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Archive for the ‘Propaganda’ Category

I Get Email

Being from a rather religious family (both my immediate and extended family), I often get email forwards about various political or religious issues. I usually just roll my eyes and don’t respond. Here’s one of the latest email-forward from my aunt. I’ll spare you the full text – you can read it over at Snopes. (Snopes agrees that Darrell Scott made this speech, but points out the overblown language used to frame the piece and says the speech was never given to Congress.)

Subject: PLEASE READ THOUGHT PROVOKING

Guess our national leaders didn’t expect this, hmm? On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful..

They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal.. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness. The following is a portion of the transcript:

* Actually Darrell Scott wasn’t speaking to Congress, he was “one of eight people who presented statements to a small House Subcommittee meeting in an office building; … and didn’t prompt outrage from an unreceptive audience”.

Religious people really love to cast themselves as the role of wise martyr speaking truth to power. I’m surprised they didn’t use this photograph to accompany the email:

“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.

“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.

Point #1: No to gun control. Conservatives are going to love this email, and so will the NRA. Of course, this was just a brief detour to talk about the real cause of this tragedy.

I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy — it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.

The blame for Columbine lies in this government room? The blame lies with people pointing fingers at those who accuse the NRA?

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

Point #2: We must pay tax dollars for (Christian) religious education, or else these kinds of shootings will happen again.

So, the blame for Columbine lies with those who “outlawed” prayer in schools, preventing children from finding what they need — God.

Of course, the government never outlawed prayer in schools. The government outlawed the practice of teachers (authority figures paid by the general public’s tax dollars) leading students (a captive audience of other people’s children) in prayers to a religion they may or may not believe in. The solution to Columbine is in using tax dollars for religious education — but only as long as it promotes their particular religious view.

I like some of those lines:

“Your laws ignore our deepest needs,”. Our deepest need is to indoctrinate other people’s children? And why do public schools have to allow the teaching of religion? Aren’t there other places to do that, or must “all our deepest needs” be met in schools?

“You’ve stripped away our heritage”. “Heritage” meaning “Christianity”, and “stripped away” meaning “you won’t let us make other people’s children pray to Jesus”.

“You’ve outlawed simple prayer.” Prayer isn’t outlawed in schools.

One of my former neighbors believes in all kinds of new age / wicca moon-goddess beliefs. She’s also a public school teacher. I think we all know what would happen if she started leading other people’s children in prayers. Christians would protest and complain, but it’s totally different if it’s their religion that’s getting taught. Admittedly, those are different situations: my neighbor would lead innocent, impressionable children in prayer to a false idol – the demonic moon-goddess, rather than showing them the way to the One True God.

“Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence… The real villain lies within our own hearts.

Hmm, I think most of this speech could be repeated by devout Muslims in any historically Islamic territory. A good way to entrench the dominant religion.

“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him.

This totally plays into the Christian-conservative myth that prayer was outlawed in schools. By perpetuating this myth, they try to turn “teachers can’t lead students in prayer” into some kind of burden on Christians and the one true God. I especially like how he tries to pretend that politicians were trying to deny students the right to pray in school.

Do what the media did not – – let the nation hear this man’s speech..

Yes, the media did not let the nation hear this man’s speech. The media is against Christians, and are working to suppress the truth. Or, maybe they just didn’t think it was newsworthy. Interesting spin, though. I think I’ll try it with this blog-post: “Do what the media did not — let the nation read my blog post!”

Today, I got an email from another relative where she says that it’s obvious that we needed to overturn the ban on prayer in school. Ugh.

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Common Sense Atheism linked to a video the other day about fertility rates in Europe and in Muslim countries. The point of the video is to say that Europe will be predominantly Muslim within fifty years or less, as a result of low birthrates among native Europeans and high birthrates among Muslim immigrants. I’ve seen these arguments over the past few years. It’s stuff promoted mainly by American Right-wing Christians, often with dire warnings that Europe will be Islamicized within 50 years, and America will stand alone in the world. For example, here’s a sample:

If there is anything that should make Americans’ blood run cold about immigration, it is the sight of Europe—and Britain, the home of Western civilization—being buried by millions of Muslim colonists. Europe is just hoping against hope that Islam isn’t going to explode into massive rioting (or worse), or impose total cultural Islamification.

Now the triumphs of Tours and Vienna are being trampled by immigrants, entering mostly legally. It’s a wonder the Muslims bother with terrorism at all when demography is working so well for them.

