One Can Demonstrate Animus

March 16, 2017


The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.

Yesterday, CFI’s Michael De Dora told the UN Human Rights Council that the U.S. is “regressing” in its role as a human rights defender, saying, “We have been disturbed by the recent rise in baseless, xenophobic rhetoric and actions by political leaders, and heightened social hostilities, in many states — including our home country.”

Michael is also quoted in a piece from World Magazine, a Christian outlet, about the weird relationship conservative NGOs have with Russia. 

Hawaii U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson blocks Muslim Ban 2.0, citing the fact that it’s obviously intended to be just that: a Muslim ban:

A reasonable, objective observer — enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance — would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion. … The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.

Plus, Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland issued a narrower block focusing on visas, but made the same kind of points:

These statements [from Trump and his advisers], which include explicit, direct statements of President Trump’s animus toward Muslims and intention to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States, present a convincing case that the First Executive Order was issued to accomplish, as nearly as possible, President Trump’s promised Muslim ban. 

The far-right, anti-Muslim Geert Wilders loses his bid to become Dutch Prime Minister. Current Prime Minister Mark Rutte keeps his job, saying, “The Netherlands, after ­Brexit, after the American elections, said no to the wrong kind of populism.”

A letter bomb exploded this morning, injuring one man, at the International Monetary Fund in Paris, and a shooting is reported in a school in the French town of Grasse. 

David Roberts at Vox says the science-denial of people like Scott Pruitt is not really just about science-denial. It’s, on one level, about inventing a narrative that benefits a powerful donor constituency (the fossil fuel industry). And more broadly:

In a sense, climate denial is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. The right’s refusal to accept the authority of climate science is of a piece with its rejection of mainstream media, academia, and government, the shared institutions and norms that bind us together and contain our political disputes. … We’re eventually going to have to grapple with this crisis of authority. Until then, more facts and periodic outbursts of outrage are futile.

Acceptance of global warming by Americans has meaningfully ticked up, according to Gallup, but still just stupidly low. 68% say global warming is human-caused, up from 55% just two years ago, but, come on. Still only 68%. 

A man breaks into a mosque in Tuscon, and failing to get into its administrative offices, just starts tearing up Qurans. The local police said, “There is no indication this was a hate crime.” Of course not, the dude was probably like, man, these are hard to read all bound up into codex form like this, so maybe if I just take the pages and lay them out like so…

U.N. special rapporteur Yanghee Lee says Myanmar may be engaging in ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims with a “campaign of killings and rapes.” 

The Center for Family & Human Rights (C-FAM) is a far-right organization which has been labeled a hate group by the SPLC, has called People for the American Way “murderous,” and backs Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws. And one of its leaders will represent the U.S. as part of a delegation with the UN Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. 

BuzzFeed‘s Tom Chivers reports that Regent’s University in London is promoting fake medicine with conferences and events for pseudoscience, including quack cancer cures, homeopathy, and the film Vaxxed.

Monsanto is in some trouble for apparently ghost-writing research, which was passed off as academically independent, about the safety of its Roundup weed killer, now suspected of causing cancer. Luckily, the EPA is in on the case and…uh…oh…hm. 

HHS Secretary Tom Price waffles on a question about government-required immunizations, more or less saying it should be left up to the states. 

Joshua L. Lazard at Religion Dispatches doesn’t care what the Christian thing to do is, he’s not praying for Trump:

If heresy is the only option for offering a theological resistance to an administration like this, so be it. And this heretic is not going to pray for the president.

Andrew Walker at The Federalist (I know, I know, why bother) says it is Christianity, not progressivism or secularism, that is most tolerant of dissent and disagreement. Because believing your position to be that of the ruler of the universe leaves a lot of room for tolerance and free inquiry. 

Brian Regal is an expert in “cryptid” mythology, and at the Star-Ledger he sees some big similarities between Bigfoot belief and the claims of political figures and conspiracy theorists:

While I’m at it, let me clear up some other historical ideas that are as fake as a politician’s promises:

Moses did not write the Constitution

Franklin Roosevelt did not “allow” the Pearl Harbor attack to happen

9/11 was not an inside job

Africans did not come to America in the bottom of slave ships as “immigrants”

Women and black Americans did not start their own colleges because they believed in “educational choice” but rather because they had no choice. 

God’s Not Dead 3 is coming, and hopefully that’s the last I’ll ever have to say about that.  

Quote of the Day:

An obituary from the Mississippi Clarion Ledger for one Gus M. Setzer, dated May 9, 1889:

He was a pronounced infidel, believing in neither God nor a future of any kind. Two weeks before his death, knowing his demise to be imminent, he went to a tree near the yard and under it marked a place for his grave, giving instructions as to how it should be dug and his mode of burial. He wanted a layer of cedar brush at the bottom of the grave, to be filled up with dirt. He said that when decomposition set in the sap of the tree would draw him up the limbs and he could perch on the top of the tree and view the surrounding scenery for ages to come. Setzer was perfectly rational to the last.

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