Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 25th, 2015

Russell Brand: How Bush Jr. and Blair represent Christian terrorism?

Russell Brand has said devout Christians George Bush and Tony Blair represent Christianity no more than the Charlie Hebdo terrorists represent Islam.

In a late blog on the killings in France that killed 17 people and three gunmen over three days, Brand said the “bewildered, pitiable” men who carried out the attacks “do not speak for Islam or Muhammed or Allah”.

Russell Brand Says Charlie Hebdo Killer Represent Islam ‘Like Bush And Blair Represent Christianity’

“These men of murder are the symptom of a creed that lies as far away from God as is possible to conceive and do not represent Islam anymore than George Bush, Tony Blair and Halliburton represented Christianity,” he wrote.

“Or ordinary, secular Europeans and Americans when they profited from the bombing of innocent Iraqis.”

CHARLIE HEBDO

One of the gunmen, who took hostages in a kosher grocery, pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video released after his death, while the two who attacked the satirical newspaper’s offices claimed to be from Al Qaeda, their rival Islamist extremists.

In his blog, Brand said: “How can any spiritual scripture be used as justification for mass murder?

“How can the tenet that The Prophet ought never be depicted ever override Islam’s most mundane greeting AsSalaam alaikum – “peace and mercy be upon you”? It can’t and it doesn’t.

“The young, bewildered, pitiable men that carry out these atrocities probably at the behest of older, power hungry men do not speak for Islam or Muhammad or Allah.

“This language has nothing to do with the God I believe in or the God any of the Muslims I know believe in.”

 

A look at the writings of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to 1,000 lashes 

Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up a website that championed free speech in the autocratic kingdom. His blog, the Saudi Free Liberals Forum, was shut down after his arrest in 2012.

The lashing are sets of 50 lashes, and the next set is tomorrow.

Ian Black analyses extracts from his key published Arabic writings that show a man who risked his freedom to question some of the basic tenets of life in Saudi Arabia – especially the central role of religion

Saudi blogger faces next 50 lashes as Amnesty calls on UK government to act

Raif Badawi
Raif Badawi. Amnesty Photograph: Private/Amnesty

Reflecting on the role of the Muslim religious establishment on 12 August 2010, Badawi warned about the stifling of creativity:

As soon as a thinker starts to reveal his ideas, you will find hundreds of fatwas that accused him of being an infidel just because he had the courage to discuss some sacred topics. I’m really worried that Arab thinkers will migrate in search of fresh air and to escape the sword of the religious authorities.

Badawi argued on 28 September 2010 in favour of “secularism [as] the most important refuge for citizens of a country.”

Urged by clerics not to attend “heretical” celebrations marking Saudi national day, he underlined the importance of separating religion from the state.

He does not attack the Saudi monarchy and even praises the liberal governor of Mecca, the intellectual and poet Khaled al-Faisal Al Saud.

Secularism respects everyone and does not offend anyone … Secularism … is the practical solution to lift countries (including ours) out of the third world and into the first world.

Badawi linked Palestine, one of the touchstones of Arab solidarity, to the question of political Islam, attacking Hamas.

I’m not in support of the Israeli occupation of any Arab country, but at the same time I do not want to replace Israel by a religious state … whose main concern would be spreading the culture of death and ignorance among its people when we need modernisation and hope. States based on religious ideology … have nothing except the fear of God and an inability to face up to life.

Look at what had happened after the European peoples succeeded in removing the clergy from public life and restricting them to their churches. They built up human beings and (promoted) enlightenment, creativity and rebellion. States which are based on religion confine their people in the circle of faith and fear. (Note that Israel is becoming a religious State too)

The only article of Badawi’s hitherto translated from Arabic into English denounces the demand of Muslims in New York that a mosque and community centre be built on the site of the World Trade Centre, where 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaida.

It goes against the official Saudi position by linking the terrorist group to the kingdom – and accuses Muslims of intolerance.

What hurts me most as a citizen of the area which exported those terrorists … is the audacity of Muslims in New York that reaches the limits of insolence, not taking any regard of the thousands of victims who perished on that fateful day or their families.

