Monday, August 19, 2002

This is "Public Occurrences," a blog dedicated to all bloggers,

and to the original bloggers, the pamphleteers of colonial america, and to the original blog, publick occurrences both forreign and domestick, the first newspaper published in north america, on september 25, 1690, it's first and only issue, with the purposes "to encourage knowledge of affairs abroad and at home, to document memorable providences, and to combat the spirit of lying that prevails amongst us."

Sunday, August 18, 2002


i take a back seat to noone in expressing disdain for religion but i usually keep my mouth shut out of exasperation at the delusions of fools, er i mean, out of respect for the spiritual life of my fellow man.

but sometimes i am provoked.

today the new york times reviewed a new book on mormonism, a religion i find particularly insulting because, in addition to racism, it keeps tall beautiful blonde girls in the servitude of virginity well beyond the usefual age for that condition, because it prohibits the consumption of spirits, and because it prohibits people from keeping all of their money, an odious practice called "tithing" that nets the "church" 10% of earnings. as a gun-toting, hard-drinking, chain-smoking right winger once said in explaining his hatred of the department of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, "they're against everything i love!"

my derision of mormonism goes back to a famous murder trial years ago that was provoked by the attempted sale of a, regrettably, fake letter supposedly authored by his holiness joseph smith in which joe writ that a white salamander had served as a translator between god and joe wherein god requested that joe hisself establish a new religion. the fact that joe was illiterate was the first sign that something was up with the letter.

but mormonisn don't need no white salamanders to salander it. all religions have goofy-ass beliefs, which should be the first giveaway that they are the vaporings of feverish minds under the spell of what we would call today paranoid schizophrenia but which, before the invention of lithium, was then called insight, and picking on one religion at the expense of those that, e.g. hold as accepted fact that their savior came to us via birth to a virgin????, or that these believers or those believers have been "chosen" by god for special dispensation (chosen for what? one group of chosen never even had their own country till the rest of us gave it to them) and i am equally dismissive of those, but the accumulated nonsense at the genesis of mormonism may be beyond the pale of even those others.

so in the spirit of mean-spiritedness here is the history of mormonism in the detail provided by the times.

saint joseph of sharon vt, was born, says the times, to "drifters" in 1805 and had his first attack, er vision, at 14. at 17 1/2 he had another and this was "the big one." joe said an angel, or something, named "moroni" (pronounced "moron"-ee) told him of a hidden gospel, inscribed on golden tablets that was buried in a hill called cumorah.

now, a momentous discovery has just been made right here in the pages of public occurrences. sometimes, like now, when i'm a little bored and on adderall i can spend hours making anagrams out of words for example dave barry's manipulating the letters in former presidential candidate paul tsongas' name and coming up with (with due regard given for poetic license) "gaseous plant." anyway, right here YOU are the first to know that if you play with the letters in cumorah you can get "much oar", which to you may not mean anything but to guys like me and joe is obviously a "sign." making allowance for what adderal does to my brain and for joe's illiteracy you could understand that to be "much ORE" as in GOLD ore, which would be another clue as to what was buried in that goddamn hill.

so joe got his pa's shovel and dug 'em up. they were in a language called "reformed egyptian" a still unknown dialect and of course joe couldn't read them.

BUT, lucky for us, but unlucky for all those desiring carnal knowledge of joe's tall, blonde female issue, there were two fucking magic stones called urim and thummim (anagramatically "uma thurman") which were set in silver bows. this, fellow goyim, was the BOOK OF MORMON.

so joe was all set. being a red-blooded american male of 17 1/2 he added a footnote to the virginity law that allowed for polygamy, and he set off to find a homeland for his "people." joe's new religion met with less than universal support, or as the times indelicately puts it, "almost from the beginning the book of mormon was met with scorn and disbelief." the mormons were run out of town in ohio and missouri and eventually pitched their tent in illinois but ran afoul of the locals and joe and his brother done got themselves thrown in the hoosegow. one night some of the townspeople busted and offe them.

the remainder of the tribe straggled on westward enduring unspeakable hardship and then crossed some mountain and gazed upon the fairest sight ever that human eyes beheld, a great, blue, shimmering lake. halle-fucking-lujah! this was surely the promised land. their bedraggled asses ran down the mountain as fast as they could and they dipped their canteens into the life-giving liquid and took a thirst-quenching gulp, and.......have you ever noticed how "the chosen" always seem to get a "promised land" with no fresh water?

let us pray.

