sexta-feira, março 13, 2009

The Hidden Holocaust--Our Civilizational Crisis Part 1: The Holocaust in History
1. “Hidden Holocaust”
As we are all aware, the term “Holocaust” is traditionally used to refer to the “systematic, bureaucratic state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime”, during the Second World War. The word “Holocaust” is a Greek word, which means “sacrifice by fire.” It conveys an event, the scale and horror of which, transformed the course of world history. Moreover, it’s often seen as a crime against humanity that is unparalleled and unique.
This, we cannot dispute. The Nazi Holocaust was, indeed, a uniquely horrific genocide, whose enormity and systematic character is barely imaginable, designed to exterminate wholly the Jewish people, physically, socially, culturally, from the face of the Earth.
But what then, do we mean by a “hidden holocaust”? This term conveys the reality of a campaign of global homicide, murder, whose scale and enormity is such that one feels that the word “holocaust” does, certainly loosely speaking, apply. It is “hidden”, in the sense that, although experienced by millions of people around the world both historically and today, it remains invisible, officially unacknowledged.
This “hidden holocaust”, is escalating, accelerating, intensifying; according to all expert projections from the social and physical sciences, it may culminate in the extinction of the human species, unless we take immediate drastic action, now.
2. “Civilizational Crisis”
We often hear the word “civilization”. It’s often been used to explain the dynamics of the “War on Terror”, as a clash between two civilizations, the advanced, developed and progressive civilization of the West, and the backward, reactionary civilization of Islam.
As is well known, the man who first formulated this idea as an academic theory of international relations was the Harvard professor and US government adviser, Samuel Huntington.
In early 2007, then Prime Minister Tony Blair described the War on Terror as “a clash not between civilizations”, but rather “about civilization.” The War on Terror is, he proclaimed, a continuation of “the age-old battle between progress and reaction, between those who embrace the modern world and those who reject its existence.” [“A Battle for Global Values”, Foreign Affairs (January/February 2007)]
But the “hidden holocaust” is not an aberration from our advanced civilization that represents the peak of human development, requiring only some reforms. Rather, the “hidden holocaust” is integral to the very structure, values and activities of our civilization. It is part and parcel of the “global values” of the international political and economic order that underpins industrial civilization. And unless we attempt to transform the nature of our civilization, we will all perish in a holocaust of our own making.
3. The Conception of Civilization: Immaculate or Genocidal?
The hidden holocaust associated with our modern civilization, began at the beginning of modern civilization itself.
The origins of modern civilization can be found partly in the pivotal voyages for European colonial expansion and trade from the 15th century to the 19th centuries. Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, English and other explorers ventured out from their home countries in search of new wealth and new land in all corners of the globe. They went to the continents of America, Africa and Asia and set up colonies and trading outposts.
Colonists and settlers had all sorts of intentions. Some of them had capital, and were simply looking for new investment opportunities. Others were trying to escape lives of hardship at home to make new lives for themselves with a fresh start by settling in the colonies. Others wanted to deliver the message of Christianity to native populations. Almost all of them saw themselves as part of the inevitable historical momentum of progress, bringing the fruits of European civilization to backward peoples.
Whatever the intentions, European expansion involved massive, systematic violence. Violence of all kinds. Wholesale massacres, forced labour camps, disease, malnutrition due to the imposed conditions of economic deprivation, mass suicides due to depression and cultural alienation. As Irving Louis Horowitz argues, for example, “the conduct of classic colonialism was invariably linked with genocide.” [Genocide: State Power and Mass Murder, (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1976), p. 19-20.] Below we review some salient examples.
4. American Holocaust
Starting from 1492, when Christopher Columbus is said to have discovered the Americas, the deadly conquest commenced. The complex civilizations of native Americans, over the next few centuries, were devastated. British historian Mark Cocker has reviewed reliable estimates of the death toll:
“[E]leven million indigenous Americans lost their lives in the eighty years following the Spanish invasion of Mexico. In the Andean Empire of the Incas the figure was more than eight million. In Brazil, the Portuguese conquest saw Indian numbers dwindle from a pre-Columbian total of almost 2,500,000 to just 225,000. And to the north of Mexico… Native Americans declined from an original population of more than 800,000 by the end of the nineteenth century. For the whole of the Americas some historians have put the total losses as high as one hundred million.” [Mark Cocker, Rivers of Blood, Rivers of Gold: Europe’s Conquest of Indigenous Peoples (New York: Grove Press, 1998), p. 5]
Although the majority of these deaths occurred due to the impact of European diseases, disease alone does not explain the variations of death toll rates in different parts of the Americas. The key factors in which diseases operated were ultimately the kinds of repressive colonial social formations imposed on natives by European invaders, consisting of different matrices of forced labour regimes in mines and plantations, mass enslavement for personal domestic use of colonists, religious and cultural dislocation, and so on.
As David Stannard concludes in his extensive study of the genocide, which he describes as an “American Holocaust”, these factors accelerated and intensified the mere impact of disease. He further describes the colonists’ strategic thinking:
