Fox News models Islamophobia for us

Just watch the escalation in this video: these Fox News people are rightly angry about the murder of a journalist by ISIS, and I entirely agree that that is a movement of destructive barbarians. ISIS is a huge problem, and something needs to be done about them (don’t ask me what…I don’t know), but at the same time, they’re symptomatic of the wreckage our adventures in the Middle East have been left behind. But the discussion evolves from outrage at specific actions by a political/religious movement, to a broad brush hatred of Islam, to an argument that the only way to deal with it is to kill them all.

[Read more…]

Let’s not forget that Nixon was a horrible person

Just a reminder that the president I grew up despising had blood on his hands.

Nixon’s newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson. 

He was responsible for the death of American soldiers, as well as Vietnamese civilians.

He paved the way for Reagan to use a hostage situation for political ends, and for Bush to lie and immerse an entire generation into a futile war.

True intellectuals know the power of the passive voice

Yair Lapid, Israel’s minister of finance, has spoken out against the perfidy of treacherous intellectuals who don’t accept the virtue of his country.

Too many American and European intellectuals have taken moral relativism to its absurd extreme, falling back upon the ‘validity of every narrative’ and repeating the mantra that ‘every story has two sides.’ They treat those who have a clear moral stance as primitive. For them, if you take a moral stand or choose a side in a conflict you must lack the necessary tolerance to "see the other side."

Brilliant: many people see your actions as excessive, violent, and oppressive, and so you respond by accusing them of failing to take a moral stand. The only moral failure I see is when people refuse to condemn the use of violence against a whole people.

It seems a distant memory but not long ago intellectuals did the exact opposite. They were the ones who helped us differentiate between good and evil, between right and wrong, between justice and injustice. They didn’t delve into the childhood of Senator McCarthy or ask whether the Germans felt a genuine sense of hardship. The debate wasn’t over feelings but the essence of truth.

Somehow, that’s a familiar refrain. My side is logical, your side is emotional. Quit looking at those dead children! There is a good reason we had to bomb them, and you shouldn’t get all weepy about a few small bits of meat.

The betrayal of the intellectuals was especially noticeable during the days of the operation in Gaza. Ostensibly, there should be no question as to who enlightened people should support; on one side of the conflict stands a western democracy, governed by the rule of law, which warns civilians before striking legitimate terrorist targets. On the other side stands an Islamist terrorist organization, homophobic and misogynistic, committed to killing Jews, which does all in its power to murder innocent civilians and hides behind its own women and children when carrying out its vicious attacks.

But those intellectuals see it differently. For them, the Palestinians are suffering more and so they must be right. Why? Because they have turned suffering into the only measure of justice.

Yes, Israel is on the side of the law…the laws they wrote, that lock Palestinians into a ghetto and refuses to let them out.

But I do have to admire the remarkable passivity of “the Palestinians are suffering”. It’s written as if there is no active agent to oppose. They just happen to be suffering. They’re just standing around, suffering. Don’t ask why they are suffering. The Israeli government and military don’t have anything to do with it.

They just suffer.

The blockade on Gaza has tightened further since last year and this has worsened the toll on Gaza’s population. In Gaza, people suffer from hunger, thirst, pollution, shortage of medicines, electricity, and any means to get an income, not only by being bombed and shelled. Power crisis, gasoline shortage, water and food scarcity, sewage outflow and ever decreasing resources are disasters caused directly and indirectly by the siege.

People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: “They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”

Gaza has been blockaded by sea and land since 2006. Any individual of Gaza, including fishermen venturing beyond 3 nautical miles of the coast of Gaza, face being shot by the Israeli Navy. No one from Gaza can leave from the only two checkpoints, Erez or Rafah, without special permission from the Israelis and the Egyptians, which is hard to come by for many, if not impossible. People in Gaza are unable to go abroad to study, work, visit families, or do business. Wounded and sick people cannot leave easily to get specialised treatment outside Gaza. Entries of food and medicines into Gaza have been restricted and many essential items for survival are prohibited. Before the present assault, medical stock items in Gaza were already at an all time low because of the blockade. They have run out now. Likewise, Gaza is unable to export its produce. Agriculture has been severely impaired by the imposition of a buffer zone, and agricultural products cannot be exported due to the blockade. 80% of Gaza’s population is dependent on food rations from the UN.

