The Ugly Americans: Reverend Jones & Friends


I’ll start out by saying that I’m thrilled to see so many people standing up to oppose Reverend Terry Jones’ intention to hold a “Burn A Quran Day” event on September 11th. In the face of the overwhelming ignorance, hatred and blatant religious and ethnic bigotry opposing the proposed building of an Islamic Community Center near Ground Zero, Rev. Jones’ disgusting intent just adds fuel to an already out of control fire raging through America. Add the lunatic-gathering at Glenn Beck’s “Take Back America” rally and Sarah Palin’s daily tweets of extreme ignorance and vile attacks, and we have a picture of a dangerous country succumbing to its own panicked state of fearfulness.

What would the American picture of Islam be if some nut-job over in Afghanistan gathered people together to start burning copies of the Christian Bible? Or the Jewish Bible? Would we easily be able to separate an extremist like this–that one in a million religious kook–from the rest of the population? Hell, we already know we can’t separate a group of terrorists from an entire nation and/or religious belief.

And even when Gen. David Petraeus claims that Jones’ actions, if carried out, will almost certainly endanger American soldiers overseas as well as place Americans everywhere (including right here at home) in even more peril, and the Reverend still insists that “Burn A Quran Day” is enacting God’s will… Well, one has to question whether Jones’ God cares all that much about this little country of ours or whether he’s just a vengeful entity who likes to “stir the pot” and see what happens.

Sadly, it’s people like Reverend Jones who are, in my opinion, no better than the terrorists who attacked this country. He is putting his personal beliefs over the lives of lord knows how many people and claims to be on a mission from God. “We actually feel this is a message that we have been called to bring forth,” claims Jones. “And because of that, we do not feel like we can back down.”

Irony of ironies.

“Maybe it’s time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to radical Islam that we will not tolerate their behavior,” added Jones.

Hmmm… What if we changed the words radical Islam and replaced it with America and placed that same sentence into the mouths of the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

“Maybe it’s to time to stand up. Maybe it’s time to send a message to America that we will not tolerate their behavior.”

As a result of his actions and some of the negative attention it has drawn, Rev. Jones has started wearing a .40-caliber pistol strapped to his hip. Now there’s a good picture. A man of God insisting on endangering human lives (American lives, for those that separate) and carrying a pistol in case someone tries to stop him from going through with his “religious obligation…”

And so the lines blur even more…

“Islam is of the Devil,” read the signs Rev. Jones has posted in front of his church.

Wasn’t America the incarnation of the devil in the eyes and words of the Al Qaeda?

The Quran, according to the all-knowing Rev. Jones is “evil because it espouses something other than biblical truth and incites radical, violent behavior among Muslims.”

Is that what it does? Cause I’m guessing the same could be said about the Torah. It certainly espouses some different biblical truths than Rev. Jones’ preferred version of the holy book. And if you’re Palestinian, you might well believe that it also incites radical, violent behavior in Jews.

Why, it seems to me that Rev. Jones’ bible is inciting radical behavior in him and his followers. Behavior that may well lead to violence and killing as a direct result. Violence and killing Rev. Jones is well aware of. If he wasn’t, do you think he’d still be armed with that .40-caliber pistol strapped lovingly to his hip?

There’s that fine line again. I just can’t keep it all straight…

Who exactly are the good guys?

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The Ugly Americans: Reverend Jones & Friends

Exporting Hate & Terror In The Name Of God


Sounds like something one might accuse Al Qaeda of. But what if it were suggested the United States of America were on a religious crusade all its own? Last year, former French President Jacques Chirac told the world that, while the White House was assembling its “coalition of the willing” to invade Iraq, then president George W. Bush appealed to their common faith in Christianity during a private chat. According to Chirac, Bush stated:

“Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

While this is old news by now and a quote I’ve referenced before, it seems to have been one-upped by a recent report that weapons maker Trijicon has been supplying high-powered rifle sights to the U.S. Army and Marines with coded references to specific Bible passages. One such reference on the gun sights is 2COR4:6, also known as Second Corinthian 4:6 of the New testament:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

These “Jesus-encoded” sights are being used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. Oddly enough, U.S. Military rule prohibits proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan. The whole notion behind this rule was to prevent any country or individual from claiming the United States was on a religious “Crusade.” Well… it seems some, including but obviously not restricted to the president who led us into those very wars, were, indeed, on a religious crusade. So where does that leave us now?

