearborn, Michigan: Watch out for extremists!


Dearborn, Michigan is home to the largest mosque in the United States. 30% of its population is of Arab descent and many of those people have apparently been in the city for generations.

On June 18, 19 and 20, 2010, Dearborn played host to the 15th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival. As per the web site of American Arab Chamber of Commerce, this event is described with the following: "Highlights of the festival include 30-international food booths, large carnival, interactive children's stage, Arab merchandise, calligraphy, and bread making." Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad call the festival a family event.

During the festival, 4 Christian missionaries who were demonstrating outside were arrested by police supposedly for disturbing the peace.

According to the Press & Guide: Negeen Mayel, 18, of California; Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, 29, of Virginia; Paul Rezkalla, 18 of New York, and David Wood, 34, also of New York, face fines of up to $500 each and up to 93 days in jail. Mayel was also charged with disobeying an officer.

This incident has sparked a national furor over the arrests of these missionaries and the possible violation of their constitutional rights. Even Newt Gingrich has weighed into this. According to the Detroit Free Press of August 4:

In a letter published last week on the Human Events Web site as well his own Web site, the former U.S. House speaker says that the jailing of the four Christian missionaries is an example of Islamic extremism coming to the U.S.

"This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to shari'a's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam," Gingrich wrote in a letter published last week.

Gingrich said the missionaries were handing out copies of Christian literature, which is "of course, forbidden by shari'a's rules on proselytizing."


Just what the heck is going on?

The Detroit Free Press of August 4:

The missionaries are with a Web site called Acts 17 Apologetics, which seeks to convert Muslims. They visited the Arab festival in 2009, producing a video that critics say was selectively edited to make the city and Muslims look bad.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and others have said the missionaries were trying to provoke people when they came back to the festival this year in order to gain attention and raise money for their small group.

They note there were several other Christian groups at the Arab festival, as in previous years, who had no problems.


The Press & Guide of July 27, 2010:

At the heart of the case are the group’s alleged actions during the festival, which took place June 18-20.

City officials said in a written statement July 9, that at approximately 8:30 p.m. June 18, Dearborn police officers received a complaint, from a Christian volunteer working the festival, regarding members of Acts 17 Apologetics harassing and intimidating patrons of the festival and that a large crowd was gathering.

Officers responded to the area where “a large agitated crowd had gathered due to the actions of the individuals of Acts 17 Apologetics,” according to the city’s public information department.

“The four members of Acts 17 Apologetics chose to escalate their behavior, which appeared well-orchestrated and deliberate, and chose not to follow the directions being given to them by the responding officers,” city officials said in a press release. “The behavior of these individuals drew and incited a large crowd to a point where they were in violation of city of Dearborn misdemeanor ordinances of breach of peace and failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer.”


Hold on there a sec...

The missionaries are with a Web site called Acts 17 Apologetics, which seeks to convert Muslims.

Okay...

They visited the Arab festival in 2009, producing a video that critics say was selectively edited to make the city and Muslims look bad.

What? Selectively edited? That doesn't seem fair. In fact, it doesn't seem to be very Christian.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. and others have said the missionaries were trying to provoke people when they came back to the festival this year in order to gain attention and raise money for their small group.

Provoke people? You mean they weren't there to spread the gospel; they were there to cause a ruckus?

They note there were several other Christian groups at the Arab festival, as in previous years, who had no problems.

So, Christians at this festival are not the problem, it's this particular group, Acts 17 Apologetics.

Gingrich said: "This is a clear case of freedom of speech and the exercise of religious freedom being sacrificed in deference to shari'a's intolerance against the preaching of religions other than Islam"

What? How did he make that leap of logic? What's Sharia got to do with the Dearborn Police Force? Christian groups have been at the festival for years and there hasn't been a problem: this is the 15th annual festival. Acts 17 Apologetics have been on record in 2009 for causing problems; now they come back in 2010 and do it again.

From the Detroit Free Press, July 27, 2010:

Scott Cherry, 45, of Dearborn said the missionaries were misleading the public with edited videos posted on YouTube. The missionaries said on the videos that Christians are oppressed and persecuted in Dearborn.

