Monday, August 30, 2010

An Interpretations of an Imam

I must admit that having lightly delved into the world of Pagan blogs covering the subject of the Ground Zero Mosque/Park 51 Community Center has given me new insights into the matter. Things I had not considered are floating in my head. In someways, it makes the controversy more understandable. In someways, it makes those who are behind the project more terrifying.

The Imam behind the mosque/community center is quoted to have said that America has more innocent Muslim blood on its hands, than Al Qaeda has innocent non-Muslim blood on its hands.

I wish to first state that the Imam is correct, from a certain point of view. Permit me to explain.

I will start with a digression that will become clear as I go along. Christianity. Under Christian teachings, all people are born sinners. While some denominations will disagree about the innocence of children, most will agree that Humanity is born into sin and is stained with that sin until they are saved in the name of Jesus Christ. Indeed, this is the reason that Catholics baptize their children shortly after they are born, so that if they die they may enter heaven, rather than being damned to hell.

What does this have to do with the Imam's words? Well, assuming you haven't figured it out, permit me to continue. If you have, you may now recoil as the true meaning hits you.

Islam is much like Christianity. Everyone is born of sin and is a sinner. This is especially true of non-believers of Islam. The only real difference is that instead of accepting Christ as one's savior to get out of hell, one must Submit to the Will of Allah and follow the teachings of Him and his prophet Mohammad. Otherwise, one is a sinner.

Now, as a sinner, one is damned to hell. Hell is a place for the guilty. No innocent goes to hell.

But, if one does not believe in Allah and follow his teachings...

They are a sinner, they are guilty, and they are a non-Muslim.

Under Islam, there is no such thing as an innocent Non-Muslim, because by dent of being a non-Muslim, they are guilty of sin and have not been purified of that sin by Submission to Allah.

Only by Submitting to Allah, can one be made innocent of their sins. Therefore All Muslims are innocent.

Let us look at the above quote again: America has killed more innocent Muslims than Al Qaeda has killed innocent Non-Muslims.

According to Islam, All Muslims are Innocent through Submission to Allah.

According to Islam, All Non-Muslims are Guilty of Sin and Have Not been made Innocent through Submission to Allah.

Hopefully, this is sending a chill through your very bones. The realization sent a chill through mine. Because what it means is that for the Imam, indeed for most Muslims as they would agree with the Imam, it doesn't matter if a member of Al Qaeda is slitting the throat of a Soldier, that Al Qaeda member is still an Innocent Muslim so long as he submits to Allah. It also means that if an Al Qaeda member suicide bombs in a nursery of new born babies, those babies, if they are non-Muslims, are not innocent.

I speak these words, not in hate, but in warning. My fellow Pagans and Heathens, remember the ways of the Christians, who also viewed us as Guilty Sinners. Remember what they did, even to those ancient and modern followers of the Old Ways, no matter how much we tried to aid our fellows. We were not innocent to the Christians and we are Not Innocent to the Muslims. Asatru, Wiccan, Heathen, Pagan, Buddhist, Maori, Native American, Christian, Jew, or anyone else. We are not Innocent to the Muslim!

We are not innocent to this Imam.

Learn all you can and see with eyes unclouded by fear, hatred, or bigotry. See the reality of this world, no matter how painful and disheartening. To this Imam and those who agree with him, we are the guilty and they are the innocent. It doesn't matter how good we are or how evil the worst Muslim terrorist is. Remember what the Christians did to the "Guilty" Pagans. Know, that the Muslims have done the same, and still believe that those actions are not only acceptable, but will earn them rewards from their God Allah.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Heathens and Pagans and Muslims and Mosques, Oh My!

So, over the last few days, I've managed to find my way into a small section of the Pagan blogs, mainly due to some articles about the Ground Zero Mosque, known also as the Cordoba Mosque or Part 51. What I found there was not what I was expecting, though hardly surprising when one thinks about it.

It seems that there is a mixed reception towards the protests towards the mosque/community center.

