Month: March 2016

Some days I just wanna…

Some days, all I want is the police to violently punish the miscreants who play super victim in public.

It’s like the old Mencken saying, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.” Except, instead of cutting jugulars, I want to see some SJWs have their skulls cracked against pavement.

The latest example: A group of students (it’s always jobless college students) at Emory University protested an overnight pro-Donald Trump chalking of the campus. As the little snowflakes descended upon the Emory University building, they chanted commie bromides about how it is their “duty to win” and how they have “nothing to lose but our chains.” The leader of the march, sophomore Jonathan Peraza, demanded university officials “Come speak to us” because “we are in pain!”

If these crybabies think a chalk drawing of Kingfish Trump’s coiffure is painful, I gleefully wonder how they’ll feel about the back of a police truncheon.

The Emory trail of tears is just latest show of pitiful behavior in a long line of academia-enabled embarrassment. Precious angels at Oberlin College are complaining about dining hall food not being culturally accurate. Black students at the University of Albany are faking being attacked by white racists. Super queer and free speech hero Milo Yiannopoulos continues to have his university speeches disrupted by momma’s boys who can’t bear to hear a thought they disagree with.

Every time I read stories of students bitching about how hard and oppressive life in America is, I wish they would get a first-hand experience at real, physical brutality. Upset a non-Mexican wore a sombrero to a kegger? Have you ever had police hounds sicced on you? Or been pummeled by a high pressure hose?

(more…)

The myth of papal culpability in the spread of HIV

One of the pillars of being Catholic in this modern age (if I may borrow a theological concept from Islam) is the ability to display patience in the face of all sorts of slander against the Church, but after years of reading articles and comments online in which people propagated the myth that the Catholic Church is to blame for the spread of HIV in the developing world, I was prodded into action. The straw that broke the camel’s back on this occasion was a piece by Ben Goldacre, physician and best-selling author of the book Bad Science. Writing for The Guardian about the visit of Pope Benedict to London in 2010 he said: “This week the pope is in London. You will have your own views on the discrimination against women, the homophobia, and the international criminal conspiracy to cover up for mass child rape. My special interest is his role in the 2 million people who die of AIDS each year.”

That’s a lot of mudslinging, but what’s crystal clear is his belief that the Catholic Church is at least partly responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the developing world. In this he is not alone. The Atlantic in 2013 referred to “Vatican City’s refusal to encourage condom use in the fight against HIV/AIDS” and a policy which “has had serious, long-lasting consequences across the global south — especially Africa.” My problem with these arguments is that they exhibit a fundamental misunderstanding not only of human nature, but of the religious demographics of sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the developing world.

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world with over a quarter of its population suffering with the disease. Yet only one fifth of Swaziland’s population is Catholic. The vast majority of its population are Protestants.

Swaziland is not exceptional; most of sub-Saharan Africa is Protestant. Botswana is next on the list and is overwhelmingly so. Lesotho is third, with Catholics and Protestants evenly split. South Africa is fourth; only seven per cent of its population identifies as Catholic.

If the accusations are true – that the Pope can effect change in the sexual habits of sub-Saharan Africans – why are the countries with the highest infection rates not majority Catholic? How many Protestants do you know whose reverence for the Catholic Church is so great that they base their sexual habits on its teachings?

The first country on the list with a clear majority of Catholics among total Christians is Mozambique in eighth place, and even still, the Catholic population comprises a mere quarter of the total. The first country on the list that could be considered a Catholic country in the sense that Poland or Italy are is Equatorial Guinea, down in eleventh place.

Westerners have been chastising the Church for alleged influence on African sexual predilections for some time but familiarity with these accusations fails to tarnish their idiocy. Their argument goes something like this: The Pope – a religious leader in Rome – lectures people on what they can and cannot do in matters of sexual intercourse. Europeans (and other white people) are sophisticated enough to merely disregard the pontiff’s advice; anyone who contracts HIV in, say, Russia or Los Angeles has only themselves to blame. Africans, however – uneducated peasants that they are – simply cannot resist the Pope’s teachings, even when he’s not their religious leader.

