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Teaching the Holocaust to Muslim Germans, or Not

In Germany, field trips to concentration camps sites for all senior High School students is a way to make sure there are no Holocaust deniers in Germany.

Problem: some students of muslim descent (Turkish, but more markedly, Arabs) balk at the visits as they inject in the Mideast conflict (in families antisemitic on religious-political grounds)

Which shows how religion pollutes something which had been planned as progressive nation building, modern Germany owning up to and differentiating itself from its past.

Teaching the Holocaust to Muslim Germans, or Not

BERLIN — In Germany’s ever-swirling debate about its past, it is a relatively recent, always delicate question: How do you teach Muslim Germans about the Nazis and the Holocaust?

The topic has bubbled up in recent weeks, after discussion in Bavaria about a proposal for all eighth or ninth graders there to visit a former concentration camp or the newly opened center in Munich documenting Nazi crimes.

In Bavaria today, only pupils in a gymnasium, the top rank of high school, are required to make such visits. (..)

One conservative lawmaker, Klaus Steiner, praised the intent, but he suggested that Muslim pupils would need special preparation and implied that some might be exempted.

Lower-ranked secondary schools, he said, have a higher proportion of immigrant pupils, often recent arrivals whose parents sought refuge from war and hardship. “Many are from Muslim families,” Mr. Steiner said. “These children and their parents will need time before they can identify with our past.”

He further questioned whether anti-Semitism, “which is certainly latent here and there,” could “really effectively be countered” with obligatory visits to former camps.
Gisela Sengl, a lawmaker for the Greens, argued that it was precisely the less educated who were susceptible to antiforeigner, anti-Semitic chauvinism.
Outside Germany, the debate predictably stoked controversy. Details appeared in The Jerusalem Post, and the head of the European office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris wrote an open letter to Germany’s federal education minister.

Mr. Steiner’s language, wrote the director, Shimon Samuels, “reeks at best as Holocaust denial and, far worse, a German endorsement” for radical Islamists’ assertion that the Holocaust “is a lie.” He went on to link Mr. Steiner’s behavior to Germany’s recent decision to establish centers for Islam at a number of major universities, part of a program to train educators and scholars to serve the estimated four million Muslims now in Germany.

That program is intended to counter what many experts see as radical Islam propagated at some mosques in Germany, given that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were conceived and perpetrated in part by Muslims who met in Hamburg.

Mouhanad Khorchide, a Palestinian from Beirut, Lebanon, and a professor of Islamic studies in Münster, said any question about teaching Muslim students about Nazi crimes against Jews was an extension of Middle East politics.

“If there was no Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it would look different,” he said by telephone.

The idea of Muslim Germans visiting former concentration camps “is more and more strongly accepted,” Professor Khorchide said. But the effect depends on family background. “Especially Arab children whose parents grew up in the Middle East have stronger prejudices” than, say, Turks or Kurds, he said.


'Saudi Cables' reveal secret Saudi influence in Australia

What makes the article interesting is that it shows the Saudi petrodollars are promoting their rigid, intolerant version of Islam in western mosques.

As a consolation, we also learn that Saudi money is not all spent on promoting radical Islam. Some is used to counter Shia Islam, and some to make sure its own nationals are believers.

WikiLeaks 'Saudi Cables' reveal secret Saudi government influence in Australia
June 20, 2015

WikiLeaks has revealed secret Saudi Arabian influence in Arabic media and Islamic religious groups in Australia as well as covert monitoring of Saudi students studying at Australian universities.
"The Saudi Cables lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship that has not only celebrated its 100th beheading this year, but which has also become a menace to its neighbours and itself," WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange said
reveals sustained Saudi efforts to influence political and religious opinion within Australia's Arabic and Islamic communities.
payment of large subsidies
The Saudi embassy is also revealed to pay close attention to the political and religious beliefs of Saudi university students
The documents show the Sunni kingdom's (efforts ..) to counter Shiite influence.
The documents reveal extensive Saudi efforts to influence and neutralise critical opinion in foreign media, including widespread use of monetary contributions and subsidies.