On one side you have those Pagans who fear that this is an attack on freedom of religion and fear that the oppression of the Islamic minority in the US will soon turn against the Pagan Minority. These are justified fears, though I fear I detected more parroting of "liberal" party lines than I would have liked. It seems that those Pagans which hold this line are letting fear of a Christian majority blind them to just what Islam is. In some cases, they are far too eager to throw terms like racist and bigot at those that oppose the Mosque or Islam in general. Others, however keep a clear head and I will agree that they have a valid point. Some feel that the issue of the Mosque is a test case for minority religious rights. I personally don't see it as such. If it was a Pagan Temple, or Native American equivalent, or some other globally small and polytheistic religion, I would agree it as a test case for Pagan rights, but not with the size Islam is world wide.

On the another side, you have those Pagans that are opposed to the Mosque or Islam. They too, fear a hindrance on religious freedom, but are willing to question the end goals of Islam and those behind the mosque. They, myself included, argue that protesting or questioning the mosque is also a basic right, and something that should be done. They point out, correctly, that many of those protesting the mosque are doing so not because they wish to ban Islam, but because the victims families feel this is an insult to their dead. In this too, there are valid points.

Then there are those who seek to remain neutral. I too, fell into this category. This simple fact of the matter is, this is really isn't an issue that pertains to us Pagans and Heathens. We aren't going to worship there. We probably won't even be welcome inside. We can't even really say its an issue of minority vs majority, since Islam is the second biggest religion in the world, with over 1 billion followers. Christianity only has a few million more, and Muslims appear to be more devout than most Christians on average. Yes, Muslims are a minority here in America at the moment, but it is impossible to know how long that will last and looking at Europe will show that even a Minority of Muslims can wield great and terrible power for enforcing their beliefs on non-believers. Which leads to the question those Neutral Pagans I've come across are asking: What is the position of Islam on Paganism, especially those who are behind the Park 51/Cordoba/Ground Zero Mosque.

Well, thanks to a bit of research and to sites by the name of Gates of Vienna, I have the answer to that question. The Imam behind the Mosque is a proponent of Shariah Law, the Islamic Holy law. Some things to know about Shariah is that it is as valid today to Muslims as the Torah is to Orthodox Jews. The main difference is that where the Torah applies only to the Jews, Shariah applies to both Muslims and to non-Muslims (at least according to Muslims, anyways). So what does Shariah Law say about Pagans. Well, not a lot, and none of it is good. For instance, non-Muslims, esp pagans, are the descendants of pigs and monkeys. Though, perhaps the most relevant, and terrible part regarding Paganism, is a from the Quran, which is part of the basis behind Shariah and one of the holiest books to Islam. This section is known as the Verse of the Sword, 9:5

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

The forbidden months refer to a peace treaty or a holy time for Muslims. After that time, it is commanded to do as the Quran commands until the Pagans repent (Convert) and take up the Five Pillars of Islam. Also of note, Charity in this case is Islamic Charity, which according to research is called Zakat, and may only be given to Muslims and a percentage of which must be given to those carrying out the task of spreading Islam to the world (jihad) through either violent means like those of terrorists, or non-violent means like the Mosque/Community center. It is also important to note that these are major tenants of the religion, and to change it is not permitted and punishable by death if such changes are made.

This is also something I found in relation to the above text: The venerated Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir wrote that

This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.'' Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah was revealed. ...

In other words, no peace may be made with Idolaters and Pagans.

Another Key thing of importance is that under Shariah law, as well as the holy texts of Islam, it is considered acceptable to lie to Non-Muslims in the course of advancing the cause of Islam. That is no lie. It seems incomprehensible, both because for Pagans and Heathens, our word is a sacred oath and because for Christians and Jews lying is evil and they are always to speak the truth. Indeed, every major and minor religion in the world stresses the importance of being truthful, yet Islam does not. This is because in Islam, it is the only true religion and therefore all other religions not only do not have the right to exist, they don't even matter enough to be truthful with. They deserve whatever happens to them in the course of Islam gaining the Submission of the entire world in the name of Allah. In the end, this hurts Muslims, because it destroys the sacred trust of the Oath. Even if a Muslim was to swear before Allah he had not problems with Pagans, even should he be telling the truth, the Pagan can never be sure, because there is always the chance said Muslim is lying.

