Posts Tagged ‘Terrorism’


Radicalized, by Cory Doctorow front cover(Radicalized, by Cory Doctorow. Tor-Forge, 2019, 304 pp., $26.99)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

Radicalized consists of three novellas and one longish short story — all described as “tales” on the dust jacket, probably in part to avoid quibbles over terminology. It’s highly entertaining and provides a good example of science fiction at its best: it shows just how relevant, how useful science fiction can be. It stands in stark contrast to the escapist, often scientifically illiterate space operas, big-dumb-object stories, coming-of-age tales, superhero juvenilia, and medievalist court-intrigue/sword-and-sorcery dreck that dominate the sci-fi field.

Radicalized‘s four near-future stories deal in turn with the inhumane treatment of immigrants in the U.S.; potential nightmare scenarios due to the ever-spreading Internet of Things (which Boing Boing, Doctorow’s site, refers to as the Internet of Shit); systemic racism as seen through the eyes of a very familiar superhero (here dubbed “The American Eagle”); healthcare nightmares endemic to our for-profit healthcare system (and a possible radical response to those nightmares); and an entitled, arrogant member of the super-rich who intends to ride out social breakdown in a fortified compound.

All four stories are well plotted, feature believable, sympathetic characters (but for the mega-rich jerk in the final tale, who’s all too believable, but not at all sympathetic), Doctorow gets the science right, and there’s more on-the-nose social and political commentary in this slim volume than there is in a dozen average sci-fi novels combined.

Highly recommended.

* * *

Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia (large pdf sample here). He just finished translating Rodolfo Montes de Oca’s Venezuelan Anarchism: The History of a Movement, is currently working on the sequel to Free Radicals, a nonfiction book on the seamier sides of Christianity, two compilations, and an unrelated sci-fi novel.

Free Radicals front cover


(From Twitter. And for once, no comment — the image speaks for itself.)

 


Well, it’s official. Donald J. Trump, entitled trust-fund kid ($400+ million) and utter parasite, has just announced that he wants to reinstate his family-separation policy in order to terrorize (there’s no other word for it) already-traumatized immigrants fleeing desperate conditions.

In terms of domestic politics, the bad news is that approximately one-third of Americans are vicious, racist (“family values”) authoritarians goose-stepping behind the Glorious Leader, and they’ll enthusiastically support Dear Leader’s new exercise in state terrorism.

The good news is that two-thirds of us aren’t that bad.

Get out and vote on November 6.

 


For the last few months we’ve been running the best posts from years past, posts that will be new to most of our subscribers. This is a slightly revised and expanded post from January 2015.

Given the spate of near-daily Islamic-fanatic atrocities, and the wholesale pandering of the Trump administration to its deranged theofascist base, this post seems especially relevant now. Indeed, who today can’t be wondering, “Which is worse, Christianity or Islam?”

Let’s take a look at some of the worst structures and practices in both Islamic and Christian lands, both current and historic:

Slavery

Slavery is still practiced in many Islamic nations. The most notorious recent example is the enslavement of thousands of Yazidis by ISIS in Iraq. The Nigerian fundamentalist group Boko Haram is also notorious for enslavement of its victims.

At the same time, slavery persisted in widespread form in Christian lands until 1888 (Brazil) and in perhaps its most brutal form ever in the most religiously devout part of the United States until 1865. And enslavement of prisoners in the United States is still very widespread, currently involving at minimum hundreds of thousands of prisoners “paid” a few pennies per hour by for-profit corporations.

There is plenty of justification for slavery in both the Bible and the Koran, and not one word against it in either book.  (If you doubt this, run a search on Google or Bing. In fact, you’ll find justification for all of the horrors listed in this post.)

So, which is worse in regard to slavery, Christianity or Islam?

Islam “wins” this one based on the sheer brutality of some current Islamist groups.

Terrorism

At present, the most vicious and most active terrorist groups are Islamic (ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Taliban, and MILF — this is for real: the acronym stands for Moro Islamic Liberation Front). These groups are responsible for the murder of uncounted thousands of innocent people across the globe in recent years.

But Christian terrorism also exists, though in more subdued form.  In the United States, the Ku Klux Klan is a proudly Christian organization. As well, “right to life” Christian fanatics occasionally murder abortion providers and bomb abortion clinics; and they routinely stalk and anonymously threaten abortion providers, providing a dictionary definition of terrorism: they’re trying to frighten and intimidate — terrorize — abortion providers into no longer providing this constitutionally protected medical procedure.

Still, there’s no question that at present Islam “wins” this one hands down.