"Most world governments engage in PR campaigns to fend off criticism and build relations in influential places. Saudi Arabia controls its image by monitoring media and buying loyalties from Australia to Canada and everywhere in between," WikiLeaks said in a written statement.
The embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was not available for comment.

When did you become a Pastafarian and why?

Now that you are a believer in the one and only true god, the Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster,
why not share the joyous news of how, when and why you became a true believer?

What led you to see its noodly light? What convinced you? What were you before? A bronze age religion cultist? Some other religion cultist? Or **shudders** an atheist?

This thread will serve at least three beautiful purposes:

•1• reinforce our beliefs by seeing how we all followed different paths to the one true Truth.
•2• help non believers visiting our forum to see the light by examples they can relate to
•3• give believers a toolkit of reasons to convince pastastheists, unbelievers in the holy FSM.

I am joyously impatient to hear all your wonderful unique paths to His Truth, the total beatitude one can only find in the infinite goodness of Pastafarianism.


A surprising display of pastafarianophobia

As you pastafarians and friends of pastafarians know, this group is brand new.

We haven't had time yet for grand, majestic threads detailing our creed, launching a contest for new pastafarian hymnals, reviewing seriously which beers should be served at the great beer volcano in the sky or starting internecine fights between opposing pastafarian subsects.

And yet, 6 people have chosen to already 'trash' this group, i.e. make sure not to see what we post.

That is interesting, and begs some questions: What do these people think?
- that their own faith is now competing with ours, and becomes the enemy? (religious war posture)
- that their religion is holier than ours? (superiority complex of the bronze age religions)
- or is it weakness?

Could it be that such people fear that reading about a new religion would, by comparison of equally unsubstantiated claims abouts cosmology and morality, weaken the certitudes they thought they harbored?

If so, harken me hearties, the pastafarian ship is charging full speed ahead.

Religion in action: one year of ISIS in Mosul (BBC report)

The BBC managed to get witness accounts of what it is to live under literal religion.

The article has 6 parts, each with witness reports and one video.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-32831854 (four comments in italics by me.)

Inside Mosul: What's life like under Islamic State?

Exclusive footage reveals how Islamic State wields power over people's everyday lives in Iraq's second city, Mosul, a year after it was captured.
Secretly filmed videos obtained by the BBC's Ghadi Sary show mosques being blown up, abandoned schools, and women being forced to cover up their bodies.

1. Control of women

women are forced to cover up, with one woman challenged for not having her hands fully covered.
Hanaa: "IS is very strict about the dress code for women. Women have to be fully covered up in black, head to toe.

"We had heard stories of men being flogged because their wives didn't put their gloves on. Another woman's parents were banned from driving their car. Those who objected would be beaten and humiliated.

2. Persecution of minorities

The footage, which was passed from house to house before being smuggled out of the city, reveals how homes belonging to Mosul's ethnic and religious minority communities have been confiscated by Islamic State. Many residential areas once popular with minorities now stand empty.

Christian homes marked with 'N'Arabi. Many Christian neighbourhoods are now empty

3. Intimidation, punishment and torture

Clips also show mosques and shrines being destroyed. (it's OK because they are the 'wrong' mosques..) Residents speak of brutal punishments for anyone contravening the jihadists' interpretation of Islamic law, which is imposed across the "caliphate" whose creation they proclaimed weeks after seizing Mosul.

"Theft is punished by amputating a hand, adultery by men by throwing the offender from a high building, and adultery by women by stoning to death. (literal application of religious texts) The punishments are carried out in public to intimidate people, who are often forced to watch.

4. Disruption of daily life

Hisham: "Daily life has changed in an indescribable way. Those who were in the military and day labourers no longer have any income because there are no jobs anymore.

The rich have been relying on their savings, those with a salary are just about getting by, but the poor have been left to the mercy of God. (so theocracy leaves the poor to god; full circle) "Meanwhile, my brother was given 20 lashes just because he didn't shut his shop during prayer time - as if you can just impose religion by force!"

