Brandeis Shames Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-portraitAyaan Hirsi Ali was offered an honorary degree from Brandeis which then rescinded the offer under pressure from students, staff, and CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations). They were offended at Ali’s past comments that Islam will not reform, mutate, until it is defeated, and that there is a war on Islam.

Brandeis claims they didn’t know of her remarks.  One can only wonder how anyone could ever have missed her antiIslamic remarks since all of her writings echo that sentiment. Indeed most of her remarks are anti religion as well. She is willing to rate religions in order of their abuses; Christianity is less abusive than Islam, at least right now. And best yet would be a secular public where religions are tolerated so long as they do not publicly practice terrorism, violence, xenophobia, and female-male abuse.

ayan hirsi ali on tolerance

ayaan-hirsi-ali on silenceCAIR by pulling the holocaust card certainly fires up a lot of fear in Jews (Brandeis is nonsectarian Jewish) who are looking at a growing distaste for orthodoxy in their own ranks as are most religions.

<ayaan hirsi ali on moderateOne need only consider how apostasy is handled within the Abrahamic religions to understand their intolerance of difference–right now, Islam being the least, Judaism the most, and Christianity somewhere in between. But then what of those who claim moderation?

The sad distraction that a few or more do not represent the whole invites a rating of percentages. Just how many before one no longer excuses the whole? If all of a country(s) present an extremist, fundamentalist, orthodox, or literal view of their ideology do we say Ali is antiSomalia, antYemen, antiPakistan? Hiding behind “we are not all like that” says little to resolve the deep problems within. It avoids entirely the ideology in question that motivates the action. Certainly it excludes discussion of the material reasons one might choose an ideology or solutions to it. But even if Muslim men do bad because they are young and unemployed doesn’t deny the easy access to ideology that supports conquest and exclusion.

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-on mohammedWhen those who are “like that” use their ideology to support their violence it does little good to negate the violence as isolated from the ideology. It must be discussed on the level of the ideology or there is no reason to change and stop it. We simply must examine the ideology and deal with it directly or we condone the reasons and beliefs supporting the bad behavior.

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali on violenceCAIR certainly promotes Islamic extremism as well as Hamas which openly demands the wanton destruction of all Jews and Westerners–engaging in their dialog is doing it their way. They are not  moderate or pushing Islam as a movement of Peace. They are what the war against Islam is about–to meet the negative energy of those Islamists who would do nonIslamists harm. Ali would certainly tone down her anitpathy if more Muslims, and other religions, acted moderation.

ayaan hirsi ali on atheismThe real issue for Brandeis and most people supporting their final decision is atheistphobia. They fear her criticism of religions and her evaluating of the harm religions have done in respect to each other and in respect to secular and nontheistic ideologies. It is hard not to agree that religious ideologies can be graded in respect to their inherent violence espoused or eschewed, whether direct or indirect, implied or stated, allegorical or literal. Islam is one of the most violent and xenophobic and Buddhism is one of the least–in spite of a few peaceful Islamic sections, eg stating education is good ( as long as its Islamic education) and Buddhism’s antipathy to women. Most if not all big religions fail when it comes to xenotolerance, female rights, minority rights, adherence to egalitarian evidence, and collapse of hierarchy.

ayaan hirsi ali on womenOne wonders if Brandeis would honor Luther, who began the Reformation by being antiCatholic (and antisemitic), or Maimonides who was antinonJudaic, antigentile, though somewhat comfortably ensconced as an exile from within both Christian and Muslim persecution. Both these men softened their founding faiths while insisting you can’t belong to another religion without sacrificing salvation (goodness) and personal resurrection. Belong or have nothing.

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-on rights

Ayaan-Hirsi-Ali-on offenseThe  public shaming of Ali certainly shows Brandeis has no courage, is no mensch. Their chutzpah is eclipsed by their being a schmuck unable to kibbitz but as a shlemiel.

Jim Newman, bright and well


NYT Obit on Edwin Kagin

edwin kaginI never met Edwin Kagin but he sounds like the kind of person I wish I could be. High praise indeed.  The NYT published an obit showing just how much he brought to his friends, his community, and the world at large. I picked this obit because it will probably be the most widely read. I was curious the voice the remaining would give of him to the world.

There a few big notions of greatness here.

  • Be fearless.
  • Do something.
  • Pick your battles.
  • Be loud with humor.
  • Reframe as necessary.
  • Make it personal.
  • Know your content.
  • Be ready for children to vary.

What great style, Mr Kagin!

Edwin F. Kagin, the son of one minister and father of another, who saw religiosity creeping into the public domain and fought against it in a dual role as head lawyer and jester-provocateur for one of the country’s most militant atheist organizations, died on March 28 at his home in Union, Ky. He was 73.

The cause was undetermined, but he had a history of heart ailments, his sister Mary Kagin Kramer said.

Mr. Kagin was the national legal director of American Atheists, an organization founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was instrumental in the Supreme Court decision that year banning school prayer. He was associated with the group for 40 years.