Europe’s swirl down the toilet bowl is little reported in this country largely because the Main Stream Media is not interested in showing it. The top media elites are still stuck on multiculturalism. But the European experience shows what a bogus ideology that is. (Source)

So, how accurate is this video?

muslimdemographics1
Claim: “Historically, no culture has ever reversed a 1.9 fertility rate.”
They provide no source for this claim. However, birth rates do vary over time, and have increased. For example, here’s an image of France’s population over the past two centuries. As you can see, the population size barely changes between 1890 and 1945. Since 1945, the population has grown by 50%. The current fertility rate in France is about 2 children per person.

Wikipedia states:

After 1947 however, France suddenly underwent a demographic recovery that no one could have foreseen. It is a fact that in the 1930s the French government, alarmed by the decline of France’s population, had passed laws to boost the birth rate, giving state benefits to families with children. Nonetheless, no one can quite satisfactorily explain this sudden and unexpected recovery in the demography of France, which was often portrayed as a “miracle” inside France. This demographic recovery was again atypical in the Western World, in the sense that although the rest of the Western World experienced a baby boom immediately after the war, the baby boom in France was much stronger, and above all it lasted longer than in most other countries of the Western World (the United States being one of the few exceptions). In the 1950s and 1960s France enjoyed a population growth of 1% a year, which is the highest growth in the history of France, not even matched in the best periods of the 18th or 19th centuries.

Claim: “A rate of 1.3: impossible to reverse… There is no economic model that can sustain itself during that time.”
It’s true that declining birth rates cause a lot of problems for nations; it’s difficult for workers to pay enough taxes to support the retired generation. A lot of countries (including east-asian countries like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan) are very worried about this problem.

muslimdemographics2
These numbers are almost right. It’s true that these nations are declining in population. According to nationmaster (which took it’s numbers from the CIA World Factbook), the actual fertility rates are:

France 1.98
England 1.66
Greece 1.36
Germany 1.41
Italy 1.3
Spain 1.3

It’s also worth noting that the fertility rates of these nations have been rising slightly over the past five years. Here’s a look at the historical data:

Spain, historical fertility rates:

2003 1.26
2004 1.27
2005 1.28
2006 1.28
2007 1.29
2008 1.3

France, historical fertility rates: (*note: France reversed a fertility rate that dropped below 1.9)

2003 1.85
2004 1.85
2005 1.85
2006 1.84
2007 1.98
2008 1.98

Germany, historical fertility rates:

2003 1.37
2004 1.38
2005 1.39
2006 1.39
2007 1.4
2008 1.41

Italy, historical fertility rates:

2003 1.26
2004 1.27
2005 1.28
2006 1.28
2007 1.29
2008 1.3

(According to the nationmaster numbers, the UK’s and Greece’ fertility rate stayed relatively constant across the 2003-2008 time period.)

muslimdemographics3
1.3-1.5 sounds approximately right. The highest fertility rate in Europe is 2.02 (Albania), and eastern Europe has some of the lowest fertility rates (Poland 1.27, Ukraine 1.25, Lithuania 1.22).

muslimdemographics4
Claim: “France: 1.8 Children per family, Muslims: 8.1.”
They list of source for this claim, but it’s too small to read. This claim is almost certainly false. First, there isn’t a country in the whole world that has a fertility rate of 8 children, so I doubt that millions of Muslims in France’s are having that many children.

While it’s true that many Muslim nations have high fertility rates (Yemen 6.41, Gaza Strip 5.19, Saudi Arabia 3.89), not all of them do. While I have no source for Muslim birthrates in France, I do know where most of France’s immigrants come from: they come from France’s former colonies. Here’s a map of French immigration by nation:


You can quickly pick out that France’s Muslim immigration comes mainly from four countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Turkey.

What are the fertility rates in these countries?

Morocco 2.57
Algeria 1.82
Tunisia 1.73
Turkey 1.87

Now, it looks very suspicious when they claim French Muslims are averaging 8.1 children per person. In fact, the birthrates in their original countries are lower than birthrates in France. I have a hard time believing that they suddenly become hyperfertile when they live in France.

