Isn’t it pathetic the way some on the extreme right are trying to exploit the tragic murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina?
It turns out that the man who murdered these three innocent people, Craig Stephen Hicks, is an atheist or humanist and isn’t a fan of religion.
So a few conservatives and some religious extremists are ecstatic, because now they can point to atheists and say: “See, not all violence is committed in the name of religion.”
Yeah, and so what?
No one ever claimed that only religious extremists commit violence. There just seems to be a much higher percentage of international violence committed in the name of God than there is in the name of no God. We also have a bloodthirsty history of religiously motivated murder that includes pogroms, Crusades, the Inquisition, and ISIS’ special brand of horrors.
Contrary to initial speculation, this murder spree doesn’t appear to be in the name of atheism. It may not even be a hate crime. It seems that Craig Stephen Hicks believed in equal rights for all people. He was pro-gay. He believed in equality for women. He had expressed such opinions over a long period of time on the Internet.
The real moral of this story is how the conservative love affair with guns and cowboy justice is a disaster for this nation. The only God Craig Stephen Hicks had, it seems, was his beloved gun collection. He had an entire cache of armaments that would have made Rambo blush. Yet, this is what passes for mainstream behavior in our gun-obsessed nation. We keep hearing from the NRA crowd that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Yes, this trite slogan is true. But who can deny that guns make the gruesome act a lot easier and more lethal?
Craig Stephen Hicks appears to be an unstable man who harassed and intimidated those who lived in or visited his apartment complex. He would angrily knock on the doors of neighbors to complain about noise or alleged parking transgressions. When he’d confront his neighbors, he’d often be holding a shotgun or have a menacing gun in his holster.
In a normal society this nut would have been arrested on the spot. He would have been rightly seen as a threat to society. But thanks to America’s romance with the NRA – we now live in a dangerous, permissive, anything-goes society where anyone with pistol and a chip on his shoulder gets to play John Wayne. He gets to be Charles Bronson or Dirty Harry, while the rest of us mortals get to run for cover.
In this case, the murderer was fixated on the movie “Falling Down.” He’d watch Michael Douglas exact vigilante justice over and over – presumably fantasizing about himself in this anti-hero role.
Craig Stephen Hicks fancied himself the protector of his neighborhood. He was George Zimmermann 2.0. He’d stalk the subdivision looking for violators. Instead of trying to keep the peace, he seemed to hope that he’d be challenged, which would allow Hicks the justification to reach for his firearm.
What occurred in North Carolina is an indictment of our society. It is penetrating commentary on the pathology of modern conservative politics. It is a reflection of the deadly anarchy the NRA has brought to America’s cities and towns.
It is outrageous that this whack job and so many like him are running around exercising their so-called freedom with the barrel of a gun pointed at normal citizens. Craig Stephen Hicks should have been locked up and placed in a padded cell a long time ago. Yet, he was free to roam and exercise his gun toting “liberty” at the expense of innocent life. (Speaking of which, why aren’t pro-life organizations in favor of reasonable gun control?)
This is the sick society we have built. Where violent, gun-swinging bullies and boneheads are lauded instead of locked up.
So, the moral of this story is not that atheists or left-wingers are capable of killing. It’s that psychopaths on all sides of the political spectrum have easy access to guns.
Sadly, we could stack dead and mangled bodies on a hill a mile high and people would remain in denial. If the terror that took place at Sandy Hook didn’t persuade Americans that our gun culture is out of control and in need of serious reform – I don’t know what will.
In any case, it is grotesque that the right wing is trying to exploit this tragedy for political gain. I’m fine with people having guns in their houses, but carrying them outside the home to intimidate neighbors or taking them into bars? I’m not okay with that, and if you are a sane individual, you shouldn’t be either.Read More »
The screws are tightening around NBC anchor Brian Williams. The network authorized a formal investigation over his now-retracted statement that he was in a helicopter in Iraq that was hit by enemy fire and forced to land.
Trouble may be on the horizon for Williams, as investigators pick trough his past statements. One in particular is already raising eyebrows.
During a 2006 interview with former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Williams said he witnessed a body floating in the French Quarter. According to Williams:
“When you look out of your hotel window in the French Quarter and watch a man float by face down, when you see bodies that you last saw in Indonesia, and swore to yourself that you would never see in your country.”
However, Brobson Lutz, a former city health director for New Orleans, told USA TODAY, there is a problem with Williams’ tale. According to the Lutz:
“There were bodies in other parts (of the city), but there were no bodies in the Quarter,” adding that the only body he retrieved from the neighborhood at the time was a restaurateur who died of a heart attack.
Then this from the New York Post’s Page Six:
In October 2011, Williams waxed rhapsodic about how his dad took him to fires.
“I remember one such house fire . . . conducting a search on my hands and knees, when I felt something warm, squishy and furry on the floor of a closet,” Williams said.
“I instinctively tucked it in my coat. When I got outside, I saw two small eyes staring up at me, and I returned the 3-week-old and very scared puppy to its grateful owners,” he said.