“At the dawn of the fifteenth century, Spanish conquistadors and priests presented the Indians they encountered with a choice: either give up your religion and culture and land and independence, swearing allegiance ‘as vassals’ to the Catholic Church and the Spanish Crown, or suffer ‘all the mischief and damage’ that the European invaders choose to inflict upon you.” [David Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 255]
This binary choice, put to the Native Americans five centuries ago, bears an unnerving resemblance to the rhetoric underpinning the “War on Terror” today, “you are either with us or against us.”
5. African Holocaust
In Africa, the slave trade contributed substantially to the protracted deaths of vast numbers of people. While slave structures had already existed locally, it certainly did not exist on the vast scale it adopted in the course of European interventions. English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Danes, and Portuguese slave-traders started out by raiding villages off the West African coast. The transatlantic slave trade, lasting from the 1450s to the 1860s, consisted of “a series of exchanges of captives reaching from the interior of sub-Saharan Africa to final purchasers in the Americas.” An observer at the time, British journalist Edward Morel wrote: “For a hundred years slaves in Barbados were mutilated, tortured, gibbeted alive and left to starve to death, burnt alive, flung into coppers of boiling sugar, whipped to death.” [The Black Man’s Burden: The White Man in Africa from the Fifteenth Century to World War I (New York: Modern Reader, 1969)]
From the 16th to 19th centuries, the total death toll among African slaves being in transhipment to America alone was as high as 2 million. Although the many millions who died “in capture and in transit to the Orient or Middle East” is unknown, among the slaves “kept in Africa some 4,000,000 may have died.” Overall, in five centuries between nearly 17,000,000 - and by some calculations perhaps over 65,000,000 - Africans were killed in the transatlantic slave trade. [R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994)].
University of Essex sociologist Robin Blackburn has demonstrated convincingly the centrality of capitalism to the growth of new world slavery, arguing that the profits of slavery accumulated in the “triangular trade” between Europe, Africa and America contributed fundamentally to Britain’s industrialization. For instance, the profits from triangular trade for 1770 would have provided from 20.9 to 55 per cent of Britain’s gross fixed capital formation. [Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London: Verso), p. 572.] The question of capital formation, however, is only part of the story. The trans-atlantic slave trade was an indispensable motor in an emerging capitalist world system under the mantle of the British empire. The mechanization of cotton textiles, originally produced in American plantations manned by African slaves, was overwhelmingly the driving force in British industrialization. [CK Harley and NFR Crafts, “Cotton Textiles and Industrial Output Growth”, Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (1994, no. 420)]
6. Indian Holocaust
In his landmark study, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso, 2001), historian Mike Davis shows how British imperial policy systematically converted droughts in South Asia and South Africa into foreseeable but preventable deadly famines.
In India, between 5.5 and 12 million people died in an artificially-induced famine, although millions of tonnes of grains were in commercial circulation. Rice and wheat production had been above average for the previous three years, but most of the surplus had been exported to England. “Londoners were in effect eating India’s bread.” Under “free market” rules, between 1877 and 1878, grain merchants exported a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat to Europe while millions of Indian poor starved to death.
Crucially, Davis argues that these people died “not outside the modern world system, but in the very process of being forcibly incorporated into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of liberal capitalism; many were murdered by the application of utilitarian free trade principles.”
7. Division of the World
This violence was, therefore, not merely accidental to the European imperial project. It was integral, systematic, as a solution to the problem of native resistance.
Between about 1870 and 1914, European imperial policies received a new lease of life, resulting in the intense scramble for control over eastern Asian and African territories. Almost the entire world was divided up under the formal or informal political rule of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, the USA, and Japan. Between themselves, in Africa for instance they acquired 30 new colonies and 110 million subjects. African resistance was brutally crushed. Consider, for example, the 1904 uprising of the Hereros, a tribe in southwest Africa, against German occupation. The German response was to drive all 24,000 of them into the desert to starve to death; others who surrendered were worked to death in forced labour camps. [Thomas Pakenham, The Scramble for Africa: White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent, 1876-1912 (London: Random House, 1991).]
During this period, we can already see drastic inequalities in the international system. By 1880, the per capita income in the developed countries was approximately double that of the ‘Third World’. By 1913, it was three times higher, and by 1950, five times higher. Similarly, the per capita share of GNP in the industrialized countries of the developed core was in 1830 already twice that of the Third World, becoming seven times as high by 1913. [E. J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914 (London: Abacus, 1987), p. 15]
In summary, for five hundred years, hundreds of millions of indigenous peoples were slaughtered, decimated, deported, enslaved, starved, exterminated, impoverished, and forcibly assimilated into an emerging world system dominated by Western Europe. This was how the global values and politico-economic structures of our civilization came into being. Globalization... the bloody legacy of a 500-year killing machine.
Part 2. Coming soon...
Posted by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