My heart is filled with sorrow at this. It is the right of all peoples to worship the gods of their choice. Yet this sacred right is disrupted by those who seek supremacy. Even if only one Muslim in a thousand wished for supremacy and all others wished for peace, there would still be enough to move to make Islam supreme and destroy all others. Sadly, a look in the newspapers, on television, or across the internet shows that the odds aren't even that good.

I'm not saying that Pagans should jump on the bandwagon opposing the Mosque. I'm not saying we should even push the bandwagon for supporting. What I'm saying is that we as a group, must move forward and research for ourselves those behind this Mosque, and the truth behind Islam itself. We have to move beyond words of hate, of racist and bigot. Both sides of this argument have noble and ignoble goals. We Pagans have learned hard the lessons of intolerance and bigotry at the hands of the Christians. I do not want to see us be taught that lesson again at the hands of the Muslims, should they want to teach it, which it seems many of them do. We must look past the races of those involved, and look to their ideas. Those who oppose this mosque have just as much right to their protests as those supporting have a right to support. We can't say yet that this is about Religious freedom, because as much as the Christians don't want the other religions, the Muslims don't want any other religions either.

We Pagans are caught in the middle, and we would do well to look at the Jews, who also have a long history of being caught in the middle. We have to be careful, and look out for ourselves. The Muslims have the numbers to protect their own. The Christians have the numbers to protect their own. We might not even have the numbers to protect ourselves, so we must be careful. That is why I am no longer neutral, because I feel we as Pagans and Heathens don't have that luxury. We must choose our path carefully, and our allies even more so.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Fools these Mortals Be

I am not one for watching MSNBC. It's not because I disagree with their politics (which I do), but because of their attitudes. Rare is it that they show any respect for a view point other than their own. I talked about strawmen in my previous post, and how most people set them up as targets. Well, MSNBC sets them up as targets, and then burns them.

Interestingly enough, I used the verb burn, and it pertains to what I have seen.

Keith Olberman has made some comments about the Ground Zero Mosque. Comments that he has the right to say, but that he really, really should have thought about before he said them.

Watch at your own risk.

Keith starts out quoting a famous speech by a Nazi Death Camp survivor, who talked about how he didn't complain when the Nazis took various different people; communists, unionists, Jews, and then had no one to complain when he was taken. Then Keith turns around and says he isn't comparing the protests against the GZM (which according to him isn't a "Ground Zero Mosque") to the Holocaust. "Not yet, anyways."

Really Keith? Really? You're not doing that in the slightest?

He then continues on in the clip about how it isn't a Mosque, as a Mosque is only for Muslims to pray in, and this will have a culinary school and basketball court, and those who are decrying it as a terrorist training camp are being foolish and fearing terrorist chefs and terrorist point guards. Apparently, Keith has never paid attention to an outbreak of food poisoning from a restaurant. Chefs are strategic choice, if one thinks about it, but I digress. It isn't for training terrorists, there aren't any, and it isn't an insult to the victims' families.

Funny, those families looked pretty insulted to me.

Keith then goes on to talk about how a Mosque down in Jacksonville, FL, was bombed. No one was hurt, the bomber unidentified. You didn't hear about it on the news. Which is funny, because I thought I had heard about it on the news, but maybe I read it on the Web. Which, as we all know, isn't "The News."

Keith's point, that he spells out literally? Muslims have more to fear from Americans, and have suffered more at the hands of Americans since 9/11, than non-Muslims have suffered from Muslims. That's right, they aren't the terrorists. You are.

Again, REALLY? I guess that little Christmas day thing that fizzled out was, you know, a practical joke. Maybe Ft. Hood was, you know, a comedy routine? Funny.

