Main Problem Behind Recent Teenager Suicides Not Addressed In National Discourse

•October 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Talk of the three recent suicides misses the point completely. The issue is, more broadly, about the immense social pressures forced on males since their early childhood, and throughout adolescence. The conversation about how society treats males is simply not being had. The focus, instead, is on a “minority” and an “identity” that the West has artificially constructed predominantly within the past two centuries. Through the lens of the false dichotomy of “gay” and “straight” masculine males, resulting from the social construction of “sexual orientation,” a debate is raging across the nation that is the epitome of a red herring. And, it will fail to alleviate the underlying causes of these suicides.

More boys will be tormented by their thoughts, even to death, because society refuses to bring up a mostly taboo topic: the problem of ‘social masculinity’. The main source of this refusal is that social masculinity has become so entrenched that it seen as ‘natural.’ In other words, masculinity has “always been that way.” The time has long passed to address this issue, and until it is, more boys will continue to take their own lives because what should be the most beautiful time of their lives has become a nightmare.

What is the proximal and distal cause of these suicides? The proximal cause is the painfully humiliating and dis-empowering stigma surrounding male-male intimacy (and same-sex intimacy in general). The distal cause is the pressure on male adolescents to race towards social masculinity. It cannot be emphasized enough that this pressure assumes many forms. It involves not only killing off sexual feelings towards other males, but also a host of other pressures. Yet, the former pressure, since it is most directly linked to the recent suicides, will be the key focus of this article.

In ancient civilizations – spanning the globe – male-male intimacy was not only accepted but also celebrated. The Celts, Romans, Greeks, Samurai, and Germans were the embodiment of masculine cultures. Classical literature, such as the epics of Gilgamesh and The Iliad, told of great bonds between, for instance, Achilles and Patroclus. But today, in the West, that sort of bond would be seen as different and something that could only happen in a small (“gay” or “homosexual”) minority.

In antiquity (and non-Western cultures today) the concept of sexual orientation did not exist. It is a concept that had its roots most visibly in mid-nineteenth century early psychology. It is a two hundred-year fad that has distorted and further deteriorated the health and well-being of masculine males by imposing a category of identity, which is an illusion reflecting more human politics than human nature.

When mammals grow up, the way they segregate is based on same-sex bonding. Males grow up with males; females, with females. Males that stay within their group are exhibit more masculine behavior than ones that only socialize with females. Normal mature males only join with females to procreate, but within their male-only groups they also have strong, almost unbreakable, sexual bonds. This behavior has been observed in horses, lions, a multitude of other mammals, and our closest relatives, the bonobo chimpanzees (which are more closely related to us than they are to gorillas).

Yet humans are the only species that actively denies its biology, and claims that those who fail to suppress this biology are a minority characterized by: (1) a non-normative genetic and environmental predisposition towards same-sex intimacy, (2) this intimacy being feminine or non-masculine, (3) being compatible only with the same sex, and (4) lacking attraction to the other sex. Simultaneously, those who do hugely succeed in suppressing their biology (by the time they are 19 or 20 years old) are seen as: (1) the vast majority, (2) having an exclusively “heterosexual identity,” or exhibiting no romantic or sexual feelings for the same-sex in their lifetimes, and (3) acting purely as nature predisposed them to. However there is a growing body of research that demonstrates that humans can be attracted to both sexes, and that re-shapes the old Darwinian assumptions of sexual selection.

Regardless of their natural masculinity, society forces boys to suppress their true selves in order to gain social acceptance. The main reason males must suppress parts of their biology is to “prove” their masculinity. However, if the way they are supposed to act is so natural, why should it have to be proven? Their masculinity should come to them effortlessly and without question.  This is not the case.

Today, society has manipulated males into forced tests that have nothing to do with masculinity. Males have to: break themselves from other males (from being attracted to them, or forming deep bonds), exaggerate their sexual feelings for girls, appear strong, earn, have sexual power, be mean and ruthless, suppress emotions, be aggressive, and appear strong at all times. The boy in his peer group who meets these demands by fake social masculinity is the leader, and he enforces his false power over the other boys. The boy who fails to meet these demands is an outcast, and may become one for the rest of his life. Perhaps he will be led to take his own life because of the ostracism he faces. Being emasculated and proving one’s masculinity can become a matter of life and death for male adolescents.

