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May 28, 2015

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Brian, I am so glad to have returned to your blog today, to find you raising this particular issue.

From our exclusive pockets of physical safety and a generally civilized environment, we sometimes imagine that religious persecution, as in real life-and-death persecution, is a thing of the past, to be read of in history books and wondered at with condescending smugness at the idiocy of our ancestors. But the stark fact is that there are many, many, many parts of the world where the Dark Ages are not yet over!

The so-called “Middle East” is a clear case in point. People there are still persecuted and even killed for daring to utter the slightest and smallest “blasphemy” against the state-supported religious dogma. And such persecutions and killings are so commonplace in those lands that they do not even get covered in news globally. But examples like the ones you have highlighted in your post show that Dark Ages are not restricted not only to that particular geography.

We split hairs over, for instance, the differences between agnosticism and atheism, and the nuances of a no-self (and no doubt these are hair well worth splitting, given the right time and right place), but the world reversing back to the Dark Ages (where such subtle hair-splitting is no more than the laughable indulgence of an exclusive minority) is not only a possibility, it has already happened in many parts of the world! And the possibility of much of the world sliding back to that hell on earth is still a very real one.

And, Brian, I’d like to again express my appreciation for the consistently sincere and honest attitude that you’ve demonstrated towards issues of this nature, for instance when you’d had the balls to actually publish the Charlie Hebdo cartoon in your blog. (Which is in sharp contrast to the nauseating opportunism and hypocrisy exhibited by very many so-called “liberal” writers who cynically used that opportunity to write pieces that they knew would attract “eyeballs” and increase their own visibility, while carefully protecting their own yellow backside by omitting to publish those cartoons themselves.)

When one reads instances like the ones you’ve highlighted here (and thinks of the far greater number of such outrages that happen every day in, for instance, the Middle East, where such killings are too commonplace to even be newsworthy), one sometimes despairs of our species ever really and truly getting “civilized”. Why can people not see what is right in front of their eyes? How can human beings possibly be so stupid and so ignorant? (The violence itself is obviously the key “offence” here, but the sheer imbecility that fuels such violence is what is the really chilling thing here, since that underlying imbecility is shared so much more widely than the actual violence itself ; and it is not too far-fetched to think of a time when that imbecility spreads even wider so that, once more, speaking of the earth going round the sun becomes a capital offence ; heck, half the globe actually inhabits exactly that horror of a world right now!)

We really don’t seem to have any answers, any real solutions as such. But thanks, Brian, for having the courage to repeatedly raise these questions.

Isn't it surprising how many people like to demonize the word "fundamentalist?" Ask any of them what it means and where it came from and you will rarely get a correct answer. Yes, "fundamentalists" don't like free speech. The "fundamentalists" in Stalin's Russia suppressed free speech along with Hitler's Germany, Mao's China, Churchill's United Kingdom and Rosevelt's America. Even Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin would like to squelch what people have to say. Apparently the fundamentalists are taking over the whole world!

Yes, Agreed

100% free speech with some Love
that would be nice
Lots of it from time to time even nicer
<3 to You

777

Isn't it surprising how many people like to demonize the word "fundamentalist?" ........ Apparently the fundamentalists are taking over the whole world!

I hope I'm not misconstruing the point of what you were saying there, but I agree that using the word "fundamentalist" for both types of animals does tend to dilute, to some extent, the horror that is Islamic fundamentalism, by indirectly working up an implicit equivalence between that and the relatively far more "innocent" Christian fundamentalism or RSSB fundamentalism or whatever (the worst that the Christian fundie will do is, generally, tell you you're going to hell ; while the RSSB fundie will probably smile sweetly -- and infuriatingly -- at you and wish you Happy Meditation). At one level all fundamentalists are the same, but in practice, there is a huge difference between this sort of thing, and the strapping on of a suicide vest.

Most times the context makes clear what we mean, and at bottom it is no more than a matter of degree and type ; but perhaps it may be a good idea to have different words for the "ridiculous variety" of fundamentalism and the truly evil variety?

Yet another “secular” blogger killed, YET AGAIN (EARLIER THIS MONTH, AUGUST 2015) in Bangladesh by psychotic fundamentalists --- the literally murderous Islamic variety of fundamentalists, as opposed to the relatively harmless (harmless, I mean, in general, with a very few exceptions excepted) garden variety of Bible-thumping Christian nutcases.

I offer my most heartfelt condolences to Niloy and his family and colleagues, and denounce this heinous and unspeakably barbaric and inhuman attack in the strongest possible terms. I request everyone here to join their voice with me here.

And I also shamefully I acknowledge both my cowardice in not shedding my own personal burqa and hijab (the veil of anonymity whose safety I hide behind as I think thoughts and write words that are, I suppose, no more really than hot air), which stands in sharp contrast to the courage demonstrated (and paid for) by the likes of Niloy, and the realization of my utter impotence to make any significant difference to this issue one way or the other.

