An ‘Atheist Extremist’, Lord, at Last AT LAST!

Craig Stephen Hicks, accused in the murder of three Muslim Students:  Durham County Sheriff’s Office, via Associated Press

(Satire)

By Lance Luther:

Ever since Sep. 11th dropped two skyscrapers worth of headaches on our heads and the roar of atheists have clamored for the blood of violent Christians and Muslims ever since, we religionists have prayed every day for a target that we could answer back in kind to.

The good lord has provided us with that target.

Before the smoke had even dissipated on a Tuesday in February, and well before the details came in, my fellow traveler Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig made us all glow with newborn pride by writing ‘The Chapel Hill Murders Should be a Wake Up Call to Atheists‘ for The New Republic.  You should read it and come back.  My heart still burns with self-righteous vindication; there really are atheist extremists!  Never mind the disgusting way the author (and a small army of others–can you say praise the Lord!) uses the murder of three young Muslim students (of Arab descent), two of them newlyweds, to get a dig in on atheists before anything was known about the facts, that can be safely ignored, my friends.  After all, it’s worth it to finally get a chance to kick some smug faces in.

I completely agree with the authors contention that atheists are all Satan-worshiping male children (um, except for my esteemed colleague prof. Squawkins of course), never mind the robust feminist atheist community out there, and never mind the average age of every well-known atheist thinker since the Enlightenment (maybe the author should peep the author photos of near every atheist author).  And yes, everybody knows that Christians hate atheists–but YES!  WAKE UP CALL you kiddy atheists!  Maybe now you’ll stop kidnapping christian children and sacrificing them along with she-goats to the Devil.

As details emerge about this atheist scumbag, we find that…uh…he was a gun collector overcome with rage over a parking violation…and victim Deah Barakat’s own brother said that Craig Stephen Hicks never made any kind of anti-Muslim comments during said ongoing feud…and his wife flatly rejected any religious motive for the slayings and that Hicks was vocal about equal rights for all as well as irreligion, and even the New York Times isn’t falling for the ‘hate crime’ theory.

um, maybe we should just forget about this one.  If we keep it up, atheists could blame any murder on Christians or Muslims, since overwhelmingly, a killer would probably identify themselves as one of the two and since motive seems so irrelevant to authors like Bruenig, why should it be relevant to atheists?

If we keep writing articles like this one after the evidence has come in, us Christians and Muslims will just look stupid.

Lance Luthur is writing the sequel to his groundbreaking (but unfortunately lost in a pig-ditch in a Kentucky field) manifesto.  It will be entitled, ‘The Lord’s Anger and You: How to Stamp Out Christian Liberalism Within Your Own Communities While Kicking Out the Catholics and Bringing Back Tammy Faye and Other Important business”.

He plans to nail copies to the White House door, Pat Robertson’s Studio, and the Pope’s Lavatory.  This time he swears to use a longer nail… 

 

 

Sana Saeed and Salon Muddles Science, Name-Drops Richard Dawkins for Clicks:

By now, you are all used to the headline style.  Some online rag finds a religious defender who writes an article wholly unrelated to Richard Dawkins and anything he actually said or did, but leads in with a headline that screams his name like a cat in heat (and later in the article lists the other usual suspects) just to set up a big, fat strawman to rail against and gain clicks while ranting and spouting inanities.

Salon writer Sana Saeed; Muslim and budding Islamic apologist, has picked up this bad habit rather quickly in a rambling article whining against ‘New Atheists’ (as opposed to what?  Old atheism?  Did the ‘old’ atheists refer only to Zeus or something?) and claiming (through nothing but a one-person anecdotal story) that religion can’t possibly be in conflict with science because she liked science fairs as a kid or something.

Ok, Saeed ‘busts out’ a bit more than that.  She also drags out the trope that Islam was once a vast center of science and culture (yes we know; then it entered into its own Dark Ages a bit later than we in the West did and began to spend lots of time blowing all that culture up.  Today that trope is pretty irrelevant.  Lets not forget that much of that science and philosophy was developed by Western slaves, servants and dhimmis in the ’employ’ of Islamic courts).  Sure, there are shiny modern parts of the Middle East, and they are something to be rightfully proud of…and every one of them is modern in spite of Islam and big, fat targets for extremists everywhere.  Then there is Turkey, a nation that had to ban Islam outright to achieve modernity.

Regardless, the idea here is a pretty common claim; that science actually owes its advances, if not its very existence to religion, and early scientists were all religious.

Well, so what?  Budding proto-scientists had to be religious.  There simply wasn’t any other choice in the Middle Ages, and new ways of thinking were just re-emerging.  If you lived in the West in western science’s formative years you had to be a Catholic (or a Protestant in later ages, although for some time that was a death sentence if the authorities found out) and in the Eastern world one was more or less either Greek Orthodox Christian or of one of the Islamic sects.  A few slaves and scattered communities of other faiths (and the Jewish people of course, and look how both cultures treated them) were exceptions that proved the rule.  But original thinkers of all stripes were persecuted and killed by both religions, and when a coherent voice for atheism was formed, that too was immediately attacked and atheists were persecuted and even killed wherever they were found, right up to the enlightenment and beyond.  The list of great men killed in the name of original inquiry by Christians is profoundly sad, but the number of nameless men and women not remembered in the timeline of history is truly appalling.  Whole towns of original thinkers were slaughtered in the name of religion, such as the Cathers of the south of France.  Whole nations were decimated by the missionaries and conquistadors.  Whole cultures were converted by force, such as parts of Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean by Islam and Saxon tribes by Christians.

