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Intellectual secularism: The sickness of all times

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The human nature and its knowledge is entirely and linearly entwined, overlapping each other and inseparable from each other. With the passage of time, social evolution, in a sense, has consummated sagaciously and hence at a same time, for every political man (is the economic man, ethical man, juridicial man, intellectual man, esthetical man).

We diagnostic ate universe as world (of mind, life, matter) and correspondingly we study physical, biological and social sciences to peg an understanding of this interdependent and inseparably complex phenomenon.

As far as knowledge regarding world of matter is concerned, it’s gasconaded, western scholars have managed to make a stupefying and confounding anabasis. Today they describe splitting up of an atom and how Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Kashmir, Hiroshima, Nagasaki et`al can be brought into its radius. They have pierced space and pictured Venus as never before. They have an unsatisfactory research result in biological sciences and hitherto pretense it as “comme il faut” and therefore forfend them to peevish its arrant paucity. Nevertheless contrasting is the scenario in fields of social sciences, wherein they agree by aphorism “heretofore utter disorder in social sciences, succumbing and oxidizing of western civilization if social sciences are not systematized and developed, impediments in their development is because of beggared perspicacity regarding human nature.

There are enough experienced authorities to support my claim but let me quote just one. In his celebrated book “world chaos”, author and well known psychologist Mcdougall says “our ignorance of the nature of man has prevented and still prevents the development of all social sciences. They are the crying need of our time; for lack of them our civilization is threatened gravely with decay and perhaps complete collapse”. “What then in practical terms is the remedy? I give my answer most concisely by suggesting what I would do if I were a dictator. I would by every means seek to diver all our most powerful intellects from the physical sciences to research in the human and social sciences”.

There arises a question: in spite of the fact that if social sciences are not adequately developed, western civilization will corrode and senescence, why have western scholars failed? They have pierced the atom’s invisible heart but fail to do so in the case of human mind, which essentially is the society’s atom, why? If development stages of various philosophies are minutely viewed, then only it can be answered. Western scholars have a predominant and diacritic attitude of mind which results in an acute chauvinism and antagonism con to every intellectual idea pertaining to psychological, biological or physical sciences and bout of intellectual theory, explanation or conclusion, we climactically usher towards concept of god. Learned men have termed this predisposition or antagonistic attitude of mind as INTELLECTUAL SECULARISM and mutually shared by all western scholars but highly manifested in a different form within atheists (Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins) about whom I have already made a reference in my last column.

We know every object has a definite and ultimate origin and hence knowledge pertaining to ultimate origin becomes a part of the total knowledge regarding that object and we aim and aspire for the same by our very nature. For a believer, a rose didn’t came as bolt from the blue but created by god out of his infinite love of beauty, wisdom, power etc but an atheist perceives being of rose as an operation executed by nature’s mechanical and material forces. As human beings we are bound to attribute penultimate origin to things known to us and when goofed attributes are associated by very same nature, then the object and related knowledge can by no means be right.

Certainly yes, scientists must travail to elucidate whole enchilada not beyond laws of nature framework. However if this universe was created by god or is the source of this creation then it implies aesthetic, moral and mental attributes of creator wriggle in the laws of universe, in the same manner, when an artist makes a picture, all his aesthetic, moral and mental traits gain entr`ee into that picture or for that matter a seed has the potential to exfoliate in the form of flowers, branches and leaves. Therefore it’s futile to comprehend the nature of that deity and the laws of nature in segregation. This correlation has been beautifully summed up by philosopher-poet of the East, Sir Muhammad Iqbal. He says “Nature as we have seen is not a mass of pure materiality occupying a void. It’s a structure of events, a systematic mode of behavior and as such organic to the ultimate self. Nature is to the divine self as character is to the human self in the picturesque phrase of the Quran it’s the habit of Allah”.

