Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apparently, it's okay to have paranoids running the state

Well, the title says it all:

WDUQNews: Homeland Security Newsletter Said Anti-Drilling Protesters Could Be Threats

Governor Ed Rendell says he’s angry and embarrassed Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security provided information about environmental protests to drilling companies. But no administration officials will be fired or disciplined for the controversial security bulletin.
Of course no-one will be fired. No-one was fired for harassing professors Ferrel and Kurtz, no-one ever gets fired for this type of behavior. Harassing any American with an opinion might as well be official state policy. Rendell obviously sees no problem in the fact that the people running Homeland Security have no respect for our First Amendment rights. These people may even be downright paranoid....but that shouldn't stop them from holding a powerful government office.

Update: State Senator Ferlo is calling for someone's head.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

That bigoted pope...

To the extent that Catholicism is defined by acceptance of the authority of the pope (in any role -- religious, political, or corporate), I am anti-Catholic.*

In part it is because of my opposition to hierarchical social systems, and in part it is because of the pernicious opinions repeatedly expressed by the pope and other church leaders.

Most recently, the pope has claimed that the Nazis were the product of atheism:

Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live. I also recall the regime’s attitude to Christian pastors and religious who spoke the truth in love, opposed the Nazis and paid for that opposition with their lives. As we reflect on the sobering lessons of the atheist extremism of the twentieth century, let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society and thus to a “reductive vision of the person and his destiny” (Caritas in Veritate, 29).
I have to interpret this as slander. You may question whether he really meant to say that Nazism was the product of atheism--he doesn't say it directly, but in the context of his speech I cannot find any other interpretation for the above paragraph.

The Nazis were not atheist my any means. Based on what I know about Nazi politics, what I remember from books like "They thought they were free" and read in Wikipedia, the Nazis were not an atheist movement. Like all totalitarian regimes, they sought to destroy any independent authority (such as churches), but they did not do this by promoting atheism. At one point they promoted a pagan religious system, but they faced too much resistance from the German people so they instead settled for co-opting Christianity.

The idea that they would advocate atheism is ridiculous in light of the fact that one of the main pillars of the fascist regimes was anti-communism -- and the communist movement at that time was dominated by an explicitly anti-theist school of thought

The pope's defenders will probably say that even though the Nazi party did not advocate for atheism, the leaders had rejected God and were atheists at heart. Leaving aside the fact that this probably makes all non-Catholics into atheists, it is nothing more than the classic bigots defense. Bigots regularly redefine identity words (white, black, jew, atheist) so that they can use it to belittle others and redefine the world according to their hateful ideology. "White" means greedy. "Black" means lustful. They redefine these terms as a way of denying any association with unpopular people (a few popes come to mind), while associating those outcasts with whatever group the bigot wants to scapegoat.

If the pope thinks that he can see into people's souls (and all atheists are the same), then he is either delusional or a liar. If he is saying that the Nazis advocated atheism, he is either as ignorant as your typical Klansman, or he's just another power-monger who values the influence of his own institution over human fellowship or the truth. In other words, he's probably what he would call "an atheist".

*The other level at which I am anti-Catholic is political. The Catholic Church regularly acts as a political advocacy group (and they are especially blunt about it in Latin America), so to say that one is anti-Catholic is no different than saying that one is anti-Republican or anti-Nazi. Of course, the Catholic Church is nowhere near as bad as the Nazis at the moment, but the basic issue is the same.

tip to Evolving thoughts

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Patriot's Day

Too bad that about 2.3 million Americans are in prison.