Science itself was of course, just beginning to develop its methods during the Middle Ages, after suffering a bit of a set-back since the Greeks and Romans began developing it.  It disappeared almost entirely in Europe, replaced with secretive guilds that hoarded knowledge for the Church’s exclusive use, and the rote learning of fixed and officially-approved knowledge taught at universities (such as certain aspects of the blood circulation system which people could see for themselves was dead wrong every time a corpse was dissected.  But to say so meant imprisonment, torture, death).  All of this was controlled and regulated by the Church (Islamic universities were somewhat better but again, their ‘little set-back’ came later).

Italian universities for example, were strictly controlled; only teachers were allowed to even touch books from the Index of Forbidden Books, and could teach from them only to refute them.  The inquisition strictly monitored both teachers and students, demonstrated by the fate of Pomponio Algerio (1531–1556), a civil law students who was killed by the inquisition for his attitude of free inquiry.  In a time when early forms of Protestant movements were growing in number, he wrote that:

“… the Roman Catholic Church is a particular Church and no Christian should restrict himself to any particular Church. This Church deviates in many things from truth.”

At his trial, he wore his student’s robes to remind the Church that as a student, he was supposed to have the right to free expression.  Apparently, the Church saw things differently.  They boiled him in oil.  It is said that he took 15 minutes to die, and kept his composure the whole time.

The point is that both in the West and in the East, people were in the middle of a process; a process of growing away from strictly religious thinking and towards a more secular world view.  This left many people trapped in two worlds, so to speak.  To say that these people were ‘Christian’ or ‘Islamic’ is to oversimplify what was happening.  Many of these people had heretical ideas of what Christianity or Islam was all about.  Others may have been outright unbelievers, but for the sake of their heads, they kept their silence.  Still others were perfectly devout, but understood that religion alone couldn’t provide the answers to their inquiries, and that’s the key to understanding how one could be religious and still work in fields that conflict with religiosity.  It’s the ability to compartmentalize different ways of thinking, just like an anti-capitalist can still operate in a capitalist society–because they have to.

Their really is a conflict between science and religion (of any kind), but religionists get it completely wrong by thinking of it in terms of a war or battle (like they always do when criticized).  Its the claims that are in conflict, and it is the methods that the two fields use to come to those claims that are incompatible.  Revealed knowledge can never arrive at any form of truth, save by accident.  This is because, at the very least, it is impossible to verify the truth of what a ‘revealer’ says.  A prophet could by lying, a faith-healer may be sincere but deluded, a visionary might have been on drugs and hallucinating at the time; we just cannot know, and without some real means of independent verification, revealed knowledge can never hold a candle to the scientific method, which does provide the means of independent verification, faith or no faith.

This isn’t to say that there are no actual battles that pit the two concepts against each other.  Creationists are certainly waging an organized, high-stakes battle against evolution, and we fail to take this battle seriously at our peril.  Christian Evangelists did a great deal to hold back stem cell research in the U.S. costing many lives and putting us behind other countries.  I don’t need to talk about Catholics and Aids, and Islamic groups target schools all over the Middle East and Africa.

We certainly can’t wax all poetic and dream that both concepts sit all chummy and comfortable side-by-side, like the way that religious moderates like Saeed want to present the situation.  When Saeed and people like her present their own stories and go on about how they don’t understand where this ‘conflict thesis’ comes from, they either don’t get the concept, or they are being intellectually dishonest.  What they don’t get is that they are nobodies–completely irrelevant.

When adults talk about a complex situation, they often take verbal shortcuts by making generalizations.  Both sides of the discussion; if they are being honest, understand this, and come to the table knowing what main terms and concepts mean.  So when we say, “science and religion’ are in conflict, we understand that by ‘science’ and ‘religion’, we are talking about the leadership and powerful, influential members of a church or scientific institutions, or the claims made by many people from these disciplines, or any official doctrines or dogma that may be relevant, but not the rank and file and moderate nobodies, although there are plenty of nobodies that have no problem supporting extremists, and plenty of useful indoctrinated idiots willing to do the work of religious leaders for them; just recently, excavations from as late as the 17th century revealed the body of an astrologer stoned to death by an oh-so-moral mob after accusations of rape and black magic were leveled at an astrologer.  This type of mob law (perpetrated overwhelmingly for moral and religious reasons) was far too common in the Middle Ages and often left unrecorded.  It the main though, we are talking about the small group of people with the ability to directly shape their institutions.  In the case of religion, overwhelmingly, these people embody the criticisms that New Atheists level at religion.  Just look at Bill Donahue or Pat Robertson.   Even the new Pope, for all his liberal ideas, is almost medieval in his thinking when it comes to the right to criticize religion.

So, if you are the type who goes around wailing about how atheists ‘have childish definitions of religion’, maybe you need to look a little closer to home.  Unless they actually did provide a definition, it says more about you than it does about atheists when you are the one providing that definition by accusing others of having it.  If you don’t ‘get’ the generalization, you don’t deserve a place at the table yet; go back to reading.  At least atheists engage with the actual religious texts directly.  It seems that ‘sophisticated theologians’ of any faith just make up whatever they feel like when an atheist is in the room and then returns to the definition of religion we all know damn well once they leave.  All that ‘God’ is big and unknowable malarkey is just that.  Neither Christians nor Muslims believe in Pantheism, and we all know it.

Getting back to science itself, Sana Saeed all out gushes about Islamic ‘science’ as if their ridiculous claims about science are somehow better than Christianity’s outlandish claims.  For her big example, she makes much of Al-Tusi’s ‘theory’ of evolution, that denies that humans are related to apes and argues some kind of learned hereditary inheritance.  She further writes of Al-Tusi’s theories:

“Al-Tusi’s discussion on biological evolution and the relationship of synchronicity between animate and inanimate objects is stunning in its observational precision as well as its fusion with theistic considerations. Yet it is, at best, unacknowledged today in the Euro-centric conversation on religion and science. Why?”