When books written by Muslim scientists and scholars where translated in Europe, there was a frequent reference to god in texts, reflecting their indebtedness towards god who provided them with knowledge and through these texts they wanted readers to know the creator in a better way. They invented modern science and scientific methods on account of spiritual leaning universe. In Briffault’s book “making of humanity” there is an important passage which starts as “it was under their successors at the oxford school that roger bacon learned Arabic and Arabic science. Neither Roger Bacon nor his later namesake has any little to be credited with having introduced the experimental method. Roger bacon was no more than one of the apostles of the Muslim science and method to Christian Europe; and he never wearied of declaring that knowledge of Arabic and science was for his contemporaries the only way to true knowledge. Discussions as to who was the originator of the experimental method are part of the colossal misrepresentation of the origins of European civilization. The experimental method of Arabs was by Bacon’s time widespread and eagerly cultivated throughout the Europe. The Greeks systematized, generalized and theorized but the patient ways of investigation, accumulation of positive knowledge, minute method of science, detailed and prolonged observation and experimental inquiry were altogether alien to Greek temperament. The spirit and those methods were introduced into the European world by the Arabs”.

But currently what is hampering scientific growth in various essential spheres is the intellectual secularism of western scholars who succeeded Muslim scientists. An evident chasm was created between divine, spiritual or celestial and temporal, secular or mundane, between world of spirit and world of matter by Jesus Christ, when he sundered dues of Caeser and god. The roots of intellectual secularism would have been on top of the heap only in unique Christendom’s intellectual environment, since its references rest in Christianity intrinsically. Amidst Christianity, is a contradiction between this and next world. Fruits of next world depend on sacrifices made here. Science and religion live in separate spheres because religion in this world becomes extraneous in the life of a man when it’s meant for the betterment of next world. On the contrary, intellectual sciences are for the prosperity of this world. Belief without reason is what religion impresses on. It is irrational, dogmatic and transacts with an invisible world but scientific conclusions rest on experiment, observation, intellect and reason. Hence when god is referred as part of intellectual argument annihilates the logic of rationale and debate skews in the sphere of religion, where focus is on belief without reason instead against reason, irrationality, prejudice and dogma.

This western intellectual secularism has been accentuated by atheists mentioned earlier and further engendered by suppression and penalization between separation of state and church. The moment religion lost its foothold in the polity courtyard officially; it lost its thrust on community and individuals as well. The immediate outcome appeared as secularization of intellectual activity, social education, economic and legal activities. The 21ST century physicists, who perceive matter as visible and real have now added fuel to fire and corroborated prejudice against religion and god. Consciousness, spirit and god appear unreal due to invisibility and can’t be subjected to experiments. When the views of Darwin, a product of rigid and cold materialism and mechanism were raised to pedestal, this prejudice enhanced and was accorded cachet of intellectual idea. He described man as causatum of survival of the fittest, natural selection and struggle for existence. He termed faculties of imagination, conscience and reason as mere chance.

Describing man as a refined form of chimpanzee, Darwinism perfectly suited the western loathing of religion and now every object and natural phenomenon is seen as outcome of chance. Their prejudice against deity being an intellectual concept is so strong that “their ignorance of human nature which they believe to be fraught with dangerous possibilities for the entire human race may be due to the fact that they are ignoring the possibility of notion of god being the only key to a scientific understanding of human nature. Indeed they are not prepared to acquire a scientific knowledge of man at the cost of their intellectual secularism. They cannot conceive the possibility of a theory of human nature being at once spiritual and scientific. When they complain of their ignorance of human nature they have in mind that a scientific theory of human nature, when formulated will be secular or non-spiritual. But it can never be so, for man has something divine in him”.

In one of his letters to Charles kingsly, T.H. Huxley wrote “sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up preconceived notion, follow humbly whenever and to whatever abysses nature leads or you shall learn nothing”. Following the Darwinian concept of evolution which, of course, suits eminently their intellectual secularism, they believe that what comes first in the sequence of the results of evolution is matter with its physical laws and then comes the animal with his instincts and last of all there appears the human being with his gift of self-consciousness or personality and its capacity to love ideals. The animal is a modified product of matter which becomes alive on account of this modification. It is nothing but matter in its origin. They conclude therefore that since the urge for an ideal in a human being has its origin in his animal nature it can be only a modified form of one or more of his animal instincts. They derive man from the animal and the animal from matter so that ultimately the reality of man is matter.