quinta-feira, março 12, 2009

É evidente que, para a maior parte das pessoas, a debilidade na instrução, cultura, educação, inteligência, coragem cognitiva, curiosidade pelo conhecimento verdadeiro e capacidade de crítica analítica é directamente proporcional ao exaltado comprometimento com a fé religiosa.O Brasil é um óptimo exemplo dessa regra.

domingo, março 08, 2009

When Religion Steps on Science's Turf
by Richard Dawkins
A cowardly flabbiness of the intellect afflicts otherwise rational people confronted with long-established religions (though, significantly, not in the face of younger traditions such as Scientology or the Moonies). S J Gould, commenting in his Natural History column on the Pope's attitude to evolution, is representative of a dominant strain of conciliatory thought, among believers and nonbelievers alike:
"Science and religion are not in conflict, for their teachings occupy distinctly different domains . . . I believe, with all my heart, in a respectful, even loving concordat (my emphasis). . .".Well, what are these two distinctly different domains, these 'Nonoverlapping Magisteria' which should snuggle up together in a respectful and loving concordat? Gould again:
"The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value." Would that it were that tidy. In a moment I'll look at what the Pope actually says about evolution, and then at other claims of his church, to see if they really are so neatly distinct from the domain of science. First though, a brief aside on the claim that religion has some special expertise to offer us on moral questions. This is often blithely accepted even by the non-religious, presumably in the course of a civilised 'bending over backwards' to concede the best point your opponent has to offer ? however weak that best point may be.The question, "What is right and what is wrong?" is a genuinely difficult question which science certainly cannot answer. Given a moral premiss or a priori moral belief, the important and rigorous discipline of secular moral philosophy can pursue scientific or logical modes of reasoning to point up hidden implications of such beliefs, and hidden inconsistencies between them. But the absolute moral premisses themselves must come from elsewhere, presumably from unargued conviction. Or, it might be hoped, from religion ? meaning some combination of authority, revelation, tradition and scripture.Unfortunately, the hope that religion might provide a bedrock, from which our otherwise sand-based morals can be derived, is a forlorn one. In practice no civilised person uses scripture as ultimate authority for moral reasoning. Instead, we pick and choose the nice bits of scripture (like the Sermon on the Mount) and blithely ignore the nasty bits (like the obligation to stone adulteresses, execute apostates and punish the grandchildren of offenders). The God of the Old Testament himself, with his pitilessly vengeful jealousy, his racism, sexism and terrifying bloodlust, will not be adopted as a literal role model by anybody you or I would wish to know. Yes, of course it is unfair to judge the customs of an earlier era by the enlightened standards of our own. But that is precisely my point! Evidently, we have some alternative source of ultimate moral conviction which over-rides scripture when it suits us.That alternative source seems to be some kind of liberal consensus of decency and natural justice which changes over historical time, frequently under the influence of secular reformists. Admittedly, that doesn't sound like bedrock. But in practice we, including the religious among us, give it higher priority than scripture. In practice we more or less ignore scripture, quoting it when it supports our liberal consensus, quietly forgetting it when it doesn't. And, wherever that liberal consensus comes from, it is available to all of us, whether we are religious or not.Similarly, great religious teachers like Jesus or Gautama Buddha may inspire us, by their good example, to adopt their personal moral convictions. But again we pick and choose among religious leaders, avoiding the bad examples of Jim Jones or Charles Manson, and we may choose good secular role models such as Jawaharlal Nehru or Nelson Mandela. Traditions too, however anciently followed, may be good or bad, and we use our secular judgment of decency and natural justice to decide which ones to follow, which to give up.But that discussion of moral values was a digression. I now turn to my main topic of evolution, and whether the Pope lives up to the ideal of keeping off the scientific grass. His Message on Evolution to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences begins with some casuistical doubletalk designed to reconcile what John Paul is about to say with the previous, more equivocal pronouncements of Pius XII whose acceptance of evolution was comparatively grudging and reluctant. Then the Pope comes to the harder task of reconciling scientific evidence with "revelation".