I propose that the West doesn’t ignore this theory out of Eurocentric considerations.  Perhaps the West ignores Al-Tusi because his theories are a muddled mish-mash of unscientific woo mixed with mythology and stories of genies and elemental monsters.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe Western scientists are just jealous and want to engage in a vast conspiracy to suppress religious-based science (a pretty good feat of cooperation when they are all competing against one another).  But if you want to be taken seriously as science, one must play by the rules of the scientific method.  If Al-Tusi ever used “observational precision” to see fire-monsters, I want to know how others can verify this (or a list of ingredients from his pipe!)  There were many others who theorized that organisms evolved; both in the East and West.  We don’t talk much about them because they were wrong and Darwin was right.

One last thing; Saeed makes a big point about how ‘free’ she is as a woman thanks to Islam.  I would really like to see those “Quranic verses and references from the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad” that ‘prove’ that Islam doesn’t subjugate women.  I followed the link she provided, and just found an article about her father where she once again references her ‘rights’ as a woman (ala the Quran, of course) without actually mentioning what those rights happen to be (why should you even need the Quran if they are rights?).

 

 

 

Update: AU Sends 7,500 Troops After Boko Haram:

Two days ago, Chad; Nigeria’s neighbor, ousted Boko Haram from their entrenched location in and around the village of Baga, Nigeria, where they were responsible for one of the worst massacres of the year.  They did so with troops and warplanes, according to the Associated Press and reported by the MSN.

Screen Capture provided by REX Features and Pin it of Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau from May 2014.

 

Africa’s EU reported that African leaders have agreed to send 7,500 troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria, largely coordinated by Chad and Camaroon, much to the embarrasment of the Nigerian military.  Maybe if you spent more time protecting people and less time dreaming of lost tyrannies and shaking down the locals, eh guys?

The move comes shortly before Nigeria is set to hold their hotly contested Feb. 14 elections, where President Goodluck Jonathan seeks another term, and has the support of both the U.S. and Iran (about time you paid attention guys).  Maybe finally some effective action will be taken against this group.  If only ‘someone’ (Nigerian military and police, nudge, nudge…) had done something to address their concerns before Boko Haram whacked-out and turned completely violent.

Go get em. boys.

 

Boko Haram: A Group the World Needs to Know More About:

At almost the same time as the world was declaring that they too, were Charlie Hebdo, and while millions of people (along with 40 world leaders) gathered in Paris to honor the death of 12 cartoonists for publishing depictions of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, one of the worst domestic terrorist attacks every perpetrated in Northern Nigeria ripped across the land.  As of this writing, hundreds of people still lie dead in the African brush, unaccounted for because the perpetrators still pose a danger to the area.  Another 30,000 people are displaced from the region, with nowhere to call home.

Maybe Boko Haram; a sect of Islamic militants who’s name (loosely speaking) stands for “Western education is forbidden“, gets relatively little global media attention because they have already committed so many atrocities that the blood just all seems to run together in Western eyes.  They have used young girls for suicide bomb attacks, attacked villages, churches, mosques, and civilians, and recently, were repelled as they tried to attack the town of Biu in Kano, Nigeria. (01)

Boko Haram is a militant group we all need to be paying more attention to; whatever the reason for so much Western apathy, we need to know more about this ultra-violent organization, which deserves the world’s strongest condemnation, and isn’t receiving enough of it.

Early History and Ideology:

            Boko Haram is the ‘popular’ name of ‘Jama`at ahl al-sunna li-da`wa wa-l-qital’.  The Boko Haram phase of its existence was founded as a radical Salafist sect in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, who was initially just as concerned with Nigeria’s bad government, corruption, inequality, and bad economy as he was with any religious concerns. (02)

Nigeria had just recently gained its independence from colonial powers and from under the military’s dictatorship.  The region was split by Sufis and Salafist Islamic sects and Christians were proselytizing throughout the region, leading to the Pro-Democracy movement and the election of Olusegun Obasanjo along with the southern domination of President Goodluck Jonathan. (03)

Muslims responded to this perceived Christian intrusion (with some justification, I think) with an imposition of Sharia Law in several states, but the Salafists (including the early Boko Haram) were often left out of governance, leading to estrangement. The south was left heavily Christian, while the north was Islamic.  The area was a powder keg.

The first phase of Boko Haram’s existence as an outsider group seemed peaceful enough.  Mohammed Yusuf led the group away from society and out into the remote regions of Borno and Yobe and established small camps and schools in 2002-2006.  But conflict with law enforcement mounted until the group first began ‘operations’ against the police in urban areas and then began to confront the police and military openly.  This culminated in a military attack on Yusuf’s main compound and mosques.   Hundreds were killed and Yusuf himself was subjected to extrajudicial murder by the military, his body released on video for everyone to see.

All hell broke loose after that.

As of today, Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist sect that believes that Nigeria is run by false Muslims and that only their ‘pure’ vision of an Islamic state can change matters.  Their goal is to impose Sharia Law over the Federal Republic of Nigeria and overthrow the current Muslim leaders in Nigeria.  Their means of doing so is through all-out war and terrorism.

