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Control of Cultural Achievements

CRSPRThere is no denying the great cultural achievements of western civilization, its technological brilliance.  Virtually all modern innovation, and most of contemporary science comes from Europe and North America- a handful of countries representing a small fraction of the world’s population.  Not coincidentally, these are the regions of the world where democracy and economic freedom have flourished. The German-American Jewish anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) put it this way:

The poorer in cultural achievements, the greater the number of ingrained rules and proscriptions which work to determine every action.”

The corollary is that we can expect societies with fewer rules, with greater freedom to have greater cultural achievements, whether the steam engine or CRSPR gene editing technology.

Limits and Freedom

Every culture imposes limits on its members. Incest (however defined) or murder are pretty much universal.  In many societies, the social structure tells people their obligations, rather than some authority figures. There is “cultural freedom” to do as you please within the bounds of acceptable behavior.  A free person is in harmony with his culture.

There is also a concept of moral freedom, which is action in accord with the supreme reason (human, not godly reason) which governs the universe.  It’s expressed in the general will of the members of a society.

It’s to the general will that the individual must address himself to know how far he ought to be a man, a citizen, a subject, a father, a child, and when it is suitable to live or die.”

The philosopher Diderot explained that the general will was truth discovered through the power of reason.  Once that truth had been discovered, whoever refused to accept it was “either insane or wicked and morally evil,” an enemy of humanity.

Cultural and moral freedom are not the same.  The former changes over time.  It responds to undirected shifts in circumstance, be they technological, economic or social.  Moral freedom on the other hand presupposes a universal, timeless truth which transcends, or rather over-rides the individual’s ability to choose.

The Cultural Achievements of Political Correctness

Here we have the ideological basis for political correctness, for the moral fascism sweeping contemporary Western societies, condemning their cultural achievements, their science, their progress.  The supreme reason governing the universe does not allow for deviance.  In socialist countries, this reason is embodied in the State.  In democratic nations, the intellectual elite, considering itself trained in advanced reason, considers itself as the personification of that supreme truth.  The elite considers itself the West’s greatest cultural achievement.

In the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early part of the twentieth century, the primary concern of Western democratic governments was the

the cultural achievements of the Reign of Terror

The Reign of Terror

protection of individual rights.  In the twenty-first century progressives encourage the state to embody the supreme reason which they have discerned.  The concern of liberal governments is collective, rather than individual choice.  Conformity to universal reason is necessary for the sake of humanity.  Dissent can get you fired, or, as some would wish it, jailed.  Language must use contrived jargon reflecting the reasoning of those who express the proper moral order of the universe.  Violence becomes a political right in promoting the general will.

The Cultural Achievements of the Reign of Terror

Portland anti-Trump riot

Riot against democracy

It’s the same ideological foundation as failed Marxist totalitarianism.  It’s the same foundation as the Reign of Terror which followed the French Revolution.  To disagree with unfettered tolerance of aberrant behavior, abortion on demand, social housing, race / gender quotas or even gender-restricted washrooms, is to sin against reason, against morality.

The Cultural Achievements of Twenty-One Thousand Rules

During his years in office, President Obama’s administration imposed twenty-one thousand new rules and regulations upon American consumers and businesses.  The progressives who supported him were just as industrious, attempting to regulate behavior, language, thought, and religion.  The urge to regulate has been pervasive in Western democracies.

Western civilization has a great record of cultural achievement, technological and scientific innovation.  If our societies continue to increase “the number of ingrained rules and proscriptions which work to determine every action,” this record of achievements will be ended, to the detriment of all humanity.  This indeed goes against morality, against reason.

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“So this is how liberty dies

…with thunderous applause”

I’m a sci-fi enthusiast. I love The Time Machine, the many volumes of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, Asimov’s Robot and Foundation series, and more. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen Star Trek (TV and film), and Star Wars.  When my kids were young, I ran Star Trek role-playing games at my synagogue. We had the toys, the costumes, the books, the video tapes, and then the DVDs. I gave religious talks based on sci-fi themes. I was a serious enthusiast. The scene in Star Wars- Revenge of the Sith, where Padme observes “this is how liberty dies…” is to my mind a critical political observation.

