Contradictions, the brain, and the extremely intolerant among us.

Slave women of ISIS

Slave women of ISIS

We have a view of the world that we try to make consistent. There may be inconsistencies that we do not see, or if we do see them, we strive to get rid of them. Getting rid of them be actually mean murdering them, but I’ll try to build an argument to that speculative conclusion later.
If you look at ISIS, you may wonder how people who strongly believe their womenfolk must be loyal and pure, and not have “relations” with any other man, will also believe that having sex slaves is perfectly fine. You may see an inconsistency. Why would a person who values modesty in his own 4 wives then turn around and rape other women who simply do not belong to his religion?
Mohammad and his early followers would attack towns, kill the men, and take the women as slaves, and since Mohammad was the perfect man, and the prophet of Allah, that is good enough for ISIS.
To me this is interesting. They have a “fixed point” around which everything bends to fit. The fixed point is that Mohammad is the prophet of Allah, and all that is good and just comes from Islam, and they reason from that fixed point. If it was not such a fixed point, and if revulsion to making women suffer was a strong emotional point, they might question their religion, and modify or even discard it.

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

Cognitive dissonance was first investigated by Leon Festinger (1957), arising out of a participant observation study of a cult which believed that the earth was going to be destroyed by a flood, and what happened to its members — particularly the really committed ones who had given up their homes and jobs to work for the cult — when the flood did not happen.

While fringe members were more inclined to recognize that they had made fools of themselves and to “put it down to experience”, committed members were more likely to re-interpret the evidence to show that they were right all along (the earth was not destroyed because of the faithfulness of the cult members).

But for there to be cognitive dissonance, one has to notice a contradiction with a strong belief, or belief to which he has a strong emotional attachment.

In science, sometimes contradictions (or anomalies) give rise to better theories that don’t exactly invalidate the earlier theory completely, but explain more and explain deeper. But even in everyday life, we may find contradictions that we either dismiss as a misperception or a mistake or a lie, or that we take seriously enough so that we have to revise assumptions. Of course it is easier if the assumptions are not emotionally important to us.

Based on work by V.S Ramachandran and others, it seems that the right hemisphere of the brain has a “discrepancy detector” and when the right hemisphere is damaged, the left hemisphere has no brake on coming up with fanciful explanations to explain contradictions and dissonance. Ramachandran sees a need to balance stable theories about the world with anomalies we sometimes encounter that might overthrow them. To take a personal example, I once heard that a Rabbi who I respected and seemed principled had many extra-marital girlfriends. I dismissed it as a rumor, but I didn’t make an effort to find out who was saying it, and on what basis. I did not take this piece of evidence and suddenly decide that the man was a hypocrite, and that all I had believed about him was false. And in general, we have to achieve a balance.
This raises a question to me about normal, non-brain-damaged persons.
What if people vary in the strength of their discrepancy detector. What if some people are more likely than others to embrace an anomaly? What would be the characteristics of such people? Would we call them open-minded? Would they be more tolerant of ambiguity? Would be they be more tolerant of different opinions? Would women, whose brains are somewhat different from men (for instance, the thick fiber of neurons connecting the hemispheres is thicker in women) react differently to contradictions and ambiguity on the average than men do?

Perhaps there are people who react violently when their world view is threatened.
consider the following:
I spoke with an old Italian woman who told me that a Nazi soldier shot her mother, who had been sheltering Jews. He had tried to argue with the mother and her mother made the mistake of arguing back that Jesus was Jewish.
Another example was in a book by neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor where she recounts the story of a Nazi who demanded a baby from its Jewish mother, and when the mother refused, he seized the baby and tore it apart.
Says Taylor “Faced with inputs that would force less committed others to adjust or abandon their ideas, a strong believer may find it less painful to adjust (or sometimes abandon) that bit of the world which gave rise to the offending inputs. World-shaping may lead to abhorrent cruelty, self-protective for the perpetrators.”

So here, she is saying that for some people, if they find the idea of you or me outrageous, or humiliating, or impinging on the way they think the world is, or should be, they may attack you or me. Actually she is saying more than this – if you simply threaten the coherence of their world view, they may attack.

We could ask another question at this point. Is intelligence correlated with the ability to see contradictions? I think it must be. An active mind that understand concepts on a deeper level than most is also more likely to spot contradictions.

The rest of this post is a bit more biological, it’s not on evil per se, but it is somewhat relevant. I include simply because it is interesting, not because I really understand the implications.

Charles Brack (of says this:
The left-brain seeks to avoid internal contradictions in its analysis of the environment…The left-brain tends to bend reality to fit the way it wants to process it. There is a certain expectation that the left-brain has of reality, and pre-determinism in responding to the environmental clues is its natural operating mode….

In contrast, the right brain has a lower propensity for pre-determinism, and is not as inclined to drive the information analysis to a particular outcome…However, it can lead to more ambiguous and complex outcomes.

Walter Freeman

Walter Freeman

Walter Freeman Jr., is a professor at Berkeley who found evidence of mathematical chaos in the brain. He analogizes our landscape of meaning to a landscape of craters on the moon. If a concept or perception falls within one of these basins, it spirals to the bottom. If it doesn’t, it falls into a a kind of catchall area that ends up in a trajectory that eventually learns a new basin. He also believes that our entire world view is based on building hypotheses, expecting a result, and seeing what happens. In his own words:

Every sensory cortex maintains a landscape of chaotic attractors that correspond to the perceptual categories that the subject is capable of discriminating. When the subject attends to an expected event, the landscape is created, and a known stimulus gives access to the proper basin. After the dynamics converges to the selected attractor, the specific details of the stimulus are removed. The raw sense data by which category selection is performed are discarded after they are no longer useful. These properties of chaos are most in evidence when a hypothesis is disproved by testing, because the resulting stimulus is novel. Upon this failure, the prediction is changed by creative activity in the limbic system and disseminated by corollary discharges, so that a new hypothesis is tested. The process is repeated by the creation of new attractors by trial and error, until a reward is forthcoming and a hypothesis is proved.

There are belief systems where even to question any of the tenets makes you a traitor, or a oily corrupting influence. One of the great things of the West is the tradition of questioning and free speech.  Our worldviews have to be susceptible to revision, when facts or logic require it.  Unfortunately, there is  a trend to shutting down “hurtful” speech, which is ridiculous, because of course we are going to be hurt if our cherished beliefs are challenged.  Better to have hurt feelings than to spend your life being wrong.

A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance – Leon Festinger (1957)
Imaging Brain Function with EEG – by Walter Freeman and Rodrigo Quiroga (2013)
Ramachandran tells you some of the biological evidence a YouTube video:

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How do such flawed people become our leaders and heroes?

The date was April 5, 1968. Just twelve hours after an assassin murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, a young  follower named Jesse Jackson announced on the NBC Today Show that King had died in his arms. He had cradled King’s head and was the last person on earth to whom King had spoken. He had stains on his sweater that he said was the blood of Dr. King.

Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, and Martin Luther King

Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, and Martin Luther King

It wasn’t until 7 years later that a black reporter, Barbara Reynolds, tracked down other members of Dr. King’s entourage, who all denied the story. “The only person who cradled Dr. King was [the Reverend Ralph] Abernathy,” said Hosea Williams, a top deputy to Dr. King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). “It’s a helluva thing to capitalize on a man’s death, especially one you professed to love.” Hosea had been present during the shooting, and so had Ralph Abernathy, while a musician named Ben Branch was with Jackson at the time in the courtyard of the motel. He also says that Jesse did not touch MLK. By all accounts, Jesse was indeed in the motel, but he went away from, not toward, the victim.


Then Barbara Reynolds published her book Jesse Jackson: The Man, The Movement, The Myth, which mercilessly exposed this lie, among others. Jackson hit back. In an interview he said “…Remember what happened to that black female Tribune reporter [Angela Parker] who busted up our organization? Her drive to gain the world was so strong that she did not know what it meant to lose her soul…Today she can’t hold her head up in her own community…”

Barbara was gradually ostracized, then vilified, and finally “became the subject of “personal attacks on my life,” following the publication of her book.

Her book, which had been a best seller, disappeared from book stores. Since Jackson had friends in street gangs, she needed protection. She claims that she “received death threats from anonymous callers.”

Angela Parker had been a reporter for the Chicago Tribune who exposed Jackson’s financial dealings to Abernathy. When he was speaking to a group of reporters, including Angela, he said to directly about her: “The issue is that last Friday a black woman reporter left Chicago with her mission being to separate great black men….Now you know who your enemy is.”

He talked on about the “treachery of black women.” and even compared her to a woman who stabbed Dr. King in the early 60s, a comparison that produced thunderous applause from the audience.

Parker eventually had to go underground, because of the demonstrations, death threats, and attempts to destroy her career.

With this past, you would think that Jesse would NOT be hailed as a great civil rights leader, or the representative of black aspirations.

But he was.

In an interview, biographer Ken Timmerman says: ‘What I discovered doing “Shakedown” is that Jesse Jackson is there to help himself first. It’s called “Me-first Jackson” in Chicago. Then he helps his family – beer distributorships for his sons. Then he helps his close entourage, the black-elite friends. And these are a dozen, two dozen people around him who have become hundred-million dollar millionaires.’

Hurley Green worked for Jackson, writing a weekly column under Jackson’s name. He quit when he learned that Jackson was being paid a fee for the column, and pocketing the money for himself. Says Green: “Jesse uses people like a lemon. He squeezes all the juice out, then gets another lemon. I’ve seen him go through lots of people like that.”

Jesse half-brother, Noah Robinson, said of him: “Jesse does have all the prerequisites for success. He has intelligence, drive, ruthlessness and vindictiveness.”

Jackson started an organization for inner city school kids called PUSH. The idea was to promote reading, writing and attendance. Students were asked to sign a moral contract where they would avoid “decadence” and their parents were supposed to pledge to spend time with their children. He flew in first class airline seats from school to school, making speeches to the students. The US government was impressed, and gave millions to his causes. But not all blacks were impressed. A former vice president of PUSH, Thomas Todd, called it a “public relations stunt based on rhetoric and nothing more.” Clarence Page (also black) wrote that “The benevolence [i.e. money donations] persists, even though almost no one can explain what PUSH-Excel really is.”

Jesse Jackson said that blacks had all the rights whites had, but that was not enough. His attitude was that if a white owned supermarket operated in an area that was 20 percent black, then 20 percent of its staff should be black as well. The fear of boycotts or of bad publicity had corporations parting with cash that went to Jackson or black-owned companies. It didn’t hurt that he had help from “El Rukn”, a black gang as organized as any Mafia. He used them in one case to back up his demands on a grocery store. The gang members formed a line outside, with their red berets and black trousers with military style stripes down the side, and scared away the customers. So the store owner wrote Jesse a $5,000 check to go away.

We can question the value of mandated minority set-asides. Should a company be forced by the government or by fear of boycotts to search for a minority company to supply it, for instance? Is America so racist that black companies could not survive otherwise?  In the 1980’s a US Census Bureau survey showed that the black business sector was booming. There was a large increase in the number of businesses, and gross receipts had reached 12.4 billion by 1982.

The St. Louis Sentinel, a black newspaper, accused Jackson of taking a “kick-back approach” to civil rights activism. It continued, saying that he had a “million dollar commitment to himself” and raised an argument that only the wealthy blacks benefited from Jackson’s approach.

Jesse then decided to become a national leader, and even ran for president. It is interesting to compare him with Obama:

1. They both ran for president

2. They both had support from Muslim associations

3. They both had communist friends: Jesse had Hunter Pitts “Jack” O’Dell. Obama had Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayres.

4. They also uttered untruths on occasion. Jesse told a squatter community in South Africa that he had grown up in a shack, which must have been embarrassing to his middle-class step-father, who prided himself on providing for his family. Jackson made a similar remark when he visited a Palestinian refugee camp outside Jerusalem, where he lapsed into his country preacher drawl and said: “I know this camp. When I smell the stench of the open sewers, this is nothing new to me. This is where I grew up.”

As for Obama, he tells untruths, for instance he told us that we could keep our insurance, which certainly turned out to be untrue (but maybe he didn’t know?) and he told us that the siege in Benghazi, where our ambassador died at the hands of Al Qaeda, was due to a video, and that was certainly not true. As for his past, some of it is closed to us, such as his college records.

5. Jackson’s presidential platform called for an initial 25 percent across-the-board cut in defense spending, income redistribution, and accommodation of the Soviet Union. A leader of his “brain trust” was Robert Borosage of the “Institute for Policy Studies” (IPS). The IPS was a hard-left think-tank. Borosage traveled repeatedly to Nicaragua in the early 1980s to support the pro-Soviet Sandinistas. Borosage and IPS are very enthusiastic about Barack Obama.

Jackson and Farrakhan

Jackson and Farrakhan

6. Jackson was associated with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Black Muslims in the US, who said to the Jews “If you harm this brother [Jesse], it will be the last one you harm.” Obama was initially supported by Farrakhan as well, but after Obama waged war on Gadhafi, Louis said in a speech directed at Obama “you can’t order him to step down and get out, who the hell do you think you are?”

7. In a trip to Cuba, Jackson greeted a crowd in Havana with “Long live Fidel Castro! Long live Che Guevara!” At the University of Havana, he punched the air with his fist clenched in the Communist Party salute. In 1984, he called for normalization of diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations with Cuba – which Obama has now implemented. He also wanted a pledge by the US of no first use of nuclear weapons, and Obama has actually reduced our nuclear arsenal drastically and wants to reduce it some more.

When Bill Clinton left office as president of the USA, he signed 177 pardons (and commutations) for prisoners. Three of these were requested by Jackson:

1. Dorothy Rivers, a social activist who had defrauded the homeless of 5 million dollars in grants. With her ill-gotten gains, she bought a Mercedes, a $3,500 dress, business investments for her sons, etc. After she was pardoned, Jackson put her on the board of directors of Rainbow/PUSH.

