Friday, May 30, 2008

The Earth is a market. Heaven is home. - Yoruba proverb

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Prove it!

According to this Associated Press news item entitled "Federal court rules against military's gay policy", the appeals court judges disagree with the ban against out gays in the military.

The ban has been controversial from the beginning because, not only does it lack factual data that proves that being openly gay is 'bad for the morale', as they often cite, but also because it does not allow for open and honest discussion on the deeper problem of hostility against gay soldiers, who have often been harassed by fellow soldiers and even been the silent victims of hate crimes. If a gay soldier is attacked, he must fear discharge if he or she speaks up.

The ban was challenged by a lesbian nurse who sued after being discharged without pay by the Air Force for being gay, after serving for eighteen years. Her discharge took place during a shortage of flight nurses. Her law suit was dismissed, and she then appealed before a federal court. The opinion of the court is as follows:

"When the government attempts to intrude upon the personal and private lives of homosexuals, the government must advance an important governmental interest ... and the intrusion must be necessary to further that interest," wrote Judge Ronald M. Gould.

The article closes with the following remarks by the nurse:

"I am thrilled by the court's recognition that I can't be discharged without proving that I was harmful to morale," Witt said in a statement. "I am proud of my career and want to continue doing my job. Wounded people never asked me about my sexual orientation. They were just glad to see me there."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Religion justifies genocide

When one person suffers from insanity, that is known as madness. When many people suffer from insanity, that is known as religion.
- Robert M. Pirsig

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gay marriage victory in Cali

The California Supreme Court has just approved gay marriage, and become the second state in the union to legalize it.

Several years ago, several months after Massachussetts approved gay marriage, columnist Deb Price wrote in her legal blog entry The sky didn't fall in Mass.:

Bay State voters now overwhelmingly support gay marriage, 56% to 37%, according to a Boston Globe poll in March...

"People find out that when Adam and Steve marry next door, it doesn't hurt them, but it does help Adam and Steve," says pollster Bob Meadow of Decision Research, which, like The Globe, found that voters have warmed to the reality of same-sex marriage...

While the outside world debates how to treat its gay couples, Massachusetts sees that fire-and-brimstone predictions didn't come true.

Religious institutions haven't been forced to bless the civil marriage of any gay couple, though many have done so voluntarily...

Julie and Hillary Goodridge, one of seven couples who sued to marry, are awed by how quickly obstacles can vanish for couples with marriage's protections.

Exhibit A: The night-and-day difference in how they were treated during two medical emergencies. Nine years ago, moments after Julie gave birth to their daughter, Hillary rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit. Once Hillary realized baby Annie was fine, despite having inhaled fluid, she circled back to reassure Julie.

A nurse sternly blocked her way: "Immediate family only." When Hillary, in tears, tried to return to her newborn, she met with the same indignity.

The couple wed last May 17. Soon afterward, Hillary split her lip trying to free Annie's toy parachute from a tree. A hospital nurse asked Hillary whether she lived with anyone. "I said, 'Yes, I live with my spouse and daughter.' He said, 'Is he with you?' And I said, 'She is here, in the waiting room with our daughter.' He was so sweet, and said, 'Of course. Would you like your family with you?' "

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Running away from Allah

"O Father,
if you never wanted to hurt me
why am I running away?"

- Madonna

According to this article entitled Young Muslims begin dangerous fight for the right to abandon faith:

— 14 passages in the Koran refer to apostasy

— According to Baidhawi’s commentary, Sura 4: 88-89 reads: “Whosoever turns back from his belief, openly or secretly, take him and kill him wheresoever ye find him, like any other infidel. Separate yourself from him altogether. Do not accept intercession in his regard.”

— The hadith, tradition and legend about Muhammad and his followers used as a basis of Sharia, tells of some atheists who were brought to “’Ali and he burnt them. The news of this reached Ibn Abbas who said: ‘If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it . . . I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his [Islamic] religion, then kill him’.”

— According to hadith, a special reward in Paradise is reserved for the killer of apostates

What is the logic behind this monstruous, primitive and backwards tradition? Does it really make sense to force a fearful or angry apostate to LOVE God? How can love and trust of God be a commandment under threat of death? ... I leave you with the most perplexing and asfixiating verse in all of the Qur'an ...