So I’m trying to understand why I’m not in a hurry to see The Force Awakens, the new Star Wars movie. It’s not because I’m getting old. It’s not because I’m afraid that Disney ruined the franchise, or that the Jedi have turned into Bambi. I trust the Director, J.J. Abrams. He makes good films. Nor am I concerned that The Force Awakens will only have a short run in theaters.

The reviews are great. My children and grandchildren loved it. The merchandising is ubiquitous. But I don’t care.

This is how liberty dies

In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian sci-fi novel Brave New World, the public is distracted from important issues by non-stop drugs and sex. In 1958, Huxley revisited Brave New World, examining contemporary western culture and finding that his dystopia had been realized. He concluded, to his dismay, that

what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies — the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant… non-stop distractions of the most fascinating nature… are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation.

How liberty dies- Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

The Force Awakens is a distraction of the most fascinating nature. A new threat arises, thirty years after the fall of the evil Galactic Empire. We had a terrestrial equivalent to the Galactic Empire, and its end was sealed thirty years ago, with the appointment of the reformer Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The USSR was a utopian nightmare, whose goal was to spread its own brand of socialism across the entire world. Gorbachev dismantled its brutal system of central control, freeing the economy and allowing the people, and ultimately its subject nations the freedom to make their own decisions. Socialist oppression is for most of the world a bitter memory, its tens of millions of victims long buried. The few holdout states such as Cuba, North Korea, China and Vietnam are more concerned with nationalist issues than global ideological conquest.

We don’t have a new threat. We have the resurgence of a very old one. But it is just as dangerous as the unrealized Communist hegemony, and oh so much more depraved. While the Communist leaders had the ability to start World War III, they knew enough to back off, when actually facing it. Destruction of the planet was not an acceptable outcome.

How liberty dies Caliph of the Islamic State

The Caliph of the Islamic State

Islamic militants look forward to the apocalypse, the end of the world, to usher in an Islamic utopia. From Indonesia to England they have attacked tourists, schoolchildren, concert-goers, shoppers, transit users— anybody at the target location. There is no concern of avoiding collateral damage, when the intent is to wreak terror in a population you want to subdue.

Darth-Vader_6bda9114

The Caliph’s moral superior

Except in Israel, most western citizens will not be personally touched by terror. After all, there is a statistically higher chance of choking to death. Governments and media pundits respond to terror attacks by saying that terrorists don’t represent Muslims; I believe them. American political leaders claim that the Islamic State, ISIS, is not Islamic , and so there’s no need to worry about Islam’s growing reach, about increasing the Muslim population in the Europe and North America.

The leader of ISIS, its Caliph, has a PhD in Islamic Studies, and probably knows more than President Obama about what is and what isn’t “Islamic.” Nonetheless, many Americans, Canadians and Europeans will accept Obama’s assurances that ISIS is contained.  There’s nothing to worry about, even as the number and scale of terrorist attacks escalates. People can pay attention to their foes on the football field, or  the big screen. But this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause. The unreal, the irrelevant distracts people from the actual threats in their neighborhoods, in their cities, countries, on their planet. They pay attention to the menace in a galaxy far, far away.

How liberty dies Yazidi children

Yazidi children on the ground

So I don’t care about the new Star Wars movie, at least not enough to rush out to see it. There is more important, more gripping drama taking place in my own galaxy, on my own planet; it deserves my attention. And it’s not something where I am a passive viewer, unable to affect the outcome. I can write letters to the editor, I can express myself on Facebook. I can donate to organizations such as CYCI— The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq. I can support the politicians who recognize the seriousness of the threat, and have a strategy to deal with it. With Star Wars- The Force Awakens, all I can do is decide how much money to spend on tickets and merchandise.

This is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause and deafening ignorance.

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Paris: A Fool’s Paradise Is a Wise Man’s Hell

A Fool’s Paradise Is a Wise Man’s Hell

Thomas Fuller

The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have seen incredible progress in science, technology, art, philosophy, morality, and more. Not only that, but we can

Senegalese farmers learning how to install the Tipa irrigation kit

access all that knowledge and wisdom from a device we carry around in our pockets. We have even transcended modernity according to many progressive thinkers, and moved into the “post-modern” era. There is no need for a religious messiah; we have carried ourselves into paradise, albeit a fool’s paradise. Truly these are enlightened times; the realization of humanity’s universal values.