-benjamin harris

Friday, August 16, 2002

Causes and Effects


in science, determining cause and effect is accomplished by controlling for all but one variable. any changes in development can therefore be traced to that variable. the nature versus nurture debate is tested by the study of twins. start with the same genes and any substantial differences can, by elimintion, be attributed to socialization.

in his wednesday column in the new york times thomas l. friedman claimed that he performed this analysis on india and pakistan and found the determining variable.

the subcontinent provides a rare opportunity to apply this analytical method to social and political development. before partition in 1947 it was ruled over by the british raj with it's liberal political philosophy, civil service and legal structures.

first friedman described the conditions of the common genetic starting point: "people have the same basic blood, brains and civilizational heritage" in both countries; before partition there was a "long history of indian muslims and hindus living together in villages and towns, sharing communal institutions and mixing their cultures and faiths."

and then friedman described the wildly differernt trajectories that the countries have taken since they were born. india is a "teeming multiethnic, multireligous, multilingual of the world's great wonders--a miracle..."

pakistan on the other hand is "50 years of failed democracy, military coups. and imposed religosity...[that] churns out pakistani youth who know only the koran and hostility toward non-muslims."

the difference, according to friedman is democracy. india has it and pakistan doesn't. "if islam is ever to undergo a reformation, as chirstianity and judaism did, it's only going to happen in a muslim democracy."

he makes his argument with the passionate use of repetitive rhetorical questions, "is it an accident..." that no indian muslim was a member of al qaeda? "is it an accident..." that indian-pakistani wars have occurred under pakistani military regimes? "is it an accident..." that only in india did muslim women demand equal prayer rights?, etc. all of these differences he says can be attributed to democracy.

this site has long and consistently argued for actions by the u.s.government that would encourage democracy in the islamic world but friedman deliberately blurs cause and effect. democracy is not the root cause of anything. democracy is dependent on and is the product of a particular social and political philosophy. that philosophy is political liberalism--freedom of thought, expression, assembly, press, etc. values that inform meaningful electoral choice.

the different developmental trajectories of india and pakistan can be traced to the differences in heir social and political philosophies.

the "idea of india" is described by sunil khilnani in his book of the same name: "nehru's idea of india sought to coorrdinate within the form of a modern state a variety of values: democracy, religious tolerance, economic development and cultural pluralism."

syed shahabuddin, an indian muslim quoted by friedman makes the same point that friedman deliberately ignores, "india is a democracy, AND MORE THAN THAT A SECULAR DEMOCRACY...[emphasis added]". "it s precisely because of the 'CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK [emphasis added] here' " that muslims in india don't have to resort to violence.

pakistan on the other hand cast off the political and social inheritance it shared with india for an original position characterized by no seperation of church and state, no constitutional framework, no freedom of thought, expression, etc. and CONSEQENTLY no meaningful electoral choice.

the reason is islam. it is not so much a religion as a totalitarian philosophy. it dictates every aspect of life, from what is taught in the schools to the way science is practiced, to social relations, town planning, achitecture, the economy and which way toilets must face (never with the unit or the user facing mecca).

friedman does not miss this elementary point. that it is not democracy that is the original position, but socio-political philosophy.

he deliberately obscures it because to do otherwise woud be to criticize a whole "religion" and thomas friedman cannot bring himself to do that, no matter that islam is unsurpassed among the world's religions in suppresing it's own people, no matter that it is unequaled in demonizing and dehumanizing non-believers, no matter that islam "has bloody borders" in samuel huntington's famous phrase, no matter that this "religion" is in practice fascism with a godhead, no matter what the evidence. this is what he says:

"people say islam is an angry religion. i disagree. it's just that a lot of muslims are angry, because they live under repressive regimes, with no rule of law..."

"is it an accident..." mr. friedman that those muslims who live in, move to, are educated in, or otherwise exposed to western political values are precisely those that dominate membership in al qaeda?

"is it an accident..." mr. friedman that in this "end of history" world, where the debate over democracy is over, that only in the islamic civilization is democracy virtually unheard of?

"is it an accident..." mr. friedman that in the first fully islamic republic in iran democracy is seen to be a "subjective term" so full of "western baggage" that it is to be avoided like the "plague?" 1

"is it an accident... "that no other civilization deliberately targets innocents as part of it's war strategy?

"is it an accident..." that in no other civilization are women kept is such near-servitude?

"is it an accident..." that after one thousand years islam has not gone through a reformation?

friedman's position is not just the conscious but harmless self-delusion of one man. he is an opinion maker on the biggest stage in the west. he would never say that nazism is not an angry philosophy, that it's just that a lot of nazis are angry, but in the face of a philosophy that kills jews--not just israelis--all of over the world as lustily as any brown shirt ever did, in the face of a philosophy that sacrifices it's young people in suicide missions exactly as tghe japanese did their kamikaze fighters, in the face of a philosophy that is as dictatorial as the soviet union, in the face of all this, thomas friedman, because this philosophy calls itself a religion, for the sake of civility and political correctness, deliberately obscures this evil, appeases this ruthless civilization, and minimizes the nature of the theat that the west faces in conflict with that civilization.

democracy is not the root cause of the differences between india and pakistan or islam and the rest of the world. islam is the difference and democracy will never exist in islamic countries until islam changes.

-benjamin harris