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Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

Christopher Columbus’ First Report on Native Americans

Posted by NT Wrong on November 10, 2008


“The people are loving and gentle and fit to be Christians. They are docile and will make good slaves.”
– Christopher Columbus, April 1493, in Foss, Undreamed Shores 1974: 18.

“500 years ago one man claimed
To have discovered a new world
Five centuries later we the people
Are forced to celebrate a black holocaust
How can you call a takeover
A discovery…
It’s as crazy as Hitler day
-Public Enemy, ‘Hitler Day’

Posted in Colonialism, Racism | 1 Comment »

Two 9/11s a Day: The War on Poverty That Never Was

Posted by NT Wrong on November 5, 2008

Bono, lead singer of U2:

“Right now there is the biggest pandemic in the history of civilization, happening in the world now with AIDS. It’s bigger than the Black Death, which took a third of Europe in the Middle Ages. Sixty-five hundred Africans are dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease. And it is not a priority for the West: two 9/11s a day, eighteen jumbo jets of fathers, mothers, families falling out of the sky. No tears, no letters of condolence, no fifty-one-gun salutes. Why? Because we don’t put the same value on African life as we put on a European or an American life. God will not let us get away with this, history certainly won’t let us get away with our excuses. We say we can’t get these antiretroviral drugs to the farthest reaches of Africa, but we can get them our cold fizzy drinks. The tiniest village, you can find a bottle of Coke. Look, if we really thought that an African life was equal in value to an English, a French, or an Irish life, we wouldn’t let two and a half million Africans die every year for the stupidest of reasons: money. We just wouldn’t. And a very prominent head of state said to me: “It’s true. If these people weren’t Africans, we just couldn’t let it happen.” We don’t really deep down believe in their equality.” (Michka Assayas and Bono, Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas with a Foreword by Bono. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005: 81.)

Bono is then asked by the interviewer whether poverty is simply the fault of Africa itself for not addressing these issues, and if Africa is just behind Europe in terms of ‘civilization’:

“This is a fifteen-year-old’s geography textbook. I was looking at this today, and it tells about it exactly. [Eventually finds the passage and proceeds to read out] “Income gap. Two hundred years ago, it appears that very little difference existed in living standards between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. Today, a very wide income gap exists: the North is many times richer than the South. What brought about this gap? The answer seems to lie in colonialism, trade, and debt.” They’re explaining to this fifteen-year-old kid how the reason why Africa is still in the Middle Age is largely to do with us, and our exploitation through French and British colonialism, but also in their present exploitation of unfair trade agreements, or old debts. You can’t fix every problem. But the ones you can, you must. To the degree we are responsible, we must fix. When you ask me to just accept that civilizations are just at a different level, there is a reason why they are. That is my answer.” (82-83)

And here’s a video of what could have been in poor, black New Orleans. Call me an old romantic, but this is a beautiful vision:

Posted in Justice, Music, Poverty, Racism, War | Comments Off on Two 9/11s a Day: The War on Poverty That Never Was

Homosexual Cartoon

Posted by NT Wrong on November 4, 2008

In this cartoon, ‘Christian’ learns about ‘the latest scientific evidence’ on homosexuality. It’s taken from the movie For the Bible Tells Me So and is entitled, ‘Is It A Choice?’

Posted in Fundamentalism, Justice | 4 Comments »

Nov 4

Posted by NT Wrong on November 4, 2008

publicenemyfearofablackplanetCause I’m Black and I’m proud
I’m ready and hyped plus I’m amped
Most of my heroes don’t appear on no stamps
Sample a look back you look and find
Nothing but rednecks for 400 years if you check

In the end, Obama may just be a little less right-wing than McCain. When people say ‘He’s not the Messiah’ they are correct to this extent. But what is the Messianic but some small, apparently insignificant shift of perspective that, nonetheless, constitutes an event after which nothing is the same again? The problem with the protest ‘He’s not the Messiah’ is not that the protestor is not hopeful enough, but that his level of hope is measured against an unrealistic vision of what we are capable of attaining.

“There is a well-known parable about the kingdom of the Messiah that Walter Benjamin (who heard it from Gershom Scholem) recounted one evening to Ernst Bloch, who in turn transcribed it in Spuren: “A rabbi, a real cabalist, once said that in order to establish the kingdom of peace it is not necessary to destroy everything nor to begin a completely new world. It is sufficient to displace this cup or this bush or this stone just a little, and thus everything. But this displacement is so difficult to achieve and its measure is so difficult to find that, with regard to the world, humans are incapable of it and it is necessary that the messiah come.” Benjamin’s version of the story goes like this: “The Hassidim tell a story about the world to come that says everything there will be just as it is here. Just as our room is now, so it will be in the world to come; where our baby sleeps now, there too it will sleep in the other world. And the clothes we wear in this world, those too we will wear there. Everything will be as it is now, just a little different.””
– Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community (1993): 53.