These enlightened values are a force in themselves. John Kerry, the American Secretary of State reacted to Russia’s invasion of the Crimea by telling Russia “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.” The times, according to Kerry, dictate behavior. In a similar fashion, the new Prime Minister of Canada, when asked why a fifty percent female cabinet was important to him said, “Because it’s 2015.” President Obama, reacting to the Islamic terror attacks in Paris stated that “this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share.”

It seems those values aren’t so universal.

Muslims make up over twenty percent of the earth’s population. While we can assume that most don’t support violence on the scale of the Paris attacks, if we look around at the world’s Muslim-controlled regions, we can see that they operate with different values than the ones adhered to by Secretary Kerry, Prime Minister Trudeau, or President Obama.

They made gallows just high enough for the feet to nearly touch the ground ... and they burned the Indians alive.'

‘They made gallows just high enough for the feet to nearly touch the ground … and they burned the Indians alive.’

But it would be wrong to assume that the problem is simply Islam. Christianity, followed by Islam, developed the concept of the religious enemy (in contradistinction to the political enemy). All non-believers are sub-humans, and bereft of rights. In early Spanish South America, for example there was a

…common practice of snatching [native] children from their mother’s arms and throwing them to be devoured alive by dogs, or smashing them against the rocks and throwing them to die in the mountains. The usual way to kill native leaders was in groups of thirteen, in honor of Jesus and the twelve apostles!”

The rape, torture and mutilation of native women by the Spaniards differed little from ISIS’ contemporary treatment of Yazidi and Christians. This contrasts with the Biblical rules of war for dealing with captive women, where such women were given a month to mourn for their captivity, and could not be sold or enslaved. And even the idea of

'A man bought me and took me to Tal Afar: when we arrived I was forced into marriage. That night he tied my hands and legs and he blindfolded me. Then he raped me. He hit me with a whip.'

‘A man bought me and took me to Tal Afar: when we arrived I was forced into marriage… he tied my hands and legs and he blindfolded me. Then he raped me. He hit me with a whip.’

capturing a woman was considered evil. It seems that a set of morals accepted over three thousand years ago is more enlightened than the values of a large part of humanity today.

Morality is not linear and progressive, especially if we are charting the behavior of mankind. It is a jagged line, soaring to phenomenal heights and astonishing depravity. We cannot expect the passage of time to elevate people’s behavior. There are no universal values that we all share, whether in the realm of political autonomy or the human right to life. It’s a fool’s paradise to think otherwise. Ask Vladimir Putin about the Crimea. Ask ISIS about the rights of captives. Ask a Muslim imam for an paris destructionunqualified condemnation of the Paris terror attacks. To use “universal values,” the “twenty first century” or the year being 2015 to formulate strategy is to walk from a fool’s paradise straight into the hell of Paris, Madrid, New York, Washington, or Buenos Aires… A wise man understands we are already there.

 

 

 

Your comments are welcome

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The Physics of Lynch Mobs

cropped-SCOTTS-2ibxcg1

For Every Action There is an Equal and Opposite Reaction

Forces always occur in pairs. For example, when you push a cart, the cart pushes back against you; when gravity pulls you down against the ground, the ground pushes up against your feet. When you fire a rifle, you feel the recoil. When gravity pulls down on a neck in a noose, the rope pulls up. Whether it’s a jet plane, a rowboat or a baseball bat, Newton’s Third Law of Motion shapes just about everything in our lives that can be touched or felt.

This is a basic law of physics; it’s not a philosophical or theological principle. Nonetheless, it can give us some insight for understanding why the world is moving backwards at the same pace it’s advancing. At the same time that spacecraft travel beyond the outer reaches of the solar system and cancer is treated through genetic engineering, the Islamic Caliphate is fighting the same brutal wars as a thousand years ago. At the same time that the United States has its first black President, it experiences the same, or worse race riots as fifty years ago. This time though, it can’t be blamed on the powerlessness of black people. A black President, Mayor, Prosecutor, Congressional Representatives and policemen in Baltimore all attest to force being exerted, pushing the lives of black people. Is racial progress pushing upwards? One can certainly make a strong argument that black people in high positions are in control of black lives in Baltimore. Yet there seems to be an equal force pushing down.