But, there is no place to have this conversation among masculine males. If a male even brings up the topic in front of “his buddies” they will quietly assume that he cannot meet his artificial gender roles, thereby marking himself as “less of a man,” and losing at least part of the respect he once had. There is no space for masculine male adolescents to discuss these issues – even in sex-education classes (because these are co-ed, and a boy will not want to discuss his feelings for other boys in front of the girls who will judge him).

Society forbids conversations on masculinity, and does not recognize this is even a problem because social masculinity is widely believed to be equivalent to natural masculinity. But, an understanding of male human nature, how it has been changed to the present day, and what effects this has had on male adolescents, responsibly and widely taught in schools and by parents, is perhaps the best antidote to: cruel inhumane bullying, “the battle of the sexes”, oppressive societal pressures, and more needless deaths. Giving up the fake power of social masculinity has enduring consequences, but obtaining the freedom to live for oneself is a courageous achievement. It is one that may inspire others in the same endeavor, give them hope, and erode the sanctified shackles of impossible expectations.

References:

http://portal.unesco.org/geography/en/ev.php-URL_ID=6216&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

http://wikibin.org/articles/masculinity-for-boys-a-guide-for-peer-educators.html

http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001465/146514e.pdf

Note: In “Masculinity for Boys: A Guide for Peer Educators,” it is stated that “abortion is nothing short of murder.” I cannot disagree more with that statement. There is other language in the text that needs to be more empirical (such as some of the places where the terms “energy” and  “power” are used.) Reading with a critical mind is essential.

Free Speech

•May 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hate speech is not free speech. Yelling that a building is on fire, when it is not on fire, is not free speech. Everything else is. This conclusion has been upheld by U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court. Why do I mention these facts? To clear the air for a discussion about freedom of speech.

I came to thinking about this topic when I went to a restaurant, and was silenced by a Palin supporter using the argument that “bringing up politics at the dinner table is really rude.”  Resorting to social mores to silence opposition seemed like a cop-out to me. If I truly had the evidence on my side in an argument, I would see no need to resort to using social conventions to silence an opposing view. The others at the table would also be free to observe who was backing up their claims, and who was not. They would see whose evidence was more solid, and whose was more tenuous. I would have been more than happy to continue a discussion. But, the Palin supporter chose not open debate, but coercion – an argument from the authority of tradition. There is no such thing as a sound argument from authority. My opposition was silenced by a logical impossibility – and a socially sanctioned logical impossibility at that.

What does this have to do with free speech? If you have the facts on your side, then there is no need to use coercion, or insulate yourself from debate. Free speech favors those who have the facts. As author Sam Harris rightly said, “Facts are contagious. You can give me your reasons, and I will helplessly come to believe what you believe…That is what it is to be a rational person.” This is not to say that one should always be erring on the side of credulity. As Michael Shermer said in his (5/12/10) New Scientist article, “Scepticism is integral to the scientific process, because most claims turn out to be false. Weeding out the few kernels of wheat from the large pile of chaff requires extensive observation, careful experimentation and cautious inference. Science is scepticism and good scientists are sceptical.”

Observe what happened recently to the creators of South Park. They were threatened with violence by a radical Muslim group. Why did this happen? Because South Park depicted Prophet Mohammed in a bear costume. In a civil society, if you oppose an idea, democratic means are available to counter it. However, there is one caveat: for your objections to be “contagious” enough to reach a large segment of the population, they should be truthful. Failing that, there is not much you can do except hope that enough gullible people believe your big lie. American society has a touchy relationship with Islam which has gotten more negative since 2001. Sensing all that, the radical Muslim group resorted to coercion through the threat of violence. If they had the facts and sound arguments on their side, the threat of violence may not have been used.

What is there to learn from this? An idea is weak if the only way it can survive is through the use of force and ignorance. In a civil society, a strong, truthful idea can withstand criticism from all sides. It needs no special protection, no double standards, no transformation into ‘sacred cow’. (That is why scientists peer-review their papers. The best experts in the field hammer away at your ideas. And, you can actually be applauded, in science, for proving yourself wrong! Imagine if that happened in politics or religion.)

A truthful idea persists because all sides, when they question it, will get the same results. (Whether or not they accept the results is another story.) A weak idea is weeded out in a civil society: it cannot survive relentless questioning. Therefore, free speech is essential if truthful ideas are to triumph over bogus ones. Free speech sets truth free, and the truth will set you free.

During My Hiatus from Writing…

•April 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have been going through much difficult business in my life, which I will not share here because they are, in a word, personal. This, however, has not stopped my ruminations about the role of science in my life, especially when I “fall on hard times.”