Internecine Warfare

By far the worst current example of internecine warfare is the Sunni-Shia mass bloodletting in Syria and Yemen, with thousands of casualties every single month.

But historically, Islamic internecine warfare has nothing on Christian internecine warfare. Just go back a few hundred years. Consider the Beziers massacre of 10,000 to 20,000 Albigensian heretics in 1209 by a crusader army commanded by papal legate Arnaud Amalric. Justifying the mass murder of helpless prisoners, Amalric famously said, “Kill them all. God will recognize his own.”

Then go forward just over 400 years to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) for religiously motivated (Catholic vs. Protestant)  murder and mayhem on a mass scale. Then if you add in all of the nonreligiously motivated internecine warfare between Christian nations (Hundred Years War, U.S. Civil War, World War I, World War II, etc.), Christianity “wins” this one going away.

Subjugation of Women

The situation of women is unquestionably worse in Islamic lands than Christian lands. In some Islamic countries, the barbaric practices of female genital mutilation and child marriage are still very common, with the number of victims up in the tens, probably hundreds of millions. In far more Islamic countries, women are still very much second class citizens. Their testimony in court is accorded less weight than that of men, Islamic fanatics seek (sometimes successfully) to deny them education, they’re forced to wear head-to-toe coverings, they’re forced into arranged marriages, and “honor” killings are common and culturally accepted.

In the West, women still earn less than men, face street harassment and domestic violence, face a glass ceiling in employment, and rape is still a major and under-acknowledged problem. Go back a few hundred years, and you’ll find religiously inspired witch burnings all over Europe. And nearer to the present, denial of property rights, denial of the rights to contraception and abortion, and systematic denial of employment in many, many professions.

But bad as all this is, the situation of women in Islamic countries has been and is far worse than in Western lands. Islam “wins” here.

Persecution of Nonbelievers

In Islamic countries, it is simply unsafe (often deathly unsafe) for Muslims to abandon Islam. Many of their fellow Muslims will feel completely justified in murdering those who abandon the faith, and far more will condone such killings. Going beyond this, as the Charlies Hebdo atrocity in Paris demonstrates, Islamists feel entirely justified in murdering nonbelievers who were never Muslims, simply for criticizing Islam. And it’s not just unofficial Islamic thugs doing the killing. In Saudi Arabia, it’s a capital offense to be an atheist or an apostate, and the Saudi authorities are notorious for imprisoning and brutally whipping atheists and apostates, and threatening them with execution.

In the Western countries, it’s been several hundred years since the torture and murder of apostates and heretics was commonplace. There are still unconstitutional laws on the books in several U.S. states denying atheists the right to hold elected office or serve on juries, and high-profile atheists are sometimes stalked and threatened, but the situation of nonbelievers in Muslim countries is undeniably far worse. Islam “wins” again.

In Sum

At present, there’s no denying that Islam, which Bill Maher calls “the mother lode of bad ideas,”  is worse than Christianity. But why should this be so? Consider the above: the worst examples of Islamic barbarism are current, and the worst examples of Christian barbarism are in the past, mostly centuries in the past.

What happened? In a word, science. In the West, science with its question-test-and-logically-analyze attitude has flourished and has eaten away at traditional religious beliefs. This has resulted in a good majority of “believers” being “cafeteria Christians” who pick and choose their “beliefs,” and reject those which are too ridiculous or too inhumane.  Hence the slow but fairly steady social progress over the last few centuries. This social evolution never happened in Muslim lands.

To put this another way, religions are toxic to the extent that their basic tents are toxic and to the extent that their members follow their teachings literally.

Many of the teachings in  the Bible are every bit as barbaric as those in the Koran. But a hell of a lot more Muslims than Christians take those teachings literally.

 


TERRORISM, noun
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
–dictionary.com

Yesterday we looked at the first of Israel’s terrorism problems: Hamas, Israel’s role supporting it in the 1980s, the blowback that’s caused, and how both Hamas and the Israeli government have benefited from the carnage that’s ensued.

Today, we’ll look at an even more serious terrorism in Israeli: the nature of its government. Israel has become a terrorist state.

That’s not overstatement.

Before looking at current events, let’s look back four years to the bombardment and massacre of civilians in Gaza in 2014. Using Hamas’ largely ineffectual terrorism as an excuse (four civilians murdered, including one child), the Israeli government unleashed a firestorm on what has been called “the world’s largest open-air concentration camp,” while refusing to allow civilians to flee (a war crime).

