The Cult of One Billion - Is It Already Too Late?

“Those who love God are not always the friends of their fellow men.”

Robert Ingersoll

“When I think of all the harm [the Bible] has done, I despair of ever writing anything to equal it.”

Oscar Wilde

“I find it necessary to wash my hands after I have come into contact with religious people.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Voltaire was right for his time, but would be wrong today if he said “Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd and bloody religion that has ever infected the world.”  That title has passed to Islam.  Like Sam Harris, I believe that it constitutes a unique and direct threat, because of the rigidity of its ideology, which insists upon world domination. Harris recounts a mind-numbing array of Quran passages exhorting violence against unbelievers. 

Poor guy - he had to slog through the whole thing, as I did with the Torah (440 pp.).  But atheists have to know what’s in those primitive, often unintgelligible (allowing for all sorts of spin) texts.  Knowing more about their holy texts than believers do — that’s where we want to be.

A couple of years ago, Muslim sensitivity, always hair-trigger, was aroused, and a fatwa issued against another cartoonist.  All she did was draw pictures of things she SAID were Mohammed, and it was enough for a death threat.  So what if I draw an emoticon — ():=> — and say it’s Mohammed? 

Are infidels now guilty of semiotic crimes of intent?  I was amazed whem South Park, which never hesitates to show any sexual act or bodily function, SAID that the person in the bear suit was Mohammed.  And still got into trouble.

Whole new level

We are at a whole new level, semiotically and pragmatically speaking: the offense is not merely making an image of a human being and saying that it’s Mohammed…but saying ANY image — like this one: ():=> — is Mohammed.  

Muslim sensitivity is rigid and nasty, requiring all to respect Muslim beliefs, tolerant of no other.  Thus (per Harper’s) Hamid Karzai and his cabinet, visiting DC, got down on their prayer rugs, asses up, while the American Prez and high officials had to watch. 

Yech!  It’s like watching a dogfight.  Disgusting.  But the Christians who had to watch had their own form of humiliation to their invisible deity, so they had to be tolerant of other people’s fantasies.  What if we had a resolutely secular President who forbade religious services on Government property?   He/she would have told Karzai in advance: pray privately if you have to, not in front of everyone.  But no, in the name of tolerance and diversity, they put their asses up and bray, sorry, pray.

Textbook definition of a cult

A leader of the Tea Party movement proclaims that Allah is a monkey god and Islam a cult.   Damn!  He got it half-right.  “Monkey” just sounds like a meaningless throwaway insult — but “cult” makes perfect sense. 

Islam is a cult because it requires the same kind of mindless obedience and resistance to doubt or contrary thinking that we often find in government, the military, corporations, and organizations of all kinds, not to mention other religious institutuons. 

Characteristics of a cult

I did not intend to obscure the meaning of the word cult or even to insult Islam — only to use it to highlight what many organizations, especially religions, have in common: unquestioning belief in an unproven story and a tradition…and mindless obedience to authority – in this case, clerics and their fantasies and rituals.  As in corporate or military cults, authority and tradition are rigidly respected.   You are in or out (unlike wishy-washy Jews).  Members are brainwashed and heavily guarded against competing ideas.

Dangerous cult

I’ve also repeated and supported the assertion of Leo, the Atheist at Large: that Islam is also a dangerous cult.  There are two pieces of hard, obvious evidence that no thinking person can deny:

First, the ongoing violence in perhaps seven or eight places around the world, all with one element in common — Muslims versus someone else.  The second piece of hard evidence is their holy text itself which, unfortunately, they regard as true and infallible.  Much of the Quran is highly intolerant and calls for violence against unbelievers.

There can be no denying that violence is the default modus operandi of Islam.  What other religion’s fundamentalists would use modern weapons to blow up ancient statues of Buddha?  Of BUDDHA!!??  What other would behead someone on the Internet?  Or create a culture of death in which young people are rewarded for committing suicide?  As Harris points out, Tibet has been cruelly treated by China, but you don’t see Tibetan terrorists blowing themselves up and killing hundreds of Chinese civilian non-combatants.  Just Muslims. 