5. Indoctrination and surveillance

Mahmoud: "My 12-year-old brother remained in school despite the fact that it became controlled by IS. We thought that, with no alternative available, he would at least be able to continue some sort of education, and that it would be better than nothing.

"But one day I came home and found my little brother drawing Islamic State's flag and humming one of its most famous songs. I went crazy and began yelling at him. "I've come to the conclusion that the goal of this organisation is to plant the seeds of violence, hate and sectarianism into children's minds."

6. IS tactics and logistics

Zaid: "IS knows the army will try to retake Mosul, so they're taking precautions. They've destroyed the city by digging tunnels, building barricades, planting mines and bombs, and filling the city with snipers, which will make it very difficult for the army.

"The government should arm local people so that they can protect the city themselves. With the help of God, we will defeat IS." (With the help of god? Thought IS was acting on god's words?)

7 Reasons Why It's Easier for Humans to Believe in God Than Evolution

7 Reasons Why It's Easier for Humans to Believe in God Than Evolution

What science can tell us about our not-so-scientific minds.
—By Chris Mooney | Tue Nov. 26, 2013 12:31 PM EST

(..) Here's a list of cognitive traits, thinking styles, and psychological factors identified in recent research that seem to thwart evolution acceptance:

Biological Essentialism.

First, we seem to have a deep tendency to think about biology in a way that is "essentialist"—(..) Fish have gills, birds have wings, fish make more fish, birds make more birds, and that's how it all works. Essentialist thinking has been demonstrated in young children. (..) Charles Darwin and his many scientific disciples have shown that essentialism is just plain wrong: Given enough time, biological kinds are not fixed but actually change. (..)

Teleological Thinking.

(..)"teleology," or the tendency to ascribe purposes to things and objects so as to assume they exist to serve some goal. Recent research suggests that 4 and 5 year old children are highly teleological in their thinking, (..) clouds are "for raining" and that the purpose of lions is "to go in the zoo."..)

In other words, our brains developed for thinking about what people are thinking, and people have intentions and goals. If that's right, the playing field may be naturally tilted toward anti-evolutionist doctrines like "intelligent design," which postulates an intelligent agent (God) as the cause of the diversity of life on Earth, (..)

Overactive Agency Detection.

But how do you know the designer is "God"? That too may be the result of a default brain setting.

Another trait, closely related to teleological thinking, is our tendency to treat any number of inanimate objects as if they have minds and intentions. Examples of faulty agency detection, (..) range from seeing "faces in the clouds" to "getting really angry at your computer when it starts to malfunction." People engage in such "anthropomorphizing" all the time (..) "Supernatural agents are readily conjured up because natural selection has trip-wired cognitive schema for agency detection in the face of uncertainty," write Norenzayan and fellow origin of religion scholar Scott Atran.


Yet another apparent feature of our cognitive architecture is the tendency to think that minds (or the "self" and the "soul" are somehow separate from brains. (..) "Preschool children will claim that the brain is responsible for some aspects of mental life, typically those involving deliberative mental work (but) that the brain is not involved in a host of other activities, such as pretending to be a kangaroo, (..)

Dualistic thinking is closely related to belief in phenomena like spirits and ghosts. But in a recent study, it was also the cognitive factor most strongly associated with believing in God. As for evolutionary science? Dualism is pretty clearly implicated in resistance to the idea that human beings could have developed from purely natural processes—for if they did, how could there ever be a soul or self beyond the body, to say nothing of an afterlife?

Inability to Comprehend Vast Time Scales.

According to Norenzayan, there's one more basic cognitive factor that prevents us from easily understanding evolution. Evolution occurred due to the accumulation of many small changes over vast time periods—which means that it is unlike anything we've experienced. So even thinking about it isn't very easy. "The only way you can appreciate the process of evolution is in an abstract way," says Norenzayan. "Over millions of years, small changes accumulate, but it's not intuitive. There's nothing in our brain that says that's true. We have to override our incredulity."

Group Morality and Tribalism.