The American people were lied to about WMDs, our own CIA directly misled Congress, we defied the United Nations, we angered and alienated much of the world with that defiance, we resorted to torture tactics we swore we would never use, we engaged in a preemptive strike against another country for the first time in our nation’s history, and over 100,000 human lives have been lost that would not have been otherwise… At what point do Americans realize that the Bush Administration turned the United States of America into a rogue nation and desecrated almost everything we have claimed to stand for? And still I see people finding reasons to support that same administration, all the while professing that President Obama is attempting to destroy our nation, trying to make us a socialist country, a totalitarian country, even a fascist country.

So while the largest corporations in the States get fat on the blood of Iraq, including Trijicon who have a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corp and even more to the U.S. Army, America’s own citizens have been tossed into a deep recession. And the president who has managed to prevent that recession from becoming a full-on depression, all the while trying to repair a deeply damaged health care system that doesn’t care for its own, has come under attack as a man who is trying to destroy this country and everything it stands for.

At what point do we heed the lessons and shame of Joseph McCarthy and the fear that drove that man and his many, many followers? At what point do we face up to the fact that our country and its citizens were lied to, led astray? At what point do we, as a nation, choose to enter into adulthood and face our own demons? When do we, as Dick Cheney would call it, “Man-up”?

A recent hearing in the U.K. on that country’s involvement in the war in Iraq revealed that the U.S. was already discussing plans to invade Iraq less than a month after George W. Bush took office. This was, if you haven’t already figured it out, long before the 9/11 attacks. These plans are well-documented in the Downing Street Memo transcribing the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair’s senior ministers on July 23, 2002.

That same recent U.K. hearing also reportedly revealed that Blair lied to the public when he claimed that Britain’s objective in the invasion of Iraq was ‘disarmament’ and not ‘regime change.’

Too bad we haven’t yet had hearings of our own on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe it would open some of those tightly shut eyes still mourning the loss of the good Christian president who so valiantly protected our nation through what is known as the Bush Doctrine which includes a policy of “preventive” war which held that:

The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.

To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.

But what is it we’ve actually done? According to the above-mentioned U.K. hearing:

In the public record, there is a large amount of evidence that vividly illustrates Bush’s long-standing intent to invade Iraq, Bush’s willingness to provoke Saddam Hussein into providing a pretext for war, the fact that the Iraq war began with an air campaign almost a year before the March 2003 invasion and months before Congress approved the war, Bush’s widespread attempt to crush dissent and manipulate information to justify the lies he used to start the Iraq war and the lack of planning for the aftermath of the Iraq war as well as the lack of a fundamental understanding of the Iraqi society.

To further illustrate then President Bush’s “mission” as he saw it, I quote a passage from his 2003 State of the Union address:

“Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”

Unfortunately, men like George W. Bush never seem to understand that what they see as the “right” way for America is not the only way. I’m not saying all nations shouldn’t be free, I’m saying that we, America, do not have all the answers and it is beyond arrogant to assume we do. It is downright criminal to take that misguided belief and stake human lives on it. Especially when that belief is weighed down by religious conviction; by a man and an administration with little understanding of the culture, people and religions of the countries they are invading. Many great nations before ours have fallen in pursuit of the very same fallacious ideologies that drove Mr. Bush and his followers.

But how do you get a country and its people to follow along on such a path? Author Naomi Klein wrote in her book The Shock Doctrine that the Bush Administration exploited  a “window of opportunity that opens in a state of shock, subsequently followed with a comforting rationale for the public, as a form of social control.”

For any country to grow, it must take a cold, hard look at itself. It must ask the difficult questions. We have an opportunity now to start fixing the deep damage that was incurred during the Bush Administration and the 9/11 attacks on our country. Both victimized the American people. Neither wound is anywhere close to being healed. But in taking that deep look, we might find that we–as abhorrent a notion as it is–may have temporarily become our own worst enemy and the exporters of the very thing we claim to be fighting against.

Exporting Hate & Terror In The Name Of God

Jimmy Carter Leaves Church In Name Of Women Everywhere


jimmy cIn his opinion piece in THE AGE, Jimmy Carter discusses his reason for leaving the Southern Baptist Church after six decades: “Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.”

I have always found Mr. Carter to be a man of great dignity and integrity. In THE AGE, he continues:

It was… an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

Then later:

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

And finally:

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share…

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.

Jimmy Carter Leaves Church In Name Of Women Everywhere