Thus we see Freud explaining the human urge for an ideal as a distorted and modified form of his sex instinct the object of which is to provide man with a substitute activity in the form of religion, morality, art, science, philosophy, and politics to compensate him for the thwarted and obstructed activity of his sexual instinct. According to Adler man’s urge for an ideal is a distorted and modified form of his instinct of self assertion which has been operating all along in the history of organic evolution for the protection of the life of the animal against other hostile and aggressive animals. When an individual is unable to satisfy a particular desire for power he creates. The desire for a relevant ideal and strives after it to compensate himself for his sense of inferiority. Karl Marx is of the view that the urge for ideals in man is only an unconscious distortion of his economic urge. Man strives after an ideal apparently but really his activity is motivated by his economic conditions which he desires to improve. McDougall explains the urge for an ideal in man as a result of the occasional reinforcement of the sentiment of self-regard itself a peculiar compound of all his instincts by the instinct of self assertion. But all these explanations: of the source and purpose of ideals in human nature are logically defective, incoherent and inconsistent. Freud for example does not tell us why and how*a man’s ideal which according to him is born of his sex instinct is sometimes able to rule and control his sex instinct to the extent of eliminating it totally from his life.

Adler is unable to explain how the instinct of self-assertion the primary object of which is the protection of life creates an ideal for the sake of which man becomes ready sometimes to lay down his life. Similarly the view of Karl Marx does not explain why if the, function of a man’s ideal is to improve his economic conditions which are only a means for the preservation of his life, why does he become ready to starve himself to death for the sake of his ideal whenever his ideal calls upon him to do so. Such questions are very, difficult to answer consistently with any of the theories of ideals put forward by these writers. Hence none of them has even faced such questions. The mental attitude of each of these writers is no more reasonable than that of a man who, not knowing how and why tree grows, may insist upon telling us that what exists first of all in the history of the growth of a tree is its stem and later on there appear its branches and leaves and finally there is its seed embedded in a flower. He ignores the original seed of the tree out of which the tree grows simply because it was hidden from his view below the soil and he did not see it. He saw instead only the stalk of the young tree growing out of the soil. Just as he in his ignorance explains the tree out of its stem and not out of its seed which is its real origin so these writers in their ignorance explain the human being out of matter and not out of self-consciousness which is his real origin.

As a matter of fact there is no idea of the place and role of ideals in human nature and human activity more satisfactory and more convincing than this that “the urge for ideals is neither derived from nor sub serves any of those human impulses known as instincts, which man shares with the animals below him on the ladder of evolution. On the other hand it is man’s natural and independent urge for beauty and perfection which rules and controls all such impulses in spite of their biological pressure for the sake of its own expression and satisfaction.”

To be brief, the implications of the only true and the only possible explanation of the place and role of ideals in human nature which lead irresistibly to the concept of God, are such that the scholars of the West cannot accept it in view of their creed of intellectual secularism. So strong is this prejudice against the idea of God that when they feel that their study of nature has brought them very close to this idea and it may become difficult for them to avoid it they are horrified and refrain from using the term God and use some other term instead and thereby stop following nature further in the same direction. But since unfortunately the Western scholars are accepted by the world as the leaders of mankind in the intellectual field their prejudice has passed for a rational view and spread far and wide to the comers of the earth. The results have been already very disastrous and more disastrous results are bound to follow. The world’s progress in the knowledge of human nature has come to a dead stop and the human and social sciences which could be formulated only on the basis of a correct view of human nature are in a state of disorder. The biological sciences too are not in a hearty state. The theory of the fundamental cause of evolution, which if properly formulated could have made the human race hopeful of a glorious future, has been misunderstood. Its errors are being perpetuated by a clique of influential biologists who insist on maintaining its secular character at all costs.

If the scholars of the West had not been suffering from theophobia and had had the courage and the good sense to accept the advice of one of them, Mr. Huxley, quoted above, that is, to “follow nature wherever and to whatever abyss>it may lead,” they would have successfully crossed the point at which their knowledge of the human and social sciences has come to a halt and would have accepted as true the only explanation of the role of the urge for ideals in human activity that is rationally possible. In such a case intellectual secularism would have disappeared from all sciences including the biological and the physical sciences automatically. For when we change our view of man we have to change our view of the entire universe. A spiritual view of man is incompatible with a secular view of any part of the universe and its knowledge.

