Sunday, March 11, 2007

Being Muslim is not a crime

There is one issue upon which liberals and conservatives alike appear to be in general consensus, the vilification of Muslims. In a U.S.A Today/Gallup Poll thirty nine percent of Americans admit to “feeling some prejudice against Muslims.” A similar percentage of Americans agreed with requiring Muslims, which would include U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID “as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States.” Twenty two percent stated that they would not feel comfortable with Muslims living in their neighborhood while both liberal and conservative periodicals, such as The Progressive and The FrontPage Magazine, have propagated rhetoric which both agrees with and encourages such views.

I really should not have to point out that these sentiments are strikingly reminiscent of Nazi Germany, the “special ID” being a virtual parallel between the Star of David which Jews were forced to wear. Singling out an entire religious and ethnic group of human beings only by virtue of their belonging to the group is wrong, by definition. The fact that many Americans are openly doing so in modern times is only further evidence that human civilization is yet but a yearling in evolutionary maturation; modern, first world, industrialized society appears to still fervently cling to the religious practice of fashioning a scapegoat upon which to cast its every sin and fear to then be ritually sacrificed thus, as religious theory goes, purging the sins and fears of the society and therefore serving as an act of purification. It seems fairly evident that Muslims have now become the scapegoat of choice for a significant percentage of Americans.

The vilification of Muslims is as transparent as it is both fallacious and wicked being the product of ignorance, bigotry and fear-mongering. There are 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide; I shouldn’t have to point out that they are not all terrorists, just as I should not have to point out that not all Christians are abortion doctor murderers. While it is certainly true that there are radical Muslims practicing a nefarious form of Islam, an Islam which celebrates the metaphysical principles of martyrdom for example, it cannot be legitimately argued that all Muslims accept such forms of Islam. Furthermore, and this is my main argument, by so grossly generalizing, castigating and vilifying the entirety of the Muslim population one is effectively alienating the most crucial asset of a serious enlightenment and reformation movement within Islam, the liberal and moderate Muslims.

When bigoted fear-mongers construct and argue for a stark dichotomy, “either you are for terrorism or you are for freedom,” they are, in effect, not only conflating reality, but also further exacerbating the fundamental problem. Many Muslims reject as strongly as anyone else the terrorism being condoned and propagated by the extremists within their religious ranks, but, when the only alternative offered them is the western accusatory and bigoted caricature of “pluralism” and “freedom” it is not at all too difficult to understand why some may find the choice unappealing.

When political officials publicly declare a “war on Islam” the moderate Islamic impulses which are an absolute necessity in the reformation of radical Islam are by default alienated and estranged, pushed away by the generalization that is conceptualizing Islam as an amalgam of violent terrorists, suicide-bombers, fascists and savages. Human civilization is no more at war with Islam as it has been as still is at war with Christianity; civilization is at war with dogmatic, exclusionary and violent extremism and only an idiot or a sociopath – or, more appropriately, a political criminal - would alienate and deny the moderate impulses which are an absolute necessity in the remediation thereof.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Nefarious Cult of Scientology

Scientology is a cult whose primary concerns are money and power, power inasmuch as it advances monetary income. I have long despised Scientology after having read Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’s views on psychology and psychiatry and after having become acquainted with the entire demagogic aspect of the pseudo-psychological and space-age religious cult.

There are several theories which attempt to explain Hubbard’s and thus Scientology’s irrational and vitriolic campaign against psychiatry. One theory posits that after Hubbard had been diagnosed as psychologically unsound by Naval psychiatrists and thus discharged from the Navy he nurtured a desire for revenge. Another conceives that Hubbard developed a dislike of psychiatry after the APA rejected his book Dianetics essentially calling it a hoax and a potentially dangerous fraud; the Scientific American review being a perfect example.
Both of these events actually occurred, however, it remains unknown whether either are the cause for Hubbard’s latter vilification of psychiatry. I will not now go into the debates surrounding these theories.

What is important is that, like all religions, Scientology has conjured up it’s own illusory scapegoat upon which to cast it’s “sins of all humanity” and around which to organize a demagogic assembly of religious fanatics, Tom Cruise being an illustrative case in point.