It really is not enough to say that you value science and rationality. You have to live those values even in the worst of times – when self-deception and willful ignorance seem ever more attractive: like the Sirens who called Odysseus. When you have coped with hardships without loosing sight of your rational values, you know that you have practiced the “sheer courage” Bertrand Russell wrote about in An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish, “There are two ways of avoiding fear: one is by persuading ourselves that we are immune from disaster, and the other is by the practice of sheer courage. The latter is difficult, and to everybody becomes impossible at a certain point. The former has therefore always been more popular.”

I have always tried to keep a human heart while not wrapping myself in a comforting tissue of lies. And, I am proud to say that I have done that these past few months. I hope this explains adequately what I have been focused on, and why I have not written in such a long time.

Questions for Francis Collins’ Accomodationist Slideshow

•October 17, 2009 • 1 Comment

Slide 1: “Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.”

If God is not limited in space and time, how can Francis Collins even know that? Collins would also have to not be “limited in space and time” to verify that claim. The reason he says the parameters are “precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time” is that he IS a complexity that developed over long periods of time. This is the anthropic argument poorly veiled. We might also suggest that a bacteria would say the parameters were “precisely tuned” to allow it to flourish in human hosts. A triangle would say the parameters were “precisely tuned” to allow it to have three sides and 180 degrees.

Slide 2: “God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings.”

The dinosaurs have more of a right to say that the creative plan “most especially” included them. They appeared earlier, in more diversity, and lived on Earth hundreds of millions of years more than modern humans. Beetles also have this right, considering that there are 350,000 species of them. Bacteria cover almost every surface on the Earth – there are billions of individuals in a square millimeter of soil. What shall we say of extraterrestrial life? If they had written their own Bibles, their ancestors might have thought the universe was for them, too.

Slide 3: “After evolution had prepared a sufficiently advanced ‘house’ (the human brain), God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the moral law), with free will, and with an immortal soul.”

If God is omnipotent, why should he make himself wait for a “sufficiently advanced ‘house'”, and just create one out of thin air? Who is he trying to impress? If he was all-loving and all-good, why did he allow centuries of religious wars and torture to happen because different human communities had competing versions of his supposed “moral law”? Is that the mark of an all-good God?

All knowledge about existence is subject to scientific scrutiny, so what scientific evidence does he have for his “immortal soul”? What are the properties, structure, and functions of the soul he says he has? It is curious to see how the idea of the “soul” changes as science advances.

“From the third century to the late Middle Ages many theologians emphasized the full and literal resurrection of the body after death. Tertullian, for example, following a stoic metaphysics, not only believed that resurrection meant the full reassemblage of the body but also that all reality is corporeal, and therefore even the soul is composed of fine material particles,” reads the Oxford Companion to the Body. Later on, “However, such ideas gradually declined, and by the later Middle Ages Aquinas’ view that the soul is an individual spiritual substance was becoming predominant (though it did not go unchallenged) and eventually received wide acceptance amongst many branches of Christianity. For Aquinas, influenced by Aristotle, body and soul together form the human unity, though the soul can be separated from the fleshly body, as happens at death, and continue to exist.”

Now, on to the problem of free will. If the laws of physics were made to govern the universe, and matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, how can there be free will if all that is happening now is both an effect of some previous cause and a cause of future events? Is Collins suggesting we can be our own causes? If so, he would be breaking the laws of the universe.

Slide 4: “We humans used our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.”

Why would an all-loving God ever let us break HIS moral law? If God is omnipotent, and the author of all things, how could anyone ever offend him? From that question there is no escape. Why didn’t Jesus appear to all humans instead of some benighted Iron Age people on the edge of the Mediterranean? Would not that have spared many from breaking the moral law? Does that mean the vast majority of human beings both living and dead are damned? How could an all-loving, all-good God allow such a thing to happen to his beloved creations?

Slide 5: “If the moral law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?”

Collins runs into the Euthyphro Dilemma of morality within a theistic context. This is the dilemma:

If Divine Command Theory is true, then we have two options :
1. Are things good because God says they are good, or
2. Does God says things are good because they are good ?