Some of the most eminent physicists of the world have already come to the conclusion that the ultimate nature of electric energy which has caused the material world to evolve to the stage of its perfection is a conscious force which has a mathematical mind. Yet they refuse to accept the conclusion, which is obvious to a man of religion, that this conscious force is the will or the creative desire of God. Similarly some eminent biologists have arrived at the conclusion that there is an internal conscious drive in an organism which regulates its growth in a chosen direction and which is the cause of all organic evolution from its earliest stages to the last. They call it the life-force, the elan vital or the vital’ impetus and attribute to it some qualities of mind consciousness. But they like their physicist brothers also refuse to come to the next conclusion which is equally obvious to a man who believes in God that this life force is the will or the creative desire of God which has expressed itself in a form that is appropriate to the animal stage of evolution. Again all psychologists believe that man has an urge for ideals and some of them believe also that it is an urge for beauty and perfection. But no psychologists have. cared to arrive at the next immediate conclusion that this urge can be perfectly satisfied only by an ideal of the highest beauty and perfection which can be no other than God and that it is the will or the creative desire of God that is expressing itself in the historical process urging the human society to act for the achievement of their own highest beauty and perfection.

A physicist may say, “do not know anything beyond the mathematical nature of the Reality of matter that I have discovered. I do not know that it has moral qualities and I do not want to compensate my lack of scientific knowledge as a physicist by the teachings of revelation although I believe in revelation.” Similarly a biologist may say that he has no scientific knowledge of the other qualities of the life-force that it may be possessing and he has no reason to suppose that it is God on the authority of revelation. A psychologist too may make a similar reply. But really there is nothing to prevent the physicists, the biologists and the psychologists from adopting the will or the creative desire of God instead of a mere mathematical mind a life force or an instinct as a provisional conclusion or hypothesis explaining the cause of material, biological or human evolution just to discover how far it can explain other facts of which no satisfactory explanation is yet available. If they had done so they would have found that the hypothesis does really explain a host of such facts and also opens the way to the knowledge of a host of new facts of the worlds of matter, life and mind. What is more they would have been able to coordinate and integrate their separate sciences into one Science of the Universe which would have ultimately explained everything, would have served as the Common Weltanschauung of humanity and would have united them as a single family of God. But what has actually stopped the physicists, the biologists or the psychologists from doing so is nothing but prejudice aversion from religion and an irrational secular attitude towards the universe.

My plea is that there is a point in the development of secularized scientific knowledge where the most fundamental of all the facts of revelation common to the teachings of all the great religions of the world, namely the idea of God and scientific knowledge, embrace each other as two inseparable companions each merging itself in the other and giving a tremendous rational support to the other, so that it cannot be distinguished which is science and which is revelation. When that point is reached scientific knowledge can no longer progress without its other companion. That point has been already reached and now scientific, knowledge cannot progress headlong unless it is made to embrace its inseparable other companion from whom it was unfortunately separated and whom it has been travelling through the centuries to rejoin. The idea of God is no longer a myth. It is a scientific fact which explains, orders, enlightens, enriches and reveals other scientific facts.

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Multicultural Mecca

Jennifer Richmond

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Strength lies in differences, not in similarities. Stephen Covey

I remember him sitting after work in his olive-green Air Force flight suit at a high-top stool at our kitchen counter in Beavercreek, Ohio. My dadlooked down at me as I sobbed, trying to find ways to console me. You know, he said, Burma has tigers.

After coming home to tell us that he was taking the Air Force Attaché position in Rangoon, I thought my comfortable little world was crumbling. But hold up, tigers? Perhaps Burma wouldn’t be that bad after all.

As it turns out, it was the watershed event in my life.

In a country ruled by a military junta, what we were allowed to do and see was highly curated. At the time, I thought the constant presence of military guards meant we were special. VIPs. In a country that strictly limited tourism in the 1980s, we were special, but in hindsight, I know they were there, in part, to dictate our experience.

And even so, what we saw and experienced, was mind-blowing. But it wasn’t just the men who walked on coals or hung suspended with hooks in their flesh at the Hindu festivals – although those memories will forever be seared in my brain – literally and figuratively, it was the people. The day-to-day lives.

We had a Buddhist, Muslim, Christian and Hindu that intermingled in our house daily. The education I received in their presence was richer than any in the hallowed halls of academia.

In Burma (now called Myanmar), you quickly learn the squat. Even when stools and chairs were available most people would choose to squat. Gathered for an informal meal, you squat. Waiting for a bus, you squat. Taking a break to have a little conversation, you squat. I never really mastered the squat. Onebalmy day as our Hindu friendsquatted in the doorway trying to catch the elusive cool breeze, I went and playfully sat on his back. Given my awkwardness with the squat, I thought this arrangement preferable; I was just being a goofy kid.