Boko Haram is fanatical even by extremist standards and they don’t hesitate to go after other Muslims.  In an interview given to the BBC, a teacher for the sect’s ideology said, “Allah says, “fight those who are fighting you”. Muslim or non-Muslim. If you are an enemy we’ll come and attack.” (04)

Boko Haram is opposed to anything they deem ‘Western.’  They completely reject all political, economic, and social liberalism, and all scientific progress.  They consider any means valid to bring about the Islamic Caliphate that they envision for the future.  (05)

Boko Haram has shown little interest in attacking Western targets, the one exception being an August 2011 attack on the UN compound in the capital of Abuja.  Since then, there have been no attacks on international interests.  Their main targets for terrorist attacks are churches and public places and starting around 2012, they began to target schools, where they have found an appalling level of success.  (06)

The group operates within a cell-like organizational structure, which leaves the group vulnerable to schisms and splits, but makes it extremely hard for law enforcement to get at the leadership.

Mohammed Yusuf:

In July of 2009, Nigerian officials announced that Mohammed Yusuf, the founder of Boko Haram, had been captured.  Mere hours later, they announced that he had been killed in a shoot-out while trying to escape.  Absolutely nobody believed them.

Sure enough, an interrogation video of the sect leader almost immediately surfaced on YouTube, showing Yusuf smiling, relaxed, and cooperating with interrogators. (07)  It didn’t take long for information to surface that Yusuf had been summarily executed by Nigerian police, who have a long habit of enthusiastic punishment and corruption, but little experience (or desire, it sometimes seems) for preventive measures.  Another video soon surfaced that showed Yusuf’s bullet-riddled body.  (08)

Mohammed Yusuf originally came from the village of Na’iyyah in the Gashua province of Yobe state, Northern Nigeria.  As a youth, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria under the radical leadership of Ibraheem az-Zakzaky, where he gained a reputation as an enthusiastic preacher.  The Muslim Brotherhood in Nigeria formed several groups including Jama`at ahl al-sunna li-da`wa wa-l-qital, which became Boko Haram soon after the declaration of Sharee’ah (Sharia Law) in some states and the resulting political splits.  Musef came to ‘Jama`at ahl al-sunna li-da`wa wa-l-qital’ from an earlier group, ‘Izālat ul-Bida’ wa Iqāmat us-Sunnah’ (“The Removal of Innovation and Establishment of the Sunnah Group”), where he then went on to ‘found’ Boko Haram. (09)

Yusuf was far more outgoing and accessible than his successor and for someone against all things Western; he loved to surround himself with Western things such as cars and fancy telephones.  When asked about this contradiction, he scoffed that such matters were, “…only a matter of technology.” He also left many of his follower’s poor, his only defense being, “That is due to their circumstances. Each person has his own circumstances.” (10)

Still, if Yusuf had not been killed matters might be better today, because if he was a demon, than his second in command; the new leader, is the Devil himself.

Abubakar Shekau:

After Mohammed Yusuf’s death, the mantle of leadership was turned over to Abubakar Shekau, Yusuf’s far more radical second-in-command.  The man seems to have the luck of the devil; the Nigerian military has announced his death several times over the last few years, but he keeps resurfacing.  They came close in 2012, when they managed to wound him in the leg when Shekau snuck back to his home for a baby-naming ceremony.  He managed to escape, even with a gunshot wound to the leg.

Not a lot is known about the man himself.  He was born in Shekau village.  He’s an Islamic scholar and speaks several languages, and studied at Borno State College of Legal and Islamic Studies, which is how he has earned the name ‘Darul Tawheed’ one of his many, many nicknames and aliases (it means an expert on monotheism or, “a oneness with Allah”). (11)

Shekau stays in the shadows and doesn’t speak directly to his followers, appearing only in rarely-released videos.  He’s supposed to be a master of disguise and nobody is even certain of the year he was born; the U.S. State Department has it as 1965, 1969 and 1975.

Oh yeah–the man is crazy and brutal, and he means every word he says.  In May of 2013, he first began to threaten to kidnap schoolchildren, in retaliation for imprisoned sect members and Nigerian security forces taking the wives and children of group members;  Shekau has been doing it–and selling those children into sexual slavery and forced ‘marriages’ ever since.

A bounty of $7 million dollars currently stands over Abubakar Shekau’s head.  To put that in context, that’s $2 million more than the head of the Afghan Taliban. (12)

Maiduguri prison break:

Shortly after Mohammed Yusuf’s death, when Boko Haram was still predominantly targeting police and military targets, the group pulled off one of Nigeria’s biggest prison breaks in its history during the sect’s Bauchi state uprising.  The group fought right past security, broke into a federal prison in front of the palace of the Emir of Bauchi (while the area’s Muslims (including the Emir) were having breakfast) and freed over 700 prisoners, including 150 Boko Haram members. (13)

The Guardian said that a witness reported that about 50 men with machine guns pulled up to the prison site and forced the prison open, freeing the prisoners.  They then set the prison on fire and made their escape.  One police officer, one soldier and two residents were killed in the battle.

The Boko Haram members inside the prison were captured during the same riots the previous year that saw Yusuf’s capture, awaiting trial when they were freed by the group.  Meanwhile, things were already becoming more violent.  For example, seven policemen had been killed a few months before and two traditional rulers assassinated in the region the week before.  (14)

2014 saw more Christian casualties across the world than any time in recent history, and about 70% of those casualties were in Nigeria; more than Pakistan, Syria, Kenya and Egypt combined. (15)  While Boko Haram is far from the only ones in the region persecuting Christians (two of the deadliest attacks were carried out by local civilians), they are a big factor.

There is a perception that Christians have been interfering in Nigerian politics, warranted or not. After the Pro-Democracy movement ousted the military dictatorship in 1999, 12 states declared Sharia Law to counter democratic elections and promote a Muslim state.  There has been ongoing violence against Christians ever since.

