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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

or, perhaps, under the impression that the United States was founded as a Christian nation you should read this article thoroughly.

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Again “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” I cannot state that any more clearly than John Adams, one of the founding fathers and second President, as well as the Senate that ratified the Treaty of Tripoli in which this statement is contained.

Please, know your own cultural myths so you can tell what is true and historical, and what is not.

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because of this, but I think the article speaks for itself.

This whole debacle is why much of scientific research is only seen by peers. I don’t care if you want to see it. I know in America you have the right to, but the majority of laymen would not understand the data. Which is of course what happened when the emails were stolen and leaked online. If you freaked out about the “faking” of global warming I ask you, did you read the all emails personally? Did you understand all of the data? Could you recreate the research done? Can you understand the pressures behind the individual doubts? Or the fact that money backing specific research can skew results, such as that done by the American Petroleum Institute? (Remember the Tobacco Industry research on cancer? Just like that.) Or that grant money, for the best possible shot at unbiased statistics, can be fucking hard to get? I’m betting that unless you do some sort of scientific research yourself, or know those who do, you probably forgot those facts.

So, when the media, who loves to blow things out of proportion or take things out of context as we all know, tells you to believe something for their own gain (because they’re owned by Corporations, too,) take a minute. Think about it. Use that logical thought process (I hope) you were taught as a kid. Then, make up your own damn mind! And if you’re wrong, gracefully admit it. If you’re right, don’t gloat. It’s doesn’t do anyone any good.

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I know I promised

And I know this is late. I’ve decided I’m not going to do a whole expose on the serious WTFery going on in the world. The endeavor would not be good for my blood pressure. I’ve said I get “impassioned.” That is an understatement. I have a major temper. Usually I’m pretty laid back, and it takes a lot to get me going. But there are some shortcuts. If you want to turn me into a 5’2″ tornado that swears like a sailor, the murder/torture of innocent women and children is one of them. So, instead, I will wait for God’s Own Party? (in my links on the right,) to do a thorough post on it, and then I’ll just link there. Save me from an web-hosted apoplectic fit.

On to other things. It might be just me and my penchant for spelling, grammar, and general literary nitpicking, but I get a bit tired of people (even really good ones,) misquoting “All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” Go double check your copy of the Inferno if you think I’m wrong and pop culture is right. I’ll even do it for you. It’s stanza 9, btw.

Also, sometimes I want to get into Law, just to protect people from these idiots. Scalia too.

Sorry that this post has become a bit of a ragefest, anyway. It happens. ‘Night, all. I will try for mellow of comedy next post.

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Gladiatorial games

I find it quite silly that society today, especially American society, has such a dim view of the gladiatorial games in ancient Rome. Consider for a moment our media. In films you find the exact same violent acts that are so detested when speaking of gladiators, some that are even worse! The only difference in film and visual media is that it is fictional. Even though the blood lust of the populace is still the driving force behind their production, just as it was in Rome.

We must also consider sports, particularly contact sports. The rabid fans, the giant stadiums, the brutality that is cheered on. The same as in Ancient Rome. Human society really hasn’t changed that much. So why do we look down our noses as the frankness of the Republic and Empire in satiating the “mob” when we do so ourselves? Maybe we are far too arrogant in thinking ourselves, our society as more evolved. In some ways, yes, I won’t deny that. But violence is still violence. It is a tool used to control and that has never changed.

We are still human, and we come with all the human failings of hate, greed, murder, marginalization of peoples, etc. We are essentially no better than our ancestors, because we could end up in the same place as they were so very easily. (And by that I do not mean no modern technology.) Just because certain situations have changed doesn’t mean humanity itself has. It will take much more than good intentions, and the hard work of the best examples of us.

Change your mind about someone. Look through the eyes of someone with a different perspective. Listen, really listen, and learn. Own up to your own mistakes.

Goodnight all.

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Defining terrorism

This is a slippery subject. How does one define terrorism? The Oxford Dictionary says it is “(n) the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” I would slightly change that. Terrorism can include religious aims, as well as political aims, both, or neither. To me, terrorism is best defined as an act that is used purely to instill fear into a group of people. This is because the baseline goal of terrorism in not political or religious, it is to cause terror.