One can find violent, ethnic-cleansing passages in the Torah, but Jews have assimilated to the wider, Western world much more thoroughly (they participated in the Enlightenment), so it’s much easier for modern Jews to ignore them.  Some even acknowledge them as part of Judaism’s primitive past.

Regrettably, most Muslims seem rooted in the past, unable to free themselves of the mental slavery of rigid, fundamentalist adherence to the Quran.

Vicious cycle

This mental enslavement is very unfortunate for them, because it creates an endless cycle of resentment and blame of others.  The sad result of their failure to make it in the modern world is that they turn even more fervently to the Quran.  

Thus Muslims are locked in a perpetual frenzy of violence and blame projection. Entire societies are enslaved by primitive doctrines, and huge numbers of women are deprived of basic civil rights and opportunities.  Harper’s reports a tragic number of incidents of violence against girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

Muslims are now a billion strong, with a very high birth rate.  They program their children relentlessly.  Few ever get a secular education.  Few outside the US are exposed to anything but virulent anti-Semitism, anti-Westernism, and anti-Christianity in the Middle Eastern media.  I promise you, they see the world from a very different point of view than Americans.

Stoking the flames

What is most disturbing about this cult – and if I had to pick among many things, this would be “first among equals” — is the way its leaders relentlessly mobilize the hatred of their followers and constantly direct the believers’ rage towards outsiders, whereas it is obvious to all outsiders, even those as uneducated in foreign affairs as myself, that the Muslim world has only itself to blame for its misery. 

Look at Israel.  Israel has created a reasonably prosperous society on equally inhospitable land, with no oil whatsoever, by following Western principles of free markets, civil law, and so forth.  (Well, reasonably free, at least compared to its wretched Arab neighbors.)  

It’s not that the Muslims cannot do it.  Once they were the most advanced societies on earth.  But because they decided, back in the late Middle Ages, to prohibit any questioning of the received wisdom, they are locked down by religious fundamentalism and will remain backwards for a long time to come. 

But back to the clerics.  They know, as Hitler and every other successful manipulator of people has known, that you must keep the believers in a constant state of irrational frenzy, and you do this by demonizing — if not outright creating  — external enemies (as Bush did with Saddam).

Heart-breaking enslavement

Fundamentalist Islam — it breaks my heart that a billion human beings are enslaved to this garbage.  Yet I have no wish to stop Muslims from indulging their fantasies, except as it affects my right to live in the world. 

This is why I speak out.

The threat

Islam is a truly aggressive religion, dominated by fundamentalist elements whose aspirations to world domination are much scarier than those of communism and the USSR.  That is why secular, liberal Muslims must also speak out, in America and abroad.  More on this below.

It could be that time is running short.  Perhaps Leo’s right about 200-300 suicide bombers being trained and sent to America.  But even if he is wrong, it would only take two or three. 

A couple more 9/11’s, and you will see a radical transformation in American society. We have dodged numerous potentially disastrous terrorist plots - just barely.  Americans, unlike people in many other parts of the world, take their physical safety for granted (at least at the hands of foreign emenies - crime and drug war violence are another story).  To damage it is to strike at the very core of American life.  There must be no more 9/11’s, if we can possibly prevent them.

No “front”

There’s no geography to this war, no “front” in this war.  That is SO last-century!   So is domino thinking. America withdrew from Vietnam, but the communists didn’t take over the US.  Yet the government still uses this outdated threat and logic to frighten Americans into obedience.

Here in the West, I would like to see any Muslim advocacy of the replacement of a democratically-elected government by Islamic law, any activity towards that goal…be prosecuted as treason.  Muslims can have Muslim countries – even that’s too much — but not a Muslim world.

The wedge factor

The war on terror must also be fought by Muslims — in particular, secular Muslims, liberal Muslims, people of learning and influence in the Muslim world.  And they are the wedge factor.  Unless they are frightened into silence.