And then he attacks those who say Cordoba House is a reference to the Muslim conquest of Spain. He brings up Newt Gingrich's quote, then proceeds to talk about how all the Muslims did was set up "Multicultural, nondenominational learning centers" but were constantly under attack from "Christian Armies" and internal civil wars. Well, Keith, let me stop you there with my history degree. You got the history wrong. Sorry. But Islam wasn't all Multicultural. Not at all, they were actually pretty hostile to Christians and Jews. Those Civil Wars were when other Muslims thought the current Invading Muslims Weren't Being Strict Enough About Islam! That's right, fundamentalists(and it is a historically proven fact that they were fundamentalists) were invaded and replaced by other more extreme Fundamentalists, for not be fundamental enough. And those Evil Christians who dared strike against the Utopian Muslim Multicultural society, well, starting off they were just defending themselves, and then trying to push invaders off their lands. A feat that wasn't accomplished until right about 1942, if I remember correctly.

That's right kids, the thing you didn't learn in your history books. Ferdinand and Isabella were the King and Queen of two different Iberian countries that joined together in marriage so they would be strong enough to push Muslim Invaders out of their lands, then they sent Columbus out on a fool's dream of finding India. Why? Because they needed the money such trade would bring, and because it would remove the Muslim Middle Men that were making such trade with the Far East so expensive and dangerous.

He lashes against Newt's proclaiming the GZM a mark of Islamic Triumph, by saying that every Church, Synagogue, and Mosque is a mark of Triumphalism over the Native Americans whose culture and religion was destroyed by "Us." As for compromise on the part of Park 51, well they changed the name to that from Cordoba House, which, according to Keith, is more than enough. (Funny, struck me as more like they got caught and had to think fast.) And apparently the fact that two Churches are there is enough to counterbalance the fact that the Mosque is very close buy. The view will be blocked. But somehow I think the "Call to Prayer" will still be heard.

He then goes on to rant about the Iraq invasion and how it is a Muslim nation and all we sacrificed to "free" Muslims, but then we dare stand against the building of a "Community Center." I will not go in to his rants against "Xenophobia" and how we are turning against American values to enforce it.

He then goes on to compare it to the Holocaust again.

I find myself at a loss for words. Sure, it is the same tripe used often by those people declare to be on "The Left." Americans are the bad guys, protesting this is racist, we are the real terrorists, the real murders, the real evil. Somehow, ignoring the cries of victims families is okay, even laudable, in the name of tolerance. But I see little toleration here. Keith doesn't seem to be tolerating people who feel this "Cultural Center" is a bad idea. He says he feels for their pain, but then why does he turn around and treat them like they are the forefront of a movement that will lead to Death Camps, Holocausts, and ethnic cleansing? To be honest, Muslims are the ones who are performing those actions today, not Americans. Most people aren't even saying this Center can't be built, or that it is illegal to do so. All they are saying is that it should be built elsewhere, not two blocks away where 13 stories dedicated to "enlightening" New York about Islam, being headed by a man who it seems is fairly radical and is getting the backing of even more radical Muslims, where no doubt radical ideas, or even basic, fundamental ideas of what Islam means will be taught.

Ideas like the fact that non-believers are the descendants of pigs and monkeys. That Christians and Jews are second class people. That Pagans and Heathens should be converted or killed. That women are evil, and responsible for the suffering of men and must be treated worse than animals.

But it we who protest that are the monsters, the racists, the evil fiends. Muslims just want to be our friends. They want peace. They want hugs and not to be oppressed by Evil Whitey. Funny, considering Islam is one of the biggest religions in the world, as well as the least tolerant, not just in the barbaric past, but in the Enlightened Modern Era.

I would encourage Keith to take a second, maybe even a third look at what he is talking about. Because this time, just maybe, the fears of those he is demeaning, might actually be based on reality.

Keith started by quoting a man who wished he had spoken up before the Nazis came for him. So I close with much the same. I will speak up. Before they come for the peoples of America, before they come for the Jews, the Christians, the Atheists, and the Pagans, I will speak up.

These are my words. Let all Gods and Men hear them, and grow bold in heart and deed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Strawman has a point

When I was a child, I lived in a very black and white world. Most kids do, or at least they did, so this isn’t surprising. My home life was very sheltered, going for years without a television and the only music I was really allowed to listen to was classical (which led, in addition to a decade and a half of classical music lessons to a deep hatred of classical music, something I now regret but cannot overcome). No comic books, no toy weapons (even the tiny toy guns in my LEGOs were taken away), no cartoons, no magic of any kind, etc. It was, as I look back on it, a life lived under a moral guardian with the best of intentions and all the love in the world. It was my life and I knew no other.

