An agnostic defends religion
Ovaries on Overdrive in the Saudi Kingdom
Stupidity has no limits.
France moves to toughen ban on religion in schools
What do you think? Should religion be part of education system?
Please pray for christians in pakistan. Today a church with 600 members inside was the target of 2 suicide bomb blastS. 35 are dead and more than 90 are in a critical condition. Many children are missing. Its a very sad day indeed.
“Popular author and neuroscientist Sam Harris’ pseudoscientific characterisations of Muslims dovetail nicely with his extreme right-wing views on military intervention in Muslim-majority countries,” writes author [EPA]
Scientific racism is a term seldom used today but which has a long and ignoble history in the modern world. In the late 18th century, the renowned scientist and philosopher Christoph Meiners published his famous treatise The Outline and History of Mankind. Central to his analysis was a qualitative comparison of peoples by race – a comparison which his own popularly-accepted findings claimed revealed a clear hierarchy.
Drawing in large part on the now-discredited science of Phrenology (the measurement of human skulls), Meiners described whites as being endowed with clear superiority to all races in both their intellectual as well as moral faculties.
About blacks, his scientific analysis was far less generous – finding them not only to be inferior to whites in every mental capacity but in fact “incapable of any mental feeling or emotion at all“, as well as “unable to feel physical pain“.
As influential as it was, Meiners’ work was par for the course in the institutionalised science of racism of the age. Famous philosopher Voltaire – whose works were among the most significant of the French Enlightenment – wrote of his empirical research on those humans who possessed dark skin:
“They are not men, except in their stature, with the faculty of speech and thought at a degree far distant to ours. Such are the ones that I have seen and examined.”
While they wore a veneer of disinterested scientific analysis in their conclusions, in the context of their times it can be seen that such proponents of scientific racism had the specific goal of legitimating certain policies. With regard to those of African descent, the intention of then-contemporary scientists was often – implicitly or explicitly – to report findings which could be used to justify the socio-political institutions of slavery and colonialism against African societies.
Alongside routine characterisations of blacks in scientific analyses as naturally childish and in need of patronage from “superior races”, were outright claims regarding the scientific necessity for slavery as a natural phenomenon. While the prominent American physician Josiah Nott wrote that “the negro achieves his greatest perfection, physical and moral, and also greatest longevity, in a state of slavery”, others such as Samuel Cartwright diagnosed aversion to slavery among blacks as a full-fledged disease unto itself.
Calling the purported malady “drapetomania“, Cartwright wrote that it was a legitimate mental defect which could be treated by visiting corporal punishment upon blacks – up to and including amputation.
We rightly recoil with horror today at what we know to be the false claims and methodologies of the pseudoscience of the past. The level of institutional racism masked under scientific study reached a particularly horrific apex at Paris’ infamous “human zoo” – where peoples of different races lived their lives for both scientific observation as well as the enjoyment of the general public.
Viewed in proper context it can be seen that the crudest racism has often been cloaked in the guise of disinterested scientific inquiry. Those claiming this mantle have often felt licence to engage in overt bigotry using science as a smokescreen, and yet far from being a relic of history, many celebrity-scientists of today show startling parallels with their now-dishonoured predecessors.
In the present atmosphere, characterised by conflict with Muslim-majority nations, a new class of individuals have stepped in to give a veneer of scientific respectability to today’s politically-useful bigotry.
At the forefront of this modern scientific racism have been those prominently known as the “new atheist” scientists and philosophers. While they attempt to couch their language in the terms of pure critique of religious thought, in practice they exhibit many of the same tendencies toward generalisation and ethno-racial condescension as did their predecessors – particularly in their descriptions of Muslims.
“Remember, remember the 5th of November. The gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.”
These are the the lines of the movie V for Vendetta, which in my opinion, is a movie which openly endorses a terrorist as far as he is shown in the movie. It is a brilliant and yet love me/hate me kind of film. Frankly because it shows another side of the terrorist problem we seem to be facing in the real world a lot lately.
Obvious tones to the 9/11 incident but V puts out another riddle, how do you define justice and how do you define a terrorist?
Adam Lanza made headlines around the globe and didn’t live to see it. And now I see everyone either going anti-gun or pro-gun. The question which is left in the middle is not why Adam Lanza did such a horrible thing?. The real question is what did he think he was doing? Sounds weird, right. I guess some might even find it mildly insulting that I am trying to soften the image of Adam. Far from the truth I think, there is a good deal to look at here which people aren’t looking at.
Adam Lanza probably justified himself in a horrible way. And that he ended it turning the gun to himself only means a few things:
1.He was too proud to be caught, like many other killers, especially Hitler.
2. He knew he had done wrong, and though he might have acted out in rage, he saw he did something terrible and the guilt made him kill himself too.
3. He just didn’t care about how anybody viewed him, he was tired of life. He knew he was not brave enough to speak out or make a statement and he knew that no one would listen to him or believe what he had to say.
He was no Timothy McVeigh, no political agenda, nothing. Adam Lanza was isolated, he was shy, he was unable to communicate properly. These are all factors, which are in many many people at his age. I was the same in school and college, hell, I am still a bit reclusive. These things don’t make anyone a mass murderer.
Out of the three IMAGINATIVE scenarios that my poor intellect can form, I am most scared by the third. Because that reflects a problem which doesn’t end with the criminal.
It starts with motive, thought, guilt, remorse, redemption and pain, tremendous amount of pain or pressure. Where the person starts to see himself as a victim against a system. That is the time when a terrorist is born.
This was some time ago; it was a dreary morning for me (which later turned out to be terrible). I had woken up around eight and was eager to get some breakfast. I had lost my job four months ago and was searching for a new one. After breakfast all I wanted to do was to get ready and go out for interviews.
It was the by the door that I first saw that letter. Someone had pushed that piece of paper from underneath the door. The writing was very crude, written in Urdu script by someone who was probably not much literate either.
As I begin to slowly make out the words (it was written badly), I understood how important that letter really was. The message though spread over a space of 3 pages, was simple enough “stop preaching or we will kill you and your family”. Plus, in that same letter, the author had given us a chance of redemption too, there was a magnanimous invitation to join the religion of Islam too, which if we accepted, would make us (us and whoever wrote the letter) brothers and sisters and therefore we would not be further threatened. If we refused, we will be made examples of.
I read that later four or five times. When you hold something like this in your hand, you contemplate a lot of things. Had I been living in the west, I might have not taken it as seriously as it sounded or may be even thought of it as a prank. But since I live in Pakistan, as a Christian I understand the letter is real enough and so is its message.