It is they who must approach the people in power and start to create nonviolent change within Islamic societies.  It is they who can explain to Muslim leaders that which is clear in the eyes of all outsiders: their societies are badly stuck, destructively enslaved to harmful, fantastic religious doctrines.

They must do this, not just for the good – the very spiritual freedom and humanity! – of Muslims themselves…but because Islam clearly threatens the rest of us. And they are among the few who could help prevent continued – and even more widespread — religious suffering and death. 

We need a thousand, TEN THOUSAND courageous secular Muslims.  Now – before it’s too late.

Already too late?

It may already be too late.  The fundamentalists have enough crazies in enough countries to do us real harm.  Their holy book tells them to exterminate infidels.  That won’t change.

A commentator on my Atheist Nexus blog writes “Frankly, I don’t see an end to the Islamic insanity until they’re dealt with in a Roman manner. It’s unfortunate but what other scenario is there? These Islamic societies are INSANE.”  

Another 9/11 (it may even be in the works) — this is my greatest fear for the future of humanity, greater even than asteroid hit or eco-disaster, because it is more likely: two death cultures facing off and fighting to the death, making their Armageddon a self-fulfilling prophecy.  After the next 9/11, America will hit back, even though the enemy has no country.  Ah, but it does.  Where this enemy lives…is in the mind.  Until we have the courage to call this barbarism by its right name, as long as we defer to Muslims’ crazy sensitivities, we will be seen as weak, and they will get on with their jihad.

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Comment by Alan Perlman on June 29, 2012 at 3:27pm

Oh, absolutely, we would have a lot less of a problem with Muslim terrorism if we weren't constantly invading their countries.  Killing people with bombs or drones is murder at a distance - but still murder.

Comment by bobh on June 29, 2012 at 8:57am

Muslims utilize suicide bombers in place of fighter/bomber planes or rockets. While suicide bombing is horrendous, so is dropping a plane load of bombs on civilians.

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 28, 2012 at 10:44am

In the last 10 min. of the movie, Moore intersperses bits of my Chairman's Holiday Remarks (traditionally delivered at a Christmas party for all the employes of HQ) with shots of a sheriff evicting people in Flint.  Subtle irony.

MM is too far left for me.  I love his brand of ambush journalism (he disingenuously attempts to get a walk-in meeting with Roger -- yeah, right) and the way he lays out problems, but he has little or nothing in the way of solutions except some poorly-defined government intervention.  And how can he vilify capitalism, the very system that enables him to create, sell, and distribute his movies, books, etc.? 

Comment by Tammy S on June 27, 2012 at 3:19pm

It's great to get rich off of one industry or commodity, but nobody thinks ahead. Nobody, civic or business leaders, planned for a future that was different from the present. They assumed the future would be like the present, with GM reigning supreme.

You make a good point that admittedly I haven't thought much about...This is what I was leaning toward in an earlier post when I said all the great pay, and seemingly 'endless' jobs set the people up with a false sense of security. I do think most people in the area tend to blame GM more than they do the local or federal governments, but businesses tend to stay where the climate is friendly for 'business'. I don't think it's part of the human condition to want to consider the 'what if?' negatives when things are going well, I believe for the most part, people in general are still too superstitious to engage in the critical thinking required to stave off any future possibility of failure, for fear of jinxing their current comforts. I blamed GM and AC Delco for the decline, so I too am guilty for not considering that there were other factors at play, it becomes part of the local lore I suppose. It's just easier to blame whomever it is that leaves and leaves you holding the bag than it is to ask yourself if you had some part in the decline of the relationship. Perspective... I suppose. I still drive a Buick so I must not find them too offensive, but I am pretty ticked off at the plastic parts inside my door handle! /grumble

I actually do like MM's documentary style and I'm an Independent so I tend toward the middle a little more than he, I do however get tired of the whole 'Catholicism/brotherhood of man' thing being interjected into his pieces, I think he thinks, it sells. However, even if you disagree with his politics, he does get the conversation going, stirs the political pot so to speak. I think we need to see more from all sides in this 'style' of journalism because you have to hold the attention of the 'reality t.v. numbed' masses and give them something sensational to draw them to the screen, frankly there are very few of us left that will sit and watch simply because we want to understand a viewpoint other than our own. For instance I'm going to watch 41 today... they have a name for people like me and it's unkind... 