If 1 is true, then morality is subjective, and God can change moral facts in whatever way he wants. If 2 is true, then morality is a standard applied to God or by God, and morality does not need God to exist at all. Also, if God gave us a moral law to follow, that means we have no moral responsibility. Because, according to Collins’ definition, God is the author of all things, all-good, and all-loving, whatever we do is actually God’s will. (Spinoza realized this.) Therefore, everything we do must be good since it was all caused by an all-good God. Nothing bad can spring from something that is all-good. That surely means there would be no such thing as the dichotomy of “good or evil.” Are any of us, especially evangelical Christian Francis Collins, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?

Islamic Fundamentalism Threatens Civilization

•October 8, 2009 • 1 Comment

Being a Muslim in Los Angeles is different from being a Muslim in Isfahan or Jakarta or Amsterdam. There is much diversity in the Muslim community both cultural and political. It is important to admit that. However, there are also militant factions within Islam. The millennial dream of establishing a global Ummah, that unites all Muslims under one nation has been revived by Muslim fundamentalists. And it is the fundamentals of Islam that are a problem for the world.

It has become taboo among some leftists and liberals (they are not one and the same) to acknowledge this fact in the name of political correctness. It seems that they have betrayed their concern for freedom of expression and civil liberties to appease people who cannot handle criticism of their beliefs. People have rights; ideas do not. Once someone has claimed the right to not be offended, that person has also announced a hatred for civil society. It is unfortunate that some people cannot handle difference and dissent because there is a lot of diversity out there in the big wide world.

Rather than criticize those who wish to subjugate civil society because of the imaginary crimes of blasphemy and infidelity, wishy-washy leftists and liberals, who want everyone to “just get along,” and are too afraid to face up to religious dogma, turn their criticism on those who actually do want to defend freedom of expression. Often, these defenders of “offensive” speech turn out to be right wing zealots, who have their own nationalist-racist agendas.

Nothing demonstrates how far leftists are willing to go to get Islam off the hook than the 9/11 Truth movement. These people believe the government took part in the 9/11 attacks, while either implicitly or explicitly believing that those poor people who live in caves, and whose education consists of memorizing the Koran, are the salt of the Earth – that they are incapable of such unspeakable barbarism and bloodshed.

When the average New Yorker reads about the tragic war crime of Mai Lai, in which a U.S. army unit massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians, mostly women, children, and elderly people during the Vietnam War, he would most likely react with horror and shock. When someone in Mazar-i-Sharif reads about it, that person is not likely to have the same reaction. But, they would have the same reaction perhaps if they read how tolerated homosexuals are in Key West. This shows how much of the rest of the world has a long way to go to reach the moral progress some people in the West have achieved.

However, when Muslim fundamentalists commit an atrocity along the lines of Mai Lai, with a suicide bombing, for example, political correctness makes people quick to point to economic or political reasons for the attacks. Some people blame it on poverty, others on living under a dictatorship. If economic or political reasons sufficed to impel such cruel and inhumane acts of violence and self-destruction, then the next question would be, “Where are the Tibetan Buddhist suicide bombers?” There are none. “Where are the Christian Palestinian suicide bombers?” There are none.

It has become taboo to recognize the link between literal interpretations of the Koran and Muslim terrorism. This taboo comes at a cost. It serves the extremists in a multitude of ways. A former terrorist told how he used to laugh every time an attack would happen, and the Western press would proceed to blame the attack on Western foreign policy or economics, all while Islamic fundamentalism was overlooked. But, “Islam is a religion of peace” the politically correct would say as they ignored the centuries Islamic fervor bursting out of Arabia, raging across North Africa into Spain, up to Tours, and laying siege to the walls of Vienna – all justified by commands laid down in the holy writings.

The price for not appeasing Islam with the politically correct myth that “Islam is a religion of peace” is violence. Theo van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn paid that price with their lives in the Netherlands. Dutch MP Geert Wilders and former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali now face paying that price, as well. The threat of Muslim violence is also the pressure for establishing Sharia law courts in the UK, and making criticism of Islam a crime in the Netherlands. Blasphemy laws are being proposed in the UN by majority Muslim countries, and some that are aimed at prohibiting criticism of Islam have passed. All over the Western world, countries are sacrificing freedom to appease the 7th century barbarism of the Koran that threatens the basis of a free civilization. It appears that we are “losing our spines to save our necks.”

Is Godlessness America’s Problem?