Boko Haram has engaged in forced conversions for some time now, going from house to house and village to village and killing anyone who will not convert on the spot, killing as many as 350 Christians in a single week, and forcing women to ‘marry’ them. (16)  Some victims are shot, some beheaded, and some have their throats slit.  (17)  Around the same time as the attack on Gwoza, which also left a 150-congregation-member church displaced, other churches and Christian villages were also targeted. (18)

Chibok Schoolchildren Kidnapping:

            The incident that shocked the Western World awake to the danger of Boko Haram was in April of 2014, when sect members stormed the remote settlement of Chibok and drove up to the Chibok government girl’s secondary school and kidnapped 276 girls.  A survivor said that the men–disguised as soldiers, said that they were there to ‘protect’ the children before gathering them outside.  They then started setting fire to the school. (19)

The kidnapping was one of the first Boko Haram-related incidents to earn global media attention, with a social media campaign called #bringbackourgirls aimed at the sect, with such heavy hitters as Angelina Jolie, Malala Yousafzai and Michelle Obama lending their voice to Nigeria’s government in an effort to get the girls back, but all to no avail. (20)

Abubakar Shekau released a mocking video where he stated that he had ‘liberated’ the girls and made them Muslims.  One segment features some of the girls talking about their conversion.  Shekau made it clear that the kidnappings were in retaliation for Boko Haram members in prison and allegations that President Goodluck Jonathan’s military is routinely mistreating those prisoners.

Shekau has made contradictory statements about the status of the girls, at one time promising that they would be treated well until his demands are met and at other times threatening to sell them into marriage “in the market” (21)

The following November, in the midst of a bombing in the heavily-populated northern Kano city, Boko Haram returned to Chibok and seized the village.  By this time, Shekau had released another video saying that the girls, “all had converted to Islam and been married off to his fighters”. (22)  Worse, several of the girls have been found dead, with their mutilated bodies chained to trees.

Not long after the Chibok kidnapping, the group went on to kidnap 10 Chinese workers and the wife of Cameroon’s vice-president both were later released, with no comment as to a ransom), along with the Sultan of Kolofata and his family.

Christian Persecution:

On August 6th, 2014, a fleet of military trucks, motorcycles and Toyota Hilux vans pulled into the village of Gwoza in Borno State bearing men wearing military uniforms.  These men, disguised Boko Haram operatives, opened fire on the predominantly-Christian village killing over 100 people and burning the village to the ground after ransacking the place for food and supplies.  (23)

The sect had previously been marauding throughout the far northeast corner of Nigeria, burning churches and slaughtering innocents.  One village leader had said that he had pleaded for military intervention before the sect entered town, so it was doubly horrible when the group arrived in uniform, announced that they were there to ‘protect’ the people, and then marched hundreds into a crowd in the center of town where they were systematically gunned down.

“They began to shout ‘Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,’ then they started to fire at the people continuously for a very long time until all who had gathered were dead,” said the community leader. (24)

Two other villages had been previously attacked as well; altogether they were Danjara, Agapalwa, and Antagara.  Hundreds were left dead and thousands more displaced.

The Baga Massacre:

On Sunday January 3rd, a fleet of pickup trucks carrying Boko Haram militants drove up to a military outpost in Baga, Nigeria.  The military fled almost immediately and the outpost was captured.  Over the next six days, Boko haram conducted a series of raids and outright massacres among the surrounding villages that culminated in a Wednesday raid of Baga itself that left buildings razed and an unknown number of dead.  Early reports put the number as high as 2,000 while more recent ones put it at around 150 dead, including the elderly and children (but it should be warned that the local military has regularly been accused of misrepresenting Boko Haram deaths by lowering death tolls). (25)

The motive for the attacks?  It’s believed that Boko Haram is trying to intimidate the region into not voting in upcoming elections.  In Baga, they reportedly shot villagers at random while screaming at others not to vote.  Boko Haram considers voting to be a crime, and Democracy in general to be ‘haram’, or religiously forbidden.   (26)

The massacres were exacerbated by Nigerians own corrupt and incompetent military.  They fled the area immediately, and have long been accused of being indifferent to the plight of the northern Nigerians.  Those who survived the bloody attacks have so far had little recourse; government and rescue workers are loath to go into the region while militants are still occupying, and 30,000 people have been misplaced.  20,000 of them camped in Maiduguri city, while 10,000 more are being ferried in from nearby Monguno town.  A number of people have tried to escape by swimming to Chad, and have ended up stranded on Kangala Island on Lake Chad, where Chad is asking for help from the U.N. in order to relocate them. (27)

The Deadliest Conflict on Earth:

Boko Haram’s insurgency is now considered one of the deadliest ongoing conflicts on Earth.  According to the Nigeria Social Violence Dataset, (28) there have been 29,600 Nigerians deaths associated with the group since 1998 in over 2,300 incidents.  As a glance at the chart will show, those deaths have done nothing but escalate, with 2014 being the worst year of all.

The violence in Nigeria now overshadows even the world’s most recent and highly publicized wars.  According to the Washington Post, “Nigerian casualties are now running more than double those in Afghanistan, and substantially higher than in Iraq just a few years ago.”  Last year, there were an estimated 3,120 military and civilian deaths in Afghanistan last year and 4,207 in Iraq in the wake of the 2011 surge. (29)

Boko Haram currently controls a region of 20,000 square miles; a territory the size of Belgium (including Baga, at least for the moment).  According to a 2006 census they hold eleven local government areas with a population of over 1.7 million people.  The Nigerian military, ravaged by corruption and incompetence, can do little to nothing to stop them. (30)  Boko Haram isn’t going away and it isn’t going to dwindle into some isolated local African problem, like the Lord’s Resistance Army.  The group is rapidly being called another Islamic State, and the West ignores it at great peril.