2. Mel Reynolds, a former congressman convicted of soliciting sex with a minor. Once released, Jackson hired him as a consultant on prison reform. Deroy Murdock, a black syndicated columnist, told Timmerman “This is a first in American politics. An ex-congressman who had sex with a subordinate won clemency from a president who had sex with a subordinate, then was hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate.”

So again, we can ask: how do we get such “great leaders”? At least in the case of North Korea, its leadership was imposed on it by the Soviets and others. But here, in our democracy, we had Jesse, and then later his successor Al Sharpton, who meets often with both Barack Obama and Bill De Blasio (mayor of New York).

And how did Sharpton start?

In November 1987, Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old black girl from Wappingers Falls, New York, knew she was in trouble. Although she had been grounded, she had gone out with her older boyfriend anyway and had been gone for four days. She knew from past experience that when she went home she could expect a beating from her mother’s live-in boyfriend, a violent ex-con and alcoholic who had served time for murder. To avoid Tawana and Al Sharptonthose consequences she concocted a lurid story that ended up being transformed — once Sharpton got ahold of it — into a racially polarizing incident at the national (and then global) level.

Tawana claimed that she had been abducted, raped, and abused by a group of white men, who smeared her with feces and wrote “B****,” “KKK,” and “N*****” on her clothes and body. If true, this would have been a horrendous crime. But Sharpton turned this hoax of a troubled teen into a malicious cause célèbre to advance his own career. Sharpton and his fellow activists, attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox, turned the case into a three-ring media circus that ran for months in 1988, capturing the top headlines of many of the MSM daily news cycles.

Under Sharpton’s tutelage, two of Miss Brawley’s four anonymous white men developed names: local police officer Harry Crist, Jr. and local prosecutor Steven Pagones.

You look at this and wonder. We are in a democracy. And yet who rises to the top? Who leads us? Take Greece: democratic elections in Greece have brought to power a party whose emblem is the Communist hammer and sickle.  Or take Venezuela: democratic elections brought in a dictatorship to Venezuela, and that dictatorship is being reinforced now by Iranian power. Venezuela even has Iranian missiles pointed at us, missiles that can certainly reach Florida. Democratic elections did the same in Bolivia, and consider the following letter to the Wall Street Journal:

“My family immigrated from Argentina in the mid-’60s…Once in the top five in the world for standard of living, Argentina now has become a bottom feeder third-world nation. The husband and wife Kirchner governments have created a completely dependent population which is controlled by throwing them the usual nationalist bones such as ..anti-American and anti-success rhetoric against productive nations…It is too late to cry for Argentina. Lets act now so we won’t have to cry for the U.S.

The Kirchners of Argentina

The Kirchners of Argentina

When choosing leaders first impressions are not enough. Stanton Samenow, a criminologist, says to avoid trusting the wrong people, we have to get to know them, because only over time will we see their personality unfold. There are many people now who regret voting for Hugo Chavez, for example. And the joke is not only on them. Its on us.


Shakedown – by Kenneth R. Timmerman (2002)

The paragraph on Sharpton:

The WSJ letter on Argentina is here:

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Compromised by a movie – and what I did about it

Suppose you found out that there was a, shall we say ‘regrettable’, movie loose of a part of your past that you would rather forget.
What would you do?
I was in that situation, as have been several other people.
One such person, Tyler Clementi, jumped off a bridge to his death (the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey).
Another person, a woman sued the fraternity who had secretly filmed her and won a million dollars.
But what did I do about it?
I ran away.  Specifically, I ran from Boston, where the movie first was shown.  I’m not totally clear on the original motive for showing it, but I had been threatened by a very angry girlfriend.
A few years later, I went to work in New Haven, a town about 140 miles from Boston. It was also a student town (Yale, SCSU, New Haven Tech, etc) and the movie eventually hit. I was jeered at, called names, and so forth.
I realized the movie was not going away, and went on a publicity rampage of my own, trying to defend myself against the movie by distributing flyers, tape cassettes, etc.
rectangleShameBy this time, you might realize that I’m not a normal person.
Assuming the movie was real, no normal person would react that way.
But then again, a movie that would attract this kind of attention would not be made of a normal person.

But wait a minute – how could I possibly know there was a movie? Did anyone give me a copy? The answer to that is NO.
I did encounter hostility, amusement, disgust, and people said things to each other such as “Its terrible what they did to him – but he was SO disgusting!” and other people did mention a movie in sentences such as “she saw the movie, and she says he is messed up for life!” (I substituted tamer words for the expletives here).
I was called “subhuman”, “Hebe”, and heard jokes about “bondage” and was told I was “so gay!” and a “faggot” (I am not homosexual) and so forth. One woman accurately described me as a “slob” and another woman said “after seeing him, now I understand the Holocaust!”
So how does a person defend himself against something like this? I remember my behavior of the movie-period vaguely, (I suppress the memory to some extent, because it is painful) and I know that it is VERY hard to fight graphic and sickening pictures with mere words.

So in my message-campaign I said that I had heard of all sorts of shenanigans going on in society that didn’t arouse this kind of universal disgust but should get at least as much attention as I was getting. And that was true. I did not have to go far afield for examples.  For example, the police chief of New Haven was found to have been patronizing a prostitute, (his wife divorced him after he gave an interview to the local paper trying to limit the damage).  Also a work colleague told me that at his former job, some of his colleagues visited “ladies of the night”, or perhaps “ladies of the lunch break”.  And in a flyer, I mentioned the State University of New Paltz, NY, where a visiting troupe of feminists made a scandalous show for the students.

So my punchline was – “why don’t you folks care at all about this other stuff! Why just me!”

In retrospect, I think the best argument I could have made was not given, which was, that the movie wasn’t exactly what it looked like (but how do explain a bizarre desire to dance weirdly in front of your mirror?), and I had a prior history of compulsions, depression, eating disorders, extreme stress, and so forth.  I was not the typical “Hebe”, any more than I was the typical Caucasian, though I have never seen such conviction as when people uttered that word (Hebe) at me.  And, I could have pointed out that most of my life had been decent enough.
But now that I have set up the situation here, lets assume that I am currently a normal person, trying to lead a normal life, but with this unfortunate past grafted onto me.
What happens next?
Evil is what happens.
First of all, the movie spread. It spread from sea to shining sea. It spread to other countries, and I would meet foreign students who would make comments, in one case in a foreign language that I understood (Hebrew).
Then the Mafia struck.
I call it the Mafia, but that is because it is an organization that uses illegal methods to target people. From their point of view, they may have been partially a vigilante organization, taking their own form of justice against “the Hebe”, or against someone who symbolized everything they didn’t like.
I didn’t know I was being attacked at first. I was feeling sick, and most strangely, my “reproductive urges” were increasing,  going up, and up, and up. I didn’t like this at all. But I didn’t give in to the urges. I had a history that made me even more determined than the usual person not to sink into the slime, and I held onto the cliff of decency by my fingernails.
This continued for a year. Then I had an idea.

The idea was to change my lifestyle.

