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Pat Robertson says Muslims can’t help themselves

It’s genetic:

I have no idea why a fanatical group of fundamentalists of any religion would find it insulting when the authoritarian nutcase leader of another fundamentalist religion calls their prophet a child molester. You see, if you knew your bible, you’d know that the AY-RABS came from the Ishmael side of Abraham’s family tree and he was a hothead.  {{rolling eyes}}  That’s why Mohammed was a pedophile, according to Robertson.

Judeo-Christians aren’t like that, apparently.  Jesus supposedly died a virgin.  But who knows, really?  If Jesus and his band of Occupiers were alive today, they would have been accused of sex in public in the Garden of Gethsemene.  Oh, sure they would.  The Romans would have had a field day with that.  The Romans would have called them rapists and troublemakers and dirty, lice infested, disturbers of the peace. See how that works?  Lucky for the Romans, they didn’t need to engage in too much propaganda.  They just crucified the leader of the Occupiers and set an example.  But just because TRUE Christians haven’t turned out for the modern day version of Occupy, like I’m sure their leader would encourage, doesn’t mean they’re as violent and nutty as batshit crazy Muslims.

On the other hand, there are some pretty hinky parts of the old testament.  And fundamentalists like Pat Robertson loves them some of that old testament religion.  But let’s dig right in and see what beliefs Pat Robertson goes out of his way to protect and defend, shall we? (This list is not exhaustive)

1.) The pastor of Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, David Davis, read this from the pulpit the Sunday after 9/11.  It’s from Psalms:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Lovely.  And I’m sure they meant every word.  Don’t let some apologist tell you otherwise.  This Psalm illustrates that when it comes to violence in religious texts, you can’t heap all the blame on Islam.  It has everything to do with religious fanaticism and fundamentalism and no religion is immune.

But what does Davis know?  He’s one of those Presbyterians.  They’re not *serious* Christians, as I have been told on numerous occasions by fundamentalist Christians.

God directed the violence in a couple of other places:

1 Samuel 15: “Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

The book of Joshua is a record of God directed ethnic cleansing by the Israelites against the Canaanites.  God is very specific in his orders to Joshua.  Kill the men, women and children, carry off the gold, silver and livestock because that stuff belongs to God.  Here’s an example of Joshua’s siege of Ai:

24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed[a] all who lived in Ai. 27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.

If you take out the details about swords and  javelins, you could be reading an account of Srebrenica.  Remember, these are the descendents of Abraham who were NOT from the hot head side of the family.

2.) This one is interesting.  It’s from Deuteronomy 25:11:

“If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, 12then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.”

How very Taliban.

3.) This is how the old Israelites dealt with rape from Deuteronomy 22:28-29:

28 g“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”

We have no idea how the young woman felt about this but you can bet your boots that the elders showed no pity.

4.) Let’s not even go there with David and Bathsheba and how after David found out he knocked up Bathsheba, he had her husband Uriah killed.  David was Jesus’ ancestor, if you believe all those begets.  So, essentially, Jesus was the descendent of a philandering murderer.  Nothing personal.

5.) David’s son Amnon had the hots for his half sister Tamar and slept with her.  Incest didn’t go over well with Absolam, Tamar’s full brother.  The whole thing didn’t end well.  David’s family sounds like it’s straight out of a Jerry Springer episode.

6.) There’s some question as to whether Sarah and Abraham were related as well.    Genesis 20:12 seems to say that Sarah was Abraham’s half sister by his father.  So, let’s think about this: Abraham + Hagar = Ismael the Hot-head while Abraham + Sarah = Isaac, product of incest.  Just sayin’.

7.) It is Ok to foolishly make deals with God when you’re in a tight spot because what could possibly happen?

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

So, he comes home for shore leave and what comes flying out of his house to meet him but his daughter? Yeah, didn’t see that coming.  But Jephthah was a merciful killer of his own daughter.  He let her have 2 months of fun in the mountains because she was a virgin before he put her to death.  Jeez, my dad used to just bring us gifts from foreign ports.  The Bronze Age was a tough time to be a kid.

8.) The whole story of Lot is just nauseating.  He offers his virgin daughters to the men of Sodom so that the men wouldn’t attack some angels who were incognito.  Wasn’t that special?  And after God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his now defiled daughters take for the hills.  What happens next is just weird.  Here’s Julia Sweeney in Letting Go of God telling Lot’s story.  (Pick it up 15 seconds in)

9.) And in the bible, if you make fun of bald men, you shall be eaten by bears (2 Kings 2:23-25):

23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. 25 And he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

Maybe this is the secret wish of bald men everywhere. But bears?  Granted, it will teach kids not to be bullies but it seems a little extreme.  You’d think God would have pulled Elisha aside and said, “Are you sure you want to do this?  Aren’t you being a little oversensitive about your hair?  How about I just give them an extra nasty case of chicken pox?”