The four missionaries "didn't tape all the other Christians" at the festival distributing literature, Cherry, a counter-demonstrator, said.



From the Press & Guide, July 27, 2010

In the letter dated July 9, Dearborn Mayor O’Reilly states, “the city of Dearborn has been under attack for several years by a group identifying themselves as Acts 17 Apologetics. They arrive in Dearborn with the intent to disrupt a local cultural festival and misrepresent facts in order to further their mission of raising funds through emotional response. The funds they raise are then used to finance travel and cameras to disrupt other events in other cities.”

He goes on to say that the group’s videos, which were posted on “YouTube” shortly after their arrests, are “a distortion of the group’s experience and a misrepresentation of the Dearborn Arab International Festival.”

“This video was filmed on June 19 and was edited by Acts 17 Apologetics to appear that the video is showing members of Acts 17 Apologetics being arrested for handing out Christian literature,” O’Reilly said.

City officials maintain that the four individuals representing Acts 17 Apologetics were not arrested for handing out literature, and in fact, were not handing out literature at the time of their arrest.

“This issue has nothing to do with First Amendment Rights; it has to do with public safety and the individual choices made by the arrested parties,” city officials said prior to the arraignment.


Hey, what a minute! These guys are falsifying the video evidence. They're trying to twist things around in their favor and hoodwink us all into believing something which isn't true. That's not fair; that's not very Christian.


Letter from the Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. - July 9, 2010
(full text below at end of this article)
http://www.cityofdearborn.org/images/stories/PDF/Government/Mayor/mayorletter07-09-2010.pdf



What the heck is this Acts 17 Apologetics?

From their web site, I find the Mission Statement of Acts 17 Apologetics:

The mission of Acts 17 Apologetics Ministries is to glorify God by defending the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

We also refute the arguments of those who oppose the True Gospel, most commonly the arguments of Muslims and atheists.

From their web site, Acts 17 Apologetics: About Us... Ah, I only see two names: Nabeel Qureshi and David Wood.

Who is Nabeel Qureshi? The About Us page states : Dr. Nabeel Qureshi is a former devout Muslim who was convinced of the truth of Christianity through apologetics and a spiritual search for God. Since his conversion...

Who is David Wood? The About Us page states: David Wood is a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy. A former atheist, David converted...

Hold it! They're converts? Oh boy, how many converts have I known who don't just convert but go to the ultimate extreme in the far end of the spectrum of belief in anything? They're right; everybody else is wrong. see my blog Extremism: I'm right, you're wrong (September 13, 2010)

From Press & Guide, July 27, 2010:
Two of the missionaries who were arrested say that Islam is a violent religion and that Christianity is the only true faith.

Hmmm, now let me get a proper picture of this group:
  • refute the arguments of those who oppose
  • converts
  • Christianity is the only true faith
Oh boy, this is a recipe for tolerance and understanding. Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe we have extremists in our midst and they ain't Muslim, they're Christian!!!

Good Christians, rise up against the ring-wing extremists in our midst. They seek to mislead us. They seek not peace, love and understanding; they seek war, hatred and ignorance.

"My" Christianity is tolerance.

"My" Christianity is acceptance.

"My" Christianity is peace.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
(Matthew 7:15 King James Version)


Let's get a grip, folks. The sky is not falling.

But this is what's happening:

Right-wing, extremist elements are at work in all camps everywhere. For them, the ends justify the means. This story isn't about a Christian group; it is about an extremist group. Act 17 Apologetics deliberately provoked a confrontation with the authorities in order to martyr themselves. They falsified video footage in order to seek out public sympathy to their cause. Their ultimate goal is to convert the world to their view. They are not interested in peaceful coexistence; they are only interested in domination.

The Ninth Commandment reads:

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exodus 20:16)

Stop. Think. Reflect. If you are about to rise up against your neighbor, something is very, very wrong.