Schrödinger’s cat / drug dealer

Sir Isaac Newton first presented his three laws of motion in 1686. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, scientists realized that really, really tiny things didn’t obey Newton’s Laws.  The rules used to understand the motion of a bullet or cart couldn’t be used to explain how an electron or atom works.

A thought experiment (one that was not performed, but took place only in the experimenter’s mind) was devised by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who imagined a quantum experiment with a cat:

cat good bad newsA cat is placed in a steel box along with a Geiger counter, a vial of poison, a hammer, and a radioactive substance…  Until the box is opened, an observer doesn’t know whether the cat is alive or dead—because the cat’s fate is intrinsically tied to whether or not the atom has decayed and the cat would, as Schrödinger put it, be “living and dead … in equal parts” until it is observed.  In other words, until the box was opened, the cat’s state is completely unknown and therefore, the cat is considered to be both alive and dead at the same time until it is observed.

This is counter-intuitive; it defies reason. Cats are either dead or alive. One can say that Schrödinger used the experiment to highlight the limits of Quantum Mechanics when applied to practical situations. The cat is actually either dead or alive, whether or not it has been observed.

Let’s consider a variation on the experiment. The steel box will be the back of a police van. The Geiger counter, the poison, hammer and uranium will be an unused seat belt, drugs, and protruding bolts. Instead of a cat, we’ll place Freddy Gray, a convicted narcotics dealer in the box, possibly busted in the midst of a drug deal. To increase the uncertainty we’ll add a witness who did and did not see Gray deliberately trying to injure himself.

Was Gray both dead and alive in the box? What took his life: was he poisoned by drugs, killed by a protruding bolt. Was it decay from a beating? Did someone hammer him with a police baton? The box has been opened, his death as been observed.  Though we lack crucial information, a verdict has been demanded in the name of justice; in the name of blind justice.

Back To The Future of Lynch Mobs

Lynching is the execution of an offender by a mob without due process of law. In the United States approximately 4,742 individuals were killed this way between 1882 and 1968; of the victims, 3,445 or 73 percent were Black. Some of the lynchings were preceeded by trials, but angry crowds, often stirred up by the press, could tip the hand of justice against the accused. Newspapers provided graphic and grizzly reports, using language that implied that the victim was indeed guilty, and deserving of his fate.

Leo Frank lynch mob

The lynching of Leo Frank

With very few exceptions the practice had pretty much died out by World War II. It was no longer socially acceptable. Although the American justice system is far from perfect, it does offer advantages over mob rule. In theory, evidence is gathered to determine guilt, appropriate charges are laid, and a judge or jury issues a decision based on the evidence.

Have we gone through a time warp, or is it Newton’s inexorable law of motion? Great racial progress has been made in the American justice system. There’s a black Attorney General, black Supreme Court Justice, black prosecutors, black police… Rarely is a black person tried by an all-white jury.

Yet despite this progress, we have lynch mobs in Ferguson, Miami, and Baltimore. Stirred up by the media, motivated by race-baiters such as the President, the mayor and the prosecutor, sympathy riots spread throughout the United States. Justice can only be served, they all said, when the police are convicted. When the people whose job it is to uphold justice have determined the desired outcome before the trial, there is no justice system, there are lynch mobs.

Entropy

boxes3

entropy illustrated

Entropy is a function of thermodynamic variables, with cosmological and social implications. It’s a hypothetical tendency for the universe to attain a state of maximum homogeneity in which all matter is at a uniform temperature (heat death). Based on this, in 1854, Hermann von Helmholtz made what is probably the gloomiest prediction in the history of science, that the universe is dying. Physicists of the day presumed that the underlying laws of physics (then assumed to be Newton’s laws of mechanics) are symmetric in time. Such laws, which made no distinction between past and future, gave rise to a directed arrow which we know as time.

There are many explanations, many discussions around this enigma (all beyond the scope of this essay). We should ask though, is humanity working towards a state of maximum homogeneity, in which all people are uniform? Racial equality, the end of discrimination is a worthy ideal, but when it’s all we focus on, we reverse time’s arrow, and re-create the lynch mobs of a century ago. Are we bringing ourselves to a social equivalent of heat death, with government officials promoting lynch mobs?