It started with not eating at home.
This was not because I suspected anything. I just remembered my bicycling days, when I would eat only twice a day, on long multi-day jaunts through the American countryside. So now, when work was over, I’d cycle back, out of New Haven, into the hills of Woodbridge, and buy something to eat on the way.
It worked.
The “urges” went away. The sick feeling went away.  I was reviving.
But I suspected nothing.
Then one day, I purchased a bottle of spring water. I drank some of it. I put the rest of the refrigerator. I went to sleep.
That night, someone entered my apartment. Someone bad. He headed straight for the water in the refrigerator. I did not see this person.
The next morning, I got up, eager to go to work, where my neural net project was picking up steam. But first, I drank the water.
This was a mistake.
In a few seconds, the sex urges came back. They came back like a ton of bricks. I felt like punching the walls. It was truly unbelievable.
Finally, I understood.
I staggered down Whalley avenue (historical note: Edward Whalley hid in 1661 in a cave  on top of West Rock in New Haven – he had signed the death warrant for Charles I, right under Oliver Cromwell’s signature). But here I was, 333 years later than Edward the regicide, and I was in my own predicament saturated with some new kind of drug that was latching on with ferocity to receptors in my brain that had to do with reproduction. In wonderment, I noticed how ordinary middle-aged women on the avenue looked like sexually alluring seductresses.
Now lets stop here, the story is way too long for this blog, but we can speculate on a few things.
First of all, let us assume that I’m not deranged, or a liar, and that I’m reporting to you something new and ugly in your environment.
What kind of people would develop (and use) drugs such as these?
Why would I be targeted? Was I being targeted for my “holier than thou” attitude? For my accusations of “hypocrisy” to the society at large, in my pamphlets and handouts and cassettes? Was I being targeted for my behavior in the movie? And if I was targeted for all three, why would people who were disgusted at my behavior then try to plunge me even deeper into the slime?
If it makes no sense to you, it also made no sense to policemen, private detectives, and others who I told the story to.
Since then, I’ve been drugged and sexually assaulted.  More than once.

In true Mafia fashion, a message was given. A dead bird was dropped on my porch, right under my mailbox.

The Mafia is known to dump dead animals on target porches, but to me, this message had something to do with clipping my wings.

When I would go cycling, strange things would happen. I would start a cycle trip and a beautiful dead red bird would be in my path, and when I returned, a beautiful (dead) blue bird would be in my path. I would go into an isolated tavern in the countryside for directions, come out, and find out that sticky goo had been smeared on my handle bars. I would wipe my hands clean, but they had absorbed the chemical, and my heart would suddenly start pounding as if it were going to explode, and I would have to lie down for an hour on the grass and then force myself to get back on the bike.
On one trip, I cycled with my water bottle, but did not drink it, for reasons I cannot explain. I finally reached my destination, drank the bottle, and within seconds it felt as if a barrage of pins had penetrated my heart. The next few days I could barely walk.

Note however, that none of this could be proven.

You might ask -me well, if there was really was a movie, wouldn’t someone tell you about it? And if there really was a Mafia, wouldn’t a disgruntled member defect and tell all to the police? And even Mafiosi must have better things to do that follow you around the landscape just to make you “feel bad”. And as for “dead birds” – well, haven’t you heard of “roadkill”? And sure, if you bike a lot you will get heart pains. And if there was a movie – wouldn’t it be on the internet? How come I haven’t heard of this movie?  And why would people care about such a movie – they would just think of you as pathetic and leave you alone. And finally – you say you had urges? Well, men are pigs.

I lack room here to refute any of this, and in some cases I don’t know the answer. But I will say this. The movie came full circle. All of a sudden, I was trying to warn my fellow citizens that there was a powerful, extensive threat to their liberties, of a nature they had never encountered or conceived. They could be knocked out with a whiff of a drug, perhaps sprayed at them in a train seat, or even from a car.

Once knocked out, their keys could be copied, their possessions stolen.

Their very urges could be amplified and perhaps even their behavior changed.
They could be made sick at a time they had to be strong, they could be disoriented when they had to be vigilant  and they would have no clue that a malicious organization was behind it. They could have their secrets stolen, their personal, local, and national defenses penetrated.
Knowing all this, you would think I should be debriefed by the FBI, police, and so forth.
I tried. I really tried to get the message out. For various reasons, I failed.
I’ll leave this post with the lyrics of a new song by Carrie Underwood:

He said, “I’ve been where you’ve been before.
Down every hallway’s a slamming door.
No way out, no one to come and save me.
Wasting a life that the Good Lord gave me.

There must’ve been something in the water
Oh, there must’ve been something in the water

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How the Israel/Palestinian conflict shows unattractive mysteries of human behavior

Take a look at this picture:

She looks like a happy nice little girl.
Take a look at this picture:

She has grown up to a handsome young woman, who attended Evergreen State College (one of those colleges where students emerge more leftist than when they came in), and she has become an idealist.
Above is the final picture. Rachel Corrie is burning an American flag in Gaza, a mini-state on Israel’s border ruled by Hamas.

Rachel later died facing an Israeli bulldozer. The driver of the bulldozer, a Russian immigrant, knew that the ISM protesters were trying to interfere with the demolishing of Arab houses, but he claims he did not see Rachel. Also, the house that was being demolished was above a smuggling tunnel. You can look at Wikipedia for more info.

Rachel was later celebrated in a play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” that played in London and New York.

Intuitively, since I support Israel myself, I would see her as a misguided idealist who met a tragic accident. But there is something odd about the trajectory Rachel took, as can be seen from the last photo. How do you get from Photo A to Photo C?

Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard

And there is this statement from a Philadelphia journalist, Jack Engelhard, of his experience:
On this fact-finding tour of Israel, I represented a major news organization from Philadelphia. The others came from all over.
Some were big time journalists. Some small time. I listened to their hostile chatter as Shlomo, our driver and guide, took us around this glorious country.
Not so glorious for the boys and girls on the bus. There was impatience and murmuring. They shouted him down when, nearing the Western Wall, he began about the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967. To them the enemy was Israel. They demanded he skip Yad Vashem.
They scoffed and cackled when Israeli music was piped in. “Shut it off,” they hollered.
So that’s how it is, I thought. So that’s how it is.
Finally Shlomo had taken enough. He stopped the bus and walked out for a smoke. I approached him. He was crying, this high-ranking officer of the IDF.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as if I didn’t know.
“They didn’t come here to learn about us. They came only for the Arabs.”

This conflicts with my intuition too. Are not journalists representative of a wide range of opinions, with a commitment to objectivity? What is Engelhard witnessing here?

Pro-Israel folks often puzzle over what they see as a double standard. For instance, Marilyn Penn writes:

Boko Haram has announced its establishment of a caliphate and continues in its slaughter of thousands of Nigerians and its kidnapping of young women for use as sex slaves. Not a word of protest from American campuses.

The death toll in Syria is currently 70,000 murdered with over 2.2 million refugees, half of whom are children, who have fled to detainee camps in any neighboring country that will harbor them. American students are unfazed.

ISIL has announced its caliphate and has captured increasing territory in Syria and Iraq while attaining professional mastery in filming the barbaric beheadings and conflagrations which are now a staple of American T.V. news. They have successfully combined the dark ages with the most up to date cyber-access. College kids have no comment.