"Revelation teaches us that [man] was created in the image and likeness of God. . . if the human body takes its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God . . . Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the mind as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. . . With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say."To do the Pope credit, at this point he recognizes the essential contradiction between the two positions he is attempting to reconcile:
"However, does not the posing of such ontological discontinuity run counter to that physical continuity which seems to be the main thread of research into evolution in the field of physics and chemistry?"Never fear. As so often in the past, obscurantism comes to the rescue:-
"Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seen irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition to the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being."In plain language, there came a moment in the evolution of hominids when God intervened and injected a human soul into a previously animal lineage (When? A million years ago? Two million years ago? Between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens? Between 'archaic' Homo sapiens and H.sapiens sapiens?). The sudden injection is necessary, of course, otherwise there would be no distinction upon which to base Catholic morality, which is speciesist to the core. You can kill adult animals for meat, but abortion and euthanasia are murder because human life is involved.Catholicism's "net" is not limited to moral considerations, if only because Catholic morals have scientific implications. Catholic morality demands the presence of a great gulf between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animal kingdom. Such a gulf is fundamentally anti-evolutionary. The sudden injection of an immortal soul in the time-line is an anti-evolutionary intrusion into the domain of science.More generally it is completely unrealistic to claim, as Gould and many others do, that religion keeps itself away from science's turf, restricting itself to morals and values. A universe with a supernatural presence would be a fundamentally and qualitatively different kind of universe from one without. The difference is, inescapably, a scientific difference. Religions make existence claims, and this means scientific claims.The same is true of many of the major doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. The Virgin Birth, the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Resurrection of Jesus, the survival of our own souls after death: these are all claims of a clearly scientific nature. Either Jesus had a corporeal father or he didn't. This is not a question of 'values' or 'morals' , it is a question of sober fact. We may not have the evidence to answer it, but it is a scientific question, nevertheless. You may be sure that, if any evidence supporting the claim were discovered, the Vatican would not be reticent in promoting it.Either Mary's body decayed when she died, or it was physically removed from this planet to Heaven. The official Roman Catholic doctrine of Assumption, promulgated as recently as 1950, implies that Heaven has a physical location and exists in the domain of physical reality ? how else could the physical body of a woman go there? I am not, here, saying that the doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin is necessarily false (although of course I think it is). I am simply rebutting the claim that it is outside the domain of science. On the contrary, the Assumption of the Virgin is transparently a scientific theory. So is the theory that our souls survive bodily death and so are all stories of angelic visitations, Maryan manifestations and miracles of all types.There is something dishonestly self-serving in the tactic of claiming that all religious beliefs are outside the domain of science. On the one hand miracle stories and the promise of life after death are used to impress simple people, win converts and swell congregations. It is precisely their scientific power that gives these stories their popular appeal. But at the same time it is considered below the belt to subject the same stories to the ordinary rigours of scientific criticism: these are religious matters and therefore outside the domain of science. But you cannot have it both ways. At least, religious theorists and apologists should not be allowed to get away with having it both ways. Unfortunately all too many of us, including nonreligious people, are unaccountably ready to let them get away with it.I suppose it is gratifying to have the Pope as an ally in the struggle against fundamentalist creationism. It is certainly amusing to see the rug pulled out from under the feet of Catholic creationists such as Michael Behe. Even so, given a choice between honest to goodness fundamentalism on the one hand, and the obscurantist, disingenuous doublethink of the Roman Catholic Church on the other, I know which I prefer.