Yet the years have passed and my life took turns I never thought it could, much less would. I stopped seeing the world in black and white. Mostly, it went black. I am not ashamed to admit I went completely and utterly to that which many call the Dark Side, a place where only the ruthless and the strong survive, where living with regrets is a sure way to end up dead or in a mental hospital, doped up on meds and barely able to function. There are many, many people who walk that path and lose control to the awesome and terrible powers that lie on the edge of that blade, which would as soon cut you as serve you. I didn’t fall into the darkness, I threw myself there, body and soul, knowing that when I came out the other end, I would be a stronger person than anyone else I had ever met.

One learns many things on the other side, that side that many touch and many more are touched by. People learn things from the Dark Side, especially those who are touched by it, but what they learn is rarely that which someone who has stepped over learns. A person touched by violence often sees it as bad and something to be eradicated, while the person who lives violence sees it only as an expression of power that is valuable and irreplaceable. Those who live in the Light world see things in terms of good and evil, while those in the Dark see things in terms of good and bad for themselves.

One of the things that has happened to me personally, having not just touched that Dark world, but lived and embraced it before I journeyed on to the Asatru way of life (one that I understand in fair better ways thanks to my journey through the Dark), is that I tend to identify and understand the villains better than most people. Chris Jericho is one of my favorite wrestlers, and I agree with many of his statements about the fans of wrestling and about John Cena. Darth Vader’s decent to the Dark Side is one of the most compelling I’ve ever seen, and despite the fan hate, episodes II and III are my favorite out of the entire Star Wars saga.

So when it comes to something known as a Strawman, I tend to listen. Strawmen, for those who don’t know, are individuals in various media who are created and used solely for the purpose of degrading and demeaning the opposing side’s views. Watch Stewart or Colbert, and you can spot an entire field of them. Fox News has them, but not quite the crops that CNN, MSNBC, and others do.

So what do the Dark Side, my affinity for villains, and strawmen have in common? Well, it leads to a certain skill that I can’t claim a monopoly too, but have something of an affinity and enjoyments of: Strawman has a point.

This typically means that the being set up to be the bad guy, the extremist, the antagonist, or what have you, actually makes sense. Sometimes more sense than the supposed hero. Those who oppose the “Forces of Light” are in fact the ones who have a more correct world view. I can draw personal history on this myself, with my Norse ancestors, who from the perspective of Christian Europe, were unwashed heathen monsters that slew, raped, and stole, yet were in reality, more a people who saw their lives and culture threatened by a monolithic force that saw them as evil.

Though, perhaps I can provide a slightly less personal example that more people might agree with. I’m going to assume that those reading this have also read the Harry Potter series, so my example with come from there. Most people who have read those books know of the four houses at Hogwarts, and my example comes from Slytherin, namely the founder of that house who felt that the school should be only for those students of pure wizard bloodlines and not open to students from non-wizard back grounds. This view is embraced by most students who live in Slytherin house. In the books, this is often used to show how bad the “racist” Slytherin students like Draco Malfoy are. Yet a closer look at the religious/political situation surrounding the foundations of the school (which is set deep in the middle ages) and the centuries following reveals the reality of this attitude of blood purity.

As any student of history, or even pop culture knows, the middle ages were not a friendly time for those who practiced the magic arts, thanks to power that Christianity held over both rulers and populace and which enforced the view that magic was evil and those who practiced magic were in league with the devil and should be hunted down and killed. I’ve read in many fanfics that touched on this subject how letting students from non-magical backgrounds into a school where children were being taught magic could prove dangerous.

After all, it doesn’t take much imagination to know how a religiously dogmatic group will react to those who practice “heresy”. We have politicians today who proclaim Pagans aren’t worshiping real gods and don’t have a real religion, thus shouldn’t be protected under the American Constitution. We have religious leaders, Christian and Muslim, who deride modern life as “sinful” and that it should be destroyed and replaced with a “holier” existence and these are the mainstream leaders, not the extremists. Leaders with thousands, if not millions, of followers. Even the cast of Harry Potter are not untouched by this, as I remarked in a previous post where I passed along the story of one of the actresses going into hiding because her own family tried to make her the victim of an Islamic Honor Killing.