•October 4, 2009 • 5 Comments

A conservative commentator, Glenn Beck, blames America’s problems on the increase in non-religiosity, or “godlessness.” (I notice that some conservatives are embarrassed by him, but unfortunately he claims to be one of them.) At the start of one of his latest live-television emotional breakdowns, he points to the fact that the non-religious are the fastest-growing part of the American religious landscape. He imagines that people no longer trust in God, but rather in the government (specifically Barack Obama). This is derived from his belief that citizens have strayed from the phrase in the Declaration of Independence, which Beck quotes as saying, “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable[sic] rights.” Glenn Beck thinks the “Creator” in that phrase is his god – presumably the god who cares about his crusade against Barack Obama’s “unlawful, godless, perverted, liberal agenda.”

In fact, some of the leaders of the Revolution, including Jefferson, Madison, and Adams, despised Christianity and its god. Jefferson, in his letters, said, “I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.” And, “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.” He thought that “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.” The “Father of the Constitution,” Madison, stated that, “During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.” And, “In no instance have . . . the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.” Adams, in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, wrote, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” And, in a letter to his son he wrote, “Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and dogmatism cannot confine it.”

Yet, it is precisely superstition and dogmatism that have confined the mind of Glenn Beck. He cannot even use political terms correctly. The term “liberal,” that Beck often uses to describe Barack Obama, is semantically indistinguishable from the term “illiberal.” He sees a vast un-American conspiracy everywhere. On not having the Ten Commandments on a courthouse, he says in a mocking voice, “Thou shall not kill – that’s too controversial!” (It is only unconstitutional.) He says students “can’t pray in school.” (Students can pray as much as they like.) He also makes the claim that people “can’t sing Christmas carols in this country because that is too offensive.” I do not know what part of the country he is talking about.

He assumes the non-religious are atheist although non-religious people may believe in God. This does not matter to him because he must argue that they “fill the void” with “stuff, things, power, careers, money, celebrities, politics, government.” It does not occur to him that some people do not need faith, much less feel a “void” in their lives in the same way that no adult feels a void about not believing in Santa Claus.

After lampooning non-religious people, Beck shows that they in fact do have a religion. He claims they put their “faith in government.” He says there is a Church of Barack Obama. His overwhelming evidence for this is a video of school children singing songs to Obama to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Is it these young school children who are the infamous non-religious people who worship at the altar of Barack Hussein Obama. Is it them who Glenn Beck is ranting against for not putting their faith in God? Is it these school children who cause America’s decline by not being religious? In Glenn Beck’s mind, it seems, anything goes.

After showing video of these children, Beck asks, “Why do you think we’re as powerful as we are or have been? What did we do different[sic] than other countries? Are we just superior human beings?” His answer is that “we recognize God’s authority.” This is the point at which he mistakenly recognizes the Deistic (or non-Christian) god of the Founders as his Christian god. He goes on to say:

So many other countries get it completely wrong. They believe human rights are handed down by some government, some body, some official in the government. It’s all about them; not HIM! No government can fill the gaping hole inside of us if GOD is chased out! Maybe we need to stop looking for more social justice and start looking at ETERNAL justice!

It is with this argument that Beck unwittingly rejects the idea of the “consent of the governed”: the cornerstone of the Declaration of Independence and the Virgina Bill of Rights, and the political theory that lends both legitimacy and moral authority to our government for its exercise of state power. But who would expect Beck to know about such trivialities of his own beloved country?

In this way Beck lays down his argument that godlessness is the weakness of America. However, it is his own authoritarian conservative Christian impulse that endangers the freedom that he says people should value with their lives. It is the Church of Glenn Beck that is the problem, and he has millions of followers who tune in to his circus – I mean show. The god of Glenn Beck is totally at odds with the open, pluralistic society protected by such civil liberties and rights that form the foundation of this Republic.

The Fast-Changing World and the Rise of Radicalism

•September 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The rapid shifts in demographics, economics, technology, science, politics, and social attitudes have sparked much fear, self-deception, and wishful thinking around the world. There are people who view these shifts as threats to their traditional way of life. These people are taking out their insecurities on others with violent and inhumane consequences.

In the United States, mainly white religious conservatives see a threat from other cultures, increased secularization, financially uncertain times, less upward mobility, the “attack” on their use of firearms, and increasing charity and tolerance towards minorities. In response, they have embraced the pride of creed and the pride of race. Brought to national prominence by Ronald Reagan, they now see the Democratic president Barack Obama as a symbol of the changing world they are not prepared to live in. Not by politics alone do they fight against suspected crimes and phantom evildoers. There have been school massacres, anti-Semitic, anti-globalist, and racist-inspired violence, an increase in arms and alcohol sales, and vociferous campaigns against the “Spawn of Satan”: sexual minorities, abortion rights, vaccines (the HPV vaccine, they claimed, was to increase female promiscuity), and stem cell therapies. The religious conservatives seem to be moving back to the worldview of their morbidly puritanical ancestors.