Throughout the entirety of human history religions have incorporated scapegoat’s, in ancient Greece – as elsewhere and even before – a shamanistic priestly class protected the ancient society from plagues, famines and virtually anything that would serve detriment to the society by performing certain religious ceremonies, chiefly among them, human or animal sacrifice or the expelling of a pharmakos, which translates to scapegoat. Such a ceremonial ritual has been part and parcel of religions over the centuries and is still firmly established in modernity, fundamentalist Christians demonizing homosexuals and abortion doctors, Muslim extremists vilifying Jews and Scientologists fashioning psychiatry and psychiatrists as their own personal pharmakos.

It is informative to read the pamphlets and, essentially, the screeds Scientology offers regarding their views on psychiatry. It is most remarkable in light of the fact that it is indisputable, and generally conceded by any serious Scientologist that Hubbard was, at the very least, influenced by the psychiatry of his day, Freudian psychoanalysis. In my analysis Hubbard was not merely influenced by Freud, in fact, he completely usurped an elementary conception of the Freudian theory of the mind; the elementary conception being a testament to the general ignorance of Hubbard, a science fiction author by trade. I will not go into great detail regarding Hubbard’s expropriation of Freudian theory, although I could further elucidate the general points which follow.

Hubbard writes that “the mind has three major divisions,” which are the analytical, the reactive and the somatic mind. Without going into great detail this conception is in effect a spurious conception of the Freudian theory of the mental apparatus which is composed of what is unconscious, preconscious and conscious, otherwise know as the Id, Super-ego and Ego. The Scientology somatic mind is a poor counterfeit of the Freudian id, they both consist of basic impulses, the basis of the psyche and the lowest manifestation of the mind. Dianetics, Hubbard’s book which laid the foundation for the cult, is essentially pseudo-psychology based on a tenuous understanding of Freudian theory and occult, science fiction voodoo (the latter being Hubbard’s area of expertise).

After Dianetics had been rejected from all respectable psychiatric and medical associations Hubbard began to write negatively about psychiatry. In his short book Scientology The Fundamentals of Thought Hubbard begins the book by attacking psychology, in particular Wilhelm Wundt, on the second page of the first chapter. Hubbard writes: “This man conceived that man was an animal without soul and based all of this work on the principle that there is no psyche.” He then writes of Wundtian psychology by saying: “It taught that man was an animal. It taught that man could not be bettered.” Hubbard is correct on one ground, that Wundt and Wundtian psychology views “man” – the human species – as an animal; specifically, as a highly cognitively developed and socially evolved animal, and correctly so.

It may or may not be true that Wundt himself objected to the supernatural notion of souls, although, if he did he did so with logical validity and parsimony. However, it is certainly true that, while psychology may not outright reject the conception of a soul, the field of psychology does not even consider the soul and, again, rightly so. Psychology is a science and science is guided by scientific naturalism, the supernatural has no place within a legitimate scientific field. However, Hubbard’s claim that Wundtian psychology “taught that man could not be bettered” is simply diametrically opposed to reality. One need only open a psychology text book or visit with any psychologist to know this is a blatant and nefarious lie, demonstrably so. One of the major components of psychology, clinical psychology, is literally built upon the premise that “man” can be “bettered.” Clinical psychology’s explicit intent and pursuit is the remediation of psychological disorders; that is why it exists.

Hubbard writes far more disturbing falsifications and ad hominems regarding psychiatry and psychiatrists, in fact, Scientology has an entire website and magazine dedicated to the sole purpose of fashioning psychiatry as its pharmakos. Hubbard, when he later incorporated into the self-help, pseudo-psychological voodoo that is Dianetics the space-age religious aspect, he fashioned into his dogma - among other tenets which include intergalactic space aliens (Xenu, not to be confused with Xena), UFO’s, volcanoes wired with thetans (souls) and nuclear bombs, etcetera - intergalactic psychiatrists who were themselves the source of great evil and mischief, essentially, the Christian equivalent of Satan or the Norse equivalent of Loki.

Scientology can be criticized on a plethora of grounds, some more compelling and more demanding of direct action than their views and castigation of psychiatry. However, this particular subject has long been for me a source of exasperation. Clearly Scientology is a demagogic assembly of religious fanatics propagating a campaign of distortion and vindictiveness. Scientology is a cult of aggressive greed and avarice and belligerent, even violent, psychological terrorism.