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Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic -- And Refraining
That would be refraining from blowing the rest of us up. Dipesh Gadher writes in The Times Of London that new citizenship lessons in Britain will focus on pointing out to Muslims why they shouldn't blow other people up and should instead resort to non-violent means of protest:

Young Muslims will be asked to consider the impact of the 7/7 bombings on their victims; encouraged to report terrorist plots to the police; and women advised not to wear the full Islamic veil to “avoid confrontation”.

Drawing on the Koran to counter extremist ideology, pupils will be taught to channel any anger against British foreign policy into legitimate forms of protest, such as the ballot box.

The curriculum is already being used in up to 200 Islamic schools, or madrasahs, as well as some mainstream state schools, mainly in West Yorkshire. Now, the government, which has part funded the initiative, wants to see it rolled out nationally in madrasahs and schools, though there are no plans to make it compulsory.

Officials estimate that about 100,000 Muslim children attend madrasahs or religious classes at mosques each day, normally after school or at the weekend. But the instruction they receive has traditionally focused on reciting the Koran and learning Arabic.

The new citizenship classes have been introduced by the Bradford Council of Mosques, which has trained about 50 imams in the “Nasiha” (good advice) curriculum.

Sorry, but if you're inviting somebody to dinner, and you need to first instruct them in why they shouldn't smear your walls with food and feces...do you have them in your home at all?

There's freedom of religion, which I'm for -- not prohibiting silly people from exercising their belief, sans evidence, that there's a big man in the sky who gives a shit about their daily doings. And not keeping them from digging into all the rest of the ludicrous trimmings of the business that is religion.

That said, I'm particularly amazed when somebody thanks god for sparing their 4-year-old when somebody else's 4-year-old got squashed; according to their belief system, by god's big thumb. Of course, when their kid gets iced, they like to think of it more kindly ("It was his time to go, blah blah blah," as opposed to "How unfortunate that he wandered into the street," or better yet, "Mommy should have been keeping an eyeball on her spawn instead of paying all her attention to mixing her martini").

There was some college kid this week who lived after his car crashed in a wooded area. I read about it on CNN. Naturally, his survival was attributed to god, and more specifically, his father's prayers being answered -- not the fact that he finally realized he wasn't going to get found and got his ass out of the car and crawled to the road. But, if he was saved because Daddy prayed right...college boys who die in similar incidents do so because their parents' prayers were faulty?

This sort of thinking can be exceptionally cruel in close quarters. Christopher Hitchens, who sat with me at the Einaudi dinner at Festivaletteratura, reminded me of a Primo Levi story about Auschwitz, probably from The Drowned And The Saved, where a guy is thanking god aloud for sparing him from death where the guy next to him is slated to go to the gas chambers. I'm reminded of the bumper sticker: "Jesus loves you. Everyone else thinks you're an asshole." Except in this case, "god" apparently thinks the guy going to the ovens isn't worth a shit. At least, that's the message the praying guy was sending.

Believers like to use god in a way that serves their superstitions and their egos. And in the case of Islam, their god belief, and following their religion, serves their nasty-little-fourth-grader-on-the-playground psychology: "We're really cool and you suck and we're going to take you over and make you all do it our way!"

Of course, there's violence against others advocated in the texts of all primitive god belief systems -- Judaism, Christianity, and more obscure religions -- but you don't see or hear rabbis or ministers standing up in their houses of primitive worship and encouraging their (aptly named) "flock" to go out and kill anybody who doesn't do it their way.

So, fine, if these nonthinkers, and astrologers and the like are part of free, western, democratic societies -- but why are we letting in religious nutters whose stated goal is killing or converting all of us and turning our societies into places where women have the rights of dogs, and we're all governed by Sharia law?

Posted by aalkon at September 11, 2007 11:58 AM

Comments

"...why are we letting in religious nutters whose stated goal is killing or converting all of us and turning our societies into [crap]?"

Partly because those in charge are too lazy to keep them out. Partly because those in charge harbor some vague notion that diversity is good, so they let anybody in.

There is a large component of hatred in all this, both self-hatred by many in the West, which accepts "the other" uncritically, and a hatred of others by many in the Muslim world, which uncritically advances their world view, a view that can't build an airplane, or lay a sewer pipe, but I guess those are just inconvenient details.

