A rapid series of car bombs and another blast ripped through a luxury hotel and a coffeeshop in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik early Saturday, killing at least 88. Egypt's president, although an autocratic tyrant himself, vowed to hunt down the murderers. It is increasingly clear that teaching hate kills. Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia should take immediate steps to shut down their Wahabi madrasas that poison the minds of young Muslims.
Radical Muslim leaders in other countries, such as England, should also be scrutinized to see if they can be deported. Since they are such enthusiastic supporters of Sharia, let them experience it firsthand, which will likely mean they lose their heads to the sword.
Of course, we must balance this approach with protecting the innocent. But those who preach lethal Islam should be given no sanctuary, especially in the West. If you don't believe in freedom and democracy, don't hide behind the protections that it generously offers.
Unfortunately, in the U.S. we know it is only a matter of time before an attack occurs. In a country of this size, there is no way to prevent a terrorist attack at all times. Tight security does not totally solve this problem. A war on terror does not completely solve this mess. And, attacking Iraq, which was not part of the international terrorist network, only exacerbates the nightmare because precious resources are being diverted that could be used to disrupt terroist cells and help protect American transit and chemical plants.
The only solution that will have a real and lasting impact is shutting down these schools of hate that brainwash young minds into believing that martyrdom is honorable, instead of the cowardly and despicable act that it really is. If Eygpt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan can ban bars, nightclubs, porn shops, liberal political movements and gay establishments, than why can't they nail shut the doors of these hate incubators called Madrasses? It is a lack of political will, and now the whole world suffers.
In today's New York Times, a highly disturbing article showed that rabid neo-puritans were endorsing U.S. Supreme Court Nominee John G. Roberts. Throughout the article there were an avalanche of disturbing winks and nods that would give even the most fair minded person pause. Is Roberts a hard core ideologue in moderate's clothing? After reading the Times artice I'm a little wary that he is a stealth candidate on the far right fringe. According to the Times:
Two well-connected Christian conservative lawyers - Leonard Leo, chairman of Catholic outreach for the Republican Party, and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of an evangelical Protestant legal center founded by Pat Robertson - gradually won over most social conservatives to nearly unanimous support, even convincing them that the lack of a paper trail was an asset that made Judge Roberts harder to attack.
Both had been tapped by the White House to build the coalition for judicial confirmation battles.
Mr. Leo said that "there were certainly questions a year or two ago about whether John Roberts fit the president's standards as he set forth in his two campaigns" - a jurist in the mold of Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas - "but as we moved closer and closer to the period when a vacancy would occur people became much more educated and more comfortable with his background."
To make matters worse, Focus on the Family's James Dobson seems to think that Roberts will be his man.
"I think that we do know a lot about Judge Roberts, from his life, from his record, from the things he has stood for," Dr. Dobson said. "We believe the issues we care about will be handled carefully by this judge."
I don't know about you, but when a theocrat like James Dobson is pleased, I begin to feel a bit queasy. With such stealthy, underhanded endorsements, it is more important than ever for Senators to do their jobs and ask tough questions during confirmation proceedings. Make no mistake, gay rights and the right to choose hang in the balance.
I have long said that there are virtually no longterm "ex-gays" who are not on the payroll of right wing organizations or working for a ministry. This is important, because it means in order to supposedly go from gay to straight, one must quit his or her job and dedicate every waking hour to overcoming homosexuality. Ironically, these folks are immersing themselves in the very thing they claim they have escaped.
Writer Mark Benjamin proved my point in his 4-part series for Salon this week. He asked Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, head of the conversion therapy lobby group NARTH, to provide him with successful patients who weren't paid by right wing political groups to say they had gone from gay to straight.
He responds that his patients will not talk to me because they don't get a fair shake in the press. They are done with homosexuality and have moved on with their lives. They don't want to talk about it now.
Benjamin also asked Randy Thomas, spokesvirgin from Exodus International to provide people to talk to that weren't on the right wing dole.
Exodus spokesman Randy Thomas also declines to help me meet ex-gays to interview. He says that I can read about the experiences of ex-gays on Exodus Web site.
It is interesting that Exodus and NARTH together claim to have made "hundreds of thousands" of self loathing gay people straight. One also thinks that these legions of people would be very enthusiastic about sharing their experiences. But when pressured to provide real life examples, these groups have nothing to show. Exodus simply offered to recycle the same tired shills they have on their web-site. Perhaps, ex-gays do not really exist? Interestingly, Benjamin practically tripped over ex-ex-gays willing to discuss how the "ex-gay" ministries negatively impacted their lives. Does this not say something about the success/failure ratio?