The recent Ground Zero Mosque situation that is going on is rife with strawmen. Those who oppose the mosque are said to be emotionally reacting and unable to grasp that this is a gesture of friendship. Those that support the mosque are said to be weak, unable to see the truth, and only interested in destroying this nation by giving into the enemy that is Islam. Both these strawmen are correct, but fail to see the bigger picture. Islam is very much an enemy of the West and our culture. People should be free to build their houses of worship. Those who are acting against the mosque do come from a place of emotion, more than “rational” thought. Those who support are acting in “rational” thought, but ignoring the emotions.
The host of Red Eye on Fox News channel has suggested building a Gay Bar across the street from the GZM, an act which I find funny and bold. It would certainly be interesting to see how the Muslims react to it. If I recall, those involved in the planning have said he is free to do so, but that it would be inconsiderate to Muslims. I find that ironic, and a bit insulting, considering that at last count on CNN’s HLN network 70% of those polled were against the GZM. That’s right, CNN, not Fox. Those polled, if I remember correctly, were not just New Yorkers, but All Americans.

Personally, I have a better option. Ground Zero is a sacred place. So let us make it a sacred place for all peoples. Let us rebuild the church that was destroyed near there. Let us build great Greek and Roman Temples, the likes of which have not been seen since the fall of Rome. Let us build sacred groves of towering trees, dedicated to Norse, Germanic, and Celtic Gods and Goddesses. Let us build Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, Egyptian temples, and Jewish Synagogues. Let us make it a ground holy and sacred to all faiths and creeds. Let them be staffed by the followers of those Gods and Goddesses. Let a mighty monument be raised above the site itself, towering and lasting, to stand centuries and longer. And when the Islamic call to prayer is sounded, let church bells toll, let cries to Pagan and Heathen Gods ring out, and let all know that this is a place that will not be dominated by Islam, but by all Faiths, and made Holy.

It strikes me as odd, that my own generation, that which is now in college or just leaving, and who don’t have the luxury of a black and white world like previous generations had, are so eager to stick to a black and white world. Perhaps it is all the programming we received in school. Maybe we just aren’t that smart, all told. Maybe we’ve been screwed over and made so jaded that we are eager to latch on to anything that sounds like it will make our lives better, even as we are systematically milked dry and indebted so that the older generation of our parents can enjoy a life of ease and comfort, while we pay the bills as we grow up. So few of them are willing, much less eager, to look at the strawmen and see what really lies there. So eager are they to embrace the views of Stewart (now considered one of the most reliable sources of news by many) that they fail to step back and see if those he’s making fun of have a point. Those who are liberal lash against those who are conservative, acting as if they are uncaring imperialists. Those who are conservative lash against the liberal, calling them thieves and fools who would destroy America. Both are right. Both are wrong. But no one tires to see the other side. They both lie in the Light, and can only understand black and white.

That is why I embrace the Dark Side, like I did so many years ago. By removing myself, I see a world far different and more complete. By embracing my heathen ways after, I regained much, but never lost that inherent darkness that permits me to step away from these feuding sides, and see the reality. Some see this as terrible, for what kind of evil person can listen to the words of a KKK member from the 1960’s and admit that his prophecy of blacks becoming degenerate criminals that would brutalize whites have, in part, come true? That the man himself was sane and rational, that while everyone in the classroom saw only a monster, realized it was merely a man trying to do what he thought was right, however wrong the methods were.

It takes a strong person to stand on that side. To realized that those who say they are “good” really are no better than you are, and sometimes are worse. The only difference, sometimes, is that the Villain admits what he is doing is wrong, but the Hero that does the same things, always says it is for the “Greater Good.” Christianity did terrible deeds for the “Greater Good” and now Islam is continuing its mission of submission to Allah by all peoples for the same “Greater Good.” Perhaps I and my Heathen people are Evil. Perhaps we are wrong. But I’m not going to stop.