The result? In contrast with the four Israeli civilians murdered by Hamas, the Israel armed forces murdered, according to UN figures at least 1,473 civilians, including 501 children and 257 women. The Israeli assault also left  over 11,000 wounded civilians, including over 3,300 children, of whom 1,000 are suffering lifelong disabilities.

Why? To bludgeon and frighten the captive population in Gaza into submission.

This is a classic case of state terrorism.

Not surprisingly, the Israeli government has claimed that this massacre was Hamas’ fault, and that it was acting “defensively.” This is equivalent to hostage-killing kidnappers claiming that they were “forced” into committing murder by those who refused to give into their demands. This is hypocritical and morally repugnant.

Now let’s look at current events.

Yesterday the Israeli armed forces murdered over 60 (including six children) and wounded over 2,000 unarmed protesters at the Israel-Gaza border. (The protesters, the descendants of the 700,000 Palestinians who were driven into exile and lost their lands in the 1948-1949 war are demanding the “right to return.”)

How is Israel doing this? They’re using snipers with high-powered rifles to shoot across the fence separating Israel and Gaza into the crowd of protesters (a reported 35,000 yesterday, even after weeks of protests in which the Israeli military had already murdered dozens of protesters). According to reports, the snipers were taking their time between shots, methodically targeting individuals dozens or hundreds of yards from the fence. The only conceivable reason for this is terrorism: the used of deadly violence to attempt to intimidate the Palestinians into submission.

(As for Israel’s claim that it’s acted in self-defense, consider this: not a single Israeli, soldier or civilian, has been injured, let alone killed, in the protests in which over 100 Palestinians have died and thousands have been injured (many by sniper fire), dozens of whom are now amputees as a result of Israeli snipers. Of course, Donald Trump, and other thugs and hypocrites in his administration — who love murderous regimes such as those in the Philippines, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia — have echoed Israel’s grossly hypocritical claim of “self-defense.” [I follow these events closely and have not seen a single report of any Israeli injuries.])

If you still doubt that Israel is engaging in a deliberate policy of state murder and terrorism, consider these quotes from news stories over the last few weeks:

On amputations and sniper fire: “When he was hit by a bullet fired by Israeli forces during demonstrations in Gaza on April 6, Mohammed al-Zaieem lost so much blood, and his left leg was so deformed, he feared he wouldn’t survive. His arteries, veins and a large piece of bone were destroyed. His right leg wasn’t spared either as the round created a massive exit wound and then hit it as well.”

On murders by sniper fire:

“One mourner, Mohammad Sabbagh, 30, sat with his family on plastic chairs in a green funeral tent outside their home in the city of Beit Lahia listlessly receiving condolences from well-wishers. He recalled seeing his brother Bader, 10 years his junior, shot through the head on Friday.

“He said, ‘I am bored, I don’t want this life’. He asked me for a cigarette; I gave him a lit one, he took about two puffs and then a bullet shot him in the head and went out the other side. I carried him to the ambulance, and he was dead,” he said. . . .

“The brothers stood between the group at the front of the protest, who were throwing rocks at Israeli forces, and the demonstrators at the back, where thousands of men, women and children had gathered. “He didn’t do anything; he was standing next to me,” Mohammad said of his brother.”

Israeli soldiers cheer a murder: (This incident took place in December along the Gaza-Israel border, but was just reported last month.)

“With international criticism of Israel’s response to the Gaza protests growing, video emerged on Monday appearing to show an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) sniper shooting a Palestinian man standing near the border fence.

“After the Palestinian man falls to the ground, soldiers are heard cheering in the background. One yells, “What a legendary film!”
“The video, which circulated on social media, appears to be through a scope, showing the Gaza border fence and a field behind it.
“The sniper is heard discussing the shot with another soldier nearby.
“‘When he stops, you take him down,’ the soldier says. ‘Are you on him?
“‘I can’t fire because of the barbed wire,’ the sniper responds a short time later.
“‘Take out the one in the pink,'” the other soldier says after a few moments.
“IDF soldiers cheer as you hear the gunshot and see the Palestinian man fall.”
And how have most American liberals and the corporate news media responded? Some actively support Israel’s murderous activities (e.g., Chuck Schumer), many others (e.g., Obama and the Clintons) have been conspicuously silent about it, and a good majority of the media are either silent or actively complicit in the coverup of the murders (e.g., describing them as “clashes” — incidents in which one side occurs no casualties while killing dozens on the other side of a fence with sniper fire). The “news” organizations engaging in this shameful misrepresentation of murder include supposedly progressive MSNBC. (Chris Hayes is an honorable exception on MSNBC; he’s probably safe because he’s their second biggest star.)
All of this strongly suggests that Western liberals are morally bankrupt, that their humanitarianism is a sham.
They stay silent in the face of oppression and murder.
No one but the dishonest and the willfully blind can deny that Israel is engaging in state terrorism

 

 


TERRORISM, noun
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
–dictionary.com

The Hamas Problem

Israel has two terrorism problems. The first is the religious-authoritarian threat posed by the Islamist group, Hamas. The irony is that Hamas is in good part a creation of Israel.