But in July 2005, he told a different story, insisting he had saved not one but two pups from certain death.
“All I ever did as a volunteer fireman was once save two puppies,” he said, according to Esquire magazine.
This tendency to embellish and exaggerate is beginning to look like a disturbing pattern. NBC News President Deborah Turness said in a staff memo:
“This has been a difficult few days for all of us at NBC News. As you would expect, we have a team dedicated to gathering the facts to help us make sense of all that has transpired. We’re working on what the best next steps are – and when we have something to communicate we will of course share it with you.”
Richard Esposito is leading the investigation. He heads the network’s investigative unit. Instead of “To Catch a Predator” they can create a new show, “To Catch a Prima Donna.”
What is interesting is how so many conservatives are delighted by this controversy. They are pointing fingers and saying: “See, you liberals are liars too.”
Don’t they understand how ridiculous they look? They are basically admitting that they are truth challenged and are justifying their own dishonesty. It’s pathetic.
And let’s put aside the fact that Williams is a news anchor and not a politician or liberal talking head. Conservatives have done so much harm to this nation that they will look for any way to discredit liberals to show that they aren’t any worse than we are.
But what they are saying makes no sense. It’s bizarre.
Look, I hope Williams is found innocent, because he seems like a nice guy and he supposedly is nice to his staff. Although his voice is a little too nasal or my taste.
But, if he has a problem with serial exaggerations, he has to go. His daughter Allison is a very good actor – and apparently he may be too.
NBC doesn’t want this to happen because he is number one in the ratings with 9 million viewers per night. But, that shouldn’t matter if a gross pattern of deception emerges.
If the man lie – he gotta fly.Read More »
Conservatives continue to huff and puff about Obama’s speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.
They’re fuming because he had the unmitigated gall to tell the truth and say that Islam is not the first world religion to resort to violence. Why is this most basic historical fact so controversial?
It seems that the crowing FOX News crowd demands an alternative depiction of Christianity, every bit as imaginary as a hero homily from NBC’s Brian Williams.
In this revisionist version, Jesus is miraculously born to a virgin and the world suddenly becomes a land of the loving, where all Christians act like Mother Theresa. For centuries the word of Jesus remains pure and no one perverts the religion to morph into Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph or Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The homegrown terrorism of these Christians is apparently a figment of our imagination.
They want to pretend that loving Christians don’t occasionally murder abortion providers. Or, that people like Pat Robertson, Michelle Bachmann, and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore never engage in bigoted, dishonest anti-gay campaigns.
We are supposed to pretend that the homicidal Crusades never happened. The Inquisition never occurred, or was merely an exception to the rule. The bloody 30-years war was an anomaly, rather than business as usual. There was no persecution of Galileo and active suppression of science and the Enlightenment.
We aren’t supposed ask the pertinent question: Had Christianity never been invented, might the human race have advanced centuries ahead of where we are today?
In the narrow minds of these conservatives, Christians never used their faith justify slavery or Jim Crow. There was never a time that denying women the right to vote was couched in conservative Christianity.
What pathological fantasy world of serial denial do these people live in?
Of course, Obama should never have spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event hosted by the secretive and dangerous fundamentalist Christian group known as “The Family.” However, during his speech, the president told the truth: There are some interpretations of holy books that are “inspiring people to lift up one another.” There are others that lead to “faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge – or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.”
The dark, exclusionary, opportunistic strain of faith most often embraced by Republican politicians comes to mind. Perhaps this is why Obama’s speech touched a nerve.
Contrary to the lie being promulgated by conservatives, the president was extremely tough on radical Islam. He mentioned the “sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe.”
But Obama wisely placed the current violence in historical context. The President said:
“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ…. So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”
One would think that this honest and accurate assessment of history would be non-controversial. Unfortunately, too many people of faith actually have no faith at all. They are so insecure about their beliefs that they want Christianity to be painted as beyond reproach. They prefer to wear rose-colored fetus glasses.
History is filled with fatalities justified in the name of religion. No faith is immune. It just so happens that at this moment in time the Wahhabi brand of Islam has its hand on the bloodstained wheel of atrocities.
Had Pat Roberson won his election in 1988 – what putrid direction might this nation have gone in? Had Pat Buchannan won the nomination in 1992 – how extreme might America be today?
The United States Supreme Court handed the presidency to a religious extremist with messianic tendencies in 2000. His name was George W. Bush. He thought Jesus was sending him on a grand mission, so America invaded Iraq. As a result 4,486 Americans are now dead. More than 133,000 Iraqi civilians have died. This adventurism unleashed chaos and created a vacuum filled by the newly formed ISIS.
My point is that religious extremism of all stripes is destructive. If radical Islam continues on its current trajectory, the Middle East will go up in flames. If America goes down the holy road of horrors by electing a leader such as Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, or Sen. Ted Cruz, how bleak will our future be?
Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast were brilliant and he should ignore his whiney critics. Just because we have hypersensitive, bellyaching, Republican Pollyanna’s, steeped in conservative correctness, doesn’t mean we should white wash our past.Read More »