Much of Gaza’s buildings and infrastructure had been destroyed during Operation Cast Lead, 2008—09, and building materials have been blockaded so that schools, homes, and institutions cannot be properly rebuilt. Factories destroyed by bombardment have rarely been rebuilt adding unemployment to destitution.

Despite the difficult conditions, the people of Gaza and their political leaders have recently moved to resolve their conflicts “without arms and harm” through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007. This reconciliation, although accepted by many in the international community, was rejected by Israel. The present Israeli attacks stop this chance of political unity between Gaza and the West Bank and single out a part of the Palestinian society by destroying the lives of people of Gaza. Under the pretext of eliminating terrorism, Israel is trying to destroy the growing Palestinian unity. Among other lies, it is stated that civilians in Gaza are hostages of Hamas whereas the truth is that the Gaza Strip is sealed by the Israelis and Egyptians.

Gaza has been bombed continuously for the past 14 days followed now by invasion on land by tanks and thousands of Israeli troops. More than 60 000 civilians from Northern Gaza were ordered to leave their homes. These internally displaced people have nowhere to go since Central and Southern Gaza are also subjected to heavy artillery bombardment. The whole of Gaza is under attack. The only shelters in Gaza are the schools of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), uncertain shelters already targeted during Cast Lead, killing many.

According to Gaza Ministry of Health and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as of July 21, 149 of the 558 killed in Gaza and 1100 of the 3504 wounded are children. Those buried under the rubble are not counted yet. As we write, the BBC reports of the bombing of another hospital, hitting the intensive care unit and operating theatres, with deaths of patients and staff. There are now fears for the main hospital Al Shifa. Moreover, most people are psychologically traumatised in Gaza. Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel.

The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction. An entire area was destroyed on July 20, leaving thousands of displaced people homeless, beside wounding hundreds and killing at least 70—this is way beyond the purpose of finding tunnels. None of these are military objectives. These attacks aim to terrorise, wound the soul and the body of the people, and make their life impossible in the future, as well as also demolishing their homes and prohibiting the means to rebuild.

They suffer, and it’s just not fair, because people want to end their suffering, and damn their intolerant eyes, they look at who is holding the other end of the gun.

One of the many fine moments at #whc2014

Maryam Namazie making a comment at Richard Dawkins’ talk:

I’ve been saying it for years: there are a bunch of adjectives applied to atheists by Christians and Muslims that are just absurd in context. “Aggressive”. “Militant”. “Arrogant”. I don’t understand how people who believe that the Ruler of the Entire Universe cares personally about their diet, their hair styles, and their sex lives can call atheists these things without the small gods of irony striking them dead and calling their shriveled little souls home to Hypocrisy Heaven.

And now, with the Islamic State on the march, murdering people en masse, blowing up art and architecture, and torturing at will, we can see what aggressive, militant, and arrogant really look like. Atheists are merely confident.

Did I ever tell you how much I despise Ronald Reagan?

Here, have a nice comic that explains the situation in Lake Erie.



When I was a kid, Lake Erie was a joke: it was a polluted cesspool with rivers that caught on fire. Places like Erie and Love Canal were the punchlines of a national sense of disgust with abuse of the environment, and amazingly, people got together and changed things: new tighter regulations, clean up of the worst cases (well, that was begun but never finished), and in general, we saw a reduction in pollution around the country.

Then…fucking Ronald fucking Reagan fucking fucked everything up. Trees cause pollution. Regulation is bad for the economy. And every Republican since has followed the same script, right up to “drill baby drill”. Even the Democrats are getting in the act.