What increases my pain is this [Islamist] chauvinist arrogance which claims that innocent blood, shed by barbarian, brutal minds under the slogan “Allahu Akbar”, means nothing compared to the act of building an Islamic mosque whose mission will be to … spawn new terrorists …

Suppose we put ourselves in the place of American citizens. Would we accept that a Christian or Jew assaults us in our own house and then build a church or synagogue in the same area of the attack? I doubt it. We reject the building of churches in Saudi Arabia, not having been assaulted by anyone.

Then what would you think if those who wanted to build a church are the same people who stormed the sanctity of our land? Finally, we should not hide that fact that Muslims in Saudi Arabia not only disrespect the beliefs of others, but also charge them with infidelity to the extent that they consider anyone who is not Muslim an infidel, and, within their own narrow definitions, they consider non-Hanbali [the Saudi school of Islam] Muslims as apostates.

How can we be such people and build … normal relations with six billion humans, four and a half billion of whom do not believe in Islam.

In the first weeks of the Egyptian revolution in February 2011, Badawi hailed the drama in Cairo’s Tahrir Square as an example to the whole Arab world. The Saudi government, by contrast, was horrified by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak and delighted when Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood veteran elected to succeed him, was ousted.

It is a revolution, led by students and the marginalised, a revolution in every sense of the word … that is … a decisive turning point … not only in the history and geography of Egypt but everywhere that is governed by the Arab mentality of dictatorship and security. It is not yet clear whether is Egypt is about to change, but it is our hope that a new Egypt will emerge from the painful birth pangs its people are experiencing … after years of subservience and oppression.

In Sepember 2011 Badawi launched a witheringly sarcastic attack on Saudi clerics after a TV preacher called for astronomers to be punished on the grounds that they encouraged scepticism about sharia law.

Actually, this venerable preacher has drawn my attention to a truth that had been hidden from me and my dear readers – namely, the existence of the so-called Sharia astronomer.

What a wonderful appellation! In my humble experience and in the course of my not inconsiderable research into the universe, its origins and the stars, I have never once come across this term. I advise NASA to abandon its telescopes and, instead, turn to our Sharia astronomers, whose keen vision and insight surpass the agency’s obsolete telescopes.

Indeed, I advise all other scholars the world over, of whatever discipline, to abandon their studies, laboratories, research centres, places of experimentation, universities, institutes etc. and head at once to the study groups of our magnificent preachers to learn from them all about modern medicine, engineering, chemistry, microbiology, geology, nuclear physics, the science of the atom, marine sciences, the science of explosives, pharmacology, anthropology etc. – alongside astronomy, of course.

God bless them! They have shown themselves to be the final authority with the decisive word in everything, which all mankind must accept, submit to and obey without hesitation or discussion.

In May 2012, shortly before his arrest, Badawi addressed the nature of liberalism.

For me, liberalism simply means, live and let live. This is a splendid slogan. However, the nature of liberalism – particularly the Saudi version – needs to be clarified. It is even more important to sketch the features and parameters of liberalism, to which the other faction, controlling and claiming exclusive monopoly of the truth, is so hostile that they are driven to discredit it without discussion or fully understanding what the word actually means.

They have succeeded in planting hostility to liberalism in the minds of the public and turning people against it, lest the carpet be pulled out from under their feet. But their hold over people’s minds and society shall vanish like dust carried off in the wind.

His final thought quoted Albert Camus: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

In another piece that month, Badawi invoked the Quran to support the importance of liberalism, the need to separate religion and state and implied that Islam itself has been distorted by the Saudi political establishment to promote illiberal and authoritarian ideals.

No religion at all has any connection to mankind’s civic progress. This is not a failing on the part of religion but rather that all religions represent a particular, precise spiritual relationship between the individual and the Creator. ..

However, positive law is an unavoidable human and social need because traffic regulations, employment law and the codes governing the administration of State can hardly be derived from religion.

Translations: Mona Mahmood, Amnesty International, Ian Black, Raya Jalabi and Gatestone Institute.