References

15th Annual Dearborn Arab International Festival
June 18, 19 and 20, 2010
http://www.americanarab.com/component/content/article/42-rokstories/264-15th-annual-dearborn-arab-international-festival-june18-20-2010.html

Detroit Free Press - July 27, 2010
Rally in Dearborn backs arrested missionaries
Did Christians go too far? Or did city quash free speech?
http://www.freep.com/article/20100727/NEWS02/7270362/Rally-in-Dearborn-backs-arrested-missionaries

Press & Guide - July 27, 2010
ACLU joins those defending rights of Act 17 Apologetics at Arab Festival
http://www.pressandguide.com/articles/2010/07/27/news/doc4c4f0ed1eba80981771841.txt

MLive.com - July 27, 2010
Muslim candidate leads rally in Dearborn for Christian evangelists arrested at Arab Fest
http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2010/07/muslim_candidate_leads_rally_i.html

UPI (United Press International) - July 27, 2010
Muslim-led rally: Free arrested Christians
http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2010/07/27/Muslim-led-rally-Free-arrested-Christians/UPI-90181280255960/

Detroit Free Press - August 4, 2010
Newt Gingrich calls Dearborn arrests of missionaries extremism
http://www.freep.com/article/20100804/NEWS05/8040356/1318/Gingrich-calls-arrests-of-missionaries-extremism

Exposing David Wood: Of Mosques and Men, Pt. 1
Posted on 24 June 2010 by Garibaldi
http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/06/exposing-david-wood-of-mosques-and-men-pt-1/

Acts 17 Apologetics
http://www.acts17.net/

Dearborn and Islam: an open letter to Newt Gingrich by Ali Elhajj
http://alielhajj.com/?p=699
I write to you today as an American, Evangelical Christian, former Muslim, and an Arab who lived in Dearborn, Michigan for over 10 years. I also write to you as someone who lived through a civil war in the Middle East and now dedicates his life, through his work in the name of Christ, to reconciliation and understanding between Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians.

Newt Gingrich Plays Loose With The Facts To Bash Muslims by Matt Buss - July 28, 2010
http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/07/28/newt-gingrich-plays-loose-with-the-facts-to-bash-muslims/



References: Dearborn, Michigan

Wikipedia: Dearborn, Michigan
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dearborn,_Michigan

In the 2000 census, Arab Americans comprised 30% of Dearborn's population; many have been in the city for generations. More Iraqi immigrants have been arriving as refugees from the continued war in their country since 2003. The majority of recent Arab immigrants are Muslims. In the first half of the twentieth century, it was predominately Christian Arabs who immigrated to Metro Detroit. Lebanese descendants comprise the largest proportion of Arab Americans in Dearborn.




U.S. Census Bureau: The Arab Population 2000
http://www.census.gov/prod/2003pubs/c2kbr-23.pdf
Ten Places With Largest Arab Population
Dearborn: 29.85% of the total population is Arab

NPR (National Public Broadcasting) - May 12, 2005
Largest Mosque in USA opens in Dearborn
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4650047


From the Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. - July 9, 2010
http://www.cityofdearborn.org/images/stories/PDF/Government/Mayor/mayorletter07-09-2010.pdf

Please consider the following before condemning us

The City of Dearborn has been under attack for several years by a group identifying themselves as Acts 17 Apologetics. They arrive in Dearborn with the intent to disrupt a local cultural festival and misrepresent facts in order to further their mission of raising funds through emotional response. The funds they raise are then used to finance travel and cameras to disrupt other events in other cities.

In our case, the targeted event is not about the Muslim faith or its believers. It is a Middle Eastern cultural festival sponsored by a Chamber of Commerce and a local charitable service organization. Neither of these two entities have a religious alignment. Like events in cities all over our nation, this festival has a variety of entertainment and interests, including rides, games, performances, foods, souvenirs, and community information. Also like other events, it relies on sponsorships and fees to cover its costs. Large tents are set up to house organizations and businesses that want to have access to the thousands of people attending this event. These groups pay a modest fee for the privilege and are allowed to carry out their activity in an assigned space within the tents. There is no restriction placed on any lawful activity carried out in this manner, including preaching the word of God.