Terrorism could easily be argued to have existed for as long as humans have. If you look through history you can see evidence of this, even without the specific word itself being used. The word itself came out of the French Revolution[1], and so is comparatively young. The idea, though, is not.

Aristotle touched on State tyranny in his discourse Politics. Reading the description hits quite close to home, and not with the modern view of terrorism.

“. . . and further, it is part [of the nature of tyranny] to strive to see that all the affairs of the tyrant are secret, but that nothing is kept hidden of what any subject says or does, rather everywhere he will be spied upon . . . . Also it is part of these tyrannical measures to impoverish the nation so as to bolster the funds available for military defense, and so that the common citizens will be occupied with earning their livelihood and will have neither leisure nor opportunity to engage in conspiratorial acts . . . . Thus, the tyrant is inclined constantly to foment wars in order to preserve his own monopoly of power.”[2]

This sounds uncomfortably familiar to recent US government practice. It is far removed from the Islamic extremist we see on the news. (Not to say that they are not utilizing terror as a weapon, they just do it in a very public fashion. Tyranny comes in different flavors is all.)

Rome, too, was not unaccustomed to the bright, sharp edge of fear. Even within the reign of Octavius Augustus, who began the Pax Romana, there was no shortage of civil unrest and panic. Suetonius describes what we might call regular city life, fraught with roving groups of brigands, fraudulent guilds, and slaves and freemen being picked up and confined to workhouses.[3] The context is post civil war, we must remember, and as such there is no modern reference for the tension of the time.

One oft cited period of social and religious terrorism within the Pagan community would be what is now refered to as the “Burning Times.” Though, to be honest, the fearmongering done by the Church encompasses a huge amount of history, to which the Burning Times is only a small part. I do not think I can do it justice yet, so I will point you to a basic timeline. [4]

Moving out from ancient history we come to a favorite example of mine, Vlad Ţepes. He killed tens of thousands of people,[5] mostly by impalement as his nickname shows, and he did not restrict himself to the Ottomans with whom he was fighting against. Sometimes I wonder if the sole inspiration for Machiavelli’s The Prince was indeed Cesar Borgia. Machiavelli was born in the last decade of Vald’s rule, and may well have heard stories of his governing technique.[6]

And just after the time of the founding of America, we have the French Revolution. Let the Reign of Terror begin. Here we have the invention of the word itself, terrorism. From 1793-1794 it might seem the French populace went a bit mad. Maximillien Robespierre, a leader of the regime de la terreur espoused:

“If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible…It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed.”[7]

Since it is very late I’m going to stop here, before we get to the entanglements of modern politics. Also, you may notice I used primarily links for my citations. This is because I don’t expect you to have all the books on the subjects. That would be unrealistic, since I do not even have all the books. And I collect them. The links are mainly so you have a frame of reference, or at least know what bits and pieces of literature/history I am talking about. That’s all.

Goodnight.

1: The word ‘terrorism’ entered into European languages in the wake of the French revolution of 1789. In the early revolutionary years, it was largely by violence that governments in Paris tried to impose their radical new order on a reluctant citizenry. As a result, the first meaning of the word ‘terrorism’, as recorded by the Académie Française in 1798, was ‘system or rule of terror’. This serves as a healthy reminder that terror is often at its bloodiest when used by dictatorial governments against their own citizens. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/recent/sept_11/changing_faces_01.shtml)

2: –Aristotle, Politics bk v, xi (350 BCE)

3: Many pernicious practices militating against public security had survived as a result of the lawless habits of the civil wars, or had even arisen in time of peace. Gangs of footpads openly went about with swords by their sides, ostensibly to protect themselves, and travellers in the country, freemen and slaves alike, were seized and kept in confinement p175in the workhouses35 of the land owners; numerous leagues, too, were formed for the commission of crimes of every kind, assuming the title of some new guild.36 – P32, Suetonius, Life of Augustus (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Augustus*.html)

4: Timeline to be found here (http://mosmaiorum.org/persecution_list.htm

5: http://www.middle-ages.org.uk/vlad-dracula.htm

6: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/machiavelli/

7: Speech, “Justification of the use of Terror,” Maximillien Robespierre, 2/5/1794. (http://www.historywiz.com/primarysources/justificationterror.htm)

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