Friday, May 07, 2004


The furor about American abuse of prisoners in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison is a sign of progress in American moral values. The same conservatives who defended the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam era have learned from American liberals that you cannot win wars and hold your head high if your actions are no better than those of your antagonists. If we act like our enemy, even if we win a war, our enemy has been victorious by making us a carbon copy of himself. We liberals welcome Bush into our camp.


Tuesday’s violent attack on antiwar protesters at Mission and Hamilton in Spokane, Washington shows how Saddam is winning American converts to his methods. Saddam’s fear of free speech lives among the right wing conservatives in America, and, strangely familiar—just as it was in Franco’s Spain—the fundamentalist Christians are in cahoots with those of the fascist spirit.

Free speech is at the core of democracy. Open debate gives us all hope, for it is only by free speech and open discussion that a minority of one in a hundred can hope to become a majority of 51. We must always protect the views of the minority, no matter how loathsome to us personally, from the tyranny of the majority. Those who would shut down the free exchange of ideas are those who would destroy the true hope of democracies, the hope that anyone’s lonely idea could become a majority view someday which has often happened.

As an atheist myself, I know that my hope is that someday, maybe a thousand years hence, the evolutionary growth of the cortex and reason will prevail over the instinct-based, religious superstitions and dogma of the amygdala. My hope can never come about in a nation in which debate is silenced as it has been silenced so often in the past by fearful religious authorities who know that dogma is weak when faced with the facts or who want to force their religious ideas over the facts of science.

Authoritarian types most fear the challenges to their authority that free speech creates. There is no more authoritarian psychology in the world than the religious temperament which looks above itself for answers rather than into its own humanity for guidance. If one cannot find compassion in oneself first, then all appeals to a greater power in the heavens will bear no fruit within. This faith in human compassion is the belief of the humanists, secular and believing, among us.


Does anyone else notice that the increasing polarization of the American public, the increasing hatred and ill-will between us, coincides with the rise in power and influence of “evangelical” Christianity? Doesn’t history tell us that we can expect hatred and suffering to increase wherever one religion grows politically dominant? Just look at this National Day of Prayer in state houses and the capital which shuts out atheists.

In some cases, atheists are truly citizens who are taxed without representation. In Georgia (or Alabama), legislators literally told atheists who wanted to attend their little prayer session that atheists had no representative within that state house. This is an abominable repression of the Constitutional rights of American citizens, perpetrated by the heinous actions of a religious majority. The Saddamites in control of that legislature are truly undemocratic and foul. It’s abhorrent that American soldiers are dying in order to defend religious tyranny in America!

If any reader wants to get an inside glimpse of the fundamentalistic Christian psyche, he should read Psalms with an open mind and experience first hand the kind of sensibilities that hide behind the Christian smile. Modern Christian fundamentalists are not Christ guided people but Old Testament Taliban types just like the writer of Psalms.

As you read the Old Testament psalms, ask yourself what psychological profile comes to mind: one that sees itself as lower than dirt, sees enemies everywhere on every hand, sees a black and white world divided between the good guys on his side and the “evil” guys on the other side, and who wishes his enemies dead, crushed out of existence by a god who is on his side against his enemy? Do you recognize it? (See Psalms.)

Reading stuff like that which divides your world into two camps—the insiders (us) and the outsiders (them)—and learning to judge others like that, how could you not become an angry hateful person? The psalms are the ravings of a paranoid schizophrenic. How often have we encountered the extreme madness of his type on a streetcorner, disheveled and dirty, hollering at us from the untreated madness of those imagined religious persecutions that still live in his ancient Bible mentality? Someday, let us hope, reason and facts will activate the human brain and not the instincts and violence of the animal which still control the religious sensibilities of the fundamentalist.

“In Ireland, a writer is looked upon as a failed conversationalist.” —author unknown

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