- ‘TERROR IN THE MIND OF GOD” by Mark Juergensmeyer

- “ The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America” by Kimberly Blaker

- "The Creation Revisited" by Peter Atkins

"Gregory S. Paul, no Journal of Religion and Society (2005), comparou dezessete nações economicamente desenvolvidas e chegou à devastadora conclusão de que 'taxas mais altas de crença num criador e de culto a ele se relacionam com taxas mais altas de homicídio, mortalidade precoce e juvenil, taxas de infecção por doenças sexualmente transmissíveis, gravidez na adolescência e aborto nas democracias prósperas'.
- Richard Dawkins

sábado, março 07, 2009

Os gringos chamam a esta borboleta "Céu estrelado". Por isso, posso dizer - sem mentir - que, desde a janela do meu quarto, nessa manhã radiante eu vi o céu estrelado...

Preferring Our Violence Wholesale
Race and Destruction in Black and White

I don't know why these things amaze me, but for some reason they always do.

Before the ashes were even cool from the recent riots in Benton Harbor, Michigan, much of white America had decided that it knew what was behind all the mayhem; at least if the white folks who call into talk radio are at all representative.

It wasn't the reason stated by the residents who had engaged in the destruction, of course: namely, a history of police racism, brutality and misconduct, which they saw symbolized most recently by a high-speed police chase from a neighboring township ending in the death of a black motorcyclist.

Of course not. That explanation, though not necessarily justifying mass violence, would still constitute a reason; and having a reason would mean that the rioters were something other than merely insane; and insane is how much of white America prefers to see our black and brown brothers and sisters.

To whites who were calling talk radio in the days following the riots, the violent actions by certain members of the Benton Harbor black community were indicative of cultural depravity, even a biological predisposition to violence: arguments that are never made when whites on college campuses riot, as they have done some three dozen times in the past several years.

In truth, the idea that blacks are more prone to violence and destruction than those of us who are white is so utterly incomprehensible as to boggle the imagination. After all, the people who incessantly wonder why blacks occasionally riot and wreak havoc in their own communities never ask why whites are so quick to wreak havoc in the communities of others.

Indeed, the history of white violence done to non-whites, to say nothing of white violence done to each other--think 1066, think the Holocaust, think Stalin's purges--makes one wonder how anyone could believe persons of European descent were especially peaceful.

It wasn't black people who destroyed one Indian village after another throughout this continent and wiped nearly 100 million people off the face of the planet in the process.

Black folks didn't lynch themselves, or cut off their own ears for souvenirs after burning their own bodies, or hanging themselves from tree limbs.

It wasn't black people who launched a war with Mexico in the name of Manifest Destiny, or conquered Hawaii, or laid siege to the Philippines at the turn of the last century, or planned, authorized, and carried out the terror bombings of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, knowing full well that the victims in each case would invariably be innocent civilians. It wasn't black people who created napalm, and then decided to drop it on Southeast Asians.

It wasn't black people who drew up the war plans to bomb Baghdad's electrical grid in the first Gulf War, thereby rendering water treatment facilities inoperable, even though it was acknowledged that doing so would result in widespread disease and death.

And with the exceptions of Colin Powell and Condi Rice--two black people who have long felt more at home in the presence of white elites than anyone who might actually look like them--it wasn't black folks who lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction so as to launch another war on that nation, killing several thousand civilians and destroying what economic infrastructure remained after a decade of sanctions.

For that matter, even violence in American cities has been the work of whites far more than blacks. Oh sure, we may not think of it as violence, but the effects of white elite actions vis-A -vis our cities has been every bit as destructive as anything thought up by the residents of Watts, Miami, Cincinnati or Detroit, to say nothing of smaller towns like Benton Harbor.