An offshoot of the (Egypt-based) Islamic Brotherhood in the 1970s, the group really began to grow the 1980s when Israel began to back  Hamas — including financially — as a counterweight to the leftist, secular Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). (PLO head Yasser Arafat referred to Hamas as a “creature of Israel.”) In 1988, the PLO renounced terrorism, while Hamas has never formally renounced it. Since the PLO renouncement, PLO splinter groups have continued to engage in terrorism, though not on the level of Hamas.

This Israeli backing of Hamas is, of course, reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s cynical support of the most hardline  Islamist elements in Afghanistan in the 1980s during the uprising against the Soviet-backed Afghan government and the Soviet forces propping it up. That U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in the 1980s created horrific blowback: the creation of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Similarly, Israel is now suffering blowback from its support of Hamas in the 1980s.

It’s worth noting that while both the American and Israeli people have suffered as a result of their governments’ backing of radical Islamist groups, the extreme right governments in both countries have profited handsomely from the terrorism they supply. Terrorism on even a small scale provides both the U.S. and Israeli governments with an ideal means of frightening the public, an ideal excuse for mass surveillance, restriction of civil liberties, intimidation of critics, and all manner of horrifying, brutal acts, including the murder of civilians.

Thus, Hamas’, Al-Qaeda’s, and the Taliban’s terrorism serves the interest of the ruling rightist elites in both Israel and the United States. (This is not to imply that Hamas is as bad as Al-Qaeda or the Taliban: it isn’t. It’s not even in the same ballpark.) At the same time, it serves the interests of the terrorist groups themselves.

How? It provokes (more accurately, supplies cover for) disproportionate, violent responses, often targeting civilians. This not only fuels popular anger, helping to ensure a steady supply of recruits for the terrorist groups, but it greatly discourages popular involvement in other forms of politics. One would have to have, for example, great courage to engage in civil disobedience in Afghanistan. To put this another way, terrorism tends to reduce everyday people to powerless, terrorized spectators, standing on the sidelines (when they’re not being shot or bombed “accidentally”) while the authoritarian terrorists and authoritarian governments slug it out.

Thus one presumes that both Hamas and the Israeli government are happy with the current bloodletting (of Palestinian civilians).

Coming Tomorrow — part II (Terrorist Israel)

 

 

 

 


Word just came down that the NRA has named liar, hypocrite, convicted felon (convictions later reversed), and traitor Oliver North as its new president.

(For those with short memories, North conspired with Ronald Reagan to sell arms to the Iranian Islamist government — a “hostile foreign power” — lied about it, and used the funds to bankroll the terrorist Nicaraguan Contras, an act specifically outlawed by Congress. This is about as close to a dictionary definition of treason as you’ll find,)

That the NRA named North as its new leader is entirely fitting.

You see some jerk driving around with a huge American flag flying (probably on a pickup — often two flags), with an NRA sticker on his tailgate, you can bet money that you’re seeing a traitor to (supposed) American values. (Being a pickup driver myself, I have nothing against pickups — just a lot of their drivers.)

These idiots think they’re patriots. They’re not. They make a fetish of worshiping the symbol of supposed American values (individual liberty, freedom of speech), while betraying those values by demanding strict conformity, oftentimes threatening dissenters, and occasionally assaulting those exercising the rights enshrined in the Constitution — rights that the flag is supposed to symbolize.

So, it’s completely appropriate that the NRA has named Oliver North as its president. An organization of traitors to American values has elevated an actual traitor.

An important note: I support gun rights and think every American adult should own at least one semi-automatic assault weapon. But the NRA has strayed so far from that reasonable position — it now takes authoritarian, often theocratic positions on a wide range of social, political, and economic issues — that it’s become a totalitarian, anti-American organization.

All that’s left is for the NRA to institute goose-stepping drills and oaths of fealty to the Glorious Orange Leader.

When I was much younger, I supported the NRA. No more.

I’m utterly disgusted.

What was supposed to be a Second Amendment, responsible gun use organization has transformed into a group of anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, pro-intrusive government theofascists.