This past year, five Christian organizations and two Muslim organizations chose this lawful method of reaching the attendees. This is similar to past years and there has never been a problem or controversy about this type of preaching or religious engagement. The total number of table vendors at the festival exceeds eighty, so these seven faith-based groups represent a relatively small aspect of the festival. In all the materials released by Acts 17 Apologetics they have failed to mention this manner of preaching and evidencing the teaching of Jesus Christ, even though they have been offered the same opportunity each year.

In addition to the booths, we have a free speech zone at the festival for those that want free access to the festival to promote their message. This space was utilized this past year by two different Christian groups who were allowed to preach and proselytize the entire weekend without any interference. Acts 17 Apologetics did not mention this either, even though they were within 30 feet of this space when they pretended to be arrested.

Yes, I said pretended to be arrested. In a video they have posted on their website, they are standing near the Ferris wheel when some police officers approached them on Saturday, June 19. They lead you to believe that they were arrested shortly thereafter for passing out Christian flyers. Although they were temporarily detained for violating the festival rules regarding the location of the distribution of literature, they were not arrested on that day. And they were never arrested for passing out flyers.

On Friday, June 18, they behaved very differently than what you saw on film from Saturday, June 19. They were not handing out flyers but were aggressively engaging passers-by in confrontational debate when they were arrested and cited for Breach of the Peace and Failure to Obey the Lawful Order of a Police Officer. See www.cityofdearborn.org for more details.

Acts 17 always retained the right to carry out their activities in a lawful manner at the festival. The video taken on Saturday illustrates that the group returned to the festival after the four arrests on Friday.

Acts 17 Apologetics has been at the Arab Festival in past years and is well aware of the written policy with regard to crowd control. They are also aware of a federal court decision in favor of the Dearborn policy of controlled access to the festival site. This is standard practice at events all over the country. A site is identified and authorized by the government entity as a special event site. In the case of the Arab Festival, it is a number of commercial blocks between the rear alley accesses behind the businesses on either side of the commercial road.

Despite knowing this, Acts 17 Apologetics lead the viewers of the distorted video to believe that they are on public sidewalks. For the duration of the three-day event, the public sidewalks in front of the stores and businesses in the event district are no longer “public” in terms of the application of the First Amendment. They are in an area controlled to protect public safety during the event because of the extreme number of people occupying a space that was never intended to support that much activity. This practice has been upheld by the Supreme Court in “Hefron vs. International Society for Krishna Consciousness”

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0452_0640_ZS.html

And that is what the Federal Court upheld in June.

http://www.cityofdearborn.org/images/stories/PDF/fedcourtopinion.pdf

The court decisions protect every community that must balance personal freedom
with the need to provide public safety during an unusual situation.

At the time he was arrested on Friday, June 18, Mr. Wood had gathered a large crowd around him, blocking a key access point between the tents. The crowd was forced to grow bigger solely because people could not pass. Those who created this public danger did so with the knowledge that they were violating the laws because they wanted to be arrested while their cohorts were actively recording the event for posting on the web. They knew that they could inflame the passions of viewers who would be taken in by their misrepresentation of what was really going on. They have even found media that would put them on air to repeat these inaccurate representations without seeking information or the truth from others.

It makes a good news story to say that a community is infringing on peoples’ rights especially when it is couched in the true bias of generating negative feelings about another religion. The real violation of First Amendment rights occurs with Acts 17 Apologetics trying to imply they were the victim when the real violation is their attack on the City of Dearborn for having tolerance for all religions including believers in the Koran.

Dearborn is a true American City that welcomes everyone in the full spirit of our great constitution. We are a community of faith that is dedicated to the welfare of everyone whether resident or guest. These gross misrepresentations have caused us to come together in a stronger way.

Almost a year ago, after earlier attacks by Acts 17 Apologetics on Dearborn, I hosted a meeting with the Dearborn Area Ministerial Association (DAMA), a group of mostly Christian religious leaders, but inclusive of all faiths in Dearborn. I asked them to review the video from the 2009 festival, examine the facts and measure the impact on our community. The discussion was frank and sincere.