I had actually read an article a few years ago (again, by an Christian-Right author). He talked about how he met a Palestinian woman living in Paris who was raising her 6 children. He then implied that all French Muslims were having this many children. Of course, that was a huge generalization. It’s true that Palestinians (on average) have a lot of children, but it’s false to claim that most Muslims living in France (most of them not from Palestine) were having this many children. Yet, he tried to slide this claim past his readers.

muslimdemographics5
Claim: “In the Netherlands, 50% of all newborns are Muslim.”
That same article I read a few years ago claimed that 50% of all newborns within a particular Dutch city were Muslim (which may or may not be accurate). I have to wonder if that claim was generalized to “In the Netherlands, 50% of all newborns are Muslim.”

There are approximately 1 million Muslims in the Netherlands, a nation of 16.6 million people. So Muslims makeup about 6% of the total population. Yet, we’re supposed to believe 50% of the children born in the Netherlands are Muslim? The fertility rate in the Netherlands is 1.66 children per person. Mathematically, Muslims in the Netherlands would need to have 26 children to makeup 50% of the births in the country.

Further, if we look at the countries of origin of these Muslims, we find that 2/3rds immigrated from Turkey (1.87 fertility rate) or Morocco (2.57 fertility rate).

muslimdemographics6
Claim: “In only 15 years, half of the population of the Netherlands will be Muslim.”
It makes my head hurt to figure out how 1 million Muslims will outnumber 15.6 million non-Muslims in 15 years.

muslimdemographics7
Claim: “In Russia, there are over 23 million Muslims, that’s 1 out of 5 Russians.”
According to Wikipedia:

According to the most recent estimates by the R&F Agency, there are more than 20 million officially self-identified Muslims in Russia, a number that has risen by 40% in the last 15 years, though no more than 6 million are truly orthodox. Roman Silantyev, a Russian Islamologist has estimated that there are only between 7 and 9 million people who practise Islam in Russia, and that the rest are only Muslims by ethnicity.

Also, Russia’s population is 140 million. Even if “23 million muslims” was accurate, that’s 16.4%, not 1 out of 5 (or 20%).

muslimdemographics8
Claim: “Currently in Belgium, 25% of the population and 50% of all newborns are Muslim.”
Wikipedia states:

An 2008 estimation shows that 6% of the Belgian population, about 628,751, is Muslim (98% Sunni). Muslims cover 25.5% of the population of Brussels, 4.0% of Wallonia and 3.9% of Flanders.

Maybe they mixed up “Brussels” and “Belgium”. Regardless, they inflated the percentage of Muslims in Belgium from 6% to 25%.

Again, we see the same pattern of immigration as we saw in the Netherlands – 2/3rds are Moroccans and Turkish immigrants – whose home countries have relatively low birthrates (2.57 and 1.87, respectively).

muslimdemographics9
Claim: “1/3rd of all European children will be born to Muslim families by 2025, just 17 years away.”
That doesn’t seem very likely considering that Muslims currently makeup “4 percent of the European Union’s population” (Source). This particular claim about “1/3rd of all European children” appears to come from the Right-wing Brussel’s Journal.

muslimdemographics10
Claim: “The German Government, the first to talk about this publicly, recently released a public saying, ‘the fall in the German population can no longer be stopped. Its downward spiral is no longer reversible… It will be a Muslim state by 2050.”
Considering that Muslims makeup 4.0% of the German population, that statement seems over the top. More than 90% of them are Turkish (fertility rate in Turkey: 1.87). A quick google search credits Walter Rademacher, vice-president of the German statistics office, with the quote.

So, do you believe that the “German Government” issued that statement? Are you wondering what Walter Rademacher actually said?

BERLIN, Germany, November 9, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Germany’s downward spiral in population is no longer reversible, the country’s federal statistics office said Tuesday. The birthrate has dropped so low that immigration numbers cannot compensate.

“The fall in the population can no longer be stopped,” vice-president Walter Rademacher with the Federal Statistics Office said, reported Agence France-Presse.

Germany has the lowest birthrate in Europe, with an average of 1.36 children per woman. Despite government incentives to encourage larger families, the population is dropping rapidly and that trend will continue, with an expected loss of as much as 12 million by 2050. That would mean about a 15 percent drop from the country’s current population of 82.4 million, the German news source Deutsche Welle reported today.

Germany has one of the largest populations of Muslim immigrants in Western Europe, with a Muslim community of over 3 million. That trend is expected to continue, leading some demographic trend-watchers to warn that the country is well on the way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050, Deutsche Welle reported.

