Category Archives: Islam

We Need To Leave Afghanistan

I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but it was reported today that a U.S. soldier went on a murdering spree and killed 16 Afghan civilians.

Likely, something like “The Walking Dead” or the NCAA basketball tournament announcements caught your eye… Granted, when we do stupid things in other countries, not much attention is grabbed.

But, really? It should be. Now, granted, this is not the worst thing Americans have done while occupying another country. No, that would be the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. In that one, we managed to kill somewhere between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in what can only be described as a horrific, senseless butchering.

Even though this was (maybe) one guy (or possibly a group of drunk soldiers) only killing 16 civilians, history has already told us exactly what we need to do: leave.

Now, sure, I’m not a military man. So when I ask what exactly we’ve really been doing over there for the past 10 years, especially over the past couple of those, I personally don’t expect a good answer. There may be one. I don’t really know. But it seems to me like we’ve been sitting over there, fighting skirmishes, getting killed… but over what?

And now, we have stupid mistake after stupid mistake rapidly piling up.

First, we have American soldiers urinating on Afghan bodies at the beginning of the year, being utterly and completely disrespectful to the dead. Something to which I understand is generally frowned upon.

Then, we have soldiers carelessly burning copies of the Quran, Islam’s holy book. This led to riots, which led to at least six Americans and 30 Afghans dead. This happened mere weeks ago, if that.

And now, we have a soldier, possibly more, murdering 16 civilians. Not only are the incidents happening more frequently, but they’re also escalating in stupidity, terribleness and fallout. Because, trust me, there will be a fallout on this one.

If Vietnam taught us anything, it’s that lengthy combat with a somewhat elusive and difficult to define enemy for reasons that are massively political and seem to serve no true purpose for America as a whole is a bad idea. And that’s really what seems to be going on here.

We’re fighting terrorism and terrorists, who aren’t really clearly defined by uniforms or anything… we went over there for 9/11, but we killed Osama bin Laden and many MANY others in the high rankings, so revenge has been had… Why are we still there?

Granted, Barack Obama has a plan to get our troops out by 2014… but that’s too slow. Even if that was just right before, the past three incidents over these past three months have shown that we need to leave. ASAP.

Our initial goal was to try and stop people that wanted to hurt us. Now? We’re practically recruiting people to want to hurt us. And the dead on both sides will continue to pile up. We can’t win in a war against an idea. We can only survive. So, the best thing to do? Get as many of our people as possible out of there alive.

At this rate, it feels like we’re gearing up to go through another My Lai massacre. We, as human beings, can’t let that happen. Bring the troops home, and do it now. It’s better for everyone.

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Apologizing For Quran Burning Is Not A Dumb Idea

Imagine the following scenario, if you would. America has been noted as a major originating country for a terrorist organization responsible for extremely deadly acts on Chinese soil. China sends in their military to root out the terrorist factions within the United States. While doing so, they make bases and set up camps. Now, China is not exactly known to be immensely friendly toward American politics or political aspirations, and it certainly hasn’t been terribly friendly with the major religion of the United States, Christianity. Heck, they’ve even been known to use Bibles for target practice.

Suddenly, you hear that at one of the bases in Texas, the Chinese accidentally set fire to several hundred copies of the Bible.

Now, maybe I’m crazy, but I could certainly imagine riots and violence sprouting forth from such a scenario.

See, about two weeks ago, several Qurans were accidentally sent to the fire pit used to burn garbage at Bagram Air Field, a large American base a bit north of Kabul, Afghanistan. This event caused several riots, which have killed over 30 people, including American soldiers. In an attempt to quell the violence, President Barack Obama apologized for the incident. Whether the apology actually calmed things down or not, several GOP members have been crying foul to Obama’s apology, such as Rick Santorum, Allen West and Newt Gingrich.

Now, a lot of people have been saying that, instead of apologizing for Quran burning, the Afghans should be apologizing to us for American flag burning and for the deaths of American soldiers.

People that say that are rather missing the point.

First, flag burning is legal in America. Why should they apologize for doing something we’re allowed to do? That’s like asking them to apologize for voting democratically.

Second, as we’re not actually at war with Afghanistan, just certain organizations within the country, I think it’s rather pretty well understood that the government is not approving of any loss of American life from people within their borders.