This is beyond gruesome. One knows about such barbaric persecutions and ungodly killings in the name of religion carried out every day in the hell-hole that is the so-called Middle East (and the hell-holes that are their de facto dependencies, like Pakistan) ; but to have these animals run amok even in relatively freer and relatively more civilized geographies like Bangladesh is, to my mind, a very dangerous trend. Yes, it is a trend, and not a mere aberration : because these killers, far more often that not, keep on getting away. And what is more, the “authorities” in Bangladesh have the nerve, after all this, to “officially” advise bloggers to refrain from hurting people’s religious sensibilities, and have the further gall to remind freethinkers that such acts (hurting people’s religious sentiments) is actually a crime according of the law of that unfortunate land.

I express my deepest, bitter anguish at this worsening state of affairs in that country (and, in general, in increasingly large swathes of the world), and request all sane people everywhere to add their voice to this protest (wholly ineffective though those voices will very likely prove to be, and wholly impotent that protest, at least in the short run).

- - -

How the FUCK do you make a difference? How the FUCK do you stop these animals? How? I fantasize about an international vigilante force, and indulge in brief fantasies about capturing these fundamentalist animals and having unspeakable and protracted tortures handed out to these vermin, and broadcasting such tortures via television to the world, before finally killing them off, and then feeding their carcasses to dogs and pigs ; and immediately realize the irony of these bloodthirsty fantasies. Should I/we continue to indulge in these violent fantasies, then the only difference between me/us and these “animals” will be that while I/we are simply impotent and powerless, these “animals” are at least able to do something concrete to further their agenda, instead of simply fantasizing : that and nothing else, no other difference at all. And with that realization, one is compelled to shame-facedly give up even the infantile relief provided by these brief fantasies.

Yes, let us all get together, please, in condemning this barbarity. But, after that, what do we DO? What can ANYONE do? (Any answers, anyone? I mean about achieving something NOW? As opposed to laying down our lives, time and time again, in the hope and expectation that all of this will gradually build up momentum at the international level and perhaps, just perhaps, make a real difference, globally, in another fifty or hundred years’ time?) Is there any way one can really make a difference? A real difference? These bloggers tried to do just that, to make a difference. They gave their fucking LIVES doing just that, in bravely trying to make a difference : and yet what have they achieved? Nothing at all, that one can make out. They’ve merely, in effect, provided some more opportunity to the psychos (Peace Be Unto Them!!) to strut their stuff and do some more of what they do. In a way, people like Niloy seem to have given their lives only to provide the fundamentalist vermin further scope and greater opportunities!

- - -

Sorry about that rant. But actually, I CAN think of a way out. A small way out. We may not be able to make a difference directly to what happens in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Kuwait and Iran, and even in somewhat saner and relatively gentler geographies like Bangladesh ; but those places where “secular” forces have a stronger base, there we CAN make a difference. We can all try our damnedest best to ensure that religious mummery is booted out of public life firmly and fully. We cannot directly push the crazy Mullah off his desert pulpit in Arabia ; but we CAN push the crazy Mullah off his ungodly pulpit in the “developed” countries, and we CAN push the ungodly Pope off his unholy pulpit in the mainstream West. That much we can do, can’t we -- or at least, try to? We can try our best to ensure that blind followers of religion appear like the witless fools they are (and leaders of religion who live off their followers, people like the Pope, are universally recognized as the charlatans they are), that they receive ZERO legitimacy. That much we can do, surely, if we all join hands and voices?


And that, of course, is exactly what Brian is doing here, with his blog. Yet another reason to thank you, Brian!

- - -

Although, hell! That still does not make one whit of difference to Niloy’s killers, or to the Al Baghdadis of the world and their followers, or to the hell-spawned Mullahs dribbling hate in the Islamic countries. Still, better this much, very much better, than nothing at all !

In any case, I firmly believe that the “West” can have a clear moral mandate to point fingers at the degenerate extremism of Islamic faith only when the Vatican and the Pope, and the unholy hordes feeding off that whole unholy ecclesiastical structure, are fully dismantled and thrown out. Because the only difference between the Pope and Al Baghdadi is that the former represents a fait accompli, while the latter is only work in process. A relatively civilized and gentle mien is easy to assume when you’ve already and firmly “arrived” and have no further need to kill or terrorize, and no doubt Al Baghdadi and his successors too will turn gentle and civilized and statesman-like once the Caliphate gains unfettered run of as much of the world as it wishes for. As long as there is such a person like the Pope, and as long as institutions like the RC Church wield the kind of power and influence that they do, the West has no real moral right, really, to point fingers at the Caliph and the monstrosities that he inspires.

Sorry, sorry : I realize I’m ranting. But what else does one do, since one cannot really DO anything?

- - -

RIP Niloy. Rest in peace in the nothingness you were born from and the nothingness to which you’ve returned, and to which we will all of us one day return. Your killers feast on your remains and merrily celebrate your death, and busily (and probably successfully) plan the death of a hundred other Niloys ; your life and death have no real meaning and did not come to fruition, nor are your ideas likely to come any closer to fruition even after your death ; but none of this will disturb your rest, because nothing can disturb that which isn’t, nothing can disturb nothingness -- not the fact that your death has not been avenged and will probably never be avenged, nor the fact that the only people who remember you and mourn you are a very small collection of impotent cowards whose support carries no real meaning. You are beyond all of that, as, thankfully, we all of us will be, one day. RIP, Niloy.

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