I leave with these words from Milton. “It is better to be a king in Hell, than a slave in Heaven.”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Killing in the Name of....Honor?

Just recently, Fox News ran a special about an Honor Killing in America. Sadly, this is an ever more common occurrence, both here in America, Europe and other non-Muslim lands. It has been a staple of Muslim nations since the creation of Islam. If it existed in those land before, I cannot say.

What has caused me to write this is a pair of videos found on YouTube, as well as a general interest in the topic, which I will get to in a moment.

So, why is this topic of interest and importance to me, a western man? Well, for me it's the word Honor. As those who have been on this blog and delved the archives, it's pretty clear that I'm a heathen Asatruar. In my religion and culture, there is not concept of sin, but rather deeds are judged by if they are honorable or shameful. It is one of the oldest cultures in Europe. Our Germanic/Celtic/Norse traditions of Honor have shaped the concept of that word in the West since the beginning.

Now, honor is different depending on culture. The honor of a Norseman is different from the Honor of a Japanese Samurai. That said, almost every culture has similarities about what is honorable and what to do if that honor is impugned. Typically, in Honor based societies, from England to Japan, it is the one who wronged you or your family that is dealt with, often by force, often to the death.

However, there is one culture that claims to be Honor based that deviates from this pattern. It is the Islamic nations. There, something odd, and dare I say both terrible and dishonorable happens. It is the victim, in the case of women, which is dealt with. This is the nature of the Islamic Honor Killing. A woman is raped, or even in many cases, talks to a man outside her own family with romantic intent or not, is slain in the name of restoring honor to her family. Often, the other party is left alone, or occasionally dealt with if currently in the presence of the woman at the time. In the case of the Honor Killing Fox News reported on, the Father murdered his teenage daughters, simply for dating a pair of Mexicans. His family was supportive of this decision, and his son believed he had done right.

This is a far cry from how my own Norse ancestors dealt with such matters, or even how Europeans dealt with this. Should a woman be involve or not, it was the task of men to defend honor against another man. This is where the duel comes from, as does trial by combat. If a woman was raped, it was the rapist who was killed. Blame was not placed upon the woman, nor was she harmed for being the victim of such a crime.

So, why the wild difference? Why is it that in Europe, the woman is cherished and protected in matters of honor, while in Islamic lands she is the one who must be killed to restore honor? This is a complex and difficult question to answer.

It is clear that the difference arises from the different cultures and religions involved. Both claim to value women, indeed many have made a big deal recently that Islam holds women to be precious and valuable and equal to men. One can argue that history disproves this claim, but we must remember that equality is often hard to qualify in cultures different from our own modern one, which has enough trouble figuring out what is equal. Indeed, many today hold that in Europe cultures both Christian and Pre-Christian were misogynistic, which as far as the Pagan cultures go, I would argue otherwise beyond a few exemptions among the Greeks. However, even if European cultures were suppressive of women, we never see anything resembling the Islamic Honor Killing.

It would be easy for me, in my bias, to claim that it is the inherent superiority of Polytheism over Monotheism that caused Europe to value women and move to defend honor against the aggressor. A case could be made for this, as well, but it tastes hollow to argue this, however true I may feel it to be. It is true that in polytheistic religions, women were far more valued than in Monotheistic religions (Judaism is the best in regards to equality, but while not as bad as Islam, Christianity is highly misogynistic). But the issue goes deeper than this, because when Christianity forcibly took Europe, we still didn't see the rise of Female Honor Killing. This could be argued as the ancient pagan cultures surviving in Christendom, but even so I feel that this is not the root of it. Also, Judaism never had Honor Killings like those of Islam. Therefore I conclude that the issue, though influenced by Monotheism, does not in fact arise from the believe in only One God.

The fact that, to my knowledge, this manner of Honor Killing occurs in only those who practice Islam, it can be concluded that it arises from Islam itself. Now, much of the "Moderate" Islam claims to come down against Honor killings. This, however, means little, as it is obvious that Honor Killing comes from Islam, as previously mentioned and that under Islamic believe it is okay to lie in the presence of Non-Muslims for the cause of Islam and it is a part of Shariah Law.

