Got religion? The Middle Way-Agnosticism

June 6, 2009

Somewhere in the Bible, I’ve heard, there is a story about the battle between Satan and his supporters and God and his holy host of supporters.  During or after the battle the neutral angels, those taking no part in the fight were the ones who chose the middle way, brought the Holy Grail to earth.  Of course I can’t swear to the facts on this story, as I am not a Bible scholar nor Biblical historian.  Nonetheless, the metaphor of the “middle way” is what I’m after.  The religious and scriptural battles in the world today caused me to ruminate on an old idea.

This is my point:

Islam v. Christianity

Christianity v. Islam

Judaism v. Islam

Islam v. Judaism

Christianity v. Judaism

Judaism v. Christianity

monotheists v. pantheists

heathen v. believer

theists (meaning everybody) v. atheists

shirts v. skins

As Rodney King said, after he recovered from his beating, “Can’t we all just get along?”  The answer to that question must be a resounding “NO”. The battle against reason has been joined by the multitudes and it is not going well.  The evil angels of other faiths and those of too little faith are destroying the world. OK, if you say so.

Is the antidote for fanatical religion even more of  or a different fanatical religion?  I don’t think so. Why not just chuck it all?  That’s a dangerous concept since the most hated of all of the religions, one great uniting principle of all religious maniacs is a common goal,  the suppression of reason and the non-believer.  If one stubbornly resists indoctrination in one area, he/she may reject it in others.

There is a strong argument to be made for agnosticism, atheism or secularism in the public sphere.

I don’t mean fall back rigidly on dialectical materialism or communism, at its worst worshiping statism and materialism or fascism, worshipping occultism, racism and romantic nationalism.  I mean the abandonment of “isms” as much as possible as illogical and obscuritanist.

Debates about “faith” or the lack of it, can be disturbing or amusing.  Here’s a fascinating discussion between Rick Warren (confirmed hypocrite) leader of the Saddleback evangelical church and Sam Harris, neuroscientist (don’t know if he’s a hypocrite).  And yes, for the Islamophobes in the house, the Qur’an is included in the debate, no monotheistic religion is neglected.

Let the agnostics and atheists have their say.  Good video here.

Atheism and agnosticism are like homosexuality in that one can own up to it in a fairly safe environment. But there have been some famous atheists and agnostics.  A sample:

  • Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentine writer. Borges said:
  • “Being an agnostic means all things are possible, even God, even the Holy Trinity. This world is so strange that anything may happen, or may not happen. Being an agnostic makes me live in a larger, a more fantastic kind of world, almost uncanny. It makes me more tolerant.”

Aaronovitch, Dav

David Arronovitch 1954–
Journalist
British journalist, author and broadcaster.
“Like most of the Godless (or Godfree), I have no desire to proselytise for atheism or to persuade people out of religions that may offer them comfort and companionship.” “What makes me think I “can reduce the function of religion to the provision of ‘comfort and companionship'” instead of seeing it as a “public truth”? Being an atheist, I suppose. I see religion as a cultural and psychological construct, which fulfils certain almost universal needs and which, as a consequence, I am disinclined to condemn.”

Ali, Ayaan HirsiAyaan Hirsi Ali

1969–
Activist
Dutch feminist and politician, a prominent critic of Islam, whose screenplay for the movie Submission led to death threats.
“Too much reason can reform a faith away, which would be fine with Hirsi Ali, who regards herself as an atheist.”



The “Red” Dunhams of Washington State 1956

April 19, 2009

mercer-island-washington1956.  The year that the Dunham family, Stanley, Madelyn and Stanley Ann moved to Mercer Island, Washington State.

