Tag Archives: religion

#59 – Notes on Terror, Treason and Anarchy

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In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan talks about the infamous Gunpowder Plot, Guy Fawkes in popular culture, and the definition of terrorism. In 1605, Catholic dissidents in England attempted to mount an insurrection by first murdering King James I of England and Scotland, along with other notables, in a planned explosion of the Houses of Parliament. Robert Catesby led the audacious scheme to topple the Protestant hierarchy, but it is Fawkes who is most associated with the events of that dramatic 5 November near-miss. Moreover, the subsequent adoption of an abstract idea of Guy Fawkes as somehow playfully representing anarchism and anti-fascism is deeply ironic. The Fawkes mask is a feature of modern popular culture that is far removed from the intention Parliament had when it sought to commemorate the uncovering of the plot with an officially sanctioned annual observance. Parliament desired to remember 5 November as a deliverance from evil, but this message has since been diluted, if not quite altogether lost. In the modern age, ‘Bonfire Night’, ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ or ‘Fireworks Night’ is more notable for theatrical pyrotechnic displays and sickly candy-floss than as a reminder of what would have been an appalling atrocity. Aidan also comments on the definition of ‘terrorism’ in the wake of the Islamist terrorist attack in Lower Manhattan on 31 October.

Remember, remember
The Fifth of November
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot

Traditional 17th century rhyme

Related tweets

Further reading

Richard Dawkins, ‘I love fireworks, BUT…’, Richard Dawkins web site, https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/11/i-love-fireworks-but/, 5 November 2014.

‘Terrorism’, Oxford Dictionary web site, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/terrorism

‘V for Vendetta’, IMDB web site, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/.

Bibliography

Lewis Call, ‘A is for Anarchy, V is for Vendetta: Images of Guy Fawkes and the Creation of Postmodern Anarchism’, Anarchist Studies, 16, 2, 2008, pp.154-172.

Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason, (New York: Random House, 1997).

 

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#57 – Notes on Liberalism: A Glimmer of Hope

In this edition of the Aidan Project, Aidan discusses a potential hint of progress in the battle against leftist confusion.

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The case of Maajid Nawaz and the Southern Poverty Law Centre has been discussed several times previously on the podcast; the case is an important one for the struggle it represents. The SPLC, to the horror of those who support the notion that cultural relativism is the death knell of honest discourse, labelled Nawaz an anti-Muslim extremist in October 2016. Nawaz is suing this organisation for libel. Aidan summarises the case for new listeners and provides an update that demonstrates a glimmer of hope and, tellingly, further demonstrates the fantastic degree to which the SPLC is irrefutably mistaken. Aidan also addresses why the terms ‘leftists’ and ‘liberals’ are unreliable synonyms. Indeed, leftists and liberals are often very different in terms of their outlook. Aidan explains why liberals should care about Nawaz’s case, and why liberals must be proactive in tackling the moral confusion espoused by manic leftists. Aidan also explains legal exceptions to free speech in the United States of America under the First Amendment.

Related tweets


Further reading


Maajid Nawaz web site, http://www.maajidnawaz.com/

Pink News web site, http://www.pinknews.co.uk/home/

Aidan Project Podcast #45 – De-Platformed: Challenging Bad Ideas

Clips

Sam Harris, ‘The Waking Up Podcast: ‘Episode 64 — Ask Me Anything 6’, https://www.samharris.org/

Maajid Nawaz, ‘LBC Radio’, http://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/maajid-nawaz/

Richard Dawkins, ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science on YouTube’, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH_zYYXkJpULueOVZTkY4Bw

#54 – Afterword on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism: Broken Glass

Kristallnacht, or ‘Night of Broken Glass’, was a notorious pogrom against German Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan expands on the arguments presented in episode 49, ‘Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism’, to provide a comprehensive afterword. In the original podcast, Aidan explored the classic argument of the faithful against atheism when discussing human history. This argument – especially prevalent whenever the issue of violence or hatred is discussed – is that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. The inferred claim is that this godlessness demonstrates the danger of turning away from the moral teachings of the church. Another aspect of the argument which is often thrown in as an addendum is a charge that the Third Reich was a secular movement. Aidan revisits these arguments, with particular attention to the Night of Broken Glass, to provide further insight and analysis. Aidan is on Twitter @AidanXCoughlan.

Bibliography

Christopher J. Probst, Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany, (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2012).

Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

John Toland, Adolf Hitler, (New York: Doubleday, 1976).

Volker Ullrich (Author), Jefferson Chase (Translator), Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939, (London: Bodley Head, 2016).

Paul Weber, Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi (unreleased, due November 2017).

Further listening

Sam Harris, ‘Episode 96: The Nature of Consciousness A Conversation with Thomas Metzinger‘, The Waking Up Podcast

The Aidan Project archive on Atheism

I Stand With Maajid Nawaz

On 23 September 2017, I posted the following short video on Twitter (@AidanXCoughlan):

So, who is Maajid Nawaz, what is the SPLC, and why does any of this matter?

The Southern Poverty Law Centre describes itself as ‘combating hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation’. There is no question that the SPLC has been responsible for a number of admirable successes in tackling intolerance, but it has sadly now gone completely off course. The SPLC incomprehensibly included Maajid Nawaz on a list of dangerous extremists in October 2016. Indeed, by adding Nawaz to a list of persons it alleges exploit terrorist attacks to demonize the Islamic faith, the left has struck a new low of inexplicable moral confusion.