That was the day I learned that in the East, and especially in Hinduism, body parts have a hierarchy. I cried all through the stern lecture on how I thoroughly disgraced my friend. Although I don’t remember the exact words, it pretty much came down to this – in what universe did you think it was ok to put your dirty bum anywhere near my heavenly head?

Ummm… I’m pretty sure that same fanny was dangerously close to my dad’snogginwhen he’d carry me on his shoulders. The idea of possible desecration was truly foreign.

These and many other similar lessons were my first real introduction to culture. It involved more tears (yes, I’m a big crier), but through all of these experiences, I became fascinated. Similar to Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I quickly realized I wasn’t in Kansas (or Ohio) any more.

I returned to the United States with a new love of culture and diversity. And, a new respect for America, which I had previously taken for granted.

In comparison to many other countries we are a Multicultural Mecca. From my perspective, this is what makes us exceptional.

Unlike other countries that are struggling with immigration and diversity, we have a unique advantage. We are, after all, a “settler nation”. As Peter Zeihan explained in a recent conversation, almost every other country in the world was a government created by a specific ethnicity. The United States, as a settler state, didn’t have a dominant clan. This is unique. Our identity is not rooted in a singular ethnicity.

However, between WWI and WWII our state became more centralized. It had to be. These wars shaped a national identity. National institutions proliferated and mediating institutions – family, religious organizations and labor unions – created cohesion, and homogeneity, despite our diverse histories. Solidarity became a national virtue.

The statism that existed during this time, while it provided more cohesion, dampened diversity and individuality. All of this began to unwind mid-century and really started to pick up steam in the 1970s, as the pendulum swung the opposite direction. In many ways the Cold War, and the fight against the communist collective, helped to progress the mantra of individualism.

Individualism also shaped our economy.There were waves of deregulation, labor unions declined, and big state corporations gave way to more flexible, smaller private companies.The mid-century labor unions and large state corporations lead to the growth of the middle class. Once these disappeared, income inequality emerged more predominately, even as basic social equalities and civil rights were energized.

Meanwhile, mediating institutions responsible for, in large part, social cohesion – family, community and religious organizations – were also on the decline as individualism gathered momentum. The internet age was introduced in this new environment, and ironically, with social connections and a national identity already in decay, it divided us into smaller more homogenous groups – what we today call echo chambers.

This increasing polarization has a grave impact on policy-making. As Yuval Levin notes,

administrative centralization often accompanies cultural and economic individualism. As the national government grows more centralized, and takes over the work preformed by mediating institutions – from families and communities to local governments and charities – individuals become increasingly atomized; and as individuals grow apart from one another, the need for centralized government provision seems to grow.

As all of this is happening, our immigration rates have been on the rise. Although illegal immigration has been in decline recently, despite the uptick in the past few months, we witnessed a new wave of immigration started in the 1970s, that mirrored pre-war immigration levels.

However, without the same national solidarity that defined mid-century America, these immigrants weren’t enveloped into a national identity. Individualism diminishedthe national identity of solidarity. Further, low-skilled immigrant labor has fallen into the growing income gap in a divide that has already affected American workers as income inequality becomes more pronounced.

While our current employment rate is strong, what is masked in these impressive numbers is the number of American men and women who are dropping out of the labor force at a surprising rate, most acutely among those without a college education.

If you’ve ever traveled to the beaches on the East Coast in the summer, you may have noted retail employees have a strange accent. Last year, I bought an ice-cream cone from a Russian student in Cape May, NJ. And,I’m currently working with Vietnamese students who want to come to the United States for hospitality internships. Foreign students are coming in on J-1 visas to provide relief to retailers and the hospitality industry that is often painfully understaffed, especially during peak times.

If you talk to anyone in the agriculture business, you know they are hurting. As I traveled around Texas and Colorado looking for a meat packing plant to export beef to China, the options were limited. Outside of the big players, many smaller packers have shut their doors. For the ones still in operation, the primary language is Spanish.

Add to all of this, our demographics are in decline.Americans aren’t having more babies, and the only reason that we aren’t suffering the same fate as the “graying” population in Japan, and even Russia and China, is immigration.

Economic growth needs a workforce. Both high and low skilled labor is in demand, but I’m only going to touch on low-skilled labor as this is what is fueling the current immigration debate in America.

Despite the need for immigration, there are several problems that our embattled Congress has yet to address.