What has engaged these morally dormant minds? Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the pseudo-accusation of its apartheid – the excuse for the Boycott/Divest/Sanction Movement, energized by Arab money, leftist propaganda and radical student groups that openly endorse Hamas, the terrorist organization that calls for the murder of Jews worldwide. In the latest YouTube to show the degradation of acceptable standards of behavior at the University of California campuses, we can see the demonstration at U.C. Davis by Palestinian students shouting Allahu Akbar after a Jewish protest of the Student Body vote to boycott Israel. They were joined by the support of graduate students represented by the UAW Local 2865, the first labor union in the U.S. to make such a move..

In my (the blogger’s) naive intuitive view, I ask why do these idealistic young people not see what Marilyn sees?

Then there is this:

Matt Friedman

Matt Friedman

Matt Friedman, also a reporter, says of his colleagues:
The dogma posits that the occupation is not a conflict like any other, but that it is the very symbol of conflict: that the minute state inhabited by a persecuted minority in the Middle East is in fact a symbol of the ills of the West – colonialism, nationalism, militarism, and racism. In the recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, a sign hoisted by marchers linked the unrest between African-Americans and the police to Israeli rule over Palestinians.
… boycotts of Israel, and only of Israel, which are one of the cult’s most important practices, have significant support in the press, including among editors who were my superiors. Sympathy for Israel’s predicament is highly unpopular in the relevant social circles, and is something to be avoided by anyone wishing to be invited to the right dinner parties, or to be promoted. The cult and its belief system are in control of the narrative, just as the popular kids in a school and those who decide what clothes or music are acceptable.

My naive intuition gets floored by the next item:

In January, a student group at DePaul University, Feminist Front, produced a short video in which they proclaimed their support for a petition being circulated by DePaul Divests that asked the university to “uphold its Vincentian values by divesting from [companies that profit from] the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” Members of the Feminist Front, who, if they were living in Hamas-controlled Gaza would be subjugated into silence and persecuted for their alternative sexual orientation, have also decided that divestment is “a feminist issue” and “a queer issue.” Why? Because, they contend, “Israeli forces target queer folks with blackmail . . ,” and because Israeli “methods of occupation historically target women, through violence, kidnapping, and rape.”

Richard L. Cravatts, the author of the article Queers for Palestine that mentions DePaul University, says that

Self-identified progressive students on campus are also enthralled by pursuing “social justice” on the part of the Palestinians precisely because Third-world victimism parallels the identity politics of the same student groups who fuel the promiscuous BDS resolutions being proposed on campuses around the country.

Thus, African-American student groups frequently rally in support of divestment when they are attracted to the narrative in which Israel is positioned as a racist, apartheid regime that suppresses an indigenous colored people and deprives them of human rights.

That is his explanation. If he is right, some of us interpret events in the world not based on reason, but based on whether we are “attracted to a narrative” which resonates with our own desire to see ourselves as victimized.  Truth is not as important as feelings.

This raises the question, not only of whether we are as rational as we think we are, but of how rational we want to be?

Tuvia Tenenbom was brought up in a very religious environment in Israel, rebelled, and emigrated to Germany and the US.  Then he went undercover.  He went to Israel, pretending to be a Christian German, and talked with Arabs in areas where no Jews would dare go.  He also talked to peace activists, settlers, and Europeans, some in “idealistic” organizations.  He said that vast amounts of Western money were being spent catchTheJew2on the Palestinians in the West Bank, and their handsome houses and cities showed this, but then he took a trip into neighboring Jordan, a country that also has many Palestinians, and saw cases of extreme poverty.  He wrote a book about this undercover trip, called Catch The Jew.  The reason for the title was that he found that the Europeans participating in the left-wing NGOs were coming to Israel to not only to help the Palestinians, but to frame the Israelis.

And again, this is counter-intuitive. Surely if are a young idealist and you care about Palestinians, you help them wherever they are, in Jordan, in Lebanon (where basic citizenship rights were denied them), in Syria, where one headline (in the Times of Israel) says Assad is starving Palestinians to death in a Syrian camp, and nobody cares. There are a huge number of refugees from Syria in Jordan right now. How about helping them? Or helping the many Christians displaced by Jihad?

And what happens to the Palestinians when the European money dries up? Where are the exports, the industry, the agriculture that will sustain them?

We could also ask:
Shouldn’t the constant propaganda against the Jews be stopped? Do people like Rachel Corrie, or the many NGO’s and their idealists ever confront the Arabs about their conspiracy theories and lies about the Jews?
If Israel disappeared tomorrow, to be replaced by a Muslim state, would the world promptly forget about the Palestinians?

Israel is a place with more foreign reporters per person than any other country in the world. But one can say for Tuvia, that unlike many of them, he believes in testing the truth. And when he does, he comes up with surprises.

So to sum up, Israel is a very small place, but the reaction to it lays bare, like no other, unattractive mysteries of human behavior.

Sources: (Matt Friedman)
Queers against Israel: The Logic of the Pro- Palestinian Coalition on Campus by Dr. Richard Cravatts (Jack Engelhard)

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Hatred – can we explain it, excuse it, defend against it?

Handing out candy in Gaza to celebrate deaths of Americans at the bombing of the Boston Marathon

Handing out candy in Gaza to celebrate deaths of Americans at the bombing of the Boston Marathon

In this blog on the psychology of evil, there is very little mention of raw emotion. To rectify this, I read a book called Hatred by a professor of psychiatry named Willard Gaylin. He says that real haters are different from you and me. They are obsessed with their enemies, “attached to them in a paranoid partnership.”

Does anyone hate us for no reason?
“We have been treated to pictures of jubilant Arab crowds cavorting in the streets and shouting their delight at the tragic deaths in the United States as a consequence of the World Trade Center massacres. Their palpable hatred of us leaps off the screen…”

Gaylin distinguishes between bigotry and hatred. Prejudice may dehumanize its object, but the hater demonizes its target. Gaylin says slavery was the result of dehumanizing – the slave was not loved or hated. At best, he was treated like a domesticated animal. “Prejudice turned to hatred in the United States with the liberation of the slaves…”

So what are the characteristics of hatred? it requires both a passion and a preoccupation with the disdained group. it is an intense emotion. Gaylin claims that it is a disorder of perception. It involves quasi-delusional thinking. Rage is a hot emotion, hatred is a cold passion. And it is more the characteristics of the hater that cause the hatred, than the characteristics of the hated. He adds that the opposite of hatred is not love, it is indifference.

Aristotle says about hatred “Whereas anger arises from offenses against oneself, enmity may arise even without that; we may hate people merely because of what we take to be their character…Moreover, anger can be cured by time; but hatred cannot..”

Sir Francis Bacon wrote: “A man that hath no virtue in himself ever envieth virtue in others…and whoso is out of hope to attain to another’s virtue will seek to come at even hand by depressing another’s fortune.”

Gaylin points out the bad logic in envy: “It is not just that we do not have that which they have, it is that we do not have it because they have it.”

One patient of his, an actress, was enraged and despondent when she heard a friend had been cast in a choice part in a movie. She explained to him that in order to be happy “it is not enough that I succeed. My friends have to fail.”