But none of that’s really the point, either. Ron Paul is one of the few (read as: only one I’ve seen) GOP leaders to get it right on this whole apology thing.

Remember that scenario I mentioned above? It’s not quite equally fair, truth be told. We’re not a third world country, and we’re on decent terms with China (at least through economy and trade). And our country doesn’t have as high a concentration of supremely devout Christians as Afghanistan has Muslims (though I did put the scenario in Texas for a reason). But violent riots are still feasibly possible with that scenario. After all, they’re invaders apparently disrespecting one of our more highly, widely valued religions.

The Santorum response to the apology especially makes me laugh. He said, “There was nothing deliberately done wrong here.” But, later, he said that Obama should have acknowledged that what happened was wrong.

Deliberate or not, it was wrong. And even if it wasn’t deliberate, we don’t have a record of respecting Islam or its practitioners. Our military has had members shoot the Quran for target practice. Our government has spied in mosques. We can talk about it not being deliberate all we want… would you believe it? I know, were I in their position, I certainly wouldn’t.

It isn’t wrong to apologize when something unfortunate happens. It isn’t “weak” to say, “We’re sorry and will attempt to ensure far better care is taken in respect to this issue.” Respecting other countries and other religions is not a bad trait. It’s a smart one. Which is something we’d really better start learning.

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The Lowest Of Lowe’s

So, I dunno if you pay any attention to new things on cable television, but apparently The Learning Channel has not only switched to the acronym TLC, but they’ve also been getting a little fire from some rather controversial programming.

I can’t personally understand this. What exactly is it about 50 billion shows dealing with families that have more kids than the parents have brain cells that is controversial? And surely a show about the vertically challenged living their lives isn’t hard to watch. And since they’ve made that movie “Little Miss Sunshine,” I just know that pageants that over sexualize 4-year-olds and airbrush them more than a Lindsay Lohan Playboy cover are all the rage and supremely well liked. So what show could it be?

As it turns out, the show in question is one “All-American Muslim,” a show that picks your average, random, non-celebrity Muslim of Arabic descent and films their every day lives.

So, y’know… a really boring show. Especially for reality TV, and that’s saying something.

But, fine. Whatever. TLC is allowed to make their own strange decisions on what makes good TV (haven’t seen them make one right decision on that front in a long time, though…). So, what exactly is the controversy about?

Well, it turns out that the Florida Family Association (an association of what I must assume is exclusively white Protestants) has decided to boycott the show. …scary, right? But, not only that, they’ve threatened to boycott certain companies that advertise during the show.

…but who cares? It’s the FFA. An organization likely no one has heard of before this “controversy.” It’s not like it’s the NAACP or PETA or the ACLU. Hell, it’s not even the PTA of a random school. Well, actually, it probably is, so scratch that. That can’t be the controversy, can it?

If you thought there was more, you were right. Turns out, Lowe’s home improvement stores are pulling their advertisements from the time slot on the channel.

And thus, controversy is born.

Now, I think Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” take this idiocy down rather well, but I figure I’d give it a go.

Dear Lowe’s: TLC is known for nothing but controversial programming these days, ESPECIALLY with the advent of “Toddlers and Tiaras.” The moment that show hit air, TONS of people were talking about how disgusting and appalling that show was as a concept. “All-American Muslim”? There was absolutely NO controversy surrounding it that I ever heard until you pulled your ads.

See, the way I figure is you cater to a… certain crowd from time to time. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. But as a guy that works in retail in the South, let me tell you that I know exactly the type of people you seem to think you need to cater to: Random, everyday, kind of stupid, lower to middle class whiteys. That’s who you look to for your biggest money making. If it works for you, that’s cool. But, unfortunately, that group comes with a certain… stereotyping stigma. They’re often seen as… extremely religious, ignorant… and often racist.

Having met some of those people, it is true in some cases. But making business decisions based on such things? Not really that bright an idea. Because now you look racist and stupid and petty yourselves.

My hint? The FFA boycotting you over who you advertise to will not break you. Nor will the FFA likely continue the boycott for long once they really need some home improvement thing and have no Home Depot to go to. Their boycott only works if you give them attention.