The [Right Wing] Brussels Journal reported last month that one third of all European children will be born to Muslim families by 2025. There are an estimated 50 million Muslims living in Europe today–that number is expected to double over the next twenty years.

(Source)

Wow. There’s two major distortions here:
(1) They credit the “Germany Federal Statistics Office” with the statement that “[Germany] will be a Muslim state by 2050”, when it was actually a statement made by a vague group identified as “some demographic trend-watchers”. Immediately, in the next paragraph, they mention the right-wing Brussels Journal – leading me to suspect that they are the “demographic trend-watchers”.
(2) The quote was twisted from “is well on the way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050″ into “It will be a Muslim state by 2050”.

muslimdemographics11
Claim: “There are currently 52 million Muslims in Europe. The German government said that number is expected to double in the next 20 years to 104 million.”
The EU population is 491 million, 4% (19.6 million) of which are Muslim (Source).

muslimdemographics12
Claim: “In the United States, the current fertility rate of American citizens is 1.6. With the influx of the latino nations, the rate increases to 2.11; the bare minimum needed to sustain a culture.”
Considering that latinos makeup only 13% of the US population, it’s hard to believe they can single-handedly bring-up the fertility rate from 1.6 to 2.11.

Looking up actual data (1, 2) reveals this fertility rate for American women (2004):

White 2.05
Black 2.03
American Indian 1.73
Asian 1.89
Hispanic 2.82
Total 2.04

(I think the “White” category includes “non-hispanic white” and “hispanic white” into the same category. If that’s true, then the non-hispanic white fertility rate would be around 1.8-1.9.)

muslimdemographics13
Claim: “Today, there are over 9 million [muslims in the United States]”.
Reality? No one really knows. Estimates vary between 1.1 million and 8 million.

muslimdemographics14
Not very likely.

This wasn’t specifically argued in the video, but I should also add that the fertility rates among Muslims (in their own countries) is also declining.

For example:

Saudi Arabia, historical fertility rates:

2003 6.15 (* is this accurate?)
2004 4.11
2005 4.05
2006 4
2007 3.94
2008 3.89

And the three largest Muslim countries:

Indonesia, historical fertility rates:

2003 2.5
2004 2.47
2005 2.44
2006 2.4
2007 2.38
2008 2.34

Pakistan, historical fertility rates:

2003 4.1
2004 4.29
2005 4.14
2006 4
2007 3.71
2008 3.73

Bangladesh, historical fertility rates:

2003 3.17
2004 3.15
2005 3.13
2006 3.11
2007 3.09
2008 3.08

And let’s not forget that some Muslim countries have already fallen below the replacement number of 2.11 (and, supposedly, below the mythical 1.9 fertility rate that the video says is very, very bad). When you look at the three most populous countries of the Middle East (Egypt, 79 million; Turkey, 70 million; Iran, 69 million), you find that Turkey and Iran have already dropped below a fertility rate of 2.0. Egypt recently dropped below a fertility rate of 3.0, and the Egyptian government is aiming to get it down to 2.0 within 8 years. All three are experiencing a decline in their fertility rates.

Egypt, historical fertility rates:

2003 3.02
2004 2.95
2005 2.88
2006 2.83
2007 2.77
2008 2.72

Turkey, historical fertility rates:

2003 2.03
2004 1.98
2005 1.94
2006 1.92
2007 1.89
2008 1.87

Iran, historical fertility rates:

2003 1.99
2004 1.93
2005 1.82
2006 1.8
2007 1.71
2008 1.71

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Tax Protests

There were some fairly large protests down at the Denver capital building today. They were protesting taxes and Obama’s “socialism”. I even saw one sign that read “Say goodbye to White America”. I wasn’t quite clear if he was protesting Mexican immigration, or if he was saying White Americans were going to leave the country. The crowd was almost entirely white, middle-aged, middle-class people. There were maybe 800-1000 people, although a lot of people were leaving, so the crowd was larger before I saw it. It was like Rush Limbaugh was saying, “give me everything I want, or I will flex my muscles and whip my followers into a dangerous frenzy”. Maybe this is all part of the right-wing media’s plan to make Obama fail.

Some people claimed the protest was not partisan, but it’s pretty obvious it was. (For example, check out these signs – one putting the USSR, Obama, and Nazi Germany together, and another asking “Obama is this the change?”.)

Apparently, even the governor of Texas said today that Texas could secede if they wanted to (but quickly added that he doesn’t know why they would want to):

An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall — one of three tea parties he was attending across the state — that officials in Washington have abandoned the country’s founding principles of limited government. He said the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending and debt.