When white political and corporate elites launched "urban renewa" in the 1960's, the destruction wrought upon black peoples was immense. Hundreds of thousands of homes, representing one-fifth of all black housing in the U.S., were destroyed to make way for office buildings, shopping centers and parking lots. Afterward, only one-tenth of the property destroyed was replaced, so displaced families had to rely on crowded apartments, living with relatives, or run-down public housing projects. Interstates were built through the heart of black communities in city after city, impacting not only housing but economic vitality as well, and leaving a congested, loud, disorganized space in their wake.

It is doubtful that the combined amount of property destroyed by blacks in urban riots comes anywhere near the amount of property destroyed by urban renewal, for the benefit of whites.

When white-run banks redlined black communities, refusing to loan money to any businesses or individuals within the borders of those communities, no matter their individual credit worthiness, the effect was as destructive to neighborhood well-being as any riot.

When banks continue to refuse loans in such places, only to turn around and grant the very same loans through their subsidiaries known as sub-prime lenders, and in the process charge 3-5 times higher interest than would be allowed through the bank itself, the effect on black people is economic violence.

When two-thirds of black children in extreme poverty test positive for elevated levels of lead in their blood, thanks to exposure from lead paint in old, dilapidated buildings built by white folks, this is an act of violence.

In fact, white institutions have intentionally exposed black children to lead paint, as with recent revelations that Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute, with the approval of officials from Johns Hopkins University, essentially used black families as guinea pigs for a study on lead abatement in the 1990's. The study, condemned by a Maryland Appeals Court judge, placed poor families of color in housing with varying levels of lead, without telling them the dangers of such exposure. Researchers used incentives like T-shirts, food stamps and payments of $5 each to encourage families to move into contaminated housing, and then after periodic testing of lead levels in the children's blood, withheld information on the extent of their poisoning until it was too late to prevent serious health effects.

Indeed, if riots result in the burning of lead-infested buildings, or the places where such truly evil studies are concocted, we might more properly view such actions as the ultimate act of intra-racial charity, truth be told.

And it's not only in the inner-city where white violence destroys the lives of people of color. When the government in concert with white-owned businesses strip mines uranium on Native American soil, thereby helping to inflate the cancer rate among Navajo exposed to radiation by 1600 percent above the national average, the result is death and destruction as severe as any low-level retail violence by the oppressed themselves.

When white doctors routinely underdiagnose patients of color with serious illnesses; or fail to recommend the same medical interventions as they do for white patients, even when they present the same symptoms, have the same kind of insurance, and come from the same economic background, black lives are lost in numbers that dwarf those lost in riots.

When companies that pollute in white communities receive fines from the EPA that are 500 percent higher than the fines received for polluting in black communities, the result is violence of an especially pernicious form.

In fact, studies have estimated that because African Americans--particularly those of low-income--have less access to wealth and high quality health care, and are more likely to be exposed to environmental pollutants, as many as 75,000 blacks die each year above the amount that would be expected to die if wealth, health care and pollutant exposure were equal to that of their white counterparts.

That most whites can't conceive of these things as violence is testimony not to the veracity of the charge, but rather our unwillingness to understand systemic racism and the harm it does to people every day.

So in the white imagination, burning down a building out of anger at police brutality is violence, while destroying a building to make way for a mall is progress, as is chopping down old-growth forest, dumping toxic waste in streams and rivers, or burying it in communities of color.

That's the difference between the violence of the powerful and that of the powerless. Those with power have the capacity to work out our existential crises on the bodies and property of others; those without have to make do torching their own stuff, because they know that the moment they turn their frustrations on those who have remained privileged and sheltered, the power of the state will be turned against them full-force.

And if that day ever came, most white folks wouldn't bat an eye, because we have nothing against violence. We love it, in fact; we glorify it; so long as it's being done by John Wayne, Rambo, Clint Eastwood, Tony Soprano, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush or his kid.

Body counts never bother us, and neither does destroying property, so long as the bodies and the properties are not ours.

Tim Wise is an antiracist essayist, activist and father. He can be reached at

Não há espaço na minha vida para a hipocrisia moralista nem para a crendice supersticiosa. Assim, não tenho a menor pachorra para aturar a elaborada imbecilidade das teorias que nos querem arrastar para o obscuro mundo dos espíritos migrantes e/ou reencarnados, quaisquer divindades, astrologia, fadas, gnomos, carma, óvnis, o monstro do esparguete voador e o diabo a quatro...
A insistente pergunta “a que religião pertence?”, é-me tão absurda e irritante como se me perguntassem se a minha mulher ganha a vida vendendo o pito à porta do quartel.