So to some, life is a “zero-sum game”. To win, others must lose. Even if you call them your friends.

Hate may arise when we feel that we have been denied that to which we are entitled – or we have been deprived – by some other person or persons. In reality we may have real grievances, but often the hatred is targeted to a scapegoat group- a group that is not responsible for our problems.
The Jew is often blamed for many problems, so it is interesting that in 1994 in Japan and Korea, it was found that there was a “mystifyingly positive response to the antisemitic stereotype of the Jew found in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” (the Protocols is a forgery, and at the time was being circulated in Asia). And when China opened up to the West, antisemitism seemed to be one of the first Western ideas to be heartily embraced by the Chinese.
To me [the blogger] This suggests that certain ideas (such as  the idea of a small plotting group controlling us behind the scenes) fits certain patterns of thinking that many of us innately have.
In his diary for March 27, 1942, Joseph Goebbels wrote: “The Jews will destroy us if we do not defend ourselves against them. This is a war of life or death between the Aryan race and the Jewish virus.” Gaylin says this encapsulates various elements of a paranoid state since it identifies a life-threatening situation, it dehumanizes the enemy (a virus), and this sort of thinking can create satisfaction at the sight of a pile of Jewish corpses, or for a Jihadist, the sight the results of a suicide bombing.
Gaylin says that the typical anti-Semite is not an active Jew hater. the anti-Semite stereotypes the Jews, denigrates them, but for the most part ignores them. He is not preoccupied with them. He wants less involvement, not more.
But to a Muslim child, says former Muslim Wafa Sultan: “JEW must be one of the words they hear most frequently before the age of ten…in their imagination it conjures up visions of killing, depravity lies and corruption. When two people quarrel, each calls the other a Jew.”
She continues “We hold the Jews “responsible” for our military failures, our economic backwardness..We believe that Jews control the world…

In the west, Muslim immigrants face a conflict between Muslim religious law and the way of life around them. Islam forbids Muslims to accept a job where their boss may be a non-Muslim. But they do have to accept such jobs, and compromises such as this leave Muslims with a sense of frustration. Wafa talks to these people, and she says the frustration gives way to a terrible anger against everything around them in their new society..
So again, when we talk about hatred, many of the forces are internal, and in this case, not the fault of American society.
Obama administration representative Marie Harf attributed the attraction of ISIS partly to lack of jobs.  Obama’s administration puts a high priority on economic justice and redistribution and sometimes resorts to class-warfare rhetoric, and Gaylin would seem to back this idea up when he says:

The impoverished Afghans or Palestinian in refugee camps can view on television the good life that others enjoy…leading to feelings of unfairness..Such people can then be convinced that their misery is part of a zero-sum game that is necessary to support the indulgences of a rich society like the United States.

But there is  a big problem with the poverty-causing-hatred notion.  ISIS, for instance, has attracted at least 15,000 volunteers for martyrdom from almost all Western democracies. Indeed, more Western citizens are fighting for the “caliph” (of ISIS) than against him.

His army, including many women from the West, … all seem fairly well-fed and stylishly dressed, bearing smartphones and expensive Swiss watches and cruising in bullet-proof limos.

It is interesting that the hatred in the Muslim world is usually not directed at Russia or China, but at the U.S. It might seem reasonable to assume that Israel were to disappear, this hatred would too. And influential people have said as much. However, Gaylin argues that the US is hated, not “for the evil it has inflicted, but for its envied achievements, its seductive way of life.”

So China, which has killed Muslim Uighurs and sometimes transplanted the organs from the Uighur corpses into wealthy Chinese or Western “organ tourists”, is not hated anywhere near as much as the U.S. is.  Russia, which has waged a no-holds-barred war against Muslim separatists in Chechnya, is not hated as much either.
Now what about valid hatred? Did the Jews in the concentration camps have a valid reason to hate? And if so, to hate who? Nazis? Germans? For the most part, they did not take revenge, apart from killing some guards. So where was the hatred?

Michelle Knight was held lured into a house in Cleveland, Ohio, held captive for 11 years, and beaten and raped. She hated her captor, but after she got out she had therapy, and she now feels he had a disease.

It might be a mistake to call criminals “sick” though. Gaylin says:
One would have thought that the one community that would resist the conflation of evil into sickness would have been the world of theology…[but when priests in the Catholic church began molesting teenage boys]…it was astonishing to read the reports from the Boston archdiocese. The leaders indicated that whereas previously they had viewed sexual offenses of priests in terms of moral transgressions, in the past twenty years of so they were encourage to adopt a therapeutic approach to the problem. The “problem” being no less than pederasty, lying, violating a position of trust, and desecrating sacred vows.”

…I first became aware of this dangerous slippage…when I was examining the brutal slaying of a young Yale coed by her fellow student and former boyfriend (Richard Herrin)…the seat of the Catholic chaplaincy at Yale–chose to view Herrin, a poor Mexican-American boy from the barrio of Los Angeles, as a victim..[as if] we might all pulverize a loved one’s head.”

Michelle Knight’s desire not to hate is laudable. Most of us are not haters. Even when we have reason to be.

I also feel uncomfortable with the idea, embraced by some of our leaders that, for instance, a group such as ISIS recruits people with resentments caused by poverty. Without belief in Islam, there would be no ISIS. Beliefs can take existing hatreds and channel them, but they also cause them.

For instance, Glynn Harding sent mail bombs fulled with nails to people on the basis that they were cruel to animals. Was he really expressing an internal rage that was shaped by animal rights propaganda? That would seem to be the case, his victims were not always involved in any animal mistreatment, in face one victim was a six-year-old whose father made his living clearing wasp’s nests.

As far as the Palestinians go, Gaylin says, that without judging their claims relative to the Israelis, they have become a community of hatred and the Israelis have not.  They show this when they demonize the opposition.  They are told constantly to dedicate themselves to the destruction of the opposition.  They celebrate even when a few members of the opposition are blown up or stabbed.

I personally have good reason to hate.  But I have a total inability to defend myself from the “bad guys” or to achieve justice, and so I cope by seeing the perpetrators as defective human beings. I see them as people with a defective moral logic, and a defective moral makeup, and a defective view of the world. That is similar to the way Michelle Knight copes – by seeing Ariel Castro as sick.

A determined and long-lasting desire to defeat an enemy is necessary sometimes.  It is strange though, that often hate has a delusional component.

Hatred, by Willard Gaylin M.D.
A God Who Hates – Wafa Sultan 2009, St. Martin’s Press

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Giving life to some by killing others – organ harvesting and the crushing of Falun Gong

Ding Yan, demonstrates a police shackling procedure to the NY Times and other papers.  Two years later she died in a water dungeon.

Ding Yan demonstrates a police shackling procedure to the NY Times and other papers. Two years later she died in a water dungeon.