The pontiff has also stepped up his campaign to spread dogmas, and revive the days of the 17th century Church. The pope, as former head of the department that would still be carrying out the Inquisition, still wants: to make abortions illegal (based on the out-dated, obsolete philosophy of natural law), oppose comprehensive sex education in schools, deprive people that have been devastated by HIV/AIDS of contraceptives, and dehumanize, shame, and discourage the equality of homosexuals and women. (Not to mention the steps taken to silence criticism for its abuse of children, and its support of fascist regimes.) Yet, the pope does not receive criticism from leaders of democratic countries because they need votes. Aside from Vatican City, there is perhaps no other population in the world that is so firmly convinced it is doing such profound good for the world as it perpetuates such unimaginable harm to it. For those not blinded by cherished dogmas, it is plain that each day, the orthodox clergy get up in the morning solely to find new ways to make the lives of billions of people agonizing and miserable.

Not only in the Church has there been a rising resistance to modernity, but also in the House of Islam. There has been an increase over the past few decades in the radicalization of Muslims. What is most striking about this is that the radicals range from cave dwellers in Central Asia to affluent European-born citizens. Europe has been forced into a conflict between its Enlightenment heritage on one side and Islamic fundamentalism on the other. The radicalization of Muslims is derived from a Utopian dream to re-establish medieval Islam, and the mismanagement of Muslim countries by colonial powers since Napoleon invaded Egypt.

The vicious cruelty of those who still lead lives according to Sharia law is on display in Europe. Anti-Western and anti-gay attacks are on the rise in European cities. Theo van Gogh made a film about how women are treated in conservative Muslim societies, and was killed for it in broad daylight in Amsterdam. His friend, outspoken critic of Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is now under 24-hour security after she received a death threat that was stuck on a knife impaled in van Gogh’s body. Many Muslim organizations, pretending to be harmless civil rights groups, work to silence such critics as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Some Muslim people want Sharia law established in their own European countries of residence because they view Westerners as decadent, corrupt infidels. Blasphemy laws are being proposed by Muslim countries in the UN to protect “religions” (they mean Islam) against all criticism. Violent protests and bombings occur because of newspaper cartoons. Honor killings of Muslim women are on the rise, as are the number of women who are being forced to have genital mutilation and wear burqas in cities such as London and Paris. Support for both anti-Western attacks and Sharia law to be established in European countries is also increasing among Muslim youth.

The European Far Right has been swiftly mobilizing against non-Western immigrants and Muslims. The Left seems powerless to stop it. There are violent protests in front of mosques. Muslim-owned property is vandalized. Far right street gangs recruit soccer hooligans and poor disaffected European youth to join their ranks. Even in politics, the far right is winning seats in all European governments, including in the EU Parliament. Some prominent figures of the Far Right are Jean-Marie LePen (head of French neo-Nazis), Filip Dewinter (head of Flemish Vlaams Belang), the late Pim Fortuyn (head of Dutch LPF), and the late Jörg Haider (chair of Austrian BZÖ). These politicians proposed illiberal policies such as stopping immigration from non-Western countries, increasing government surveillance, advancing the police state, and promoting xenophobic populism.

The fast-changing world is leading some to take up arms as a defense mechanism to cope with the unfamiliarity and instability of our current situation. People accustomed to a slower-paced life are being rattled into fear of a more dynamic world. They are hankering after the past.

What we do not need is a tidal wave of irrational fear sweeping people into the moral abyss of radicalism. Mankind stands to lose much if the rise of radicalism goes unchecked. Homicidal lunatics are convinced that they should annihilate each other. Are reasonable people to simply get out of their way as the radicals bring untold misery upon innocent people caught in their struggles?

In this evermore connected world, we must learn to live together peacefully because humanity cannot survive through more world wars driven by stupid and wicked leaders who preach nonsense and hatred. Radicalism is the danger of the world. It has been so since the beginning of human history. What we need to realize to reduce radicalism is: that fear is the main source of cruelty, self-deception, and unreasonable hopes; that there is no such thing as a sound argument from authority; that all human knowledge is partial and tentative; that hatred is foolish; and that to defeat fear is the gateway to wisdom.

 
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