And the end result is that everything is turning to shit again.

Responsibility is not just a word

Tom Levenson responds to yet another gun ‘accident’, in which a pregnant woman was shot in the head by a friend showing off a gun. I think this is a very good take on the issue; no responsible gun owner (and they all are, right?) could possibly disagree with this:

Responsible means that whatever happens with your gun is your fault.  Period.  You accidentally discharge it and no-one gets hurt? How’s this:  big fine, confiscate the weapon involved, lose the right to bear arms for a year for the first incident, forever if you repeat.  Someone gets hurt or dies?  Jail. Civil liability.  Loss of gun rights for life.  That’s responsibility.

But of course, I dream.  That’s not how we roll.  Instead, we’ll just  water the tree of liberty with a newlywed, and celebrate life by burying her fetus — and wait (not long) for the next red harvest.

Being responsible should actually mean something — it’s not just a word you use to escape the consequences of your actions. But that’s how the gun fondlers all seem to use it — they will flaunt their assault rifles, take great risks with their lives and the lives of others, and hide under the NRA-approved label of “responsible gun-owner”.

Real responsible gun owners know that they are deadly tools and would keep them locked up and treat them like they would a stick of dynamite — extreme hazards that warrant extreme precautions.

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”

Lenar Whitney, Republican congressional candidate from Louisiana, dared to use that line from Orwell while accusing virtually every climate scientist in the world of lying.

Practically every word in that monolog is a lie, or a product of exceptional ignorance. And the terrifying thing is that she knows it.

… when I pressed Whitney repeatedly for the source of her claim that the earth is getting colder, she froze and was unable to cite a single scientist, journal or news source to back up her beliefs.

To change the subject, I asked whether she believed Obama was born in the United States. When she replied that it was a matter of some controversy, her two campaign consultants quickly whisked her out of the room, accusing me of conducting a “Palin-style interview.”

Unbelievable. But these are the people dominating the Tea Party right now.

By the way, here’s the summary of the recent IPCC report (pdf), if you want to see the data that Whitney pretends doesn’t exist.

I get email

I propose a general rule: the surest way to get someone outraged is to criticize their heroes, whether they’re political, religious, scientific, or atheist. The only solution is to not have any heroes.

It seems that I dared to criticize John C. Wright, and one of his fans wrote to disagree with me.

Mr. Myers,

I was made aware of your blog post by John C. Wright’s mention of it. I suggest you read his opinion of it, it is instructive to say the least.

I have never read anything written by Vox Day. However I have read nearly everything by John C. Wright. I share his opinion that your choice of choice of “damning” passages written by Vox Day could have been better made. Particularly by a biologist.

Because there’s nothing more hilarious than a supposed scientist arguing that fertility in women is a social construct, and the fact that women are the only type of human who can bear children is a political issue.

So really, if that’s the worst thing you could come up with written by Vox Day, you should get yourself another horse to beat. This one’s dead.

I also saw your post, “I’ll be good Mommy…” I’m reminded of a post I wrote a while ago regarding the propaganda tactics being taken up by your fellow travelers in the mainstream press. They seemed distastefully familiar for some reason.

In case your finger is too tired to click, I’ll sum it up for you. Your behavior in demonizing gun owners is a tactic first used to good effect by Mr. Joseph Goebbels. My father and uncles spent a goodly portion of their late teens and twenties sorting that little issue out. I could go through the whole rest of my life quite happily without seeing that repeated, thanks very much. Sadly, it looks like you aren’t going to let that happen.

The Phantom

“The Phantom”? Really? Was The Shadow too busy to write?

You might be wondering what Wright said about me. Here’s Wright’s comment:

This is an interesting link. It is from a soul who thinks it is immoral to act professionally, that tolerating someone of unpopular, or, rather of rightwing opinions (which are here said both to be poison and to dominate the narrative) is intolerable. You are not supposed to read books and judge them on their merits. Politics is precisely what a professional association of science fiction writers gathered to protect the interest of science fiction should be about.