Imagine the following scenario. A married taxi-driver in Kampala gets off a long shift. He goes to visit a prostitute. The prostitute suggests wearing a condom. Now this is the point where criticism of Catholic teaching regarding condoms gets strange. Assuming that the taxi-driver is Catholic (in Uganda he is more likely to be a Protestant), he is expected by anti-Catholics to say: ‘I’m sorry. I cannot use a condom. I am a Catholic and I cannot disobey the teachings of my Church.’ This poses a question. Why is the taxi-driver adhering so slavishly to this single rule while ignoring so many others? He is committing adultery, having sex out of wedlock and using a prostitute. It should go without saying that the Pope disapproves of all three.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s problem with HIV stems from other things. This is a part of the world where presidents believe showering after sex can reduce the risk of contracting the disease (Jacob Zuma, ex-President of South Africa) and where presidents accuse western leaders of ‘spreading gayism,’ calling gay rights ‘satanic’ (Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe). There exists a vast number of people who often don’t have access to condoms and are suspicious about their efficacy, men who tend to associate them with a homosexual lifestyle and others who believe that HIV can be washed away with water or, more disturbingly, cured by having sex with a virgin.

If the accusations leveled at the Church were true then surely we would see a markedly higher infection rate among African Catholics than Africans of other faiths. Yet this is not the case. In South America – an overwhelmingly Catholic continent – the country with the highest infection rate is the only one with a minority of Catholics: Guyana.

The Catholic Church has no doubt led someone somewhere sometime to refuse wearing a condom, in a philosophical sense ‘assisting’ in spreading the disease. But if the infected man listened as intently to the Pope on matters of abstinence and marital fidelity as intently as he is believed to listen to the Pope’s teachings on condoms then nobody would have the disease. We have a word for a person who knowingly infects someone with a deadly disease like HIV, and that word is sociopath. Ignorance should not be a defense. If someone you knew were to use prostitutes without condoms, thereby putting others at risk of contracting the disease, they would probably be persona non grata at your dinner parties. So why do we treat all Africans as victims and the Church as the cause of their suffering when most countries with Catholic majorities don’t have remotely similar experiences?

For its basic understanding of human biological impulses one might fairly describe the Church as naive, but one shouldn’t treat Africans like simpletons and in doing so engage in the racism of low expectations.

Derek Hopper is a native of Dublin and studied history at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He lives in Bangkok, where he teaches English at the faculty of liberal arts, Thammasat University. Follow him on Twitter.

(Image source)

Moral authority

Happy Easter, everyone. On Maundy Thursday, Pope Francis pissed off a lot of conservatives on the internet by performing the tradition of foot washing on Muslim refugees only days after jihadis killed a lot of people in Brussels. It might not be readily apparent, but conservatives on the internet were, as usual, being strategically retarded.

Something bad happened in Pakistan early on Easter Sunday, which fit into the idea of this post perfectly enough to get me to actually write it. Another Islamic terrorist attack happened, this time targeting Christians who were celebrating the holiday in Pakistan, resulting in the death of 67 people.

So, the time makes it clear that while Christianity responds responds to violence with peace, and Islam responds to peace with violence. The contradictions are piling up. Conservatives condemning the pope are making a mistake that is the complement of the mistake made by moderate Muslims who refuse to take a meaningful stand against terrorism: they underestimate the importance of moral authority. The timing was so perfect that a conspiracy theorist might guess that someone is trying to make Islam look terrible.

Is Christianity the religion of love and sacrifice? Because Muslims say the same thing about their religion. But talk is cheap, and people believe what they see.

The disjunction in optics continues to become more and more skewed in this direction, and that can only be a good thing. Islam is a bad system of ideas, and bad systems of ideas need to lose moral authority.

Can we at least agree not to call each other Hitler?

Listening to NPR the other day, I caught a story on the haranguing of Muslim refugees by natives in Clausnitz, Germany. A bus transporting migrants to a shelter in the small town was stopped by nearly 100 Germans, who opposed forced settlement in their town by yelling such things as “Get Lost” and “Go Home if You Don’t Like it Here.” Not kind words, but not off the mark either.