First, it has been shown nationally that unauthorized immigration has had a small net positive impact on our economy, but this doesn’t always play out at the state and local levels.

As income inequality is already an existing phenomenon in the United States, with the disparity seen most clearly between those with an education and those without, low-skilled immigration causes concern.While the United States is in need of low-skilled labor, our current economic situation has bifurcated, with the lower echelons in more need of some sort of state or federal support just to hover at the poverty level.

Second, while we’re trying to figure out solutions to growing inequality and immigration, we also need to keep in mind that our economyis, yet again, rapidly changing. With the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a lot of jobs may soon become obsolete especially in low-skilled sectors such as retail. While we are not quite there yet, the trend is inevitable and will exacerbate income inequality as low-skilled labor is slowly pushed out of the market. This could have two related outcomes –the current demand for low-skilled labor diminishes, while those in these sectors are in increasing need for a social safety net.

Sadly, in this era of extreme polarization, hate and racism has taken the place of sane debate and policy-making. As David Brooks recently lamented in a New York Times piece, our administration is not populated with conservatives, but “anti-liberal trolls”.Similarly, the #resistance movement has become so entrenched as to make compromise or dialogue impossible. Just resist. It’s no longer about the people, it’s about winning at all costs.Too often, the pawns are innocent children – children inhumanely separated from their parents on the border, and children in the inner cities, on the brink of homelessness.

The Left is right to be concerned that part of the anti-immigration trend is a push-back from white America, as white America is soon to become a minority. A recent National Geographic issue on race illustrates, in less that two years, white children under 18 will no longer be the majority.

While it is right to resist racisttrends, we must not do so at the expense of understanding complex economic issues. The news cycle is constantly in search of the next topic we can use to beat each other over the heads. Meanwhile, as the mid-terms loom, our politicians are consumed with the next policy issue they can use to ensure re-election, at the expense of making a real difference.

The United States has the ability to harness its immigrant history and multiculturalism to a great global advantage, more so than perhaps any other country. However, in our individualistic society, we remain tigers locked in cages of our own construction, separated from competing realities that promote understanding and compromise.

While we need to address immediate emergency issues on the border, the discussion doesn’t stop there. We must agree on a flexible immigration policy that is constantly reviewed against our changing economic dynamics.A more robust guest-worker visa is perhaps a start – the number of visas evaluated each year depending on the economic climate, with adequate enforcement.Better education for both new immigrants and citizens in poverty-stricken areas that allows economic mobility and a growing middle-class. A new national identity that embraces diversity, but finds novel ways to generate social connection and cohesion amidst the reality of individualism.

Without these discussions, we fail to Make America Great (Again). While I think we should lock politicians in cages to fight it out until sanity and rationality is regained, it is incumbent on us ordinary citizens to join together in (diverse) community to model these necessary discussions in every day life. To #resist the insanity, and break the cages that have imprisoned our country and our lives.

To read more follow us at www.truthinbetween.com or on Medium at www.medium.com/truth-in-between, and on Twitter @truth_inbetween.

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The Unreal, the Real and the Vaccine Scare

Dr. Arshad M. Khan

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In a few weeks time, school will resume in many countries, and quite a few parents now worry about the dangers of vaccination.  Are they real or false?  What are the facts?

First, a word on what we can believe to be real.  Some might remember Ripley’s Believe It or Not?  We are all fascinated by the odd, the unusual, even more so when science with its mundane explanations takes away the mysteries of life.  So it is that reasonable people begin to believe in the incredible.  We want to.

Take the case of chemtrails — a theory that trails left by jet airplanes high in the sky are chemical  sprays.  Why would anyone do that?  The reasons vary.  They want to change the climate, control our minds, lower life expectancy, reduce fertility or cause sterilization for population control, spread aluminum that causes Alzheimer’s but Monsanto profits from a GMO seed designed to grow with it, and so on.

The physics experts tell us it is relatively simple:  Jet engines exhaust water vapor which condenses in the cold of higher altitudes.  Called contrails (a contraction of condensation and trail), an acute observer will note they correspond to the number of engines on the airplane.  Numerous scientists, scientific bodies, the Environmental Protection Agency and independent journalists have investigated and debunked chemtrails without eradicating the idea.