His lawsuits challenged references to “almighty God” in Kentucky state legislation, the placement of 12-foot-high crosses on highways in Utah, and plans to include a 17-foot-tall steel-beam remnant of the World Trade Center, in the shape of a cross, in the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, which is scheduled to formally open in New York next month.

In 1995, Mr. Kagin and his wife, Helen, founded a summer camp, Camp Quest, in Ohio, that has since become the model for a dozen others operating in the United States, Britain and Norway for the children of atheists, agnostics and others opposed to the religious overtones of many camp programs.

Mr. Kagin’s carefully chosen legal battles were almost always decided in the highest state and federal courts, several times landing at the doorstep of the United States Supreme Court. And win or lose, he was often praised by opposing lawyers for the precision and constitutional insight manifest in his briefs.

Outside the courtroom, his approach was less measured.

He presided at “de-baptism” ceremonies, dressed in a monk’s hooded robe and waving a whirring hairdryer labeled “Truth and Reason” over the bowed heads of atheist “converts.” He called meetings of American Atheists to order with a jovial “Welcome, sinners and blasphemers!” and sometimes had women in burqas sing “Back in Their Burqas Again” to the tune of the 1970s song “Stuck in the Middle With You.” He distributed peanut butter-smeared crackers in mock communion services he called “Swallow the Leader.”

In an interview in 2010 on the ABC News program “Nightline,” Mr. Kagin was asked if he felt hostility toward the religious beliefs of others — people whose beliefs, the reporter added, were doing him no harm.

“But they are doing me harm,” he shot back. “They’re doing harm to a great number of people. They’re saying that ‘what we’re doing is sacred and inviolate. We can do whatever we want to your rights. And you cannot react.’ ”

Edwin Frederick Kagin Jr. was born in Greenville, S.C., on Nov. 26, 1940, the youngest of three children of the Rev. Edwin Frederick Kagin, a Presbyterian minister, and Mary Stewart Kagin. Growing up, he logged “12 years of perfect attendance at church and Sunday school,” he told an interviewer. In later years he was known to quote the Bible flawlessly in debates with Bible-quoting believers.

Mr. Kagin graduated from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, taught high school English for several years and took a series of other jobs before deciding, as he neared 30, to attend law school. He graduated in the early 1970s from the University of Louisville School of Law.

Mr. Kagin’s suit to stop the Sept. 11 Memorial from displaying the steel-beam cross had its prelude in Utah, where he challenged the state’s placement of 12-foot-high crosses at locations where troopers had died in the line of duty.

In 2010, a federal appeals panel affirmed his argument that the memorial crosses were religious symbols and therefore violated the First Amendment prohibition against government establishment of religion. The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal, letting the ruling stand.

A federal judge in New York, however, rejected his description of the World Trade Center cross as a religious symbol, calling it simply “an artifact,” even though it had been the site for daily prayers during the Sept. 11 cleanup.

In a hearing last month, Mr. Kagin asked a federal appellate court in New York to reverse that decision. That ruling is pending.

Besides his sister Mary and his son Stephen, Mr. Kagin is survived by another son, Eric; two daughters, Kathryn Kagin Cohan and Heather Kagan; a stepdaughter, Caroline Good; another sister, Roberta Stewart Kagin; and five grandchildren. His marriage to Sandra Graves, his children’s mother, ended in divorce in 1983. His second wife, Helen McGregor Kagin, died in 2010.

Mr. Kagin’s atheist beliefs, which he acquired in adulthood, strained relations with his father and later his son Stephen, who became a minister in the Christian Church of Kansas, part of the Disciples of Christ.

In a phone interview on Monday, Stephen Kagin said that although he and his father had loved each other, “we agreed to disagree on many things.”

The elder Mr. Kagin was asked in the “Nightline” interview about his son the minister. He replied with a smile, “Oh, one wonders where they went wrong.”

I am trying to work up the courage to do the last with my religious friends when they mention their child going on a mission or that they chose confirmation.

Wow, well, we all make mistakes.

Jim Newman, bright and well

Foundation Beyond Belief Awards $8,000 to Baptist Group

Euthyphro-DilemmaYou don’t have to believe in a skydaddy to be charitable.

Contrary to popular politics atheists have shared beliefs and a common morality with theists. Morality is true whether there are gods or not.

The entire point of a secular government is to ignore the red herrings of religious differences and have tolerance for all world views without any particular one usurping others. Further that minority rights, rights to freedom, and social justice trump all religions.

FBB awarded $8,000 to just cause.

Dale McGowan, executive director for Foundation Beyond Belief, explained to The Christian Post how the Baptist Joint Committee received the honor.

“To qualify, a nominee must work for the common good – i.e. not just for those who share its worldview – and must not proselytize,” said McGowan, regarding the specific category the Baptist Joint Committee was honored in.

“We then look for groups that share a key value with compassionate humanism, such as the responsibility to care for those less fortunate, advocating for equal rights and equal access to education, healthcare, food and shelter, etc. In the case of BJC, religious liberty and church–state separation are clearly shared values.”

The classic Euthyphro argument is you don’t have to be follow the gods to be moral.

