There's truth to the last three posts, but I don't think they tell the entire story. While shining light on horrible human traits like racism is often effective at culling them, echo chamber media and websites dedicated to extremist views have enabled people dedicated to such traits to recruit and rally the faithful in new ways as well. As a result, the overall trend is positive, but not as much so as I'd like.
First off, its telling that criticism of islam results in you playing a racism card. I guess you are an anti-semite because of your position? Just so we understand each other.
Of course there are peaceful muslims. MOST are peaceful. The problem is...the ones that are not. It is a fact that more acts of evil are committed in the name of islam than any other religion. Its not close. Radical Christianity is what, to you? To me its jackasses on facebook posting fetus pics. That is about as bad as they get on a daily basis. Compare to radical islam...beheadings, suicide attacks, villages being burned, attempted genocides, forced marriages/sex slaves...there is no comparison between 'radical' christianity and radical islam. One is a real, evil thing and the other is semantics
I don't know about the officers training program you are talking about. I do know that American forces based in muslim countries go out of their way to respect islamic law even to the detriment of US troops morale. Does ISIS do that?
As for your Falklands anecdote...do you think Margaret Thatcher was fighting that war for Christ? Because she wasn't. So there is no comparison there, but even if there was you are talking about soldiers vs soldiers. Not terrorists massacring civilians intentionally.
America is less christian every day. And less racist every day. What makes you think racism is growing at 'home'? We have a black president!
That does need to be kept in mind.
It existed, that is the whole point. I can only look at my own british military experience and from that it blows my mind. Church and State has to be separated or see Iran (USA?) etc. So it got shut down when too much attention went it's way. That thing would not, could not have even got off the ground without a large section of support and planning from the very top of the brass at West Point. That's the issue i'm talking about. You don't really think these training programs just turn up unvetted right? Officer training is very precise and specific, it's not just a community college artsy program.
Talking about military stuff is awkward, obviously. The few times i worked alongside americans, and it was only very brief stints, i never got a feeling of all this stuff i like to discuss in these kind of threads, but that was a good long while ago, before 9/11 etc. 9/11 'broke' something inside America (and Americans), and well you can follow the pattern of that across a number of these type of threads and around the events that transpired since that time.
Palin 'nearly' made it to the big ball game. If she was an actual politician, rather than a town hall mom, she was in with a shout and her appeal to her Christianity wasn't the problem iirc, it was pretty much all the rest? What i'm commenting on here is the recent shift where the Christian religion in the usa has been deliberately used by the Republicans as a political weapon, much more so than at other times. I'm not sure exactly when this happened but it seemed to be around the time the Neo-cons were really making their in-roads into the workings of the Whitehouse. Suddenly you had Christian ministers telling their parishioners to vote for Bush etc. I don't think this was a normal thing before this period?
Olaf had said it wasn't, so i was commenting on that (and his racism towards muslims).
I completely understand that in an american forum of all places these types of concepts are hard to swallow. I am not anti-american (i think i've had to say this quite a few times over the years!), i'm 100% pro-american more than i am pro-british due to the ideological nature of that just struggle for freedom from oppression by the brits etc. It is those struggles for true justice and true freedom from oppression that i am 'about'. What i find distressing about the america that is, is that its often at the fore-front of many of the actions globally that actually fight against this human fight for true freedom. And those concepts you mention at the end, US hunger for oil, US military business, US radical Christianity are some of the main drivers of this in recent times. That's really the crux of what i talk about often in these kind of threads.
Off course we are ultimately talking about money, and this is where i feel the america that should be has lost it's way, enslaved as it is to this lust for wealth, and the sad reality that many of the most profitable operations are the most destructive for humanity. This is not just an american issue, it's a global (global warming etc) and social issue with the kind of Capitalism we run, but as the current Super Power the US often has all the wrong moves in the wrong places (for a truly better world) because the people running America PLC are the 'wrong' type of people, short range profit led goals, zero empathy beyond that etc.
It would be nice to see all that power used to actually progress our journey, we have the tech and the know how. We can make peace instead of making war. We don't need polluting oil. We don't need radicalizing religion. But that is upto each one of us, from the regular consumer to the CEO, from the grunt/police swat following orders (you can question these you know!) to the Generals, from the community organizer to the President. We don't need to follow the Darkside (the quick easy path to power).