The results of a nationally representative 1000-person poll published last October finds that only 32 percent believe chemtrails are ‘false’.  A good 25% percent are ‘unsure’ and 15 percent, think they are ‘somewhat false’.  The rest consider them somewhat true’ (19 percent) or ‘true’ (9 percent).  Note that just a one-third minority categorically rejects a complete hoax despite the efforts of scientists and government agencies.  Perhaps a natural skepticism of officialdom doesn’t help.  Of course, the blame rests squarely on some internet sites and social media (with its echo chambers) where chemtrail discussion, instead of debunking the idea, favors it and propagates conspiracy theory.

But there is another belief worse than chemtrails germinated by fake science.  It has led to actual harm.  For one reason or another, people known as anti-vaxxers (Trump among them) are refusing vaccinations for their children; thus an alarming global increase in measles — an illness that can cause hearing loss and, in rare cases, even death.

Developing countries have their own unique problems with vaccination.  Pakistan trying to eliminate polio has experienced deadly violence against vaccinators because Taliban leaders have proclaimed it a means of sterilizing Muslims.

But there are problems in developed countries also:  A survey in Australia showed one in three parents having concerns with vaccination.  In response, some health facilities are refusing to treat unvaccinated children.  Australia is not alone; the U.S. too has a vaccine dilemma and Europe is not exempt.

As preparation for the school year often requires vaccination shots, here is a brief review of what we know about vaccines, the origins of the anti-vaxxer movement and the available facts.

The prophet of anti-vaxers is Andrew Wakefield, whose origins are in the U.K.  He is a doctor, who was barred from practicing medicine there following his fake study connecting autism to the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.  Several later studies have proven Wakefield dead wrong.

A refusal to vaccinate has been a key driver of recent measles cases in the US.  A disease once considered eliminated here has now returned, and in 2014, 667 cases were recorded, though numbers have declined since then.  Often the cause is a holiday trip contact and transmission to someone who has not been vaccinated; appalling to think about when the two-dose vaccination regimen renders 97 percent immunity.

For anti-vaxxers, there are two other troubling reasons:  Some believe the injection of attenuated, that is weakened, viruses can cause harm.  Then also there is anxiety about thimerosal in some vaccines as it carries traces of mercury.  But thimerosal has not been used in child vaccines for nearly two decades.  And while the MMR vaccine uses a combination of attenuated viruses, it has been in use without causing harm since 1971.  It has prevented an estimated 52 million cases of measles and over 5000 fatalities.

Belief and miracles have been a natural companion for humans.  About 2000 years ago, there was a miraculous virgin birth.  Now, some scholars contend it was all a translation error misinterpreting the word for ‘maiden’ as ‘virgin’.  Others argue that ‘maiden’ in the culture of the time automatically implied virginity because unmarried young women were expected to be chaste.  Who is correct?  Heaven knows!

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Analysis of Alon Confino’s “A World Without Jews: Interpreting The Holocaust”

Nargiz Hajiyeva

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Following the period of moderate engagement with the Holocaust between 1945 and 1975, Holocaust perception from the mid-1970s to the present has been characterized by two simultaneous trends. The first trend is prominent in miscellaneous fields such as history, philosophy, the arts, and the literature has involved a strenuous attempt to acknowledge as well as realize the Holocaust and to cope with the difficulty of representing it. The second tendency might appear to stand in opposition to the intense discussion of the limits of Holocaust representation, is manifest in the massive cultural production of the Holocaust in history books, novels, comics, plays, films and other artistic vehicles.  In general, taking into consideration of Nazi policy towards Jewish, there are three overriding notions:

The Holocaust, according to Saul Friedlander, was determined by the centrality of ideological-cultural factors as the prime movers of Nazi policies in tandem with the Jewish issue, depending mainly on circumstances, institutional dynamics, and essentially… on the evolution of the war… The anti-Jewish drive became ever more extreme along with the radicalization of the regime’s goals and then with the extension of the war… The context of the war has been viewed as the breeding ground for the extermination and annihilation of Jews. Germans in occupied Eastern Europe… were living in a context in which the expulsion, even the extermination, of entire peoples was publicly discussed, a readiness to indulge in brutality and fanaticism was ubiquitously demanded, and the actions of individuals were legitimized by history and politics.