Works Cited

 

01: http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/14/africa/boko-haram-attack-nigeria/index.html

02: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140507-boko-haram-nigeria-borno-state-maiduguri-mohammed-yusuf-abubukar-shekau-goodluck-jonathan-world/

03: https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/the-rise-of-boko-haram-in-nigeria

04: http://www.naij.com/341579-boko-haram-ideology-teacher-interviewed.html

05: http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/12/opinion/pham-boko-haram-threat/index.html

06: http://www.usip.org/publications/what-boko-haram

07: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePpUvfTXY7w

08: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8177451.stm

09: http://download.salafimanhaj.com/pdf/SalafiManhaj_BokoHaram.pdf  page 5-6 in the document

10: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/aug/06/mohammed-yusuf-boko-haram-nigeria

11: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/07/world/africa/abubakar-shekau-profile/index.html

12: http://world.time.com/2013/09/30/four-things-you-need-to-know-about-nigerias-boko-haram/

13: http://saharareporters.com/2010/09/07/breaking-news-boko-haram-organizes-prison-break-bauchi

14: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/08/muslim-extremists-escape-nigeria-prison

15: http://morningstarnews.org/2013/04/beyond-boko-haram-the-lethal-persecution-of-nigerias-christians/

16: http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/01/03/2014-the-year-of-the-christian-genocide/

17: http://morningstarnews.org/2014/02/boko-haram-islamists-massacre-christian-villagers-in-borno-state-nigeria/

18: http://morningstarnews.org/2014/02/boko-haram-islamists-massacre-christian-villagers-in-borno-state-nigeria/

19: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nigeria-schoolgirl-explains-how-boko-haram-terrorists-walked-into-her-school-kidnapped-hundreds/

20: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/15/chibok-nigeria-200-kidnapped-schoolgirls-boko-haram

21: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/12/kidnapped-nigerian-girls-paraded-in-boko-haram-video

22: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/11/14/nigeria-militants-seize-chibok-kidnapped-schoolgirl-town/

23: http://thechristians.com/?q=content/least-100-dead-boko-haram-attack-christian-area-nigeria

24:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/05/boko-haram-massacre_n_5450924.html

25: http://time.com/3665006/boko-haram-nigeria-death-toll-150-2000/

26: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/boko-harams-massacre-in-nigeria-what-happened-and-why/ar-AA80VED?ocid=ansvox11

27: http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/12/africa/boko-haram-deadliest-attack/index.html

28: http://www.connectsaisafrica.org/research/african-studies-publications/social-violence-nigeria/

29: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/06/the-boko-haram-insurgency-by-the-numbers/

30: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/11337722/Boko-Haram-is-now-a-mini-Islamic-State-with-its-own-territory.html#

“The Boy Who Went to Heaven” is a Bunch of Malarkey (But you Knew that didn’t You?)

Alex Malarkey, the boy who woke up from a coma after a car accident who co-authored a book in 2010 with his father describing his adventures through the pearly gates has recanted his story.

Yes, “The Boy Who Went to Heaven” was made up, according to the “Boy” himself-and this STILL hasn’t stopped the book from selling, according to MSN Business Insider.  In an open letter to Christian publishers, young Malarkey, who has been trying to get people to listen to him for awhile now apparently, flatly denies he even had visions of heaven, let alone went there.  here’s the whole letter (Malarkey is incredibly to-the-point for a Christian):

“An Open Letter to Lifeway and Other Sellers, Buyers, and Marketers of Heaven Tourism, by the Boy Who Did Not Come Back From Heaven.”

Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short.

I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.

I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.

It is only through repentance of your sins and a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for your sins (even though he committed none of his own) so that you can be forgiven may you learn of Heaven outside of what is written in the Bible…not by reading a work of man. I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.

In Christ,

Alex Malarkey.”

According to the website, some of the publishers, and even the President of Lifeway, knew that Malarkey was retracting his statements but deliberately chose to ignore it.  In fact, as of Jan 16th (why, that’s today!), the book has still not been pulled from Lifeway, although the reportedly intend to pull it.  Because a good heart-warming Christian tale is gar-an-teed money in the pocket and who the hell cares if it was true?  Not like it ever could have been, unless the drugs were really good.

This wasn’t the first time Malarkey and his mother have tried to speak out.  The site describes how earlier efforts by the two met with failure:

“…Although Alex’s mother has tried to speak out and contacted book-sellers and has been flatly ignored, going back to at least December 2012, on her blog and in other places, I believe this is the first time Alex has himself spoken out in such a direct way in his own…except for posting a comment relaying this information on the Alex Malarkey fan page on Facebook, after which the comment was deleted by moderators and he was blocked from the group.”

Only Christians would actually try to stop a (let’s face it) fraud from trying to come clean.  Deleting and blocking the guy who wrote the damn book is kinda like Jesus returning and somebody shooting him before he can say anything embarrassing!

At least the two are trying to do the right thing, even if their reasons sound a little too-holy-to-be-entirely-kosher.  It’s unclear whether or not Alex Malarkey has even seen any proceedings from sales of the book.  Comments made by his mother seem to imply that he has not, but she hasn’t been direct about it.

 

 

Staff of C.A.A.C.A Downed by Flu, Vows to Keep Publishing:

While composing a New years post for this blog, a killer Flu virus burst into our offices and downed the staff for nearly two weeks now.  It appears that while we were out, the religious world around us went batshit insane.