In relation to the thread, we obviously need to do something about Isis, but we also need to understand we created this problem by our actions. Military machine rubs it's hands (well played you Evil(TM) fuckers).
That is a good point--media shapes as well as reflects. Technology also isn't entirely passive. McCluhan's observations on media from fifty years ago still offer some insights, particularly in the way new communications technologies shape culture.
It started with the 'culture war' of the late 80's/ early 90's. That is the point that evangelical Christianity got into a moral panic about many things (remember the D&D causes Satanism?) and started this trend. It was at that point, the 'moral majority' point, where Republican politicians blatantly courted a Christianist agenda. This conflation of politics and religion was a novel, and cynical, move. One that has, for many, tied unfettered capitalism to a Christian notion. It has tied social Darwinism to some notion of spiritual purity, which is a pretty neat trick as those should be fundamentally incompatible. It has linked certain branches of reactionary Christianity to politics, and entangled them as such that many people can not see the difference.
So this is why so many problems get laid at the feet of Christianity, it is part of the engine driving them in the US. There is no ignoring the link Christianity has to US policy, so while it is not the direct cause of violence in the same way that radical Islamic groups like ISIS are a direct application of religion into violence, it is also not something that can simply be ignored either.
Besides if you also talk about other issues than direct violence, such as science denials of many stripes, then that also can be linked to radical Christianity. Again the causes are more complex than simply radical Christianity therefore X, but it is a part of the engine feeding the problem.
remember the D&D causes Satanism?
Whoa there... are you trying to say it DOESN'T cause Satanism?
Or see the UK.
(So...I disagree with what you said)
CraigM - We "had" that in the UK as well. So we couldn't gave a RPG society or play D&D. We had a wargaming society instead, and as well as wargaming, we played RPG's like Paranoia and Werewolf. The teacher in charge was great, I remember him literally falling over laughing when he read the back of the Paranoia rulebook.
But that was mild as moral panics go. And frankly, America has... well...a history of major ones; McCarthyism, Prohibition, War on Drugs, "Seduction of the Innocent" the Comics Code Authority, some elements of the War on Terror (Hi TSA!), Satanic Ritual Abuse and the associated false memory syndrome..."For The Children"
No argument there. America has refined the process of generating moral panics into an art. A grotesque damaging art. It's one element of American 'exceptionalism' I wish didn't exist.
The real inception for politicization of Evangelical Christianity was when Jimmy Carter claimed to be born-again during the '76 campaign. Evangelicals voted for him then found out making a claim during a campaign didn't necessarily transfer into policies they could support. Then Reagan came along and almost all switched to the conservative Republican camp. (And to be fully accurate lots of Democrats voted for Reagan although for most voting R wasn't a permanent change.)
I have a lot of concern about the way politics has such a corrupting influence within the church. I've observed it within the church I grew up in and it's had a horrid effect on some (not all) members. It got bad enough the pastor considered it necessary to state from the pulpit that "God is not a Republican".
A nice primer on the origins of the evangelical right (which is what is typically meant when talking about fundamentalist evangelicals in the US), Fred is as usual a good starting point. Its a terrible, corrosive, immoral movement particularly once you start digging into its origins and purposes. As I mention everytime I point to Slacktivist, Fred grew up in that world, so he does know of what he speaks.
What?! I never heard of RPG's 'going underground' in the UK, where were you living? Was it a sect or something? I've been happily playing all manner of rpg's 'publicly' in the uk since the early 80's, heck our school even provided a room for us to use in lunchtimes or after school hours for that if we wanted. High Street stores selling RPG stuff were very common (until Games Workshop drove them all out of business). I really don't recognize at all your depiction of the UK here, what time period and setting are you talking about exactly?
I went to a reputable Grammar School in Essex, thanks. And that was a common thing in the early to mid 1990's...as I noted, it was basically winked at though, everyone thought it was ridiculous, except the headmaster and his minions. I think it was lifted in....hm...1996-7.