It is no accident that Socrates propounds what has come to be called the “Euthyphro argument” on the way to his trial. The pompous Euthyphro confidently tells Socrates that the holy is to be defined as “what the gods love.” Socrates points out that this gets things backward: The gods love the holy because it is already holy, not because they regard it so. In other words, things are not good because a supposed God approves of them; rather, God approves of what is good in itself, quite independently of his will. This Socratic argument undermines the entire idea that theology can provide a basis for morality and opens up a quite secular way of thinking about the nature of virtue. As Ms. Goldstein remarks, this was a seminal moment in the history of moral philosophy and indeed in the development of human civilization; it showed the power of pure rational thought. The philosophy-jeerers of today need to be reminded of this philosophical achievement of long ago.

Or as Jesusandmo said.

2011-08-03 euthyphro

Jim Newman, bright and well

Join Me at Women in Secularism 3

we can do itI’m so excited to finally to be around other like-minded people again I can hardly stand it. Join me at Women in Secularism, May 16, 17 &  18 . Here’s the line up.

we can do it 2I’m so excited I could pee my pants. I can actually afford to go to this. It’s an awesome group. These women are the future and are the past. I hope I don’t embarrass myself by being so enthusiastic again and have Jamila Bey hug me and say I’m crushing on her. I’m crushing on  all of them. And yes, I like the guys too but the point is what great vitality the younger movement has gained and what great vitality the old guard has as well.

Here’s a schedule.


Friday, May 16

1:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Opening Remarks

1:15 pm – 2:45 pm
Online Activism
Moderator: Lindsay Beyerstein, Panel: Soraya Chemaly, Amy Davis Roth, Zinnia Jones, Miri Mogilevsky

2:45 pm – 3:00 pm
we can do it 5Break

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Intersectionality and Humanism
Moderator: Soraya Chemaly, Panel: Miri Mogilevsky, Heina Dadabhoy, Zinnia Jones, Debbie Goddard

4:30 pm – 5:15 pm
Soraya Chemaly
Gender and Free Expression

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
with Melody Hensley

rosie the riveter 3Saturday, May 17

9:00 am – 10:30 am
Women Leaving Religion
Moderator: Amanda Knief, Panel: Candace Gorham, Rebecca Goldstein, Heina Dadabhoy, Mandy Velez, Sarah Jones

10:30 am – 11:15 am
Barbara Ehrenreich
Living With a Wild God

11:15 am

11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Should We Be Concerned About Multiculturalism?
Moderator: Rebecca Goldstein, Panel: Ophelia Benson, Taslima Nasreen, Katha Pollitt, Sarah Jones

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm


2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
we can do it 6Rebecca Goldstein and Susan Jacoby
Why Women are Too Polite About Religion: A Conversation Between Rebecca Goldstein and Susan Jacoby

3:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Lindy West
A Feminist’s Guide to Surviving the Internet

3:45 pm – 4:00 pm

4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Taslima Nasreen
Why Secularism is Necessary for Women’s Freedom

5:00 pm – 5:10 pm
Closing Remarks

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
with Comedian Leighann Lord

we can do it 3Sunday, May 18

9:00 am – 10:30 am
Women Empowering Women in Secularism
Panel: Amy Davis Roth, Debbie Goddard, Melody Hensley, Amanda Knief

10:30 am – 11:15 am
Lindsay Beyerstein
Exiled from IHOP: An Atheist on Assignment

11:15 am – 11:30 am
we can do it 4Closing Remarks

What Are Your Favorite SkepticMoney Posts for Publishing?

jimAs Phil revealed in my interview  I am creating a book of posts from Skepticmoney. I can’t wait to edit and update them. Are there any favorites you would like to see? What are your favorite types of posts. All of my posts are also published at Frontiers of Reason? If specific posts don’t come to mind here are some categories.

  • Snarkey posts that wail on religion
  • Snarkey posts that wail on supernaturalism
  • Informative posts on history or philosophy of religion(s)
  • Coming out, myself or others, personal stories
  • Conversion stories
  • Politics
  • Science
  • Legal cases
  • Arguing or debating religious people
  • Social justice
  • Book reviews
  • Feminist
  • MRA issues
  • Famous atheists
  • LGBTQ issues
  • Pithy quotes

If I haven’t done a post on a topic you’d like to see let me know and I’ll do my best. Perhaps you have an idea of another book that seems to be not present yet in the community?

I will also reveal my full never-yet-told story of why my parents divorced because of religious conflict and how I was born of that conflict.

I probably will have to self publish an ebook. Do you think that’s a good idea or should I try to go print? Agent? I could also convert them to video blogs or podcasts? What are some good ways to market myself and my work?

If you prefer to email.

While I find myself addicted to writing these posts I will have to try to cut back to do this book. We’ll see if I succeed or if my  addiction continues to impoverish my family–hours I write are directly related to hours I don’t work. Greta shows pictures of her cats. Maybe I should show pictures of my horses or farm or ? Or links to the best atheist news of the day?


Jim Newman, bright and well