After that meeting with DAMA, a separate group of Dearborn Christian evangelical ministers released a written criticism of the actions and misrepresentations of Acts 17 Apologetics.

http://www.fairlanealliance.org/downloads/letter_concerning_acts_17.pdf

They released their statement only after trying to contact Acts 17 Apologetics to engage them in a discussion of how to achieve the goal of converting others to Christ. They were unsuccessful in getting a response from Acts 17.

The truth is Christian evangelists are active at the Arab Festival. They participate in lawful ways. While many are local, some, like world renowned minister and author Josh McDowell, come to the festival because it offers a large number of people who can be engaged in the message of the New Testament. He and the other evangelists followed the rules and have been successful in achieving their goals. Mr. McDowell posted positive recordings of his experience at the festival in 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIH1F7KGWnY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzh3MYv1L4A

These videos provide a sharp contrast to the recordings of Acts 17 Apologetics and, better yet, they have only truth as their motive.

Dearborn is not your enemy nor are the people who live here. People who would promote hatred and lies to get others to act in ways that are contrary to what America stands for are the real enemy for all lovers of our country. History is full of horrific events that were manufactured by lies to get good people to act purely emotionally to achieve the deceiver’s ends. We hope that you will choose to become informed and avoid being taken in by people that have yet to share true faith with anyone in Dearborn.

Sincerely,
Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr.
City of Dearborn


2010-08-18

Monday, 16 August 2010

Freedom of Speech: Freedom to say "anything"?


In Canada, the anti-Jewish extremist Salman Hossain has been charged in absentia with three counts of promoting hatred and two counts of advocating genocide based on what he said on his web site.

In the United States, the white supremacist "shock jock" radio host Hal Turner has been found guilty of threatening 3 judges based on what he said in his blog.

We all think we're free to say anything we want but are we free to say absolutely anything?







In the USA: Freedom of Speech

The Constitution of the United States was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights came into effect on December 15, 1791. The first amendment reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Wikipedia defines Freedom of Speech as the freedom to speak without censorship or limitation, or both. Wikipedia goes on to further qualify this in its article Freedom of Speech in the United States:
Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions and state and federal laws. Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, sexism, and other hate speech are generally permitted. There are exceptions to these general protection, including the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent danger, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors and inventors over their works and discoveries (copyright and patent), interests in "fair" political campaigns (Campaign finance laws), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander).
A key phrase from the above explanation is this:
Criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas that people may find distasteful or against public policy, such as racism, sexism, and other hate speech are generally permitted.
Starting from this point that one is free to express any idea; the above explanation notes that there is an attempt to balance the rights to free speech and other rights. I make note here of "protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons" or "the use of untruths to harm others".

Is Freedom of Speech absolute? Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, wrote in a ruling in the case Schenck vs. United States, 1919:
The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.

Mr. Holmes presented a qualifying test to judging free speech by stating that such speech must not bring about a clear and present danger. You can't falsely shout Fire! in a crowded theater as you could cause panic.

About the court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969, Wikipedia states that it held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.

Wikipedia explains Imminent Lawless Action:
Imminent lawless action is a term used in the United States Supreme Court case Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) to define the limits of constitutionally protected speech. The rule overturned the decision of the earlier Schenck v. United States (1919), which had established "clear and present danger" as the constitutional limit for speech. Under the imminent lawless action test, speech is not protected by the First Amendment if the speaker intends to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely.
...
The doctrine states that speech that will cause, or has as its purpose, "imminent lawless action" (such as a riot) does not have constitutional protection. As of 2009, "imminent lawless action" continues to be the test applied in free speech cases.

The Wikipedia entry on the court case Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969, ends with:
The Brandenburg test was the Court's last major statement on what government may do about inflammatory speech that seeks to incite others to lawless action. It resolved the debate between those who urged greater government control of speech for reasons of security and those who favored allowing as much speech as possible and relying on the marketplace of ideas to reach a favorable result...
...
As of 2009, the Brandenburg test is still the standard used for evaluating attempts to punish inflammatory speech, and it has not been seriously challenged since it was laid down in 1969.
...

The above entry uses the term marketplace of ideas which Wikipedia defines as:
The "marketplace of ideas" is a rationale for freedom of expression based on an analogy to the economic concept of a free market. The "marketplace of ideas" belief holds that the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in free, transparent public discourse, an important part of liberal democracy.