 Schrödinger’s Lynch Mob

In a previous essay, we cited Schrödinger’s association of consciousness with learning; adapting to change, learning from experience, transforming humanity. The racial upheaval that’s taken place in the United States shows a society that hasn’t learned, hasn’t adapted, not even to the changes it has wrought upon itself. A society that has lost consciousness. A society that has yet to realize that the election and elevation of people merely based on race rather than qualification will have an equal and opposite effect, that is the degradation of all races, the degradation of that society. The relentless push towards homogeneity will result in the heat death of burning communities, and of order and organization in society.

 

Note:

Dr. Amanda Peet (the physicist, not the actress) recounts the joke that sociology is applied psychology, psychology applied biology, biology applied chemistry, and chemistry applied physics.  Physics is a fascinating field, which grows more so with each new day. Quantum and cosmological weirdness provide a basis for philosophizing on many grand ideas. But people are not quantum objects (though they are made of them). Societies are not governed by the laws of thermodynamics. Physics concepts are applied in this essay as metaphors, not scientific statements.  They are used to illustrate.

 

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Peaceful Times Are Over

The Dark Ages Have Arrived

It’s been peaceful here in North America.  There hasn’t been a war in the United States since the end of the Civil War a

Really?

Really?

hundred and fifty years ago.  There hasn’t been a war in Canada since we kicked America’s ass in the War of 1812.  We’re not used to; we can’t understand the concept of our streets and cities becoming battlefields.  Some demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri think that their police force is worse than ISIS.  It’s hard to wrap your head around mass slaughter, rape and beheadings.  It’s hard to understand what evil is.

The old North American wars were relatively mild.  The fighting took place on battlefields, and the victims were mostly soldiers.  Some cities were devastated, farms destroyed.  We burned the White House in 1812, an event that made it into the

When we weren't allies

When we weren’t allies

American national anthem.

The wars we’ve fought since then have more or less followed the same format: soldier against soldier.  They’ve adhered more or less to the Hague Convention of 1899, the Geneva Convention, both designed to limit the barbarity of war, and the suffering on non-combatants.

The peaceful time is over

The peaceful time is over.  We’re under attack by an enemy that doesn’t care about civilian casualties.  It doesn’t even distinguish between combatants and non-combatants.  According to their code of war (the Koran), if you’re not one of them, then you’re an enemy who has to be destroyed, or at least subjugated.  In many instances, our foes don’t have armies, so there are no soldiers to identify and destroy.  A man driving an ordinary car through the streets of Jerusalem is their fighter, his vehicle his weapon as he drives into a crowd and kills a three-month-old baby.  A man driving an ordinary car in a shopping center parking lot in Saint-Jean, Quebec is their fighter, as he deliberately mows down two soldiers walking together.

Freedom go to hell

Freedom go to hell

So who do we fight against?  Ordinary Muslims, who just want to go about their lives as citizens?  How do we tell them from the Muslims who are participating in the glory of war against the infidels?  Do we expel all of them; lock them up behind barbed wire?  That’s inconceivable.  It doesn’t fit our enlightened civilization.

Maybe we can just ban them from driving.  But the terrorists have a habit of developing new strategies every time we learn to deal with the old ones.  If they don’t use cars, they’ll use bicycles.  If they don’t use knives, they’ll use box-cutters.  And again, such discrimination doesn’t fit our enlightened civilization.

We have to protect ourselves

But we have to protect ourselves.  The best way, to my mind, is to keep Canadians from wanting to be terrorists.  It’s not an original idea.  The RCMP worked with the family and Imam of the Saint-Jean terrorist, to steer him away from his radical agenda.  Their strategy failed; I have a better one.

The news media is full of stories of ISIS victories.  They brazenly behead people.  They machine gun victims lying in the dirt.  They boast about selling captive women as slaves.  They’ve taken control of huge swaths of Iraq, laying waste to years of blood and sacrifice by the mighty Americans.  The world speaks their name with fear.  Even Al Qaeda, which brought down the World Trade Center, seems passé.  People like winners, and ISIS seems to be winning.  Losers like Michael Zehaf Bibeau and Martin (Ahmad) Couture-Rouleau are enamored, and want to be on the winning side.