And slay the heathens wherever you may come upon them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away - for heathenry is even worse than killing... - Qur'an 2:191

Pale Blue Dot

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Your history is not your destiny. - Alan Cohen

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Kemetic Prophet

Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge; approach the unlettered as well as the wise.

- Maxims of Ptahhotep

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Slavery in Islam

I am surprised by the levels of dishonesty that Muslims use when they talk about everything from Islam's treatment of gays and women to the issue and the history of race in Islam. It is one thing to say that today all (non-gays) are welcome or that today all are equal in Islam (not true, but anyhow): it is another thing to misrepresent history. Here I would like to present the reasons for my respectful disagreement with Nation of Islam members and sympathizers. Many NoI converts are African Americans with very strong racial and anti-American political views, who see Islam as an alternative to Christian and White racism.

My main point of argument has to do with the idea (prevalent in the Nation of Islam) that former slaves should turn to Islam, that it is their ancestral religion, not Western Christianity. While it's true that Islam was the religion of the Malian empire during the 14th century, none of these two religions are ancestral to Africans. This argument makes Islamic and Arabic civilizations look like they do not have a history of exploitation of blacks and slavery. To this day, many or most countries where slavery is still practiced are predominantly Muslim. In the African country of Sudan, where there is a very big slavery problem even today, it is the Arabs from the north who go on slave raids in the Black south and engage in human trafficking.

But let's begin from the beginning: Muhammad had slaves. In his Qur'an, he recited verses where he not only approves of slavery as an institution, but approves of the practice of raping slaves (Muslims believe that he was channeling the word of Allah). We have to imagine he and his associates engaged in this behavior, if he believed Allah made it lawful to them. Most Qur'an translators either avoid or are embarrased by these verses. Browsing through the various translations of the Qur'an I found that M. Asad's translation is the most dishonest and misleading version of the Qur'an in this regard:

23:1 TRULY, to a happy state shall attain the believers ... 23:5 ... who are mindful of their chastity, 23:6 [not giving way to their desires] with any but their spouses - that is, those whom they rightfully possess [through wedlock]: for then, behold, they are free of all blame

No mention of slavery. But Yusuf Ali's translation is a bit more plain:

23:6 Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame

And the sixth verse is made even more clear by Picktall's translation, even if it still places the word (slaves) in parenthesis:

23:6 Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy

Most people in the Americas who are descended from slaves probably have female ancestors who were raped by their masters. The Qur'an considers this not only legal, but entirely appropriate. Black Muslims, particularly the Nation of Islam brand of Black Muslims, need to understand this. Had America been a Muslim country during the 400 years of slavery, black women would have still been raped, even by the mullahs, with Qur'an in hand, and Islam teaches that no crime would have been committed.

Is it not fair to surmise that the same thing happened in Mali, Sudan, Morocco and elsewhere in Africa where Muslims colonized the local populations?

Furthermore, anyone who has read 1,001 Nights knows that the history of Arabic anti-Black racism goes back to the dawn of Islam, where black slaves were castrated for fear that they would rape Arabic women. African sexuality, in medieval Arabic literature, ellicits both fascination and distrust, with Black slaves in particular being objectified and denied their full humanity.

Even to this day, in East Africa, there is still the perception that it is somehow wrong for a Black man to marry an Arabic woman, but it is okay for an Arabic man to possess a Black wife. There is a clear correlation between racial, cultural, and gender domination in the mindset and culture of the Islamic-influenced people of East Africa.

The Gnawa people of Morocco are yet another testimony of the presence, and the harsh realities, of slavery under Islam. The Gnawa are descendants of enslaved Blacks who were taken to Morocco, where they developed a distinct Afro-Moroccan culture and spirituality. Much of their ancestral music deals with the bitterness of slavery.

What better example of the irony, the absurdity and the madness that is the racist ideology of Nation of Islam, than a living, vibrant community of Black survivors of slavery in Morocco who are as bitter as they are?

For a more enlightened instruction on how to deal with the spiritual problems that arise out of of racism, I say look to the holy man of Nazareth who said:

For if you forgive men when oppress you, your Creator in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Creator will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15