Ah....Essex. Ok i guess that makes some sense then ;)
You're a Londoner, right?
no west side of country, migrated to big city, never saw this american level hysteria over rpg's in the uk you mentioned in all my domestic travels (Edwina Currie probably said stuff about them at some point, i'll give you that), which was why i thought maybe you were part of a strict Jewish sect or something (i was half joking in that as well). 1990's Essex you say? That was 'Loads of money' era right, i'm still having a hard time fitting this pitch-forks against rpg thing taking place in the uk, certainly not anywhere near the levels of the usa hysterics on those kind of issues. Maybe it was just your school?
See, I get to insult you either way with that question!
And well, it was Department for Education guidance at at least one point. I think they scrapped it in embarrassment in the 80's somewhere, but our Headmaster thought the wheel was newfangled.
To be perfectly transparent, the vast majority of America never saw "American-level hysteria" either. As a kid who started playing around 1981 and continued playing heavily through the decade, I was one of the many, many kids who never saw any backlash against D&D.
I mean, I heard about all the news about the game; the stupid kid who died in the steam tunnels; and I think I even watched part of that dumb movie with Tm Hanks. So my friends and I were aware of the hype... but I almost never encountered anyone who took any of that seriously. Of course that's just my own anecdata, but as a military brat we moved around a lot - in the 80s and 90s we lived in half a dozen different US states and I simply never saw any actual hysteria from "real" (meaning anyone with any power over me) people.
To be sure, there was a middle-school where we weren't allowed to play the game in the library before classes started, but the same was true for card games or the hand-held electronic "football" games of the era. Checkers and tic-tac-toe were permitted, so I guess there was some small element of "vice" there.
The one and only serious interaction with an adult with regards to the game was in the early 80s... maybe '82 or '83 when I was maybe 12 or so. My Parrish priest came up to me in the schoolyard (I attended a Catholic school at that time) and asked me about it.
Father Mahoney: Tin? You play that Dungeons and Demons game, right?
Tin Wisdom: Yes Father - it's Dungeons and Dragons.
Father Mahoney: Ah yes. Of course. And in this game you are a wizard? Or a magical being?
Tin Wisdom: Well... you can be, I guess. Or like, a warrior.
Father Mahoney: I see. When you are playing the game... you don't actually BELIEVE you can do magic, right?
Tin Wisdom: Of course not Father, it's a game. See, what happens ins [here, young Tin Wisdom starts excitedly lecturing old Father Mahoney on the mechanics of D&D].
Father Mahoney: Yes, yes. That's what I figured. You're scheduled to be an alter boy for 7:30 mass this weekend, correct?
Tin Wisdom: Yes Father.
Father Mahoney: I need you there no later than 7:20 -- make sure you tell your parents to get you there on time this week!
Tin Wisdom: Yes Father.
Hell, I grew up in the South, and started playing D&D around, um, 1974 or so, with those boxed sets. No one batted an eye, and the DM for my first game was the son of the music director at a Methodist church, and we played at his house. In college in 1979, we played every week from Thursday through Sunday, often with few if any breaks, and one of our most fervent (if utterly annoying) players was a fundamentalist Christian from some Church of Christ congregation. So, while there were certainly those who followed the Tom Chick (the other one, not ours) direction of "D&D is teh debil," the vast majority of people simply ignored it. They just weren't that into geek culture then.
It certainly is a matter of proximity. See I did see that hysteria first had, it was alive and well into the 90's, but I also grew up in a Baptist household. The Baptist bit is important too, as I've no doubt that was a major reason why it was so prevalent. Therein is the problem of discussing cultural movements in a country as large as the US, it's only ever true for a portion of the population. As someone whose school days were almost entirely within the 90's, in a midwest Baptist house, the D&D moral panic was a very real thing. It wasn't actually focused on D&D mind, but it was part of a larger whole of cultural panic.
To give an example, when this set in for my family I was around 6, and I had a bunch of toys from the Ghostbusters cartoon, including Ecto 1. My mom freaked out one day and tossed them. Ninja Turtles was verboten, anything even referencing magic was excised. Don't even get me started on music.
Basically the whole issue is part of a larger cultural trend. The same forces that fed that also feed much of the xenophobic and outright hatred of anyone who even looks Islamic. I've seen first hand those groups, and also seen how virulently they hate, yes hate, Muslims.