There are many more delightful stories lurking in the bible.  I love the one where Jezebel gets thrown out of a window and eaten by dogs.  That’ll learn her.  And then there are all of the stonings and fornications and floods and cursings and who doesn’t feel sorry for Job?  We aren’t even talking about the silly laws about when you can and can’t have sex with your wife and what is clean and unclean and how stretch denim jeans are an abomination.  That prohibition is in the same chapter of Deuteronomy (chapter 22) where the punishment for a husband slandering his bride by saying she wasn’t a virgin is a whipping.  But if the sheet isn’t bloody, she gets stoned.

Three thousand years later, we are still holding this book up as some kind of moral guidebook.  Indeed, there are some people, like Pat Robertson, who think that if you don’t believe in this book, you can’t be a moral person.

It’s hard to believe that I just had to explain to a commenter what this post is all about so let me spell it out:

The problem that we are seeing in the world right now, especially in the past couple of days, is that fundamentalism is taking root in many countries, including our own.  This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.  It is partially a result of economic conditions.  The more stressed a population is, the more it turns to religion for salvation.  And authoritarian leaders will seize on the opportunity to use religion to enforce compliance and obedience on the population.  But this can also backfire.  Because fundamentalism does not recognize secular authority.  Fundamentalism only recognizes rule by God.

So, in a way, people like Pat Robertson and his equivalents in the Muslim world are making the situation worse.  And ordinary citizens around the world are caught in the middle in this war between two fundamentalist traditions who are adamant about applying bronze age morality to the present day.  It is time for us to say enough already.  We are constrained by cultural mores to go out of our way to respect religious traditions no matter how destructive they are.  And in the present, the wealthy and powerful, by deliberately damaging economies around the world are making religious fundamentalism more likely to erupt into violence.

If you don’t like that summary because you feel like your religion is under attack, good! The rest of us are sick of assholes like Pat Robertson stirring up the pot with ignorant, insensitive commentary.  And we’re sick of fundamentalists of any religion who are unable to grow up.  It’s time that we stop letting the religious have so much rope that they hang all of us.  No more deference to the religious above everyone else who may have objections.  It’s dangerous.

Update: There’s a story in the NYTimes about the origin of the infamous video that touched this whole thing off.  It’s a bit mysterious.  What I find curious is the timing.  It’s coming at about 7 weeks before the election.  It’s bound to make the fundagelicals and other vulnerable voters nervous.  Not only that but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had an effect on oil prices.  The price of gas is already going up.

The effect of the attacks on the embassy and gas prices may be positive for Republicans.  There are studies (damn, where is that reference??) that show that when voters feel threatened they tend to vote for conservatives.  Then there are the irrational birthers who are convinced that Obama is a secret Muslim.  Yes, it’s crazy and stupid.  If Obama were a good president, it wouldn’t make any difference to me if he were a Muslim, but I’m pretty convinced that the only god Barack Obama worships is Barack Obama.  Nevertheless, it’s going to be interesting to see how Obama deals with this, especially if the attacks provoke a shameful retaliation against Muslims in this country.

So, I don’t know who decided to broadcast the inflammatory Mohammed video, and I definitely do not condone the overreaction no matter how insulting, but I smell a rat on the right.

 

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Wednesday: Melange

A mixture of things from around the web:

1.) Charles Pierce writes that Obama’s press conference yesterday featuring Slutgate and contraception left him uneasy.  In Standing Up for Sex, Pierce writes:

Not a simple, mumbling word about the right to decent health-care, let alone the right to choose. Given a golden opportunity to say flatly that he and his administration were foursquare behind these rights, he gave the whole thing a pass. I’m sure he’s got poll numbers that tell him not to say “abortion” in public but, damn, this was disappointing.

This is what I mean when I say that this issue can only be a political winner for the Democrats if they go out and make it one. How hard would it have been for him to say, “Look, it’s probably not a good time in history to be using the war metaphor, but there’s no question that the Republican party is a vehicle in an organized campaigh to roll back women’s rights in the most personal sphere of their lives, and, as long as I’m president, that won’t happen.”?

I’m glad he called Sandra Fluke. I just wish he’d show that he appreciates the incredible political gift she gave him.

Obama thinks his party affiliation speaks for itself and we should read into his statements what his real thoughts and intentions are.  And this worked so well in 2008.  Everyone thought he was a liberal even though he didn’t embrace liberal or even Democratic or New Deal principles.  Everyone thought he was an anti-war candidate even though this was all premised upon what he *might* have done had he actually been present at the IWR vote.  Everyone thought he was a feminist, which flew in the face of hard evidence that we watched and heard with our very own senses.  In the past four years, he has shown himself to be none of the things he was assumed to be so, and, as far as I’m concerned, we should not assume or presume that he is onboard with sex being guilt free for adult women.  More likely, he has no natural empathy for women in this regard so he’s more inclined to do what’s good for him politically and not for women socially.  And right now, he thinks it is good for him politically to reach out to evangelicals and the women’s vote will just flock to him because women are assuming he is not as bad as the Republicans.