The war in general but especially the war on the Eastern Front, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, was fought as a racial ideological struggle for life or death, whose prime enemies were the Bolsheviks and Jews. The barbarization of war on the Eastern Front, a cumulative result of the scale of the fighting, geographical conditions, and ideological indoctrination, led to killing and extermination. The notion of the radicalization of racial ideology has been important for capturing the contingency that ran through the making of the Holocaust. The radicalization is no longer understood as a realization of long-term plans or as inherent in the system, but rather as the outcome of plans for the deportation of the Jews that were always being revised and extended. Holocaust is squarely placed within the context of the regime’s overall racial ideology. The ‘current scholarly consensus, writes Herbert, is that those who organized and carried out the extermination were committed ideologies who wanted to build a better world through genocide. Was there a master plan on the part of Adolf Hitler to launch the Holocaust? Intentionalists argue there was such a plan, while functionalists argue there was not.

Did the initiative for the Holocaust come from above with orders from Adolf Hitler or from below within the ranks of the German bureaucracy? Although neither side disputes the reality of the Holocaust, nor is there a serious dispute over the premise that Hitler (as Führer) was personally responsible for encouraging the anti-Semitism that allowed the Holocaust to take place, intentionalists argue the initiative came from above, while functionalists contend it came from lower ranks within the bureaucracy. Christopher Browning coined the term ‘moderate functionalism’, in which the centrality of Hitler’s belief and the role was recognized, but without an original grand design to kill the Jews. Philippe Burrin’s notion of ‘conditional intentionalism’ recognized the centrality of evolving circumstance during the war but continued to emphasize Hitler’s intention to exterminate the Jews.

“Heimat” idea as a Nazi formula

The Nazis took the Heimat idea, radicalizing and using it for their ideological purposes. It can be argued that here is another example of the hegemony of race. It was perceived as essential to Germanness. The main point rather is that the Nazis identified their sentiment of nationhood, localness, and political legitimacy with the Heimat idea: the revolutionary idea of race was thus built on tradition, and the racialized Heimat idea fitted within the boundaries of the Heimat genre that existed before and after the Third Reich, as the Nazis articulated their Heimat in familiar, traditional rhetoric and images. It is not so much race that made sense of Heimat in the Third Reich, as the Heimat idea that gave meaning to racial sentiments, making them amenable, legitimate, and familiar. There are two main directions towards the Holocaust perception: local and central approach.

The local history of the Holocaust in the hamlets of Eastern Europe is possible once we rethink the interpretative framework of racial ideology, the radicalization of Nazi policy, and the context of war. The former one rearranges these categories in significant ways: it shifts the focus from the war conditions of the Wehrmacht soldiers to the communal relationships between Jews and eastern Europeans; from Nazi racial ideology to In Bartov’s words, ‘the obvious though long-underestimated fact that the Holocaust cannot be understood without tracing its imagery, fantasies, passions, and phobias, as well as practices and legislation, to medieval Europe and centuries of Christian anti-Jewish theology, incitement, and demagogy, from the radicalization of Nazi policies to the dynamic of social, political, economic, and cultural relationship on the local level.

According to the central approach, Germans, in the years following 1933, constructed a moral community based on anti-Semitic fantasies that made the persecution and extermination of the Jews possible by making them conceivable. At this historiographical juncture, we view the Holocaust as a problem of culture: the making of and believing in a moral community of fantasies. Third Reich was revolutionary but not as revolutionary as was argued by contemporaries and current historiography: it was a revolution based on continuities. It was a world made by a fusion of German and Nazi identities in a way that linked Germans in the Third Reich to pre-1933 traditions and forms of belief, and where the extermination of 1941 to 1945 was part of the symbolic universe of Germany between 1933 and 1941.

To sum up, ideology, in particular, racial ideology was a crucial point for Hitler’s Germany. In the case of radicalization of racial ideology, the main step was led to extermination and annihilation of Jews community within the context of war and the Nazi policy in order to reconstruct European society without Jews. Of course, the Holocaust is still a contemporary history. Survivors are still alive and their nightmare will never be over as long as they live. The attempt to exterminate the Jews is and will remain a moral signifier of Judeo-Christian civilization. In this way, we try to consider views of the Holocaust as a European occurrence, as part of a larger Nazi attempt to reorder European civilization, as linked to other Nazi persecutions and genocides, to colonial imagination and dreams of empire. Moreover, ‘cultural history, memories, methods, in particular ideologies in its contemporary sense’ has been a highly important component of Holocaust research from its earliest beginnings.

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