Posted in Justice, Music, Politics, Violence | Comments Off on Nov 4

N.T. Wright & Bart Ehrman Debate More Theodicy

Posted by NT Wrong on October 24, 2008

An “Unofficial Recording” – yes, it’s a Wright-Ehrman bootleg (85.7mb)! Bart and Tom are becoming quite the odd couple. They did a similar dance together on an online written debate earlier this year. This one was in San Francisco, last weekend. Apparently there’s an official recording available soon, the URL for which I will post here.

I haven’t listened to it yet, but I just betchya those two go and crack the Problem of Evil this time. Had to happen sooner or later.

Via visitor to this site, Art on Finitum Non Capex Infiniti, who found it on Raffi Shahinian’s Parables of a Prodigal World.

Posted in Justice | Comments Off on N.T. Wright & Bart Ehrman Debate More Theodicy

The Radical Feminism of Deuteronomy?

Posted by NT Wrong on October 23, 2008

Have a look at the two versions of the “Do Not Covet” Commandment, which Exodus and Deuteronomy claim Yahweh gave to Moses and all Israel, at Mt. Sinai:

Exodus 20.17:

לֹא-תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָלֹא-תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ וְשׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ
You shall not covet your friend’s house. You shall not covet your friend’s wife, or his slave, or his maidservant, his cattle, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your friend.”

Deuteronomy 5.21:

וְלֹא תַחְמֹד אֵשֶׁת רֵעֶךָ  {ס}  וְלֹא תִתְאַוֶּה בֵּית רֵעֶךָ שָׂדֵהוּ וְעַבְדּוֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ שׁוֹרוֹ וַחֲמֹרוֹ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר לְרֵעֶךָ
“And you shall not covet your friend’s wife. And you shall not desire your friend’s house, his field, or his slave, or his maidservant, his cattle, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your friend.”

In a recent blog post, Claude Mariottini makes much of the change in order of the first two coveted items. The result of the change is that women are separated out from the property of their husbands. He rightly notes that Deuteronomy uses a different verb to describe the proscribed desire of a woman (hāmad חמד; cf. for the following property: ’āwāh אוה). This, claims Mariottini, constitutes “an important change of attitude toward the status of women in Israelite society.” He explains:

“The book of Deuteronomy’s revision of the Tenth Commandment separates the woman from a man’s property in order to give proper attention to the rights of the woman.
… I believe that the Deuteronomic sequence of “wife” and “house” is a radical shift in the view of the status of women in Israelite society. The Deuteronomic change reflects the increased concern for the status of women in Israelite society in the seventh century BCE and the recognition that women had legal rights as members of the covenant community.”

I have a couple of concerns with these conclusions:

1. Even if we accept that the change in order in Deut 5.21 is a conscious separation of women from a man’s property, and that it reflects some historical reality from some point in the history of Judea, is this really evidence of a “radical” shift in women’s status? We still have to ask: who are these coveting commandments being addressed to? They are addressed to males. Men are the the assumed addressees of at least this part of the covenant, even if women, aliens, and slaves are also included in the covenant elsewhere. That is, the assumed audience still comprises males, who are also addressed in the following sentence (in their normal capacity as property-holders). Although the word can have emotive connotations, it pays to remember that ‘Property’ is no more than ‘a bundle of rights’ that one person has over an object. But the word “property” does not appear in the Tenth Commandment. Instead, the verses talk generally about that which is “to your friend”. Given that the possessive “your” also appears with “friend’s wife”, couldn’t this also still include everything just listed in the verse, including “your friend’s wife”? Sure, there are different governing verbs for the wife and the other things, but the verbs are close similes. Moveover, and as a matter of realpolitik rather than the questionable use of imposed terms like “property”, is there any real evidence in Deut 5.21 that the bundle of rights that a Judean man had over his wife has been altered at all?

2. If the Deuteronomist’s changes result in some moral improvement, doesn’t this mean that the law delivered to Moses by Yahweh on Mt. Sinai (as recorded in Exodus) was morally inferior? Isn’t it a bit odd that “the recognition that women had legal rights as members of the covenant community” involves changing those very legal rights in order to recognise them? What does this mean for making laws today, if you accept that Yahweh made laws that “were not good” in the Bible? Isn’t there a continuing obligation to morally improve on Yahweh’s morally inferior laws? One obvious example, reflected in the Tenth Commandment, is the biblical law concerning slavery. The Bible never seriously challenges the morality of enslavement, only providing some minimal protection, and differentiating on the basis of race as between ‘Israelite’ and ‘non-Israelite’ slaves. Obviously, many modern nations have seen grounds for moral improvement to Yahweh’s laws here. How about, as a random example, the laws against same-sex relations? Are these morally inferior laws which should also be changed?