(..) beyond these cognitive factors, there are also emotional reasons why a lot of people don't want to believe in evolution. When we see resistance to its teaching, after all, it is usually because a religious community fears that this body of science will undermine a belief system (..) deemed to serve as the foundation for shared values and understanding. In other words, evolution is resisted because it is perceived as a threat to the group.
(..) The upside is unity; the downside, Haidt continues, is "groupishness, tribalism, and nationalism." Ideas and beliefs that threaten the group or the beliefs that hold it together—ideas like evolution—are bound to fare badly in this context.

Fear and the Need for Certainty.

Finally, there appears to be something about fear and doubt that impels religiosity and dispels acceptance of evolution. "People seem to take more comfort from a stance that says, someone designed the world with good intentions, instead of that the world is just an intention-less, random place," says Norenzayan. "This is especially true when we feel a sense of threat, or a feeling of not being in control."

Indeed, in one amazing study, New Zealanders who had just suffered through a severe earthquake showed stronger religiosity, but only if they had been directly affected by the quake. Other research suggests that making people think about death increases their religiosity and also decreases evolution acceptance. (..)


Scientific American: No Pause in Global Warming


No Pause in Global Warming
A new study suggests that global warming continues to steadily increase

By Brian Kahn and Climate Central | June 4, 2015

The global warming hiatus—a decade-plus slowdown in warming—could be chalked up to some buoys, a few extra years of data and a couple buckets of seawater. That’s the finding of a new study published on Thursday in Science, which uses updated information about how temperature is recorded, particularly at sea, to take a second look at the global average temperature. The findings show a slight but notable increase in that average temperature, putting a dent in the idea that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, a trend highlighted in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

The term “ global warming hiatus” is a bit of a misnomer. It refers to a period of slower surface warming in the wake of the 1997-98 super El Niño compared to the previous decades. However, make no mistake, the globe’s average temperature has still risen over that period (including record heat in 2014) and temperatures now are the hottest they’ve been since recordkeeping began in the 1880s. So let’s call it what it really is: a slowdown, not a disappearance of global warming. The new findings show that even the concept of the slowdown could be overstated.

“There is no slowdown in global warming,” Russell Vose, the head of the climate science division at the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), said. “Or stated differently, the trend over the past decade and half is in line with the trend since 1950.”
Vose helped author the new study, which uses new information about how data is collected at sea to reanalyze surface temperature records. The new analysis essentially doubles the rate of temperature rise since 1998. That puts it more in line with warming trends since the 1950s, though some researchers said there were still some periods of faster warming on record since the 1950s.“The fact that such small changes to the analysis make the difference between a hiatus or not merely underlines how fragile a concept it was in the first place,” Gavin Schmidt, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.

Temperatures have warmed 1.6°F since the 1880s. Projections indicate the temperatures could rise as much as 11°F by century’s end if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t slowed and that the rate of warming could reach levels unseen in 1,000 years by 2030s.

The study was inspired by some new metadata, the data behind the data, that provided clues that scientists weren’t properly accounting for certain types of measurements. Specifically, there have been a proliferation of buoys over the past 40 years and the survival of an antiquated measurement technique used by ships.


The Campus Crusaders

The Campus Crusaders

Every generation has an opportunity to change the world. Right now, college campuses around the country are home to a moral movement that seeks to reverse centuries of historic wrongs.

This movement is led by students forced to live with the legacy of sexism, with the threat, and sometimes the experience, of sexual assault. (..) racism and bigotry. (..) equal rights for gays, lesbians (..)

These students are driven by noble impulses to do justice and identify oppression. (..)

But when you witness how this movement is actually being felt on campus, you can’t help noticing that it sometimes slides into a form of zealotry. If you read the website of the group FIRE, which defends free speech on campus, (..) you see speech codes that inhibit free expression;
Today’s campus activists are not only going after actual acts of discrimination — which is admirable. They are also going after incorrect thought — impiety and blasphemy.
According to this theory, the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.
There will always be moral fervor on campus. Right now that moral fervor is structured by those who seek the innocent purity of the vulnerable victim. Another and more mature moral fervor would be structured by the classic ideal of the worldly philosopher, by the desire to confront not hide from what you fear, but to engage the complexity of the world, (..)

IHT - JUNE 2, 2015 - David Brooks

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