Perry repeated his running theme that Texas’ economy is in relatively good shape compared with other states and with the “federal budget mess.” Many in the crowd held signs deriding President Barack Obama and the $786 billion federal economic stimulus package.

Perry called his supporters patriots. Later, answering news reporters’ questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

It’s scary the way the “pro-American” right-wing media threatens to destroy the country unless they get what they want. I had also read recently that Obama’s approval ratings show the largest political-party gap of any president in modern history.

For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama’s job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president — 88% job approval among Democrats — and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).

Here’s one video of the protest from a CNN reporter:

I actually think the reporter handled the whole thing badly – arguing and getting snippy with a protester. I’m betting that the guy who says we’re moving away from Lincoln’s principles is blissfully unaware of the fact that the first time the US government collected income taxes was in 1861 – under Lincoln.

The other stupidity of his whole argument is that US taxes (under Obama) are still quite low by twentieth century standards. (The image below shows the tax-rates on the richest section of the population.) Not, that any of them would know this listening to right-wing pundits.

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FOX News Fearmongers

There’s a good article over at Salon about a fearmongering on FOX News. (Click here to read it.) It begins:

Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 gave rise to the American “militia movement”: hordes of overwhelmingly white, middle-aged men from suburban and rural areas who convinced themselves they were defending the American way of life from the “liberals” and “leftists” running the country by dressing up in military costumes on weekends, wobbling around together with guns, and play-acting the role of patriot-warriors…

I won’t bother getting too much into the article, since you can just go read it. It’s basically about FOX News fearmongering – now that Obama’s been in office for a month, I think they finally feel that they can start playing the ‘fear’ card without disparaging George Bush. They’re talking about the collapse of governments, a Mexican “narco state” (ruled by drug-dealers), Muslims overrunning Europe, Iran invading it’s neighbors, gangs and “motorcycle marauders” taking control of US cities, etc. Basically playing up the strong nationalism, strong military, the world around us is evil paranoia that drives conservatives.

At the bottom of his article is a couple of embedded videos from FOX News. Here’s a couple screen-captures. Take a look at this incredible display of fearmongering:

Tagline: “The Year 2014: Survival Skills Become Vital?”
foxnews-2014survival

Tagline: “If the US collapses, what nations will fill the vacuum?”
foxnews-collapse

While he says these are all just “hypothetical” scenarios, he then says many people think these are “light scenarios” – that things could get far worse. Apparently, FOX News is trying to capture that highly desirable anti-government/pro-militia/end-is-near viewer. (Get your guns and run for the hills everyone!) Here’s a nice little bit of subliminal suggestion – watch the words appearing on the monitor on the right side of the screen:

“Destruction”
foxnews-destruction

Words: “Enemies Within”, “Civil Unrest”, “God” (Wait – “God”??? Maybe they’re just trying to play up their commitment to religion. Maybe they’re suggesting the apocalypse.)
foxnews-civilunrestgod2

“Fallout”
foxnews-fallout

“Failure”
foxnews-failure

Wow. Just wow. And keep in mind that everything being shown in the background was specifically chosen by someone. Someone was sitting at a computer, trying to figure out what graphics and words needed to appear in the background during this show. They thought, “Hmm, I think I’ll display ‘destruction’ on the screen, and have some police running in the background. And on the other screen will be Muslims burning an American flag.” All so calculated to inspire fear.

These guys have credibility? It’s amazing to think how high FOX’ ratings numbers are.

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There’s a new article/interview up at the Vancouver Sun about the producer of Expelled (“No Apologies Allowed: Producer defends anti-Darwin movie”), and the second comment on the story jumped out at me:

By the second sentence, I was already smelling a liar. Then he goes into the 46/48 chromosome argument. (As if that hasn’t already been answered. Further, how can I possibly believe that he works in a genetics lab and doesn’t know this?) Then, it occurred to me that this post was a microcosm of the Expelled Movie: (1) Pretending to be an expert, (2) falsely claiming persecution for ideas, (3) drawing comparisons to Nazi Germany, (4) trying to stir-up anger, (5) using bad information to argue that “science can’t explain it”. I also liked the weird contradiction: “Everyone’s on the same bandwagon … half of my lab probably thinks about Intelligent Design”.

At least several people call him on his deceptive game.

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