With utterly unintentional hilariousness, the writer denounces Theodore Beale in words of thunder as a misogynist, and to prove the point quotes a utter bland an uncontroversial statement that women are better off marrying young, when they are at their most fertile and most able, thanks to the energy of youth, to care for their babies. (He has said many more misogynistic things, some of which have indeed offended me; why pick this passage? I can only speculate it is because here Beale puts his finger on what feminists hate most. They hate being women, they hate being wives, they hate being mothers, they hate fertility, and therefore they hate babies with the hatred of Moloch)

For them, everything is politics, and politics is religion, and anyone not on the side of the Leftwing angels is on the side of the Rightwing devils. These are intolerant, zealous, uncivilized fanatics. It is not because of us that there is no middle ground, no quarter, no rules of engagement. This is their life. This is their all.

No sane man would agree to join, pay dues to, or remain a member of a professional organization like that.

Let me break that first letter down into two parts. The first part is this bizarre argument that Vox Day has said many things that are far worse than the one quote I gave — please, Lord, may I never have defenders this incompetent. Then, further, they make the claim that what Day/Beale wrote was “a utter bland an uncontroversial statement” [sic] that I, as a biologist, ought to know was completely true, and that somehow I was “arguing that fertility in women is a social construct”. Say what? It seems the one quote I excerpted was a particularly good one for smoking out people who thought it was innocuous. Here is the post I wrote, and here is that bland and uncontroversial quote from Day/Beale:

Because raising girls with the expectation that their purpose in life is to bear children allows them to pursue marriage at the age of their peak fertility, increase the wage rates of their prospective marital partners, and live in stable, low-crime, homogenous societies that are not demographically dying. It also grants them privileged status, as they alone are able to ensure the continued survival of the society and the species alike. Women are not needed in any profession or occupation except that of child-bearer and child-rearer, and even in the case of the latter, they are only superior, they are not absolutely required.

I guess I need to spell out what is objectionable in that statement to the clueless: it is not that only women are capable of getting pregnant, or that fertility is a social construct. It’s the assertion that the purpose of women’s lives is to bear children. It is the reduction of half of humanity to one biological function, without recognizing that they can have additional abilities and aspirations that give them fulfillment, and that they can contribute to society in a great many ways. It is the assumption that culture is by and for men, and that women’s role is to support them…and that they should be damned grateful for that privilege.

That Wright and “The Phantom” think that statement is uncontroversial shows how deeply the poison has gone.

The second part is the traditional invocation of Godwin’s law. The post he linked to is stupid and vacuous; it was prompted by Rachel Marsden’s response to the Newtown murders, in which she encouraged more background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the “mentally stunted, emotionally disturbed and deeply insecure”. From that beginning, “The Phantom” leapt to the conclusion that Marsden had just called all gun owners “mentally stunted, emotionally disturbed and deeply insecure”, and therefore, she was just like Joseph Goebbels because… insert cartoon of overweight gun owner fondling a gun, followed by unrelated Nazi caricature of overweight Jewish man, therefore liberals equal Nazis.

It’s the flimsiest excuse to compare gun owners to victims of the Holocaust that I’ve yet seen.

Satire done right

Mark Steel praises our new-found tolerance for child murderers.

In recent years most of humanity has become proudly more tolerant of groups who once seemed to be on the margins of society. But until now it’s still been seen as acceptable to be offensive about one minority, which is the child murdering community.

At last it seems the mood is changing, and finally we’re beginning to hear the child murderers’ point of view.

For example one brave soul, prepared to speak out, is spokesman Uri Drome, who explained on Radio 4 yesterday that although the Israeli government bombed a school that several children died in, the deaths are clearly the fault of the people who live in the areas being bombed.

What a refreshing change from that tired old thinking that always blames murder on the murderer.