In just the first weeks of 2015 since we last wrote, 12 cartoonists in France were gunned down by Islamic extremist who yelled, well…you know what they yelled.  Yes, once again it was over cartoons depicting Mohammed, along with other Islamic themes, in a not-so-flattering light.

As you have certainly heard by now, millions of people and over 40 World Leaders gathered in Paris to honor the fallen cartoonists (the U.S. was strangely absent from the rally, and is facing some harsh criticism for it-although Obama did call Hollande and said, “Yo, we’re with ya bro!”).

Immediately after the two gunmen committed this atrocity (police are currently looking for possible accomplishes), the arguments about whether or not it was appropriate to print the cartoons began.  People who had never seen or read a copy of Charlie Hebdo and couldn’t speak or read a word of French condemned the images as racist (pretty funny coming from a strongly anti-racist, nonconformist, and left-wing magazine), always careful however, to hedge their words with a weaselly ‘but’ as in, “I would never say the cartoonists deserved it, but…” Some people (especially the kind of people that are often the subject of it) just can’t seem to get a grip on satire.  Satire draws portraits of a power or authority and holds it up to the real thing like a mirror, but grotesque and distorted (which is what the subject looks like in truth, without the mask of social decorum firmly in place).  It draws the views of these people and drags them out kicking and screaming into the light of day for everyone to see (hence the depiction of so-called ‘welfare queens’ of Islam in an issue of Charlie Hebdo-that was the view of a certain intolerant right-wing party pushing ‘immigration reform’ in France, and CH was laughing at that view, not endorsing it.  When the great Johnathan Swift wrote satire entitled”A Modest Proposal” he was, (razor tongue in cheek) suggesting that the government deal with starvation, famine, and the almost non-existent economy at the the time by selling unwanted children for food, and using the skin for the fine clothes of great Lords and Ladies.  He was, of course, highlighting how little the rich cared about the plight of the people, by shoving it in their faces.  You can read this masterpiece of satire here:

A Modest Proposal for preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick (1729)

But hey-let’s grant (just for a moment) that the cartoons were every bit as racist as argued; vile spiteful little drawings from a colonial white power elite intended to belittle and laugh about the hopes and problems of some minority brown-skinned race that France doesn’t like.  Let’s grant that ridiculous notion for a moment.

Here in America, we had a group of elite whites cartoonists that really did do that, (and they slip in sometimes even today) and we had an entire group of people-recently freed African Americans, who really did have every reason to decry how they were depicted (not to mention how they were beaten in the streets on a regular basis, lynched by vigilante mobs or plain old hate mobs, and numerous other forms of direct oppression).  They were oppressed by a colonial power, laughed at and made fun of with openly racist cartoons of a truly sickening nature and had every right to go after cartoonists when the civil rights movement erupted.  Yet no cartoonists were ever murdered by angry revenge mobs that I’ve ever heard of, and if they had, no one would have ever said, “it doesn’t excuse the murder, but…”.  If this kind of revenge murder didn’t happen then, I wonder what the different factor was that tipped the scales towards violence this time around?  Of course it’s religion, the factor everyone screams has nothing to do with it (or anyways, isn’t the real reason) even while the murderers claim to A: be working in the name of the prophet, B: demand that others submit to their understanding of blasphemy, and C: demand the institution of religious governance.

One person who has had a long career of tweaking his nose at power is legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb, best known for his underground comics of the 60’s and 70’s and who now lives in France.  This interview about the cartoon he just drew for the French newspaper, Liberation of “The hairy ass of Muhammed,” is an excellent read.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before our resident apologist Reza Aslan got into the act, but that’s the subject of a later post-we will need all our health to take on the grand master of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, Boko Haram, who desperately needs more attention by the international community, went on a murderous rampage through villages that left as many as 2,000 dead and 30,000 displaced in Nigeria starting on Jan. 3rd of 2015.  The Islamic rebel army have been terrorizing the region for the last nine days and bodies are still lying uncounted and unaccounted for.  For some strange reason, nobody is wearing shirts or holding signs saying “I am Baga town and surrounding villages and 2000 senselessly-killed and 30,000 driven from their homes, possibly forever.”  We guess it’s just not catchy enough.  Regardless, our we will post in greater detail about the massacre soon.

In lesser news, the Atlantic contained an article relating what must be some of the most terrible, faith-testing, frustrating questions an Islamist militant could ever face; the first-world problem-based questions of aspiring Western Jihadists.  The website Ask.fm has become a sight where hip aspiring IS militants gather in order to find out such essential-to-survival questions as whether or not WI-FI will be available (it will…or so they say!), or if a scrappy young Jihadist needs a parents permission to go marauding (It’s best, but better yet to bring the parents along!  “Hey Mom!  Guess where we’re going on vacation this year!?”)  Reading this article, you can just imagine some battle-hardened Jihadist, wearing his suicide vest with a bloody machete strapped to his vest, facepalming over and over and over again…

Last but not least, the non-hacktivist group Anonymous is pissed over Charlie Hebdo.  They have vowed to hunt down every last terrorist and annoy them for a day or two (as long as nobody throws an insult at one of their GamerZone buddies or something, in which case they will be forced to devote all their resources to Operation: Kid in Basement).  They reportedly already hit one target (a French extremist site) for like, a whole hour.  Rumor has it that al Qaeda, Is, Hamas and Hezbollah and the other major terrorist organizations are all expected to formally surrender and turn over their weapons over the next few days.

Here’s one of their silly videos, complete with that Max-Headroom shit.