Nawaz now operates a counter-radicalization group called Quilliam. Nawaz, a former Islamist, who served a prison sentence in Egypt, speaks with insight about Islam, and makes clear the distinctions between Muslims, Islamists and Jihadists. A distinction all too often confused by the real Islamaphobes, who address all groups as one. Unfortunately, to his enemies on the left, Nawaz – in true regressive fashion – is labelled as Islamophobic, while his opponents on the right infer that he is a secret Islamist on a mission of infiltration. What a sorry state of affairs.

The poverty of progress could not be more pronounced than with this embarrassing own goal by the SPLC. What chance, I ask, does the left have in winning the moral and progressive arguments when its own best assets of informed reason are themselves attacked as extremists?

It is not only the right which has moved to post-truth, the left is at it as well.

Aidan

A section of this article originally appeared as part of a podcast companion piece, ‘Challenging Bad Ideas‘.

Further information

#51 – Betrayal: The Rotherham Abuse Scandal

The Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal is arguably the worst child safeguarding failure in British history. In August 2014 an inquiry led by Professor Alexis Jay concluded that at least 1,400 children, the majority of whom were white girls aged 11–15, had been sexually abused in the English town of Rotherham between 1997 and 2013. This abuse had been committed predominantly by British-Pakistani men. As shocking as the scale of the abuse was, what made the events even more unbelievable was the sheer incompetence of the authorities and their subsequent attempts to suppress the truth of what had been really happening. The abuse was an open secret in the town and further afield. What was not known was that the authorities were failing to produce a meaningful, transparent response of any kind. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan talks to solicitor, David Greenwood, also Chairman of Stop Church Child Abuse, to discuss this real-life horror story.  David and his team of solicitors represented – and continue to represent – several of the young girls who were subjected to sexual abuse by gangs of men in Rotherham over an astonishing 16 year period. This is not a classic far-right conspiracy yarn nor is it a grisly fiction novel, though it appears as far-fetched as anything you could ever read about. Sadly it is a true story of what happens when a society and its institutions abrogate their moral responsibilities. Aidan previously spoke to David for episode 37, ‘Dogmatic Silence: Abuse in the Church’, which examined the failures of the Catholic and Anglican Churches in dealing with child sex abuse.

Additional notes regarding items discussed on this episode:

In the United Kingdom, you can report criminal offences to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111.

For listeners in the United States, see the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Visit https://www.rainn.org/ for more information.

Sarah Wilson’s book is called ‘Violated: A Shocking and Harrowing Survival Story from the Notorious Rotherham Abuse Scandal’ and is widely available, including via Amazon.

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

#49 – Notes on Atheism, Hitler and Nazism

The faithful are playing with reference to a different set of rules when arguing for the merits of religion based on faith alone. Faith, by definition, requires no tangible evidence. But claims from the faithful about human history can be countered by the inquisitive atheist. We all have access to a plethora of terrestrial historical accounts which were not gleaned from divine revelation. In this edition of the podcast, Aidan explores the classic argument of the faithful against atheism when discussing human history. This argument – especially prevalent whenever the issue of violence or hatred is discussed – is that Adolf Hitler was an atheist. The inferred claim is that this godlessness demonstrates the danger of turning away from the moral teachings of the church. Another aspect of the argument which is often thrown in as an addendum is a charge that the Third Reich was a secular movement. How much merit is there in these claims? Did Hitler reject God, and if he did, did this make a difference to human history? And how secular was Hitler’s Nazi regime? Aidan delves into the argument to provide grounded insight and analysis. Indeed, as with the claims of the holy books, the introduction of earthly evidence is crucial when one desires to separate fact from fiction.

Selected bibliography:

J. Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII
A. Hitler (ed. N. Baynes), The Speeches of Adolf Hitler
A. Hitler, Mein Kampf
C. Hitchens, God Is Not Great
G. Orwell, Literature and Totalitarianism

Additional Aidan Project content on related persons:

Adolf Hitler (podcast)
Christopher Hitchens (article)
George Orwell (podcast)

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.

#45 – De-Platformed: Challenging Bad Ideas

On July 21, the noted evolutionary biologist and author, Richard Dawkins, was de-platformed by a ‘progressive’ radio station in California because of comments he had previously made about Islam. This decision – powered by the moral confusion that maliciously designates fair criticism of religion as hate speech – is yet another example of the left’s deeply dishonest, nonsensical, virtue-signalling and outlandish apologising whenever Islam is discussed. In this episode, Aidan is joined by Sadia Hameed, spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, for an honest conversation on the challenging issues of appraising Islam, leaving the faith, the media’s obsession with ‘Islamophobia’, the widespread cultural relativism and obscurantism espoused on the left, the conflation of peaceful Muslims and archaic Islamists by the right, and much more, including the de-platforming of Dawkins. This is an important conversation regarding the interactions of the ideas of Islam and the world. For more information on the Council, visit their web site at https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/.

For more ways to listen, to subscribe to the podcast or to sign-up for e-mail updates when new content is available, please click here.