The official biographical sketch of the maternal family of Barack Obama has them uprooting from Texas or Oklahoma, moving to Washington, where Stanley could get a better salesman’s position in a better furniture store (yup), and StanleyAnn could enroll in a leftist high school.  The family moved because, we are told, the Dunhams were “red”, perhaps crypto-communists. It’s been said Stanley Ann was just an atheist, but in 1956 Godless atheism was as suspect as communism. Maybe more suspect.  Stanley Ann was 13 years old, already described by an unnamed source as a “fellow traveler”.  We’ve been told that Stanley Ann attended classes with highly influential, radical teachers where Marxism was discussed. The family attended the local Universalist Unitarian Church, aka “the little red church on the hill”.  Why this church was called “red” or why the Dunhams (strict Methodists) attended it, I don’t know.  However,  while the family remained in Washington for five years,  it is solely these anecdotal reports which link the Dunhams to any leftist organization, any leftist political group, labor union or feminist organization, let alone a communist group, not just then, but ever.  It seems utterly unbelievable to me that middle class parents would take on the expense of a cross country move just to enroll their 13 year old in a class for radicals and socialists.  How would the Dunhams have found out about this new school as far away as Washington State?  And if Stanley Ann were were truly a “red diaper” baby she wouldn’t have needed outside instruction.

careers at risk in red scare

careers at risk in red scare

Remember, this was 1956, and being a communist was illegal.  Being thought a “fellow traveler” was dangerous to health and freedom.  The red scare was in full swing, and mere suspicion of being communist affiliated could bring a visit from the FBI. A communist had to register with the federal government and risk being detained and interrogated regarding their associations.  The war and post war years saw a gradual tightening of laws designed to smoke out and hobble leftist activity.

First, there was the Smith Act, enacted in 1940.  From Wikipedia:

The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act (18 U.S.C. § 2385) of 1940 is a United States federal statute that makes it a criminal offense for anyone to

knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the duty, necessity, desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association.

It also required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the government; within four months, 4,741,971 aliens had registered under the Act’s provisions.

The Act is best known for its use against political organizations and figures, mostly on the left. Prosecutions continued until a series of United States Supreme Court decisions in 1957 threw out numerous convictions under the Smith Act as unconstitutional. The statute remains on the books, however.

The Act was proposed by Congressman Howard W. Smith of Virginia, a Democrat and a leader of the “anti-labor” bloc of Congressmen. It was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Washington State in the 1930’s and 1940’s was a hotbed of radical unionist activity.  But the FBI smashed most of the radical unions.  By 1950 the Communist press had been mostly shut down.  A show trial of leftist university professors in 1948, known as “the Seattle Ten”, ended with one leader committing suicide, while another turned FBI informant, implicating everyone she had ever had contact with, communist or not.  The rest of the “ten” were imprisoned and then blacklisted, some ending their careers as laborers.  So a person didn’t go about calling herself a communist or an atheist without thinking about consequences.

Calls that Canwell hearing was unconstitutional

Calls that Canwell hearing was unconstitutional

There were loyalty boards and obligatory loyalty oaths. The FBI had expanded powers, opening more than 400,000 files on potential subversives.  Simple membership or advocacy of a banned organization could lead to imprisonment.  Life for “leftists” became marginally better after 1957 but it’s hard to fathom how Madelyn Dunham would have been allowed to become a high level bank official with rumors swirling around her of “communist” affiliation.  It’s hard to believe the official scenario as presented by the Obama resume enhancers.

For this and other reasons I will discuss later, I have trouble believing the Dunhams were “red”.

I have an alternate theory to explain the facts as they are so often presented.  I’m more than willing to be disproved but some of the “facts” just don’t make sense.

Stanley Ann Dunham, Obama’s mama, was apparently born in a military hospital in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in November 1942.  Her father, Stanley, was in the military, and there for the birth, though regularly assigned, it is said, to General Patton’s tank corp.  No military records can be found to establish the arena of Stanley’s war service.  Some reports say his military records were destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center.  That seems highly unlikely and, I suppose, that’s an attempt to wrap Stanley Dunham in the flag, for the sake of Obama’s image.  The problem is there has to be record of his service existing somewhere besides the World Trade Center. Madelyn Dunham refused all interviews, so she was not helpful in fleshing out any details. But perhaps one clue is that Ft. Leavenworth is also the headquarters of naval intelligence and the training center for SESKOAD, military center of the Indonesian officer corp in the 1950’s.  If you’ve read my previous posts I link Ann Dunham Soetoro to the Indonesian military officer corp (by marriage to Colonel Lolo Soetoro) and employment at the U.S. Embassy at the time of the great Indonesian communist massacres of 1965-1968.  Both the U.S. Embassy and the Indonesian officer corp was fully involved in the massacre. Read the full report here, Building an Elite for Indonesia.  Excerpts from this astounding article (please read it):