Anonymous could have cost quite a few lives back when it tried to interfere with the IDF in Israel during the last major conflict there.  This time they may lose a few of their own.

A quick message for Anonymous; denial-of-service attacks are not hacking.  Could you maybe learn a new trick?

That’s only a portion of the insanity raging around religion over the last few weeks and the remaining staff at C.A.A.C.A. swears that this virus will not keep us down.  The blog will continue.  The blog must continue.  We are C.A.A.C.A.

Yes Virginia: There Almost Certainly is Not a Santa Claus

By Pro. Richard Sqauwkins

Just before the holidays, I received a delightful letter from one of our younger followers that reads, in part:

Dear Professor, 

My name is Virginia, and I am 12 years old.  My friends tell me that there is no such thing as Santa Clause.  I just know it isn’t true!  There has to be a Santa Claus, there just has to be!  Who brings the toys?  Who eats the cookies?  Who smells the living room up like eggnog and rum the night before Christmas?  One year, I even saw him putting the presents under the tree!  

Professor Sqauwkins, I know you are a very smart man.  Could you tell me the truth, please?

Yours truly, Virginia

Well, this letter just tugged at my heart and I had to answer it, for Virginia and all the other children like her, who yearn for magic and are getting primed for religion, so I decided to answer her here:

You gullible little twit, there is almost certainly no such thing as Santa Claus. People might tell you that there is no way to disprove Santa Claus, but once you look at the evidence that something else is the cause of Santa-related phenomena, the likelihood that the fat man really exists becomes vanishingly small.

Haven’t you ever noticed the price tags, clearance aisle stickers and bar codes plastered all over the boxes of the toys you receive, or are you friggin blind?  Do you think that a North Pole workshop would bother putting those things on free toys?  Ever notice how broke your parents are right after Christmas–and how much more they drink?  Put two and two together, you stupid cow.  You look at these toys and say that “well, the toys are there, and something caused those toys to be there and we call that cause Santa Claus, but evidence and Occam’s Razor dictate that the simplest answer is probably the correct one; your drunken parents, you git.  Haven’t you ever peeked into your parent’s closet just before Christmas?

Look, you can compare the likelihood that a flying sleigh pulled by magic reindeer actually exists to the likelihood that a million slivers of wood and cheap brass thrown into the air would randomly self-assemble into a sleigh.  It could happen, but in practice it doesn’t.  Any idiot can see that.  And while it could be that there is an invisible, magical fat man that can somehow be everywhere at once (or as close to it that it hardly matters), it’s more probable that your dad rented a smelly old costume and ate a few cookies while allowing you to catch a peek, before killing a bottle and high-tailing it back to bed.

What about the man himself?  Santa Claus is just a cobbled-together collection of old Pagan fables and mythology ranging from the ancient Roman festivals that gave us gift giving and cookies to the Norse tales of Odin as a gift-giver who traveled around once a year on his many-legged horses, to the English tales of Father Christmas that grew out of the anonymous gift-giving of country Pastors, to similar tales from Scandinavia and nearby regions–all wrapped around the skeleton of Saint Nicholas…the original Santa Clause.  Their are so many fables propped up onto that flimsy frame, it’s no wonder Santa Claus is portrayed as fat.  When something that is supposed to be true has so many elements stolen from so many places and time periods, the only conclusion to reach is that the whole story is hogwash.

I mean, we would at the very least, be hearing sonic booms all morning long on Christmas as Santa Claus keeps breaking the sound barrier with his sleigh.  The absence of sonic booms is positive evidence for the non-existence of Santa Claus because they would have to be present if he existed.  Did you get that, or is it too complicated for your ass?

Then we have the testimony of millions of parents who have all come forward to tell us that they made the whole thing up and that they just pretended to be Santa Claus so they could make you happy once a year.  They say that it was just a harmless story and that if it gave a few kids some comfort, well, that’s a positive thing isn’t it?  If kids want to believe in Santa Claus, what’s wrong with that?

These parents exploit the trust and gullibility of their own children, just to have a force that enables them to have control over them and keep them in line.  “Do this or you won’t get any presents this year.”  “Don’t be ‘naughty’ (where naughty is anything a parent decides it to be and can change at any time).’  Parents take cruel advantage of a child’s trust and they pay no mind to the fear and psychological damage it causes, and the sense of deep betrayal should a child use his or her reason to come upon the truth.  They punish and persecute your older brother if he tries to tell you there is no Santa Claus and the parents of other children will punish and persecute them if they try to speak out.  Parents will call them ‘party-poopers’ or just plain mean, but don’t believe them!  Parental Santa apologists have had a long time to hone their words well, and use them as weapons against those who would use reason and demand evidence before they will accept something as true.

So no Virginia, you feeble fool.  Just because you cannot disprove the existence of Santa Claus, that doesn’t make him real, any more than the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, your favorite cartoon characters or cartoon cereal mascots, magic princesses, or any of the other silly things you believe in.  Magic sucks–reality is the only thing that is real, and obviously, putting my boot down on all your pet superstitions is the only thing I live for.

Professor Richard Sqauwkins

Professor Richard Sqauwkins, President of M.O.B. (Atheists for More Obnoxious Blogs), is the mean-spirited, black-hearted absolute ruler of all Atheists.  His heart was forged in the blackest pits of Hell and he clawed his way to the top of academia to become the Professor of Evolution on the backs of babies, women, puppy-dogs and fluffy bunny-rabbits.  His blood runs colder than Dante’s ninth circle, and he murdered the better angel of his nature.  There is nothing sacred that he wouldn’t spill his bile all over.  He’s an ‘intellectual.’  You have been warned…