Posted by: doombuggy at September 11, 2007 2:39 AM

I'm all with the kind of "tolerance" that means tolerating people's idiotic beliefs, while encouraging them to be less idiotic...just not the kind of tolerance that eventually becomes tolerance=death.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 11, 2007 2:46 AM

"but you don't see or hear rabbis or ministers standing up in their houses of primitive worship and encouraging their (aptly named) "flock" to go out and kill anybody who doesn't do it their way."

I agree whole heartedly with almost everything else said but this. I haven't found much on rabis doing this but Christian ministers preaching death to those who believe differently? Check out these nut bags
http://www.christiangallery.com/atrocity/. I can find lots of this type of stuff but I can only post one link.

As far as having to tell someone not to smear walls with shit, and why you would want them in your house? Some forms of mental illness can have this unwanted side effect. This behavior maybe temporary so even if the person's treated you'd never let them into your house again? No I'm not suggesting that they are all mentally ill it's just one example I can think of.

The culture is making some head way I don't think we should dismiss it. The people coming form the middle east are used to violence and need to be retrained to the fact that there are other effective forms of protest in the civilized world.

Posted by: vlad at September 11, 2007 6:41 AM

Another story to go with the car crash one and the Primo Levi one:

In northern Wisconsin, a tree weakened by beavers happened to fall just as a canoeist was passing. This was exactly the kind of incident that would have been called a miracle if it had missed her by four inches, but it didn't. As if someone had taken aim, it hit her square in the head and killed her instantly.

In speaking to reporters about the incident, the county sheriff mentioned something about God's mysterious ways. Believers wrote letters to the editors of all the newspapers that ran the story expressing their outrage that the sheriff could place on God the responsibity for such a horrible accident.

The way God always gets the credit for sparing people but never the blame for crushing them may be the weirdest inconsistency in theism.

Posted by: Axman at September 11, 2007 7:41 AM

There are a handful of Christians advocating or doing murder in the name of religion, but it isn't standard Christian preaching -- at least not these days. On the other hand, there are major mosques in London (I've blogged about them but don't have time to find the links before we go out) in which major imams advocate the slaughter of the rest of us.

And no, if you're a feces smearer, you're not getting into my house now or in the future, and I feel the same about anybody whose religion advocates murdering other people because their non-fucking-existent god is better and cooler and whatever-er than the others' non-fucking existent gods.

Sorry, I'm just a cold-hearted bitch in that way. (Do note the insincerity of that apology.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 11, 2007 8:27 AM

"non-fucking-existent god is better and cooler and whatever-er than the others' non-fucking existent gods."

Am I picking up on some fiery passion slash flippant disgust? I gotta agree w/ you here...it seems that religion is a giant pissing match or my-dick-is-bigger-than-yours contest. Religious extremists are like out of control, 3 year old brats - irrational, foot stomping, demanding attention whores. All we can do is shake our heads in disbelief...and write about them... The fact that they want us dead is really the only thing that distinguishes them from aforementioned brats.

Pretty large fucking distinction, I'll admit...

Posted by: Gretchen at September 11, 2007 1:22 PM

Christian, Jewish, Hindu etc religious extremists are an irritation. Muslim extremists are a danger.

The idea that "other religions are just as bad as Islam" underestimates the danger. Sharia and Dhimmitude put Islam in a class by itself.

Posted by: winston at September 11, 2007 5:33 PM

Islam is the "Murder, Inc." of religion.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 11, 2007 5:42 PM

**Christian, Jewish, Hindu etc religious extremists are an irritation. Muslim extremists are a danger.**

That is so well said.

**The idea that "other religions are just as bad as Islam" underestimates the danger.**

Amen, brother, amen(!!!).

Comparing Muslim fanatics to like minded Christians, et al, is really comparing two different groups. I think of it this way: in the cohort of average Muslims, 40-60% are okay with the violent removal of non-Muslims. In the Christian community, you have to go about six standard deviations from the mean to find a cohort of like mind. So those who wish to draw the moral equivalency here are comparing the mean to a six sigma. This is not fair.

Posted by: doombuggy at September 11, 2007 8:16 PM

:::earworm alert:::

"...send in the funds, keep the faith alive
...without your checks, how can we survive?
...we've got cars in the yard, we've got bills to pay, we've got crosses to bear..."

On the other hand, Xtianty's major concern, it seems to me, is how to finance their own agenda(s), without the Vatican and the televangilists breaking into their own stashes of cash...

Posted by: Flynne at September 13, 2007 6:39 AM

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