While reporting the bus episode, the radio host blithely referred to the protestors as “neo-Nazis.” Her guest, a Canadian immigrant who organizes aid services for refugees, let the Nazi charge go unchallenged. Without a lick of evidence, they both agreed that the protesters were Führer worshippers. The idea that those who resents the forced relocation of foreigners in their town are Hitler acolytes was treated as accepted wisdom. And this was an ostensibly nonpartisan program!

Occasions like this – that is, the assumed maliciousness on the part of ideological opponents – are becoming increasingly prevalent in western democracies. Whatever one’s political leanings, there is a sense that common consensus is gone. One side is right; the others are morally and ethically wrong, and don’t deserve a fair hearing.

How have we gotten to this point?

(more…)

Justin Raimondo 2020

justinraimondo

The unpredictable success of Donald Trump has perplexed left-wing activists and pundits who had call him a fascist. But not only people on the left, even neocons had battled him over not following their warmonger orthodoxy. Donald Trump has been awful on Muslims but good on his neutrality over Israel. The Donald has been worse on his comments on Mexicans but certainly less hawkish than every one of the remaining Republicans. If a three times married millionaire New Yorker is about to win the Republican nomination, the question is if other outsiders can win in the future.

My humble suggestion is Justin Raimondo, for whom I have a sincere admiration. As the founder and editorial director of Antiwar.com, he has been one of the most committed people to the cause of peace. His columns are really among the best material one could find about American foreign policy. As a proud anti-imperialist of the libertarian tradition, he has supported Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader and Ron Paul. Three man that on a lot issues had disagreements but they share commitment of a Republic, not an Empire. Unlike other libertarians who he dismiss as Cosmopolitans, he came from the Old Right and remain there.

His appreciation for Trump has been misunderstood, he is not supporting him but the chaos and panic the New York millionaire is causing in neocon circles. That would be the same chaos and panic that Raimondo would cause if the he decides to be a Republican presidential candidate. He could had a base of the Ron Paul supporters and it could grow with support of voters with anti-establishment feelings.

One might wonder why I’m saying these. While the most probably thing is that Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee, I think he is going to lose not because the neocons are against him but for alienating minorities. So either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would be president. I hate the liberal interventionism of Clinton so I guess that Sanders would be better in foreign policy, however the Vermont has also embraced military Keynesianism. But America needs a truly anti-imperialist.

Another question that some would ask is what about Rand Paul, Justin Amash or Thomas Massie. They are by far the most libertarian in Congress but not enough. As Justin Raimondo had said in the past, the attempt of Rand Paul to appease neoconservatives had led him to nowhere. Amash and Massie could learn from Rand mistakes, however being congressmen they would be putting their seats in risk. So no better outsider than Justin Raimondo who previously ran for Congress in 1996 as a paleolibertarian challenger to Pelosi in San Francisco, he has move but still lives in California.

Raimondo style is ironic and direct, confrontational to neocons and liberal interventionists. As a Rothbardian, he would consider foreign policy his main concern and that could open the possibility of a left-right populist alliance against Empire. I don’t know if he would accept that challenge, he has done much for the cause of peace with his writings but politicians had compromise over and over again, maybe is time for a real change. Vote Raimondo 2020.

The Bernie Congress

There is group of progressives inspired by Bernie Sanders that had decided to run for Congress – that’s the topic of my CounterPunch piece today. An excerpt:

For readers of CounterPunch the candidature of Bernie Sanders has generated mixed feelings. On the one hand he has pushed for progressive policies in economic issues, on the other hand he hasn’t been as antiwar as much of the progressive community wish he had been. But he has inspired young people tired of neoliberalism and imperialism of Hillary Clinton. And not necessarily only young people, there is a list of what has been called the Bernie Congress including progressive challengers inspired by Sanders to run Democratic primaries for Congress. Some would face a relatively easy election in heavily Democratic districts while others would try to compete swing districts and others try to win even in Republican districts with a populist message.

Read the whole thing here to know the complete list of Sanderistas that hope to represent the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in Congress.