Which you did.

Which makes you stupid.

I’ve seen such boycotts take place before. Some people called for a boycott of Sears when they decided to advertise on the “gay channel.” Sears is still around, right?

The smart people in America understand that you are a money making machine, whose sole goal is to make piles of money. And one way to make piles of money is to convince anyone and everyone with money to spend it at your store. That includes Muslims and gays.

The idiots that would boycott your advertising to everybody are the same idiots that probably think a boycott is simply not shopping there until someone asks them to go to the store and pick something up. And it’s not a large enough group of people that you’d miss them being gone.

And as for people that seem to think all Muslims should be shown as terrorists that want to murder Americans: Would you kindly remove yourself from the gene pool? I bet some of those same people are people that cheered for Muhammad Ali and Shaq in their sports endeavors.

Personally, I’d love to boycott ignorance. Or at least have a stupid stick that I could beat stupid people with. First candidate to propose that idea or any similar ideas will get my vote, no questions asked.

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Moral Combat: Sharia Law Versus U.S. Law

In trolling the news today for something to talk about (and not have to think too hard on since 3 hours of sleep and 18 hours of work in the past 32 or so hours isn’t conducive to thought), I discovered yet another jewel from one of FOX News’ many media circus sideshows. This one comes from a segment called “The Five,” in which it seems FOX News has included a couple of token liberals to try and project some amount of balance. (Same sort of stuff they did with “Hannity and Colmes,” and of course the attractive young women would be the conservatives. Bah. Anyway…)

In this bit, they have an extremely brief, extremely truncated semi-discussion about a new occurrence of Sharia Law in the United States. For those unaware of what Sharia Law is, it is the Islamic code of laws, similar to the Jewish Talmudic law, in that it can be found in their holy texts. It is, of course, where you get some of your slightly more “Oh, my goodness, how barbaric” laws like the forced amputation of a hand that steals. There’s a bunch of other stuff in there, but who cares here in Islamaphobic, freedom of religion so long as I agree with it America?

Now, if you read the article in the link I’ve posted, you’ll find that some details were left out of the discussion that takes place in the video. Which happens when you jump from the actual matter of discussion and play the “Slippery Slope That Starts With A Leap Of Nonsense” game. The case in question involves two groups of Muslims with a dispute that affects the community (as they’re a part of the community) but is not covered by the U.S. Code of Law. So far as I can tell, at least. Of course, the conservatives on “The Five” act like a secular judge ever using Islamic law even for a millisecond could cause a precedent in which Sharia Law becomes U.S. law.

But there is an interesting question here, behind all the needless hullabaloo “The Five” brings. Should judges of secular law, i.e. the U.S. law, be called upon to settle disputes of a religious nature that require delving into religious law, i.e. Sharia Law?

Let’s invent a Christian example (and by invent, I mean take a preexisting event and alter the ending). Let’s say there’s a church somewhere whose pastor wants to make a woman a deacon. Let’s say he brings the issue before the congregation as is discussed in the church’s constitution (yes, churches have those). Let’s say the congregation votes against having the woman made a deacon. Then let’s say that the preacher decides to ignore the will of the church and make her a deacon anyway. (Now, this is where it gets tricky, since we shift from reality to me making things up.) Let’s say that the church fires the preacher, and the preacher sues for wrongful firing. Let’s put this in a random, non-“At Will” state, and let’s say that the preacher going rogue was not covered in the constitution or terms of hiring due to egregious clerical oversight.

Should the judge brought in on the civil suit be allowed, (assuming there is no legal precedence) since there is no legal precedence in the U.S. code of law, to use the law/scripture of Christians to attempt to settle the suit? Should he say, “Well, the Apostle Paul says no women deacons, so the church was right to tell you no, and since they’re the ones that hired you, bye-bye.”? Or should he instead “legislate from the bench” and create a secular precedent to the issue?

I took three different Philosophy of Law classes (Philosophy of Law, Philosophy of Civil Law, and Philosophy of Criminal Law, none of which was the one I really wanted to take, Philosophy of Constitutional Law), and have had to give a lot of thought on the legal system and how it should work.

It might not surprise you when I say I have no idea. I really, honestly am not sure which way I fall on this issue right now.