Where does this leave us?

It would seem that we arrive at the last major decision on the question of free speech in the United States. The test as to whether one is free to say anything depends on whether what the person says could lead to an imminent lawless action. Otherwise, the marketplace of ideas will in the end ultimately decide the fate of an idea, whether it takes root in the collective conscience or whether it withers and dies.


Subverted Nation by Adam Austin
http://www.subvertednation.net/about-2/
Subverted Nation is the place to go for hard hitting, no holds barred analysis of current and past events relating to, what many deem, the jewish question, but this is not the question…it is the only answer. This is indeed the one true enemy of mankind, and all that stands for good. So here, they are given no quarter, as they have never given quarter to any peoples throughout history. Undermining whole nations, committing genocide against their peoples, ritually murdering their children. They bring with them viscious depravity in the place of morality, and deeming themselves god’s to rule over humanity, they leave nothing to question. The mission behind Subverted Nation is to disseminate information, in a fashion unlike all other outlets for news pertaining to the “jewish question”. Subverted Nation exposes to the American people how our country has been undermined, by a parasite that eats away at it’s hosts until it is bled dry.
http://www.subvertednation.net/the-real-reason-for-the-holocaust-hoax/
Why would I call for a “final solution” of death to all jews and followers of judaism, cabala, and the like?
...
I am NOT advocating violence or BREAKING ANY LAWS. Let’s get that disclaimer out there before someone gets a hair up their ass to bother me about what I’m saying. Again, I am merely stating the FACTS to you as they ARE and as they ALWAYS WILL BE, and I am doing so well within the law. In fact, I would LOVE NOTHING MORE than for our military and law enforcement to CARRY OUT THESE TASKS LAWFULLY, but they will not because they are controlled by the jew owned media and hollywood, not to mention they (just like the so-called truth movement) are LEAD BY THE JEW.


A Voice For Men by Paul Elam
[Note: Mr. Elam has modified his web site and the following links are now invalid. I will endeavour to find the associated articles.]
http://www.avoiceformen.com/about/
The purpose of this web site is to offer information, perspective, and most importantly direction for men living in the age of virulent misandry.
...
Feminism is a Marxist strategy designed to undermine the family and all other traditional institutions so that the primary relationship individuals have is ultimately with The State.
...
Central to pulling this off was to first vilify masculinity, then criminalize it. 
...
The only thing that remains for men is their own survival. It is men who are the pack animals and indentured servants of this new world order. And their answer is not in going to war against Marxism, which will only result in the certain evisceration of their lives. Their answer is quite simply... to abandon any notion of commitment to women or vulnerability to them.
...
The emphasis [of this web site] ... will be anti marriage and anti commitment to the core.
http://www.avoiceformen.com/2010/07/20/jury-duty-at-a-rape-trial-acquit/
Jury Duty at a Rape Trial? Acquit!
...
Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.
...
your fellow jurors, who can be assumed to be living unconsciously in the misandric matrix
...
Women lie about being raped, judicial politicians make careers off of putting away sexual offenders, and a brainwashed public cheers it all on.
...
If the system is rigged, then the outcome must be assumed to be tainted.
...

Voting not guilty on any charge of rape is the only way to remain faithful to the concept of presumed innocence.
...
Better a rapist would walk the streets than a system that merely mocks justice enslave another innocent man.


The Knights Party, USA - The Ku Klux Klan
http://www.kkk.bz/hello.htm
Hello, all of us at the national office would like to thank you for stopping by our site. We have prepared this site in order to give an accurate portrayal of the nationalist movement.
The entertainment industry backed by individuals with a Marxist agenda have waged an attack upon the consciousness' of white Christians. To further obliterate any remaining racial instinct among our people, those who hate white Christian civilization have chosen to desecrate anything which might cause a stirring of loyalty and heritage in the heart. They say Christianity must go and they say nationalist pride must go.
From changing the names of schools, streets, avenues, stadiums, libraries, etc. to Martin Luther King ....to the toppling of Southern monuments, anything which has the potential of causing a white person to swell with pride is forbidden.
...
We want to state for the record that we do not endorse hatred. It is hypocritical for one to think a black, Asian, Mexican or any other person should be praised for being loyal to their heritage. Yet a white person can feel the same sense of pride and be criticized for it. It doesn't make sense.
...
The Knights is a love group not a hate group. We love America and the Christian foundation of our nation. We love our white brothers and sisters world wide and we recognize the contributions they have made to civilization. We also realize that our nation's future and in fact all white Christian civilization is in jeopardy.