Let’s show ISIS as the losers they really are

Let’s show ISIS as the losers they really are.  Let’s carry the war back to their shores, and give them a real fight.  They may be strong raping women, murdering children and having sex with goats and donkeys.  How strong are ISIS terrorists when fighting real soldiers, intent on their defeat?  Will ISIS cower proudly as Western air power bombs it back to the Stone Age?  If we allow the development of North American oil and gas resources, we won’t have to give them enough money afterwards to climb back past the Bronze Age.

War isn’t peaceful, and we don’t like it.  But it’s here.  They attacked us, and they’re going to keep attacking until we either submit, or crush them. If we’re not choosing appeasement or surrender, then the choice is whether we crush them here or there.  I prefer there.

Both Prime Minister Harper and President Obama have starved their respective armed forces.  While the U.S. government is quickly running out of money, Prime Minister Harper’s advisors have been wondering what to do with the large anticipated federal budget surplus.  The attacks in Saint Jean and Ottawa have answered that question.

Highest ranking Muslim officer in the IDF

Highest ranking Muslim officer in the IDF

If Canadians and Americans see a military that is motivated to win, led by commanders who believe in the fight, then the good guys (us) will look like the winners.  People of all faiths will be motivated to participate.  If the Israel Defense Forces can have Muslims commanders, Canada and the U.S. can do better than having its Muslim citizens running over or shooting soldiers.

I quoted George Washington in a previous post:  “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.”  Let’s drop our old assumptions, and preserve the peace.  All-out war against terrorists is the best way to chase away the darkness, to bring back the peaceful times before they fade into a distant memory.

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Hallelujah: The Messiah Has Arrived

has the messiah brought redemption or the apocalypse?

has messianic era brought redemption or apocalypse?

Well, not quite the Messiah, but the messianic era.  It’s been affirmed by Barak Obama, leader of the free world.  In his pre-golf speech about the beheading of James Foley, the President stated

“One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.”

This remarkable declaration of faith holds that it is the date, it’s our history of moral evolution that determines the behavior of people.  Mankind has been redeemed through its adherence to religious values such as social justice, equality and peace.  And it’s not just western liberals who hold this point of view.  Obama continued

“Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values…”

We do?

As thousands of young men flock to Iraq from all over the world to join in ISIL’s barbarous ways, it seems the terrorists do indeed have a place in the 21st century.

And what’s this common set of values Obama’s referring to?  Democracy?  National integrity? Respect for individual autonomy?  Respect for life?  How about honesty?  Surely everyone would agree with that .

A quick look at China, Cuba, or North Korea shows that there are many people who place no value on democracy.  The Ukraine and Tibet have sadly learned that respect for another nation’s integrity is far down on the list of their allies’ priorities.  In West Papua, Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy repeated Neville Chamberlain’s strategy, of sacrificing one nation to appease an aggressor’s demands and threats.

Is there individual autonomy in a country that tells people what they are allowed to write, what they are allowed to think, or eat?

If we want to talk about respect for life, look at the Palestinians, who cherish death.  Look at what Assad has done to the Syrian people; look at what the Syrians do to each other.

Honesty?  Dorian Johnson, the key witness whose testimony led to days of rioting and looting in Missouri, was arrested previously for lying to the police.  But according to an official of the National Association for the

What did Sharpton find in the Attorney General's pocket?

What did Sharpton find in the Attorney General’s pocket?

Advancement of Colored People, his track record as a liar didn’t hurt his credibility as a witness.  Nor did Al Sharpton’s record of deceit diminish his ability to agitate the population, and keep him in the press spotlight.  Eric Holder, the individual responsible for the American Justice system backed up Johnson, Sharpton, et al.

Honesty?  Many Americans, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or devout secularist have no trouble treating blatant lies about Israel as the gods’ own truth.  They happily lie to themselves, because the fabricated stories are more appealing to their sense of justice.  Their legitimacy is irrelevant.

It seems that the world has a different set of 21st century common values; ideals such as arrogance and entitlement.  Responsibility is shunned, power is feared, life is debased, and truth is malleable.

ISIL and its ideological allies appear to have many places in the 21st century.  The leaders of Western society must abandon their messianic dreams about the enlightened status of contemporary civilization.  If our leaders don’t have the courage to identify the enemy and attack, our century will belong to these medieval savages.  We’ll have an apocalypse, rather than messiah.  ISIS knows that President Obama is right; it has no place in the 21st century.  That’s why it’s taking the world back to a more savage past.