Granted, I definitely don’t fall with the louder majority of the members of “The Five,” since I’m not stupid enough to think that the application of a religious law in a case dealing solely with religious groups falling outside of the U.S. Code of Law means that judges are going to start using religious law OVER the U.S. Code of Law in places it isn’t even applicable.

But I really have no idea whether I think secular judges should be a part of religious discussion like this. In the case mentioned by “The Five,” the parties are disputing the very existence of an Islamic scholar’s interpretation of a specific sharia law. A definite downfall to this being allowed isn’t the possibility of religion affecting law, but rather of law affecting religion. Let’s say, in the Christian hypothetical, the judge decided to disallow the church’s firing of the pastor. The church loses the case, and now there is a precedent where a pastor can go against the will of the church in matters of making people deacons without repercussion. Or he could find in favor of the church but slip in a note saying “Christianity does not allow for women to be deacons,” setting a precedent to disallow female deacons in any church in the area.

However, there are certainly times when there are disputes amongst religious groups that cannot be resolved without outside help. The more I think on it, though, the less I like the idea of the affect it could have on religious beliefs.

What do you think?

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Why My Christianity Won’t Let Me Vote Republican

If you can’t tell by the title, this is going to be one of those posts where people would get all sorts of up in arms if anyone actually read this/cared about what a random guy on the internet had to say.

…though, in fairness, that seems to be all anyone on the internet cares about, judging by YouTube comment flame wars.

But, on to the controversy!

What is the GOP’s current incarnation known for? What stances do they take when it comes to politics, social and economic both? (Note, this refers to the leaders of the party and the loudest voices when it comes to setting and saying policy. I know not all are like this.)

On immigration, they take the stance of kicking all illegal immigrants out of the country. Look at Arizona and, more recently and more harshly, Alabama. Instead of trying to help integrate immigrants into American culture and citizenship, they are derided and scorned, blamed for the lack of jobs and all other things. And Alabama, like Arizona discovered, will soon notice that the results of the law aren’t necessarily good ones. (As I recall, Arizona started trying to get the immigrants back thanks to a severe drop in work productivity.)

Yet, what does the Bible say about the immigrant? In the book of Leviticus, God commanded the Israelites to treat foreigners as though they were native-born.

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” – Leviticus 19:33-34, NIV

And what did Jesus Christ teach? Something about loving your neighbor, as I recall. I’m not going to suggest that Christ meant for Christians to abet criminal activity. But I am going to suggest that Christ would more likely support legislation welcoming the immigrants to our country with open, loving arms, treating them the way they were not able to be treated in their home lands. You know, the whole reason they left in the first place.

But it’s not just immigration I have a beef with. The Republican party is largely against anything ever resembling any form of socialism, as well. Funds to the poor? Don’t want those. Heck, many Republicans don’t even like how there are many people in the nation that don’t pay taxes. Ignore the fact that many of them don’t have jobs or are feeding families of 5 on minimum wage jobs that are barely enough for a single person to live on in many states. How about health care for everyone? Oh, keep that away. People should pay for all their health care. If they can’t afford it, too bad. And any suggestion that the right thing for the super-rich to do is to help the poor and less fortunate? That’s simply class warfare.

Have you ever read the book of Acts? In the book of Acts, the first church was created by Simon Peter, the Rock on which Christ set the foundation for Christianity. Let’s look at a description of the first church, shall we?

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” – Acts 4:32-35, NIV

They sold their possessions and shared them amongst those who had need. No one claimed any ownership. Well, that sounds like your very basic commune. A very basic bit of socialism right there. And that is what the Christian church was founded on: Taking care of the needy, sharing amongst one another your possessions and excesses. I’ve talked about some of this stuff before, but it needed to be reiterated here.

Now, some will point to Romans 13:1-2, where it says in the NIV, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” They will say, “Our government leaders have dictated these laws, so we must obey them, for it’s what God wants.”

In America, the voters are the ones that enact the laws. The voters pick the representatives and governors and lawmakers. The voters can cry out and demand change. The only overarching authority in the United States is the U.S. Constitution. So, yes, we should obey the Constitution. But we should lie back and let things like the anti-immigrant laws and the tax cuts for the rich go by as if that’s what God would want us to do.