Conclusion

3 web sites are supposedly operating within the law of freedom of speech: one anti-Jewish, one anti-women and one anti-non-white. Despite the rhetoric supporting their individual self-prescribed goals, one could argue that there is no threat of an imminent lawless action, the key word here being "imminent". Yes, nothing is going to happen in the next 10 minutes; yes, nothing "may" happen tomorrow or next week. Who knows? Freedom of speech means you are permitted to say what you want, to express whatever thoughts you have. At this point, the marketplace of ideas will decide the fate of these ideas, whether they take root in the collective conscience or whether they wither and die.

Or, is it that simple?


Hal Turner


Mr. Turner is a shock jock radio host and a white supremacist that has a history of threatening public figures. In 2005, disagreeing with the handling of a court case against Matt Hale (another white supremacist who is now in jail), Turner published the names and addresses of the presiding judges on his web site with the suggestion they should be assassinated. In 2008, he once again encouraged violence against a school superintendent who had set up a curriculum supporting gays and lesbians.

On June 2, 2009, in response to a 3 judge panel upholding a handgun ban in Chicago, Turner wrote on his blog:
"Let me be the first to say this plainly: These judges deserve to be killed. Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty. A small price to pay to assure freedom for millions."
Turner then published information on how to find the judges.

Mr. Turner was arrested on June 3, 2009 on charges of inciting his website's readers to take up arms against the officials. There have been 3 trials. The first trial ended with the jury being deadlocked, the 2nd was declared a mistrial but the 3rd trial found him guilty on August 13, 2010 of threatening the 3 judges. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Hal Turner, in his defence, stated that he did not say that he himself would kill the judges; he merely said that they deserve to be killed.

Postscript: On 21 December 2010, Hal Turner was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

2 Final Points

Point #1

Are we totally free to say anything we want without any consequences whatsoever? Can we be totally absolved of any responsibility, of any complicity in what transpires as a result of our words? Can we falsely yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater then in the ensuing panic say, "Hey! It's not my fault you believed me."?

Point #2

I repeat what I have said elsewhere:
A friend is the principal of a public school in an area where the students come from all over the world, from all sorts of backgrounds. The school board publishes a school calendar on which is noted every religious holiday and celebration for everybody: Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddha, Bahá'í, etc. and all students are always made aware of everybody else's observances. In fact, ofttimes the entire school celebrates various festivals so that everybody is observing Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, Diwali or Ramadan.
This friend pointed out to me recently, in talking about the children of this school that children already know how to love; they "learn" how to hate.

Is this "freedom of speech", the freedom to say anything we want, "misused" as the freedom to teach, promote and incite hatred?



References

I am in no way going to claim I have exhaustively covered this topic. I realize in researching this article that I have not covered all the rulings of various court cases (Hess v. Indiana, 1973) which have had an effect on the law or the differences between the U.S. and Canada and other countries. However, I hope I have provided enough detail and background material to clearly make my point about freedom of speech and its limits and associated issues.

Wikipedia: First Amendment to the United States Constitution
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

Wikipedia: Freedom of Speech
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech

Wikipedia: Freedom of Speech in the United States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech_in_the_United_States

Wikipedia: Shouting fire in a crowded theater
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shouting_fire_in_a_crowded_theater

Wikipedia: Brandenburg v. Ohio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg_v._Ohio

Wikipedia: Imminent lawless action
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imminent_lawless_action

Wikipedia: Marketplace of Ideas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketplace_of_ideas

Wikipedia: Hal Turner
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Turner

Old Fart Rants: Danger Will Robinson
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=US8ZqwitKGM

2010-08-16

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