The Falun Gong practitioner was puzzled by Ethan Gutmann. She wanted to tell him about the abuse she had suffered, but he was interested in seemingly irrelevant details, such as why the doctors gave her blood tests, or why they looked at her cornea (a big transplant market exists for those) but did not give her any normal eye exams.
But Ethan was getting a chill at her answers.
Ultimately, he wrote a book titled The Slaughter about organ harvesting of executed-to-order prisoners of conscience in China.
I’ll highlight some interesting points about it, but first we could ask, what is so wrong about harvesting organs? For instance, when I got my driver’s license, I signed up to donate mine. Chinese medical schools have taught that many otherwise wicked criminals volunteered their organs as a final penance. Suppose a murderer is executed. Why shouldn’t we take his kidney, for example, and give renewed life to someone else?
As one policeman, Wang Lijun, said “…to see someone executed and within minutes to see the transformation, in which this person’s life was extended in the bodies of several other people–it was soul-stirring.”
The story of what happened to Falun Gong, which was basically a Buddhist revival movement, demonstrates the ultimate consequences.

Falun Gong took the Chinese leadership by surprise. There were plenty of semi-mystical exercise groups in China, but Falun Gong grew to have 70 million adherents. The leadership came to see it as a threat, and proceeded to crush it.  For foreign consumption, Westerners were told that it was not only an evil cult, but also racist and homophobic! Chinese who otherwise didn’t understand what the fuss was about turned against Falun Gong after several adherents burned themselves to death in Tiannamen Square, including a woman burning herself and her child. (The woman turned out not to be a member of Falun Gong, and there were other holes in the story, but it did turn Chinese against the sect). They were also told that Li Hongzhi, the originator of Falun Gong, was an agent of American imperialism who caused an attack by his followers (this was a lie, it was not an attack, it was a demonstration ).

There are several interesting questions we could ask at this point:
1. Why would a non-political movement, by people who generally believed that their rulers were good people, be seen as a threat by that government?
2. Why would the Chinese government and its enforcers treat these people with the most unbelievable brutality?
3. Why would a government that preaches the socialist doctrines of caring for the “people” then imprison vast numbers of those people, and execute perhaps 65,000 on order, and sell their organs to desperate Westerners and to wealthy Chinese?

Organs are less likely to be rejected if they are removed from a person who is still alive. Some of those live persons, due to slip-ups, may have even been conscious, as their bodies were dissected.

Here is Gutmann’s theory on question #1:
Li Hongzhi, the originator of Falun Gong, had made not just a mystical exercise system, but a system of morality.
To the party, suggests Gutmann, Li’s principle of “Truthfulness” was really just a form of unilateral disarmament–since to negotiate, one must lie. “Compassion” boiled down to a China too soft to pull the trigger. “Forbearance” was the worst– instead of getting rich and powerful, Han Chinese were expected to quietly suffer blows of those who were already powerful, in the international context it meant that China should be good at taking crap, not dishing it out. In short, Falun Gong was weak, feminine, inviting of domination.

Jiang Zemin, the leader of China at the time, took a look at the protesters at one demonstration against the start of the crackdowns, and then released a letter to the politburo saying that the demonstration was the most serious since Tiananmen, and he added that the protestors’ impressive discipline and ability to mobilize could be the product of foreign influences. Then he ended it with “If the CCP cannot defeat Falun Gong, it will be the biggest joke on Earth.”

As the government moved against FG, there were some truly remarkable acts of resistance. I’m not talking about the sometimes incredible heroism of prisoners who would not recant under torture, though that happened often, but of one small group of a few men that found a way to divert the local TV station. Near “People’s Square” in Changchun, Tang Feng, who knew of the plot, saw it in action when he viewed people watching a bearded man on the TV set tell them that the self-immolation was a “false fire,” a lie, and a criminal propaganda campaign by President Jiang Zemin. The hijacked broadcast had reached an audience of over one million people.

Unfortunately, the men who accomplished this remarkable feat in their closed totalitarian society met a terrible fate, as you might expect.

Falun Gong members abroad devised ingenious ways to penetrate the great internet wall that China had erected to keep wrong-ideas away from its population.

The Chinese took this so seriously that Chinese hit men attacked Falun Gong’s system administrator in Atlanta Georgia, beating him and rolling him into a carpet, and other agents went to South Africa and shot at a car that contained Falun activists. A Chinese diplomat defected in Australia, and told Ethan that there were more than a thousand Chinese agents in Australia, monitoring the “five poisons”: Tibetans, Falun Gong, democracy activists, and activists for an independent Taiwan, and Uyghurs (Chinese Muslims).

One could ask – why should we believe the testimony of people who have left China, and belong to groups that have a gripe with the government? Surely they could be lying.
One investigator tried an experiment. She called a hospital that was near a labor camp, and asked if they performed kidney transplants.
“Yes, we have kidneys. All of them are from living young people. You should come quickly. The wait is only one or two days.”
The investigator wondered – why, if in other countries there is such a shortage of organs, did this hospital have such a large supply, and why was there not a delay for the normal procedure with death-row prisoners, a court order to set a date for execution, and a signed statement by the criminal on his willingness to donate?

This type of investigation hit pay dirt eventually – recorded conversations that positively affirmed that hospitals were harvesting Falun Gong – in seven medical centers.

A Dr. Ko from Taiwan, who obtained organs for his patients, was told that his patients would “receive nothing but the best: all the organs will come from Falun Gong. These people may be a little fanatical, but you know? They don’t drink. They don’t smoke…

Eastern Lightning is a fringe Christian group to us – to the Chinese they were incurable deviants. They too were probably harvested, given the medical tests that other prisoners saw them getting.

To sum up, Ethan estimates that about 65,000 individuals before 2008 were harvested, hearts still beating. And despite Chinese government denials, he believes it is still happening.

We could ask how a government that preaches that it is for the people can be against so many of the people? And if you have a soft spot for “socialism”, you might wonder how such a thing could happen in a socialist country. But though socialism to some may mean “fairness”. I can speculate that it also appeals to any power-hungry government more than the alternative of economic power being decentralized among many different companies of all sizes. And socialism makes for a good indoctrination tool – you learn from kindergarten on that your government defends you against the capitalist imperialist exploiters.

Ethan does not think the Chinese rulers want just a powerful nation. He thinks they are expansionist. I would add that such a government sees power – military especially – as something to be pursued, and any internal movement that might interfere with that pursuit as a threat to be crushed – and not only crushed, but its hard-core adherents annihilated – in this case to be reprocessed into organs for others.  And if they do that to their own people, what might they be planning to do to us?

There is an irony here as well. A Swedish paper (Aftonbladet) came out with an article accusing Israel of organ harvesting, and the same belief is echoed among some of the British “peerage”. Israelis got upset, seeing this as an extension of the medieval accusation that they killed Christian children so they could drink their blood. It turned out that some Israeli freelancers had taken organs from dead people, including from Israeli soldiers, but it was not a systematic government policy of killing people to get their organs. The oldest organ-recycling I’ve heard of was in the U.S. in the Civil War when dying soldiers on the battlefield would sometimes have their teeth pulled out by people who were trying to supply dentists with false teeth.

But I digress.

For more evidence of the above, you can read The Slaughter, or if you lack time, you can watch the videos below. The first is from  

Also see:
The Slaughter – by Ethan Gutmann (2014)

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The problem with being “pure”.