Speaking of the Constitution being the law of the land we actually should follow, why is it that so many in the Republican party want to ignore the First Amendment? There seems to be a growing desire to eliminate any non-Christian religion from our country from the “moral majority,” with a particular focus on Islam. People want to ban mosques and other places of worship for other religions from being built. But for those Christians that are of that opinion, I point to that verse from Romans 13 and say to you that the U.S. Constitution, not any random lawmaker, says to let them stay.

As a Christian, I look to help the poor, heal the sick and infirm, and love all of the people around me. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m personally not doing so great at all that, perhaps. But at the very least, I can refuse to vote for a party that consistently legislates against the very things the Bible teaches over and over and over again, in every translation and in very plain speaking. An article on exactly how unChristian and divisive the GOP party leadership is right now could last for a long time. But I think I’ve shown enough here for now.

I’m a Christian. And, because of that, I will not vote Republican. Not without some serious change.

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God and Politics

My first post, and it’s about the two things you’re never supposed to talk about in polite company: Religion and politics.

Well, this is the internet… that’s not exactly the most polite company I’ve ever been in, so what the heck.

A friend of mine posted a quote from Stephen Colbert on his Facebook today. It said: “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus is just as selfish as we are or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition… and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

This election season, starting well over a year before any actual election will take place, has seen God make an entrance many times already on the GOP side. Michele Bachmann seems especially fond of doing that, claiming the earthquake and subsequent hurricane hitting the eastern seaboard was God giving D.C. a wake-up call. And then, there’s some of my favorite little hypocrisy from Herman Cain, the man who treats Muslims like they’re all going to kill Americans and defends this fear and discrimination by saying that Muslims want to insert religious beliefs into the law, yet he’s never spoken about or against the attempts to insert Christian beliefs into law. I don’t think Cain would mind a Muslim like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hanging out with him, though.

But here’s a thing to think about. Something that my mention of Kareem touches on… not everyone in a religion holds the same beliefs. Yeah, there are some Muslims that want to blow people up. There are some that don’t. That can be said for pretty much any religion. Even Buddhists had some terrorists. May still have some. There are Christians that want to help the poor, and then there are Christians that seem perfectly fine with keeping their money in their pockets. Christians that are against gay marriage, and Christians that are for it. Christians that are pro-life, Christians that are pro-choice.

In a religion that hosts some billion-plus people, you won’t ever get everyone to agree. Heck, the church I go to just recently held an election for a new pastor, and 6 people out of 42 voted no. Even 42 people can’t agree on some things.

So, why the heck can’t we leave God out of politics? Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. You know what is Caesar’s? The laws of the land. You know what’s God’s? His laws. They can be separate. If you think God’s marriage is between a man and a woman, then you can have a Godly marriage even if the nation allows marriage you don’t think are Godly. It’s possible.

Now, at this point, people of the Christian persuasion that disagree with me will say something like they can’t stand idly by and let people make the wrong decisions, et cetera. I’m not saying you should condone sin. I mean, if we want to go for an easy, clear example, the Bible says adultery is bad, yet we have no laws against it. Instead of trying to jam morality down the throats of people by busting in and changing up the laws of the land, why not teach and preach and let the people make a choice? Yes, many will choose not to care. But the same will happen with force, and that tends to cause resentment.

It’s so frustrating sometimes to see people toss religion around so casually, so inconsistently. It’s as if they don’t know what they believe, they just want to say what they think YOU believe. I’d much rather see someone in political power that had a solid belief system that they stuck to, whether I agreed with those beliefs or not, than someone whose beliefs swayed back and forth depending on which electoral constituents they were talking to. I mean that in both the political and religious sense. But maybe in my youth, I’m still to idealistic to hope that people will stop saying things the voters believe and start fessing up to what they believe. On that note, Ron Paul gets a tip of my hat. I may disagree with him almost completely, but he sticks to his beliefs and doesn’t change them based on what state he’s campaigning in at the moment.

God and politics… it’s a volatile combination, no matter what the venue. And we live in a volatile world. This next election might be the spark that blows America up… I sure hope not, though. I’m kind of fond of the place.

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