I think he is just as bad, if not worse, because his attitude encourages complacency.  It will all be taken care of, don’t you worry.  A year from now, women are going to be kicking themselves for not being more demanding of him.  You’re only going to get a commitment from him under duress and until you hear him choke it out in a high squeaky voice, don’t assume anything.

2.) Speaking of beliefs that may or may not have any basis in fact, have you checked out the Richard Dawkins Belief Scale?  Unlike women’s rights, you don’t have to commit to a god or atheism.  It’s perfectly Ok to land somewhere along the scale.  I’m a 5.78324.  Some people might round that up.  Here it is:

  1. Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
  2. De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
  3. Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
  4. Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
  5. Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
  6. De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
  7. Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.

Assuming that there are not as many 1’s out there as the Beanie Boys would have you think, why should we allow the 1’s to run the country based on judeo-christian biblical principles?

3.) More on belief.  Pat Robertson may have exceeded his stupidity quota.  When asked on the 700 Club about why God kills people with tornados, he had this to say:

There ya’ go, tornado victims.  Let this be a lesson to you.  Don’t buy a farm in the middle of tornado alley.  Don’t be a person who earns a living in tornado alley either.  And woe to you on the west coast in the earthquake zone.  The kinfolk say, move away from there!  Californy is NOT the place you want to be.  Also, if you are anywhere where you could be swept away by a flash flood, get caught up in a hurricane or Nor’easter, burnt to a cinder in a wildfire, trapped in a heat wave, engulfed in a blizzard, frozen in a cold snap, eaten by wild animals or poisoned by insects and plants, or irradiated by a particularly unusual and strong solar flare, well, it’s your own damn fault.  Did God promise you a rose garden?  You should have bought one of the time shares in Glenn Beck’s underground bunker cities and retreated to it with your 6 months supply of dried ravioli and Tang.

I guess Stephanie Decker, who protected her kids from the tornados with her own body and lost her legs as a result, should be thankful that God didn’t demand more of a sacrifice for living in the wrong place.  But I have faith that with the help of doctors, physical therapists and prosthesis engineers, Stephanie *will* walk again.  Hang in there Stephanie.

4.) A couple of days ago, a PR person for Chris Viehbacher tried to do a What Chris Really Meant response to Chris’s insensitive and clueless presentation of the reasons why his company was getting rid of its own scientists and turning to cheap and desperate small company scientists for potential blockbuster drugs.

Now, Viehbacher’s point seems to be that small biotechs and mid sized companies are more nimble and innovative than big behemoth pharma companies so, and here’s the logic of the bonus class in all it’s glory, big pharma scientists just aren’t as good as those in smaller biotechs and therefore deserve to have their jobs eliminated.

This ignores two things that Viehbacher is either denying or completely ignorant of.  The first is that those of us who up until recently worked in big pharma until we were dumped for working in big pharma, did not start our careers in big pharma.  Nooooo, we were in medium pharma.  The first pharma I worked at only had 3 research sites and the one I worked at in Princeton was relatively small having about 400 people total working on about 5 different therapeutic areas.  It was all self contained with chemistry, biology, animal facilities, structural biology, analytical, scale up, everything in one building.  But then came the mergers and more mergers and we added more facilities and companies and satellite research centers in different companies and then we got consultants to come in every couple of years and rejigger everyone, just to keep it light and breezy.  Every time there was a merger, work would come to a screeching halt for two years so the managers could play musical chairs and find a department headship position, usually by doing a real Julius Caesar meets Brutus in the Senate scene.  So, big was never OUR idea.  It was the bright idea of the finance guys, the consultant guys and the Viehbacher guys who got big bonuses from every merger they made.

The second thing that undermines Viehbacher’s argument is that all of those big pharma scientists that he thought were no good are now working for the small companies and acedemic groups that Viehbacher is planning to rape.  Now that they’ve been liberated from the shackles of big pharma wage slavery, they are working more nimbly and innovatively at small biotechs and university labs with vastly reduced salaries and benefits.  And this must warm the cockles of Viehbacher’s heart enormously.

5.) Finally, Titli Nihaan, my new favorite internet chef (until #1 child gets her own show), shows us how to make a Cassoulet and gives us some French lessons as a bonus!  This is the halal version.  I tried it the other night but made some even leaner substitutions.  Delicious. Er, Magnifique!