The state of Florida, where Exodus is based, should launch a full-scale investigation against Exodus for potential fraud. (Oh, wait, Jeb Bush is Governor) They have claimed that they have helped hundreds of thousands of people. Yet, these supposedly "healed" homosexuals remain invisible. Exodus also still highlights people on its web-site as success stories, like Shawn O'Donnell, who are now out and proud gay men. It is time that Exodus puts up or shuts up. Either these hordes of ex-gays exist or the group is greatly exaggerating its efficacy.
The New York Timeswrote an interesting article this week about Hollywood's catering and kowtowing to new found fundamentalist audiences. Since Mel Gibson's S&M Christ movie made a fortune, studio moguls are salivating over this target market. Really, there is nothing wrong with this, even though many of their movies are discriminatory and offensive. For example, in the Left Behind movie series, God basically whacks anyone who isn't a born again Christian. But hey, if gay people can have their movies, fundamentalist's should be able to see whatever they want, not matter how perverse. And what exactly is it that they want?
A new study by a leading Hollywood marketing firm, MarketCast, suggested that not only do Christians watch mainstream entertainment, but the most conservative among them are also drawn to violent fare.
The study of 1,000 moviegoers asked respondents to define their level of religiosity and their leanings, whether conservative, traditional or liberal, based on a list of social issues. About 70 percent of respondents said they were "somewhat" or "very" religious.
The researchers found that "when it comes to popular movies and popular shows, tastes don't differ at all" between religious and nonreligious, said Joseph Helfgot, president of MarketCast. "What you find is that people with conservative religious doctrine are the most likely to see movies rated R for violence. If you compared it to liberals, it's a third more."
I have a hunch that the same statistic would hold true for Rated XXX movies. Fundamentalist's have always loved censorship, because they see banning tawdry fare as the only way to keep themselves from devouring naughty entertainment.
The extreme right wing has successfully pressured some Cook County Commissioners into punishing Chicago economically and culturally by having them rescind their welcome of The Gay Games.
Last month, Cook County commissioners unanimously approved a measure welcoming the Olympic-style games to Chicago next year. But since then, five of the 17 commissioners have yanked their names from that welcome.
"There's a big difference between tolerating and celebrating homosexuality," said the Illinois Family Institute's Peter LaBarbera. "For governments to be using taxpayer money and big corporations spending money to sponsor this, we think the average Joe sees that as being just a little bit off."
Could you imagine the uproar if this were any other minority? Tens of thousands of gay people are offering to spend money and support Chicago, and these five commissioners slap them in the face. These are the type of politicians that should be recalled from office. Not only are they discriminatory, they are willing to cost the city money, prestige and jobs to support the radical agenda of narrow anti-gay interest groups.
Two teenage boys - one under 18 - were publicly hanged by the Islamo-fascist regime in Iran yesterday for being gay. This information and picture were provided by Andrew Sullivan's website.
Violent fundamentalism, no matter the religion, is a cancer that must be defeated. Take a good, long look at this picture because this is what radical Islamists want to do to homosexuals. It is clear that Bush lied about Iraq and America should not be there. But, it is equally clear that this sick version of fanaticism must be crushed if we expect to live in a free and decent society.
It is not just Islam. Watching Eric Rudolph smugly defend his bombing of abortion clinics, a gay bar and the Olympics reminds us that home grown religious zealots also lurk in the shadows. The truth is, if you look throughout the world, fundamentalist nations are failures and are almost always backwards. Religious fanaticism in all its guises is an evil worth fighting and defeating.
President George W. Bush's pick for the Supreme Court is, at the moment, a bit of a mystery man. However, the upbeat reaction by the far right may portend trouble. Here is the initial word from a couple of key groups on the nomination.
In May, 16-year old Zach told his fundamentalist Christian parents that he is gay. Horrified by the news, they vowed to fix him by sending him to an "ex-gay" boot camp in Memphis to be reprogrammed. Like a modern day message in a bottle, Zach used his Internet blog to send an SOS. Miraculously, his desperate plea for help washed up on the shores of sanity and circulated in cyberspace at warp speed.
With all the focus on this young man, another pair of victims in this tragedy has largely gone unnoticed: Zach's parents.
This week, Salon is featuring a four-part investigation into the Christian netherworld of "reparative therapy," a disputed practice to convert gays and lesbians into heterosexuals. Reporter Mark Benjamin will detail the loose network of Christian ministries and social workers, with the blessing of the political right, that are putting gays and lesbians on the couch, determined to "cure" them. This is a "can't miss" series and I urge my friends to check it out.
Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the Human Rights Campaign, David M. Smith, wrote a illuminating op-ed describing how the Bush Administration is working to role back protections for federal workers. According to Smith, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 is a law that's older than most Washington interns. And since its enactment, it's ensured that federal employees are protected from anti-gay discrimination.
However, a President Bush appointee is now refusing to investigate claims of sexual orientation-based bias because he thinks the law is unclear. On June 30, members of the U.S. House introduced a bill that would clarify things for Scott Bloch, who manages the Office of Special Counsel.