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Angels of Jihad, Angels of Apathy

Muselmann- at the edge of becoming angels

Muselmann; original art by Esti Mayer

Electricity has made angels of us all…  Unlike print, TV doesn’t transport bits of classified information.  Instead it transports the viewer.  It takes his spirit on a trip, an instant trip.  On live shows, it takes his spirit to real events in progress.

But here a contradiction occurs: though TV may make the viewer’s spirit an actual witness to the spectacle of life, he cannot live with this.  If he sees a criminal making ready to murder a sleeping woman & can’t interfere, can’t warn her, he suffers & is afflicted because his being is phantasmal.

So he participates solely as a dreamer, in no way responsible for events that occur.
-Edmund Carpenter

Disembodied Angels

The photojournalist/ advocate James Foley was brutally executed in a scene grizzlier than anything on Game of Thrones.  Just as in the television series, people were both enthralled and appalled by the scene.  And as in the television series, the viewers were unable to do anything, as they were present only as disembodied angels.

Are we all helpless in the face of Islamist brutality?  Is there anyone who can do something to stop these beasts?  The United States revealed that it had launched a rescue mission this summer, but the kidnap victims weren’t at the anticipated location.  President Obama denounced Foley’s executioners, saying “they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”

Then the President returned to the golf course.

On network TV, everything gets equalized.  News, drama, comedy are all subject to commercial breaks.  The viewer is immersed in emotional turmoil, and then told how to improve his golf swing.  Sometimes there’s more drama in the ads, especially when they’re fundraising for abused pets, sick or hungry children.  If they’re too disturbing, we don’t even have to get up to express our apathy by changing the channel.

Golf and Beheading

Specialty TV programming is more relentless.  There are no commercial breaks, no escapes in Game of Thrones.  You don’t witness a beheading, and then return to golf.  It’s literary quality drama in a fantasy setting.

It’s much better entertainment then the Palestinian-Israel conflict.  While the former stage cheap melodrama, Israel pushes reality and facts.  A missile strike in Gaza is a theatrical production, with “corpses” wiggling under sheets.  Bloody photos from Syria or even Israel are captioned as Palestinian victims under fire.  Israel doesn’t engage in theatrics, and so when rockets  land they aren’t worthy of the news. For a generation that doesn’t relate images and programs back to the real world, the melodrama carries the day.

Was James Foley’s execution something to be taken seriously?  Was Daniel Pearl’s beheading twelve years earlier a turning point?  How concerned was the President, if it didn’t interfere with his golf schedule?

Angels of Apathy

Unlike their parents, the young are less anxious to validate images by reference back to observable reality.  That need arose largely from conditions unique to literacy, and literacy exercises little control in their lives.  Today’s images are self-sufficient.
-Edmund Carpenter

Carpenter published his observations in nineteen seventy-two.  The “young” he describes are now old, or at least seriously middle-aged.  It’s a series of generations that doesn’t have to relate the images, the programs, even the news back to observable reality.  Since the sounds and images are from a phantasmal world, it’s easy to be apathetic.

Game of Thrones, James Foley, ISIS, the massacres of the Yazidis (replicating some of the scenes from the novel Quantum Cannibals), Breaking Bad… which are more capable of holding our attention?  Dr. Jay Corwin, commenting on Foley’s beheading, states that “People with no common sense at all think it’s just a video game.”  Will James Foley or Daniel Pearl reboot, and start again?

Video Game Jihad

Perhaps the video game metaphor is appropriate for the Jihadis coming from western countries, such as Great Britain

Golf after the beheading

Golf after the beheading

and Canada; they get to play for real.  You can’t smell the blood of your victims on X-Box. Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Medal of Honor may be greater inspirations for Muslim youth than the Koran.  And if they die in the course of the game, they reboot to paradise with seventy two virgins- houris, a specialized form of angels.

Carpenter’s “young” must learn to relate the images confronting them back to observable reality.  They must learn that the threats to their civilization, to their lives are more than angels, phantasms.  If the people of the west treat the images confronting them as a dream on a TV channel, or abandoned for a game of golf, they will be responsible for the nightmare that descends upon them.