 

 

 

Wheat People vs. Rice People

In America, we say that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

In Japan, people say that the nail that stands up gets hammered down

AMERICANS and Europeans stand out from the rest of the world for our sense of ourselves as individuals. We like to think of ourselves as unique, autonomous, self-motivated, self-made.

As the anthropologist Clifford Geertz observed, this is a peculiar idea.

People in the rest of the world are more likely to understand themselves as interwoven with other people — as interdependent, not independent.

In such social worlds, your goal is to fit in and adjust yourself to others, not to stand out. People imagine themselves as part of a larger whole — threads in a web, not lone horsemen on the frontier.

These are broad brush strokes, but the research demonstrating the differences is remarkably robust and it shows that they have far-reaching consequences.

The social psychologist Richard E. Nisbett and his colleagues found that these different orientations toward independence and interdependence affected cognitive processing. For example, Americans are more likely to ignore the context, and Asians to attend to it.

Show an image of a large fish swimming among other fish and seaweed fronds, and the Americans will remember the single central fish first. That’s what sticks in their minds. Japanese viewers will begin their recall with the background. They’ll also remember more about the seaweed and other objects in the scene.

Another social psychologist, Hazel Rose Markus, asked people arriving at San Francisco International Airport to fill out a survey and offered them a handful of pens to use, for example four orange and one green; those of European descent more often chose the one pen that stood out, while the Asians chose the one more like the others.

Dr. Markus and her colleagues found that these differences could affect health.

Negative affect — feeling bad about yourself — has big, persistent consequences for your body if you are a Westerner. Those effects are less powerful if you are Japanese, possibly because the Japanese are more likely to attribute the feelings to their larger situation and not to blame themselves.

There’s some truth to the modernization hypothesis — that as social worlds become wealthier, they also become more individualistic — but it does not explain the persistent interdependent style of Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong.

In May, the journal Science published a study, led by a young University of Virginia psychologist, Thomas Talhelm, that ascribed these different orientations to the social worlds created by wheat farming and rice farming.

Rice is a finicky crop. Because rice paddies need standing water, they require complex irrigation systems that have to be built and drained each year. One farmer’s water use affects his neighbor’s yield. A community of rice farmers needs to work together in tightly integrated ways.

Not wheat farmers. Wheat needs only rainfall, not irrigation. To plant and harvest it takes half as much work as rice does, and substantially less coordination and cooperation. And historically, Europeans have been wheat farmers and Asians have grown rice.

The authors of the study in Science argue that over thousands of years, rice- and wheat-growing societies developed distinctive cultures: “You do not need to farm rice yourself to inherit rice culture.”

Their test case was China, where the Yangtze River divides northern wheat growers from southern rice growers. The researchers gave Han Chinese from these different regions a series of tasks. They asked, for example, which two of these three belonged together: a bus, a train and train tracks? More analytical, context-insensitive thinkers (the wheat growers) paired the bus and train, because they belong to the same abstract category. More holistic, context-sensitive thinkers (the rice growers) paired the train and train tracks, because they work together.

Asked to draw their social networks, wheat-region subjects drew themselves larger than they drew their friends; subjects from rice-growing regions drew their friends larger than themselves.

Asked to describe how they’d behave if a friend caused them to lose money in a business, subjects from the rice region punished their friends less than subjects from the wheat region did. Those in the wheat provinces held more patents; those in the rice provinces had a lower rate of divorce.

I write this from Silicon Valley, where there is little rice.

The local wisdom is that all you need is a garage, a good idea and energy, and you can found a company that will change the world. The bold visions presented by entrepreneurs are breathtaking in their optimism, but they hold little space for elders, for longstanding institutions, and for the deep roots of community and interconnection.

Nor is there much rice within the Tea Party.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, declared recently that all a man needed was a horse, a gun and the open land, and he could conquer the world.

Wheat doesn’t grow everywhere. Start-ups won’t solve all our problems. A lone cowboy isn’t much good in the aftermath of a Hurricane Katrina.

As we enter a season in which the values of do-it-yourself individualism are likely to dominate our Congress, it is worth remembering that this way of thinking might just be the product of the way our forefathers grew their food and not a fundamental truth about the way that all humans flourish.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

January 2015
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