To Terri V. Little and her lovely family,
Thanks for been such a great friend and a source of inspirations for all those that have the privilege of knowing you. I would love to learn a lot more about your alternative teaching methods.
Take care and have lots of fun.

" A religião é considerada verdade pelas pessoas comuns, mentira pelos sábios e útil pelos governantes" - Séneca
" A religião é óptima para manter as pessoas comuns caladas." - Napoleão

"Deus e a pátria são uma equipa imbatível; eles quebram todos os recordes de opressão e de derramamento de sangue." - Luis Buñuel
Masked Tityra

“Acredito que quando morrer apodrecerei, e nada do meu ego sobreviverá. Não sou jovem e amo a vida. Mas desprezo o pavor diante do pensamento da efemeridade. A felicidade não deixa de ser felicidade verdadeira por ter de acabar, nem o pensamento e o amor perdem o seu valor por não serem eternos. Muitos homens enfrentam a plataforma de execução com orgulho; por certo o mesmo orgulho deve nos ensinar a pensar de verdade no lugar do homem no mundo. Mesmo que as janelas abertas da ciência a princípio nos façam temer depois do morno conforto dos mitos antropocêntricos tradicionais, no final o ar fresco traz vigor, e os grandes espaços abertos têm o seu próprio esplendor.” – Bertrand Russel

“A bíblia é um guia de moralidade entre membros do mesmo grupo, contendo instruções para o genocídio, para a escravização de forasteiros e para a dominação do mundo. Mas a bíblia não é malévola devido aos seus objectivos ou à glorificação do assassinato sectário, da crueldade do estupro. Muitas obras antigas fazem a mesma coisa – a Ilíada, as sagas islandesas, as lendas dos sírios da Antiguidade ou as inscrições dos maias, por exemplo. Mas ninguém sai por aí vendendo a Ilíada como base da moralidade. É aí estão problema. A bíblia é vendida e comprada como um guia para orientar a vida das pessoas. E é, de longe, o maior best-seller de todos os tempos.”
- Hartung

quinta-feira, março 05, 2009

“ O perigo de fé religiosa é que ela permite a seres humanos normais colher os frutos da loucura e considerá-los sagrados. Como cada geração de crianças aprende que as preposições religiosas não precisam de ser justificadas, como todas as outras necessitam, a civilização ainda está sitiada pelos exércitos dos irracionais. Estamos, agora mesmo, nos matando por causa de literatura da Antiguidade. Quem imaginaria que uma coisa tão tragicamente absurda seria possível?!” – Sam Harris

“Acho que todos nós nos devemos nos sentir incomodados quando ouvirmos uma criança pequena sendo rotulada como pertencente a uma ou outra religião específica. As Crianças são jovens demais para tomar decisões fundamentais sobre suas opiniões a respeito da origem do cosmos, da vida ou da moral. O simples termo ‘criança cristã’ ‘ ou ‘criança muçulmana deveria soar como unhas arranhando uma lousa.” - Richard Dawkins

[Sim, porque cargas d´água permitimos que as crianças sejam rotuladas de acordo com a fé dos pais, mas nos indignamos se fizerem o mesmo em relação às filiações político-partidárias?...]

“Os pais (...) não possuem permissão divina para aculturar os filhos do modo que bem quiserem: não têm o direito de limitar os horizontes do conhecimento dos filhos; de criá-los numa atmosfera de dogma e superstição, ou insistir que eles sigam os caminhos estreitos e predefinidos da sua própria fé.
Em resumo, as crianças têm o direito de não serem intelectualmente contaminadas com absurdos; e nós, como sociedade, temos o dever de protegê-las disso. Portanto, não devemos permitir que os pais ensinem os filhos a acreditar, por exemplo, na veracidade literal da bíblia, ou que o alinhamento dos astros determina a sua psique e conduta, assim como não permitimos que eles arranquem os dentes dos filhos ou os tranquem num calabouço. “ – Nicholas Humphrey

To Vivian & Hillary
This is “our” Great Potoo. (Try to focus in the dark to see how hard it is!...)
Thanks for your kindness and generosity.
Maybe we’ll see each others again in the dry season (down in Chile?...)