So what is the reality? In Islam, which claims to value women, the opposite is in fact true. Women are viewed as subhuman and second class, barely above Non-Muslims. Women are the ones who brought sin into this world, and should a woman show her hair or other parts of herself, it is, according to Muslims, enough to incite men to rape her uncontrollably, and she will be blamed for it. Now, maybe it's my European heritage, where we value women equal and even a woman wearing the smallest bikini can generally be assured she is safe from rape among Europeans peoples, but I've never seen a woman so beautiful and alluring that I just had to rape her. I've always had better control than that, and traditionally, Men in most cultures (at least the European as that is what I know best) were the same as me. Sure, rape happened, but it was always an issue of power, not of lust, if modern science is to be believed. I would assume that power is the driving issue, not physical lust, that drives most rapes by Muslim Men. This can be seen by such crimes done by Muslims in Europe, but that is a different topic.

What is on topic is that Women are not valued by Islam. Therefore, if they have no value, there is no point in fighting for them (especially if they are responsible for eternal suffering and sin like they are in Islam, thus for Muslims it is logical to punish them). Very much the opposite of how women were viewed in traditional Pagan Europe, and while Christianity did bring these attitudes as well, it was mitigated by old European values.

Honor Killings under Islam are a perversion of the Universal Concept of Honor. This is why this issue touches me personally. People trying to stop Honor Killings decry the evils of "Honor System" and "Tribalism" two things that define Asatru. The fact that Islamic Honor is an insane inversion of what Honor really is, matters little to the average person. Islam is one of the most numerous religions in the world. It is certainly one of the most powerful ideologies out there.

So, what can we do? Well, personally I say we do the honorable thing. We step up and end it. We take our European honor, or even the larger, ancient concept, where Men are to be Manly and defend the women of their families and society, not punish them for being free thinking and liberated individuals. We step up, and speak for those who cannot speak. We step up and fight for those who cannot fight. We step up, and show Muslims that We are Men and Women of the West, and we will not stand for people being made slaves based on gender, nor slain for simply wanting to be with someone that their family doesn't approve of.

Friday, August 6, 2010

We Are One People! We Are the Sons and Daughters of Europe!

As I've probably mentioned before, I consider myself Asatruar, or one who follows the Way of the Aesir, the ancient and true gods and goddesses of Europe, that lived with mortal men long before the Eastern Cross or Moon ever were a thought in the minds of men or a harsh and brutal reality of their lives.

So, while I am not a member of any community at the moment, I do try to keep up with a bit of what is going on via books and the internet, as my larger goal in life is to pursue more into Asatru and not have to deal with the nasty world of politics and Islam, though I fear that it will be impossible to leave the latter two behind completely as they have such a large impact on our lives.

Often, there is some issue between Germanic and Celtic groups due to the perception that they are of different "races" and thus must have different beliefs. Yet, it would seem that we are the same, when it comes down to the basic facts. Since there are better and more skilled people to talk of this, I will merely mention "Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions" by
H. R. Davidson and a recent podcast by Steve McNallen of the AFA.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

For Our Fathers

I know Father's day was a bit ago, but I can't say for sure because I don't celebrate it. My relationship with my father is at best complicated, but I won't go into it. However, in my quest for epic music I stumbled across a song by Manowar, possibly one of the greatest Metal/Viking Metal/Power Metal bands to ever exist.

The song is called Father, and apparently is translated into 16 different languages.

It isn't their usual style, but in a way that makes it far more powerful.

We in the Asatru community make a big deal about our ancestors. They are the ones that came before, shaped the world, and left us many important lessons. So, in honor of my Norse ancestors, as well as my own father and grandfather, and our gods, I am posting two copies. The first is in English. The second is in Norwegian, meant especially for my Grandfather, who, while a Christian, may yet be in the halls of the Aesir where I might someday see him again.

Hail to the Aesir and Vanir! Hail to our Mighty Ancestors! Hail to our Fathers! Raise Horn and Voice each day for them!