Education had long been an arm of statecraft, and it was Dean Rusk who spelled out its function in the Pacific in 1952, just months before resigning as Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs to head up the Rockefeller Foundation. “Communist aggression” in Asia required not only that Americans be trained to combat it there, but “we must open our training facilities for increasing numbers of our friends from across the Pacific.”

and

Fortunately for Ford and its academic image there was yet another school at hand: SESKOAD, the Army Staff and Command School. Situated seventy miles southeast of Djakarta in cosmopolitan Bandung, SESKOAD was the Army’s nerve center. There, generals decided organizational and political matters; there, senior officers on regular rotation were “upgraded” with manuals and methods picked up during training in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas(emphasis mine).

So, back to Mercer Island.  Washington State is also a home of U.S. Naval Intelligence.  From Wikipedia:

Cryptanalytic problems facing the United States in the Pacific prior to World War II were largely those related to Japan. An early decision by OP-20-G in Washington divided responsibilities for them among CAST at Cavite and then Corregidor, in the Philippines, HYPO in Hawaii, and OP-20-G itself in Washington. Other Navy crypto stations, including Guam, Puget Sound, Bainbridge Island were tasked and staffed for signals interception and traffic analysis.

I noted in an above article that U.S. Naval Intelligence was sometimes associated with covert F.B.I. or C.I.A.  operations.  And sometimes normal seeming families were recruited by the F.B.I. to aid in  anti-communist intelligence gathering.

Next, the family lived in Berkeley for two years.  Berkeley, along with MIT, Cornell and Harvard, became the academic platforms funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations for the eventual ideological makeover for a military government in Indonesia. Madelyn Dunham attended Berkeley, taking no degree.   Here’s what Building an Elite for Indonesia says about the importance of Berkeley in the creation of an elite for Indonesia:

witnessed fal of Sukarno

witnessed fall of Sukarno

MIT and Cornell made contacts, collected data, built up expertise. It was left to Berkeley to actually train most of the key Indonesians who would seize government power and put their pro-American lessons into practice. Dean Sumitro’s Faculty of Economics provided a perfect academic boot camp for these economic shock troops.

and

This time the professional touch and academic respectability were to be provided by Berkeley. The Berkeley team’s first task was to replace the Dutch professors, whose colonial influence and capitalist economics Sukarno was trying to phase out. The Berkeley team would also relieve Sumitro’s Indonesian junior faculty so that Ford could send them back to Berkeley for advanced credentials. …

While the Indonesian junior faculty studied American economics in Berkeley classrooms, the Berkeley professors turned the Faculty in Djakarta into an American-style school of economics, statistics, and business administration.

After a two year stint in Berkeley the Dunhams moved to Hawaii, where Stanley could build a better career selling furniture.  Madelyn got a job in a bank, where, without formal training, she eventually became Vice President at the Bank of Hawaii.  I guess Stanley kept selling furniture until he died.

Honolulu is headquarters of Naval Intelligence in the Pacific and headquarters of the Pacific Area Command, U.S.P.A.C.O.M.  I noted in an earlier post that Admiral Dennis Blair, President Obama’s appointee as Director of National Intelligence,  was the supreme commander of PACOM.  He and Obama’s mama have something in common:  they both attended the East-West center and studied Russian there, as the former USSR was the most important arena for intelligence gathering during the Cold War.  President Eisenhower funded the East-West center with contributions from the Ford Foundation after the annexation of Hawaii in 1959 for Cold War studies.  Senator and later president Johnson, advocated for it.  The Ford Foundation established a fellowship program for it.

Once established in Hawaii, Ann Dunham enrolled at the East-West Center.

To be continued…..