I will have to watch Roger and Me again and try to ferret out which parts are yours now!

I had heard that many of the great winter festivities that bring in a lot of tourists had suffered this past year because of the warm weather and I remember thinking, 'great, if it's not one thing it's ten against them.' I do love most of what I was able to see of Michigan, I remember fondly walking through fern I could scarcely see over up by Tawas, gorgeous place. I love Detroit too though, the skyline there, there's something so gritty about that town you can just feel driving through it, I hope it returns to all its former glory some day.

BTW the hubby sent you a linkedin request today. We looked you up.

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 27, 2012 at 1:08pm

Now the truth can be told: I worked in GM's PR Staff at the time, my colleagues were in the movie, as were snippets of one of my speeches for Roger.  So even though I disagree with MM's politics, that movie will always be special to me. 

He got it backward: GM was not responsible for ruining Flint -- not at first, at least.  They were blindsided by the unexpected, but the recession of the early 80s really put Flint on the decline.  

It's great to get rich off of one industry or commodity, but nobody thinks ahead. Nobody, civic or business leaders, planned for a future that was different from the present. They assumed the future would be like the present, with GM reigning supreme. 

Outside of Detroit MI is truly beautiful.  The place where the two Great Lakes meet is magnificent.  Also, the dunes.  Fall colors. Much more.  They're still pushing tourism - I see the ads.

Comment by Tammy S on June 27, 2012 at 12:01pm

My hubby introduced me to that documentary after I saw Flint for myself and I've been an avid fan of his ever since and a fan of Michael Moore as well *wink*!

As for what's going on in Detroit, he and I have been trying to return to anywhere in MI for a few years now but it seems like the wave of destruction hasn't really spared any area in the state, there just doesn't seem to be anything there. It's heartbreaking honestly, I loved that state so much, all the state lands set aside for enjoyment I was in the woods just about every weekend even in knee deep snow! The people were so matter of fact, it was so refreshing, I don't think I've ever felt more immediately 'at home' anywhere else. He used to work at Mound there in Detroit, we lived in Lansing! Then he transferred to M.R. in Ionia but you know the story behind the privatization of many of the prisons to be sure. Now he's gone from Nukes to corporate in-house, back to contract after the economy crashed.... what a long, strange trip this has been...

He was raised in the Millington area but most of his family is dead now, there are the random aunts, uncles and cousins and we have some friends there. I wish we had a larger network there, but those that we did have, moved on to greener pastures themselves for the most part, it's really sad for Michigan. We'd love to come home but sadly, the economy there seems to be worse than here and we're 4th in unemployment here for goodness sakes! It was out of the frying pan and into the fire... damn Murphy, if I ever catch that guy...

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 27, 2012 at 11:33am

Tammy...You really should see Michael Moore's first great opus, Roger and Me, in which he compares the idyllic Flint of his youth with the present-day necropolis. 

As for Detroit (lived there 17 years), it is apparently reverting to urban prairie.  According to an article in Harper's, an area the size of San Francisco has been abandoned.  Even so, the Oakland Co. suburbs still look quite prosperous. 

Comment by James Yount on June 26, 2012 at 9:27pm

And now a lot of them have nukes.

Comment by Alan Perlman on June 26, 2012 at 3:00pm

A historian friend says that Muslims have been good winners but bad losers...and they've been losers for all of those 300 years.  According to one view, they got most of their "new" knowledge from India and by raiuding Alexandria for classical learning.  Sam Harris compares them to 14th century Christians, totatally in thrall to religious fantasy, intolerant to the point of death.

Comment by bobh on June 26, 2012 at 10:11am

After the Middle ages ended, Islam never had the enlightenment period of secular reform that christian/judaeo societies underwent, satarting almost three hundred years ago.



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