Update: Charles Halton, of Awilum, makes some further objections to Claude Mariottini’s approach. See his fine comment, in which he draws attenton to the need to separate out the views of the narrator from those of the characters, questions whether any cessation of marriage gifts would have effected a change in status for women, and questions the assumption that women were seen as equivalent ‘property’ with donkeys.

Posted in Gender, Justice, Pentateuch | 2 Comments »

Capitalism as Religion

Posted by NT Wrong on October 18, 2008

“A religion may be discerned in capitalism — that is to say, capitalism serves essentially to allay the same anxieties, torments, and disturbances to which the so-called religions offered answers… In the first place, capitalism is a purely cultic religion, perhaps the most extreme that ever existed. In capitalism, things have a meaning only in their relationship to the cult; capitalism has no specific body of dogma, no theology. It is from this point of view that utilitarianism acquires its religious overtones. This concretization of cult is connected with a second feature of capitalism: the permanence of the cult. Capitalism is the celebration of a cult sans rêve et sans merci (without dream or mercy). There are no “weekdays.” There is no day that is not a feast day, in the terrible sense that all its sacred pomp is unfolded before us; each day commands the utter fealty of each worshipper. And third, the cult makes guilt pervasive. Capitalism is probably the first instance of a cult that creates guilt, not atonement. In this respect, this religious system is caught up in the headlong rush of a larger movement. A vast sense of guilt that is unable to find relief seizes on the cult, not to atone for this guilt but to make it universal, to hammer it into the conscious mind, so as once and for all to include God in the system of guilt and thereby awaken in him an interest in the process of atonement. This atonement cannot then be expected from the cult itself, or from the reformation of this religion (which would need to be able to have recourse to some stable element in it), or even from the complete renouncement of this religion. The nature of the religious movement which is capitalism entails endurance right to the end, to the point where God, too, finally takes on the entire burden of guilt, to the point where the universe has been taken over by that despair which is actually its secret hope. Capitalism is entirely without precedent, in that it is a religion which offers not the reform of existence but its complete destruction. It is the expansion of despair, until despair becomes a religious state of the world in the hope that this will lead to salvation… The cult is celebrated before an unmatured deity; every idea, every conception of it offends against the secret of this immaturity.”
– Walter Benjamin, “Capitalism as Religion” (1921)

Posted in Capitalism, Justice | 2 Comments »

Capitalism, Middle East Invasions, Resource Exploitation, advertised as ‘Civilized Christianity’ versus ‘Terrible Islam’ – 1922

Posted by NT Wrong on October 18, 2008

This is a remarkable cartoon, albeit tragically still in 2008.

From radical leftist cartoonist, Arthur Henry Young (in Michael Cohen, “‘Cartooning Capitalism’: Radical Cartooning and the Making of American Popular Radicalism in the Early Twentieth Century.” IRSH 52 (2007): 35-58, 45).

The violence intrinsic to Capitalism continues unabated, and will do so until it is forcibly overthrown.

(click for a larger picture)

Posted in Capitalism, Islam, Justice, Religion & Society, War | Comments Off on Capitalism, Middle East Invasions, Resource Exploitation, advertised as ‘Civilized Christianity’ versus ‘Terrible Islam’ – 1922

America: Those You’ve Robbed Will Plunder You – Jeff Simmonds – ‘So You Say’ – An Anti-Prosperity-Gospel Prophecy for the Financial Meltdown

Posted by NT Wrong on October 10, 2008

    So, you say God loves you
    That’s why you live in prosperity
    God blesses you and wants you wealthy
    Somehow I don’t think that’s true
    Neither should you

    You’re only rich because someone else is poor
    Someone has to pay for your luxury
    It’s not God’s blessing, it’s inequity
    That makes your cup overflow
    And the Third World die

    You built your house with slavery
    You maintain your household with inequality
    One day you’ll fall and I won’t cry for you
    Those you’ve robbed will plunder you
    They’ll plunder you

Posted in Capitalism, Justice, Music | 2 Comments »

Azaz’el’s Yom Kippur Message to all Orthodox Jews

Posted by NT Wrong on October 8, 2008

We wish to interrupt normal transmission on this blog for a short message brought up from The Abyss of Duda’el:

Posted in Justice, Soteriology | Comments Off on Azaz’el’s Yom Kippur Message to all Orthodox Jews