Dawn Perlmutter - who studies symbols and "purity" in Islam and elsewhere

Dawn Perlmutter – who studies symbols and “purity” in Islam and elsewhere

The idea of being pure can be taken too far.  Not only that, but it can lead to remarkable cognitive contradictions. It is a very important motive in Islam, according to Dawn Perlmutter, who is an expert on symbols used by ideologies.
Before reading her essay, I had thought that much of Islamic behavior could be explained by an exaggerated sense of honor. For instance, there are many cases of “honor killings” where a father or brother will actually kill a daughter or sister, due to some dishonor such as her running away with the wrong man.
There is something odd about this concept – should not a Muslim be equally dishonored by accepting a bribe? And we could ask a Muslim member of ISIS, why is it not a dishonor to force captive infidel women into slavery? Though it is not likely that members of ISIS would sit down for an honest debate.

However, honor is not everything.  Purity is also a big driving force, and I’ll first quote some findings of Ms. Perlmutter:

First of all, most religions believe you should purify yourself before communicating with your God. 
In Islam that purity is equated to honor.
Purity requires ritual washing. For instance, you should wash yourself before handling a Koran.  And like germs, impurity is contagious. Impurity causes dishonor.

If an enemy occupies your holy sites, or your wife is subject to “sexual violation” — that qualifies as impurity.
That explains to me why women who are raped are often treated as guilty in the Muslim world.
“True believers experience ritual uncleanness as an impurity of the soul as much as of the body, and for this reason it cannot be washed away with water and soap.”
Dawn adds the purity rites “deeply embeds visceral responses that can make it difficult or even unbearable to assimilate to other traditions.”
I’m not sure she is right there that purity alone is responsible, after all, if you believe any religion intensely, I would think you will look with hostility and suspicion at any person who tries to weaken your allegiance.

And here we get to another interesting point. I remember a defender of Islam saying that “Jihad” was really an internal purification. He’s partly right, but:

“The spiritual struggle for self-purification is described as the greater jihad, an internal effort to lead a pure good life. Self-purification as the sole definition of jihad is the meaning that Islamist apologists choose to focus on, as opposed to holy war, the physical outer struggle of jihad, a purification of Islam through violence. … Personal jihad purifies through water. Political jihad purifies through blood.”

Almost “all natural bodily functions are designated as impure,” which is the reason, that when you reach the Islamic heaven, you don’t have them any more. There you will have “a pure body devoid of all excretions” and you will have “shame-free drinking and sex.” The women of Paradise are described as pure which is often misinterpreted in the West to mean that the women are virgins. However, it also means they never have to go the bathroom.

A Muslim who believes all this will naturally look at our Western culture  as a filthy culture, and a contagious impurity that could affect him too.  I can empathize somewhat: I recently saw an article on a sex-crazed American celebrity named Miley Cyrus.  The article’s first sarcastic line was “Time to Break out the Burqa?” (NY Post)   You really just have to read the paper to see signs of cultural collapse, including one article I just saw on 300 Rutgers University Coeds signing up to a service where they “befriend” older men in return for money for their huge student loans. But I digress.

I remember when a Muslim threw a shoe at then-President George Bush. It was more than a convenient missile though: shoes are the definitive symbol of impurity because they continually come in direct contact with inherently unclean things…For this reason, shoes are not worn in mosques, shrines, temples, or peoples’ homes and are frequently used in demonstrations and thrown in protests as a highly symbolic insult.

Good and evil can be confused with pure and impure. One preacher, addressing worshipers at the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, characterized homosexuals as “perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered”.

Likewise, “On September 30, 2005, a Danish newspaper published a set of editorial cartoons, many of which depicted Muhammad, that led to over 200 deaths, attacks on diplomatic missions, churches, Christians and an international boycott of Denmark.”

From all the above, we might conclude that these cartoons were an attack on the sacred, and an attack on honor, and an impurity and stain that had to be be cleansed. And they were cleansed – by the Jihadists in France who shot cartoonists responsible.

(I recall an interesting fact about the cartoons, which is that at least one Muslim religious leader lied about what was in them, to make them seem more insulting than they were).

In fact, even unbelievers who do nothing to anyone “symbolize evil in the form of contagious pollution.”

Robert Lifton, a psychiatrist who interviewed the Nazi “doctors” who operated on live Jews, and also studied the re-education sessions that US POWs were subject to had some thoughts on purity, and Permutter quotes him.
“In his book The Broken Connection: On Death and the Continuity of Life, Robert Jay Lifton describes one of Hitler’s greatest rhetorical talents as portraying the Jew as an impure, life-threatening force to the German people: “The Jew was the embodiment of moral decay—of physical and sexual perversion, spiritual petrifaction, and cultural degeneracy. The images are closely linked to death and deterioration—the Jews as carriers of filth and disease, of plague and syphilis and ‘racial tuberculosis,’ as spreaders of every kind of ‘poison,’ and as parasites, vampires, bloodsuckers, and racial contaminators.”

You see one upshot of all this “impurity” combined with conspiracy theories was this:
The fear of infectious impurity corresponds with several full-blown Muslim conspiracy theories claiming that the West infected Muslims with diseases. Allegations include … that America infected Africans with AIDS through Christian missionary groups by putting the virus in medicine used to inoculate people. The conspiracy theory that Americans were lacing polio vaccines to sterilize Muslims resulted in an epidemic of polio in sixteen Muslim countries in Africa and Asia where polio had been eradicated.

It also partly explains why Osama Bin Laden did not want American troops in Saudi Arabia, even though they were defending Arabia.
He justified the 9/11 attacks as a response to humiliation and defilement of sacred places: “Our umma (nation) has been tasting this humiliation and contempt for over 80 years. Its sons have been slain, its blood has been shed and its sacred places have been defiled …..

The Christian world is not exempt from themselves overdoing the impurity theme as is shown by the following:
One of the more prevalent Islamist expressions is “dirty infidel.” An Arabic language Google search of the phrase produces over four hundred results often in combination with other popular slurs such as “filthy” and “dog”. The phrase “Dirty Jew” produced over ten thousand results in Arabic and over fifty-nine thousand results in English.

I agree with the Muslims that cleanliness should be striven for. We should maintain our honor, as much as is possible. But what does that mean? If honor means courage in the service of what you believe is right, and self-control when faced with urges that lead you or others to disaster, then fine. If it means honesty, and fair-dealing – then go for it. But if cleanliness is “purity” in the sense that you feel that those you do not believe in your God are contaminating filthy beings, then your desire for purity shuts you off from them. And if every natural function of the bunch of cells that make up your body is considered a source of shame, then you feel bad about yourself, and in an endless battle with contamination.  We are all less than perfect, but we should concentrate on our real flaws, not on whether our body secretes fluids or not.

And ultimately, when .. “sacred violence is a cleansing ritual that functions as expiation of individual shame and as a method to cleanse Islam …” then innocent people get killed by fanatics.

The Demand for Purity: The Nature of Islamist Symbolism, Protest, and Violence by Dawn Perlmutter

The following is not a source, but it is an outfit that Dawn directs which helps solve crimes using knowledge of symbols.  The website is:

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